This realistic solitaire game allows you to recreate Germany's invasion of Russia during World War II.
Discussion Board on Consim for Eastern Front.
This is a copy of the original review on Web-Grognards.
Eastern Front Solitaire (EFS) by Omega Games is a
strategic level game, which seeks to recreate
Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in WW2.
The player directs Army Group HQs and Panzer Group
HQs, Infantry Armies and Panzer Corps, beginning with
Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, all the way up to
the Soviet invasion of German in early 1945 (if the
game has not already been won).
Game turns in EFS represent one month, and the game
map uses (yuk!) point to point movement. The game
system runs the Soviet forces, and the turn structure
is pretty much a basic Igo-Ugo, with several
1. German reinforcement
2. German operational movement
3. German operational combat
4. German exploitation movement
5. German exploitation combat
6. Soviet reinforcements and front line placement
7. Soviet combat
8. Soviet partisan operations
9. Administration & weather
The German combat units are not fixed-value, but
fluctuate in size (basically changes in manpower and
equipment) in a manner reminiscent of the variable
size armies of VG's "The Civil War". Maximum strength
for an individual German infantry army is 30; for
German armoured corps the maximum strength is 6.
Armour and infantry are not interchangeable and
replacements become available in fixed amounts at
fixed points in time (see 'Overview' below).
The player moves his HQ units, which are crucial for
determining supply, then his infantry and panzer
forces. Movement is limited to ONE adjacent district
in this phase. Supply lines vary in length depending
on the weather.
All attacks are then nominated in advance and take
place using a Combat Results Table with the usual 1:3
to 3:1 columns and die roll modifiers that will be
familiar to most players. Each of your HQs has a
limited number of attack supply points (again a fixed
amount at fixed points in time), which you can use for
attacks by your combat units. If you run out of
attack supply you can still attack, but only at half
The level of supply of a unit (attack supply, general
supply and out of supply), mountain, river, fortress
and swamp districts all modify attack/defence
strengths and die rolls in ways you would expect.
Also German forces are given a Tactical Superiority
value (again fixed amounts at fixed points in time!)
that modifies the die roll and is supposed to
represent the general level of operational superiority
over the Soviets.
Casualties are taken and, if the modified die roll is
high enough, the German player can force either a
retreat or, if a panzer unit is part of the attacking
force, an encirclement of the defenders.
The exploitation movement phase comes next, with
(only) panzer corps being able to make an additional
move. Exploitation combat against new Soviet units
can involve only panzers, however German infantry
armies are able to conduct multiple assaults on
already isolated (encircled) Soviet units.
The Soviet turn is handled by the game system, and it
is one of the stranger aspects of the game. You see,
the Soviet units do not attack. Well, not most of
them anyway. Instead, there are two types of unit
that, for the sake of clarity, I will simply label
Soviet Attack Units (SAU) and Soviet Defence Units
The SDUs (nominal 'Fronts' in the game) bear all the
damage of German attacks. After the German phases
have ended, you place new SDUs in districts adjacent
to the German front line. Their strength is based on
fixed amounts, eg. the SDU defending Kiev will always
have a strength of 30, Kharkov 26, Moscow 30, etc.
The reinforcements for these SDUs come from a
generalized Soviet replacement pool. Thus a line of
SDUs is formed from the Gulf of Finland to the Black
Soviet attacks are not done by these units, but by a
limited number of Shock Armies and, later in the game,
Tank Armies. These SAUs pop up randomly on the German
front line (like those pesky ARVN Rangers in VG's
"Vietnam War"!) although the number of attacks they
have and their attack supply levels are, you guessed
it, in fixed amounts at fixed points in time! The
only variation is in the size of the SAUs, which range
from massive to pathetic. Combat mechanics are the
same as for the Germans.
After July 1942, Soviet partisan operations begin,
reducing supply for German offensives unless you
divert a significant level of manpower to cover the
The administrative phase covers victory determination,
strategic events, and the weather for the next turn.
STRATEGY AND OVERVIEW
Reinforcement, supply, tactical superiority and Soviet
attacks are way too predictable. Do you really think
the German High Command knew in absolute certainty
when it launched Barbarossa, that more than two years
later in Sept 1943, it would have 3 infantry
replacement points, 1 panzer replacement point, 6
attacks and a tactical superiority modifier of +2?
Moreover, would they know with absolute certainty that
the Soviets would have 4 Shock armies, 3 Tank Armies,
8 infantry replacement points, 4 tank replacement
points, 2 attacks and 4 Soviet attack supply points?
Now I appreciate that the actual historical conditions
have been accurately modelled, and modelled very well,
but it still does not hide the fact that there is
virtually no strategic uncertainty hardly
advantageous in a solitaire game. Somebody needs to
work on a system of greater variability, albeit within
It is simply too easy to beat Soviet Union if you play
from 1941 I had taken Leningrad, Moscow and
Stalingrad (and hence won the game) by September 1942
on my first attempt! Now I am a bit of a duffer in
most games and I have NEVER beaten a game so easily on
my first attempt. Nevertheless, there are variant
rules, including having to 'obey' Hitler's irrational
orders (thus screwing up your best laid plans), as
well as other campaigns starting in 1942 and 1943.
They may make things a bit more difficult, but that
leads me to the issue of tactics…
The way to win this game is simple: reduce the Soviet
replacement pool to zero as quickly as possible. SDUs
have 'first call' on all replacement points and if the
pool is reduced to zero there will be NO Soviet
attacks. Why? Because SAUs are not 'on board' most
of the time but come into existence from the surplus
in the replacement pool. No surplus = no attacks.
How do you reduce the replacement pool to zero?
Attack, encircle and eliminate. Always use Panzer
Corps, because not only do they give you a +1 die
modifier, if you get a Breakthrough result the Soviet
unit is isolated. Once isolated, its defence strength
is halved, there is a +1 modifier to attack, they
suffer desertions after each attack and your infantry
army can multiple attack the isolated unit in the
exploitation phase! Dead meat.
Now to eliminate the Soviet manpower pool, which is
really your key objective early in the game, you have
to knock off (at worst) about 25 SDUs beyond the
initial set-up. You have 10 Panzer Corps work it
out. Also, there are five consecutive turns in 1942
and seven in 1943 where the tactical modifier is +3,
which if you add the +1 Panzer modifer = +4 to the
combat die roll. Not only does that make 1:1 a very
attractive option, but even 1:2 comes into play!
Keep armies at a minimum strength of 20; keep panzers
at a minimum of 2. You should never lose more than 2
per attack, and the first loss comes off the Panzers.
When they get down to 1 strength, pull them off the
line and rebuild. Alternatively, if you get that far,
Panzers with 1 strength can be 'parked' in Soviet
Never use Panzers in attacks on isolated units as it
is a waste of your limited panzer replacement points.
Always use armies and DO NOT STOP until the isolated
defender is eliminated. I repeat: DO NOT STOP
ATTACKING, even if you run out of attack supply and
have to take the 50% strength loss for only being in
Keep pushing forward, as the Soviets get only get a
maximum of 8 replacements per turn. Remember: the
replacement pool reduces when you place the new SDUs,
not when you eliminate them. Keep them taking losses
on their SDUs, even 1 or 2 helps your general
strategy. If you get their replacement pool down to
very low figures, they will never again have the
ability to launch a meaningful attack.
Leningrad is both the hardest to take (with a 4
fortress modifier) and, realistically, the first of
the big three cities that you must take. The key is
bypass it and then to isolate it by taking Lugo and
Volkhov first, then waiting for Severe Winter to
negate the swamp effects. Once isolated, attack,
attack, attack, and keep attacking et voila!
Leningrad is yours.
Applause to the publishers for the very wide range of
optional rules and historical options. I have not
played any of these variants, but they appear to go
some way to reducing the inherent 'sameness' of the
Applause for the very extensive historical notes.
Applause also for the player aid cards extensive and
comprehensive, they are something that other games
manufacturers would do well to copy.
Don't be fooled by the large number of playing pieces
in the advertising, because a significant proportion
of it is just eye-candy - about one third of the 280
pieces are simply 'historical variant' counter which
allow you to personalize the actual Soviet Front, ie
you can call a piece 'Leningrad Front' instead of '7',
if that sort of thing turns you on. In fact, there
are a lot of these sorts of things to make it look
more historical without actually changing game play.
May sure you buy stock number 3006, not 1006. 3006 is
the 2nd edition and has a colour map, errata and
EFS is not a great game, but its simple solitaire
mechanics make it quite accessible, especially for
people who are new to wargaming and/or might not have
a wide circle of grognard friends. Alternatively, if
it is a rainy day and you just feel like good
thrashing of the Soviet Union, this is the game for
you. It retails for about $20 on eBay and, while it
will not have me throwing out my copies of “Carrier”,
"London's Burning" or "Patton's Best", I am still
quite happy to have it as a part of my collection.
Reproduced with permission of Web-Grognards.