Posted by Obelix | September 26, 2018 | Two players, Hot, Reviews, Set Scenarios, Wargames |


Pros: The system used is a "son" of Storm Over Arnhem "(Avalon Hill, 1981) and therefore has already been experienced, but a series of specific rules helps to deeply renew the game mechanics. The area considered is the Crimea, a war theater rarely simulated in the past by specific wargames and therefore of great interest to fans of the Second World War.

Cons: the map is certainly not among the most beautiful in the market, to put it mildly, and the colors chosen sometimes make the units confuse on the ground, but it is functional (and also a new map is available, in collaboration with Mark Simonitch). The system used is not difficult to learn and use, but the duration of the games is a bit long. The rules booklet is not organized at best.

Recommended for: Experienced players and Wargamers. Fortress Sevastopol is in fact a wargame of "classic" style and of a medium-high complexity

Global Evaluation: 4.5 of 5

Realization: 3 of 5

Gameplay: 4 of 5

Fun: 4 of 5

Endurance: 4 of 5

Price: 4 of 5


Solitaire Suitability:


Incidence of Fortune:


Suitability for Newbies:



Christian Diedler

Graphics and Illustrations:

Dirk Blech, Andreas Bertram



FORTRESS SEVASTOPOL, published by Udo Grebe, is a game for two players aged 14+ and aims to make us relive the dramatic events of the Crimean campaign with this new wargame. The duration depends on the chosen scenario but it is never less than 180 minutes (and can even go up to 5 hours in the "Complete Campaign" scenario).

On September 12, 1941 General von Manstein, newly appointed to command the 11th Army on the southern front, ordered the beginning of the invasion of Crimea. The objective was the conquest of Sevastopol and Kerch from which to then depart to cross the strait of the same name, disembarking in the southernmost part of the then Soviet Union: a task that was anything but easy, both for the type of territory to be covered (due to the presence of rivers, swamps and mountains) and the small number of troops available. On December 17, the German units, after having conquered most of the peninsula, began bombing Sevastopol, while in the east the resistance of the Soviets, who had unexpectedly landed huge forces, continued to impede access to Kerch. Sevastopol's fortress fell in July 1942, and there were only 48 survivors of the 13,000 initially present in the city.

The system used by Fortress Sevastopol derives from the now classic Storm Over Arnhem, published by Avalon Hill back in 1981, which was then followed by a long series of titles produced by various publishers: Thunder at Cassino, Turning Point: Stalingrad, Breakout Normandy, The Bloodiest Day, They Met at Gettysburg, Monty's Gamble: Market Garden, to name the best known.


The Fortress Sevastopol box is somewhat reminiscent of those of the late Yaquinto (longer and flattened than the standards of the time and today) and contains a large "zone" map of the Crimea (590x840 mm) mounted on sturdy cardboard: its design is a bit '"retro" and its colors were not exactly guessed, especially because they are too similar to those of the Soviet units, however it is sufficiently clear and there have been no problems of use during our tests.

The rules are not an example of maximum clarity and the players will have to browse through it several times to find the answer to any doubts: mind you, all the rules have been written correctly and the answers are always, maybe not in the paragraph where we have expected. An example: the set-up is explained in chapter 4.0, where we are told that we must put the units in the respective starting areas, but the indication on how to choose the units is in paragraph 2.2 that describes them in detail and explains what they mean the printed numbers (among which the set-up zones or the arrival turn). Finally there are a couple of errors on some units in the "Reinforcement Schedule" table. Everything was resolved in a short time, thanks also to the help of the creator of the game, Christian Diedler, who was always very courteous and quick to answer all our questions, as proof of the seriousness of the Editor and his collaborators.

The package is completed by a couple of summary tables (really useful, once the rules are studied, because they clearly indicate all the procedures and calculations for the fights), two planks of pre-cut counters with all the combat units and the necessary markers, besides 4 colored plastic D6 dice (two red and two black).

Putting aside the "aesthetic" considerations on the map, all the material provided is of good quality and we have never had real problems in the game.

Preparation (Set-Up)

A good understanding of the territory to be conquered (or defend) is absolutely necessary for this game system.

The need for a thorough examination of the Fortress Sevastopol map is therefore essential: as seen in the photo above, it represents the entire Crimean peninsula, from the Perekop strait to that of Kerch, and is divided into 29 zones. Each of these is distinguished by a red and white circular stamp with the progressive number of the area and its defense capacity: the Armyansk area, for example, has the number 28 and a defense value of +2 (due to the presence of marshes), Novo Tsaritsyno (No 19) being of plain, defends itself only with a "+1", while the mountainous area of Sudak (No 12) has a defense of "+3", etc.

In the areas of Kerch, Simferopol and Sevastopol there are also white and yellow square symbols that indicate the presence of more important cities with adequate defense values (from +3 to +5). Some areas also have a red numeral printed inside a small white rectangle: they are the Victory Points (PV) that the German receives in case of conquest and vary from 1 to 3 PV. Finally, at the two ends of the map there are two special zones (U = Ukraine for the German and C = Caucasus for the Soviet) where the incoming units are placed as reinforcements.

Returning from our reconnaissance lap we can now deploy the armies: the German places the units ready for the invasion of the first round in zone 29 (Perekop) and all the reinforcements available in the "U" zone. The Soviet has the bulk of its units in zone 28 (Armyansk), some other scattered to the peninsula, a couple in the "C" zone and a series of weaker units within Sevastopol.

At the disposal of the invading army there are also a "Pre-Bombardment" marker and two "Luftwaffe" counters for the air support with which the Germans will try to soften the enemy's resistance before launching the actual attack. The Soviet, on the other hand, initially possesses only the "Sevastopol Fleet" marker to be used to "cripple" some units with small losses (which, however, reduce their mobility).

Before starting, we advise you to get a cloth bag in which to put the "Chits": these are special markers that can give little extra benefits to those who draw them and use them later for various functions, as we will see.

The Game

The Fortress Sevastopol game sequence is very similar to that of the other "classics" we have mentioned, but with some important differences. So it is better to examine it in more detail:

Drawing for chits. Based on the turn table, the two players draw "x" markers from the bag, without showing them to the opponent.

Preparations phase with the arrival of any reinforcements and the restoration of the markers used in the previous round (planes, fleet, etc.).

Phase of military operations (which we will discuss later in detail).

Unused chit scrap (each player can only keep one in his hand).

"Refit" phase during which "Supply Points" are assigned, with which weakened units can be reestablished or remedied.

Advancement of the Turn marker.

For each impulse, players can perform one of the following "moves":

Movement from one area (only) to another, paying the costs of the land and stopping the advance if you enter a territory occupied by the enemy. The movement can generate fights that will be managed in this phase, as we shall see.

Bombardment using artillery units, or bomber formations or fleet.

Engineer Operations: Engineer units can blow up bridges or rebuild them, or build defensive works (in the latter case they put in the markers "IP" = Improved Position).

Strategic movement to move 1-3 units from one zone to another, provided it is free of enemy units.

Infiltration: Only applies to the Soviets, which can move up to 3 units in areas occupied by the enemy without having to attack it mandatorily.

Reactivation: Players can try to reactivate "spent" units (tired, that is, turn on the back) in an area to be able to use them again, but at the risk of making them disorganized.

Regroup: With this move players can move up to 3 units in a free zone adjacent to those in which they are initially located.

Pass: The player can not or does not want to perform actions any more. If the "Pass" is executed by the German, however, a die roll is made on the impulse table and the marker is advanced by one box. If both players pass consecutively the round ends.

The fights are generated directly in the movement phase, both when the units of a player enter a zone containing the enemy, and if the impulse starts with units of both sides already present in a zone (called then "contested"area).

In both cases the procedure is similar:

Designate the "Point" unit that will use its combat strength as the basis for the calculation (but will suffer the first loss).

add +1 for each unit still active in the area.

add +1 for each supporting artillery unit (usable only once per turn for this purpose but without becoming "spent") present in the area or in an adjacent one.

+1 if the Point unit is armored or mechanized.

"-X" in case of bad weather or snow, or with weaker units (Romanian)

"+ X" with specialized units (mountain troops, etc.).

"+/- x" changes due to possible chits played in this phase

The Defender performs a similar calculation taking into account the defensive value of the zone, the support units and any IP markers, but without the artillery support.

At this point both players calculate the total value of Attack and Defense, then roll the dice and add the result: the winner is the one who obtains the highest value. The loser must pay losses (CP) based on the difference between the two totals and according to a specific table, removing 1 CP for each unit that is spent or disorganized (1 CP to go to the level of disorganization 1 and 1 CP to go to level 2), 1 CP per unit eliminated (when it was already at level 2 and suffers another loss), etc.

To better clarify how fights are resolved we use the photo above as an example:

The German attacks with the mechanized unit (4 PF - the attack value is the left number, while the right one is the movement capacity), supported by 5 active units (+5 PF), with the support of the three artillery unit in the adjacent area (+3 PF). It also gets the bonus for the mechanized unit (+1 PF) and for the genius (+1 PF). He does not play any chit for which his total is 14 PF.

The Defender uses the 276th as a point unit (4 PF - the defending value is the number in the middle), supported by four other units (+4 PF) in an area with "defense +1" (+1 PF). Since the attack came from Koldy, and the Germans then passed through a bridge on the river, the defender has an extra bonus (+1 PF). In addition, the Soviet plays the CHIT DE ADV which helps the defender (+1 PF) for a total of 11 PF.

Both launch the two dice and get 7 and 8 respectively, for a final result is 21 PF for the German and 19 PF for the Soviet, which must therefore "pay" 2 CP. The Russian commander decides to give both losses to the cavalry unit that first becomes "spent" and then "disrupted 1": in this way all the other units remain active, while the German ones, having exhausted their task, become "spent". If the attacker loses combat all his units must retreat and become disorganized at level 1. In case of a tie, the Attacker's Point unit becomes disorganized at level 1 and all others are "spent" but without obligation to withdraw.

As we have seen in the example all the units of the attacker who participated in the fight become "spent" (they are turned on the back) and therefore can only defend themselves, but with lower values than those on the "active" side.

As for the bombardments, things are a little different. Here, too, a Point unit (artillery) is chosen and its firepower is used as a base, to which +1 PF is added for each other supporting artillery unit. The defender uses twice the defense value of the area he is in and adds +1 PF if there is an IP in the area (defensive marker). Both players roll the dice adding the result to the total and if the attacker wins the defender must absorb the Attrition Points (AP) whose cost varies depending on the type of unit you intend to reduce: 3 AP to make an armored unit "Spent", 2 AP to reduce fresh infantry or already "Spent" armored units, 1 AP for each unit already "Spent "(which becomes "Disrupted").

In the REFIT phase the players receive a certain number of Supply Points (initially 40 to the Germans and 20 to the Soviets) with which they can "medicate" their units: from distrupted 2 to disrupted 1, from disrupted 1 to spent, from spent to active . Note that each unit can only receive one refit in turn and the cost varies depending on the type of damage and the presence or absence of the enemy in the same area.

Only the German player can win the game and only if he wins the areas that have the appropriate symbol: if at the end of the turn the value in PV exceeds 3 or more the number indicated on the track of turns the German wins automatically, but if this value is less than the minimum indicated it becomes a Soviet victory. If you arrive at the end of the 17th round the game still ends and the winner is the German if it exceeds 15 PV, or the Soviet if the value is 14 or less. Otherwise it is a tie.

Some final Considerations

In the description of the game we have deliberately decided not to go into too much detail in order not to bore the reader: in reality the game takes into account a series of special or optional rules that make the simulation even more enjoyable. For example, the German always starts with a marker "advantage" on his side: if at a crucial time the dice can be rolled again. From that moment, however, the advantage passes to the Soviets, who at the first opportunity can do the same thing, and so on.

The tables (provided in duplicate) are also very helpful and, after the first game, they avoid recourse to the rules except in an exceptional case (to verify a more complex rule, for example). The tables in fact contain both the sequence of play and the possible actions during each impulse, the costs for the movement, the modifiers for the attacks and the bombardments, the costs for demolishing or building bridges, etc. During our tests we have used the rules extensively only for the first two games but, once some points have been clarified with the help of the designer, we have always used the tables only.

The games turn out to be a bit "static", if compared to military operations in the rest of the Soviet Union, but the German must still be quite aggressive and always attack, even at the risk of taking some risks: this to prevent the Soviets from re-establishing too many units in the REFIT phase, thus reinforcing the new positions of defense: it is good to underline that the "disorganized" units can not return to active in a single turn, as we explained above, so they must be hit repeatedly to try to eliminate as many as possible before the pace of reinforcements brings even more powerful Soviet fresh troops to the front.

The Soviet must have a great ... patience and try to preserve its units in the best possible way, initially assigning the largest number of losses to the weakest and most expendable units, eventually eliminating them to keep the best units active for possible local counter-attacks (but only if the relationship of strength is really good, otherwise it would be better to wait for better times). Time plays in favor of the Soviet Union, so reinforcements will be more and more numerous with the passing of the shifts. If the Germans arrive in Sevastopol prepare for the defense to the bitter end, always keeping an eye on the PV accumulated by the adversary to prevent him from an automatic victory.

As we said in the Fortress Sevastopol introduction we liked it and, in our opinion, was able to propose a step forward in the game system of Storm over Arnhem. But it is not a game for everyone: to be reserved for those who love simulation games and inveterate wargamers.