Kharkov – First Impressions for a Soviet Solo play – The Boardgames Chronicle Games News

Recently I got a chance to play again one of the masterpieces of John Butterfield Design – Enemy Action Kharkov. After introducing a colleague of mine to the two player version, it’s time to check out the single variant. It seems that the Soviet solitaire system is easier to understand – and of course, it’s better to play because you attack from a turn – and thus it will be the subject of this material.

whereas enemy action The series is probably the most elaborate and somehow complex of John Butterfield’s games, it is much more rewarding and exciting at the same time. The Ardennes proved to be a great position, with special rules for single German, single American and 2-players. We are getting similar system in Kharkov installment – it’s like 3 game in a box!


Let me now bring some preliminary information about the title.

Enemy verb: Kharkov The second game in John Butterfield’s acclaimed enemy action A series of card-driven games simulating the major battles in World War II, playable by two players or one player controlling both sides in the conflict.

The game portrays the Third Battle of Kharkov, the major Eastern Front battle in which German forces ended a series of Soviet victories that began at Stalingrad. At the end of the winter of 1943, Soviet operations code-named Star And gallop The Germans were driven out of the city of Kharkov and threatened with a complete success, known simply as the German counter-offensive. von manstein’s back hand blown off,

publisher page

session report


The game comes with 3 scenarios:

  • initial attack – 1-2 . turns
  • Operation Star and Gallop – 1-6 . turns
  • Campaign – full 12 turns

I decided that for a start I would go with the introductory game (initial attack), which had a special victory condition, namely:

  • Soviet wins with 8 or more VPs; anything less is a german victory
  • The Soviets won if they took Kharkov And The Soviet Union has a unit behind the Western Support Line (you’ll see the dotted, red line behind Kharkov – that’s the one)

In the first two scenarios theses are the Soviets who attack; In the long campaign things change mid-game, with the initiative shifting to the Germans. Let’s see how I fared in my initial attempt! Below the picture-rich session report!

As always, you can click on any of the images below to enlarge it in a new window.

The. full theater of Enemy verb: Kharkov. The early game turns will mainly take place on the right-hand side of the map.
a close-up in the front starting position; Protecting the Germans on the northern side of the front, the units below are my armies (click to enlarge).

1. turn

I started off with a pretty strong attack in the south. As a result, the Corpus Rous was dismantled but my units got disorganized in the process (to prevent loss)
But the main blow came north in the direction of Kharkov. The Germans were leaving garrisons everywhere, but a well-crafted play of Stavka cards (see that comment about stacking) allowed Outright destroy pairs of German units and disorganize the rest.
Situation after both the attacks – A big difference is clearly visible in the centre.
Another card for the 3rd Tank Army allows me to seize the initiative and move on to Belgorod and other VP areas.
The situation after the first turn – significant gains in the area of ​​Kharkov, minimum near Slavyansk.

turn 2

The 3rd Tank Army advances again, taking Belgorod and besieging Volchansk – where the bulk of the SS Das Reich division is stationed.
In the end I managed to regroup Mobile Group Popov and gathered enough force to successfully attack Izium. Fortunately without damage!
Of course the Germans immediately changed their reserves to bridge the gap.
Erich von Manstein is a great card to attack. Here The AI ​​used it to change the proper location (see Belgorod’s north side).
It’s time to take Volchansk! Heavy attack from all directions, with substantial damage Eliminate the enemy in the city. Gained another VP!
Using the lack of German forces, many Simultaneous attacks took place in the region of Sloviask. In the process, the latter was taken.
The final position at the end of the scenario, marked on the map with nine Soviet VPs, and a strategic victory. Nevertheless, the following counter-attacks would probably destroy the exposed elements of Mobile Group Popov.

What a game – there were moments when I would not break through the defense. All those garrisons were sprouting up like mushrooms everywhere. Yet a good plan allowed success in the South. Kharkov was never in danger though – I didn’t have enough forces there.

first impressions

Now I share my initial impressions about the Soviet Solo variant:

  • it is the fun of playing soviet – At least in the beginning. Two turns of invincible attacks, encircles, breakthroughs and the possibility of customizing and maximizing the advantage of the terrain.
  • i’m a fan of no-dice battle resolution processs (See: My Top 3 No-Dice Wargames). The title here is excellent, because not only is there zero CRT, but there’s also no terrain modifier – only drawing chits that apply in special circumstances. Great idea, and what’s more – great implementation.
  • again, i have to admit quality of components Great, cut counters are a very welcome surprise, the clear, colorful designation for the front and armies is very helpful. Still, I wish I had one equestrian map (Maybe double-sided to reduce cost). But if he gets 3 game sin a box then no one can complain! Nothing special for a solo game, but I love it so much that will have to repeat!
  • I agree, it takes time to understand in the beginning AI (German) fluency And all the priorities for them – where they go, what they will do, etc. Still, a common sense often saved the situation. I think I’d probably add a player assist, along with a flowchart, going through each decision point step by step.

It is probably clear from my article that I thoroughly enjoyed the game. I can only imagine what would begin to happen when the Germans retaliated and how fragile my current well position could be. I’ll definitely try the bigger scenario and later – the German Solo variant too. stay tuned!

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