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Rules for Battle for Moscow Game

IMPORTANT: for a copy of the game print this page with image loading turned on for the rules. Print the map, counters and charts found in the Game Components section below. Cut out the individual counters.

Table of Contents

Operation Typhoon (Back to Table of Contents)
Operation Typhoon, the German Army's final lunge to capture Moscow in 1941, was intended to break the Soviet Army and end its resistance to German conquest. If the operation succeeded, it would mean the collapse of Soviet morale (or so the Germans believed). If it failed, it would (and did) leave the exhausted Germans open to a Soviet counter-offensive that would push them forever beyond reach of Moscow.
Battle for Moscow is a historical wargame of the German Army's struggle to defeat the Soviet Army and capture Moscow in 1941. It is played on a map of the territory where the battle was fought, and it uses playing pieces which represent the actual military units (German corps and Soviet armies) from the battle. The game rules duplicate the situation as it ocurred.
How to Learn the Game (Back to Table of Contents)
If you have never played a wargame before, the ideal way to learn is to have an experienced player teach you.
If you don't have an experienced player handy, just read the rules through once, paying particular attention to the examples. Be sure to follow the sequence of play exactly (it's given in How to Play below). Refer back to the rules whenever you have any questions.
Experienced Players: When teaching the game to a novice, you should play the Soviets; your opponent will have more fun attacking than defending. Reduce the Soviet replacements from five per turn to three. You might consider coaching your opponent a bit if he's about to make a mistake that will cost him the game, but otherwise let him play his own game.
Game Components (Back to Table of Contents)

IMPORTANT: The map, counters and charts are available in two packages, one containing game components in PDF (Portable Document Format) files and another containing components in GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) files. You are advised to use the first package, as PDF files give better results when printed.

Note that versions of Battle for Moscow areavailable for PBEM (Play by Electronic Mail) wargaming.

Recommended PDF Package

GIF Package

Counter Manifest (for reference purposes) - Key: Full/Half strength: unit ids (type)

You also need a six-sided die.

The Counters represent Soviet and German military units. Soviet units are orange/red and German units are green. The diagram below explains the information on the pair of counters for one unit.

Unit (full and half strength) diagram

Unit type is either infantry (foot soldiers) or panzer (armored); only the Germans have panzers.

Combat strength measures a unit's value in battle; higher numbers are stronger.

Movement allowance determines how far the unit can move.

Unit size and identification are purely for historical interest and have nothing to do with play.

All units have two counters: a full-strength counter and a half-strength counter with about half the combat strength of the full-strength side. See the counter manifest above. Losses in combat can reduce a full-strength unit to a half-strength unit. Replacements can turn a half-strength unit into a full-strength unit.

The map is divided into hexagons (we call them hexes for short) which define units' positions just like the squares of a chessboard. Hexes have been numbered using an XXYY coordinate scheme. The map also shows important terrain such as forests, cities, fortifications, rivers, and railroads; the terrain key on the charts explains each terrain type.

How to Play (Back to Table of Contents)
There are seven turns in Battle for Moscow. Each turn represents one week (Exception: turns 3 and 4 each represent two weeks, because mud slows the battle). See the turn record on the charts.

Each turn is divided into eight parts or phases performed in the exact order given below. All actions in one phase must be finished before the next phase can begin. The first four phases are the German player's turn; the last four are the Soviet player's turn.

    German Player's Turn

  1. German Replacement Phase. The Germans receive replacements.
  2. German Panzer Movement Phase. All panzers may move.
  3. German Combat Phase. All German units may attack.
  4. German Movement Phase. All German units may move (including panzers which moved in phase 2).

    Soviet Player's Turn

  5. Soviet Replacement Phase. The Soviets receive replacements.
  6. Soviet Rail Movement Phase. All Soviet units which begin the phase on a rail line may move along the rail line.
  7. Soviet Combat Phase. All Soviet units may attack.
  8. Soviet Movement Phase. All Soviet units may move (including those which moved in phase 6).

Zone of Control (Back to Table of Contents)
Each unit has a zone of control which consists of the six hexes surrounding it (see the diagram), including hexes occupied by enemy units. Enemy zones of control have important effects on movement, combat, and replacement.

Movement: A unit entering an enemy zone of control must immediately end its movement phase.

Combat: Units cannot end their retreat in an enemy zone of control (they are eliminated if they do).

Replacements: Zones of control affect how a path can be traced to allow replacements.

Zone of Control diagram

Movement (Back to Table of Contents)
Units are moved during the movement phases (phases 2, 4, 6, and 8 of the turn). Movement works essentially the same way in each phase. Each unit has a movement allowance, which represents the distance in hexes it can move in one phase. (Exception: a forest hex counts as two hexes for movement.) In a phase, the player moves any or all of his units that qualify (only panzers in the panzer movement phase; only Soviet units on rail lines in the railmove ment phase). Units move one at a time, from hex to hex, in any direction.

Rail Movement: In the rail movement phase, any Soviet units which start the phase on a rail line may move. They must move only along the rail line. A forest hex counts as only one hex for movement in this phase.

Restrictions: A unit can never enter a hex containing an enemy unit. A unit can enter a hex containing a friendly unit, but there can only be one unit in a hex at the end of the phase.

Zone of Control: A unit which enters an enemy zone of control must immediately end its movement for the phase.

Movement Example

The above example shows different ways the Soviet 5th Army could move. The numbers show the number of hexes it has moved. With a movement allowance of four, the unit can move four hexes, as in path A. In path B the third hex the unit enters is a forest hex, which counts as two hexes moved, and the unit must stop. In path C the unit enters an enemy zone of control in its first hex and must stop. In path D the unit enters an enemy zone of control in its second hex and must stop. In path E, the unit ends its move ment in an enemy zone of control in its fourth hex and must stop because its move ment allowance is used up. Path F is not possible: the unit would have to move 5 hexes (counting 2 for the forest hex).

Combat (Back to Table of Contents)
In each combat phase (phases 3 and 7), units may attack adjacent enemy units. First, the attacking player (the German in the German combat phase, the Soviet in the Soviet combat phase) announces all his battles: which enemy units he will attack and which of his units will attack them. A battle is an attack on one enemy unit by any or all the attacking player's units which are adjacent to it. A single unit may only attack once per phase, and a single enemy unit may only be attacked once per phase. Once battles have been announced, the attacking player can't change his mind.

Battles are resolved one at a time in any order the attacking player wants. For each battle this sequence is followed:-

  1. Total the combat strengths of all the attacking units
  2. Divide this total by the combat strength of the defending unit, dropping all fractions, to get one of the odds levels given on the combat results table. For example, a strength of 16 attacking 4 is 4:1 (four to one), while 15 attacking 4 is only 3:1.
  3. Determine if the effects of terrain have reduced the odds
  4. Roll one die and consult the combat results table; cross-index the number rolled with the odds to determine the result.
  5. Apply the result immediately.
  6. If the attacked unit is no longer in the hex (eliminated or forced to retreat), one of the attacking units may immediately move into the hex.
  7. Go no to the next battle.

Maximum and Minimum Odds: In step 2, if the odds are above 6:1, reduce them to 6:1. After step 3, if the odds are below 1 :1 the attack has no effect on either side.

Terrain Effects: If the defending unit is in a forest hex, is in Moscow, or is a Soviet unit in a fortification, reduce the odds by one level (4:1 becomes 3:1, 3:1 becomes 2:1, and so on). If all the attacking units are across a river from the defending unit, reduce the odds by one level. (If both these conditions apply, reduce the odds by two levels.)

Combat Results Table (Back to Table of Contents)
Combat Results Table

Combat Results: There are six different results on the combat results table.

NE (No Effect): Nothing happens.

DR (Defender Retreat): The defending unit is moved two hexes by the attack ing player. The unit must end up two hexes away from its starting hex and may not enter an enemy zone of control. If there is no retreat path which satisfies these conditions, the unit is eliminated. The unit also must end its retreat in a hex not already occupied by a friendly unit, and must retreat further than two hexes if necessary to reach an empty hex.

DRL (Defender Retreat and Loss): The defending unit must first take a loss; then, if it still survives, it must retreat as described in DR. If a full-strength unit takes a loss, replace it with its half-strength counter. If a half-strength unit takes a loss, it is eliminated.

AL (Attacker Loss): One attacking unit (of the attacker's choice) takes a loss, as described for DRL above (but it doesn't retreat).

DE (Defender Eliminated): The defending unit is entirely eliminated whether full-strength or half-strength.

EX (Exchange): First, the defending unit takes a loss as in DRL above. Then the attacking player must lose at least the same amount of strength from attacking units. In both cases, if a full-strength unit is reduced to half-strength, the amount of the loss is the original strength minus the the reduced strength. For example, if a panzer with a strength of 9 takes a loss (and is replaced by its strength-4 counter), the loss is 5. Finally, the defending unit, if it survives, must retreat as for DR above. (Note that the defending unit may be eliminated in its retreat, but the attacking player is not required to match this loss).

Combat Example (Back to Table of Contents)
The example below shows two possible attacks on a Soviet unit. In the first attack the odds begin at 15 to 4, or 3:1 . They are reduced one level for the river and one for the defending unit's fortifications, for a final level of 1:1.

The second attack is just like the first except for the addition of a strength-2 German infantry unit, but that makes a big difference. The odds are now 17 to 4, or 4:1; they are still reduced one level for fortifications, but no longer for the river, making the final odds 3:1; finally, the Soviet unit would be eliminated if forced to retreat, since it is surrounded by enemy zones of control.

Combat example

Mud (Back to Table of Contents)
Turns 3 and 4 are mud turns. All movement except Soviet rail movement is reduced to l hex per phase; rail movement is unaffected. All units' combat strengths are halved when attacking (not when defending). For example, in the second example of combat, above, the three German units would be reduced to a total combat strength of 81/2, making the odds 2:1 (before terrain effects). The attacker's losses in an exchange are based on printed strength, not halved strength.

1st Shock Army (Back to Table of Contents)
This unit may not begin on the map and may not be taken as a replacement until turn 4 (Nov 1/11).

Replacements (Back to Table of Contents)
A replacement is the ability to create a new half-strength unit (using one which was previously eliminated), or to flip an existing half-strength unit to full strength. Both players get replacements each turn, each in their respective replacement phases (phases 1 and 5). The German player gets one replacement, and the Soviet player gets five.

You can't use two replacements at once to create a new full-strength unit. Creating a new full-strength unit from nothing would take two turns of replacements.

New Soviet units appear on the east edge of the map (in any empty hex) or in any empty, friendly-owned city in communication with the east edge (at most one per city). Existing Soviet units, to be restored, must also be in communication with the east edge. Friendly-owned means that your units were the last units in the city; all cities are owned by the Soviets at the beginning of the game except for those that start occupied by a German unit. In communication means being able to trace a path of any length, without entering a hex containing an enemy unit or enemy zone of control, to the east edge of the map. Exception: the Soviets can bring in or restore a unit in Moscow even if it isn't in communication.

German replacements work the same way, except that communication is traced to the west edge and Moscow has no special properties .

If replacements are not used, they may not be saved for later turns.

Game Balance: If a handicap is needed for players of unequal experience, change the replacements. To benefit the Germans, change the Soviet replacements to four or even three. To benefit the Soviets, give the Germans their replacement only on turns 2, 4, and 6.

Starting the Game (Back to Table of Contents)
Set up one Soviet unit on each hex marked with a hammer and sickle, all at half strength. Don't use the 1st Shock Army (the Soviet army with a combat strength of 10); it comes later. Since all Soviet units are the same, it doesn't matter which unit goes where. You should have four units left over (counting the 1st Shock Army); all except the 1st Shock Army can be used as replacements in the Soviet player's turn.

The German player should then set up one German unit on each black cross, all at full strength. The exact setup is important since it helps to determine what the German can do on turn 1.

After setting up the game, the German player begins his panzer movement phase. Since all German units begin the game at full strength, the German player receives no replacements on turn 1 and skips his replacement phase.

Winning the Game (Back to Table of Contents)
Whoever holds Moscow at the end of the game wins. A player holds Moscow if one of his units was the last unit to be in the city. The Russians hold Moscow at the start of the game.

Game Credits (Back to Table of Contents)
Battle for Moscow was designed by Frank Chadwick (he proposed the basic game idea, researched the information, and wrote the game rules). The game was developed by John Harshman and John Astell (they tested, polished, and edited the rules into their final form). Playtesting was performed by members of the staff of Game Designers' Workshop and Diverse Talents Incorporated (they played the game before publication and pointed out flaws and problems that needed to be fixed). Barbie Pratt was art director (she organized the components into a final product).

IMPORTANT: once you have mastered the above rules try the extra rules given in "What happens next: continuing play in Battle for Moscow".

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