Live playthrough video on YouTube, embedded at the bottom of this post.
Even the best map designer has his off days, and in my opinion, jdrommel had one when he designed Breakthrough to Kovel.
On March 1944, the city of Kovel, important railways and roads junction, south of the Pripet swamps,was surrounded by 47th Russian Army (2nd front of Bielorussia) during Operation “Polessie”. The German command of the area ordered to a Kampfgruppe of 5.SS Panzer Division “Wiking” to breakthrough the Russian lines and to deliver the surrounded garrison. Panther tanks of the 8/5.SS Pz Rgt and panzergrenadiers of SS Rgt “Germania” advanced along the ballast of the railway to cross the swampy area which parted the enemy lines. In spite of numerous minefields and anti-tank guns, the breakthrough was a success and Kovel garrison was delivered on the 05th of April.
The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command. the rest is history.
The key feature on this map is the causeway of hills running down the center. At first, this does not look at all like an appetizing avenue for attack – it’s a narrow passage surrounded by swamp, and with defenders on all sides.
However, the key to this scenario lies in a special rule – the Germans automatically win if they get a tank into the Church square inside Kovel. Thanks to the causeway, and the placement of the Russian defenders, this is not too hard. A single tank unit has a chance to make it down that causeway, driving right past the Russian defenders and into the town. That’s exactly what happened on my first playthrough. Five turn victory.
We don’t like quick and cheap victories, especially when they’re on a map that has such a cool looking terrain setup, and took so long to setup. So, we tried it again, and decided to play without that rule. At first, it seemed like a dramatic improvement. The Germans needed to make a careful advance and flush out the Russian defenders in the towns and forests, slowly making forward progress.
A few turns into the game, though, it became clear that it was not really possible for the Russians to adequately defend themselves given the terrain and the units available. Their own mines block the from making any sort of counterattack, and they are too out-matched by German firepower to survive a long-distance engagement. The only thing for them to do would be to pre-emptively withdraw to behind the forests, leading to a miserably long game.
Unbalanced, in an uninteresting way, and incredibly complicated to set up. Not recommended.
General Evaluation – 1/5 – Not fun for either side.
Balance Evaluation – Germans strongly favored. Not heavily played on DoW Online, but jdrommel himself seems to think it’s Russian-favored. I guess he must have seen something I didn’t, or he was just out of it that day.
First Turn Win Possibility – No.
Plink-fest danger – Maybe. See what I said above.