At the time SPI published KURSK in 1971, game designers and developers were still predisposed towards keeping their designs simple, and their game rules short. When balancing “playability” against “realism,” game publishers almost invariably opted for “playability.” For this reason, most games — Avalon Hill’s ANZIO (1969) and 1914 (1968) being two notable exceptions — incorporated very little in the way of historical “chrome” into their basic designs. Times have changed, and simulation detail that once would have seemed cumbersome or even off-putting, is not only now accepted by the typical gamer, but expected. In keeping with this idea, the following optional rules are offered as a means of enhancing the historical simulation value of KURSK without, I should note, either materially changing the character and tempo of its play, or adding significantly to the complexity of the game.

1. All units, whatever their supply status, may always move one hex, unless moving directly from one enemy ZOC to another. This movement is possible even if — because of terrain and/or ZOC costs — it would otherwise exceed the unit’s regular movement allowance.

Rationale: This rule change is not only reasonable in game terms, but it subsequently appeared in all of the SPI East Front games that were published after KURSK.

2. German units, only, pay two movement points instead of three to enter an enemy controlled hex, and only one movement point to exit. This also means that German units expend only three additional movement points to move directly from one enemy zone of control to another.

Rationale: Despite the rough handling that the Wehrmacht had received at the hands of the Red Army during the previous winter, German training and doctrine were still superior to that of the Soviets in 1943, particularly when it came to the conduct of mobile operations.

3. All attacks against German units (but not Axis Allied units) are subject to a minus one die roll modification, before making any other adjustment for terrain or air power. This means, for example, that a German unit in an Axis fortified line hex would receive a minus three die roll modification, prior to any adjustment for Soviet air support.

Rationale: This is another reflection of the tactical edge that the German Army still enjoyed in the summer of 1943. It is also a means of compensating for one of the most glaring weaknesses in the game: the unhistorical lack of defensive staying power on the part of German infantry. While it is true that virtually all of the Wehrmacht infantry divisions suffered deficits in artillery and anti-tank weapons, and were also almost uniformly under-strength during this period; nonetheless, these units continued to demonstrate great tactical proficiency both in defense, and in disengaging and withdrawing in the face of enemy offensive pressure.

4. Soviet Artillery and Anti-Tank units, in the July 4th Scenarios only, may not advance west of the Russian fortified line, except as a consequence of a retreat result. If such a retreat occurs, these units must move back into or behind the Russian fortified line as soon as they are able, and by the most direct (in terms of hexes, not movement costs) path possible.

Rationale: Soviet artillery doctrine did not promote the rapid redeployment of Front artillery assets after an attack had begun; typically artillery would remain in place for periods of 10 days to two weeks before being brought forward to new firing positions. Since the game is only six-turns (twelve days) long, this seems a realistic restriction on the Soviet player.

5. Escalating Assaults: all Soviet attacks that include artillery, infantry, and armor and that target the same enemy-occupied hex are raised one odds column, i.e., a seven-to-one becomes an eight-to-one, and so forth. Nine-to-one attacks are not affected.

Rationale: The dreaded Soviet "Escalating Assault" consisted of three distinct phases: a heavy artillery bombardment phase; followed by an infantry wave assault; and finally, an attack by massed armor. When defending German units disintegrated in the face of a Russian attack, it was virtually always the result of a Soviet Escalating Assault.

Of these five optional rules, two will have the most noticeable effect on play: Rule #1, and Rule #2.

In the case of Rule #1, this optional rule change will permit Soviet rifle units to advance into German fortified hexes, even when covered by an Axis zone of control — an inexplicably illegal move, when using the original movement rules. This means that Russian rifle units will not have to wait until Soviet armored units can clear a path through the German fortified line before they move forward to engage Axis forces.

Rule #2 makes the German mechanized units much more dangerous when operating in open terrain. With the adoption of this rule change, the panzers will be able to stand-off, beyond the reach of Soviet infantry, and still dash forward to strike the advancing Russian line, before withdrawing out of range during the mechanized movement phase. Even more nerve-racking for the Soviet player is the ability of German armor, when using this optional rule, to move forward and into any gaps that might appear in the Russian line as the Red Army advances. This rule also makes it slightly more difficult for the Red Army to catch and pin German infantry units, but with or without this rule change, it is only a matter of time before the Russian Army makes contact, and the German infantry is forced to fight.


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