OBJECTIVE MOSCOW: The Death of Soviet Communism is an operational level simulation, based on the KURSK Game System, of a hypothetical invasion of the Soviet Union in the late 1990's. OBJECTIVE MOSCOW was designed by Joe Angiolillo, Jr., and published by Simulations Publications, Incorporated (SPI) in 1978.


This game dates back to the “golden, if somewhat eccentric years” of Simulations Publications, Incorporated (SPI) when James Dunnigan, Redmond Simonson, and Al Nofi were at the helm of the most prolific game publisher of its day. It was during this period in the early to late 70's that SPI published a number of hypothetical “doomsday” military simulations. This particular game is an especially “over the top” version of this oddly dystopian SPI game genre, but it, nonetheless, falls in the same category as titles like THE NEXT WAR, FULDA GAP, INVASION AMERICA, DIXIE (a magazine game), NATO, THE EAST IS RED (a magazine game), 6th FLEET (another magazine game), the THIRD WORLD WAR, and AFTER THE HOLOCAUST. I’m sure that there were others, but these are the titles that immediately spring to mind.


OBJECTIVE MOSCOW is a hypothetical, semi-historical simulation of a combined air-sea-land invasion of the former Soviet Union. In view of actual historical developments since 1978 (when the game went to press), it is interesting to compare the occasionally odd expectations of the game’s designer with real events. Putting aside the whole issue of “Space Marines,” there are other areas where the designer went more than a little wide of the mark. For instance, given the West’s current difficulties with Iran, it is a little startling to see that nation allied with Western Europe and the U.S. against one of present-day Iran’s staunchest supporters in the current political, economic, and military arena. Of course, who could have known back when this game was published just how precarious the Shah’s political support actually was? Be that as it may, it is fascinating, with all the advantages afforded by 20/20 hindsight, to what the SPI design staff thought that the world would look like by 1998, twenty years into the future.

OBJECTIVE MOSCOW is played in bi-weekly game turns; and for those familiar with the KURSK family of games, the turn sequence is easy to learn. The typical game turn follows a logical, simple to execute pattern: the Strategic Movement phase; Land Movement phase; Interception phase; Vombat phase; Reaction phase; Mechanized movement phase; and the Replacement and Reinforcement phase. The Soviet player turn differs only in the last phase of the sequence: the Russian player concludes his game turn with a Replacement, Reinforcement, and Mobilization phase. As might be expected, considering the game’s counter-mix, OBJECTIVE MOSCOW focuses primarily on ground combat. And, although there is a role for both naval and air units, that role is subordinate to the requirements of land combat. Basically, it is a game of maneuver and envelopment rather than one of static lines, and toe-to-toe slugging matches. This is probably the game’s biggest appeal: because zones of control are too weak to establish defensive lines that can reliably prevent infiltration or breakthroughs, ground battles, except around urban centers, are tests of the players’ command of mobile operations in a fluid, constantly changing battle area.

OBJECTIVE MOSCOW offers three contemporary (circa 1978), semi-historical scenarios: the NATO Front; the China Front; and the Mideast Front. All three of these scenarios are ten game turns long and use only one map section. In addition, players may opt to combine these three different fronts (with their associated forces) into the 26 turn Contemporary Campaign Game. There is also a semi-historical 10 turn Korea Minigame that uses only one map section and simulates a 1970’s invasion of South Korea by the North. The final game in the series is the hypothetical 1998 Campaign Game. This scenario posits a coalition of the forces of NATO (in the west), and China and its allies (in the east) against a beleaguered Soviet Union in 1998. This scenario alone makes the game a worthwhile addition to the collection of anyone interested either in SPI hypothetical titles in particular, or in modern warfare games more generally!


OBJECTIVE MOSCOW, like its cousin, INVASION AMERICA, is really a conflict simulation with a little sci-fi and fantasy thrown in. Unlike titles such as THE NEXT WAR or FULDA GAP, however, it is not a conventional (best guess) treatment of a NATO-Warsaw Pact conflict sometime in the immediate future. In the case of both of these more traditional “futurist” titles, the designers made extensive and careful use of the publicly accessible military data, available during the periods in which these games were produced, in order to frame the conditions of their hypothetical conflicts.

That, it should be noted, was clearly not SPI’s goal in producing OBJECTIVE MOSCOW. It is something else entirely. In fact, it is so “off the wall” in some of its design assumptions that I suspect that it came about as a weird and perversely interesting product of a few late-night SPI “bull-sessions” about hypothetical East-West warfare that somehow received Dunnigan’s blessing to proceed with actual game development and publishing. For that reason, OBJECTIVE MOSCOW — despite its interesting premise and clean game system — is probably a marginal choice for the historical or military “purist.” On the other hand, for those players who like sci-fi and fantasy games as well as regular conflict simulations, it undoubtedly would be an interesting and unique addition for their game collections.

Design Characteristics:

  • Time Scale: 2 weeks per game turn
  • Map Scale: 60 kilometers per hex
  • Unit Size: divisions, air groups (100 aircraft), individual aircraft carriers (with escorts)
  • Unit Types: army headquarters/corps headquarters, armor, mechanized infantry, motorized infantry, mountain infantry, marines, space marines, airborne, airmobile, cavalry (untried/tried), infantry (untried/tried), artillery (untried/tried), naval unit (carrier), contemporary fighter-bomber, contemporary fighter-bomber (limited weather), fighter-bomber (1998), contemporary fighter, contemporary bomber, bomber (1998), cruise missile, hovercraft, and information markers
  • Number of Players: two or more (teams highly recommended)
  • Complexity: medium
  • Solitaire Suitability: medium (if pushing around 1200 unit counters doesn’t bother you)
  • Average Playing Time: 2-10 hours (depending on scenario)

Game Components:

  • Four 22” x 34” hexagonal grid Map Sheets (with Terrain Effects Chart, Combat Results Table, Nuclear Capabilities Chart, Nuclear Combat Results Table, National Policies Table, Weather Table, and Weather Chart)
  • 1,200 back-printed ½” cardboard Counters
  • One 8½” x 11” Rules Booklet (with Scenario Set-Ups, Combat Results Table, Nuclear Capabilities Chart, Nuclear Combat Results Table, National Policies Table, Weather Table, and Weather Chart incorporated)
  • One 17” x 22” combined U.S. Allied, Soviet Allied, and Chinese Headquarters Organization Charts, and Strategic Movement Grid (must be separated into individual component charts for use)
  • One small six-sided Die
  • One SPI 3½” x 8½” Customer Complaint Card
  • Two SPI 12” x 15” x 1” flat 24 compartment plastic Game Boxes (with clear compartment tray covers) and clear plastic box covers with Title Sheets


  • Oh how I loved the "What If" invasion by a united Europe,US/Canada ,China,Iran that I bought an extra set of counters to add to the European forces and the US/Canada.That was a blast for me with solo play.
    The standard Nato/Warsaw Pact game sort of left me cold and you would have thought SPI would know where Dresden goes after all the games they made with it somewhere.

  • Greetings Kim:

    I had a friend who really liked both this game and INVASION AMERICA. In fact, as it turned out, I never even had to punch and trim my own copy, I just played using his; which, I should note, actually worked out pretty well in the end because when I finally sold my "near mint" copy on eBay a few years ago, it pulled over $340.00!

    Best Regards, Joe

  • This is one of my all time favorites. I kept on being outbid for it on eBay and on my honeymoon I found a mint (but missing rulebook) copy in an antique store for about $15.

  • Greetings Regularjoe:

    It looks like your patience paid off when it came to this title! This is particularly true now that there are a variety of different potential sources -- both on the internet and elsewhere -- where an interested player should be able to find a missing rules booklet!

    Best Regards, Joe

  • I think the author doesn't quite grasp the concept of the game. The "1999" game was intended as the main game (sort of a mirror image of "Invasion America"), with the 1975 game almost as an afterthought - at least that's how it was marketed. (Speaking of marketing, the ad in S&T promised "eight one-map scenarios" - four 1975, four 1999 - only for the owner to discover in the designer's notes that (a) there just weren't enough units in the area to make a 1975 "Siberia map" scenario feasible, and (b) the 1999 game required far too much movement between maps to make any 1999 one-map scenarios pretty much unplayable.)
    I also remember one bit of "playability" added to the game; while "hovercraft units" could travel over water, they were not allowed in the Black Sea, presumably to prevent the USA player from moving them all there and easily breaking through the Soviet line.

  • Greetings Don:

    Because I take your observations seriously, your comment that I "didn't quite get the underlying concept of the game" picqued my interest enough that I went back and reread my profile of OBJECTIVE MOSCOW. I confess, however, that after reviewing a piece that I admittedly wrote quite some time ago, I was at a loss as to where exactly we might be in disagreement. Both of us note that OBJECTIVE MOSCOW was, conceptionally-speaking at least, the "bookend" to INVASION AMERICA; and both of us seem to agree that the centerpiece of the game was the modern 1990's version.

    If we disagree on anything, it is perhaps that I was a bit less sympathetic to the several seemingly "tongue-in-cheek" elements that the designer felt compelled to include in the design. They may have been cute, but they did not, so far as I could see, offer any tangible improvement to the game.

    As to the modern 1990's scenarios, I personally found them interesting, not so much for what they offered in game terms, but as a look back at just how wrong otherwise well-informed people could be about the shape of future events. This, I think, is a cautionary warning for us all to be very careful when it comes to making predictions a bout the future, even those based on an accurate assessment of current conditions.

    In the end, given the game's good and not-so-good points, I stick by my verdict as to its appeal (or lack thereof) when it comes to the typical gamer. It is, most certainly, better than than the truly unimpressive INVASION AMERICA, but not enough of an improvement to warrant the status of a MUST OWN game.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Not to nitpick, but the former leader of Iran was spelled "Shah". Indeed, of the dated elements of the 90's scenario this is the easiest to forgive considering how almost completely unforeseen this was. I'm reminded of its omission from Hackett's "The Third World War", as well as subsequent editions and the sequel.

  • Greetings Tony:

    Thank you for visiting and for taking the time to comment. And yes, your "nit" has been duly noted and corrected.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Funny I have both "Invasion America" and "Objective Moscow" and haven't thought about them let alone played them in decades. Then yesterday I was in a conversation with my girlfriend's son and somehow we got on the topic. I'll have to did out those games and see what condition they're in

  • Greetings mindstar3000:

    Thanks for visiting; I hope you like this site.

    It's funny that you mention this old SPI title after having not played it for so many years; it turns out that I and the game's designer, Joe Angiolillo, just started a PBeM game of STALINGRAD a couple of days ago. Talk about a "blast from the past"; Joe and I have known each other for quite awhile but, given that my review of this title was lukewarm, at best, we rarely ever discuss it.

    Best Regards, Joe

    PS: While I don't think that Joe actually dislikes this particular project, I do know that there are a number of designs that friend Angilillo finds much more satisfying. Moreover, it should be noted that -- among his many other hobby-related accomplishments -- Joe A was also the lead developer for AXIS & ALLIES.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Hello Joe,

    I am about to start a solitaire game of Objective Moscow, something I last played in 30 years ago. I decided to go with the NATO map and the Middle East map. I am going to mix up the situation a little. I am going to start the game with USSR invading Afghanistan and have Iran and Iraq battle each other. At some point (after a few turns) I will have USSR invade Iran (presumably to gain a warm water port) in which case USA will try to help Iran (keeping in mind this would be before the hostage crisis of 1979). The next turn will be a NATO attack on USSR on the Europe front. This will be "Turn 1" of the traditional campaign game.

    What do you think?


  • Greetings Anon:

    Your basic scenario sounds both interesting and plausible; on the other hand, how do you intend to deal with Turkey and its potential intervention (as a mamber of NATO) on the Soviet's eastern flank? And while we're at it: whose side would Egypt (at this time a Soviet Client State) come down on? Would Egypt (and by extension, the Syrians) side with the Warsaw Pact or with Afganistan, Iran and posibly Iraq (all Moslem countries)?

    This is the problem with designbing large-scale (multi-national) scenarios: things just get increasingly complicated, the more one tries to hew to the historical realities of the period.

    In any case, good luck with your project; but please leave out the "Space Marines"; their use is simply "a bridege too far".

    Best Regards, Joe

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