Shenandoah Studio have got a new game coming out in a matter of weeks: WWII Eastern Front wargame Drive on Moscow. It’s the second installment in the Crisis In Command series that last year’s masterpiece Battle of the Bulge began, and it’s coming very soon.
Drive on Moscow takes place on a bigger map than Bulge, with Moscow at its center. It’s 1941 and you’re in the midst of Operation Typhoon and its aftermath, as the Germans make a desperate push to decapitate the Soviet Union by taking its capital. I talked to Shenandoah’s Brad Cummings about it last week.
The only reason that Drive on Moscow exists at all (at least, right now) is because planned sequel El Alamein has proven a tougher nut to crack than Shenandoah expected. “El Alamein is still coming, but there’s also been some challenges in development,” Cummings told me. “There’s a reason the Germans lost the Battle of El Alamein.”
Making a fun, balanced two-player game out of El Alamein took more playtesting than the studio had anticipated, and Shenandoah have licked it by adding a strategic layer to the game that Bulge didn’t have. “We’re implementing a campaign mode to the game that covers the 1st of July through October [of 1942],” said Cummings. “Each week, either side has the option to either start an offensive, or hold position and lay minefields and take on reinforcements. If you choose to go on the offensive, you get fewer reinforcements, but you gain the advantage of initiative.”
While Shenandoah’s designers were gathered around their paper prototypes trying to make El Alamein fun, the programmers were put to work making a new game in the existing Battle of the Bulge engine. “Drive on Moscow is more like Bulge,” Cummings said. “There’s new features and more mechanics, but it’s more similar to Bulge than El Alamein will be.”
As with Bulge, Shenandoah have found a top-shelf wargame designer to create the scenarios. Drive on Moscow is designed by Ted Racier, who made the legendary tabletop wargame Paths of Glory. “The first scenario models the German offensive called Operation Typhoon,” said Cummings, “and there’s a middle scenario called At The Gates when the Germans have the city almost encircled, and the last scenario is based on the Soviet counterattack.”
This new game has a big goal right in the center of the map: the city of Moscow itself. The Germans can either attempt to take and secure the city, or encircle it and cut it off. The Soviet player can hold key points and eliminate German units to gain victory points, and otherwise just try to thwart German efforts.
Just as in Battle of the Bulge, the map will be a crucial part of your decision-making, but even more so this time around. “If you know the history of the battle,” Cummings says, “the weather played a crucial role. The mud bogged down maneuvers, and when the ground frosted over things became more mobile — but the German infantry suffered from lack of cold weather gear. In Drive on Moscow, the map will change based on weather conditions. It will change visually, and there will be gameplay effects, too.”
The game is also closer than you might have expected. Shenandoah has got a functioning version right now (“It’s our ‘glass prototype’ — it works but it’s fragile.”) and they’re planning to ship the game in the next several weeks, though they’re not ready to talk release dates yet.
There’s no plans for a Drive on Moscow Lite, as Shenandoah thinks that Battle of the Bulge and Battle of the Bulge Lite serve as adequate introductions to the Crisis in Command series, but they are aiming to release the game for iPhone. “We’re not sure if [the iPhone release] will be simultaneous or staggered — much of that depends on how Battle of the Bulge for iPhone does when it comes out.”
During Shenandoah’s initial Battle of the Bulge Kickstarter last spring, higher-tier backers were offered a copy of Bulge’s first sequel (then planned as El Alamein) as well as Bulge itself. Shenandoah is planning on offering those backers a copy of Drive on Moscow instead if they prefer not to wait, Cummings told me.
Stay tuned for more about Drive on Moscow here on PT over the next few weeks.