Von Manstein's Backhand Blow
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Southern Russia, early February 1943 -- In Stalingrad, the surrounded remnants of the once might German Sixth Army are being slowly and methodically exterminated. Hundreds of miles to the west, two powerful Soviet Fronts are moving west and south against a patchwork German line, intent on destroying the remaining Axis forces in Southern Russia. Operations Star and Gallop have begun.
Six weeks later, the shocked, battered remnants of these two Soviet Fronts are running for their collective lives from powerful German panzer spearheads. What had happened? Soviet overconfidence was responsible in part for the disaster, playing into German hands, but by far, most of the credit for the amazing reversal belonged to Field Marshal von Manstein. Holding off the Soviets to his front and Hitler at his back, he managed to accumulate sufficient panzer formations to allow the Germans to regain tactical and operational superiority.
Von Manstein's Backhand Blow is a low/intermediate complexity two player game using the well-received Turning the Tables system pioneered in earlier East Front games produced by Moments in History. The game system itself is easy to learn and master. No two games will ever play out alike because a great deal of uncertainty and randomness is injected into each combat due to the Combat Chit Draw and Random Events Table. This uncertainty makes von Manstein's Backhand Blow ideal as a solitaire game since combat results cannot be accurately predicted.
Dirk Blennemann, the designer, has the reputation for creating excellent Orders of Battle for East Front simulations. Using detailed Russian and German language sources, he provides a broad array of maneuver units -- Soviet divisions and corps on one side, and German units ranging from regiments down to the multitude of ad hoc German kampfgruppen thrown into the battle to stop the Soviet advance.