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The Third Winter (TTW) covers the critical campaigns in the Ukraine during the period September 1943 - April 1944. This massive series of battles involved 75% of the Soviet and 85% of the German armored and mechanized forces, nearly 60 mobile divisions. The campaign proved to be the bloodiest in the war to date and The Third Winter covers the major engagements: the battle for Kiev, the winter counterstroke of Manstein's 'fire brigades', the tank battles at Kirovograd, the Korsun-Cherkassy pocket, the 1st Panzer Army’s “moving pocket” battle (Hube's Pocket), the fortress battles around Tarnopol in the spring of 1944, the baptism of fire for II SS Panzer Corps and the slugfest in Romania. The spring mud season brought the campaign to an end, by which time both armies were exhausted. The Red Army would quickly recover, the Wehrmacht could not.
The game area covers parts of Southern Russia, much of the Ukraine, southeastern Poland, and eastern Romania. The game begins with the Germans in full retreat to the Dnepr in late September 1943. By the campaign’s end in late April 1944, four Axis armies will have faced four Soviet fronts in a titanic struggle. Several scenarios supplement the main campaign, as the German army fights its “Third Winter” in Russia.
The Soviet command and supply structure is modeled through Front HQ markers. Fronts are either in “Offensive” or “Regrouping” status, allowing for shifting axes of attack and the on/off nature of Soviet operational warfare during this time. Each Front has an assigned Air Force. Tank and Mechanized Corps rebuilding takes place off-map, allowing for rapid strategic force shifts. The Axis player has operational flexibility, but must battle multiple challenging situations.
The Third Winter is a large OCS game, with over 1,700 combat units and a 44 x 66-inch map layout at a scale of 5-mile hex/3.5 day turn. The full Campaign game is 63 turns long, and there are three campaign scenarios so players can start at different points in the action. Also included are several one-map scenarios, including an 8-turn Korsun Pocket game played on a special map (otherwise parts of all four maps would be needed).
Special rules in this OCS series game are carefully researched to model key aspects of this enormous campaign:
• Soviet Front HQ Markers reflecting their role in command and marshaling supply.
• Soviet RVGK areas for coordinating strategic redeployment and rebuilding shattered mobile Corps.
• Axis Army, Army Group and Kessel HQs, along with Kampfgruppe markers which portray Axis operational flexibility.
• Soviet challenges in successfully crossing the Volga class Dnepr River.
• German Tank-buster aircraft as piloted by Hans-Ulrich Rudel and the famous JG52 with Ace Erich Hartmann.
• Forces include German Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe and SS formations, as well as Soviet Guards and regular units, plus Hungarian, Rumanian, Slovak, and Czech units.
• Random events similar to what are found in Beyond the Rhine. The 43 possible events add historical flavor with minimal rules overhead, covering things like Partisan Raids, Stalin’s Impatience, Hitler’s Fortress Directive #53, Extra Lend-Lease Support, Battlefield Heroes, and Leader Dismissal.
• Detailed examples of play are included for new mechanics such as Soviet Ferries, German Kessel HQs facilitating “moving pockets”, Soviet Fronts and the RVGK.
• The Dnepr Battles (Campaign Game Start, 4 maps, 63 turns), 26 Sept 1943 to 26 April 1944
• Die Götterdämmerung, (January Campaign Start, 4 maps, 27 turns), 26 Jan 44 to 26 April 44
• Red Thunder (April Campaign Start, 2 maps, 6 turns), 8 Apr 44 to 26 April 44
• Manstein’s Fire Brigades (1 map, 9 turns), 26 Dec 43 to 22 Jan 44
• II SS Panzer Corps Strikes Back (1 map, 6 turns), 8 Apr 44 to 26 April 44
• Rumanian Finish (1 map, 6 turns), 8 Apr 44 to 26 April 44
• Hube’s Pocket (1 map, 8 turns), 22 Mar 44 to 15 Apr 44
• Scorpions in a Bottle (Korsun Pocket Half-Map Introductory game, 8 turns), 26 Jan 44 to 19 Feb 44
• OCS Rulebook (version 4.3)
• Game-Specific Rulebook with extensive Historical Commentary, Designer's Notes, Developer's Notes, Historical Commentary, Full Color Examples of Play and Players Notes
• Scenario Booklet
• Axis Player Booklet, including an Order of Arrival
• Soviet Player Booklet, including an Order of Arrival
• Two OCS v4.3 Charts and Tables
• Four Full Color Game Maps (22x34)
• One Full Color Scenario Map (11x17)
• 2,800 counters (seven Game Specific countersheets & three marker countersheets)
• Two Full Color Terrain Effects Charts – One for each Player Side
• One Full Color Turn Record Track and Reinforcements Display
• Four Multi Unit Formations Displays – Two Axis and Two Soviet, portraying all the MUFs in the game for easy organization and identification.
• One Full Color Soviet RVGK Logistics Display
• Two Full Color General Record Tracks – One Axis and One Soviet
• Two Full Color Breakdown Regiment Display Cards – One Axis and One Soviet
• Box and Dice