The battle of Tolvajärvi is another significant Finnish victory against great odds, though the Soviets performed much better this time. The Soviets attacked in early December 1939, along the river Aittijoki. The Finns panicked in some places, and a near-rout seemed inevitable. Finnish Marshal Carl Gustav Mannerheim sent a small group of reinforcements led by Col. Paavo Talvela, previously in charge of buying artillery ammunition for the army.
Talvela proved that a warrior lived within the bureaucrat, putting new heart into his men and stemming the Soviet advance. After heavy fighting, the Finns had destroyed the Soviet 139th Rifle Division and damaged the 75th. But they suffered serious losses as well, as the Soviets here had committed ski troops of their own including the “Red Finns” seldom mentioned by Finnish writers.
Winter Fury re-creates the twin battles of Tolvajärvi and Ilomantsi. Like Blood on the Snow and MacArthur’s Return it uses a “variable impulse” game system to model the two armies’ very different capabilities. Each turn, each player puts a number of markers into a common container. These are then drawn one by one, the number drawn varying with the current weather condition.
The Finnish player has weaker forces, but will usually draw more markers and these allow the Finns to conduct more operations. The good Finnish units are better than the Soviet ones, and more mobile in the forests though the edge is not as pronounced here as in Blood on the Snow. The Soviet cannot move his or her divisions together, complicating the Red Army’s efforts.
Units are rated for attack and defense strength, and movement. Both sides have artillery units, which can support both attacks and defenses. The Soviet artillery is very powerful; Finnish guns are little more than a nuisance. The Soviet player also has tanks and armored cars, which not only are powerful in battle (at least on the roads), they also might cause the Finns to suffer “pansaari panic” and run away.
The map is divided into hexagons, each representing an area two kilometers across.
The game comes with four scenarios, or game situations, assuring repeated play opportunities. It can also be linked together with Blood on the Snow for a larger campaign game of the Winter War in central Finland.
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