OPERATION WHIRLWIND – The Soviet Invasion of Hungary – 1956 from Fiery Dragon – Review

OPERATION WHIRLWIND – The Soviet Invasion of Hungary – 1956

A Counter Strike Mini-Game from Fiery Dragon

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     The year 1956 was significant, not only for Egyptian nationalization of the Suez Canal and the subsequent takeover of the canal by Britain and France, but for the Soviet invasion of Hungary to put down a revolution for freedom. Before proceeding further, let me put the game in historical context. In 1945, when the Soviets drove out the Nazis and the Fascist Horthy government, the people applauded their efforts to establish a communist regime in Hungary. Soviet bureaucrats leaving the workers little better off than under the previous regime carried out this “revolution.” Shortages began to appear in the shops, especially of meat.  People had to stand in line all day to get a small ration of what they wanted. In 1953, when Stalin died, Imre Nagy took over the reins of the Hungarian government.  Nagy began to liberalize the government. The Soviet-backed Hungarian government soon collapsed and Nagy declared an end to the one-party political system and threatened to pull his army out of the Warsaw Pact. The Soviets could not allow this defection in their plans for the greater good of communism. Their response was to send the mechanized forces of the Soviet Army into Hungary to restore “order.”  Operation Whirlwind is a simulation of this response to the Hungarian bid for freedom.

     The game consists of a 10 by 17-inch map sheet, divided into area, the scale of which is approximately 300 yards per inch.  Unit sizes are platoon to regiment; the units included are for the Soviet 2nd, 7th and 33rd Guards Mechanized Divisions and the 128th Motorized Division.  Hungarian units are mainly civilian militia.  Additional units are included for American Special Forces and 101st Airborne, and some Hungarian Army units for use under the special rules to be agreed upon before starting. The basic (Historical) scenario is between the 2nd and 33rd Guard units and the civilian militia.

      The map is divided into some 35 Areas to facilitate movement and has impact on certain combat situations. The areas are divided into Industrial, Park, Suburban and Urban areas. There are ten specific Objective points, which must be in Soviet control to bring an end to the game. The Soviet units have the capability of two formations, first is “attack” which defines the full weight of the mechanized unit; and “probe” which is a representation of the dismounted weight of the Guards Infantry. All regular army unit counters, Soviet, Hungarian and American are supplemented by a step reduction system for showing losses.  Army unit integrity is essential; units from more than one regular formation cannot combine in a single combat with the exceptions of the Special Corps, who can attach to any combat.

     To begin the game, the Hungarian player places all of the recruit and civilian units into one container, and all the sapper units into another container. The player then rolls four six-sided dice and places that number of recruit and civilian units facedown on the 35 areas of the map. The Hungarian player also rolls two six-sided dice for Arms Points; these points are used to upgrade recruit units to militia and militia units to sappers. When a unit is upgraded to a sapper unit it is picked from that container blindly. The Soviet player then moves the 2nd and 33rd Guards Mechanized Division and the Special Corps onto the map along any edge or edges in the first Game-turn. Historically, the 2nd came from the northeast and the 33rd Guards come from the southeast.

      The play sequence consists of a Hungarian Reinforcement Phase, a Soviet turn, movement and combat, and a Hungarian turn, movement and combat, finished by a turn end phase in which all Hungarian insurgent units who participated in combat are again turned face down.  Soviet units are determined to adopt Assault or Probe mode.  If the currently ending turn is a night turn, the Soviet player can attempt to reconstitute units that have been eliminated.

     Movement for regular army units, whether Soviet, Hungarian or 101st Airborne is an unlimited distance from area to area.  They must, however, stop as soon as they enter an area containing enemy units.  Soviet units in Assault mode are not allowed to move. Hungarian Civilian and Insurgent units may use infiltration movement, which is dependent upon the roll of a die.

     Combat, if affected by adding the Combat Factors roll two six-sided dice and cross-index the results on the CRT.  Shifts due to use of combined arms, concealed insurgents, surprise attacks and other factors can influence the outcome.  Shifts are cumulative.  Combat is considered to be simultaneous, so that after the attacker resolves his attack the defender resolves his counterattack before any casualties are removed.

      Game play is rather fast and definitely confusing, as removed Hungarian units go back into the container to be picked again the next turn, giving the Hungarian player a seemingly unending supply of units. Eliminated Soviet units are placed aside until the next “night” turn when the Soviet player may try to “reconstitute” these units and bring them back into the game.

     Victory is determined by the accumulation of Victory points. At the beginning of the game the Soviets are given 50 Victory points. Actually, it is by the adjustment of points, at the time the game ends that determine victory. Points are added or subtracted from that total dependent upon events that took place during the progress of the game. A minimum total of 40 points is required for a complete Soviet triumph.

      This mini-game covers a subject that has not previously been treated in any major form. The simulation is relatively easy to play and adds an interesting chapter to gaming of an organized military response to a civilian uprising.

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