Where recently reviewed Red Star, tackled the pre- and early years (’38-’41) of WWII from the Soviet perspective, Order of Battle: Red Steel takes the conflict through ’42 through to the critical battles of early ’43.
As I noted in the Red Star review, Order of Battle creators The Artistocrats has certainly earned a reputation for covering the WWII conflict in ways that most other games refuse to. While most wargames and games of other genres, will gladly dip into the conflict, many of them focus heavily on the allied efforts on the Western front, normally specifically based around the push back against Nazi Germany in the latter moments of the war. Red Steel continues with this and specifically picks up directly after the Red Star campaign — even allowing you to carry units through from the first expansion.
It kicks off with Staritsa in January 1942, where the Red Army pushed back after the Battle of Moscow, from there you’ll fight on the Crimean front, fight to regain Rzhev, complete naval landings on the Black Sea coast and wrap up with air battles over the Kuban. There’s plenty in-between that, as well as two extra scenarios depending on your performance in the campaign.
As with Red Star, Red Steel adds a bunch of new units — although not all for the Soviet side. The reds gain OT-34 flame, T-70 light, and KV-1 m1942 heavy tanks as well as improved 45mm m 1942 AT guns. There’s new aircraft, in the form of two fighters and two bombers, and there’s a new ZiS-3 field gun. However, Germany gains improved Panzer tanks, Romania gains R-2 Tanks and a fighter plane, and the Hungarians gain their own (retooled Italian) fighter plane.
One thing that the Order of Battle expansions are all exceptionally good at is jumping around different campaigns. They’d rather have you jump to the critical battles rather than have you draw a line across a map to follow. Red Steel is probably one of the best examples of this, you’ll fight on beaches, fields and snow within a handful of missions, and there are some great missions in there. In fact, the Stalingrad and Operation Uranus missions are among some of my favourite Order of Battle levels now.
Order of Battle’s Red Steel expansion is available now on PC and Mac.