Heirs of the Golden Horde (HGH) is the sixth volume of Red Sash Games Lace Wars series. The game is companion to Volume V, Türkenkrieg. The subject of both games is the little known Russo-Austro-Turkish War of 1735-39. Türkenkrieg dealt with the war between the Imperials (the Habsburg Austrian Empire) and the Ottoman Empire along the Danube. HGH investigates the theatre of the Ukraine, where the Russians attempted to destroy the power of the Crimean Tatars as a first step toward Peter the Great's dream of a warm water port.
HGH is not a complete game. Although it is possible to play a few of the scenarios with the counter mix provided, HGH is intended to be an expansion module for Türkenkrieg.
The Muscovites are a wargamer's fantasy come true: Russian soldiers commanded by German officers. Though their prime strength lies in their stoical peasant infantry, they have large numbers of Cossack irregulars, Kalmyk tribesmen, and badly mounted dragoons to help them, and their home base is protected by a Garrison Army larger than their mobile army, not to mention a huge fortification project stretching between the Dniepr and Donets Rivers. Slow and clumsy, the Bear will crush anyone his paws can embrace. Expect high casualties from attrition, but do not worry, there are still plenty of serfs.
Although the whole map is very large (covering all of the southern Ukraine), many of the scenarios only require manageable portions of it. With few roads and habitations, rivers become critical for supply, and both sides have a substantial naval presence. Historically, the Russians packed in everything they needed, moving across the Steppe like a floating city. The Tatars have the advantage of not needing a base, though the Crimea is their "yurt" or settlement. HGH features some new terrain: Steppe, Rapids, Seasonal Rivers and Lakes, and Salt Pans. It also (of course), features the Russian Winter.
HGH contains no Campaign Scenario of its own, but does include rules for a Grand Campaign linking it and Türkenkrieg in a huge 4-player game; a true "monster". HGH also updates the Türkenkrieg rules and charts to the 3.5 version and includes counter errata for the latter.
Map scale is 8.5 miles per hex. Unit scale is battalion/regimental. Units are rated for Effectiveness and Movement; raw strength is factored into Effectiveness.
Turns are equivalent to three weeks - 16 turns per year. Each turn is broken down into several phases - supply, operations, admin, etc. There are scenarios for each year of active operations - three in all - and a Campaign Game.
Like the other games in the series, HGH is Operational in scale, emphasizing maneuver and logistics. Individual units are assigned to headquarters that represent the primary combat formations. These move about the map in an attempt to fulfill Campaign Plans that will bring their owner Prestige. Fortifications and their garrisons are critical, and the game includes a comprehensive siege mechanic in addition to the regular "field battle" combat system. The latter focuses on grand tactical issues such as training and morale, frontage, reserves, artillery and cavalry superiority.
The Lace Wars system also involves the use of Auxiliary counters. These represent support troops and irregulars who had a major impact on operations, but cannot be adequately represented as traditional game units. Instead, a player might have a pontooneer auxiliary that he can play onto a stack to help it cross a major river, or a converged grenadier auxiliary that provides a morale bonus in combat. Because of the scale of Türkenkrieg and HGH, many combat elements can be used either as units or as auxiliaries. [Playing cards could have been used instead of counters, but there are production issues involved, and besides, some of the auxiliaries' functions are hard to indicate with cards. In essence, however, auxiliaries are that kind of game asset, not "pawns" like the combat units.]
Politics are not neglected, either. Since the circumstances are always different, these rules vary with the game; in HGH the armies suffer from factional intrigue, and there are a number of external threats that must be considered - Persia for the Ottomans, Sweden for the Russians. The peace process (all wars in the Age of Reason very sensibly involved a concurrent peace process) acts as an impartial timer, possibly ending the game before the players desire it.
Leaders have an important role to play, as befitting an era where personal command was critical. They are rated for skill or effectiveness, personality, and influence (i.e. the chance they have of retaining command despite their incompetence).
The supply system incorporates lines of communication, the strategic placement of depots, foraging, and attrition. River and canal movement has been taken into account and will prove as critical to success as the use of rail lines in games that cover more modern periods.
• Fourteen 12x18 inch full colour maps representing the theatre of the Ukraine, from Transylvania to the Kuban, and from the Black Sea coast to Kiev and Kharkov. Plus 2 updated maps for Türkenkrieg.
• 1680 counters representing the forces of Muscovy (Russia), allied Cossack Hosts, the Calmucks, the Kabardians, various Tatar Hordes under the authority of the Khan of the Crimean Tatars, Ottoman Janissaries and Sipahis, elements of the Asiatic provinces of the Ottoman Empire, Moldavians, Kurds, Mamelukes, and Poles.
• A set of charts and tables, plus several 11x17 inch display cards.
• A series rulebook - 3rd Edition (3.5) - called the King's Regulations and Orders (KR&Os), a game-exclusive rulebook, scenario & OOB information, and an historical commentary.