Unity of Command 2 will feed us DLCs until they run out of World War 2 to cover. Hopefully, that will lead to either Unity of Command 3 or a fun off-shoot that gives us World War 3. Until that point, we have to sate our hungers with Don 42 DLC, which is but the latest in the game’s history.
Starting out in the winter of 1942, Don 42 DLC will see us undo everything we accomplished in the Stalingrad DLC a year and a half ago. The Nazi armies are stretched thin around Stalingrad. Fresh reserves and new formations bolster the Soviet forces. It’s time to drive the fascists back just like you did around Moscow. Hopefully, Stalin won’t overextend his forces just to see them shattered again.
Lol, no, he’ll totally do it.
Don 42 goes to 43
Don 42 DLC is a lot shorter than the 25 scenario Desert Fox DLC, clocking in at 11 historical ones – and I’m no even sure if alt-history is on the menu this time. Most are fairly sizeable, if not in terms of the terrain covered, then certainly in the units controlled. Quite a few of them will feature commands that you don’t upgrade in the conferences.
Now, we’ve played as Soviets in Unity of Command 2 before. We know that their sizeable hosts are a necessity. While the new mechanized corps units are dangerous to the Germans, most of your forces are still rifle divisions only on par with what Axis Minors bring to the field. The AI will counter-attack, and their tank or mechanized forces will whittle down your men (and women). I probably lost more divisions in this DLC (though a few were only disbanded in the Turn 0 reshuffles) than in any others.
Oh shit, maybe purging the army wasn’t a great idea
Thus, contrary to our usual Unity of Command 2 experience, Don 42 DLC asks us to accept casualties. A lot of units are replaceable. Even your hard hitters – tanks, Guards and Guard versions of everything else – are more expendable than you’re used to. At the same time, it serves a narrative purpose – the reserves aren’t endless and they will run out. Third Battle of Kharkov didn’t spring out of Manstein’s head fully formed, there were contributing factors to it on the Soviet side.
And you’re in charge of those contributing factors.
So while Unity of Command 2 has, for most of its run, seen a fairly passive AI, this is not the case in Don 42 DLC. Any tank, truck or half-track model you see is a deadly threat. On the other hand, an interesting dynamic arises: any tank, truck or half-track becomes the immediate center of attention of your forces. If you attack, suppress and eliminate them now, they can’t do that to you next turn! And doesn’t it just feel naughty, to be the prey that tries to preemptively tear down the predator?
To add to that, any points you can scrounge up for specialists (up to the Soviet limit of one per unit) are vital – and so are any strategic cards you can muster. VVS support is never guaranteed unless you pony up the cash! It’s also important to remember how the artillery preparation card works: if your Guard MC with attached Katyusha can stonk the enemy with a couple rounds of suppressing fire before launching an assault, it can absolutely carry the day.
As for the less obvious stuff this time around… I like the dice hated me this time. Time and time again I saw safe attacks that should have only suppressed my units actually inflict casualties on my forces. I wonder if this was something special cooked up for Don 42 DLC – or was it just bad luck?
To sum it all up, Unity of Command 2: Don 42 DLC was fun. I wish that it had been longer – or that I had had better luck – but its good. It’s fresh, it’s not about overplayed Western theaters of war, and it’s Eastern Front gaming that isn’t focused on the Germans. Oh, if only the Guard tank camo was pretty…