The "No Bessarabia" Gambit

This one has become common-place in our games and is quite annoying.

How it works

  • On the 2nd impulse of S/O 1939, Germany declares war on Yugoslavia.
  • During the same impulse, Germany aligns Rumania.
  • Because Rumania is now an aligned minor, Russia cannot demand Bessarabia.

Why it's an exploit

The rule takes advantage of the fact that Russia cannot demand Bessarabia on the 1st allied impulse. The earliest the Russians can demand Bess is by the 2nd allied impulse by which point, Rumania is already aligned.

Historically, it makes no sense since the just-signed Russo-German pact included secret provisions acknowledging Russia's interests in Bessarabia. To have the Germans blatantly violate the treaty so quickly after the signing of the pact just weeks earlier with absolutely no consequences is absurd.

The reason Germany uses this exploit is for Barbarossa. Specifically, it allows Germany to ignore the riverline on the 1st impulse, puts them one hex-row closer to the crucial Dneiper river line and also eliminates a city that the Russians can use as a speed-bump. 41-Barbs are all about speed and in our experience, the no-Bess gambit takes away a most precious resource from Russia: time and space. This is easily worth the few crappy Rumanian units that you lose by aligning the Rumanians early.

How can it be fixed?

This is difficult because you don't want to create special rules that disallow, say, an early attack on Yugoslavia with Rumanian help. You also don't want to force Russia to do this as the first thing it does in every game. The most obvious thing to do is just take away the condition that Rumania needs to be neutral if Russia demands Bessarabia. The simplest way to handle this might be something like this:

If Russia demands Bessarabia while Rumania is not neutral then:
- Rumania must accept the claim. Any Axis controlled units in Bessarabia are moved to the nearest hex in which they can stack.
- In the subsequent Axis impulse, the Germans must back Rumania and Rumania becomes a full Axis ally.
- If Hungary is not aligned, it stops supplying its resource to Germany until Hungary aligns with Germany. Germany can declare Hungary aligned with Germany during any Axis declaration of war step after Germany has declared war on the USSR (not if the USSR declares war on Germany). No more than 1 Hungarian unit can ever be outside of Hungary.
- If Bulgaria is not aligned with Germany, Bulgaria can never align with Germany but the USSR can declare it aligned with the USSR during any later Allied declaration of war step.

The rules for Soviet border rectification are complicated so these fixes need to be playtested properly to ensure that they aren't broken or open up new exploits. When they are, we will post our revised fixes.

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