Battle for Moscow is a short introductory-level wargame that was released by Game Designers Workshop in 1986. It was designed to be an introduction to both the war gaming hobby and some of the basic mechanics of their larger game, The Great Patriotic War. It recreates the German advance on Moscow in late 1941. It includes a simple 10 x 14 hex map of the area surrounding Moscow, four pages of rules, and 39 counters (17 for Soviet units and 22 for German units). The game plays very quickly and uses simple mechanics. It does a pretty good job of simulating the factors involved in the historical campaign, including the effects of terrain, mobility (German armor units move twice a turn, and Soviet troops may move by rail if they are positioned on an appropriate line), weather, and reinforcements.
I've played this game a few times solo and a couple of times with live opponents recently. In every case, the Soviets have won, although I have gotten close to a German victory in at least two games. In every game, the German side gained the upper hand quickly but eventually was overwhelmed by the combination of loss of mobility in the middle of the game (simulating the mud that bogged down the German panzers in late October and Early November) and the overwhelming Soviet reinforcements. The rules allow the Soviets five reinforcement slots per turn and the Germans one. This allows the Soviet player to quickly muster defenses in and around Moscow. Unless the German player can break the line and charge on Moscow with panzer units first turn, they quickly get tied up with defensive skirmishes.
I like this game quite a bit. It is simple and plays quickly, does an adequate job of recreating the historical situation, and has a little tactical flexibility. I'll definitely play it again, especially if it means I can get a few more people to try some old school hex-and-counter gaming.
As a side note, I also started playing a couple Battle for Moscow games by email using Vassal to get a feel for that program and see how it works as a play-by-email platform. Although it took quite a while to declare and resolve all of the attacks in a turn, this seems like an ideal way to play a game when I can't get opponents in real time at the same table. I'll definitely be using the program to play some other games as well, and I'll report back with how they work out. If you use Vassal to play games and want to give something a go, drop me a line.