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Historical Gamer Town Square

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General Historical Gaming Discussion Group, where you can discuss anything historical and point visitors to your threads and activities elsewhere on Beasts of War’s Hubs and Forums.

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Battle of Stalingrad: 75th Anniversary (Back to Miniatures!) (322 posts)

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  • Avatar Image oriskany11895p said 1 month ago:

    Good afternoon, Beasts of War. As we move into autumn and early winter, I thought now would be a good time to take a wargaming look at the Battle of Stalingrad. These months mark the 75th anniversary of what many consider to be the most important single engagement of World War II. Technically the battle lasted from August 1942 to February of 1943, so the “75th anniversary” window is a pretty wide target to hit.

    Anyway, I’ll be presenting some Stalingrad-themed gaming material on this thread, using a number of different systems. Presenting this on a forum thread rather than an article, I earnestly and sincerely invite all historical gamers and enthusiasts on Beasts of War to post their own Stalingrad-themed (or just Eastern Front) games, miniatures, notes, comments, photos, resources, or whatever into the thread and help keep the conversation going.

    I’ll go out on a limb here and say that anyone who clicked on this forum thread already knows just how critical the Battle of Stalingrad was to the Eastern Front, World War II in general, and the 20th Century overall. We often hear about “battles that changed the world,” this is one of the few cases where such grandiose verbiage isn’t “history-lite” hyperbole.

    So let’s not let the 75th Anniversary of Stalingrad pass unnoticed in the Beasts of War community. Drop comments, questions, and your own insights. Better yet, add your own battles, games, miniatures, and tables!

    For now, bundle up your greatcoat and sling that PPSh, the Motherland needs you at Stalingrad!

    Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, November 27 to December 13, 1950 – Semper Fi USMC
    Historical Editor – Beasts of War
    stalingrad-header.jpg
    stalingrad-page-01.jpg
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  • Avatar Image gladesrunner672p said 1 month ago:

    I love these layouts, looks like a magazine! :D I assume there is more of this coming?

  • Avatar Image oriskany11895p said 1 month ago:

    Thanks, @gladesrunner . Yeah, I have a few more pages ready, but I’ll see what response is before creating any more.

  • Avatar Image avernos1463p said 1 month ago:

    Another fantastically detailed post @oriskany

    I’ve done some eastern front gaming but the scale and density of Stalingrad has meant that it’s not something I’ve played out on a table, yet.

    I would say that something you’ve touched upon in regarding the larger “posers scale” of 28mm. I would potentially go further than just come up with BA rules for inside of the buildings.
    In a setting like Stalingrad you could really go to down, a famous example would be Sergeant Yakov Pavlov, and his “house”. I have no doubt you know Jim, but for those who don’t, his platoon held a fortified apartment building for 60 days under siege from the wehrmacht and completely cut off from their own lines.

    Taking that as an example a skirmish game could be a lot of fun. The table could actually just represent the different floors. You could easily take something like Spectre or even the old GW classic of space hulk, with the Russians defending against “blips” of Germans. I think for 28mm tightly focusing in on encounters like that could give a much different feel of a conflict that Stalingrad became synonymous with.

    I’ll be interested to see your table on small scale gaming ideas for it as well,
    I’m currently re-reading Panzer Grenadier Deluxe, which is a great multiscale game, although it works best with small figures, and I think it could make an excellent set of rules for 15mm in stalingrad. I’m not familiar enough with Battlegroup to know if PGD would offer something unique that Battlegroup doesn’t. But it’s playstyle of impetus and exploit phase for additional movement if you gain the initiative, could easily see the ebb and flow of movement through the buildings as commanders attempt to breach the attackers lines.

    “Daemons and Shit!” -BoW Lloyd 2017

    Sophia Lives!!!

  • Avatar Image gladesrunner672p said 1 month ago:

    All I’ve been thinking of since reading this is Bob Hoskins in that movie Enemy at the Gates. “This is STALINgrad”

  • Avatar Image limburger1852p said 1 month ago:

    Wait a minute … this gets a mere forum topic and not a full article series on the front page ?
    Did John’s SS army scare you ? ;-)
    // —
    Pavlov’s house ?
    There was a kickstarter about that one :
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/11606594/pavlovs-house-the-battle-for-stalingrad
    It’s a big picture view of the situation. I don’t know if the game simulates the conditions in a way that make sense, but that’s for reviewers to decide.

    Such a battle almost calls for a RPG like system instead of a traditional skirmish wargame (Twilight 2k perhaps ? ;-) ).
    The blips from space hulk definitely would be a mechanic that could help simulate the paranoiia and endless stream of attackers.

    Of all the things that Call of Duty series did … they apparently had Pavlov’s house in one of their early games too :

    One thing that could be interesting to do is to take a historical scenario as a template and apply it to a different fictional setting.
    Heck, replace Nazis with zombies and you’ve got a scenario that could be used in the walking dead …
    Reality is stranger than fiction at times.

    A different type of game would be ‘this war of mine’
    They never specify which war is in the background, but some of the bits of story do have a WW 2 era feel to them.
    There’s also the fact that it can be set during winter …

    festina lente cauta fac omnia mente
  • Avatar Image avernos1463p said 1 month ago:

    @limburger said:

    Pavlov’s house ?
    There was a kickstarter about that one :

    I’d be surprised if there was only one, it’s very famous if you’re into military history and have ever looked at Stalingrad chances are extremely good that you’ll have heard about it.

    @limburger said:

    Of all the things that Call of Duty series did … they apparently had Pavlov’s house in one of their early games too :

    I played that a lot way back in the day, it was a short but frantic level, having to rush back and forth fending off waves of attackers while trying to reach anti tank rifles set up at points to deal with incoming attacks. By the time you were finished your heart was pounding.

    Replacing historic events in fictional settings is a staple of ficition and gaming in general. But that’s a discussion for another thread I think. :)

  • Avatar Image avernos1463p said 1 month ago:

    @gladesrunner said:
    All I’ve been thinking of since reading this is Bob Hoskins in that movie Enemy at the Gates. “This is STALINgrad”

    he did a great turn as Nikita Khrushchev

  • Avatar Image oriskany11895p said 1 month ago:

    Okay, time to start some replies. :D

    Thanks very much, @avernos . Indeed, Stalingrad can be a tough game on the tabletop, depending on how one approaches it. I was going to try Stalingrad in, say … Bolt Action, one possibility would be a massive, multi-level building where the whole table is basically the one building. Given that Bolt Action is 1:56 and a true LOS game (i.e., the terrain must be in scale with the playing pieces), a four-foot table could be easily filled by a single 200+ foot apartment building (quite small, when you think about it).

    Granted, that would be a tough building to build, you’d have to come up with some kind of “stackable” floors or some such. But would be pretty epic.

    Given that much of the fighting in Stalingrad took place “indoors” I would agree that smaller, skirmish level games would really work well. One, it helps keep the scale of the required terrain to a manageable level, and two … it’s just realistic. In very tight urban environments, the battles become extremely segmented, with the “frontlines” measured by a door or wall or alley, or (God help you) a stairwell.

    Yes, who hasn’t heard of Pavlov’s House? :D There’s also Dzerzhinksy Tractor Works – converted to a tank factory and perhaps the scene of history’s one “indoors” tank battle? I speaking in very rough terms there, of course. The Grain Elevator is another infamous bloodbath, and of course the high ground of Mamayev Kurgan.

    I’m using Battlegroup because it’s the one miniature system I really like, and miniature tables make better images than hex maps. I’m actually looking forward to working with @aras on this this weekend in Valor & Victory. A hex-and-counter game, originally free print & play, basically a much more accessible version of the Avalon Hill classic Advanced Squad Leader – which started in Stalingrad, I believe (before launching into a hundred and one expansions through the 1980s). I’m a hex-and-counter fanatic, as many know, but even I balk a little at the complexity and detail of the original ASL, which is why V&V is such a great alternative. I found a bunch of really great “Winter Eastern Front City” maps on Boardgame Geek I hope to have mounted for V&V games this weekend.

    I’ve heard a lot of great things about Panzer Grenadier. So this is a miniature game, not to be confused with the hex-counter game of the same name?

    @gladesrunner – yes, Bob Hoskins as Nikita Khrushchyev. He’s got a lot of great lines in that movie … and he’s ONE of the parts of that movie that’s even close to historically accurate. Sadly, many of his best scenes would up cut from the movie, but you can find them on YouTube, DVD extras, etc.

    this-city-is-stalingrad.jpg
  • Avatar Image avernos1463p said 1 month ago:

    @oriskany yes Pz Gren is a miniature game by David CR Brown, it comes from the same family of rule sets as General de Brigade and Pickett’s Charge.

  • Avatar Image torros3841p said 1 month ago:

    I wonder if Rommel would work for this. You might be able to get a large chunk of the city on a 6×4 table

    Crossfire would give a very intense game set in the city as well

  • Avatar Image zorg3393p said 1 month ago:

    a great start a meat grinder for both sides and effectively takes the wind out of the German advance for good for most of the eastern forward area’s

  • Avatar Image rasmus4399p said 1 month ago:

    I did see this, this morning, but have not had a chance to read it until now – one of those pieces of history that even now invoke strong emotions even now 75 years later.
    I have a memory of a TV news program covering it in Denmark, when we only had 1 TV channel, my guess is that it have been in 82, one of the first things that did get me interested in macro-history rather than just a Saga for a goodnight story

    Official graduate of the Oriskany Operational Warfare Military Gaming Academy
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  • Avatar Image oriskany11895p said 1 month ago:

    Okay, some more replies:

    @limburger :

    1) Regarding why a forum post and not an article …okay, the answer for that comes in several parts:

    a) Honestly, support for articles in the community is way, way down. @elessar2590 ‘s articles aren’t getting nearly the support (comments from the community) I feel they deserve, even my Saratoga series was hurting quite a bit. Frankly I didn’t want to spend a month of work to get 10 comments here, 20 comments there.

    b) As you can see in the layouts, these Stalingrad panels are not the normal kind of presentation the articles have on the front page. I’m just trying something new.

    c) I wanted complete control over when they went up, how they went up, how they looked, etc.

    d) I wanted to get this done quickly and with less work. So far I’ve been working on this Stalingrad project for 3 days. An article series normally takes four weeks. So yes, I sacrifice “front page exposure,” but in return I get 100% control over when each panel goes up, every pixel of how it looks, when new panels go up, etc. I can even go back and change panels if I want.

    2) I actually like the look of that Kickstarter. I mean, okay, it looks very simplistic (all wargames do nowadays to be honest), but I confess I really like the three levels of “zoom” I think I see in the rules layout. You go from Lieutenant-General commanding an Army to a Major or Lt. Colonel commanding a battalion assaulting / defending a strongpoint to a Sergeant fighting room-to-room. Talk about the “Levels of Wargaming,” eh?

    3) Not a big video game guy, so I have no idea if this game was any good. But the SOUNDTRACK to “Company of Heroes 2″ is very, very good. Just the opening piece says everything you need to know about the Eastern Front … emptiness to sadness, desolation to building anger … rage to raw power, and triumph finally back to bottomless heartbreak, all with a distinctly Russian echo. That’s the Eastern Front, the biggest and worst war humanity has ever seen (or ever will see, God willing).

    4) Funny you should mention RPGs in Stalingrad … been there and done that. In 2009-2010 I ran a Mage: the Ascension game in which @aras was a player … basically Allied supernatural “shadow agents” working for Mi6 and the NKVD. Of course the Germans had their own counterparts, a “super-secret” branch of the SS. One of our big slaughters was in Dzherzinsky Tractor Factory in Stalingrad.

    In short, yes, I agree. :D The desperation and horror of a battle like Stalingrad can definitely lend itself to role-playing. Just have to make sure your game master in knowledgeable and your players are ready for some very intense … and very dark … situations.

    I’ve dug up some of the old campaign maps from that game (I keep an e-copy of just about everything). :D


    .
    .
    This one marks Pavlov’s House, a little to the south, near where 24th Panzer Division is approaching the train station.

    ww2_rpg_stalingrad_01.jpg
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  • Avatar Image oriskany11895p said 1 month ago:

    Thanks for the reply, @avernos . I’ll have to check out Panzergrenadier Deluxe the miniatures game, as opposed to the Panzer Grenadier series with which I’m a little more familiar. A gigantic series with almost 100 expansions. Seriously, I counted, just on BGG.

    https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/7169/heroes-soviet-union-defense-mother-russia-1942-43

    This is the kind of thing that always gets me a little … when people say miniatures are the “majority” or wargaming or “GW used to dominate everything”. No, and no. There are literally thousands, if not tens of thousands of wargames, that don’t even fit into that paradigm.

    I used one of these Panzer Grenadier expansions when I was working up mt Six-Day War 50th Anniversary series last June. :D

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Those are great ideas, @torros . You know me, I’m always ready to pick up an operational-scale look at something. Stalingrad would get very statuc unless you really zoomed out to look at the whole Volga basin, Don Corridor, and bend west of the Don River. Basically, you’d have to encapsulate the scope of Operations Uranus and Winter Storm.