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Review: Battle for Stalingrad – The Epic East Front Battle Game (DVG)

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on July 2, 2014

Stalingrad_box_mockup200Game: Battle for Stalingrad – The Epic East Front Battle GameReview

Publisher: Dan Verssen Games (DVG)
Published in: 2014
Designer: Dan Verssen

Era & Topic: WW2/ Urban Warfare in Stalingrad
Game Type:  Card Game
Contents: 168 Full Color Cards, 1 Full Color Counter Sheet, 1 Full Color Rulebook 

Number of Players: 2

HFC Game-O-Meter: E

 


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 9
Rules: 9
Playability: 8
Replay Value: 9

Overall Rating: 9

PRO Quick set-up, well written rules, many options despite using simple mechanics, fitting to the historical theme, both sides play differently, enthralling and tactical game play…
CONTRA  …that might be slowed down because some cards are not as clear in their meaning as they should be; Uranus cards can be crippling for the German player if no counter cards are in hand; a tracking sheet for combat would have been nice

Introduction

Many (if not most) wargamers who are interested in the World War II topic are particularly drawn to the fightings of the Eastern Front. The fierceness of the battles fought on that front, the gigantic scale of this Clash of Titans, the different style of the tactics used by the Soviets and the Germans, all this seems to create the background for a scenario that is ideally suited for wargames.

Fighting for Stalingrad on the gaming table!

Fighting for Stalingrad on the gaming table!

Today the name Stalingrad is directly connected to the senseless brutality of war and is the epitome of the war of slaughter fought on the Eastern front. When the Wehrmacht started the largest invasion in the history of warfare, Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, with more than 4 million soldiers, 600,000 motor vehicles and 750,000 horses along a front almost 3000 km long, the city of Stalingrad was rather unimportant – as General Field-marshal Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist said:

The capture of Stalingrad was subsidiary to the main aim. It was only of importance as a convenient place, in the bottleneck between Don and the Volga, where we could block an attack on our flank by Russian forces coming from the east. At the start, Stalingrad was no more than a name on the map to us [Clark, Lloyd, Kursk: The Greatest Battle: Eastern Front 1943, 2011, page 157]

In the course of the later events of the war, it became a battle of prestige however – for both Hitler and Stalin – and this caused it to turn into one of the bloodiest battles of WW2. For over 5 months, the city saw extreme close quarter battles, soldiers fighting for single rooms in buildings like grain elevators, apartment blocks, factories, warehouses etc. or for other ‘strategic points’ like streets, staircases and sewers and both sides had high casualties to suffer. The nerve-wrecking close combat and man-to-man killing (which was called Rattenkrieg (rat war) by the German soldiers) was accompanied by the terror of artillery and air attacks that laid the city into ashes. The harsh winter weather, a lack of supply and ammunition because of a complete encirclement of the German forces in the city in the later stages of the battle, and the ability of the Soviet forces to bring in reinforcements eventually ended the Battle of Stalingrad and resulted in an total of about 2 million Axis and Soviet casualties.

Because of the fact that wargamers usually have the historical situation in mind and know a great deal of their era of particular interest, there is always the point of “how close and how accurate can a wargame be” in regard to the historical battle and how good it works as a game. The new DVG game we are reviewing here was announced with the promising words:

The Battle For Stalingrad puts you in the rubble-strewn streets as the German forces fight through one block of the city after another. The only hope for both sides is to secure the city before they run out of blood and food.

As the game unfolds, you’ll see one section of the city after another ground into rubble by your ceaseless fighting. As the city deteriorates, the amount of supplies generated for your men decreases. Supplies are the lifeblood of your army. Without them, you cannot move or attack, and you’ll suffer higher casualties in combat.

In the end, you’ll be scrambling through the ruins, as much in search of food as the enemy.

Let’s see if the PR announcement actually matches the game experience and what you can expect on your table 🙂

Presentation

Battle of Stalingrad (BoS) is a card game that comes in a very sturdy box that has a glossy finish, giving the feel of quality even before you open it. The first thing you see is the striking cover art done by Christian Quinot (who also did the great artworks for DVG’s Cards of Cthulhu game), evoking a feeling of desperation and chaos that seems rather fitting to the topic of the game.

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Battle for Stalingrad – new DVG game announced

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on March 18, 2013

Dan Verssen Games (DVG) is known for regularly publishing a lot of quality (war)games and so it’s no surprise to see this announcement for a new game. It’s a card based wargame about the Battle of Stalingrad and seems to deal with sector control and getting supply/rations by doing so to keep the fight going. Nothing is mentioned yet about the actual scale but tactical or squad level is probably to be expected in this portrayal of the brutal house to house and street fighting this famous battle of WWII is known for.

If you like what the official announcement below is telling you, head over to the Kickstarter website to support this project and hopefully we’ll see another winner on our gaming table soon.

More info about the game, with pictures of the cards can be found here and you can also take a look at the rules draft already.

 

One of the most brutal events of the Second World War, the Battle of Stalingrad has long been regarded as a turning point in the fight against Hitler’s forces. The Fuhrer had ordered that Stalingrad be taken in a bid to crush the morale of the Soviet Union by giving the Germans a springboard to potentially seize control of the East. Supported by Luftwaffe bombing, the city was quickly reduced to rubble and hundreds of thousands were killed in the later months of 1942. Yet, despite staring into the face of defeat, the Red Army dug in and pushed back, eventually cracking the Nazi forces amidst the one of the bleakest winters on record. 

Now you can experience it for yourself in Battle for Stalingrad from DVG. Two players face off against each other, one taking control of the German Army, the other commanding the Russian forces, in a bid to either maintain or rewrite this momentous period of history. Using an intuitive card-driven game system that is quick to pick up yet offers an incredible depth of play, Battle for Stalingrad sees you and your opponent fight block by block through the rubble-strewn streets, struggling to keep your troops going as morale and supplies grow ever more scarce… As the battle draws to a close, you’ll be running low on everything – especially willing soldiers – leaving you to consider whether victory is worth such a high price…

The goal of the game is simple: gain control of five locations within the city of Stalingrad. At the start of each game these locations are randomly selected from a set of nine, adding variety every time you play. Locations contain a Control area and a Perimeter area for each player; if you have forces in your Control area when the enemy does not, the location is yours.

Commanders must balance their plays carefully by gaining control of locations while preserving their forces, managing their cards and spending ration counters – possibly one of the most vital aspects of the game. Rations are gained by controlling locations. They are necessary if you wish to move and attack, and are also used by forces to absorb battle damage. Players must decide when to spend cards, when to discard rations, and when to let a force get destroyed. There are always casualties in war.

The game is built around combat, with every action card having a Firefight value in the top-right corner ranging from -3 to +3. Cards can be played from your hand to build up your attack or decrease the enemy’s strength, and players draw Firefight cards back and forth. Once both players pass in succession, they each flip one last card from their decks as a randomizer, finally allocating damage to each other’s forces.

Throughout the game, the Russian player is also trying to get three Operation Uranus cards into play; if all three are still in play at the end of the German player’s turn, victory immediately goes to the Red Army.

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