Lost Victories – The Battle of Stalingrad – Pregame
Fire in the East. Then Scorched Earth. My friends and I loved this game and spent many hours playing it spread out all over the floor, the only place we could find room. This game was used so much that the rules and order of battle booklets are ripped, torn, stained and taped back together. The maps are smoke stained and a few counters are missing. As much as we tried to ensure that all the counters were picked up, when a map is sitting on the floor for months on end, things still happen.
Like pets, for example.
It saddens me that there are any pieces missing at all, but such is life. We got a lot of enjoyment out of this game, and it is probably the one game I feel most comfortable with, despite not having touched it in 20 years.
November 19, 1942
Germany and her allies have invaded the Soviet Union, driving the Soviet hordes before them in a bid for lebensraum. 1941 ended with the Soviets counterattacking before Moscow, and catching the Germans off guard, driving them away from the capital.
In 1942, the Germans again seized the initiative, but could not decide whether they wanted to capture Leningrad or Moscow, so they settled on option #3, the Caucasus oil fields. The Germans drove to Stalingrad on the Volga River, while attempting a second drive further south to capture the oilfields, overextending their front.
Germany had to depend heavily on her allies; the Italians, Hungarians and Romanians to hold the line until the oilfields were captured. The Soviets sought to exploit this.
This game has taken awhile to get set up. Dusting off Fire in the East/Scorched Earth, setting up the appropriate maps and sorting through the thousands of counters. Once I had everything ready, my opponent (Glory rules judge) Lee Hanna sent me a copy of the scenario made for Jet. He apparently has a copy of the Total War maps (I don’t), because there are some terrain changes from the FitE maps, and in at least one case, a river has been moved (and another added). This is the first time I am seeing these maps, so I have to be cognizant of the changes.
There are some rules changes/additions for this scenario, published in The Europa Magazine #58 (Lost Victories – The Stalingrad Counteroffensive by Bradley Skeen). The key points:
- Stalingrad is a two hex city, per the TW maps. Both hexes are partial hex cities.
- Whenever combat occurs in a major city hex, defending units forced to retreat due to an Exchange, a Half Exchange, a Defender Retreat or a Defender Half Eliminated (but not a Defender Eliminated) result, can instead form an enclave, and only units defending in their home country can form enclaves. This means that a major city hex, such as Stalingrad can contain both Axis and Soviet units, and at the start of this scenario, each side has units in the city, and their own fortifications and antiaircraft.
Cavalry units have limited exploitation abilities.
- Weather is not random, it is predetermined.
- We are using air-on-demand.
- No more than one Soviet tank corps can stack in a single hex or participate in an overrun unless a Soviet Guards Tank Army HQ is present (there are only two Army HQ units)
- 6th army has been issued a “hold at all costs order”. If a unit that was originally assigned to 6th Army is isolated, it cannot voluntarily retreat from Stalingrad. They may fight their way out, however.
- Soviet NKVD political police units are not motorized.
- Some units have been re-rated and are being played with the adjusted strengths.
Victory points are assigned to the Soviet player according to what cities they control at the end of the scenario (Mar I 43): 1 point each for Stalingrad (both hexes), Stalino, Kharkov, Voronezh, Poltava, Kursk and Rostov, two points each for the capture of Dnepropetrovsk and Zaporozhe. Historically, the Soviets scored 4 points (a substantial victory) and, according to the scenario rules, anything less is an unmitigated disaster for the Soviets.
One thing that stands out is that the southernmost flank of both armies is swinging in the breeze. The Soviets may be able to take advantage of this. Though there are ravines in the area that have the same effect as forts, there is a gap that can be exploited by armor.
The game starts with the Nov II 42 Soviet turn, the start of the counteroffensive. The Wehrmacht is still very strong, much stronger than the Soviets are, but they are spread thin. The weak links are the Hungarians, Italians and Romanians. That’s where the initial attacks have to land.
The Soviets hold one advantage over the Axis. Artillery. Lots and lots of artillery. Katyushas. Stalin’s organs. Rockets. Not much on the defensive, but awesome on the attack.
For the most part, the results of Defender Eliminated and Defender Half Eliminated are desirable, but Exchanges of any kind are acceptable. Exchanges are the friend of the Soviets, not the Germans. Replacing losses comes easier to the Soviets than it does to the Axis.
The initial plan is to break the Romanians and surround Stalingrad. This has to be accomplished as quickly as possible, before the Germans begin returning from the Caucasus Mountains. The ultimate goal is Rostov, but 6th Army must be cut off first.
Even though we know how this turned out historically, that does not mean that it will easy. But the Romanians have some weaknesses that may possibly be exploited.