Stalingrad is strategic-level board wargame published by Avalon Hill in 1963. As one of the first board wargames (and the first one about the Eastern Front of World War II) it was extensively played and discussed during the early years of the wargaming hobby.
Despite its title, Stalingrad covers the entire campaign between Germany and the Soviet Union from June 1941 to May 1943. Often criticized for lack of realism, Stalingrad is the granddaddy of the many eastern front games that have since been published.
Germany wins the game by occupying the cities of Moscow, Leningrad, and Stalingrad and holding them for two turns simultaneously or eliminating all opposing units. The Soviets win by avoiding the German victory conditions or eliminating all German units.
The game is played on a 22x28 inch mounted hex grid map of the eastern front with a scale of about 30 miles per hex. Cardboard counters represent military units (generally army corps); each game turn represents one month. Key terrain features include major cities, rivers, rough terrain and swamps. Defenders can gain advantages in battle by occupying cities, rough terrain and defending behind rivers. Variable weather effects in fall, winter and spring months affect the movement rate of combat units.
Except for some Italian and Hungarian units, there are no reinforcements in the game. The armed forces of both sides are replenished by replacements. Replacements are eliminated units, which are returned to the game. The production capability of the Soviets is reflected in the replacement rate, which rises during the game.
The sequence of play and combat resolution in Stalingrad are similar to other Avalon Hill games published in the 1960s, including Afrika Korps and D-Day. In each turn, a player moves his forces, and then executes attacks. In some situations, the attacker may advance a hex after combat. The combat results table of Stalingrad is identical to the other two games. Players of Stalingrad are encouraged to use “soak-off” attacks, which give the attacker a good chance of eliminating an enemy unit, in return for the likely sacrifice of a friendly unit.
There are several criticisms of the game. Although the game is very competitive, it is not a good simulation of the campaign. The exploitation of breakthroughs by mechanized forces is absent as the opponent moves directly after combat, allowing him a chance to plug any holes in the line, and pull units out of threatened positions. A component of blitzkrieg warfare, tactical air power, is missing from the game. The time frame of Stalingrad covers parts of three years. During that time, the organization and order of battle of both armies changed significantly, but the game does not reflect any changes. In the numerous eastern front games that have followed after Stalingrad, game designers have addressed these and other issues of realism and playability.
Lewis Pulsipher comments: "While the company name lives on as an imprint at Hasbro, Avalon Hill's legacy is more substantial. It provided the foundation for the entire hobby gaming industry, and of Avalon Hill's many groundbreaking early titles, Stalingrad is the best."
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- Coatney, Louis. "Stalingrad, the Classic: A Revisionist's Review". Retrieved 2009-05-18.
- Angiolillo, J. (November 1976). "Taking the offensive in Stalingrad". The Avalon Hill General. Avalon Hill. 13 (4).
- Pulsipher, Lew (2007). "Stalingrad". In Lowder, James. Hobby Games: The 100 Best. Green Ronin Publishing. pp. 291–294. ISBN 978-1-932442-96-0.