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Drive on Stalingrad (first edition)» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Russian Rope-A-Dope: Conclusions rss

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Francis Small
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Well... it doesn't look like I'm going to win with the Axis in a solitaire game anytime soon. I really have no counter for the Russian strategy to withdraw and not come out to play until they are good and ready.

In fact, it would be instructive to see what would happen if the Russians literally abandoned the entire southern map except for the far eastern fringe: Astrakhan to Grozny. (Although it would be a mistake to abandon Sochi and Tuapes - I've never seen the Axis take these cities and it would be foolish to abandon them, but this scenario is something of a thought experiment.) In the north they would do what they did: immediately man the Don River to Stalingrad defensive line. Would the Axis do any better? I can't see them breaching the Don River. (How could they ever envision such a strategy with the threat of B, C, or D Directive and its restriction of no units across the Don anyway?) I've never seen a successful assault on Stalingrad if the Soviets have sufficient units to pack them in there, and meanwhile if the Soviets can last until about turn 11 or so, gathering their forces outside of the supply range of the Axis, they end up accumulating enough firepower to be able to roar back across the map. The best the Axis could hope for seems to be to simply stop their advance at the Don River and hope to hold it against the Soviets, but where's the fun in that?

Of course, rule changes can always balance a game. Perhaps if:
* The Don were re-classified a minor river (no half-hearted suggestions here!)
* No accelerated Soviet reinforcements
* No Hitler directive
* Maybe no restrictions on retreats for the Soviets in light of the above

then the Axis could make a go of it, and the Soviets couldn't simply withdraw and hide for half the game.

But it would be a different game.
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Mike Smith
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Wigton
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Thanks for the epic series of session reports.

You are not the first to suggest that it needs to be a different game. Of course you could argue that the 1942 offensive was a hopeless venture in real life.
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Paul Oakes
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Thanks for the reports, I've really enjoyed reading them.

I played this in about 1981 as a 4-player game at a time we played a lot of monsters thanks to having a games club with its own cheap premises and a room we could leave games set up for months at a time. The game itself was a low point for SPI as the rules were a disaster, with 2 errata sets. Originally The Don was uncrossable as you could not cross into a ZOC (cue Russians standing 1 hex off) which was not the intention. The lack of playtesting and good rules wrecked SPIs reputation just as GDW was producing a long string of excellent games that didn't need players to argue the rules.

I have no memory of how our game turned out, but you've played pretty close to history and got a historical result. As The Nazis I'd leave the South alone as it's a lot of empty space before there's anything useful to capture and the supply problem will be a problem. Cutting Stalingrad from the South with a river crossing would be my objective (and a huge strategic gain, disrupting the Oil supply from Tblisi), and the only chance to do this would be very early.
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Leo Zappa
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Aliquippa
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Those were some good reports. I also played this game with a live opponent (my main wargaming buddy, Dan) a couple of years ago - the session reports are filed under the game's entry as well.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/598288/stavka-aar-5-25-o...
We played with the TSR edition including the final errata, which was significant. We also played with all the rules, including the Hitler Directive Table. I won as the Sovs, with a fairly historical looking outcome, other than that Dan was never able to break into the Caucasus...

I do think the situation is very difficult for the Axis player, especially if the players are solely worrying about the game's stated victory conditions. However, we had a lot of fun with the game because it did give both sides a lot to think about and at least through the first half of the game, it looked like the German player might win (the real Germans thought the same thing!) I'm not sure I'd change anything in terms of the rules of the game (with the most up-to-date errata), and I think the proper way to judge the game's outcome is to compare it to the historical outcome - did each side do as well as their historical counterparts? In our game, I felt Dan did a little better than the actual Germans, because although he did not get into the Caucasus, his losses around Stalingrad were not going to be as great as those of the historical Wehrmacht.

In any case, I know that Dan and I enjoyed the journey and didn't really worry so much about the destination when we played this one.
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Roberto Amestoy
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Villamediana de Iregua
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Perhaps the problem is that en 1942 the russians launched a offensive against kharkov, who eas a bloody and expensive failure. They lost a great amount of forces and make the german attack easier. If you retreat from the beginning you avoid this situation. Perhaps it woukd be a option to put an table with stalins orders.
 
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