Preview - World at War: Volume II - Stalingrad (DOS, 1995)

Designer's Notes by Eric Young

Russia, 1942
In the Pacific theater of World War II, the Japanese advance seems to be stalled in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. In Africa, the Commonwealth forces under General Montgomery are locked into a death struggle with General Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps. The United States has been in the war for a year but the only combat contributions it has made outside the Pacific Theater have been material aid to the Soviets and the Commonwealth.

On the Russian Front, Leningrad has been under siege for more than a year and the central sector has remained fairly static. Adolph Hitler's Southern Offensive has ground to a halt on the Terek River in the Caucuses, and at Stalingrad, 90% of the city is under German control. The Axis Forces in the East, (German, Romanian, Hungarian, Italian and Croatian) have been stretched like a rubber band to cover the vast territories they have conquered. Marshal Antonescu of Romania has asked for a command at the front and Hitler humors him with command of the German and Romanian forces around Stalingrad. The military attaché to Romania advises that the Marshal delays taking command until January to avert an embarrassment should things turn bad on the southern front. It was good advice.

Joseph Stalin, the pragmatic Soviet leader, has been hoarding his reserves for just this moment. He draws forces from every front and Military District in the Soviet Union to deliver a knockout blow against his one-time ally Adolph Hitler. Stalin also orders a series of attacks all along the eastern front to pin the Axis reserves. These attacks result in many local successes such as those at Velikiye Luki.

As the cold, dry winds of November blow snow from Siberia across the frozen steppe, the Romanian 4th Army takes up new positions to the south of Stalingrad. The ground is too hard to build any kind of trench system so they take up any defensive positions they can find and settle in for what they hope will be a long but quiet winter.

To their north, the German 6th Armee is taking a breather after their latest "final" push to clear the Russians from Stalingrad. Operation Hurbertis has succeeded in clearing the last of the factory district but the Russians still hold the Lasur Chemical Works and a narrow strip of land that hugs the west bank of the Volga River.

To the North and West of Stalingrad the Romanian 3rd Army nervously reports a large buildup in the Russian-held bridgeheads along the Don River. They had wanted to clear these bridgeheads in October but the German High Command had denied them the supplies. Having the Don River as an anti-tank barrier would have helped their position greatly.

Across the lines, the Russian High Command has massed the largest Allied armored force in the field. The 5th Tank Army is making preparations for its part in the first successful Russian double envelopment operation of the war. Their mission will be to smash the Romanian 3rd Army and race across the frozen steppe to the small but important river town of Kalach on the Don River. They will be supported by units from the 21st, 65th, 24th, and 66th Armies.

Mobile groups from the 64th, 57th, and 51st Armies are also preparing for the southern push to link up with the 5th Tank Army at Kalach. They will start one day behind their comrades in the north. The Russian 62nd Army, still holding down the German 6th Armee in Stalingrad, begins its own series of counterattacks.

Such is the setting for World at War: Stalingrad, the newest release from Atomic Games and Avalon Hill.

STALINGRAD will be the largest of all the Atomic releases to date, with over 1000 combat units locked in desperate combat on the open steppes of southern Russia. There are seven scenarios covering everything from the city fighting in Stalingrad itself in late September, 1942 to the death of the German 6th Armee in February of 1943.

The first scenario, "Rattenkrieg" (rat warfare) will cover the initial German assaults on the city of Stalingrad. It contains a beautiful map of the city at 400 meters per hex. The Germans must hastily clear the city, while the Russian defenders must hold to the last man.

"Wintergewitter" or Winter Storm is the second scenario and was the code name for the Axis relief attempt to Stalingrad lead by General Erich von Manstein and General Herman Hoth's 57th Panzer Korps. It features three seasoned panzer divisions supported by remnants of the Romanian 4th Army trying to break through the Russian 51st Army reinforced by units from the 2nd Guards Army.

"Death of an Army" covers the destruction of the German 6th Armee after the encirclement. Soviet forces involved in this scenario are the 64th, 57th, 21st, 24th, 66th, and 62nd armies. Both sides must guard their supplies and work against time to achieve victory.

"The Left Hook" recreates the Russian 64th, 57th, and 51st Armies attack against the ill-prepared Romanian 3rd Army on November 20th, 1942. The Russians must crush the Axis resistance and advance to Kalach while the Axis player must use the Romanian 3rd army supported by units from the German 4th Panzer Army to slow and halt the Russian advance.

In "Quiet Flows the Don" the Russian Commander must push the 5th Tank Army supported by the 21st and 65th Armies to Kalach for the linkup with the southern offensive. He must bypass all Axis resistance to complete a timely advance. The Axis player must use the 48th Panzer Korps and the 4th Romanian Army to stall this advance.

"The Encirclement" is a combination of "The Left Hook" and "Quiet Flows the Don" scenarios. The Russians must complete the encirclement while the Axis forces must defeat the Russian spearheads in mobile warfare on the open Steppes. This scenario also serves as a mini-campaign game.

"Operation Uranus" was the Russian code name for the Stalingrad offensive. This full-blown campaign game covers the encirclement battle through the middle of January. It also covers all aspects of the relief attempt and gives both sides many "what ifs" to explore.

Both sides are provided many historical options. The first Axis option is a restriction to tie down the German 6th Armee in Stalingrad. This will historically restrict German movement in this area. The next Axis option is an early reinforcement of the 3rd Romanian Army by the 6th Panzer Division and two German infantry divisions. These forces were to have started to the Russian front in early November but their departure was delayed due to transportation difficulties. The third Axis option allows the 7th Panzer Division to take part in the relief attempt instead of standing idle at Rostov. Next is an option to release the 16th Motorized Division from Elista for operations on the southern map edge. The fifth option represents an early withdrawal from the Caucuses region and makes available the 3rd and 7th panzer Divisions plus the 16th Motorized Division and brings in the SS "Wiking" division earlier than normal.

Soviet options include a "No Soviet Purge" rule that raises troop quality for all their units. Next is an option called "Better Fuel Supply" which will allow the Russians to "gas up" their artillery units they could not allocate fuel to. The third Soviet option allows for more supply points. "Better Communications" give the Russian Artillery units radios and allows them to reduce their setup time. The fifth Soviet option gives their Leaders better command ratings.

In addition the improvements that THE WORLD AT WAR made over our pervious games there will be many new features in STALINGRAD.

The first major enhancement is the inclusion of multiple scales to cover different parts of the battle. The new scales will be 400 meters per hex with units representing battalions and companies and turns representing three hours of daylight and five hours of darkness and three kilometers per hex with units representing regiments and battalions and turns of both AM and PM daylight turns and one night turn.

Air missions for transport of supply and reconnaissance of enemy positions will be more detailed. You can now send air supply missions were and when desired, risking the effects of weather and enemy interdiction. You may also target areas for intense air recon which will reveal more information about enemy units and troop movements.

A further enhanced Artificial Opponent will allow players to give objectives to units and let the computer handle them for you while you concentrate on other parts of the battle.

To sum it up STALINGRAD will be the largest and most ambitious game in Atomic History and we are sure that there will be something in it for everyone interested in any aspect of the campaign that turned the tide against Nazi Germany and its Allies in World War II.