Saturday, March 3, 2012

Stalingrad For $3: Wargames, Soldiers, and Strategy #28

Keeping with the Soviet theme of late, I downloaded the PDF version of issue #28 of Wargames, Soldiers, and Strategy, paying only $3.05 after conversion from Euro to dollars. Though I began writing this post as a small blurb about the issue and a link to it, it quickly grew into an overview of the issue. Hopefully, folks will find it useful.

I downloaded the issue because a large portion of it, what they call a "dossier," centers around The Battle of Stalingrad during WWII.This is one of those "battles" (more like a protracted siege) that has always fascinated and horrified me since I was a teenager playing boardgames.



Historical Background
There is a 13 page history of the battle, "Stalingrad, The Hero City," complete with maps of the battle and a double-page spread of the city under attack, illustrated with photos of battle-destroyed 28mm buildings and Black Tree Design German and Soviet. I was a bit surprised that actual photos of the battle were not included, but those are easy enough to come by.


Miniature Reviews
Next comes a one-page article on available 20mm and 28mm miniatures. Since the list is five years old, it's getting a bit dated. Still, it's only a page.

Scenarios
Two rules-generic scenarios follow the listing of available miniatures. The first two-page scenario is "Pavlov's House, 29 October 1942." The German forces are elements of the 389th Infantry Division, 6th Army. The scenario calls for a platoon of four infantry squads, five halftracks, a Panzer III, and a Panzer IV. They are attacking only eleven Soviet infantry holding out in Pavlov's house. They also get an AT gun, a couple 50mm mortars, and a dreaded sniper team. Then there is the Soviet minefield to spice it up a bit. To be fair, the Germans also get some mortars. This looks like an interesting defensive battle, the type which occured over and over again in the city.

The second scenario, "Stalingrad Sniper Hunt, 19 November 1942," uses about the same number of German forces against a larger, platoon-sized Soviet force. This one tries to capture the feel of sniper teams lurking about the city, preying on enemy soldiers. Looks pretty interesting as well, though it needs more buildings than the first.

Book Reviews
This is a one-page listing of several books covering the Battle of Stalingrad.


Building Ruined Buildings
From where I sit, this is the best article in the entire issue. Paul Darnell of Touching History fame writes an excellent five-page article about creating ruined buildings and scenery for Stalingrad. The best part is that anyone can do this, not just a master modeler! I have always feared doing an urban game like Stalingrad because I fear making or buying all the buildings I would need. (While building structures and scenery was my primary hobby when I did model railroading, I seem to have pulled away from it as I've gotten older.) Plus, his tips and techniques will work for any ruined buildings, from Mordheim to Normandy. Many process photos help as well. Note that Paul's work also graces the historical article. Sadly, Paul's website seems to be offline for now.

Final Word
While lately I have not always been kind to Wargames, Soldiers, and Strategy, I found this older issue very useful, especially for only $3 in PDF. I recommend it as a nice introduction to Stalingrad.

3 comments:

  1. I've got this issue and most of the earlier ones. Some people don't like the idea of concentrating on one battle for most of the mag. I think its a great idea, especially if its your period. Great post btw!!

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  2. Thanks, Ray. I like the theme issues as well. It allows me to learn more about a period than a simple article or scenario does. I also think the layout and writing was better years ago than the current issues. (Just my opinion there!) I've decided to go 100% PDF with WSS. Now if only they would digitize their Ancient Warfare magazine!

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  3. Hi!
    Ancient Warfare is actually available in PDF as well. We're making back issues available as and when they reach a certain stock level.

    As to the better writing, we'd really appreciate concrete examples from recent issues (say 57-59). Not because we want to prove you're wrong, but because we actually want to make WSS the best wargaming magazine available. Reader feedback is very valuable in that respect (hence our current 'Heart/Hate WSS' contest).

    Thanks!

    Jasper

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