#RockyReads for #Wargame – Stalingrad – The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943 by Antony Beevor (Viking Press, 1998)

BLUF

Stalingrad – The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943 by Antony Beevor is two books in one – the first is a political and military treatment of the events leading up to the Operation Uranus and the second is the story of the very human tragedy of the encirclement of the German Sixth Army.

A Real Wargamer’s Book

Why do you play wargames? Personally, I play wargames to engage with the history and gain a better understanding and appreciation of a topic. For me, the first part of Stalingrad – The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943 by Antony Beevor is very much a book that I use to play a wargame. The first part of Stalingrad is a military-oriented treatment of the political, and especially military, situation and events from the end of 1941 through the German offensive that reached Stalingrad in September 1942 and continuing through the Soviet counteroffensive that cut off Paulus’ Sixth Army in November 1942. I can use this part of Stalingrad to better understand the historical flow of events and see what I might of done different when playing a wargame like The Dark Valley: The East Front Campaign, 1941-45 by designer Ted Raicer from GMT Games. I can even use it to better understand the situation as presented in David Thompson’s Pavlov’s House: The Battle of Stalingrad from Dan Verssen Games.

The second half of Stalingrad – The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943 inevitably follows the military activity, but that is not the main focus. Antony Beevor pivots from a story of the military action into the immense human tragedy that befell the German defenders of Stalingrad and, to not so much a lesser extent, the surrounding Soviets.

Arguably, the second half of Stalingrad is more important to wargamers than the first. It is very easy for wargamers to push counters or tokens or little minis around a map and forget that those are humans. It’s exhilarating to roll a natural 12 on a Combat Results Table and get that “DE – Defender Eliminated” result. It means nothing more than removing that little piece of cardboard from the map and casually throwing it into the “dead” pile, all while pumping your fist and smirking at your opponent.

Reality is not so fun. In Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943 author Antony Beevor reminds us, no, shouts at us that we must face the terrible human cost of war.

Yes, we play war GAMES for fun, but at the same time we need to remember that our “fun” is a depiction of war far removed from the brutal reality. Sometimes we need to learn that lesson and a wargame is not always the right vehicle. Antony Beevor’s Stalingrad – The Fateful Siege: 1941-1943 is the right vehicle to remind us of the brutality and horror of war.

Wargame Application

Read it. Read it so you better understand what the CRT really means.

Citation

Beevor, Antony, Stalingrad – The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943, New York: Viking, 1998.

#SundaySummary – Taking Flight with atomagazine.com, Loading Up with @UltraProIntl, Going Solo with @GMTGames, and Going Bananas with @bananagrams (Shout out to @playersaidblog) #wargame #boardgame

Wargames & Boardgames

This week I got Buffalo Wings 2 – The Deluxe Reprint, a 2020 Kickstarter campaign by Against the Odds, to the gaming table multiple times. Although this is one of the more “simulationist” titles in my wargame collection it really works as a game once you get past some initial rules learning. Bottom Line: I love it! Look for a more detailed discussion in a future blog post.

…and he’s dead! Buffalo Wings 2 training scenario in progress (Photo by RMN)

After seeing a Tweet by Alexander of The Players’ Aid I ordered two Ultra PRO Top Loader sheet protectors. I got two, an 18″x24″ and a 24″x34.” I used the larger one this week for some of my Buffalo Wings 2 games. There is a bit more glare than I expected but it does do a nice job of protecting the mapsheet. I also like it better than a plexiglass overlay because the mapsheet, being inside the protector, moves with it. No longer do I risk jostling the plexi and losing all the alignment. Yes, I taped the edges with Painters Tape but it sometimes was not enough.

Buffalo Wings 2 with map in an Ultra PRO Top Loader. Here the glare is not bad at all…. (Photo by RMN)

This week saw the January delivery of the GMT Games update. Included were their new P500 releases. I was very happy to see that Stuka Joe’s Card Driven Game (CDG) Solo System is going to get a formal publication. As a matter of fact, apparently over 700 wargamers to date were just as happy because we all pre-ordered it giving it “Made the Cut” status in about 18 hours. I own four of the six games that will be custom-supported out-of-the-box so my P500 investment of $14 should be well worth it!

This past week Mrs. RockyMountainNavy and I were in Target and checked the boardgame aisle. She found My First Bananagrams which comes in a green banana pouch because it, of course, still needs to ripen! We purchased it for her students to use as a word game to supplement their classes. The game is aimed squarely at the early reading crowd with a better tile distribution of letters and even some real neat combo-letter tiles.

Books

I’m still reading through the huge The Secret Horsepower Race: Western Front Fighter Engine Development by Calum Douglas. However, I also started Antony Beever’s Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943 (Penguin USA, 1999). This made me realize I don’t actually have a Stalingrad wargame outside of Pavlov’s House (DVG, 2018). Hmm….