I am always eager to try new solitaire wargames; that appetite for this type of play definitely intensified for me during the pandemic times; currently I find it very addictive to try to outsmart the AI which is preventing my victory on board – you can see more and more such materials create and posted on my blog and YouTube channel.

Thus, it is always a great joy for me to check the new titles from (new to me) publishers – in this case, Stalingrad: Advance to the Volga, 1942 by Revolution Games. And you know what is best in such case? When your expectation are multiple times exceeded by the actual experience!

About the game

First of all, let us do a short introduction of Stalingrad Advance to the Volga, 1942. This game puts the player in charge of the attacking and far more mobile German side while the game system handles the defending and largely static Soviet side. Because Soviet defenders are set-up in a hidden & random way (according to terrain – Open, Elevated, Light Urban, Heavy Urban) no two games will ever be the same.

Each turn will represent new and unique challenges for the player – you will roll on event table and see in what way your army and forces will be hampered (reflecting actual, historical difficulties). Then, you will get your supplies – random amount, depending how much the OKW was willing to send. You will decide how to spend them, be it on supporting units, rebuilding destroyed formations or investing in so-much-important morale.

Only then you will be able to activate your units, enter enemy occupied territories and learn what is the true strength of opponent and which defensive tactic (Ambush, Fanatics, Guards, Heroes, Barrage) it shall use. Be careful – if you do not overcome enemy and get entangled into the fight in the Urban area, you might suffer the “Bloody Streets” effect (war of attrition in dense Stalingrad building).

Session report

One of the best ways to familiarize with the game is to play it multiple times – that works especially well if you do it in succession, being able to immediately implement your findings from previous sessions into the new ones. That is exactly what I did before writing this article and now would like – on example of one of such attempts – provide you with more details on the game. Of course, showing its gorgeous components is also one of the reasons 🙂

Full Campaign Scenario

Historical Background: It is the second part of September 1942 (exactly, from September 13th till 30th). The German Mian Command just authorized the major push to take the Stalingrad once and for all. While the city’s less developed periphery will fail relatively easy, the stiff resistance will grow exponentially once attackers will reach Stalingrad’s urban & industrial core. The game will last full 9 turns, after which the final score will be calculated.

Victory Conditions: There are like 50 areas on the map, 9 of which are controlled by Germans at the onset of the game. Your goal is to take all of them to achieve victory. If you get more than 40 but not all – you will arrive at historical result. Anything less than 40 – will be your crushing defeat.

PS. Feel free to click any of below images to expand them in new window for more details.

“Stalingrad: Advance to the Volga, 1942” full game set-up. After clipping the counters (could not resist!), preparing reinforcements, setting up the defenders as well as my attackers, I was ready to roll!
29th Division will be truly at the forefront of most of the attacks. Here they are storming Light Urban Area No 7 (+3 to defense), occupied by Soviets in Ambush tactic (lead attaching unit will be destroyed unless overrun is achieved) for the total defense value of 3+9=12. Germans brought 6 (leading unit) + 3×1 (three supporting units) + 2 (Artillery) + random roll to decrease USSR defense value (Air Support). You roll 2d6 and that way you arrive at final result of the fight.
The further you go, the nastiest the fight will get. When you attack Heavy Urban territory, occupied by Guards with access to Volga, they will roll 4 dice and choose two highest as a result! Brutal.
Sometimes you really need to invest heavily to achieve victory; Full 24th division, accompanied by massive artillery and air support, managed to crush well dug-in Fanatics defenders of January 9th Square.
Once you move and fight, you turn your units to spent side so it is fairly easy to see who still have action to perform.
End of Full Scenario; after 9 turns of bloody fighting I arrived at 47 points which was probably my best result so far. Still, some three areas near Volga were still occupied by enemies.
USSR losses during the game – you can see that the strength and type of tactic to considerable extent depends on the terrain type.
The game really elegantly combines all the tracks – moral, control, supplies, turns – in one place. The sequence of play is here as a reminder as well as place for destroyed units and bought support.

There is also a Short Scenario, with Germany last attempt of taking the Stalingrad; this is 5 turns, from October 14th till 31st; in order to win, all areas have to be taken.

First Impressions

After multiple sessions, time now to share my impressions regarding this title. I will not deny it – I really liked how the game was designed and how it plays. Let us talk about details:

  • I want challenging AI in my solitaire games. Only then I have the inner urge to try and try to beat the opponent. And this is exactly what we are getting in Stalingrad – despite Soviets being mostly static, they really form-up a formidable opponent.
  • Another fundamental part of solo design which I consider necessary is Replayability. You want – even once you won – be able to come back to the game repeatedly and have a new, refreshing experience each time. The random set-up of Soviet forces, the Event and Supply Rolls – all of this greatly adds to varied experience each time.
  • I am really glad to see two scenarios included, which allows for a play of full siege of Stalingrad. And adds to mentioned above replayability.
  • We have multiple Optional Rules, which predominantly increase the difficulty / make game more realistic. Also, those allows for some types of units / weapons (like Engineers) to play much more key part in the game.
  • When you look at this title, what immediately strikes you is the Components Quality. The board stylized on the map from WWII, the beautiful, detailed tokens, the glossy rulebook or even neat dice set. Really great impression from aesthetical perspective.
  • Limiting the randomness factor – yes, you roll a lot of dice; but you have supplies and tools (Artillery, Engineers, Airplanes, saving supplies from turn to turn) to make sure that you achieve success. It is more a question of priorities where to spend them then just counting on luck.

Overall, the game made a huge positive impression on me. That was a very refreshing experience, which brought a lot of fun as well as (sometimes) frustration at not being able to crack particularly well positioned defense. Highly recommended and I hope for the next titles in the series.

PS. In couple of weeks a “How to Play” video will be published by me, where I will in more details show the game mechanics. Stay tuned!