Stalingrad (wargame)

Stalingrad is a strategic-level board wargame published by Avalon Hill in 1963 that simulates the first 24 months of the war between Germany and the Soviet Union during World War II. As one of the first board wargames (and the first one about the Eastern Front) it was extensively played and discussed during the early years of the wargaming hobby.[1]

Cover of Stalingrad board game.png


Stalingrad is a two-player game that, despite its title, covers the entire East Front campaign between Germany and the Soviet Union from June 1941 to May 1943. Often criticized for lack of realism, Stalingrad is the predecessor of the many Eastern Front wargames that have since been published.[2]


The game box contains:

  • 22" x 28" mounted hex grid map scaled at 50 km (31 mi) per hex
  • 117 die-cut counters
  • rule booklet
  • battle manual and rules supplement
  • various charts and player aids
  • six-sided die


As an early wargame, Stalingrad uses a simple "I Go, You Go" system: the Germans bring on reinforcements and replacements, then move, and engage in combat. Then the Russians bring on replacements, move and engage in combat. Each turn represents one month, and the game ends after 24 turns or if the Germans fulfill one of their victory conditions before the end of the game.[3]


Key terrain features include major cities, rivers, rough terrain and swamps. Defenders can gain advantages in battle by occupying cities, rough terrain and defending behind rivers. Terrain costs are normal during summer, but halved in the winter, and are governed by a random terrain table in the fall and spring, when mud can halve movement rates. Lakes are impassable most of the year, but may freeze enough to allow passage in the winter. Railroads add ten hexes to movement, but must be taken all at once.[3]


Each unit has a zone of control around it. Units cannot move from one enemy zone of control hex into an adjoining hex also in the same zone of control. Two opposing units adjacent to each other must engage in combat. To resolve combat, the ratio of attacker to defender strength is calculated, a die is rolled, and the result taken from the appropriate column on the Combat Result Table (CRT). If the result is retreat, the loser must retreat up to 2 hexes, and the winner can advance one hex. Some commentary encourages players to use "soak-off" attacks, which give the attacker a good chance of eliminating an enemy unit, in return for the likely sacrifice of a friendly unit.[4]

Victory conditionsEdit

The Germans win by either eliminating all Soviet units on the map, or by occupying Stalingrad, Moscow and Leningrad and holding them simultaneously for two complete turns. The Russians win by preventing the German victory conditions or by eliminating all German units on the map.[3]

Publication historyEdit

Stalingrad was designed by Charles S. Roberts, and developed by Tom Shaw and Lindsley Schutz, and was published by Avalon Hill in 1963. Eleven years later, a slightly revised second edition was released.[3]


Many critics have noted the game's inaccuracies, from geographical mistakes on the map to incorrect orders of battle.

Writing in 1980 for Moves, Steven List noted that "While still popular, the game was found to be flawed even in its early days."[5]

In his 1977 book The Comprehensive Guide to Board Wargaming, Nicholas Palmer commented "it is generally felt that Stalingrad is much too unrealistic in its details (large numbers of units have almost identical strengths on the German side, and the sudden-death CRT makes luck a major factor.)" However, despite these issues, Palmer still found that "while the tactical accuracy is faulty, the game gives a good simulation of the grand strategic alternatives, and it is swift and exciting, with more forward planning needed that in many games because of the savage effect of winter on movement."[6]

R. B. McArthur, writing for Washingtonian in 1980 said that "Avalon Hill's Afrika Korps, Stalingrad, D-Day, and Battle of the Bulge cover World War II in Europe pretty thoroughly. They are mostly popular with teenagers; those who actually fought in the war tend to find them jarringly inaccurate."[7]

Stalingrad was chosen for inclusion in the 2007 book Hobby Games: The 100 Best. Game designer Lewis Pulsipher commented, "While the company name lives on as an imprint at Hasbro, Avalon Hill's legacy is more substantial. It provided the foundation for the entire hobby gaming industry, and of Avalon Hill's many groundbreaking early titles, Stalingrad is the best."[8]

Other reviews and commentaryEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Bomba, Tyrone (1974). "Victory Conditions, Neutrality & Capitalist Imperialism". Panzerfaust. No. 65. Panzerfaust Publications.
  2. ^ Coatney, Louis. "Stalingrad, the Classic: A Revisionist's Review". Retrieved 2009-05-18.
  3. ^ a b c d "Stalingrad (1963)". Retrieved 2022-03-27.
  4. ^ Angiolillo, J. (November 1976). "Taking the offensive in Stalingrad". The General. Vol. 13, no. 4. Avalon Hill.
  5. ^ List, Steven (February–March 1981). "On the East Front". Moves. No. 50. p. 23.
  6. ^ Palmer, Nicholas (1977). The Comprehensive Guide to Board Wargaming. London: Sphere Books. p. 176.
  7. ^ R. B. McArthur (December 1980). "Is It Just a Game?". Washingtonian. 16 (3): 86–97.
  8. ^ Pulsipher, Lew (2007). "Stalingrad". In Lowder, James (ed.). Hobby Games: The 100 Best. Green Ronin Publishing. pp. 291–294. ISBN 978-1-932442-96-0.

External linksEdit