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  Stargard Solstice by Three Crowns Games  It is 1945 and the Red Army is seeking vengeance for the horrors that were perpetrated in the Mot...

Stargard Solstice by Three Crowns Games Stargard Solstice by Three Crowns Games

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Eastern Front

 Stargard Solstice


Three Crowns Games

 It is 1945 and the Red Army is seeking vengeance for the horrors that were perpetrated in the Motherland. Conversely, the German Army is trying to hold back the red hordes from invading the Fatherland. The Germans are attempting to strike with Operation Solstice (Sonnenwende). Meanwhile, the Soviets are starting their East Pomeranian Campaign. The Germans are scraping the bottom of the barrel as far as manpower and armaments. The Soviets are also low on manpower, but they have plenty of artillery, tanks, and planes to support their offensive.

 This is what Three Crown Games has to say about their game:

"Stargard Solstice starts with one of the last German offensives of 1945, ‘Operation Solstice’. At the beginning Guderian had planned a pincer move to relieve Küstrin, but Hitler wanted to save troops to retake Budapest. This resulted in changing objectives to the relief of Festung Arnswalde and trying to cut the Soviet supply route towards Küstrin. The historical objective for the Soviets was to drive the Germans out of Pomerania and thereby protect their right flank while preparing to take Küstrin and make the final thrust towards Berlin. Stargard Solstice is a game recreating this campaign in Pomerania from 15th February – 6th March, 1945."

 This is what comes with the game:

 A full color A1 map

 16 page rulebook

 286 high quality, 15mm die cut counters

 Front and Back cover with game aids, charts and tables

 Sturdy 100my ZIP-lock bag

Game Turn: 2 days

Hex: about 3 to about 4 km

Units: Battalion to Division

Solitaire Playability: High

Complexity Level: Medium

Players: 2 or more

Playing Time: 3-10 hours

Soviet counters

 The map is a standard size one. It has large hexes and is easy to read. The Turn Record Track and some German and Soviet holding boxes are on it. As far as wargames maps go this is pretty standard. On its plus side is that there is no ambiguity to the terrain in each hex. The counters are also large and easy to read. There is no difficulty in distinguishing between the counters for setup purpose. Their color is pretty standard also, black for SS, gray for Army (Heer), with the Soviet regular troops brown and the guards units being red. Watch out when dealing with the counters. They look like the older ones we are used to, but these want to detach from the sprues in a slight breeze. The Rulebook is in black and white on thick paper. It is printed in double columns and the type is large. The Rulebook is sixteen pages long. The actual rules are only twelve pages and then comes the setup, Optional Rules, Designer Notes, and finally Random Events. There are two cardstock full page Player Aids. These are in full color. Most of the writing is fine, but the Terrain Chart writing is small. What we have here is a fine group of components for a wargame.

German counters

 This is the Sequence of Play:

Air Unit Phase

 Refitted Unit Return Segment

 Grounded Unit Refitting Segment

Random Event Phase

 Random Event Table Roll Segment

Command Phase

 Command Segment

 Movement Segment

 Combat Segment

Supply Phase

Reinforcement Phase

 Reinforcement Segment

 Soviet Replacement Segment

 Volkstrum Deployment Segment

End of Turn Phase


German counter with a Hetzer on it

 This is the fourth game in Three Crowns Games WWII Battle Series. Some of the other games in the system are:

Iskra, Tolling of the Bell, Konigsberg 45, Across the Narva 

 The game series has all the rules about everything we grognards expect to see: Fog of War, Command Chits, Regular and Strategic Movement, Rail Movement, Stacking, Reinforcements, Barrage, Retreats, Supply etc.

 So, pretty much if it walks, and looks and plays like a grognards wargame, it is one. This game and all of Three Crown Games games are meat and potatoes for grognards. Nothing too overly fancy with great gameplay. I have always liked the Random Events that they come up with in all of their games I have played. One thing about the game in the Designer Notes is the fact that the OOBs for the game are probably not spot on for the actual battle. It has all of the major units listed but, especially on the German side, it is hard to say for certain. With the destruction of records and the German forces completely falling apart, to assemble a complete OOB without any errors would be practically impossible. 

 The game plays like any wargame about the Eastern front in 1945. As the Soviet player, you are supposed to charge forward and crush everything with your tank tracks. As the German player, you are really emulating Hans Brinker. The only problem is that you only have so many digits to plug the holes. The game adds some chrome with a counter for Rudel among other things.

The Victory Conditions are:

Soviet Sudden Death Victory: If the Soviets have any of the Victory Hexes in Stettin.

German Sudden Death Victory: If the German player can get three attack-capable units off the map through the Landsberg Supply Line.

The normal Victory Conditions are based on the Soviet possession of Victory Point Hexes.

 Thank you, Three Crown Games, for allowing me to review another of your great wargames.


Three Crowns Games:

War Game Design | Three Crowns Games Production (3cg)

Stargard Solstice:

Stargard Solstice | 3CG (

Please see my review of their East Prussian Carnage:

East Prussian Carnage: The Tannenberg Campaign 1914 by Three Crowns Games - A Wargamers Needful Things

  TRACES OF WAR FROM VUCA SIMULATIONS Traces of War takes us back to the Eastern Front and its physical contents initially made me expect a...


For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Eastern Front




Traces of War takes us back to the Eastern Front and its physical contents initially made me expect a welcome return to the system used in Crossing the Line and Across the Bug River.  The sheer quality of all its components certainly puts it in the same league.  However, a quick look at the designer's name, Tetsuya Nakamura, and the fact that this is a re-tread of the Japanese magazine issue, Manstein's Last Battle, made me realise that this was a very different and simpler system.  I had encountered his system in the MMP production of A Victory Lost and like many others had both enjoyed its simplicity and playability, but not the disappointing production values.  So it's with many thanks to Vuca Simulations for providing this review copy and opportunity to explore its qualities.

Vuca Simulations have established an excellent reputation for quality and the only feature in Traces of War that has raised some criticism is the two-part map.  There are those who, relishing the company's previous beautifully mounted maps, lamented that these are paper maps.  Others have complained of the slight imperfection in matching up the two maps, though some have qualified that their concern stems from their experience of Vuca Simulations' record for perfection!  What I do like about the maps is the almost linen-like feel to them.

Personally, I've not found the matching up of the two maps anything other than a minor imperfection, especially once the Soviets start advancing into that area of the map, though I would highly recommend plexi-glass sheets that are always useful, especially where you have two-map games.  
Other than that, all other components live up perfectly to the company's customary excellence.   The three sheets of familiar rounded-corner counters are some of the best you'll find.  

Smilarly, the four charts [two identical ones for each player - another highly commendable practice] are the very thick, rigid A4-sized cardstock that also has become an expected feature.  These double-sided cards will rapidly become all you need to play the game.  Player Aid A contains a detailed sequence of play and all the necessary charts, while Player Aid B outlines all the rules and critical information.

Frankly after a turn or two, all you will really need is the single side of charts, because the rules are very easy to remember.  This is partly because they are relatively short, a mere 13 pages, but mainly because of their absolute clarity and the rule book's admirable presentation.  The pages are glossy without being too shiny, with the text set out in double-columns with plentiful illustration and examples that couldn't be easier to read because of their size.

A typical page of the rulebook
Having looked carefully at the English rules translation for the original Japanese magazine edition, I can safely say that these in Traces of War have an organisation, flow and readability very much lacking in the original. 
Sequence of Play
Luftwaffe Reorganisation Phase
This is a simple random chit-pull of German aircraft tokens that give offensive or defensive column shifts in combat.  The increasing number drawn - and there are only a maximum of four - depends on how many crossing-points the Soviet has captured.  Therefore it will be several turns before any are available.
Command Chit Selection
Both players choose which activation chits they will include this turn.  Mainly these are HQs that can activate all units within a given radius, but there is a single supply chit that is always included and the German player potentially has 2 OKH chits from turn 2 onwards and the Soviets receive a single-use airborne chit and airborne unit and may have a Stavka chit available from turn 5 onwards.  I like chit-pull activation mechanics generally and the system in Traces of War is an admirable one that is crucial to creating both the differing abilities of both sides and a substantial amount of the tension this game generates.
Action Phase
As a chit is drawn, the player has the choice for all units within the drawn HQ's command radius of either a move-combat sequence or a combat-move sequence.  I like the flexibility of choice and the variation to pace this offers the players, though as the German I would have loved the option of a move-move choice!
Both Movement & Combat are swift and easy to carry out. It's a rare pleasure to be able to remember all the terrain modifiers and movement costs in my head and the Combat Table too is very user friendly.  Most results are either R or RR - i.e. one hex or two hex retreats.  If this sounds like a very bloodless chart, don't be fooled, because a lot of that retreating will be through an enemy ZOC, each of which causes a step loss.  Imagine what might be going to happen soon to those German units in the pocket forming around Kharkov.

In terms of Phases, that's it.  Unlike most games, Supply and Reinforcements are handled not as Phases each turn, but as part of the chit pull system.  In this eight turn game, the Soviet player has six batches of reinforcements.  When he/she chooses to include the Reinforcement chit in a turn, one of those batches in numerical order will be placed on the map.  I love this further element of choice, along with the uncertainty of when in the turn they will arrive.  The ability to position them just where you most want them may perhaps be rather too powerful.  However, it is balanced by the chance that they won't arrive until they are too late to be valuable this turn.
For the German player, the reinforcement element is even more unusual and more restricted.  Just as for the Soviet player, it does depend on the inclusion of a chit in the Activation Pool.  In this case, it is the inclusion of an OKH chit and the German player has two of these chits available to include from the beginning of turn 2.   This is not the powerful tool it sounds, because the OKH chit can fulfil three different functions [1] activate an HQ [2] activate a set number of units anywhere on the board [3] provide a number of Negotiation Points to be used either to buy reinforcements or remove a Supreme Command Order.  All of those choices are going to be vying for the German player's attention every turn.  It's one of the frustrations and delights of playing the German side and for me gives a very convincing feel of what a desperate situation being the supreme commander must have been like with his nightmare of conflicting demands.  
If you're wondering what a Supreme Command Order is, it is this game's way of incorporating a version of what, in other games, are called Hitler Directives.  The six major cities on the map each holds one of these markers representing Hitler's demand that they should be held at all cost.  Should the Soviet player succeed in controlling any one of these cities while the marker is still in place, he/she wins.
As some of these will eventually be captured, the German player must at some point use Negotiation Points to remove those markers from cities where the Soviet player looks likely to seize control.   It is another simple, but hugely successful rule to ratchet up the pressure on the German player and provide a neat series of quandaries.  The German player is constantly forced to think what's the key priority now.
Supply too is governed by a Supply Chit that goes in the draw bag/cup every turn and when it is pulled out both sides check supply.  Again, I like this, though the method of checking supply definitely shows its age.  All that's needed is a line of any length free of enemy ZOCs and a few other restrictions, such as not passing through an enemy city or an unbridged major river.  

[Couldn't resist showing my favourite chit-draw bag "borrowed" from the V-Commandos game]
An additional feature that characterises the carefully thought out double-edged nature of some of my favourite rules in the game is the rule about Crossing Points of which there are six on the map.  All are located on the Dniepr that bisects the centre of the map and along which the Germans will strive to form some sort of coherent defensive line.  Their capture by the Soviets greatly aids their advance, but the corollary is that all the German bonuses [such as Luftwaffe markers, Supreme Command Negotiation Points and the value of the OKH chits] increase depending on how many the Soviets control.  This is both a clever balancing help for the Germans and a dilemma for both sides.
Before I conclude, a word about the very high solitaire value [9] given on the back of the box.

The only solitaire element in the game is the Play Aid below, which reproduces the two player charts that are printed on the opposing map edges.  This is provided so that, when you play the game solitaire by playing both sides, everything is facing you and easy to use.  As those of you know who've read other of my reviews this is my preferred way of soloing a two-player game and so I'm very happy to have such a simple resource.  But for those who want/need solo rules/bots, this is not what this game provides.

My final question is that of play balance which is already being argued about on BoardGameGeek [Ok, what game's play balance doesn't get vehemently argued about on BGG?]  The Soviets are definitely going to be doing a large percentage of the attacking and the Germans the defending.  There are two scenarios in the game: a short play of the first 4 turns and I do think that for the Soviet to accrue the necessary VPs to win is a well-nigh impossible task. However, the full game of 8 turns is the important consideration.  It is a struggle for the German player first to survive losing to an automatic Soviet victory and secondly to prevent the Soviet player gaining enough VPs to win at the end of the full 8 turns.  However, the more I play this game the more that German victory seems achievable and the more rewarding the feeling when you do!

Not one of my best efforts, as Dnipropetrovsk falls early
 to give an automatic Soviet victory

To sum up this is above all a highly playable game with short, very accessible rules.  Its components are a pleasure just to see set out and play is a tense experience, fuelled by plenty of interesting decision making for both sides.  It's a game that I strongly recommend and one that will be staying in my collection.

  Stalingrad: Advance to the Volga Solitaire Area Movement Series: Volume 1 by Revolution Games & Take Aim Designs  Stalingrad has almos...

Stalingrad: Advance to the Volga, 1942 by Revolution Games Stalingrad: Advance to the Volga, 1942 by Revolution Games

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Eastern Front

 Stalingrad: Advance to the Volga

Solitaire Area Movement Series: Volume 1


Revolution Games & Take Aim Designs

 Stalingrad has almost as many games about it as Gettysburg or Waterloo. However, the actually tooth and nail fight for the city itself is not as represented in wargames as the campaign is. It has been compared with the Battle of Verdun in the First World War. The city itself was almost completed destroyed during the back and forth fighting during the end of 1942 and the beginning of 1943. The battle is often called the turning point of World War II. It certainly was a turning point on the fighting on the Eastern Front. 

 This game has two scenarios, one between September 13th and September 30, 1942 for nine turns. There is also a smaller five turn scenario from October 14th until October 31st. It is a solitaire game where the player takes on the role of the Germans. It is an area movement game for those of us who love hexes. You as the German have only a few turns to win the battle. If during that time the Germans control every area on the map you win an Automatic Victory. If, however, the German Morale Track reaches '0' at any time the Soviets get an Automatic Victory. If the game runs all the way to the end of turn nine without either of the above, then these are the Victory Conditions:

"If Automatic Victory has not been achieved by the start of the End

Phase of Turn 9, the game’s final turn, the German player wins an

Operational Victory if they control at least one Heavy Urban Area

and the “German Controlled” markers on the Record Track are 40

or greater. Design Note: this is the roughly historical result. If

they fail to do so, the Soviet side is the victor and the player has

lost the game."

 This is what the designers have to say about the game:

"STALINGRAD: ADVANCE TO THE VOLGA, 1942 is a solitaire game simulating the campaign by the German Sixth Army to capture the Soviet city of Stalingrad between September 13 and September 30, 1942. The player commands the attacking German forces and the game rules handle the defending Soviet forces. In reading these rules, if any capitalized term or abbreviation confuses you, refer to the index and glossary at the end of this rulebook. The numerical references found therein and throughout these rules should be ignored during first reading and used only later to refer to related sections for greater clarity."

 As you can see, the rules come with both an index and a glossary. It also has a History and Suggested Reading section.

 This is what comes with the game:

17 x 22 inch MOUNTED Map

One sheet of 5/8" die-cut counters

One player aid card

16 page rulebook

Eight six-sided dice (4 red and 4 black)

Game Box

 This is the Sequence of Play:

1. Dawn Phase



2. Random Event Phase

  Roll 3d6 and consult the Random Event Chart.

3. Supply Phase

  Roll 4d6 for German Supply

  Consult Supply Cost Table

4. Combat Phase

  Bloody Streets

  German Movement/Attacks

5. End Phase

  Automatic Victory Check

  Flip all spent units to their fresh side.

  Reduce German Morale by -1

 As with all of the Revolution Games that I have played this game's motto is 'you get more with less'. This does not mean that they cut corners on their components. As a matter of fact, it is quite the opposite.

 The game map is smaller than a lot of games. However, it still manages to have all of the needed features and adds a lot of immersion to the game. I am assuming that it was made from an original German map of the time. Either that or the artist added them all on top of his own map. As I mentioned, it is very immersive with the German language parts on it. All of the historical parts of Stalingrad that we have read about are on it and shown in English. Such as the Grain Elevator and all the rest. The counters are very well done. They have either a NATO symbol or a profile for the tank and panzer grenadier units. At 5/8" the counters are nice and large for a game this size. They are also not cluttered, and the information needed for play is nice and large. The Rulebook is only sixteen pages long. It is in full color and is easy to read and understand. It also has a few pictures and examples of play to boot. The actual rules only take up eight pages. Then comes a page of optional rules. Then there is the setup for the smaller scenario followed by an article on the history and one on game strategy. The back page is a checklist of all the areas on the map for both scenarios. There is one Player Aid that is made of card stock that has all the information you will need to play, and it has the Sequence of Play on it. It also has the setup for the first scenario on it.

 There are more and more games that are being released that either can be played solitaire, or like this one built from the ground up for it. This is a very good idea for our hobby. More and more people are finding it hard to get friends, or enemies, to play wargames. So smaller games that can be played by yourself and do not take up much space are really needed in the 21st century. That doesn't mean that monsters are dead; far from it. It is just harder to coordinate getting a group together. 

 Stalingrad is a game that gives the player so many choices. Besides that, there are so many changes and twists and turns from one game to the next that it never goes stale. The German supply is your currency for all you can do. This alone makes the game a nail-biter. You can make the most grandiose plans and then find out you cannot do half of what you intended. This is even before the random events kick in. I want, and will get, a monster game about the street fighting in Stalingrad. However, even after that purchase, this game will still find a place on my table at times. It is just that good.

 Thank you, Revolution Games for allowing me to review this game. The designer of this game is Michael Rinella. I will now have to be on the lookout for more games from him.


Revolution Games:

Revolution Games | Main Page

  Red Blitz An Expansion for Old School Tactical Volume 1 Second Edition by Flying Pig Games   Flying Pig Games should have really used hog ...

Red Blitz an Expansion for Old School Tactical Volume 1 Second Edition by Flying Pig Games Red Blitz an Expansion for Old School Tactical Volume 1 Second Edition by Flying Pig Games

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Eastern Front

 Red Blitz

An Expansion for Old School Tactical Volume 1 Second Edition


Flying Pig Games

 Flying Pig Games should have really used hog instead of pig for its flying porcine. Their games are enormous with massive maps that come with 1" hexes. The counters come in two sizes. The armored vehicles are 7/8" and the soldier, etc. ones at 3/4".

 This is what Flying Pig Games has to say about Red Blitz:

"In the vein of Old School Tactical Vol 2's Phantom Division we present Red Blitz. This boxed expansion will add more scenarios that occur during the vicious fighting of Operation Bagration in the summer of 1944.

Specifically, there are 6 challenging new scenarios, and an extended battle to be gamed on Vol I's Map 1. The extended battle is a multi-part legacy scenario, where the day's gains remain in your hands and reinforcements are fed into the battle. A running score is kept and the winning side is determined at the end of all the rounds.  

The "one-off" scenarios are fought on 4 new pocket maps, depicting summer and winter terrain. Additionally, Red Blitz presents new combatants, including the SU-76M, SU-85, OT-34, PT34, ISU-152, IS-2, StuH-42 and the Nashorn."

Red Blitz Includes:

4 new 11" x 17" game maps (4 x summer and 4 x winter).
A playbook with 6 new scenarios and a separate, new campaign.
A sheet of gorgeous counters, including--but not limited to-- the new units cited above.
A box to keep everything safe and warm.
This is an expansion. You must own Old School Tactical Vol I 2nd Edition to play.

 The expansions maps are up to Flying Pig Games usual beauty and usefulness. They are paper maps and not mounted. To me it is not big deal. I just break out the plexiglass. Some people may feel differently. The Maps are 'Pocket Maps' numbers four through seven. The Maps are identical on both sides except for one side is summer and one is winter. The counters are just as huge and little works of art like all of the Flying Pig Games I have seen. The vehicle/weapon cards are also up to the same high standards. There are four German cards and six Soviet ones. The Soviet player gets some monster tanks (IS 2, and ISU 152) along with a flamethrower T-34 and a mine sweeping one. The Playbook is fourteen pages long. It is in full color and has large type that is easy to read. All but one page is devoted to the new scenarios. The expansion's components are all comparable to the ones you get with the main games. 

 Once again, Flying Pig Games has given us a very nice expansion to one of their core games. To play the scenarios in Red Blitz you need to either have a copy of Old School Tactical Volume I 2nd Edition or the 2nd Edition Upgrade for the original Old School Tactical. The scenarios will also need some of the counters from the main game. The new maps and units, especially the units, bring a great amount of added value to the base game. Thank you, Flying Pig Games for allowing me to review this expansion. 

 If you have not looked at Hermann Luttmann's magnum opus 'A Most Fearful Sacrifice' game about the Battle of Gettysburg, you owe yourself to take a look. Here is my review of it:


Flying Pig Games:

Flying Pig Games Red Blitz:

  Stalingrad New Perspectives on an Epic Battle  Volume 2 The City of Death by Christer Bergström  This volume has to fill a big pair of sho...

Stalingrad New Perspectives on an Epic Battle: Volume 2 The City of Death by Christer Bergström Stalingrad New Perspectives on an Epic Battle: Volume 2 The City of Death by Christer Bergström

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Eastern Front

 Stalingrad New Perspectives on an Epic Battle

 Volume 2 The City of Death


Christer Bergström

 This volume has to fill a big pair of shoes to follow the publishing of volume one. The first book was one of the best military history books I have ever read, and I have read tons of them. 

 These are the chapters etc. that are in the book:

Part One: Street Fighting
Chapter One - Onto the Volga
Chapter Two - The Legendary Strongpoints
Chapter Three - Paulus's Fatal Mistake
Chapter Four - The City of Death
Chapter Five - The Battle for Red October

Part Two: The Turning Point
Charter Six - The Trap is Set
Chapter Seven - Success and Failure
Chapter Eight - The Stab-in-the-Back Myth

Part Three: Diary of a Dying Army
1: December 1942
2: January February 1943

Part Four: The Battle in Reality and in History Writing

Appendix One - Axis Order of Battle at Stalingrad on September 12,1942
Appendix Two - Soviet Order of Battle at Stalingrad on September 12,1942
Appendix Three - Axis Order of Battle Stalingrad Don Area December 1, 1942
Appendix Four - The Soviet Terma of Surrender, Presented to 6. Armee on January 8, 1943
Appendix Five - Film Clips From the Battle of Stalingrad

There are also various Glossaries and a good number of well-done maps.

 So, this volume will take us from the hell of the street fighting in Stalingrad to the point where the Germans had managed to almost conquer the entire city. Then the story continues to the Soviet encirclement of 6. Armee and its final death throes. 

 This is what Vaktel Books has to say about the book:

330 pages hardcover. Format 6″ x 9″
Illustrated with many previously unseen photos
Large and clear maps
QR codes with relevant film clips

The realistic air bridge – and why it failed.
How could the Russians persevere?
General Paulus’s greatest mistake.
What happened to the civilians in Stalingrad?
The myths about ”Pavlov’s house” and the Mamayev Kurgan hill.
The German plan to evacuate Stalingrad – and how it failed.
A critical analysis of writing history about Stalingrad.

 This is an excerpt from the book:

"In a way, the Battle of Stalingrad was decided on September 12, 1942. That day, General Friedrich Paulus, the commander of German 6. Armee in Stalingrad, met Hitler at his Eastern Headquarters in Vinnitsa, and presented a plan in two stages, aimed at solving all problems in the Stalingrad area: First, the city of Stalingrad had to be
taken, in order to prevent the Soviets from bringing more troops across the Volga to strike a blow at the German flank. After this had been completed, all forces of 6. Armee and 4. Panzerarmee could be released for aims which truly would be decisive if realized: The former was to surround and annihilate the Stalingrad Front north
of the city and wipe out the dangerous Soviet bridgeheads in the northern part of the Don Bend at Serafimovich and Kletskaya; the latter was to carry out an operation called “Herbstlaub” (Autumn Leaf), intended to capture the Soviet positions south of Stalingrad at Beketovka and Krasnoarmeysk. If all of this was to be achieved, it was assumed that the Germans could occupy winter positions in relative calm."

 This volume does not have to look on its older sibling with envy. The second volume is just as well written and full of new information as the first. The writer moves effortlessly from the larger picture to the intimate recollections of the poor civilians who were caught up in the hellish maelstrom. 

 The author believes that Paulus had committed a 'fatal mistake' in the battle during the last days of September 1942. This is from the book:

"Paulus had indeed committed a grave mistake. Had the Germans continued to attack the northern industrial area instead of shifting their attention towards the Orlovka Salient, one might assume that the by then remaining Soviet forces would not have been able to withstand the pressure, and the Germans could have captured the whole area. The significance of this simply cannot be underestimated, since it would probably have caused the entire Soviet defense in Stalingrad to crumble, after which the LI Armeekorps could have been in an offensive to push the ne Don Front northward. This in turn could have avoided the whole Stalingrad catastrophe for the Germans." 

 These books are also on the cutting edge of technology. You have the ability to download materials and to actually watch videos of the actual events with the embedded scan codes and links.

 Thank you, Vaktel Books and Lombardy Studios, for letting me review this excellent book.

Author: Christer Bergström

Publisher Vaktel Books

North American Distributor: Lombardy Studios

Lombardy Studios is doing a new Kickstarter for 'Aerocatures':

As an FYI Lombardy Studios is working on releasing the wargame 'Streets of Stalingrad Death of a City' You can find more information here:

  Korsun Pocket 2 Little Stalingrad on the Dnepr Designed by Jack Radey  Published by Pacific Rim Publishing  Operation Barbarossa had taken...

Korsun Pocket 2: Little Stalingrad on the Dnepr Designed by Jack Radey Published by Pacific Rim Publishing Korsun Pocket 2: Little Stalingrad on the Dnepr Designed by Jack Radey Published by Pacific Rim Publishing

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Eastern Front

 Korsun Pocket 2

Little Stalingrad on the Dnepr

Designed by Jack Radey 

Published by Pacific Rim Publishing

 Operation Barbarossa had taken place on June 22nd,1941. It had surged through the Soviet Union like a massive wave. The wave had finally broken against the Soviet defenses at Leningrad, Moscow and Rostov. In 1942 the Germans' Operation Blau was directed at the Caucasus and Stalingrad, or more accurately the Volga River. In late 1942 the Axis Allied armies were smashed and roughly 250K Germans and Allies were trapped in the Stalingrad pocket. There was a relative lull after the Spring fighting, and then the Germans launched Operation Citadel. This was to encircle and capture and crush the Soviet forces around Kursk. The autumn battles in 1943 saw the Germans forced back through the Ukraine. These battles had bled white both the German and Soviet forces. Unfortunately for the German forces, they were running out of replacements. The Soviets were still able to call upon a larger, but dwindling, mass of untapped manpower. This sets the stage for 1944 on the Eastern Front.

Just some Soviet Eye Candy

 The German Army Group South, commanded by von Manstein, was very depleted of men and armaments as the new year started. The Soviets had decided to not take a breather and saw an opportunity to encircle two Germans corps. The two German corps were the XI, commanded by General Wilhelm Stemmermann, and the XXXXII commanded by Lieutenant General Theobald Lieb, along with the attached Corps Detachment B from the 8th Army. The Soviet forces that were going to make the pocket were the 1st Ukranian Front, commanded by Nicolai Vatutin, and 2nd Ukranian Front, commanded by Ivan Konev. The reason there was a chance at all for the Germans to be encircled is that Hitler demanded that these forces stay on the western shore of the Dnepr River. The rest of Army Group South had already been pushed back from the river. To complete the encirclement the two Soviet forces would have to attack and move around 110 kilometers. The fighting would take place in January and February of 1944. Playing as the German player, you are trying to escape the pocket, or never let a pocket be made. Playing as the Soviet, you have to encircle the German forces as quickly as possible and defend against attacks from both inside and outside the pocket. So, onto the game.

 This is what comes with the game:

12 counter sheets of 200 die-cut backprinted counters each

Four 25 x 38 inch game maps

Six German Order of Battle Charts — III Panzer Corps, VII Corps, VIII Flieger Corps, XI Corps, XLII Corps, XLVII Panzer Corps

Ten Soviet Order of Battle Charts — 1st Ukrainian Front, 2nd Ukrainian Front, 5th Guards Tank Army, 2nd Tank Army, 6th Tank Army, 4th Guards Army, 27th Army, 40th Army, 52nd Army, 53rd Army

One 28-page Rules Booklet

One Scenarios Booklet

One Commentary, History, and Designer’s Notes Booklet

Two double-sided 22 x 34 situation maps (25 January, 1 February, 10 February, one blank for planning purposes)

Two 11 x 17 player turn record track cards

Two player chart and aids cards

One six sided die


Section of the Map

 No doubt about it, this is a monster wargame. The four 25" X 38" maps prove it along with the 2000+ counters. The situation maps are an excellent addition to the game, especially the blank one for planning. Even if you are playing the one map scenario you are still going to need a good amount of space for the Player Aids etc. So, this is a game that you are going to need space and are going to need to leave it on the table for a while. 

 I really like this statement from the designer Jack Radey:


If you approach this game as a dice and probability table contest, and push each counter separately without regard for organization, I think that you will not have much fun, and will spend a lot of time looking for just the right amount of combat strength to nudge the odds one column higher. Not my idea of wargaming. I strongly urge you to do serious planning, map study, and organize your forces as they were organized historically, or some variant on that. Thinking in terms of "this army has those objectives, and to gain them I will push this corps along that road, reinforcing it with these artillery units" you will do far better than thinking in terms of "where can I find another six points of attack strength?"

 In simple terms the game will award you for playing historically. I am not talking about forcing you to do exactly as was done in 1944. It does what not enough games do and guides the player to wargame in a historical manner, instead of throwing all of your counters Willy Nilly across the map. This game will really impress the grognard who tries to play in a historical manner.

 We will now go through the components. The counters are a 1/2" in size. They have to be that size or almost no one would be able to play this game. The colors on them are muted. They do come with a good amount of information on them, but strangely enough they are still easy to read. The counters also have the correct silhouette of the tanks that were in each unit. I think this is a nice touch. Next up, we have the four full-sized maps. They are of paper but do have some kind of coating on them. This campaign was fought in the snow, so the clear hexes are white. The terrain in each hex and moving out of a hex is very well defined. The maps come with no ambiguities. The sixteen! Order of Battle charts are extremely well done. There is no bunching up of the different OOBs. They are made of hard stock and come in all sizes, from the small VIII Flieger corps of the Luftwaffe to two large page foldouts for some of the Soviet units. The Rules Booklet is in black and white and has two columns per page. There are no examples of play. The only illustrations show how to read the counters and all of the information on them. However, the text is nice and large. As was mentioned, it is twenty-eight pages long. It does not have an index, but with it only being twenty-eight pages long it is not hard to find what you are looking for, unless you are a member of U2. The Scenario Booklet is thirty-two pages in total. The first sixteen pages are for the actual scenarios. After that comes a four-page Example of Play, then an eight-page Historical Notes section. This is extremely well done. I would always say to read books on the battles you are going to play. However, this short synopsis is really all a player needs. The author also sneaks in the word 'mendacity'. I have been a fan of that word since first seeing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. I still hear the word mendacity in Burl Ives voice in my head. The Booklet is also in black and white with the same large print. The situation maps I have already touched upon. The different Players Aids are also very well done. They come with the same large type that the Booklets have. When you open the box you will be pretty amazed at the sheer amount of OOBs and Player Aids that are in there. The 2K+ counters are also a sight to behold. Be careful with the counters - they do want to jump of the cardboard sprues.

 The original Korsun Pocket was released in 1979 by People's War Games. So, Mr. Radey has had over forty years to tinker with the game. Most of the games made by People's War Games were and are as valuable as a gold bar. 

 These are the Scenarios:

Scenario 1 - Vatutin Attacks - This uses maps A and C and is 15 turns long.

Scenario 2 - On to Zvenigorodka - This uses maps B and D and is 15 turns long.

Scenario 3 - The Pocket is Formed - This uses all 4 maps and is 18 turns or longer if you use night turns.

Scenario 4 - "I Will Rescue You" - This uses map C only and is 21 turns long.

Scenario 5 - von Vormann Tries Again - This uses maps B and D and is 21 turns long.

Scenario 6 - Testing the Ring - This uses all 4 maps and is 27 turns long.

Scenario 7 - Massacre on the Gniloi Tikich - This uses all 4 maps and is 24 turns long.

Scenario 8 - The Korsun Pocket Campaign - This uses all 4 maps and is possibly 72 turns long.

"Sequence of Play:

Each Game Turn represents the AM, PM, or Night

portion of a day. At the end of a Night Game Turn

there may be an Extra Night Turn (20.0). The First

Player is determined by the scenario being played.

The player whose turn it is is the phasing player

and his opponent is the non-phasing player.

Each Game Turn consists of the following sequence

of actions.

3.1 Weather Determination If using historical

weather (7.2), adjust the markers on the Weather

Conditions Track to indicate the current

temperature, ground and atmospheric conditions.

If using variable weather (7.3), the first Player rolls

twice on the weather table for temperature and for

atmospheric conditions. If precipitation is possible

a third die roll is made.

3.2 Air Availability Phase Both players consult the

current weather and ground conditions and

determine which of their air units are available


3.3 Supply Phase Both players determine the

supply status of their units (15.21, 15.22).

3.4 First Player Turn The player designated First

Player by the scenario instructions becomes the

phasing player.

3.41 Movement The phasing player may move all,

some, or none of his units. (5.0 Movement)

3.42 Building and Demolition The phasing player

may initiate, continue, or complete building and

demolition (17.0).

3.43 Counter Battery and Surprise Attack The

phasing player may conduct counter battery fire

against enemy artillery units that are both 

observed and In Battery (14.71). The Phasing

player may conduct Surprise Attacks (10.33).

3.44 Defensive Barrage The non-phasing player

may now conduct Defensive Barrage (14.72).

3.45 Combat The phasing player is the attacker

and may now conduct Combat in which the nonphasing

player is the defender (9.0, 10.0).

3.5 Second Player Turn The player who was the

non-phasing player now becomes the phasing

player and the sequence of phases 3.41 through

3.45 are repeated.

3.6 Fatigue Reduction Phase Both players reduce

the Fatigue Level by one for each of their Tired or

Exhausted units that is not in an Enemy Zone of

control (20.7).

3.7 Game Turn Indication Phase The Game Turn

marker is advanced to the next turn and play

proceeds unless it is the last turn in which case the

players should engage in lively banter about the outcome."

Weather Variables

 Weather is a large part of the game. However, so is visibility which is usually not taken into consideration in wargames. This is the combination of what Mother Nature can throw at you.

1. Ground Condition

Frozen Ground

Muddy Ground

Deep Mud

Snowy Ground

2. Atmospheric Condition







3. Temperature



One of the Situation Maps

 While both sides are forced by the rules to do their utmost best to keep an intact line of counters or zones of control in a unit's area. The German player is allowed to breakdown his battalions into companies.



18.1 Battalion Breakdown

18.11 Only German full strength non-artillery

battalions may be broken down into companies.

Battalions that break down into companies must

break into companies of the same type as the

battalion — for example, foot mobile infantry

break down into foot mobile infantry companies,

motorized infantry into motorized infantry

companies, etc.

18.12 To breakdown a battalion into companies, at

any point during the German player’s movement

phase remove the battalion counter from the board

and place it on the player display in the “Battalion

Breakdown” box.

The German player pays two movement points to

breakdown a battalion. Replace the battalion on

the board with company counters of the same type

according to the Battalion Breakdown Chart on the

German Turn Record Card.

18.13 The companies placed on the map have the

same number of movement points that were

available to the parent battalion at the time the 2

MP cost was paid, and may continue to move, in a

stack or individually, after breaking down.

18.14 The number of battalions that may

breakdown is limited by the counter mix, if there

are not sufficient number of company counters of

the same type available, a battalion may not break


 This game has one of the highest ratings for complexity on BoardGameGeek that I have seen at 4.43. While there is a lot going on each turn, I think that is a bit high. The Rules Booklet does add a few rules for each scenario, which is totally normal, but this does not push the complexity up anymore. If you are used to the large soapbox games from SPI, you should be able to play this game. As I said, there is a lot going on, but the rules are written out to hold your hand while playing. Is this game for everyone? Of course not. Some like higher complexity games and to others they are an anathema. The Korsun Pocket battle or campaign was a different sort of animal than a lot of wargames. The Germans and the Soviets are like two fighters in the fourteenth round. The German player is not going to run rampant with his tanks. A Panzer Division was lucky to have forty tanks at this time. The Soviet player has one strong army (4th Guards), but his other units are as in bad a shape as the Germans. This game is a nail biter about taking the next hex. You are not going to be racing around the maps. The German player has to work to get the most out of his units trying to get to the pocket. At the same time, he has to keep the Soviets from crushing the pocket. The Soviet player needs to think about stopping the German reinforcements while still looking over his shoulder at the pocket. The fact that the game was designed for the players to use their counters in a historical manner is the icing on the cake. 

 Thank you, Pacific Rim Publishing, for allowing me to review this excellent game. I have to go because I have one more hex to take before I can link up with the skeletal remains of the pocket. Isn't this why we got into wargaming? While I am thinking about it, how come Grognards do not have a special day?


Pacific Rim Publishing:

Pacific Rim Publishing (

Korsun Pocket 2:

Korsun Pocket 2 | Pacific Rim Publishing (

Korsun Pocket 2 Designer Notes:

Korsun Pocket 2 Designer Notes by Pacific Rim Publishing - A Wargamers Needful Things

My Review of 'Across the Pacific':

Across the Pacific by Pacific Rim Publishing - A Wargamers Needful Things