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  • SOS-4 PLAYTEST KIT
    KICKSTARTER IS LIVE!


    by SOS4 Team
    June 2, 2017

  • Meet the SOS4 Team: Russ Schulke (SOS4), Part 4 of 5

    by Russ Schulke
    May 13, 2017

    Meet the SOS4 Team: Russ Schulke (SOS4), Part 4 of 5
    by Russ Schulke
    May 13, 2017

    Over 30 years I amassed 200,000 pages of data including: Soviet unit histories and war journals, KIA/MIA reports, POW processing cards, maps, unpublished personal diaries and photos, rare books, and hundreds of artifacts.

    With the growth of the Internet opportunities arose to share this knowledge. I created the webpage www.fireonthevolga.com (the title of one of the two SOS games released by Nova Games), and was contacted by people worldwide. I contributed to books by Australian Jason D. Marks (Death of the Leaping Horseman, 2001), British writer Michael K. Jones (Stalingrad: How the Red Army Triumphed, 2007), and Finnish author Kari Kuusela. In 2011 I was noted as a historical consultant on the first-person shooter PC game Heroes of Stalingrad: Red Orchestra 2 (RO2), and in the remake of the movie “Straw Dogs.” (Part of my Stalingrad collection is featured in the background of Straw Dogs.)

    And I remained an active SOS player. While doing my research in Volgograd and in the state archives TsAMO outside of Moscow, I found some anomalies and errors in SOS, most related to the Soviet forces in the game. While attending some gaming conventions where Dana Lombardy was speaking, I approached Dana about dozens of questions related to SOS. Most he could answer on the spot, but a few had him stumped. From 2004 and for the next ten years, I would “update” SOS using my research.

    I developed a personal research rule I call “the rule of five.” Basically, I had to find five period sources to verify new information for the game. Post war books, etc., were never used. It must be primary sources: period documents from 1930s to 1945, although a few exceptions were allowed such as KIA/MIA reports still being filed 10 years after the war. Using this rule of five, I checked every Soviet aspect of the game, including units, commanders, locations, timelines, movements, strengths, losses, etc.

    By 2011, I had updated SOS, and would spend 2012-2013 double-checking my work. My wife Anna (a native of Volgograd) and I decided that I should present my work to Dana Lombardy and David Parham, the creators of SOS. I started to assemble a presentation package, while still adding new data to the game. Then fate forced my hand.

    Part 4 describes how SOS 4th edition became a reality.
  • Meet the SOS4 Team: David Parham (“Researcher 6”), Part 3

    by David Parham
    May 6, 2017


    Meet the SOS4 Team: David Parham (“Researcher 6”), Part 3
    by David Parham
    May 6, 2017

    Scouting the Battlefield (by Researcher 6)

    While awaiting the arrival of the microfilm records of the German Sixth Army, I started to survey the literature on the battle of Stalingrad. Research in the pre-Internet age of the mid-19070s was a hands-on, time-consuming effort. Other responsibilities kept me from immediately investigating the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and specialty book dealers in the Washington, D.C. area. Fortunately, good local libraries and bookstores, and the amazing holdings of T.P. Schweider provided enough immediate material to get us started.

    Revisiting books by Paul Carrell, Geoffrey Jukes, and other western writers, plus the few Russian sources, confirmed that beyond providing timelines and descriptions of major engagements, there would be little of the detail Dana needed for the game. William Craig in his study (Enemy at the Gates) did try to examine the actual conflict in the city, but mainly by cribbing, errors and all, from the English translation of V.I. Chuikov's personal memoir released in 1964. (Even today there is little original research on the battle, save for the monumental work by David M. Glantz and the unorthodox exposition by French MacLean.)

    Examining the available histories of the German Division involved on the battle proved frustrating. The English language publications were mainly picture books, and the German accounts were not comprehensive—too many of the participants in the campaign did not return home and their memories (along with unit records) were lost with them.

    The U.S. military journals of the time did yield some gems. These professional periodicals were dedicated to keeping their readers up-to-date on war events and worldwide developments in weapons, tactics, etc. American military attaches serving overseas and translations extracted from foreign publications provided timely insights,. For example, the earliest description I found on actual combat in Stalingrad came from The Cavalry Journal, September-October 1943, which presented an article on “urban fighting” in the city, translated from the Soviet War News Weekly. From conversations with other researchers, plus titles in international bookseller catalogs, we learned of authoritative studies, like the multi-volume set on German units by George Tessin and new translations of Russian accounts on the battle. Until we could secure these, we had to depend on the microfilms to deliver the data we needed for SOS.

    Next: Destiny arrives in a 18”x9”x4” cardboard box.
  • Meet the SOS4 Team: Dana Lombardy (and SOS), Part 5 of 6

    by Dana Lombardy
    April 29, 2017


    Meet the SOS4 Team: Dana Lombardy (and SOS), Part 5 of 6
    by Dana Lombardy
    April 29, 2017

    After the very disappointing financial results of both SOS1 and SOS2, why do a third edition? Art Lupinacci is a Canadian wargamer and huge fan of Streets of Stalingrad. In 2000 he contacted me and his enthusiasm for the game and business plan convinced me that yes, we could dramatically improve SOS with the then affordable color printing available for components and lower overall production costs by manufacturing SOS3 in Canada. Art formed L2 Design Group (Lupinacci & Lombardy) and we worked closely together for months, including my travel to Toronto and Art flying to California.

    Using multiple colors vastly enhanced the look and readability of the map, counters, game charts, etc. But there were other important improvements to SOS3.

    Mark Holoboski provided his notes from tracking down key map features such as the “nail factory” and other structures in the city. Ulrich Blennemann, Hans Wijers, and David Glantz all provided new historical research information about Stalingrad. Bob Sanders helped develop new rules for artillery fire, breakthrough movement and attacks, and replacing the disruption combat effect with pinning results. John Alsen and Chris Janiec improved the organization of the rules. Todd Davis and a host of playtesters made sure everything worked. And my friend and Hall of Fame graphic artist Rodger MacGowan created the stunning box cover for SOS3. Without a doubt, this heavily revised edition of SOS was a collaborative masterpiece of wargame design.

    Although the concept of crowd funding was still years away, the money to publish SOS3 was raised through pre-publication sales. Pre-sales of the SOS3 $150 monster game paid off the printer and mailed nearly a thousand copies of SOS3.

    Art wanted to invest the profit back into L2 and I helped obtain the licenses to Avalon Hill’s The Russian Campaign game and War at Sea so L2 could publish new “deluxe” editions of these classic John Edwards games. But I wanted to publish books and games on new topics of military history and so I left L2 in 2003.

    SOS3 is still a much sought after game and added immensely to the “legendary” status of the brand.

    Part 6 tells the story of SOS4.
  • 178 NKVD Industrial
    Facilities Protection Regiment


    by Russ Schulke
    April 22, 2017

    178 NKVD Industrial Facilities Protection Regiment
    by Russ Schulke
    April 22, 2017

    Contrary to their title, the NKVD Industrial Facilities Protection Regiments were deployed prior to a battle to evacuate industrial equipment before they could be captured by the enemy. Ultimately, many of these units were drawn into the fighting. To acknowledge their special mission in Streets of Stalingrad 4, they receive a bonus for defending factory hexes.

    While researching in the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defense Russian Federation archives (TsAMO) outside Moscow, I came across many extraordinary documents. Here are some unusual reports related to deaths in the 178 NKVD Industrial Facilities Protection Regiment during the Stalingrad battle I want to share with SOS4 fans.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    (Left document) The following solider was shot by an 34 Guards Rifle Battalion commander (13 Guards Rifle Division) for a self-infected wound.

    (Right documents) These three soldiers went AWOL (Absent Without Official Leave) and were killed while fishing in the Volga River with an anti-tank mine. All three soldiers died from their wounds over the next three days.

  • Meet the SOS4 Team: Russ Schulke (SOS4), Part 3 of 5

    by Russ Schulke
    April 15, 2017

    Meet the SOS4 Team: Russ Schulke (SOS4), Part 3 of 5
    by Russ Schulke
    April 15, 2017

    It took about three months to receive a reply from the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defense (TsAMO) outside of Moscow, explaining that I would have to undergo a security clearance by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation or FSB (formerly the KGB) in order to enter the archives. After submitting a forty-page questionnaire to FSB, I waited. Two years later I finally received permission to enter TsAMO. I could not believe it. The only problem was the block of revised dates assigned to me started in three weeks. I put everything in my life on pause because I was only going to get one chance at this.

    Three weeks later in 2009, my wife and I were standing in the doorway of TsAMO. Doing research became a merry-go-round process. First, I had to fill out a form requesting the exact information I would like to see. If that request was not sufficiently detailed, I received a shotgun blast of information that about 40% of the time had nothing to do with my request. Even after I submitted a detailed request, it had to be approved by four different staff members. Only then could I look at the documents and war journals. If I wanted copies of a document, I had to make another formal request, again requiring approval by four members of the staff. I did acquire a lot of documents, but not the large number I hoped for. (One time I had to wait six months to get copies because the photocopy machine broke and they had no money to fix it until the following fiscal year’s budget!)

    One unanticipated but happy result from this process was that I made great contacts and built relationships with other researchers and members of the TsAMO staff, which in the following years helped me circumvent some of the bureaucratic procedures and enabled me to more quickly retrieve the data I was seeking. For SOS4 I was able to assemble the most complete and detailed Soviet order-of-battle (OOB) ever compiled for Stalingrad. Only one unit eluded my attempts to examine its wartime records: the 2nd Motorized Rifle Brigade (although I was still able to accurately include it in the OOB.)

    Part 4 explains my “rule of five” and updating SOS.
  • Meet the SOS4 Team: David Parham (“Researcher 6”), Part 2

    by David Parham
    April 8, 2017


    Meet the SOS4 Team: David Parham (“Researcher 6”), Part 2
    by David Parham
    April 8, 2017

    Upon my discharge from the Army in 1971, I returned to San Diego to start a new life and look up old friends. One of my first reunions was with T.P. Schweider, a transplant from the Midwest and Marine Corps Reservist who had impressed me by his vast knowledge of military history reinforced with a splendid library.

    To his usual coterie of roommates, veterans, and assorted girlfriends, T.P. had added a shaggy-haired kid named Dana Lombardy, who was fronting a publication devoted to war games and military history. The gaming aspect of Conflict did not interest me as much but the opportunity to author articles on military topics did fit in with contributions I had already done for other journals.

    While earning respect within the industry for its quality, production costs doomed Conflict by the mid-1970s. Dana needed a new platform for his (and our) talents. Returning from a major game convention in 1975, Dana thought he had the perfect project in a truly mega-game based on the battle of Stalingrad, fought out at the company level.

    by the resources of the day, the project seemed absurd. There were no historical accounts written at such a low level and really only one Russian study in English (i.e., Chuikov’s memoir of the battle). There was, however, one untapped reservoir of data—the records of the captured German war documents available in microfilm from the National Archives (N.A.). T.P. and Dana had already mined these records for other WWII projects, and a quick review of N.A. catalogs confirmed several microfilms available for the German Sixth Army. These could be supplemented with German unit histories and other non-English publications to (hopefully) provide the details the game needed.

    The fateful decision was made to purchase all the relevant microfilm on the battle. T.P. and I had already acquired a library quality microfilm reader (“we might need this someday”), so the entire research effort could be done in T.P.’s new residence in East San Diego. My fluency in German and knowledge of German Army organization pegged me as the point man in the research, aided by T. P. and directed by Dana. There would be no contracts, no salaries, and only the success of “Streets of Stalingrad” would bring us any rewards.

    Next: Scouting the Battlefield.
  • Streets of Stalingrad Chronicles
    Part 4 of 4


    by Dana Lombardy
    March 31, 2017

    STREETS OF STALINGRAD CHRONICLES
    1,500 Combat Units Need Game Values, Part 4 of 4
    by Dana Lombardy
    March 31, 2017

    Part 4 looks at how “force multipliers” (post-WW2 term) affected the game.

    • Training, experience and radios enabled the Germans to perform better. In 1941 and 1942, the Germans were able to inflict far greater casualties on the Red Army than they suffered. Western Russia up to Stalingrad, Moscow and Leningrad was overrun and occupied by the German Wehrmacht (armed forces). How did this happen? The first reason was better training. German conscripts had weeks of training, including live fire exercises. Soviet conscripts were rushed into battle with little or no training—a sure recipe for slaughter.

    The second reason was battlefield experience. Soviet commanders and units did not perform well during the 1940 Winter War against Finland. Disaster after disaster ensued in 1941 as entire Red Army divisions and even whole armies were destroyed by well-coordinated tank and air supported motorized columns. German small tactical units to army staffs gained their experience successfully fighting in Poland, then France and the Low Countries, then the Balkans, and through most of 1941 in Russia. Unit cohesion, confident morale, and excellent leadership all provided the Germans with huge advantages.

    But the reason the Germans could coordinate their air units, artillery, tanks, and infantry into a nearly unstoppable power was due to a very simple force multiplier: the radio. The Red Army did have radios as well, but not in the vast numbers as did the Germans, and the Soviets had not yet learned how to synchronize these combat elements using their radios to the degree that their opponent could. (This would gradually change and the Red Army would eventually equal and surpass the Germans.)

    These basic combat facts are reflected in the game through the ability of each German division to use unit integrity bonuses, and add artillery and air support from non-divisional units without penalty.

    • Few units at Stalingrad were at full strength. For SOS1 it took thousands of hours over several years to translate the German war diaries, count men/guns and evaluate strengths for the AF/DF in all 1,500 combat pieces—infantry, mortar and anti-tank companies, tank platoons, artillery batteries and battalions, etc. It took thousands of more hours for Russ Schulke to find, copy, translate Soviet documents about Stalingrad, and then correct the Soviet order-of-battle (SOS1-3 were off only by 2 Soviet divisions and about a dozen smaller formations), and evaluate the new Soviet combat units added to SOS4. Our team of Dave, Russ and I feel confident when we say that no other historical board wargame ever published has as complete or as accurate data on the opposing forces as does SOS4.
  • Friendly fire losses
    at Stalingrad
    (1079 Anti-Aircraft Regiment)


    by Russ Schulke
    March 25, 2017

    Friendly fire losses at Stalingrad (1079 Anti-Aircraft Regiment)
    by Russ Schulke
    March 25, 2017

    While researching in the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defense Russian Federation archives (TsAMO) outside Moscow, I came across many extraordinary documents. Here is a rare friendly fire loss report filed during the Stalingrad battle I want to share with SOS4 fans. The following ten members of this Soviet anti-aircraft gun crew were killed when a friendly IL-2 “Sturmovik” ground attack plane was shot down and crashed into their position.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    [translation]

    List of Losses command and private personnel 1079 Anti-Aircraft Regiment from 1 August from 1 December 1942.

    When and why lost.

    Were killed on 10.8.1942 during combat due to shot down IL-2 airplane fell directly into the location of the 11 detachment with multiple explosions.

    Buried: Rail Road Station Gumrak 2.5 km outside Stalingrad city.


  • Meet the SOS4 Team: Dana Lombardy (and SOS), Part 4 of 6

    by Dana Lombardy
    March 17, 2017


    Meet the SOS4 Team: Dana Lombardy (and SOS), Part 4 of 6
    by Dana Lombardy
    March 17, 2017

    In 1980, Nova Game Designs published the new and innovative Ace of Aces World War One air combat game that used a small book of images for each of the two opposing fighter pilots. This picture book game designed by Alfred Leonardi showed the pilot’s view of his opponent with various maneuvers to choose from to simulate dogfights. In 1993 Ace of Aces was deservedly inducted into the Origins Product Award Hall of Fame.

    Shortly after SOS1 was released, Nova approached me with an idea to turn the Streets of Stalingrad monster game into a more marketable 2-game set with fewer counters, less maps, and a lower price per game. Nova continued to produce its series of picture book air combat games—Leonardi’s design concept evolved into today’s Lost Worlds fantasy combat book game series published by Flying Buffalo.

    In 1982 Nova released the original SOS as a two-volume set with the titles Fire on the Volga (FotV) and Battle for the Factories (BftF). Technically, the Nova adaptation was not called Streets of Stalingrad but it later became known as SOS2 when a third edition was published in 2002.

    The Nova games both used the same heavily revised rulebook—now just one set of rules combining SOS1’s separate basic and advanced rules. The two Nova games also added an Example of Play, Questions and Answers, and a one-page Outline of Game Play that explained the ten phases of each turn.

    The large SOS1 game map and unit counter mix was divided into the appropriate halves for FotV (southern city September to October) and BftF (northern city October to November). An expansion set including a map, scenario sheets, and counters was planned to link the two games, but it was never published because Nova’s sales of “SOS2” were disappointing.

    SOS historical researcher Dave Parham and I may have made ten cents per hour for all the time we devoted to creating SOS1 and the two Nova games, but even that may be too generous. Nearly twenty years would pass before I would become involved with Streets of Stalingrad again.

    Part 5 tells the story of SOS3.
  • Meet the SOS4 Team: Russ Schulke (SOS4), Part 2 of 5

    by Russ Schulke
    March 11, 2017


    Meet the SOS4 Team: Russ Schulke (SOS4), Part 2 of 5
    by Russ Schulke
    March 11, 2017

    During the first years of my marriage to Anna in 2002—who was born and raised in a suburb of Volgograd—I was able to spend a substantial amount time doing research in the city. In addition, because my wife was teaching course work at a local university and worked part-time as a representative for an NGO, she helped me gather a useful network of contacts. These contacts varied from staff at museums to local historians to hobbyists called “black diggers” (battlefield artifact hunters).

    One of the preeminent contacts I made was head archivist Lora Petrova of the “State Historical and Memorial Museum [for the] Battle of Stalingrad.” Lora helped me quickly locate detailed records related to the battle, often exactly what I was looking for. Lora and her staff were always gracious, but it was still a government agency and it worked on a limited budget. I found that helping the museum with tangible gifts such as scanners, printers and such would ultimately pay huge dividends and I started to amass a substantial amount of documents and other material.

    Although Lora’s museum had a wide variety of artifacts including uniforms, weapons, flags, photos, as well as personal awards, passbooks, and accounts from veterans who donated these to the museum, it lacked official unit histories and daily war records. All of these types of documents for armies, corps, divisions, brigades, and regiments are held in the Tsentral’nyi arkhiv Ministerstva oborony RF (TsAMO) [Central Archive of the Ministry of Defense] in Podol’sk, a district of Moscow.

    From the start, I was told it would be difficult to get access to Soviet World War II war documents in TsAMO, especially for a foreigner. But I never envisioned the enormous obstacles, bureaucracy and logistics I would have to overcome. I made no progress after more than a year of correspondence with the TsAMO archives. I then tried hiring a Russian researcher to access and copy the materials I needed, but most of these researchers charged high prices and only a few ever produced anything useful. After about five years with little results, I decided to take matters into my hands and go to the TsAMO myself.

    Part 3 tells about the ordeals of researching in TsAMO—my personal Bataan death march!
  • Meet the SOS4 Team: David Parham (“Researcher 6”), Part 1

    by David Parham
    March 3, 2017


    Meet the SOS4 Team: David Parham (“Researcher 6”), Part 1
    by David Parham
    March 3, 2017

    As the lead researcher on the original Streets of Stalingrad board game, my involvement in the project was based more on my background in studying military organizations than for any proficiency as a gamer. Examining the confrontation of two great armies, at a micro level, would test my thesis that success on the battlefield is more the ability to adapt to new challenges, rather than who commands the bigger battalions. Three major circumstances help shape my concept of combat efficiency.

    I was born in 1946, a true son of the Greatest Generation. My father was a combat naval aviator, my mother a Rosie the Riveter; as a youngster I caught the collecting bug for military memorabilia of WWII, from uniforms to small arms. After 55 years in this endeavor, I have gained a deep appreciation of how armies honor their traditions, equip their troops, and reflect their societies.

    My understanding of military life was further developed by my service in the U.S. Army in the late 1960s. As an infantryman I achieved proficiency with all the tools of the trade while learning how important personal leadership was at “the sharp end.” by membership in America’s last great conscript army, I was observing the basic model of all the major combatants in the last century, even as the long war in S.E. Asia soured public sentiment toward the nation’s leaders and its warriors.

    The third great influence on my military analyst was earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from San Diego State University, followed by graduate studies in International Relations. A fortuitous placement in a major research project on conflict resolution taught me how to master a large mass of information beyond the punch cards we fed into the huge campus computer. Organization and presentation could distill any data into a format usable by even the non-professional.

    In future postings I will present my methodology in exploring the battle of Stalingrad, the challenges of working in foreign languages, my interplay with game designer Dana Lombardy, and the excitement of “setting the record straight” on an oft-told, but still distorted, historic event.

    Along the way I will be enjoying craft beers, blue grass music, vintage films, and trolling the collector shows in Southern California.

    Next: A fateful decision.
  • Red Army blocking units
    at Stalingrad


    by Russ Schulke
    February 25, 2017

    While researching in the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defense Russian Federation archives (TsAMO) outside Moscow, I came across many extraordinary documents. Here is a rather remarkable one that I want to share with SOS4 fans that led to the creation of five new units for the game.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    List of losses – commander and enlisted personnel of 81 Blocking Detachment, OONKVD 62 Army

    On the night of 16.10 to 17.10.42 an enemy group [Germans] broke though in the northern district to the Red October factory, and the unexpected attack cut off a platoon of 2nd Company, 81st Blocking Detachment which was holding a defense sector. After a long fight conducted by units of the 193 Rifle Division, this defense sector has not been cleared from the enemy and listed personnel have not been located. [19 missing-in-action list followed]

    Chief of 81 Blocking Detachment, OONKVD 62 Army – Lieutenant State Security Chuprina
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Researcher Russ Schulke notes that contrary to some East Front histories, these blocking units were not part of the NKVD command but were initially formed within each army. The 62 Army at Stalingrad had five blocking detachments numbered 1-5 operating within its sector. In mid-October 1942 these units were renumbered 77-81 and came under the control of the NKVD.
  • Streets of Stalingrad Chronicles
    Part 3 of 4


    by Dana Lombardy
    February 20, 2017

    STREETS OF STALINGRAD CHRONICLES
    1,500 Combat Units Need Game Values, Part 3 of 4
    by Dana Lombardy
    February 20, 2017

    Part 3 looks at how infantry units were evaluated for the game.

    • Machineguns were the infantry’s firepower. Counting men and machineguns (light and heavy) in a company/battalion was a good start, but there were critical differences between the German and Soviet weapons that had to be considered. The reason we focused on machineguns (MGs) is that World War One proved the machinegun’s vastly superior rate of fire and therefore huge firepower advantage over rifles. The development of easy portable MGs made them the infantry squad’s primary assault weapon for attacks (and defense) in World War Two.

    In 1942, a standard German infantry company officially had 12 type MG 34 light machineguns (LMG) and a standard Soviet rifle company had an equal number of Degtyarev DP LMGs. However, the German machineguns enjoyed important advantages. First, the MG 34’s ammunition was belt-fed, enabling a higher rate of fire (900 to 1,200 rounds per minute) compared to the Soviet Degtyarev DP MG—500 rpm assuming the gunner could change the 47-round flat drum quickly. The Soviet weapon was also prone to jam. Second, the German heavy machinegun (HMG) was the same belt-fed MG 34—but mounted on a heavy tripod that anchored the gun so it could stay on target (LMGs had recoil “bounce” on their bipods). The MG 34 on a tripod could also traverse quickly and accurately while maintaining its high rate of fire. An assistant crewman kept feeding belts into a German LMG and HMG. An assistant Soviet gunner usually handed the extra flat drum to the DP (LMG) gunner for reloads.

    The Soviet HMG was the 31.8-kilogram Maxim 1910 model that used a small 2-wheel carriage for its mobility so it could not turn (traverse) like the MG 34 could on a tripod. The Maxim was low to the ground so it could not easily be placed in a window like the German HMG 34, and, despite having its ammo belt-fed the rate of fire for the Maxim was only 550 rpm. The German 11-kilogram MG 34’s 7-kilogram tripod was detachable, carried by another soldier who also brought more ammo cans. The Maxim really wasn’t a good offensive weapon whereas the German MG 34 on bipod (LMG) or tripod (HMG) was a mobile and very effective offensive and defensive weapon.

    Part 4 will examine the factors that were “force multipliers” (post-WW2 term) for all ground units.
  • Meet the SOS4 Team: Paul A. Van Etten (SOS4)

    by Paul A. Van Etten
    February 9, 2017


    Meet the SOS4 Team: Paul A. Van Etten (SOS4)
    by Paul A. Van Etten
    January 9, 2017

    Like many wargamers, I was fascinated by military history from an early age, conducting patrols and ambushes in my large backyard with whatever gear I could come by and reading every book I could come across at local libraries. This was in the ABI (age before internet). It was William Craig’s Enemy at the Gates book (1973) that cemented Stalingrad in my imagination. Once I discovered wargaming, John Hill’s Squad Leader became an oft-played favorite as the Dzerhezinsky Tractor Factory was fought over time and time again in Scenario 1 “The [37th] Guards Counterattack.”

    Unfortunately, time and finances did not permit me to indulge in the monster game craze of the 1970s so the original SOS (1979) slipped by me. It wasn't until Consimworld Expo appeared on the scene and I became aware of the impending SOS3 release (2002) that I became involved with Streets of Stalingrad. I think it was one of the early pre-publication flyers that featured some counter art and I saw the Mine Dog counter. I turned to Pepper and said “It’s even got MINE DOGS, puppy!”

    Needless to say, SOS3 prepub was that year’s essential monster game selection. I recall (in bits and pieces) a lot of fun was had by all, ranging from the late night kit assembly (where I learned the medicinal uses for 3M spray adhesive), to the struggles over the railway station and the inevitable rules questions and historical debates. Since its publication I was one of many who continued to support the game informally and was tickled pink when Russ Schulke approached me to ask for help with SOS4, primarily in the wordsmithing/editing/QA arena. Many who have played Avalon Hill’s Turning Point: Stalingrad perhaps remember the tension each turn as the Soviet player tried to get his reinforcements across the Volga River. I’m much looking forward to seeing that tension introduced into the SOS4 via the Volga River flotilla and German interdiction expansion coupled with the expanded air game and OOB tweaks.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the new changes being wrought and am honored to be able to contribute in my small way toward bringing it to the table.
  • Meet the SOS4 Team: Dana Lombardy (and SOS), Part 3 of 6

    by Dana Lombardy
    February 7, 2017


    Meet the SOS4 Team: Dana Lombardy (and SOS), Part 3 of 6
    by Dana Lombardy
    January 7, 2017

    After the death of our small publishing company Simulations Design Corporation (SDC) in 1977, I took a job as game columnist and advertising sales manager for Model Retailer—a hobby trade magazine that reviewed and promoted model trains, model kits, and radio control items to hobby shops. I added games to the composition of Model Retailer, including the then new and explosively growing Dungeons & Dragons.

    My duties included attending game conventions and in 1978 I met Dan Bress, the owner of Phoenix Games, a small publishing company based in Maryland. Dan wondered if I still had the notes for Streets of Stalingrad and would I be interested in letting him publish the game?

    Many months followed of weekends devoted to completing the rules and the art for the printer. In 1979 Streets of Stalingrad was published, winning the 1980 Origins award Best Initial Release of a Boardgame. Unfortunately, Phoenix Games went out of business soon after—and SOS was a contributing reason to its demise. The cost to print the large number of components for SOS could not be covered by the $65 retail price of the game (sold at about $30 to stores).

    Dave Parham, my partner in SOS who did the historical research and translated the German war diaries, and I earned nothing from SOS1. I was ready to move on and never look back, but Nova Game Designs approached me with an idea on how they wanted to expand their product line into traditional board wargames using a very different version of SOS. Despite my bad experience with SOS1 I agreed to work with Nova. There were many things I felt could have been done better with the first edition, and the temptation to “improve” my work was greater than my caution. There would be a second edition of SOS.

    Part 4 tells the story of SOS2.
  • Streets of Stalingrad Chronicles
    Part 2 of 4


    by Dana Lombardy
    February 5, 2017

    STREETS OF STALINGRAD CHRONICLES
    1,500 Combat Units Need Game Values, Part 2 of 4
    by Dana Lombardy
    February 5, 2017

    Part 2 looks at how artillery and tank units were evaluated for the game. • Quantifying artillery units. Artillery was the big killer in both world wars. For artillery units on both sides at Stalingrad (mortars, howitzers, long range guns, etc.) I took the exact number of cannon and multiplied it by a value I assigned to that caliber round. Bigger rounds had a bigger “punch” and therefore a proportionately larger value. Depending on the source, a 75 mm shell has a blast radius impact of around 25 meters while a 105 mm round’s blast radius doubles to 50 meters, and a heavy 150 mm round doubles that again to 100 meters effective blast radius. In SOS4, artillery Attack Factors (AF) are highlighted by a red box around the number.

    For example, a German 105 mm gun I valued at 132 (larger guns got bigger base numbers), so 12 105-mm guns (a full artillery battalion) totaled 1,584 firepower points (FP). To get a more manageable game Attack Factor (AF), I divided artillery FP totals by 150. In the game, a full-strength German 105 mm battalion of 12 guns has 10 AF. by comparison, a Soviet full-strength 122 mm howitzer battalion has 11 AF and a German 150 mm battalion has 15 AF (many artillery units were not at full strength at Stalingrad).

    Compared to these “hard” aspects of exact numbers and gun/round size, “soft” features such as crew training, experience, ammunition shortages, etc., were addressed in the rules to make it easier/harder to target enemy hexes, or combine the fire of multiple artillery battalions from different units, or determine how many artillery units were allowed to fire each turn.

    • Tanks are hybrid weapons. Tanks had both small caliber artillery guns as well as machineguns, and they could directly aim these at their target while mortars, howitzers, etc., needed spotters and observation posts to aim their indirect fire artillery weapons. Tanks are smaller platoon-size units in SOS (3 to 5 tanks or self-propelled guns). Their basic AF is intended for unarmored targets, but their higher velocity guns and armor penetrating rounds provide a bonus against vehicles and armored targets indicated by a black box around the AF number.

    Part 3 will examine infantry units.
  • Soviet anti-tank rifles
    versus the Luftwaffe


    by Russ Schulke
    February 1, 2017

    As a teenager, I read stories about Soviet anti-tank riflemen trying to shoot down German airplanes during the Stalingrad battle and laughed. I personally believed, as did many others, it was all propaganda and no truth to it. Twenty years later, I was stopped dead in my tracks when researching in the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defense Russian Federation archives (TsAMO) I came across award documents to Soviet soldiers shooting down planes with anti-tanks rifles during the battle.

    (left) Guards Lieutenant Volod'ko. Commander anti-tank rifle platoon, 39 Guards Rifle Regiment, 13 Guards Rifle Division. Awarded “Order of the Patriotic War (II class)” for shooting down a German Ju-88 on 25 October 1942. The document also notes he had shot down other planes prior to this one.

    (right) Lieutenant Ivanilov. Deputy commander reconnaissance company, 124 Rifle Brigade. Awarded “Order of the Patriotic War (II class)” for shooting down a German Ju-87 “Stuka” on 14 October 1942 over the district of Spartakovka. This is the district where my wife Anna grew up.
  • Meet the SOS4 Team: Dana Lombardy (and SOS), Part 2 of 6

    by Dana Lombardy
    January 26, 2017


    Meet the SOS4 Team: Dana Lombardy (and SOS), Part 2 of 6
    by Dana Lombardy
    January 26, 2017

    In 1978, SPI released War in the Pacific, a new “monster” wargame with a thousand-plus unit counters, 56-page rulebook, 12 scenarios, and multiple maps that covered a large table. Sold in a “soap box” package, its price was also huge for that time: $30 compared to $8 to $10 for most other wargames. (Minimum wage then was $2.65 an hour.)

    In 1976, we read about SPI’s plan to produce War in the Pacific and thought this might be the way for our small publishing company Simulations Design Corporation (SDC) to reverse its downward financial trend. Surely we could produce one monster game per year?

    But what subject would grab serious attention? East Front World War Two games such as Panzerblitz (1970) seemed to be the most popular—and the two most famous East Front battles are Kursk and Stalingrad. We chose the latter for SDC’s monster game, but limited the time frame to the fighting for the city itself (mid-September to mid-November 1942) before the encirclement of Sixth Army by the Soviet winter offensive and 74-day siege. To emphasize its urban combat focus we chose the name Streets of Stalingrad—with 300 meters per hex and infantry companies and tank platoons for the basic counters.

    With the help of Marine Corps reservist and partner T.P. Schweider, SDC purchased the microfilm records available for the German Sixth Army and some of its subordinate units. Dave Parham, US Army veteran and USA uniform/insignia expert, took the lead as translator of the German war diaries and interpreter of historical details. I designed SOS—wrote the rules and created the map and counter graphics.

    I need to also mention my late friend John Hill, Hall of Fame designer of Squad Leader (1977) and many other respected wargames. SDC published John’s Battle for Hue (1973) and Jerusalem! (1975). He gave me permission to use his then new defending-units-fire-first combat concept (John was credited in SOS1 for his innovation).

    At SDC’s booth at Origins 1977 we displayed the playtest map for SOS and received enthusiastic feedback. Unfortunately, it was taking too long to translate the war diaries and finish the game so SDC closed its doors. That might have been the end of Streets of Stalingrad.

    Part 3 explains the fate of SOS1
  • The eyes of the world
    on Stalingrad: American Newspapers


    by Russ Schulke
    January 23, 2017

    During the early fall of 1942, as the German Sixth army approached the city of Stalingrad German and Soviet newspapers and magazines frequently reported about the German advances. Once German forces penetrated into the city suburbs most newspaper headlines then covered the fighting in the city. Many other nations understood the importance of Stalingrad for the war, and that was reflected in the newspaper and magazine headlines.

    United States of America newspapers
  • Streets of Stalingrad Chronicles
    Part 1 of 4


    by Dana Lombardy
    January 17, 2017

    STREETS OF STALINGRAD CHRONICLES
    1,500 Combat Units Need Game Values, Part 1 of 4
    by Dana Lombardy
    January 17, 2017

    Looking back at Dave Parham’s and my 1977-78 notes on German and Soviet units and their TO&E (Tactical Organization & Equipment), one might assume that German and Soviet infantry companies and battalions should be similar in strength in Streets of Stalingrad (Attack Factor and Defense Factor values). Several elements modified number evaluations for AF/DF strengths for SOS, not only between similar units of the same side, but also for comparison between the opposing sides. This is the first of four parts explaining how we determined AF/DF in the game:

    • Actual number strengths. The German war diaries noted numerical strengths for men (infantry), light- and heavy machineguns, artillery, anti-tank (AT) and anti-aircraft (AA) guns, etc., especially at the start of an offensive operation. From prisoners, captured documents and radio intercepts, German intelligence pieced together the strength of Soviet units facing them as well as reinforcements and replacements sent across the Volga River into the city.

    • The Germans were exceptionally good on identifying and counting Soviet forces. Surprisingly, the German information on the Soviet forces was very good. For example, on 1 October 1942, Chuikov (commander of the Soviet 62 Army) noted he had 881 “guns” available in his autobiographical book about the battle.

    Comparing the numbers we compiled from the German war diaries, on that date German intelligence showed 62 Army with 196 82-mm mortars, 34 120-mm mortars, 117 45-mm AT guns, 53 76.2-mm AT guns, 60 37-mm AA guns, 28 85-mm AA guns, 290 76.2-mm guns in artillery battalions, 52 122-mm howitzers, 15 152-mm howitzers, 20 152-mm guns (longer range types), and 16 203-mm howitzers. That’s a total of exactly 881 guns! (Apparently the 202 small 50-mm mortars the Germans counted were not part of Chuikov’s “gun” total.)

    Part 2 will examine artillery and tank units.
  • Meet the SOS4 Team: Russ Schulke (SOS4), Part 1 of 5

    by Russ Schulke
    January 11, 2017


    Meet the SOS4 Team: Russ Schulke (SOS4), Part 1 of 5
    by Russ Schulke
    January 11, 2017

    My fascination with military history began when I was 9-10 years old. A grandfather and three uncles, all veterans of World War II, told me stories about flying bomber missions over France and Italy, and about vicious fighting to take Okinawa. These stories inspired me to ask many questions, including questions you could not find answers to in books.

    My interest in the German/Soviet campaign developed in my teen years, when my father introduced me to a German soldier who served in a motorcycle reconnaissance unit in Russia. I was hooked. From that point, I became a sponge, soaking up every book, magazine and article about WWII in the East that I could find.

    In the late 1970s I began to focus on the campaigns of 1941-42, converging on the battle for Stalingrad in the fall of 1942. In the late 1970s I heard about a monster board game about the Stalingrad battle that was in production. I was only in the ninth grade at the time, but I put every ounce of energy into making and saving my money for Streets of Stalingrad (SOS). I still remember the day I received SOS in the mail, I was giddy and overwhelmed at the same time. The thing I remember most was that Dana Lombardy and David Parham had spent five years of their lives making this not just a game but a historical study of the battle that for me brought Stalingrad to life.

    Over the next twenty years, I would see the release of two more editions of SOS that coincided with the explosion of my personal passion for the battle. I started collecting German and Soviet artifacts and documents from the battle. These items included passbooks, personal photo albums, award documents, private correspondence, maps, posters, and uniforms, many from private estates of the soldiers who fought at Stalingrad. When the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, I took my first of many tours of Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) to do archival research. During one of these trips, I would meet my future wife Anna, and we would be married in the tractor factory district in 2002.

    Part 2 tells of living and researching in Volgograd
  • Meet the SOS4 Team: Dana Lombardy (and SOS), Part 1 of 6

    by Dana Lombardy
    January 6, 2017


    Meet the SOS4 Team: Dana Lombardy (and SOS), Part 1 of 6
    by Dana Lombardy
    January 6, 2017

    My first Avalon Hill (AH) board wargame was Chancellorsville (1961) that I purchased with money received for my 12th birthday. The short rules (compared to today) were much more complex than other games I was then playing—Dogfight (1962), Stratego (1944), and Risk (1959). Eventually, I figured out the rules and played dozens of solitaire Chancellorsville games.

    There were very few face-to-face opponents, but I discovered hundreds of fellow wargamers through AH’s play-by-mail (PBM) community—this was many years before the introduction of the personal computer and the Internet. .

    I devoted thousands of my teenage hours playing AH’s D-Day, Afrika Korps and numerous other titles, and reading every military history book in my high school library (yes, high schools actually had military history books back then). .

    Impatient with the one or two new AH titles published each year, I started designing my own games using graph paper, colored pencils and scissors. I now look back on those first efforts and cringe at how awful they were—but I loved the challenge they posed and these crude designs guided me into a game and book publishing career that I still pursue 50-plus years later through my Lombardy Studios. .

    In 1971 with some college buddies I started Simulations Design Corporation (SDC). We wanted to imitate the hugely successful Simulations Publication, Inc. (SPI) and publish wargames for periods of history interesting to us, using game ideas we thought were unique or at least original. .

    by 1979 SDC was a business failure, but with new partners over seven years we managed to publish: .

    • Seven issues of Conflict magazine—a military history magazine like SPI’s Strategy & Tactics (S&T) with a game (sometimes two) in every issue. .
    • Three issues of Conflict with history only, no games. .
    • Cromwell and Jerusalem! (non-magazine games). .
    • Started the research for and designed the playtest version of the monster game that was supposed to save SDC, but ended up being the straw that broke the camel’s back: Streets of Stalingrad. .

    Part 2 tells why we created SOS.
 

Lombardy Studios
2625 Alcatraz Avenue, #237
Berkeley, CA 94705-2702 USA
Email: dana.lombardy@gmail.com

Streets of Stalingrad 2017 Copyright Lombardy Studios and 626 Designs,LLC.
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Streets of Stalingrad published by Lombardy Studios.
Components of this product are utilized under a licensing agreement with 626 Designs, LLC.