I was invited by Emanuele to play his newest game, Stalingrad: Inferno on the Volga. I would like to point out, that we are using a prototype version of the game, using only the basic rules and basic Units and that this is a house version of the game, so light years far away from the retail version of the game which will be released next year after the Kickstarter campaign starting the 3rd of December 2017.
We are starting the SOLO game in which I’m playing the German versus the Soviet Artificial Intelligence.
Obviously my goal is to seize the city before it’s too late. To win I need to seize all the 6 Soviet Spawn Hexes: to representing land connections from the city itself and its Southern and Northern suburbs, the 3 Volga Docks and the Industrial Area.
The game starts on August 23rd and last until the Soviets launch “Operation Uranus”(this is a Soviet decisive victory I should avoid at all costs). This event happen as soon as the Soviet deck is empty (roughly 25 cards at the beginning) so the game should last between 30 and 60 minutes as the Soviet AI may draw up to six cards in the same turn, so I should not waste my time.
Let’s have a look at the board first of all.
The German starts with 3 cards and only 7 Units at the beginning, while the Soviets have 23 Units and no card in the "hand", but my Units are much better of the Soviet ones.
My strategy will be very basic: isolate the city first by reaching the Volga South and North of Stalingrad and then press the Soviets into the city breaking them into pockets smaller and smaller and then liquidate each of them until I seize the Docks and the Factories.
First of all I want to employ my 16th panzer to enter the Rynok. I will perform an Hasty Attack moving the stack on Hex “W” in Hex “1” and attack the Unit in Hex “2”.
Note that the initial Soviet deployment is random so I could have faced there a full strength Infantry division instead of a 2 dots single fire (hitting at 6).
I’m attacking with 4 white dots in total (hitting at 5 and 6) and with 3 red dots (hitting at 4, 5 and 6). My dice do not betray me and I manage to pulverise the Infantry.
It’s the turn of the Soviet now. As the Emanuele explained to me, I need to check the top Stacked Hex (the Hex with the most number of Units) but at the beginning of the game all the Soviets’ Hexes are with only 1 Units, so the top stacked Hex is 1.
Then I count the number of Spawn Hexes the Soviet has (6 at the beginning of the game) and I check the number of top stacked Hexes on the board (23 because there are 23 Hexes with only 1 Unit).
When the number of top stacked Hexes is higher than the number of Spawn Hexes (in my case is 23 top stacked Hexes against 6 Spawn Hexes)
the Soviet will perform a spawn action.
I will Spawn one tank in hexes 3, 7 and 19, two infantry in Hex 13 and one infantry in Hex 3, 9, 15, 19. In order to spawn the Units I will take a random block from the appropriate pool on the board ( from the tank pool to spawn a tank and from the infantry pool to spawn an infantry) and I place it with concealed in the appropriated Hex...
Very promising indeed!
I also like the play time indicated!
The turn is back to me.
I consider the situation and I decide to call for reinforcements.
I draw a card form the top of the deck (Howitzer)
and roll six dice to see what Units I will get placing the dice on the corresponding space on the reinforcement track.
Unfortunately I get only one Blue Unit to send to the North. I wanted to start my push there too but it’s crucial to have the Blue Units there.
I deploy the Yellow Units in Hex “Y” and Hex "X" (in the yellow hexes) and I add the white Unit together with the Blue one in Hex “Z”.
The Soviet now has 3 Hexes with 3 Units each (top Stacked Hex) and 6 spawn hexes. The Soviet will now then perform a Movement Action rolling dice for each of those top stacked Hex.
I roll one die for each of the top Stacked Hexes and I check what it does. I get a 2 for Hex ’3”, a 3 for Hex “13” and a 6 for Hex “19”.
For Hex “3” I move one random Unit according to the compass in the “2” direction.
I will do the same for Hex 13 moving in the “3” direction
and I procede to do the same on Hex 19 but I notice that the “6” direction would lead the Unit on the mapboard therefore, the Soviet will not be able to move the Unit and will instead draw a Card.
In order to be able to call for reinforcement again in the hope to get the Blue Unit, I need to empty my Hexes first.
I decide to perform a Deliberate Attack (attacking an Hex without moving and being able to use a card) from Hex “Y” in order to eliminate the adjacent Soviet Unit.
The Soviet is forced to play one of its card (facedown randomly chosen) then I play my Sniper and after revealing the Soviet card I see a Tommy Gunner.
The Soviet card shoots me with two dice (hitting at 5 and 6) resulting in one hit toward my Units.
My sniper will hit immediately the opponent Infantry causing it to reduce to two pips giving my Units an easier target to be swept away in the close combat.
After that, the combat is performed simultaneously and I roll the dice for my Units and for the Soviet Infantry destroying completely my enemy and occupying the new Hex.
The turn is back to the Soviet
The only Top Stacked Hex of the Soviet rolls a 1 that make them draw a cards all the time to remind them “Not one step back”
With my Hex “X” I perform a Hasty attack (movement + combat and no card allowed), that forces the Soviet to play a random card resulting in an Infiltration, allowing them to Spawn a random Infantry in the attacked Hex.
I clear the two infantry easily sending them back to the infantry pool on the mapboard.
After a couple of turns of both the German and the Soviet slowly moving, I decide to test my luck again, calling for reinforcements.
I draw Paulus that goes immediately in play under my command. His ability will let me draw more cards during future turns. Any time I will have to draw one card, I will draw an additional card. That will let me find the He111 to seize the city.
After rolling the dice and assigning them accordingly.
I get 4 Blue Units at my command.
Bad news is, the Blue Hex has already two Units in it and that will let me add only two of my new Blue Units (my choice) to the stack, sending back to the reinforcement track the other two. Was a mistake not to consider that before.
The fight for the North, can now begin.
Great stuff! Next it's time for the 4th Panzer to strike East. Too bad it's not a fully mechanized stack.