Saturday, 2 May 2020

Lockdown Matrix Game mayhem - Stalingrad

As the virus disaster escalated I'd had conversation with Tim about what we might do from a gaming perspective - it is important to keep some social contact going even if we can;t meet up any more. Yes, there are various online gaming possibilities but we also both keen to do something involving toys and some direct social interaction.

Tim managed to organise a Matrix Game played over Skype, with him doing the moderation and pushing toys around on the table, while the rest of us watched the proceedings from afar and submitted our arguments/orders. Coralling six players over Skype in real time, and also making sense of the proceedings was quite an achievement and we managed to get things to a conclusion over tow nights.

The scenario was an old matrix game covering the battle of Stalingrad in 1942, with roles for Hitler, Stalin and assorted German and Russian generals including Paulus, Hube and Chuikov. As the most experienced players, Jerry and I were cast as Stalin and Hitler respectively.

Tim has already reported this game on his blog

The map was fairly representational with named areas and various types of units scattered around. We could have used boring counters of course, but Tim used toys in a variety of scales. He we see Chuikovs attack from Mamyev Kurgan against the German defenders of the recently siezed Red October Factory.
Needless to say, things ended up not going so well for the Herrenvolk, but they gave the Russians a run for their money, pushing them right back into the Volga at one point before the 'succumbed to superior numbers and adverse circumstances' as the announcement at the time said.
Tim has provided an ample narrative already, and my personal objectives were:
1. ensure Stalingrad is captured
2. prevent any defeatist thinking
3. do something mad....

but for the delectation of people who haven't had much exposure to matrix games, here are the various arguments I submitted in my role as dear old Adolf. Just think how much these written insights into the thinking of the Great Dictator will be worth in years to come!

Turn 1
The Luftwaffe bombs the ferrieswith the result that the flow of Russian supplies and reinforcements is drastically reduced.This happens because:
  1. The luftwaffe has complete air superiority
  2. The Luftwaffe has experience of river interdiction from earlier campaigns
  3. The ferries are easy to locate, being due south of Golodny Island

Turn 2All German units make use of mission directed combined arms tactics With the result that they recieve a combat bonus against Russian unitsThis happens because:
  1. The Sixth Army is the cream of the German Army, allocated the best men and equipment
  2. German forces are experienced after three years of victorious warfare without excessive losses
  3. The Russian campaign has show that German forces can defeat much larger Russian one

Turn 3German reinforcements enter the cityWith the result that two extra infantry units arrive (one at Gumrak, one at Orlovka)This happens because:
  1. German forces are highly mobile and control the ground
  2. Our brave Rumanian allies are holding the lines north and south of the city
  3. The Fuhrer has decreed the city will be taken at all costs

Turn 4Soviet units in Mamyev Kurgan as disheartenedWith the result that they retreat to the ferriesThis happens because:
  1. The hill open and exposed
  2. From their elevated position they can see how outnumbered the defenders are
  3.  The ferries provide an escape route across the Volga

Turn 5The German units (from Orlovka) attack the Tractor Factory With the result that factory is capturedThis happens because:
  1. The superior German troops outnumber the enemy
  2. The defenders are unnerved as they are outflanked by the more mobile Germans
  3. The Russians are taken by surprise as the front has been quiet

Turn 6The Germans establish observation posts on Mamyev KurganWith the result that German artillery and airstrikes are more effectiveThis happens because
  1. Mamyev Kurgan provides observation over the entire city
  2. Observed fire is more effective than map fire
  3. German troops are professionals and trained to take advantage of terrain

Turn 7The Luftwaffe flies in signed photos of Hitler and extra detachments of GestapoWith the result that the German forces are inspired to greater acts of heroismThis happens because:
  1. The German armed forces really appreciate photos of their beloved Fuhrer
  2. The Gestapo provide a special kind of encouragement
  3. This is clearly a better use of the available air transport units than flying in ammunition

Turn 8All German infantry units attack the Russian units in frontWith the result that they capture significant areas in those zones, or at least try..This is because
  1. Hitler is determined to capture the city at all costs and displeased at the rate of progress
  2. What is required now is not clever manouvering but National Socialist Ardour
  3. The whole structure is rotten, we only have to kick it in the door and it will collapse

Turn 9As it is November Hitler makes a speech to commemorate the Munich putsch:“That center [Stalingrad] I wanted to take and, as you know, we are modest — we have it!
There are only a few small pockets left. Now the others say: ‘Then, why do they not fight more quickly?
’ —Because I do not want a second Verdun. I prefer to do it with very small assault parties.
Time makes no difference here. No ship comes up the Volga any more. That is what is decisive!”

With the result that will to victory on the home front is boosted by the heroic sacrifice of the
Sixth ArmyThis happens because
  1. Hitler has lost interest in the tactical battle
  2. If you are going to tell a lie, tell a big one
  3. Hitler is a charismatic delusional fantasist with bad hair and mere facts are irrelevant


  1. And the weekly gaming sessions on Skype have become a highlight of my life!

    1. They are OK aren't they. Id still prefer to meet at the club, but we seem to do more prep for these. Running them is exhausting though, like being at work. It is great to keep in touch with people.

  2. That is interesting to see your arguements laid out like that.



    1. Thanks, although the formatting has gone a bit weird. I actually prefer playing matrix games online as I can keep a document open to type my arguments into. I'm not very good at ad lib for this sort of thing. I also prepare a bunch of generic ones I can edit rapidly for different situations. The Hitler quote took a certain degree of digging to find, but I remember that speech from the Stalingrad episode of World at War and its callous lunacy has stayed with me ever since.