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Stalingrad set adds urban war to Tide of Iron

By Aaron Skinner
Published: February 13, 2015
Tide of Iron: Stalingrad expansion set
Product: Tide of Iron: Stalingrad is a campaign expansion for 1A Games’ tactical-­level strategy game Tide of Iron. These games use miniatures and turn-based play to re-create key battles of World War II. This is not a standalone expansion; the Core Set is required to play it.
This set includes 82 Red Army figures and vehicles including the regular and elite infantry, officers, and mortar and machine-gun crews, as well as the plastic bases associated with previous Tide of Iron games. New in this set are Soviet T-34/76 and T-70 tanks as well as German Panzer III and StuG III vehicles.
In addition to tokens for specific Soviet units, Stalingrad features 12 double-sided map boards showing the kind of tense urban settings that characterized this crucial battlefield. In keeping with other Tide of Iron games, these components scream quality, beautifully printed and backed by sturdy, thick cardboard.
Two rule books, 82 cards and several terrain overlay tiles round out the package.
Gameplay: Designed for two players (though it can be played by three or four by dividing commands), the game pits Soviet defenders against German units in the ruins of apartments and factories.
As with other Tide of Iron games, players choose a scenario that defines starting forces, unit placement and victory conditions. Each unit has movement, attack and defense values spelled out on enclosed reference sheets. Each game round proceeds with players moving, attacking, or moving and attacking in an effort to achieve victory within a limited number of rounds. Each player takes turns, and the game revolves around choices and strengths. Dice rolls decide combat.
Stalingrad necessarily adds urban combat to the Tide of Iron system, and most of the additions to the rules and gameplay focus on that aspect.
Printed in muted browns and grays, the new map boards show structures and rubble. These can be used with open terrain boards from the Core Set to create battlefields bordering damaged cities.
One of the most exciting additions is the inclusion of multi-floor buildings, with the ability to show units on different levels in the same structure. Level indicators represent units moving from floor to floor as players battle to control critical buildings. Elevation affects line of sight, and there is even the opportunity to fortify structures. Buildings can be destroyed by combat.
This all does a great job of simulating the close-quarters battles in Stalingrad.
One of the things that make Tide of Iron work so well is the level of customization that can make each battle different. This includes unit specializations and restrictions. Specializations include mounted recon units, submachine-gun armed squads for close combat, political commissars and assault engineers. There are special rules for fire, and Soviet units can use sewers to move about the city.
The expansion includes eight scenarios, with the option to play them separately or in series as a full campaign.
All of this depth is balanced by players’ tactical decisions and the luck of the dice.
Marketing: A combination of playability and fun contrasted with strategic depth and realism characterizes all Tide of Iron games. Stalingrad builds on that, introducing urban environments and combat rules to replicate one of the crucial turning points of World War II. As such, this set will appeal to gamers who like board games and battle miniatures.
There’s a lot in the box, but the expanded rules are relatively easy to learn. The layers of rules add depth and color and lend the game a lot of replayability.
Emphasize the serious nature of the game and the options. It might be worth showing the miniatures to demonstrate the game’s quality.
World War II is a perennially popular wargaming setting, and Tide of Iron is an accessible introduction to the genre. ­Stalingrad is a terrific expansion to the established game universe.
Product: Tide of Iron: Stalingrad campaign expansion
Maker: 1A Games
ISBN: 978-1-940169-00-2
MSRP: $59.95
Availability: Various

• High-quality components
• Immersive historical gameplay
• Major replayabilty
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