The Company of Heroes 2 – Victory at Stalingrad premium DLC launches November 12, and the new trailer captures some of the horrors of that bloodbath.
I was introduced to the Battle of Stalingrad at the age of thirteen. My brother and I had just picked up Avalon Hill’s classic bookcase game, Squad Leader, and the first scenario involved capturing or defending the tractor works in the northern part of the city. We moved half-inch counters, which represent about 10 men each, from building to building, setting up fire lanes, assaulting and flanking, and removing them as the dice roll dictated. Discarding tiles off the game board didn’t mean much at the time, but now I can’t imagine just how many counters would need to be removed to represent the massacre that was the Battle of Stalingrad.
Actually, I can…because it’s simple math. Approximately 2 million soldiers perished in that 5-month battle. So it would be 200,000 counters, which is about 33,333 feet, or about 6 miles of counters. My daily commute is about 6 miles. (I should do an infographic on this.)
As a teenager, I was fascinated by this crazy hell battle that took more lives than just about all of U.S. wars combined. I read a book about it. Hitler didn’t need Stalingrad. Operation Barbarossa was succeeding, and he could have blitzed Moscow, cut off the Soviet snake’s head and Stalingrad would have fallen without a single shot. (Well, at least according to the author of that book I read.) But diverting the Wehrmacht to Stalingrad gave the Soviets time, resolve, and ultimately, victory to the Allies. There’s no D-Day without Stalingrad. England might have fallen and America might have fought the Germans and Japanese alone. I wouldn’t go as far and say we’d all be speaking German, but it was an effin’ important battle.
There was a campy German movie in 1993 about it titled, Stalingrad. And Enemy at the Gates in 2001. That movie had an intense opening battle scene, which ended up in Call of Duty. There were other movies and games, which now includes Victory at Stalingrad.
The trailer features some beautiful scenery including snow-covered fields, which may be postcard-eque, but took a lot of toes and lives during the battle. There is the intensity of urban warfare and the total disregard of human life as wave after wave are sent to their annihilation.
No matter how advanced video games get, they will never come close to capturing the brutality of this battle, but Victory at Stalingrad might be the closest yet.