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Winning The Battle Of Stalingrad In Two Turns

Illustration for article titled Winning The Battle Of Stalingrad In Two Turns

Unity of Command is a smart, tough, turn-based strategy game set in the Second World War that’s one of the best in the genre. With its emphasis on logistics, the Battle of Stalingrad should be one of the game’s most gruelling encounters.

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Should.

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Benjamin Thomas found a way to do what the Germans could not, and by essentially breaking the scenario won the whole thing in just two turns (the game’s lead developer says the earliest a player should be able to achieve victory is 7/8 turns).

That equates to August 10, 1942, which is so fast it’s two weeks before the actual German army could even begin their assault during the Second World War.

Here’s how he did it:

This strategy dawned upon me while doing something completely different. I had been focusing on the top bridge... What if I put all my efforts towards this bridge? SCHWERPUNKT, baby!

Using this strategy may play out in different ways. The main objective of the southern axis of attack is to weaken the strongest unit, but I have also managed to pierce this area, and had a complete encirclement of practically all Soviet troops by the second round.

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That last sentence is key; unlike most other strategy games, Unity of Command is very into the idea of logistics, so much so that if you cut off an enemy army’s line of supply you don’t just weaken them, you essentially cripple them.

We usually see videos on Kotaku of people finding shortcuts and perfecting weird strategies for games like Mario, but turn-based strategy games are no different when it comes to this kind of quest. There’s a pre-determined enemy force, a set number of turns, very clear rules governing the way they all work...it’s a genre ripe for this kind of experimentation.

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DISCUSSION

The ability to know things that the commanders at the time did not and could not is an entire layer of meta-gaming when it’s used to break history in these sorts of games.

One of my crowning achievements in Hearts of Iron II was a giant Batman Gambit. I played as the Soviet Union with the January 1, 1936 start and immediately started putting my emphasis into preparing for the day in 1941 when the Germans would come (and the game is so married to the idea of getting the simulation of history right that unless you declare war first, the Germans will launch Barbarossa on or pretty damn close to on schedule.)

Digging in across a broad front with crack infantry troops that were a full generation over-teched meant that the Germans spent their blitzkrieg on marching troops straight into a meat grinder. By Christmas, they were on the run; by February 1942 the USSR was in Warsaw, by April in Berlin, and since the game didn’t quite know what to do with itself without D-Day having happened, by Bastille Day the Soviets had overrun all of Fortress Europe and marched into Paris. All I could do was laugh and laugh.