Kindling the Flames – Firestorm: Stalingrad Event

Today Mark N talks about firestorm campaigns and the recent Firestorm Stalingrad event held in Scotland.

Firestorm Campaigns are a fantastic way of getting your gaming group together and hammering through a semi-historical scenario that pick-up games at club nights, or straight up tournament games, can’t capture the magic of.

The premise of these Campaigns are simple; the games are played in a series of strategic ‘Turns’; each turn movement arrows are placed on a map that is separated into regions, these arrows represent the advance of forces into the opposing region. For each arrow, a game is played and, should the attacker win (the player who placed the arrow), the region changes control. At the end of the campaign, the Victory Points for each controlled region are added together, and the Victorious side determined by the difference in points.  
Its a straightforward map based campaign system that requires no great book-keeping to run, making it perfect for most clubs.

Let’s take a look at how that all works in practice by examining the recent “Firestorm: Stalingrad” event I ran.  

The Firestorm Stalingrad map showing the starting Areas, and their respective victory points

FoW Scotland’s Event

The main rules for Firestorm: Stalingrad are available for download from Battlefront here:

We here in Scotland have run Firestorm events in the past, but that was the Firestorm: Red Thunder event for Team Yankee. The changes I made to that Campaign were imposing bonuses and penalties for victories and losses during the day. Those rules make a return for this one, with Command Cards being perfect for imposing these rewards and penalties.
We played three rounds, with the base pack being almost perfect for the ten players we got on the day.
 We elected to make two games per round take place in the ‘City Fighting’ sector of the map, the battle for Stalingrad itself.

Soviet troops  valiantly defend Stalingrad

The other change I made to the rules pack was to take inspiration from the older Firestorm Boxed Games, such as Market Garden, and Bagration. These older rulesets allowed Generals to allocate supporting troops to their players, to supply them with options that would supplement their lists, and add more interesting options.
I went down the same route and tried to balance both sides, almost equally, but naturally there wasn’t always an appropriate choice on the other side. The full list of troops that were available, as well as the rules are available here:

Adding in these options allowed generals to ‘plug gaps’ in their players’ lists, which they maybe didn’t have the points, or options, for before. Do you need some Recce? Well ask your General to allocate you the BA-10s, or SdKfz 231s; think you could really dominate with Air Support? Call in the Stukas, or Sturms.
 Naturally there were slight imbalances within the choices which were apparent after play: the Tiger was definitely a major winning point for the Axis Forces, though the option on the Soviet side was a company of KV-8 Flame Tanks, which could have been just as deadly against Infantry.

The limitations on some of the Firestorm Troops also came into play; the KV-8s could be deployed into Stalingrad itself, whilst the Tiger could not. The Air Support was also restricted to the ‘Open Field’ play, while the Snipers were restricted to Stalingrad alone. Small limitations like this also guided the choices of our brave Commanders on the day.

Speaking of Commanders, Breakthrough Assault’s own Mark Goddard came along and took charge of the Soviet side on the day. His After Action Report can be found here:

The option to add in a Company of T-34s was advantageous for a mainly Infantry-based list

I would certainly say that lessons were learned from this more in-depth system; the “balances” weren’t always balanced fairly. The other minor issue I had was that, with the plastic infantry for the Soviets being delayed, the options to give the Soviets various forms of infantry support was hampered slightly.
However, with everything now in place, I can turn my attentions to the upcoming (sometime later this year) Firestorm: Kursk, where players might get their hands on Ferdinands, SU-152s, Panthers, and Churchills.

“Comrade, those men look strange” “Da, they are Hungarian ‘Volunteers’… Ha!”

If this article has inspired you, I’d recommend maybe looking into running your own Firestorm campaigns, either with the packs that are available through Battlefront, or even find a nice map, draw lines over it, and get your troops on the table. I’d love to hear about suggestions, or ideas that you, our valued readership, have for improvements to this system.

For now, that’s me, but stay tuned later in the year when the engines roar into life over the Russian plains, and Kursk becomes a shell-streaked mess.

Don’t forget to also check out Mark G’s player report from the same event.