A Short list of some of the best articles on STALINGRAD to appear, over the years, in Avalon Hill's The General

While compiling material for a previous post on AFRIKA KORPS, I found myself continually getting sidetracked into reading unrelated past articles in The General on STALINGRAD as well as other intriguing pieces on some of the other Avalon Hill classics. I had forgotten how interesting some of these old essays could be. Finally, I put some of these magazines aside on the off-chance that I might want to look at them again later.

After thinking it over, however, I decided to look at them again, sooner rather than later. This change of heart is the direct result of some of the comments from a few of the visitors to my blog. And since some of you actually seemed to enjoy "The General looks at AFRIKA KORPS", I have decided to go ahead and list some of the other nearly-forgotten articles that appeared, so many years ago, between the covers of The General. So here is the latest installment in what I hope will become an ongoing series on the best of the best pieces from decades worth of old issues of The General. This short collection, in my opinion, includes some of the most interesting and entertaining articles on STALINGRAD analysis, game variants, and Series Replaysever to see print. And speaking of Series Replays: all but one of these replays has been included, not because of the stellar performance of the players, but because of the ruthless candor, clarity and usefulness of the neutral commentary. Who, after all, can really resist slowing down to look as they drive by a train wreck?

To those of you who still have a collection of older copies of The General gathering dust somewhere in their closet, or who have a friend who has a lifetimes stash of old gaming magazines stacked up in his game room, this list is for you. Even if you read these articles a long time ago, I strongly recommend that you go back and give them another look. You might even find it hard to close the covers of some of these old magazines once you start turning through their pages!

For no particular reason, I have arranged this list in chronological order, from the oldest to the most recent.

  • A Series Replay: STALINGRAD, featuring Dan Evans (German) and Tom Oleson (Russian) with neutral (if brutally honest) analysis by George Phillies (yes, the same George Phillies, and M.I.T. alumnus, who ran as the Libertarian candidate for POTUS in 2008) in The General, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Nov-Dec 1973) shows, in the case of the two hapless players, why it is virtually always a bad idea to let George Phillies look over your shoulder while you play STALINGRAD
  • Mark Irwin's comprehensive article, "Defense in STALINGRAD", which appears in The General, Vol. 11, No. 2 (Jul-Aug 1974) presents a very detailed and useful analysis of the Russian defense in STALINGRAD for any players who are new to the game
  • Gary Gygax' intriguing, if unorthodox, "The Southern Gambit", in The General, Vol. 11, No. 4 (Nov-Dec 1974) offers an interesting alternative opening for the hyper-aggressive (and daring) Russian player in STALINGRAD
  • A Series Replay: STALINGRAD, featuring Randy Reed (German) and Don Greenwood (Russian) with neutral commentary provided by George Phillies (who else?) and Mark Swanson, in The General, Vol. 11, No. 5 (Jan-Feb 1975) which, besides being an example of some very eccentric STALINGRAD play, also reinforces the earlier observation about George Phillies and player's shoulders
  • Dr. Joseph Connolly's innovative variant, "Starting STALINGRAD in 1942", in The General, Vol.12, no. 4 (Nov-Dec 1975) provides all of the additional rules, deployment instructions, replacement levels, and order of battle information necessary to begin the play of Germany's '42 summer offensive, Case Blau, using the standard STALINGRAD map and counters
  • George Phillies' "STALINGRAD Scenario Strategy", The General, Vol. 12, No. 6 (Mar-Apr. 1976) offers a thoughtful critique, analysis, and even some tips for players getting ready to play Dr. Connolly's variant from "Starting STALINGRAD in 1942"
  • A two-part Series Replay: STALINGRAD, which is, by far, the highest caliber, most interesting, and most closely-fought of the replays included in this list, pitting Joe Angiolillo (German) against Tom Baruth (Russian) with neutral commentary by Paul Bakulski, in The General, Vol. 14, Nos. 3 & 4 (Sept-Oct, Nov-Dec 1977)
  • Louis Coatney's "STALINGRAD Revisited and Revised", The General, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Jul-Aug 1978) offers an extensive state of the art facelift to the standard STALINGRAD rules from a frustrated, but long-time aficionado of the original game
  • Joseph A. Angiolillo's "The Russian View: An Exhaustive Analysis of the Defense in STALINGRAD", published in The General, Vol. 17, No. 6 (Mar-Apr 1981) in which the author catalogs the best Russian starting set-ups from a veritable who's who of recognized STALINGRAD experts, as well as presenting some ideas about Russian play during 1941
  • James Corling's "The Big Three", the General, Vol. 21, No. 4 (Nov-Dec 1985) which considers the three most common and persistent German errors in STALINGRAD play
  • Besides these articles, there are many more that didn't make this list, not because they weren't worth reading, but mainly because I wanted to provide a representative cross-section of different types of essays, and really didn't want to publish too many pages of article citations in the same post. Interestingly, one of the regular visitors to my blog, Russ Gifford, recently commented that, in his opinion, the issues of The General that began appearing with Volume 11 represented a genuine and noticeable improvement in the overall quality of the magazine. This was not something that had ever occurred to me, but after reexamining my own copies of the six issues that comprised Volume 11, I think he's absolutely right: 1974 indeed represented a real leap forward in quality for the game-related articles in The General. Thankfully, the days of "Sage Sarge" and of "Perfect Plans" really had, by the mid-seventies, pretty much come to an end. And by the way, for those of you who don't have any old copies of The General magazine lying around, there are always copies surfacing on eBay so,given a little time, you should still be able to track most, if not all, of these gems down.


  • I really do enjoy these long looks back at the articles of the General. While gaming for me has been a largely solitary experience, punctuated by FTF tournaments and convention gatherings, the articles in the magazines always made me feel like I was linked to the rest of the players in the hobby. The General excelled at this, providing voices you would hear over and over: first with Shaw, then Greenwood and finally Martin, but also the repeat article writers, like George Phillies, Tom Oleson, and Joe Angiolillo all making that personal connection with their finely written articles. It was in those pages I got to know the players, the letter writers, as well as the games.

    Also, it is an excellent method of dating the significance of a game. Stalingrad is the gold standard in this: in your listing above, it was still getting major press by 1985. At a time when many games generated only a year or two of passing interest, Stalingrad still had its followers!

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