The General Staff Archives

Europa Games and Military History

Stonebooks

Reading on anything to do with the Second World War is an intimidating task, since the literature is so vast that it seems impossible for any laymen to identify relevant books or simply those well enough written to deserve notice. Military history remains a topic of high interest, and serious studies often drown in the flood of available popular editions, autobiographies or “collections” of pictures, technical data or battle descriptions.

For those of us without access to a well-stacked library, stonebooks.com is an invaluable source, providing a structured catalogue of publications. Fleshed out with book reviews, a message board and and more catalogues of publishers and authors, stonebooks provides a great service for readers and historians alike.

Our hobby seems for most cases to be stuck in the early 00’s when it comes to design and usability, and stonebooks.com is no exception. However,  we would ask our reader again for leniency: The website proves without a doubt one does not require Bootstrap to provide viewing pleasure. Additionally the author of the page, Bill Stone, is one of the oldest Europa veterans and former editor of E.T.O.  Say Hi and grab a good book!

Date: August 22rd, 2018

URL: http://stonebooks.com

 

 

Iterum ante portas

It is December 1941, (again). An unusually mild winter sees the Germans firmly in possession of Moscows suburbs after a gruelling campaign, while in the North forward detachments have finally reached the Murmansk railway line. Further south the Germans have occupied vast swathes of the Ukraine, though Odessa and Sevastopol still hold out against the fascist invaders…

In other words: we managed to upload Ken Newall’s new game report up to JAN I 1942, and it shows how helpful images are to understand the overall strategic situation – at least for a visual animal like me. Enjoy the read!

After completing the newsletter archive in the Generalstab Library some months ago there was still one issue missing: ETO #57. I have the basic TOC, but no authors, and was unable to find a copy of the newsletter anywhere. Since Arthur Goodwin was the editor at the time, I’ve contacted him directly, and will update if I recieve a reply.

We’re still being plagued by some technical problems, but in the making are two more game reports from War in the Desert, and it might be time for some more link additions soon.

Like distant rolling thunder

Fire in the East/Scorched Earth truly defined the term “monster game” new when they came out. At more than 3.000 counters and maps large enough to cover a small basement floor, the game dwarved the competition. SE’s complexity and size also severly limited the number of games played, so we are very proud to be able to present our second game report of a FitE/SE game. The report of an ongoing game started in April 2018 is being written by Ken Newall, who again deserves our gratitude for allowing us to publish it here.

Since’ we’re currently experiencing some technical problems witrh the website, the menue isn’t done yet, but should follow in the next few days, along with more content.

Um, who am I kidding, It might be weeks. But we’re working on it.

No more questions

Hi everyone,

apologies, but we had to deactivate the FAQs, since the plugin we used to display them managed to break WordPress’ backend. At least thats what we suspect, we were suffering from the “White Screen of Death” for some weeks now, and deactivating the plugin remedied parts of the trouble. We’re still having occasional whiteouts , though, and are trying to identify the source of the problem. What we can say for sure is that the site hasn’t been compromised or anything, trouble seems to be some outdated plugin code.

As soon as we manage to get the backend back to working order, we’ll try to salvage the FAQs and re-up them in a different format. After all, quite some effort went into putting them together, inclomplete as they were. For now though we’re working on being able to get the site back to properly operational status.

For the Glory of the Fatherland

Today we added a long due work to the library entries: The official history of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union, 1941-1945. Research into the historiography of the Second World War in the USSR is still ongoing, so expect additions and corrections.

Spit & Polish

In addition to the Combined Arms index mentioned yesterday, we were also able to add ETO #57 and #58 to the ETO index, thanks to information provided by Edmond (Thank you!). We’ve updated a couple of game pages to include the new references, and this should bring the newletter section indeed to completion – unless I have missed an important newsletter, in which case someone please point that out to me.

Also new are the History of the Second World War and Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg, the two official histories of the Second World War from Britain and Germany, respectively. Some of the British volumes are available online at hyperwar.com and archive.org, whereas the German work is too new and not available legally.

I remain fascinated by the Turkish official military history. It seems that the work of the Turkish General Staff on the First World War has been updated since its inception in the Twenties and is still an ongoing project, currently spanning 27 volumes. However, no translations have ever been undertaken, and there are no digital versions available, or at least I was not able to identify any with the limited Turkish available to me. Which is a sordid state of affaird from several angles, not only because the Turkish and Muslim experience of World War One remains underrepresented in historiography, but also since access to the sources for Turkish military history remains limited. Even though the Turkish General Staffs work has a reputation for being nationalist and biased, the same can be said for most of other nations official histories, and in the least it could provide a valuable corrective on the western narrative. A first survey of available (i.e. English and German) literature seems to indicate both German and British sources underrate the Osman contribution to the war. See for example Erickson, Edward J, Ottoman Army Effectiveness in World War I: A Comparative Study, 2007)

Obituaries

My staff notified me today that armchairgeneral.com, which for years was the first address to learn about the Soviet Army in World War Two, has been unavailable for a couple of days now. I guess I could start making a hobby from starting to list websites, gamers and designers from the Europa community and those remembering the conflicts of the twentieth century slowly passing away. Alas, I am a bit young for that, and I feel its too depressing a task to basically keep myself busy naming the fallen. So while we will faithfully try to archive all things Europa here, please forgive us if we do not write obituaries. Exceptions are a given.

On a more positive note, thanks to the support of James A. Broshot I was able to add the index of the last missing Europa newsletter, Combined Arms, to the library. While only running for a mere nine issues, the depth and quality of the articles influenced the Europa community for a long time. Maybe I will live to see the day when I can put the full issues online.

 

 

By the roll of a dice

Strategy games usually focus on the front lines of a conflict, and gamers will have long discussion when the rollout of a new anti-tank gun happend and in what numbers, and if the upgrade of this or that unit is justified as per OB or should happen earlier – or not at all. Logistics, the art that does indeed decide wars, and  which usually takes up 90% of a commanders time, is usually abstracted, since until the advent of computer games the process of raising, training, equipping and organising forces was too tedious to be converted into a playable game.

Yet another aspect sometimes cripples consims: The hindsight that enables players to approach a situation with much more information than available to their historical counterparts. Hindsight defines a lot of the strategies employed in most Europa games, and only its most egregious problems can be corrected by artificially straightjacking the player into historical behaviour by victory point mechanisms or outright enforcement by rules (garrisons, no-retreat-rules, Plan XVII, etc).

Which brings us to the Asturian Gambit, a series of opening moves during the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in For Whom the Bell Tolls. In hindsight it was obvious that the balance of forces and the deep-set enmity between the two political movements precluded a quick end to the conflict that broke out in July 1936. Hindsight enables the nationalist player to play the long game and secure an andvantageous position from which to better prepare for a conflict that will span several years.  A reasonable, game-changing, and completely ahistorical strategy. Carlos Perez lays out the Asturian Gambit and its implications for you in the last article for now that Carlos gratiously allowed us to publish and which first went online at his website belliludi.com.

The Asturian Gambit of course runs contrary to all strategic assesments and convictions in the chaotic summer of 1936, where possession of Spains capital was seen as key to a quick and desicive victory by all parties. A possible fix would have to take the political value that Madrid held at the beginning of the war into account, forcing the nationalists to devote their assets to a serious attempt to take the capital as soon as possible for an extended amount of time. One possibility would be a rule prohibiting units of the Army of Africa to move north of hexrow 25xx as long as the weather is clear, and to require all units of the Army of Africa to attack in the direction of Madrid as long as they are in general supply. This could be com,bined with a modification surrender rule, requiring a roll for surrender for the side that just lost possession of Madrid, while giving them a strong modifyer in 1936 and a smaller one in 1937.

Together, these rules would reflect the prevalent belief that whoever held the capital would decide the conflict early on, and also simulate the political reality that any general on the nationalist side not pursuing a quick victory over the republic would have lost his position from where to make such strategic choices really fast. However, as with all rule modifications, these ideas would have to be playtested and evaluated before being made a recommended rules modification.

Seasons in the Sun

We continue our publications from the rich trove of articles kindly provided by Carlos Perez from belliludi.com.  An excellent overview on the state of Spains Army at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, we have Alberto Arzaneguis essay on The Spanish Army in 1936 in the department of Order of Battle research.

Additionally, a kind gamer provided us with an Index of Gary Stagliano’s newsletter Nuts & Bolts, which we’ve also published today. The individual game indices are also updated, so you have comprehensive reading lists to every game. Enjoy!

 

The long dark night

Happy season holidays, whatever you might celebrate, if you do! Posting here is kind of ironic, considering the message of love and all that. But I thought I’d drop some new reading material for the long winter days,  after the family chaos has subsided a bit and everyone finds some quiet time for themselves. So without further ado, more treasures for your gaming pleasure:

An Essay about the Soviet Armored Forces during the Second World War by Scott Boston Through The Furnace of War.

 

Pasaran?

The Spanish Civil War ended in the Summer of 1939 with the defeat of the Republic and the takeover of fascist dictator “Generalissimus” Franco. Mass executions and an exodus followed, as hundreds of thousands of republican, communist, anarchist or democratic Spanish tried to flee to neighbouring countries. Only months later the Second World War broke out, engulfing most of Europe. For many of the exiled this meant taking up arms against fascism again, and Spanish soldiers fought against Germany and her allies on all fronts of the war. For them, the end of the war ment more uncertainty, since returning home was not an option they had, Franco remaining as the last fascist dictator in Europe, having successfully and skillfully maintained neutrality throughout the war.

Adding to the articles provided by Carlos Pèrez, the following two essays capture the fate of Spanish soldiers on both fronts of the Second World War, more than repaying the assistance both factions had during the Civil War.

Spaniards in World War II Part 1: Fighting for the Third Reich

Spaniards in World War II Part 2: Fighting against the Third Reich

Addtionally, Carlos research resulted in an inofficial Grand Europa OB for the Spanish Axis contingent.

The Casino is Closed

It was a test, and as such, it showed that there is no interest currently in an forum on this website. Which makes sense, considering there is less activity on the Europa mailing list every year. So for now, The forums have been closed. Thank you to all who posted there! There are still comments possible on a lot of pages, and of course you can always mail me.

 

Spanish Bombs on the Costa Brava…

The second round of updates provided by Carlos Pérez is going online today: An essay on the history of the Spanish Air Force in World War Two, and the resulting suggestion for a Grand Europa OB for the Spanish Air Forces.

On a random side note, how do you call a linklist that exclusively links to online versions of books? Its a form we’ve used a lot on this website, and both “linklist” as well as “bibliograpy” seems insufficient. A linklist or bookmarks refers to websites, whereas a bibliography is a list of books. These lists are a mixture of the two, pointing the reader to digitalized verions of paper books available online. Confusing.

 

The terribly beauty of wargames

Carlos Pérez was one of the most active spanish Europa-players. His historical interest mainly lay with the Spanish Civil War, and at his website belliludi.com he assembled an impressive collection of essays on the history of the civil war, written by internationally renowned military historians such as Brian R. Sullivan and Klaus Maier, to name but two.

Since Carlos does not have the ressources to keep his website updated, he recently gave permission to the General Staff to reproduce some of the essays and articles here, an offer that we accept with deep gratitude. So in the following weeks we’ll add the Europa-related articles as well as selected essays to generalstab.org. Make sure to thank Carlos if you see him!

First to go online is an essay by Williamson Murray titled The Consequences of Italian Intervention in the Spanish Civil War.

Plus, for Friends of knowledgable Europa variants: An Alternative Rule for the surrender of Italy in Second Front by Rich Velay

From the Archives

Thanks to the kind help of Europa veteran Jim Broshot, I was able to add an article index for the original Europa Newsletter published by GDW in 1976-78 to the library. The references also have been added to the pages of DNO and Narvik, respectively. For you, that means another little glimpse at Europa history, for me, it means finally learning who exactly the first fifty buyers of Drang nach Osten really were.

Welcome to the General Staff

On the following pages you'll find articles and material on conflict simulations, military history and the "Europa", "Great War" and "Glory" strategy game series of HMS/GRD.

For readers new to the topic of strategy games, we recommend a visit to grognard.com, the best starting point for these games on the web. Alternatively, get yourself familiar with terms and concepts of strategy games in our glossary. The article about strategy games is probably the best starting point.

The General Staff does not endorse any extremist political political positions and opposes the employment of military force as a means of politics.
If that sounds too much like a general disclaimer: We've had about fifteen different versions of an article loosely titled "Why its okay to play strategy games and still consider yourself a decent human being" online in the past twenty years. And you know what: Games are fun. We like games. Games make friendships, games teach you stuff. So save your outrage. Talk to us, not about us.

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