East Front games have been done to death in our hobby! There are literally hundreds of them. And generally, they are all the same with long continuous lines of units stacked up in gridlock with the German player making attacks up and down the lines and the Soviet player simply sitting there and taking it for hours. There is nothing wrong with this but it is what has become expected on the subject. Each time that we crack out an East Front game, we are ready for this same experience. But occasionally when a game does something that creates a different experience, an unexpected experience, we are very pleased and love trying to understand how the unique take has changed the feeling.

Such was our experience when we played Donnerschlag: Escape from Stalingrad from VUCA Simulations. Our playthrough was simply exhilarating. We were caught off guard and really didn’t expect this situation to change so much and feel so different. Now I realize that the scale of these game is very different from the scales of most of the other East Front games we have played, but this system and its implementation really created some opportunities for maneuvering of units, used cards in a very unique way that gave some real opportunities to the players and also was based in hard core hex and counter style with a very small CRT that accumulated lots of shifts and a few DRM’s from card play that made each roll seem to be life or death.

Donnserschlag is a two player game which is playable in roughly 1 hour per turn. This means that a full 7 turn game (or 8 if Donnerschlag is called in Turn 4) will take less than 8 hours. In fact, we felt like as we got into the groove of the game and became more comfortable with the sequence of play and combat procedure that turns would be able to be completed in 40-45 minutes on a 2nd play. I do want to point out that this is more of a game than a true simulation and was designed to create a high level of player interaction and replayability.