We’ve seen some amazing speedruns over the past couple of months. Fallout 3 in 15 minutes. Fallout: New Vegas in 20 minutes. An entire event dedicated to Games Done Quick. And now we’ve got something a little different, but just as impressive: Stalingrad in two.
Two turns, that is, and while I don’t know if this qualifies as speedrunning in the strictest definition of the term, it’s undeniably a remarkable accomplishment. Benjamin Thomas, the field marshal responsible for the stunning victory that eluded Germany in the real Second World War, explained in the Unity of Command forums that he first managed to pull this off two years ago, but at the time he didn’t have any way to record 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!” he said, using the strange and exotic language of turn-based strategy gamers. “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.”
The encirclement is vital because, as Kotaku explained, logistics are central to success in Unity of Command, an analysis that jibes with our 2012 review: “The barrels that automatically radiate from controlled railways and supply hubs are the lifeblood that keeps Tiger tanks tigerish, Katyushas kataclysmic,” we wrote. “Much of the time, generals aren’t looking to smash enemy units in one fell swoop, they’re out to encircle and suffocate them over two or three turns. Unity—like the 1942-43 operations that inspired it—is all about turning bulges into pockets, salients into corpse-strewn kessels.”
The gameplay video probably isn’t the most intense and arresting thing you’ll watch all day, but the end result speaks for itself: Two turns, as Thomas explained, “equates to the Wehrmacht taking the city by the 10th of August, 1942.” In reality, the battle began on August 23 and dragged until February 1943, resulting in nearly two million combined military and civilian casualties, the annihilation of the German Sixth Army, and the turning of the war’s tide against Germany.
Here’s what Unity of Command Lead Developer Tomislav Uzelac has to say about it, by the way:
[email protected] yeah, it sort of breaks the scenario. Turn 7/8 would be the earliest historically plausible result.
— Tomislav Uzelac (@tomislav_uzelac) January 31, 2016
Take that, history.