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Advance of the Reich Banner

  • Orig HPS Press Release
  • Planning Maps
  • Designer's Notes
  • Game Documents & Misc
Advance of the Reich cover

-Directive 21 -One Rapid Campaign-

In 1941, Nazi Germany began the momentous undertaking known as Operation: BARBAROSSA --the invasion of the Soviet Union. SQUAD BATTLES: Advance of the Reich is a tactical level simulation of the fierce fighting during the first half of the war in Russia.

This is the sixth installment of the award-winning tactical level game system by John Tiller. It contains 33 individual scenarios covering the fighting from June 1941 until December 1942.


Click to Enlarge


Gear including:

  • Satchel charges
  • Smoke
  • Wire
  • Mines
  • Parachutes
  • Artillery
  • Mortars
  • Armored fighting vehicles
  • Binoculars
  • Sewers
  • Swim tanks
  • and more...
Campaign Map 1
Campaign Map 2

Click to Enlarge



  • 33 stand alone scenarios.
  • A wide sampling of actions from June 1941 through December 1942.
  • Many unique maps providing ample ground for scenario designers to create their own actions.
  • A submap editor is included which easily allows players to create smaller maps from the larger maps included with the game.
  • The game also has the standard scenario, OOB, parameter, database & sub-map editors included with the game. Play modes include A/I, Hot Seat, PBEM, LAN & Internet play.

Click to Enlarge


Players typically control several squad sized elements and possibly several vehicles in each scenario.

Forces inlude:

  • German
  • German SS
  • Rumanian
  • Italian
  • Russian
  • Russian Guards
  • Militia
  • Russian Naval soldiers
  • and a very complete vehicle and weapon database from the 1941 to 1942 time period on the Eastern Front.

The game includes several large game maps including a complete map of Stalingrad from the Grain Elevator to the Tractor Factory measuring 494 by 114 hexes.

There are 15 Stalingrad scenarios included with the game. Together with the included Submap Editor and Scenario Editor, any number of Stalingrad scenarios can be created using this map and the included OB data.


  • Developer: John Tiller
  • Artist: Joseph Amoral
  • Unit Graphics: Mark Adams
  • Music: Thomas Hook & Daniel Lee
  • Additional AI programming: John Rushing
  • Contributed Sound Effects: Edward Williams
  • Scenario Design: John Tiller
  • Additional Scenario Design and Research: Charlie Kibler
  • Playtesters: Greg Smith, Mike Mundell, and Tom Wilson

System Requirements:

Windows XP, Vista, or 7
Processor: 1 GHz
Disk Space: 1 GB
Memory: 1 GB

Planning Maps    (click for full-sized images)
Balta map Beschensitschi map Borisov map
Balta: 32.4 mb gif Beschenvitschi: 29.4 mb gif  Borisov: 31.1 mb gif

Dubrowka map Maloyaroslavets map Mogilev map
Dubrowka: 798 kb gif Maloyaroslavets: 29.2 mb gif Mogilev: 34.6
mb gif

Selizharovo map Senno map Stalingrad map
Selizharovo: 31.7 mb gif Senno: 33.1 mb gif Stalingrad: 27.2 mb gif

State Farm 79 (1) map State Farm (2) map Yartsevo map
State Farm 79 (1): 387 kb gif  State Farm 79 (2): 912 kb gif Yartsevo: 26.5 mb gif

Click here for larger sized thumbs

Advance of the Reich Notes (from user.hlp file)

1. Scope

This game is designed to cover squad-level battles on the Eastern Front from 1941 through the end of 1942. Given this scope, the game becomes at the same time a very easy one to develop while also being very hard to address. On the one hand, the game is very easy to develop since there is an extreme amount of action that can be included. At this scale, any number of battles produced potential scenarios for use in this game, even limited to the first two years of the Eastern Front. However, on the other hand, the scope is almost impossible to address with anything approaching completeness at this scale. Beyond a certain point, the game simply has to provide the scenario designer with the tools they need to complete additional scenarios and leave it at that. In this regard, the scenario designer will find a very complete database to use for new scenarios including a large number of vehicles such as the T-35 10-man Russian tank.

Many of the actions traditionally associated with the Eastern Front tend to "swallow up" the scale of fighting in this game. Indeed, most situation maps that are commonly associated with the fighting on the Eastern Front would be so large as to be impractical to address at this scale, or correspondingly, the actions that are included in this game are only a fraction of the total battle or campaign. Finding high-detail maps of the Eastern Front is also a challenge and furthermore, when used to create game maps you find that just about any specific characteristic of the area is again swallowed up by the scope of the campaign and you are left with fairly non-descript game maps as a result. However, there is one significant exception to this aspect and that is the Stalingrad area, which is so totally known and analyzed that each area of 500 meters can easily be recognized by many game players (see below for an example).


The game includes the nationalities of German, Russian, Italian, and Rumanian, as well as the specializations of German SS and Russian Guards. Example Orders-of-Battle for each of these nationalities in many different time periods are given in the game for use in new scenarios. The Balta scenario, contributed by Charlie Kibler, gives an example of early fighting by Rumanian forces. There is also an Italian scenario representing a crossing of the Bug River and meant to be representative of the battle in the movie "Attack and Retreat".


Perhaps the single most significant aspect of the game is the Stalingrad scenarios. There are over a dozen of these in the game, including the Getting Started scenario. They range all the way from the Grain Elevator to the Tractor Factory and most locations in between. As such, they are fairly representative of the fighting that took place from September to November of 1942 in Stalingrad. Each scenario focuses on a specific battle during this campaign and only uses a very small, in comparison, submap of the complete Stalingrad map (see a discussion below of this map). There is certainly a great deal more that can be done using the design features of the game including larger scenarios dealing with more extensive portions of the map. Perhaps an ambitious scenario covering the entire city of Stalingrad in one battle is possible.

2. New Features

There are a number of features in this game that are new to the Squad Battles series. Some of these are described in more detail here.

Diving Tanks

Diving Tanks image

Having tanks that were actually submersible is a technological development rather unique to the period and area covered by this game and a pretty good example of the ability of the German military designers to apply technology to the art of war independent of any real justification to do so. The Mogilev scenario is a historical example of the use of these tanks during the Barbarossa campaign in crossing the Dnepr River. The extreme vulnerability and technical fragility of these tanks certainly limited their use in the war to any serious fighting.


Skis image

Both sides used the ski for mobility in the extremely long and snowy Russian winter. The Burtsevo Typhoon scenario shows an example of the infamous Russian ski soldier in action while the Ramushevo scenario shows how the Germans adapted to the situation in turn.

Smoke Grenades

Smoke Grenades image

In the streets of Stalingrad, smoke grenades are of particular use in concealing an advance across an open street or avenue during an attack on a factory or building. The German engineers typically have these in the scenarios they are included in.


Binculars image

Binoculars are introduced in this game as a type of Detection device. They can be used to spot enemy units in otherwise concealed positions. They are useful for recon prior to an attack to determine enemy locations. However, their use also reveals the user of the binoculars to the enemy.

Sewer Movement

Sewer Movement image

It isn't really possible to address the fighting in Stalingrad without including the famous Russian sewer movement capability. This is a simple extension of the Tunnel Movement feature introduced earlier in the game series. There are other possible uses for this feature in future Squad Battles games, including the fighting during the end of the war in Berlin.

New Immobilization

Satchel Charge image

There is more to fighting tanks than simply penetration. Indeed, I have a friend working at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds whose job involves analyzing all of the many ways a tank can be damaged either totally or in some way that impacts its ability to fight. This involves various specializations of the concept of "killing" including, but not limited to, mobility kills and comm kills. Previously, short of penetrating a tank in the Squad Battles game, you couldn't really hurt it. But starting in this game, there are a couple of new ways that a tank can be immobilized, that is, a mobility kill. The first way is through an attack using a Satchel Charge or some other Demolition Weapon. This represents using the Satchel Charge to damage the tracks of the tank thus immobilizing it. A second way is limited to the use of large caliber guns firing HE or the use of large bombs. While these have no chance of achieving penetration of the tank, they can certainly cause enough damage to the tracks or turret of the tank to result in Immobilization in game terms. The Kharkov scenario Nepokrytoye is a good example of how large caliber howitzers would sometimes duel with tanks.

3. Game Maps

There are a number of very large maps in the game, each accurately generated from a topographical map of the area. The single most important map in the game is without a doubt the Stalingrad map, measuring 494 by 114 hexes and stretching from the Grain Elevator to the Tractor Factory. I am particularly in debt to Charlie Kibler who loaned me his historical German Stadtplan of Stalingrad, which I scanned and used to create the game map. The use of this Stadtplan made the resulting game map very accurate in many details. For example, below is a very small sample from the game map showing the Red October foundry area.

Stalingrad Game Map

Stalingrad Game Map Portion

This compares very favorably with the corresponding section of the Stadtplan from which it was generated.

German Stalingrad Stadtplan

German Stalingrad Stadtplan image

Finally, it is interesting to compare both of these to the German aerial photo of Stalingrad which was the basis for the Stadtplan.

Stalingrad Aerial Photo

Stalingrad Aerial Photo image

3. Weapons and Tactics

The weapons and tactics of the scope of this game are in some ways generic to the fighting of World War II and in some ways unique to this time period and area.

Anti-Tank Abilities

One significant aspect to this fighting is that tanks had really not taken on the fearsome characteristics of the later war and correspondingly, infantry did not have the same anti-tank capabilities that this then required of them. Indeed, during the Barbarossa Campaign, the Russian infantry was for the most part completely vulnerable to the German tanks. Their most common anti-tank gun, although 45mm, had notoriously poor quality ammunition, and their more common anti-tank rifle (see below) was ineffective vs. anything but extremely 'thin-skinned' vehicles.

Molotov Cocktail image

Later, in the close quarter Stalingrad fighting, the usefulness of the Molotov Cocktail became very apparent and this provided sufficient deterrent to the German tanks during that time.

AntiTank Rifle image

Also, after the initial invasion, a certain number of Anti-Tank Rifles were developed and deployed, which perhaps helped a bit against the German tanks of the time, but quickly became obsolete as the tank arms race progressed. The Germans as well had Anti-Tank Rifles that they sometimes used, but once stability had been established on the Eastern Front after the initial invasion and once the Germans found that they were mainly going to face T-34 and KV-1 tanks, their ATR's were not of much help in that situation.

Anti-Tank Magnetic Mine image

Another curiosity of this time is the German use of the hand-held magnetic anti-tank mine, called the "HHL 3" in this game. While effective when used as designed, the concept that one would actually be able to get close enough to a tank to place one of these is similar to the claim that putting salt on a bird's tail will prevent it from flying, if only one could get close enough to do this in the first place.

Small Arms and Heavy Weapons

PPsh-41 image

At this time in the war, both sides relied on the bolt-action rifle as the primary infantry weapon. Indeed, both Germans and Russians would progress through the war to its end without making any significant change in this approach, although submachine guns and automatic rifles became developed and used in certain cases. While both sides would award the use of the SMG to their leaders, the Russians in particular recognized the usefulness of the submachine gun and organized special SMG companies which were particularly useful in attacks in close quarters. Both sides would also include the light machine gun at the squad level, a post WWI approach that continues to this day in most every army.

DShK 12.7mm image

Finally, both sides relied on the independent heavy machine gun to provide intense firepower for both offensive and defensive situations. The versatile MG-34 served the Germans well though the war until the MG-42 was introduced later on, beyond the scope of this game. However, the Russians, although laboring under the older Maxim MG, forever being wheeled around the battlefield, had the upper hand at this point in the war with their use of the 12.7mm DShK heavy machine gun. The use of a MG of this caliber, 51 to be exact, was never undertaken by the Germans on the battlefield. The effectiveness of the DShK is demonstrated not only by its record during WWII but also in more modern times by its use by the NVA during the Vietnam War and even its more recent use by the Taliban in Afghanistan. The presence of the 12.7mm MG on the battlefield will always be a significant issue.

50mm Mortar image

Both sides relied on mortars for close support. The Germans at this point in the war employed the 50mm mortar at the platoon level, although its usefulness is questionable and tends to remind one of the use of the famous Japanese so-called knee mortar. The Russians in this regard again out-class the Germans with their use of mortars up to 120mm. While later in the war the Germans would duplicate the use of a mortar of this caliber, the Russians fought this early part of the war with this advantage in firepower.

Flamethrower image

From the time of World War I, the flamethrower has been used in close fighting in built-up or fortified areas. Several scenarios in the game have flamethrowers in them including many of the Stalingrad scenarios where their use in clearing Factory areas is particularly useful.

Tanks and Other Vehicles

KV-1 image

While the early Russian tanks were for the most part of inferior quality, the Russians did have from the outset tanks of unseen size and firepower for that time of the war. Indeed, the first appearance of the KV-1 tank on the battlefield was a huge surprise to the German invaders during Barbarossa. The Rossienie scenario illustrates one of those early encounters and the resulting effect. Later, when the T-34 arrived in large numbers, the Germans again found themselves fighting at a disadvantage until they could field a better tank technology. The Barrikady Factory scenario is a good example of the expected outcome when the German tank of the day came head to head with the T-34. During this time, the German army appeared to be satisfied with more esoteric tank developments such as the Tauchpanzer diving tank and various flamethrowing tanks. The Mogilev scenario is an example of a historical use of the diving tank while the Wielke Dzial scenario shows how the Germans utilized a number of converted French tanks as flamethrowing tanks. It was only later in the war that the Germans developed the mighty armored fighting vehicles they are known for, too late for the fighting at Stalingrad which was fought mainly with simple PzKw and StuG III' s.

Motorcycles image

During the early part of the war, the Germans found the Motorcycle to be an effective fast transport for their forces, while the Russian relied more on traditional horse-borne cavalry. Both sides would find this mode of transport to be clumsy in most tactical situations as the vulnerability of the transport and its passenger was hard to work-around. The German player can see the challenges of motorcycles in combat in the Senno scenario, while the Russian player can try their hand with a cavalry attack in the Sychevka Mars scenario.


The correct use of tactics in this game is important, perhaps particularly so in the Stalingrad scenarios. There are a few issues that apply to this analysis. First of all, establishing fire superiority is an absolute prerequisite to the advance. In many cases, an unsuccessful attack can be attributed directly to a premature advance in the absence of fire superiority. The heavy weapons and the higher firepower small arms such as the SMG are particularly important in establishing this superior firepower. With the enemy suppressed and pinned, the advance and assault should then be a conclusion to the attack rather than its climax. Likewise, the use of cover is particularly important. Units in the open, which are sometimes unavoidable in the attack, are particularly vulnerable, especially when the defenders occupy the high-protection Industrial areas. The German player will find the use of Smoke Grenades to conceal attacks across these open areas to be useful.

Human Wave image

Game Documents & Misc
Getting Started
Designer's Notes      *note - same material as on tab above*
Scenario List
Map Overview
Moscow to Stalingrad cover Ziemke, Earl & Bauer, Magna; Moscow to Stalingrad, Decision in the East; CMH Pub 30-12, 1987 (download from the US Army Center of Military History)
Stalingrad to Moscow cover Ziemke, Earl; Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East; CMH Pub 30-5, 1968 (download from the US Army Center of Military History)



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