Game Description

Squad Leader (SL) is one of the classics of the wargaming hobby. It's a John Hill design of small-unit infantry and AFV combat published by Avalon Hill in 1977. While called Squad Leader, the player really has the role of a company commander in most cases with most scenarios featuring 6 to 30 squads until his control. Each counter represents a single squad, leader, support weapon or armoured fighting vehicle (AFV). Each map hex is 40m across.

Follow-on modules (Cross of Iron, Crescendo of Doom and GI: Anvil of Victory) added on new rules and revised old ones to the point where AH released Advanced Squad Leader in 1985.

While the Squad Leader system became more cumbersome over time, basic SL is still a tense, very playable game of infantry combat with armour support. The rules are presented using a Programmed Instruction method popular at AH at the time where a subset of rules is presented, a scenario featuring these rules is played, then new rules are introduced and so on. This means the player doesn't have to swallow a lot of rules to begin play immediately.

Squad Leader centres around leaders and their importance in rallying broken units, directing fire and performing other acts of heroism. This is not a game of technical precision where x millimeters of calibre is guaranteed to penetrate y millimeters of armour. The human element is present. Squads fire and are fired at, they break and retreat, they rally and return. Squad Leader is a game about men, not equipment.

Details of this PBEM Game

Germans: Eric Pass(Scenario 1 forces and AFVs)
       : Jonathan Kenny(Scenario 2 forces)

Russians: Alan Yngve(Reinforcement force and AFVs)
        : Gary Robinson(Scenario 1 forces and Tractor Works garrison)

Scenario 3C Streets of Stalingrad combines the first two scenarios, adds in sewer movement and AFVs for both sides for a 7 turn slugfest using all of board 1.

This scenario is being played as a four-way game with two players on each side. The division of starting forces was decided by the players as represented above.

After set-up, all four players will roll for move order which may mean that all of the German or Russian forces may not be moving at the same time in the first turn. Also, within each subsequent turn, the opposing side will randomly determine which player's forces are moved first in each phase. So for example, in the German Turn 2 Defensive Fire Phase, Gary's DF might be applied before Alan's (or vice-versa). Players on the same side may not communicate about targets. This introduces a fog of war element as the different players will assign different firing and moving priorities to their troops which may not be those of one's partner!

Events so far

German Scenario 1 Forces Setup
No big surprises in Eric's setup. In building G6, the 9-1ldr is sandwiched in G6 surrounded by 1x4-6-7 in F6 and 2x4-6-7,2xLMG in H5. In building K5, there are 2x4-6-7,2xLMG in J4 and the 8-0ldr is in K5. In building L6, the 8-1ldr stacks with 2x4-6-7 and 1xMMG while 1x4-6-7,1xLMG occupies M7.

Russian Scenario 1 Forces Setup
Gary uses a pretty standard setup as well with the 10-2ldr up front in G4 and in building N5, there are 2x4-4-7 in N5, 1x4-4-7 in M5 and 1x4-4-7 in reserve with the 8-0ldr in N4.

Russian Tractor Works Forces Setup
The Tractor Works is a complete unknown with concealed units four and five deep in all nine hexes. Exceptions are X2 & Y3 which are three deep and X4 which is six deep.

German Scenario 2 Forces Setup
Jonathan has more concealment markers to deploy in his delaying force. Building U2 has three concealed units in T2 and four concealed units in U2 and U3. Building T4 has three concealed units in T4 and four in S5. T7 has six concealed units and R7 has three. In the main assault force, the HMG goes in Y7 with the 10-2ldr and 3x4-6-7. A single 8-3-8 pioneer unit is placed in CC3 with a FT and a DC while 3x8-3-8 go in AA4 with the 10-3ldr and 2xDC. There's a 2x8-3-8, 2xLMG, 1xFT, 1xDC assault force in Z6 and the 9-1ldr leads a platoon of 3x4-6-7 in AA5. The 8-0ldr sits in BB4 to catch any breaking forces.

Russian Scenario 2 Reinforcement Forces Setup
The placement of the 27x4-4-7 squads is fixed, three per building hex. Alan places the 9-1ldr in Q4 with 2xLMG while one 8-0ldr goes in P7 and the other in S1. The other LMG locations are single LMGs in P5 & P8.

Summary & Analysis

Pre-game comments
Even though AFVs are used in this scenario, infantry still rule the city battlefield. With the congestion of buildings potentially housing squads that can immobilize AFVs during the Movement Phase, the vehicles are support weapons in practice. Novices can get carried away with hunting the other side's AFVs, but veteran players know there are no victory conditions attached to smashing the enemy's vehicles. The best use for the AFV's, particularly the German assault guns which can not fire in the Advancing Fire Phase after moving, is as mobile pillboxes providing cover for moving infantry, fire support against tough building hexes and denying rout paths to the enemy.

Turn 1
Turn 2
Turn 3

Other Links for Squad Leader information

Game Info
Squad Leader Mailing List Resources

Books & Magazine Articles
Avalon Hill General articles

This file last updated 09/25/96.

This page is maintained by Eric Pass

Please email with comments and corrections.