The Meat Grinder – Part 1

Getting their bearings

Introduction to a New Project

Most of the time I play one-off games. I have the attention span of a gnat and it is often hard to play several games linked together into a campaign. The two exceptions have been when writing the Pearl’s Plight story and when writing the 5150 No Limits: The Cool Coolie game supplement. Oh, and there was that series of Fortunes Won & Lost games, which like most game campaigns ground to a halt after a few games. Needless to say, I’m pretty much a newbie (or loser) when it comes to campaigns.

If you follow my blog, then you may know that I got my first ever professionally done game mat back in May. The first game I played on it was a Spanish Civil War (SCW) game using NUTS! Final Edition. The game mat works with all of the scales I have – 6mm, 10mm, 20mm & 28mm. After playing the game, I realized I needed to add more troops & troop types to my SCW collection. Well, while shopping I got side tracked by the siren of a new period through Bad Squiddo Games’ wonderful sculpts of female WWII Soviets. At the same time, John Cunningham needed play testers for a series of NUTS! campaign books. So I submitted an order for female Soviets and volunteered as a play tester. I’ve play tested before, many years ago I play tested the 2nd Edition rules for the fantasy game Warlord from Reaper Miniatures, even got my name in print as a play tester. To be honest, I never won many games at Warlord tournaments, but I always won the best painted army prizes – got my first set of sable brushes as a prize at one tournament.

Soviet women marching to their position – Kursk, 1943

“Get to the point, woman,” I can hear most of you saying. Well, as part of my play testing I researched and compared the Eastern Front Campaign book draft with previous titles such as Clash of Titans and Stalingrad: Heroes All. The draft also references rules in NUTS! and the NUTS! Compendium. If you have Clash of Titans, then you know most of the Eastern Front specific rules were incorporated into the NUTS! Compendium and the new campaign book will contain the pre-1944 army & weapons lists. The draft I have doesn’t replace Stalingrad: Heroes All, but it does expand on it with new scenarios. The draft has scenarios for Barbarosa, the Finnish War, Kursk & others. But the part of the draft that has grabbed my attention is the part on how to create your own campaign.

Why did that grab my attention? Because there’s a hole in the book’s campaign map. Before you blame the book, it’s the same hole that appears in every book and documentary before the 1990s – Rzhev!

German squad looking for our scouts

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for different outcomes. Operations in the Rzhev – Via’zma salient were pure insanity. This caught my interest, because, as you know, floozies are crazy women. For 15 months, both sides launched massive operations which resulted in very little gain accompanied by huge losses and setbacks. Much of what we know about these battles wasn’t available to historians until after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and many WWII archives became available. The salient became known as “the meat grinder” among Soviet soldiers.

Dragging a comrade to safety

So, each Monday I’ll post my progress on this project. I hope you will join me and Junior Lieutenant Elena Kirillovna of the 348th Rifle Division, 39th Army, the Kalinin Front as she takes command of her first platoon and we enter the meat grinder.

New to the Eastern Front?

If you are new to the Eastern Front, there’s a lovely set of videos you can watch as an introduction or overview. There’s a video for each year of the war.

5 comments

    • Was it the “Rzhev Slaughterhouse?” I’m reading it now & have “Zhukov’s Greatest Defeat” in the queue. I’ve finished the chapters on the Soviet’s first offensive & the German response with Operation Seydlitz.”

  1. Looking forward to this, I liked Perl and her story and I am sure this will be good too. Will you do just campaign or will you add a little “story” to the meaty bits?

    • There will be a small amount of story, but for the most part this project is aimed at how to approach a new period. I’m pretty much a newbie at WWII gaming & as I learn how to do it, I want to help others. There’ll be links to resources such as miniatures, books, videos, etc. I’ll also have to build some terrain, so there’s a lot to do in this project. Just saying the story will not be the main driver, but there will be some.

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