The Meat Grinder, Part 5

Each of the speakers made mention of the “brave” women who fought alongside the men. They had to say something thought Roza Yedilova, they needed women to vote to legitimize the elections they had bought. “Fighting alongside the men? That was nonsense in the early days, the officers didn’t know what to do with women soldiers, so when ‘she’ arrived as one of the first female officers – well, they transferred as many women as possible to her platoon” Roza laughed to herself, “we began at full strength, every position filled.”

“Junior Lieutenant Elena Kirillovna wasn’t much older than the rest of us, she had recently graduated university, a mathematician – mathematics suited her, cold and calculating. I guess she had to be in order to lead and give orders. She was also a party member, a big deal in those days.”

“Comrade, hehh” Roza laughed to herself, “those party members were always calling you ‘comrade’ – most never meant it, it was just a noise word in front of your name. My comradeship with Junior Lieutenant Kirillovna started several kilometers from here. After Christmas, 1941, they marched us through ice and snow to the front. We greeted the New Year digging trenches. Platoon Headquarters consisted of a tarp stretched over a section of the trench, anchored in place with sandbags. I was warming myself by a small fire I had built in front of the shelter when the Lieutenant and Captain Valesky approached. I snapped to attention and Senior Sergeant Voliaskaya stood at an awkard crouch under the tarp.”

“The Captain said ‘At ease, comrades, at ease’ as he passed by. He, the Lieutenant and Senior Sergeant Voliaskaya huddled around a small wooden locker where they studied a map. He pointed out a sector and ordered a patrol. After going over the mission specifics, the Captain pulled a cigarette from a pack and offered one to the Lieutenant. She refused, saying she didn’t smoke, I’ll never forget what he said to her – ‘Comrade Lieutenant, a piece of advice, when a senior officer offers you something, take it, even if you have no use for it. Go ahead and take it, you may find smoking helps lower stress out here.’ She thanked him and took the cigarette and put it in a pocket.”

“After the Captain left, she told Sergeant Voliaskaya First Squad would carry out the patrol and she would lead it herself. Voliaskaya argued she should let Sergeant Valerianova led the patrol to gain the experience. The Lieutenant laughed and said she needed the experience as well. Senior Sergeant Voliaskaya tried to talk her out of it by saying that if she went along, it would be bad luck since the patrol would have thirteen members. That was when my own luck turned bad, for she looked at me at said ‘Private Yedilova, you will accompany me on patrol.’ People would say to me what a cushy job to be an officer’s messenger – not so cushy with Lieutenant Kirillovna, she liked to be where the gun fire was the heaviest.”

The Campaign Begins

The first part of the campaign is the Rzhev-Viaz’ma Offensive, 8 January through 20 April 1942. Here is the campaign map nodes for the offensive:

The Morale Level of both sides is at four. Starting with the first node, Smash Through Enemy Front West of Rzhev, the first mission is a patrol. The patrol is conducted by the platoon’s First Squad led by the Platoon Leader and accompanied by her messenger.

Jr. Lt. KirillovnaRep 5
Messenger YedilovaRep 4
Sqd. Ldr. Sgt. Valerianova Rep 4
LMG FyodorovnaRep 4
Asst. MG ShostakovitchRep 4
Sniper JondaRep 5
Spotter TarasovaRep 5
Corp. OrazevaRep 4
SMG AsanalevRep 4
SMG SavchenkoRep 3
Pvt. VasylenkoRep 4
Pvt. MakarovnaRep 3
Pvt. PetrovnaRep 3
Pvt. ZhivkovRep 3

The mission was played on a 4′ x 4′ table – the terrain type was Wooded.

Section 1 – Clear
Section 4 – Woods
Section 7 – Woods
Section 2 – Wooded Hill
Section 5 – Wooded Hill
Section 8 – Wooded Hill
Section 3 – Woods
Section 6 – Clear
Section 9 – Wooded Hill

Turn 1

  • PEF 1 is placed in Section 1; PEF 2 is placed in Section 5; PEF 3 is placed in Section 6.
  • Soviets deploy – Sniper team in Section 7; SMG team led by Lt. in Section 8; Rest of First Squad in Section 9.
  • Activation Roll -> Soviets 4 – Germans 1.
  • Soviets Activate.
  • Soviets move forward.
  • First Squad comes in-sight of PEF 3.
  • PEF 3 resolves as “There might be something out there.” PEF marker removed.
  • Germans Activate.
  • PEFs move forward.
  • PEF 2 comes in sight of SMG team.
  • PEF 2 resolves as “There might be something out there.” PEF marker removed.

Turn 2

  • Activation Roll -> Soviets 4 – Germans 6.
  • Germans fail to activate.
  • Soviets Activate.
  • Sniper team fast moves.
  • Sniper team comes in-sight of PEF 1.
  • PEF 1 resolves as German squad. Germans take cover and convert their mission to a Defend mission. Most of the Germans are in Clear terrain, so go prone.
  • Soviet Sniper Team wins the in-sight test.
  • Sniper and Spotter both fire at the LMG team but miss all around.
  • The German LMG returned fire hitting the sniper, Jonda. Jonda goes OOF.
  • (I should have taken the Man Down test here, but I’ve been playing so much of the newer rules that I forgot this test throughout the game.)
  • The Soviets continue with their activation.
  • Tarasova, the Spotter, fires her SMG at the LMG team and the nearest rifleman and hits all three. The LMG gunner becomes OD and the Asst. machine gunner and Rifleman 2 both Duck Back.
  • Lt. Kirillovna fast moves toward the sound of gun fire leaving the rest of the SMG team behind (they failed their Fast Move roll).
  • The rest of the Soviet squad moves forward, but fails to Fast Move.
German Patrol
NCO with SMGRep 4
LMGRep 4
Assistant LMG Rep 4
Jr. NCO with SMGRep 4
Rifleman 1Rep 3
Rifleman 2Rep 3
Rifleman 3Rep 3
Rifleman 4Rep 4
Rifleman 5Rep 4
Rifleman 6Rep 3

Turn 3

  • Activation Roll -> Soviets 4 – Germans 2
  • Soviets Activate.
  • Tarasova, the spotter, fires at the Jr. NCO forcing him to Duck Back.
  • The SMG team moves, Lt. Kirillovna comes in-sight of the German patrol.
  • The Soviets win the in-sight, Lt. Kirillovna is the only one who has a shot. She hits Rifleman 3 causing him to go OOF.
  • The rest of the squad moves.
  • Germans Activate.
  • The Assistant machine gunner recovers from Duck Back and picks up the LMG becoming the new machine gunner. Rifleman 1 becomes new Assistant machine gunner.
  • Rifleman 2 recovers from Duck Back.
  • NCO fires at Tarasova, but misses.
  • Tarasova returns fire forcing NCO to Duck Back.

Turn 4

  • Activation Roll -> Soviets 2 – Germans 5.
  • Germans fail to Activate.
  • Soviets Activate.
  • The Soviets move bringing more squad members into position to be able to fire. Notably, the LMG team of Fyodorovna and Shostakovitch.
  • Soviet LMG fires – German Rifleman 4 Ducks Back; Riflemen 5 and 6 go OOF.
  • Lt. Kirillovna fires forcing the German LMG to Duck Back.
  • Tarasova fires- the German Asst. LMG and Rifleman 2 become OD.

Turn 5

  • Activation Roll -> Soviets 1 – Germans 2.
  • All of the Germans who had ducked back, recover from Duck Back.
  • The Germans move for cover. Rifleman 4 and the Jr. NCO fire at the Soviet LMG team forcing Fyodorovna to Duck Back.
  • Shostakovitch returns fire with her SMG causing Rifleman 4 to go OOF and the Jr. NCO become OD.
  • On the other side of the clearing, the German LMG cuts down Tarasova, she becomes OD.
  • Soviet Activation.
  • Sections 2 and 3 are scouted.
  • Fyodorovna recovers from Duck Back.
  • The Soviet LMG fires causing both the German LMG and NCO to go OOF.

Turn 6

  • No need for Activation Roll all enemy forces have been eliminated.
  • Section 1 is scouted.
  • Soviets return to their line with wounded sniper, body of the dead spotter and the wounded German NCO.

Post Game

The first thing I learned from this mission was to never get caught in the open. The poor German patrol got pinned down in a clearing and their dice rolls on the Defend NP Movement table never gave much chance to move toward cover.

The next thing is that I need to get better at the rules especially things like knowing when a figure is outgunned. I completely forgot about the Man Down Test and grenades.

In all, it was a good first mission. I’m lucky only one of the PEFs resolved into an actual enemy force. As always, any comments, tips, constructive criticism and monetary contributions are appreciated!


“I didn’t even fire my rifle on that first patrol, I was the first to reach Jonda and Tarasova. Tarasova was already dead with a grim smile on her face. Divna Jonda recovered from her wounds, though it was several months before she returned to us. When it was over, Junior Lieutenant Kirillovna lit that first cigarette and behind clouds of smoke, she hid tears.”

“Just when are they going to stop babbling?” Roza grumbled. “I’m getting hungry. The only reason I allow myself to be brought to these things is for the buffets after the speeches.”

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