Situation: It's the Spring of 1942 and a Motorized Infantry company is guarding the northern flank of Army Group South on its drive to doom at Stalingrad. But so far we're advancing, the Ivans are retreating and Der Furher says this will knock the Ivans out of the war, so we're good right?

At the Soviet end of the table (we're playing down the length) is a belt of heavy pine woods. Then a fordable, slightly marshy stream. Soviets start in the woods. Across the river are two hills and behind those are three more hills and some scattered woodlots until you get to a road and bombed out village. Soviets have to break through to cut the road.

The Soviets get three rifle platoons, one MMG platoon, three T-60 tanks and three T-70 tanks, and I think about three Big Men and a Commissar. They also get four artillery Stonks.

The Germans get two rifle platoons (only three sections each), with two MMGs and one PaK 36 attached. Four Big Men. Each platoon also still has their ATR and some guys with bundle grenades for tank hunting. The 3rd Platoon for the company will come on as the first reinforcement and then each subsequent turn of the reinforcement card the German player dices to see if something shows up and what it is. Options are: a dummy Blind, the rest of the MMG platoon, an 81mm mortar platoon, 75mm or 150mm infantry gun sections, the rest of the ATG platoon, a section of StuG IIIds, a section of Panzer Jaeger Is, or a composite platoon of Panzers moving up the road from the Divisional workshops (a mixed bag of PzIIs, Pz38s, PzIIIe and a PzIVd). The German company can dig in anywhere up to the hills overlooking the river.

The hill on the German left is wooded. The hill on the German right is bare, with some rocky outcrops (okay it's a Games Workshop Warhammer hill but it still works fine and I got it for free). Behind the bare hill are some woods and opposite the gap between is another wood. Hauptman Kameron places one platoon with an MMG on the wooded hill, the second platoon in the woods behind the bare hill. Then covering the gap and one platoon’s flank he sites the PaK and the remaining MMG. Komrade Major Gionetsky opts to weight his right. Blank Blinds move up on the bare hill. The two tank platoons head for the gap between and then the whole rifle company attacks toward the wooded hill. His pre-game plotting for the Stonks drop two on the wooded hill, pounding 1st Platoon and the other two, even with drifting, still land on the 2nd Platoon and the PaK position.

The Soviets advance with three platoons in line, MMGs on their left with the tanks. Germans quickly start laying down a hail of small arms and MMG fire, slaughtering the lead sections and quickly eliminating most of the Soviet Big Men. The T-70s advance to the flank of the hill to engage the German slit trenches but the tank hunter section supported by firing from the Pak goes out to drive them away, one has engine damage and breaks down in the marsh to be found by collectors sometime in the 1990s. A Stuka, drawn by the artillery barrage, swoops in: but misses, landing its payload on the shoulder of the hill and causing the Germans to quickly deploy air recognition panels.

The lack of Big Men prevents Komrade Giontesky from using the "URRRRAAHHH!" card when it comes up so he has to make his assault the hard way. Eventually weight of fire eliminates the German MG42 team and two Soviet sections storm the hill top. A fierce combat ensues with grenades and bayonets. One German Big Man goes down and the Soviets win by a bare two casualties. The surviving ten Landsers with their Unterfeldwebel retreat, wondering where the hell 2nd Platoon has been all this time?

The victorious Soviets are quickly sent running for cover though when the air above is rent by a wailing, demonic shriek. A Stuka lands its stick of bombs directly in the mass of infantry, cutting many of them down. When the smoke clears Komrade Major Gionetsky counts at least half of his company is dead or dying and beyond the tattered woods he can see German reinforcements beginning to arrive: the 3rd Platoon and a section of 75mm infantry guns arriving on Blinds. Time to dig in and see if Rifleman Udonov can get the samovar going.

James Mantos