Blood on the Snow:
The Battle of Suomussalmi

When Soviet troops invaded Finland in November, 1939, no one believed the Finns stood much of a chance in this “Winter War.” A small army of citizen-soldiers would face the world’s largest army. The Red Army of Workers and Peasants numbered several million strong, hardened by combat experience gained in Spain and Manchuria. Well-equipped with tanks, heavy artillery and aircraft, the Red Army expected to roll over the Finnish border defenses in a matter of days.

Of course, no one designs games about roll-over victories. The Finns called out a brigade of scratch troops: tough border guards, over-aged reservist infantry, regular army bicycle troops and a handful of ancient artillery pieces. At Suomussalmi, Col. Hjalmar Siilasvuo would be asked to stop two full-strength Soviet divisions. Despite all the odds being against them, the Finns triumphed in a furious battle still used as an example in the world’s military academies.

Siilasvuo had some advantages: His men knew the terrain, almost all of them could ski, and the Soviets came up the roads at his positions one division at a time. The Finns attacked the Soviet road columns, cutting them into pockets known as “mottis” (from a Finnish term for a cord of firewood, stacked and left in the forest for later retrieval).

The town of Suomussalmi stood at a vital road junction on the way to Kemi on Finland’s central coast. The Soviet 9th Army planned to move through here and cut the small nation in two. But Siilasvuo’s men, soon re-designated the 9th Division, destroyed first the 163rd Rifle Division and then the 44th “Blue” Motorized Rifle Division, a first-line regular army unit from western Ukraine.

Blood on the Snow re-creates this battle, using a “variable impulse” game system to model the two armies’ very different capabilities. Each turn, each player puts a number of markers into a common container. These are then drawn one by one, the number drawn varying with the current weather condition.

The Finnish player has weaker forces, but will usually draw more markers and these allow the Finns to conduct more operations. The good Finnish units are better than the Soviet ones, and much more mobile in the forests.

Units are rated for attack and defense strength, and movement. Both sides have artillery units, which can support both attacks and defenses. The Soviet artillery is very powerful; Finnish guns are little more than a nuisance. The Soviet player also has tanks and armored cars, which not only are powerful in battle (at least on the roads), they also might cause the Finns to suffer “pansaari panic” and run away.

The map is divided into hexagons, each representing an area two kilometers across. The rendition of frozen forest terrain is very true to Finland in the dead of winter, and thus has a highly unusual look.

The game comes with five scenarios, or game situations, assuring repeated play opportunities. It can also be linked together with our Winter Fury game for a larger campaign game of the Winter War in central Finland.

For those wanting to look at the battle at a different level, our Arctic Front module for Panzer Grenadier has several scenarios from the battle of Suomussalmi simulated at platoon level. It is an easily-learned game system, and played alongside Blood on the Snow gives a deep look at Finland’s improbable victory.

Blood on the Snow is available as part of the Salvador Mundi special, a set of seven wargames for one low price. One of our best-selling games, the final stockpile is dwindling and we won’t re-print this small classic once it’s gone.

Blood On The Snow Includes:

  • 140 Counters
  • One 17"x22" map
  • 8-Page Rule Book

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Stock #0005

Price: $29.99

Status: Low Supply

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Also Available . . .

. . . the long-awaited sequel to Blood On The Snow . . .

  • Winter Fury: The Battle Of Tolvajarvi — Finland vs. the Soviet Union, 1939
  • Winter War: The classic Finnish war movie