I, Frost, have returned from the trenches to tell you about Grey Wolf, the new Flames of War book for Axis forces on the Eastern Front in late war Jan 1944-Feb 1945. This beautifully illustrated book is brimming with maps, historical background and tons of options for your forces.
In short, Grey Wolf represents the best of what we have all come to expect from Battlefront’s hardcover books. While the primary purpose of the Grey Wolf is to be a compendium of the late war Eastern Front briefings, there is quite a bit more that makes this book a must-have, even for those who already had all of the late war books. For example, there are many updates that bring the stats more in line with FoW Version 3. Even better, there are some exciting new forces that the Axis can now bring to bear to blunt the Soviet spearhead westward.
One of the most interesting lists in Grey Wolf is Kampfgruppe Bäke. This force has a very solid Panther Warrior option that gives any attached platoon a 2+ to Stormtrooper rolls. This will work well to frustrate your opponent’s efforts to get a shot at your Panther platoons, as well as aiding you in outflanking a tougher foe. With aircraft posing a real threat now, there are some faster-moving AA options for this force that will help keep them safe when in the open.
The more conventional options are still there as well, but are now more flexible than ever. Aside from Kampfgruppe Bäke, there are 6 different armored companies to choose from, ranging from Panzers to StuGs to tank hunters, all formidable choices. If recon is your thing, you haven’t been left out. The Panzerspähkompanie is still there to offer high-durability snooping. Then there are the infantry and motorized companies, who have 15 lists to choose from altogether! This impressive array of options includes Grenadiers, Panzergrenadiers, Panzerpioniers, Storm Assault companies, Fallschirmjäger and many more.
If you are a glutton for punishment, you can field the Sicherungskompanie, whose Reluctant-Trained rating will make you wonder if you are playing Germans at all. This definitely tops the list of non-competitive armies, but that isn’t to say they are pointless. One of the great things about FoW is the diversity of forces you can deploy as well as the scenarios that are possible. If you want to have a scenario with partisans on the Eastern front, this company is a good fit (though you may want to give them a confident rating in a scenario where they are actually fighting the partisans that they were created to fight.) Even aside from that, any historical last-stand scenario with several companies involved will feel all the more genuine with these guys trying to plug up the holes in the line.
The Hungarians also make a strong showing in Grey Wolf, with 5 different forces that have a surprising amount of variability. Your standard tank company can sport a solid contingent of Panther A tanks, or it can storm infantry and hold lighter tanks at bay with cheap Toldi and Turan tanks. The Assault Gun Company is just as flexible, whether you prefer the homemade Zrínyi or the German StuGs and Hetzers. Hungarian infantry range from cheap fearless/conscript riflemen meat-shields to confident/veteran rifle/MGs that can take on most threats without fear. Some decent air, cavalry and artillery choices round out this army well.
Last, but not least, are the Finnish. With many forces that rate fearless/veteran across the board, with confident/veterans available to those who are feeling a bit luckier, the lack of any impressive tank options is more than offset by the competence of the foot-slogging contingent. Still, if a tank horde is what you want, the Finnish can definitely put a lot of cheap tracks in the snow. The Finns excel at assaulting Soviet infantry, where their superior skill rating and reroll to counterattack will greatly offset their other disadvantages. With two tank lists and three infantry lists, there are plenty of forces to choose from to defend the homeland.
In short, this book represents the epitome of Battlefront’s talent at making an attractive, durable and engrossing army book. The options for different styles of play and flexibility in creating forces are on par with those of Red Bear, which is to say they are incredible. There are plenty of choices for both the competitive player and the casual historical scenario player alike. As for balance against other books, it’s too soon to tell with V3 just out, but I expect that Germans in late war will still be nothing less than a force to be reckoned with, and still a top choice for competitive players.