FoW: Review: Devil’s Charge

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Frost here, back from smashing my old dice between a steel helmet and entrenching tool (they thought I was bluffing about them not rolling more 6’s).  Lets look at Flames of War’s latest campaign book.


With the carnage over, I can now tell you all about Devil’s Charge, the latest Flames of War supplement, which details the history and forces of the Battle of the Bulge, the last big German offensive attempting to halt the Allied advance in Western Europe. This long-awaited addition to the late war arsenal has a great deal to offer U.S. and German players.

Germans storm a U.S. position. Source: FoW official website
Devil’s Charge comes in an eye-catching, high-quality paperback format. The book sports modest thickness, despite packing tons of historical references, campaign maps and ways to personalize your Battle of the Bulge force, in addition to the army lists. This is good, as it makes it easily transportable when heading out to make mayhem on the tabletop.
Nearly all of the German and U.S. forces found in Devil’s Charge are unique, with a personality all their own. The first, and more straightforward, of the German forces is the SS-Kampfgruppe Peiper, which allows you to tailor a mailed fist of German armor ranging from the agile and flexible Panzer IV J, the excellent Panther G, or the imposing and nigh-invincible King Tiger. If you can’t decide, you are welcome to take a platoon of each! Want nothing but a wave of Panthers/King Tigers? You can do that, too. But don’t get too hasty, at there are plenty of support options, including trusty Panzergrenadiers and the Sturmvogel, an excellent ground attack jet (yes, jet) that is immune to fighter interception. The warrior for the force is none other than Jochen Peiper himself, who gives you the ability to reroll one die a turn for reserves. Be careful, though, as the SS-Kampfgruppe Peiper’s Fearless Trained rating will mean that while you will be good at counterattacking and sticking things out, you won’t be able to rely too heavily on stormtrooper moves.
The more subtle option for the German player is the 150. Panzerbrigade Kampfgruppe. Your entire army, if you wish, can have the Enemy Disguises special rule. Your tanks are mocked up to resemble U.S. armor at a distance, and as long as your infantry stay in their captured U.S. trucks and half-tracks they will not be easily found out. For an extra dose of mayhem, you have access to the Skorzeny Commando Groups, who ride around behind enemy lines in their jeeps sowing havoc by spreading rumors among the allies, playing with road signs and marking off safe areas as mined, as well as good, old-fashioned spying. While it’s too soon to see how competitive this force will be, with a Fearless Veteran rating and a bag of tricks that would make the rabbit too ashamed to come out of the hat, this list is sure to be a great deal of fun.
Ersatz Panthers. Source: FoW official website
As for the American lists, there are plenty of options at your disposal for repelling the German onslaught. If static defense is your thing, then the Perimeter Outpost is definitely for you. With plenty of trenches, barbed wire, minefields and anti-tank obstacles, you will have plenty of tools for slowing your opponent’s advance. You also have access to some solid support, from M4A3 76mm Shermans, Calliope Tanks, heavy artillery and aircraft, to the rare Xylophone rocket launcher and M12 155mm GMC self-propelled gun. Keep in mind, however, that you will have to be more careful with your Reluctant/Veteran core platoons than with your Confident/Trained or Confident Veteran support.
Calliope Tanks. Source: FoW official website
Another option is the Rifle Company, which boasts access to nearly the entire U.S. arsenal presented in Devil’s Charge, including the hilarious Scrapyard Tank Platoon, which lets you mix Shermans with M10s and even M12 155mm gun carriers! Don’t be too hasty, though, because this force has limitations. While your combat platoons are Confident/Trained or Confident/Veteran troops that can bring a ton of bazookas should they choose, they are only rifle teams, meaning that you will have to look elsewhere to deal with enemy infantry at range.
If you want to be just as good at destroying fortifications and bridges as deploying them, the Engineer Combat Company is a solid Confident/Veteran force that bristles with bazookas, booby traps and other fortifications. You also have access to the more tried and true support options, which will be important as you are, once again, rifle teams.
For those who like recon, there is a characterful Cavalry Recon Troop that has plenty of Confident/Trained or Confident/Veteran recon armored cars and M8 Scott HMCs. While I do not see this list as being terribly competitive on its own, the hobbyist and WWII enthusiast will be glad that it’s an option, especially if a local Battle of the Bulge campaign is in order.
Last, but not least, is the Light Tank Company. You have the option to either drown your opponent in cheap Stuarts or to outmaneuver him in your fast and decently hard-hitting Chaffees. While no match for a Panther, Chaffees are more than adequate for dealing with Panzer IVs. With Confident/Trained and Confident/Veteran options for relatively cheap tanks, you have the ability to easily shift points around as needed to come up with what suits you best.
If you haven’t checked out the Flames of War website in a while, some of the new models coming out for both U.S. and Germany look great. With the way that quality at Battlefront has increased in the last few months (in my opinion), there should be some really nice kits coming our way.
These new U.S. Armored Division, Tank Destroyer and German SS dice sets had better hope they do not fail me, lest they join their aforementioned brethren. It would be a shame to widow the nice tokens that come with them.
So, what is your opinion of Devil’s Charge? Anyone out there played a few games with the new forces, yet? If so, tell us what you think.

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