What do you say when your enemy, who has you outnumbered, outgunned, and surrounded, gives you an ultimatum to surrender or face certain death? If you are General McAuliffe of the 101st Airborne, your reply is “Nuts!”
What took place in the days following could be described no other way. An odd double-meaning, but it is fitting nonetheless.
It is also appropriate that I, Frost, am giving you this review of the latest Flames of War late war supplement, because the desperate clashes found within “Nuts!” took place in bitter cold and blinding snow. But that was not what characterized the siege of Bastogne, but it was instead the undeniable skill and insane bravery of the defenders that made the greatest mark on history.
The full-color, high-quality paperback book is chock-full of detailed maps, historical background, and hobby tips for making your force leap right out of the history books. The historical background is superb, without a doubt some of the most detailed Battlefront has done.
The Americans get an assortment of genuine heroes to take as higher command, warriors, and even a medic token that gives you a 5+ infantry reroll save once per turn. Those wishing to relive history in their Flames of War games will no doubt love the unique experience of having so many storied heroes on their side.
The Americans get much more than just a bunch of chumps dripping medals off their chests, they also get an intense Fearless/Veteran Parachute Rifle Company with Rifle/MGs and more bazookas than you can shake a smoldering Panzer IV at. Throw in some interesting artillery choices and the deadly late Sherman platoons, and you have something pretty scary. If you prefer some cheap, effective Stuarts, or frustratingly effective tank destroyers, you have options there as well. I’m no Erwin Rommel, but I’m fairly sure this force will earn some respect in the Flames of Warcompetitive arena.
If gammon bombs just aren’t enough for you, there is an Airborne Engineer Combat Company with very comparable options available. Like the Parachute Rifles, they get the German Mission Tactics rule, making them tough to stop, even if you opt for the Confident/Veteran rating. The engineers also come a bit cheaper, but are only rifle teams. If you want to kill infantry with these guys, you had better be ready to either assault or force your opponent to assault you.
If you are hell-bent on having only rifle teams and Confident/Veteran and can’t stand the idea of the ones without bazookas being good against tanks in assault, then there is the Glider Infantry Company. Though not the most exciting choice, they are tough, reliable, and cheap enough to give you a bit more room for some of the toys in your support section or a dedicated weapons platoon.
Everyone gets the same solid support options, like an AoP, decent artillery and tanks that any opponent ignores at his or her peril, making the choice of list entirely contingent on what you want the infantry to look like. To be honest, though, I’m biased towards the Parachute Rifles. They have a decent number of shots, decent anti-tank in assault, and are just plain tough to get rid of.
While it may seem that this book is all about the Americans, the Germans also get a lot out of this supplement, particularly in the toy department. The most auspicious of these toys is the Jagdtiger, a front-armor 16 monster with the highest Anti-Tank gun in the game at a whopping 17. It might seem like overkill, since as a German player you don’t find yourself trying to bail a King Tiger in the front every day, but the Anti-Tank 17 is quite useful against pesky Jumbo Shermans. Another interesting option is the Flammpanzer Hetzer Platoon, which is sure to warm up those cold American foxholes. My personal favorite, however, is the Sturmtiger. This thing packs some serious firepower, able to make a mockery of fortifications and infantry hiding in buildings. Not only does it melt though bunkers like butter, it gets to roll skill tests (at Trained) to hit them as well as gun teams and teams in buildings, with no modifiers whatsoever. It also rolls against top armor with its Anti-Tank of 6. The only thing keeping this baby from being seriously scary is its low rate of fire at a disheartening 1. Still, at 320 pts for two of them, I think they just might be worth it.
>Unlike the American lists, the German lists are quite varied in terms of composition as well as rating. The first of the motley crew is the Volksgrenadierkompanie, with an interesting combo of 1-2 panzerfaust assault rifle platoons backed by a single panzerfaust rifle/MG platoon. Historically, this reflected a base of fire supporting the maneuver elements, but how well this will translate into Flames of War is yet to be seen. The game rarely lets you put all your eggs in one basket, and I don’t see these platoons acting so cohesively. Regardless, in game terms this composition gives you a good deal of flexibility, especially in a game with objectives on both sides, where the rifle/MGs can hold the fort while the assault rifles move in on the enemy. An interesting option for this force is the Volksgrenadier Scout platoon, which lets your core infantry and engineer platoons gain a Spearhead Deployment. Getting some flamethrowers in your opponent’s face early on can’t be a bad thing. The Confident/Veteran option inspires a great deal more confidence than the Reluctant/Trained, but if you really want cheap and plentiful, just remember that they don’t do much more than fill foxholes. Also, don’t forget the token hero: a Higher Command team who hits in assaults on 2+.
The last choice is for true treadheads only. The Schwere Panzerjagerkompanie is the one you take when you want nothing more than to make mush out of your opponent’s favorite tanks. Even at the minimum buy-in, the Jagdtigers come at a heavy premium, but you can bet the other side’s tanks are going to be hiding if they have anything less than a swarm. This one is an interesting list, and definitely one for showcasing the awesome Jagdtiger model, but it’s too big a point sink to be competitive in my opinion. The Jagdtigers are best taken as a 1-2 in support, if anything. That is sufficient to let them do their thing without restricting your other options too much.
Overall, I think this is an outstanding supplement for Americans and a pretty impressive one for the Germans. Both get some solid, exciting lists with new units and tactics. Another part that is somewhat overlooked is that with the last few FoW supplements, winter-themed Americans actually have a good list now. Also, Germans will finally be able to wear white without the additional hassle of being in Russia. And I won’t have to build a non-winter table for the Western Front (though I will need to change the buildings).
And that’s it! If I left anything out, feel free to fill in the rest in any form ranging from legitimate comments to outright trolling.