… But you’re going to find confusion. The landing craft aren’t going in on schedule and people are going to be landed in the wrong place. Some won’t be landed at all. The enemy will [to some degree prevent] our gaining “lodgement.” But we must improvise, carry on, not lose our heads.v
Spoilers; there will be no spoilers here… but like the lovingly hand painted pin-ups on the nose of a P-47 Lightning there will be teasers; oh so alluring teasers!
The dropping of the D-Day American book marks the beginning, not only of the breaching of the Atlantik Wall and the opening of the third front in Europe but the real start of Late War content for Flames of War.
There are four pages of high-level information on Operation Overlord which gives a new player, or new convert to the game we love, enough of a background to understand the events of the 6th June 1944. There are some superb images showing the all five landing beaches, plus the airborne landing zones which will be interesting for everyone, including veteran players.
The forces available to prospective US commanders are pretty comprehensive and are split into D Minus One, Hit the Beach and Breakout giving some structure around their inclusion.
D Minus One
Want something a little bit different? Fancy dropping into occupied Europe via parachute or glider? Then D Minus One lists give you plenty of room to play and sees the welcome return of airborne forces to Flames of War.
Like Fearless, Veteran, Careful troops loaded with Bazookas and all the tools? Well, here they are. They are pricey but my goodness they are good.
It not just the 82nd and 101st that are represented you can also field the 325th Glider regiment too giving you the option to do a full airborne assault force unique to the US at this point in the V4 life cycle.
Hit the Beach
The Hit the Beach lists give you access to the D-Day assault forces that hit the sands of Omaha and Utah:
- Ranger Company
- Assault Company
- Rifle Company
- Veteran Assault Company
- Veteran Rifle Company
The difference between the Veteran vs. “Normal” Rifle and Assault Company is whether you are pulling your forces from the experienced Big Red 1 – 1st Infantry Division or the Blue & Grey – 29th Infantry Division. The main difference is the To Hit Rating on the troops, both are “trained” although the veterans of Big Red One do get “yankee ingenuity” to let them pass tactics test on 3’s.
With up to six Assault Boat Sections and four Support Boat Sections, you can really create a force that can wholly be themed around those first troops on to Occupied France and simulate both the main assault divisions.
The Rifle Companies will be familiar to those players who have previously played MW and allows you to bring those assault troops off the beaches and inland in a more conventional style of play.
Finally, The Rangers. A bunch of special rules and a deadly assault value gives you the troops that heroically scaled the towering Point-du-Hoc and silenced their dangerous guns or stormed Omaha with the other assault troops. Interestingly they are still hit relatively easily compared to the other elite US troops but their small formation size makes them very tempting as a supporting formation for an Assault Company.
Operation Cobra was the code name of the US breakout of the Normandy peninsula and into the heart of occupied France, comprising mainly of troops from VII and VIII Corps. Beginning on the 25th July, the opening phase of Operation Cobra, having been delayed by bad weather, commenced along a relatively small front of just 6km and supported by huge artillery and air support.
By the 30th July the German resistance had largely evaporated and the 4th and 6th Armoured Divisions smashed through the western defences of the beleaguered German defenders, stripped of support from the divisions around Caen by the British and Canadian ‘Operation Bluecoat’.
The lists in the Breakout section reflect this armoured punch so you have access to:
- M4 Sherman Company
- M5 Stuart Company
- Armoured Rifle Company
- Veteran M4 Sherman Company
- Veteran M5 Stuart Company
- Veteran Armoured Rifle Company
- M10 Tank Destroyer Company
Like the Rifle Companies in the Hit the Beach section, this gives you two flavours of standard company, depending on how you want to construct your force.
The M4 Tank Companies should look very familiar to MW players but now includes some extremely handy new tools; namely the M4 Sherman (76mm) and the M4 Sherman (105mm) Assault Gun platoons.
AT12 at 36″ with 2 shots all the time? Yep the 76mm Sherman will make German Panzer commanders wince. While these new high velocity guns take on German armour the 105mm Assault Gun platoon give you an 88mm and PAK40 killer – either directly or indirectly.
The M5 Stuart was still in service, and the US forces kept them together in larger formations compared to the British and other allies. These are a very tasty option for a 2nd formation and give you real speed and versatility. The 37mm was obsolete well before the Normandy fighting but can still be a useful tank in LW with it’s oodles of machine gun fire.
The Armoured Rifle Companies again look familiar with a couple of new twists. The 75mm T30 halftracks are gone but in their place you have the amazingly cute M8 Scott Assault Guns – beautiful.
Increasing your troops to Veterans put you on par with anything that the Germans can throw at you but stacks up quickly – make sure you invest your points wisely otherwise your numerical advantage will evaporate faster than a gallon of gasoline with your pedal to the metal.
The final Company is the M10 Tank Destroyers from the 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion. The M10 is still the M10 – I’m not opening the missing M18 Hellcat Pandora’s Box – but it’s still a solid LW choice.
Fast, hard-hitting and (relatively) cheap the M10 makes a decent support choice or glass cannon of a company. For me, it’s the M20 Security Section that makes this formation – just so iconic as a choice and really handy to get your M10s into position.
The industrial and military might of the US means that whatever the situation you have a unit that can fulfill that need in your force; from heavy artillery to overwhelming air-power – devastating anti-tank weaponry to stealthy reconnaissance units you have the options but you might not have the points!
The 3-inch Tank Destroyer Platoon gives you access to cheap high end AT that will be difficult to dig out if your opponent has no artillery.
Speaking of artillery the inclusion of the M12 155mm Artillery Battery give you huge barrage capabilities but going up against those German strong points it does make itself a very valid inclusion.
There was some wild internet speculation as to whether the AOP was going to make it into V4… well it most certainly did! A handy little spotter that will get where it needs too and with air superiority dodging the Luftwaffe in the air will be no trouble but the Luftwaffe on the ground might be a different story.
There is air support, it is limited to just the P-47 at the moment, but the Thunderbolt does give you the full fire support options – a real Swiss army knife!
As usual there are some guides on painting your forces ready for the table top. These have now moved back to Vallejo colour palette and give new an existing players a basic guide to getting their new US troops table top ready – we all know painted figures roll better.
Scenarios… I know right!
There are 3 new missions Shot in the Dark, Help’s on its Way and FUBAR… 3 new missions people – this is what makes this release as not only are there new missions there is a structured way to way them in a linked campaign!
There are also rules for Airborne Assaults (*sharp intake of breath*), parachute and glider deployments (*sharper intake of breath*) and Amphibious Assaults (*sharpest intake of breath*). This feels really thematic and gives added depth to those formations in the book itself plus dedicated ways to play those formation on the table top. Top marks here from me.
Included in the Amphibious Assault is also a section on Obstacles and Fortification – more of a getting to know your enemy – but extremely handy as you don’t then need the German sister book to know what you are Bangalore Torpedoing! There are also handy templates to cut out to represent various elements that you might not have – Landing Craft, Pillboxes, Tobruk Pits etc… I mean you’ll be called a lightweight and might upset Eddie, but you will be up and running straight away.
Finally there is all the options for getting those troops acquired and on the gaming table. Not exciting right? Wrong! One word; Plastics.
There look to be some really exciting new plastic kits coming for the US which bodes really well for the rest of the LW releases. I won’t spoil the rest but there is definitely a discernible move by Battlefront to a plastic first mindset and that. is. awesome.
The D-Day US Forces book has genuinely taken me by surprise – by nature, I’m not a US player – and the wealth of options here is like being a kid in some kind of confectioners. There are some small omissions but the vast, vast majority of list and options available make this theatre come alive.
The additional missions were wholly unexpected and bring real flavour to your games and new players stepping through the linked campaign is a great introduction to the Normandy fighting in 1944.
On the podcast we’ve always liked the MW books but it really looks like Battlefront have addressed some of the concerns and listened to player feedback on the MW release and really taken it into account with LW. This book, even alongside Fortress Europe gives players options and playability in the LW setting – it’s going to be a long road to Berlin…