Fortress Europe – Late War, so it begins


Old Soldiers never die they just fade away

General MacArthur

The beginning

Two years have passed since Flames of War version 4 hit the shelves and our gaming tables. Boy have we come a long way.  Midwar has been revitalized with eight army books and more to come with Paratroopers, and other minor nations.  As fun as Mid War has been, the biggest period in any WW2 wargame are the iconic battles of 1944 and 45, or as we call it ‘Late War’.  Battlefront have been hyping the start of the Late War journey since Xmas and we are now ready to set sail with the first book Fortress Europe.

At the UK Open Day Peter, one of the Battlefront Directors, admitted that some mistakes were made with Mid War.  The releases were too slow and the initial launch could have been better supported with the initial range.  Well, the good news is that Battlefront have listened and from 6 June 19 Fortress Europe hits the shelves and players will be able to play all of the big four nations with a respectable number of formations. 
This will be followed in July with a dedicated D Day US Book and, in September, with the Germans.

Let’s take a loot at Fortress Europe then.

In short

What does it do?

In the coming articles we will be breaking down Fortress Europe, taking a look at lists in detail, and discussions about who we think are the winners and losers in Late War, as well as how expand your current Mid War lists to late war.  However, lets look at what this book actually delivers:

  •  25 formations (plus support) for US, British Empire, USSR and ‘Ze Germans’.
  • A full re-balance of points for Late War.
  • The ability to field most of your existing Mid War armies, mostly 1943 lists and units, in the new Late War points in order to reflect early 1944.
  • A couple of new units (e.g Fireflys and T34 85mm).
  • A greater focus on medium armour balance.

Basically you can take your Mid War “Ghost Panzer” German Army and pick up at the start of Bagration, or pick up your British Churchill Squadron and run it in Italy.  Broadly the book covers up to June 5th 1944, when the dedicated army books will pick up.

Look and feel

As mentioned above, all the Late War units have been re-balanced to the  100pt standard.  My initial impression is that feed back from Mid War has been taken onboard.
Firstly, you don’t have the swarms of light tanks and armoured car formations to hand.
Secondly, medium armour is reasonably priced, although naturally this will happen as armour points come down.  You are looking at between 3-5 pts for a medium tank depending on the ratings and gun, with heavies rocking in at the 10-12 level.  Mid War was a really tough place for medium armour especially German (due to the high ratings).  If you took seven Panzer IVs you only had 9 pts spare, now you have 61!

Here are some examples of what s 100pt force now looks like.

US

The cost of the US forces make them quite easy to field in multiple formations.

Armoured Rifle Formation (Now trained)
HQ – Two SMG teams in Jeep
Full Armoured Rifle Platoon 
Full Armoured Rifle Platoon
Armoured Mortars.
Tank Destroyer Formation (Now Careful and trained)
HQ 2 x Stuarts
4 x M10s 
4 x M10s
Armoured Recon patrol

Support
3 x M7 Priests (Veteran)
5 x M4 Sherman (Now trained)

Soviet

The Soviets have the longest wait for their dedicated book and therefore have largest number of formations, allowing players to tide themselves over.  They also get the T34 85mm to make sure they have the tools needed to deal with higher end armour, something they struggled with in Mid War.

The Russians get loads of formation options, which will tide players over until their own dedicated Bagration Book.

T34 Hero Battalion (Aggressive trained with 3+ tactics)
HQ T34 76mm
2 x T34 76mm & 2 x T34 85mm
2 x T34 76mm & 2 x T34 85mm
2 x T34 76mm & 2 x T34 85mm
Full Hero SMG Company
6 x 82mm mortars

Support
4 x SU85
7 x T70s
IL2s (Yup trained AT5 rockets)

The T34 85mm makes an appearance helping to deal with those pesky big cats.  3+ tactics is a welcome addition as well.

The SU-85 is now easily affordable in your company and will bring considerable AT12 capability to your force with some amazing stats.

British

The British lists broadly reflect the fight for Italy (Which allows you to use some of your sandier bases from Mid War.  They have lost some equipment such as the Valentine and Crusader formations due to them being phased out, however I think players will be pretty pleased with how the Sherman and Churchill Company run.  17pdr M10s are also quite a beast at AT14.

Churchill Armoured Sqn

HQ 1 x Churchill 6pdr 
3 x Churchill 6pdr
3 x Churchill 6Pdr
3 x Churchill 6Pdr
3 x Sherman 75mm & 1 x Firefly (AT14)

Support
Rifle Platoon (Now with an AT10 PIAT instead of ATR).
4 x 25pdrs (Fearless careful veteran)
4 x M10 (AT12 careful trained –  you can take 17pdr “version at AT14)

The addition of the Firefly helps the Brits deal with heavier tanks and is especially welcome due to the loss of the 17/25pdr (standby for proper 17Pdrs in the British book next year).

German

The Germans are big winners in this book.  While they don’t get any new toys the change in points means that players can field formations that you just weren’t affordable on a balanced Mid War list such as Panthers and Panzer IVs.  So in some ways German players are actually getting to play with a lot of stuff on the table they won’t have done in MW. A bit of re balancing has gone on and the points have even gone up on Marders compared to MW after player feedback.  The Panzerfaust is now an option and allows a single team to use one each phase.  This can be any base so there is now no way to snipe it out of the platoon.

Unlike Mid War Tiger and Panther armies are now quite affordable along with a couple of support formations. 

Panzer III & IV mixed tank company (Cautious Confident Veteran)
HQ 2 x Panzer IV
4 x Panzer IV
4 x Panzer IV
2 x Tigers (2+ last stand and remount)

Support 
3 x Nebs
Full Armoured Grenadiers

What excites me is the fact that each time I look further into the book and consider lists, I find something else I want to try. 
Even making the lists above I found two new ones (US and British) which I think would be fun and also viable against a good range of opponents. 

Yes, as in any game there are units that are perhaps a better value than others, but certainly nowhere near the extremes most people think have been evident in Mid War.  Some units have even gone up in cost.  For example Marders have gone up in points, whereas a lot of medium armour is around 50% of its Mid War cost.

Conclusion

This is an exciting start to Late War, and at first impressions the balance allows you to represent a good mix of forces.  Both infantry with tank support and tank formations seem fun and viable. 

Soviets now seem to have a real place with the T34/85s meaning they dont have to rely on the lend lease any more while Germans get to field a range of toys that were just too expensive to use in MW.

Basically it allows you to take your mid war army and breath a whole new lease of life for it, whether its fighting in Italy with your dusty previously desert troops, or pushing back the Germans across the Eastern Front.  Most importantly there is plenty here to tide all nations over until their own dedicated books get released.  While my lips are sealed on their content what i can say is ‘The Future is bright, the future is Late War’.

Category: BattlefrontFlames of WarLate WarList DiscussionV4

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13 comments

    1. Hello, there is a podcast going up tomorrow but that was recorded before we got the review pdf, so doesn’t cover it.

      I expect we will record an episode in the next two weeks or so.

  1. Great review, I concur that both Brits and Germans have an early 1944 ‘Italy’- look and feel to them. Good the Marder is back to where it should be point wise and that the “Legere” are back to their support role

    1. Problem is, this proves that BF once again did not adequately play test their stuff. It is extremely frustrating to me who has played FOW since the day V1 came out. It’s been 15 years now…..you would think after a decade and a half they would get it right the first time.

  2. Krikey! Some of the most exciting stuff I’ve read since the Brits got some fixes in 2012/2013, Road to Rome? Nice seeing BF has been hearing and thinking. But I had faith.

  3. Late war is looking like it will be a much more balanced game than Mid war which is great. I am deeply disappointed in the fact that you say battlefront admit they messed up mid war but do not appear to be doing anything to sort that out!
    The rules initially had some problem areas but most of these were sorted out with lessons from the front. Why not have similar downloads for each of the mid war books to correct the obviously flawed pointing they have at present. This was done previously in V3 with Red Bear and worked well enough. Admitting you got it wrong but not putting it right just frustrates players more and potentially loses customer loyalty.
    The fact there are still books to be release for mid war just frustrates even more especially with the fact that the paratrooper book spans both periods so will this be based on the old mid war points that won’t work with the new improved lower point regime or will they be based on the new more favourable point system and be another must pick army for mid war.
    If battlefront really want customer loyalty they need to put right that which they freely admit they got wrong as that is how you generally get customer loyalty.

  4. Thanks for the article, I keep returning to it. I like the soviet list – I will surely give it a try. The release is tomorrow!!! Can`t wait.

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Article by: Mark Goddard