With the arrival of the first, nation focused, Late War book we get the first new set of Command Cards and what a change these are from the Mid War decks.
It’s a tough choice as to where to start with these, there are simply so many good things to say. I think Battlefront really have got this right and learned a lot of lessons from the Mid War release.
Lets start with this; Battlefront have introduced a new type of command card “Title“. Title cards are designed to allow you to recreate specific named formations not included in the books, something older players have lamented over from previous editions. So if the 29th or Big Red One infantry divisions aren’t the ones for you, you can choose to play as the 4th Ivy or 9th Old Reliables to name but a couple of the TWELVE other Rifle Company formation options that can be created with the deck as well, as specific named tank and tank destroyer formations that saw action in Normandy.
Its not just about the Americans
If the Free French and Partisans are more your thing then you can create units and an entire formation to represent them with both the FFI and FTP resistance factions being given platoons to support your force, whilst the Division Leclerc card (fully equipped by Uncle Sam) allows you to play as either a fully French Veteran Tank or Veteran Armored Rifle Company with an improved last stand rating.
With regards to equipment there are as usual upgrade type cards but these are nearly all specifically themed around equipment used in the Normandy campaign. You can equip your tanks with Cullin hedge cutters to improve mobility through the bocage terrain or equip your paratroopers with “sticky bombs” (actually Gammon Bombs) to improve their close assault vs armour.
A couple of my favourites to add flavour are the Sherman DD card and the Amphibious softskin transports enabling me to field my DUKW transports to ferry my guns ashore in a beach landing or to cross the flooded Liri river valley in the Italian campaign. In fact pretty much all the niche upgrades that were available previously from Tank telephones to Sandbag Armour make an appearance in the deck.
Formations wise, the deck adds a couple more formations to the already substantial list in the book with the Cavalry Recon Troop and Engineer Combat Company being introduced this way.
Another option not in the book but included here is an extra support platoon choice used in Normandy and Italy, the 4.2″ Chemical Mortar. This is an additional heavy mortar platoon to add as a Support slot to those you can have in your formations.
So what about the Army Air Corps and the Navy?
For the Navy, there is the introduction of Naval Gunfire support which works particularly well with the Ranger and Assault Company formations but is a bit expensive for how it works as it needs to be called in before you roll to range in (like air power) and there is no repeat bombardment allowed.
For the air force there are several options ranging from Total Air Superiority allowing you to make fighter interdiction to keep the Luftwaffe away or increase you chance of getting you own ground attack aircraft on to the table in the crucial turn (I can see this being quite a popular choice if taking aircraft) through tactical bombing in the form of 370th Fighter Group who can utilise Napalm – great vs unarmoured targets.
With the excess of AA guns and a lack of Luftwaffe presence to occupy them there is the Ivory X card enabling you to bombard with your AAA platoons as per the British Vickers HMG platoons in Mid War. It won’t kill much with an AT 1, FP 6 rating but increases their usefulness and, at only 1pt, is a great card to fill that odd point you always seem to have left when list building.
Overall this is an addon which really combines well with the theme of the army book, there is plenty of flavour and nothing looks to be a must have and everything is useful.
Ultimately it will enable players of all levels of historical interest in their gaming to really theme their American forces to those that were on the ground, supporting from the sea and in the air during the Normandy Landings and beyond.