As well as getting access to the content of the new Red Thunder book, we also got an early review copy of the actual book, thanks to the guys at Battlefront. For reasons which escape me, my colleagues at Breakthrough Assault seem to think I have some sort of affinity with Soviets and so the copy ended up with me to review. My intention is not to go into too much depth here as Lee has already done that in his two articles Coming Thunder 1 and Coming Thunder 2
The new book is a hard back and has 62 pages (there are actually 66 pages of content as the front and rear inside sleeves are also used, and the flysheet is not counted as a page). After the index page there are 14 pages of narrative covering the background to WW3, the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany and the two units that Battlefront has chosen to highlight, 2nd Guards Tank Army and, within that, the 94th Guards Motor Rifle Division.
We then get the lists, 16 pages of lists covering 94th Guards Motor Rifle Division, including the new T64 Tank Battalion list (which is definitely growing on me the more I look at it….just have to work out how to sneak more models into the house) and the new BTR Motor Rifle Battalion, and also integrating the BRDM variant units which came out with Volksarmee and the new Soviet kits (2S3 Heavy Sp Howitzer, 9K33 Osa AA platform (Gecko), and 9P149 Shturm ATGW platform on the MT-LB chassis) which will be released to support the book.
Then comes a page of context about the T-72 equipped Central Group of Forces (Warsaw Pact units in Czechoslovakia) and the 18th Guards Motor Rifle Division, before a 3 page list for the T72 battalion which builds on the previous incarnation from the ‘Team Yankee’ core rulebook, but again with the integration of the newer releases and BRDM variants.
There is also a page of context about the 104th Guards “Afgantsy” Air Assault Division is followed by the Afgantsy lists which have previously appeared as a standalone release (again now fully integrated with the addition of the newer releases).
Finally in the “lists section” there is a 4 page “Red Banner Support” section which has the aviation assets and is where the unit stats for all the new yet to be released kit can be found – so all in all that’s 22 pages of lists with some additional context pages in addition.
There are then 8 pages of scenarios based around a tank battalion of the 286th Motor Rifle Regiment, (which links to the Yuri’s Wolves box set release). The three scenarios are all Soviet versus West German (with the option to run the last one as a Dutch force by using West German unit cards), then 4 pages of painting guides which previously appeared in the hardback rulebook, 6 pages of photos of the Battlefront Soviet Team Yankee catalogue and last but not least a comparison of the T64 and T72 tanks.
I really like the lists and context parts of the new book, as already indicated I will probably be adding a few (well probably quite a lot actually) T64s to my Warsaw Pact collection. I’m not sure that some of the new releases are as “historically” accurate to TOEs but I guess in many ways it’s an “unhistoric” setting and who really knows how things would have turned out.
My one downside would be the 10 pages of filler at the back consisting of the catalogue and the reprinting of the painting guide, which is in the book you need to play the game anyway, as for me they don’t really add anything, and if removed could have brought the price down a bit, but all in all it’s a nice update which brings some interesting new units and formations into play.