This is Great, War.

Today Duncan crashes through the new Great War like an MKV barreling through The Hindenburg Line.

Welcome one and all, to the latest and greatest volume from Battlefront; The Great War.

The Book

Following the pattern set out by the ‘Nam and Fate of a Nation book Great War is a self-contained volume with everything you need to play; background, rules, army lists and even painting guides. Once again, following its peers, the book is well laid out, including pictorial representations of the rules and clarifications.

The Rules

There are no surprises that the new Great War rules are based on the V4 Flames of War rules that we have come to know and love but, again like the previous non-WW2/Team Yankee projects, there are a few notable (and interesting) additions.

Cavalry

That’s right, men on horses are back and I for one like the way that they have been handled. With generally good Blitz moveability and enhanced Dash moves they give the feel of potentially fast-moving, exploitation troops across clear terrain. I love the fact that there is a Cross value in there to make you have to think about launching yourself across obstacles and Slow Firing weapons mean that they aren’t mobile gun platforms, rather something that gets to where they need to be and then stops to engage the enemy.

Land Battleships

The large, crew laden, “land battleship” tanks are, of course, still in, and with slightly tweaked rules. To kill them, you still need to either score a penetrating hit and roll two successful Firepower checks, or penetarte and pass the firepower test once and then score another penetrating hit and roll another successful Firepower check… they are beasts!

I like that there is much more of a downside to being damaged as a Landship, but that repair is also now possible. Also, failing a Cross test for Landships is very dangerous so beware being too gung-ho!

This makes them a significant investment and threat, but also a real thorn in the side of your opponent.  But you will have to use them wisely or you could find that your prized asset is a bit of a dud…

Armoured Cars

It’s nice to see that armoured vehicles other than the mighty Landships also make an appearance. Very much like their sires in V4, armoured cars are lightly armoured, MGs are a threat for example, and offer good speed and firepower to support your dashing advance. As early wheeled vehicles crossing any kind of terrain is a bit of an issue but these little darlings should not be overlooked.

The Lists

The original four forces that you had to choose from are joined by plucky little Belgium, which now gives you a choice of four nations just for the Entente Powers, and leaves Germany still as the only protagonist for the Central Powers. To be honest the fact that it’s just the Germans is not a surprise but the addition of the Belgians is a welcome addition.

The Germans

With four infantry based forces, split into Assault and basic Infantry formations you certainly have more options now for the foundation for your Kaiserschlacht!

The German army has the universal special rule: Infantrie Vor! which grants you an enhanced Blitz rating and really helps get those storm tactics going.
Basic infantry platoons can now include, albeit not cheaply, flamethrowers; something that was previously the preserve of the elite Stoßtruppen. This is not the only change, with amendments in the number of integral werfer assets and 3.7cm AT guns. Be prepared for the basic infantry to be a little worse and for assets like Machine Guns to really cause for pause as they are significant investment in points.

The Assault units – Stosskompanie and Jagerkompanie – have additional special rules. The Stoss troops bringing their stealthiness and hitting power with Trench Fighters, Spearhead and Night Attack and the Jagers with just the Spearhead.

The Stoss Troops are really good but are eye-wateringly expensive. A fully tooled up unit clocks in a close to 25% of a standard game and to get a minimum sized formation with no bells and whistles will still set you back around a third of your army.

The Jager units are still costly, but suffer less due to the reduction in special rules.  They do, however have to compromise due to their force organisation having shared slots for their support weapons, Minenwerfers and 3.7cm AT guns, so you must choose wisely on what to include. This is completely in keeping with their elite light infantry status.

Out of all the formations, the most interesting is probably the Siegfriedstellung which represents the units holding the Siegfried Line and includes a lot of gun platforms.

Poorly motivated and reluctant but with a wealth of well engineered defences, the Siegfriedstellung offers a completely different playstyle again to the German player.

The Support options available to the Germans are broadly the same as before and include the massive AV7, Captured British tanks and a variety of gun units to bolster your troops.

The British

The men of Kitchener’s Army return and benefit from their universal rule; British Bulldog which gives them an enhanced Counter Attack rating. Some units also benefit from the Trench Fighter special rule as they have been slogging away at the German forces for four years now.

Again there are four flavours of the list that you can select a formation from – Line Division, Elite Division, Anzac or Canadian and Cavalry.

The Line Division is the Steady Eddie of your forces. These confident trained troops are well costed and bring plentiful integral support to keep the Hun at arm’s length.

The Elite Division bring with them the ability to Night Attack and have the same available slots in their formation as their Line brethren. You do, however, pay a premium, for their veterancy of around 30% so be prepared to make do with your support compared to the standard line unit.

The ANZAC and Canadian troops were the shock armies of the British forces, to the extent that the Germans kept careful tabs on where they were at all times, as they were the spear tip of great offences.

This is reflected in their special rules Assault Division, an enhanced Rally rating, Trench Fighters, an enhanced Assault rating, Night Fighting and the ability to take the unique Autocar.

Again these elite shock troops are not cheap but they can bring mobility in the form of the Autocars and plenty of Trench Mortars to support their infantry storming forward.

The British Cavalry brings the mobility to take the initiative breaking through the static defensives of the German lines. They are very expensive but do allow you to bring something completely different to the table top and can dismount as normal infantry should the need arise.

Befitting from being the creator of the tank, in Support the British have a wealth of armoured options in the form of the Austin Armoured Car, Mark IV Male and Female, Mark V Male, Female and Hermaphrodite and the Mark A Whippet. The MK IV and Whippets are available with Veteran crews or Green crews and the MK V* tanks can offer some troop carrying capacity, serving as the first APC.

The British also have access to individual Field Guns as well as full-blown Field Batteries and the single deadly Snipers.

The French

The stubborn defenders of their homeland for more than four years of the bitterest fighting ever seen has left an indelible mark on the Gallic forces. To reflect this, the French force of Great War benefits from They Shall Not Pass, an enhanced Counter Attack value, Trench Fighters, an enhanced Assault rating and Quick Fire, the ability to count batteries as one tier bigger – in terms of the size of the battery – when conducting a barrage (so two guns don’t need to pre-roll hits and four or more guns pre-roll fails).

In terms of the formations available again there is plenty of options with Infantry formations – Compagnie de Fusiliers and Compagnie de Fusiliers Russe, Breakthrough formation – Escadron de Cavalrie and Assault formations – Compagnie de Tirailleurs and the Harlem Hellfighters Rifle Company .

The Metropolitan Compagnie de Fusiliers are battle worn and tired of a conflict that has been constructed to “bleed France white” and are classified as Reluctant Veterans due to this. They are, however, armed to the teeth and can boast up to 8 infantry sections, four Stokes or Trench mortars and two Machine Gun platoons all in formation.

The Tirailleurs share the same organisation but are at the other end of the motivation spectrum being Fearless Veterans. There is, as you can imagine, a significant price increase due to this but these assault troops will take some stopping. They can also take the dreaded flamethrowers, unlike their Metropolitan compatriots.

Next up, to exploit the gains of the Colonial troops, are the Cavalrie. Unlike there British cousins these chevaliers are able to include armoured cars within their formation giving them some serious punch to accompany the rapid Confident Veteran troopers.

Finally the flavour in the list, first up are the Russian troops of the Fusiliers Russe. five Brigades of Russian soldiers were sent to help defend the French Motherland, and by defend we all know that the Russian soldier takes not a step backwards. To reflect this if they are pinned by defensive fire they may take an immediate Counter Attack check which if they pass means that they can continue the assault but take another round of fire!

Again these Russians follow the same organisation as the French infantry but interestingly are Fearless Trained so sit neatly in the point’s ladder between the other two options.

Finally, the Harlem Hellfighters are men of the 15th New York National Guard Regiment formed in 1913 of African American troops. Redesignated upon arrival as the 369th Infantry Regiment these troops were welcomed by the French and served with honour in all sectors that they served.

Given their toughness, the Harlem Hellfighters earnt the nickname Men of Bronze and this gives them an enhanced Last Stand rating in game terms. Again they follow the same standard formation layout as the French troops and like their Russian comrades are categorised as Fearless Trained.
In Support the French can call on their array of armoured assets that they previously enjoyed; the Schneider CA1, Char Saint Charmond and the excellent modern Renault FT-17.

They can also call upon the single gun or battery of the excellent 75mm mle 1897 gun – a two-gun battery is looking like an excellent investment for all French players – the final option is the obligatory sniper option.

The US

The Dough Boys arrive in the form of the 1st Infantry Division, 42nd Infantry Division and the very welcome inclusion of the 4th Marine Brigade. The American benefit from their association with their French counterparts by having the Trench Fighter and Quick Firing rules but this is uniquely accompanied by Over There, giving them an enhanced Rally rating.

The American organisation is very similar to the French giving you a similar number of platoons and weapons options.

The difference between the 1st and the 42nd Infantry formations is that the 1st Infantry is classified as Confident Veteran vs. the 42nd Confident Trained and there is a suitable price difference in those two options.

The Devil Dogs of the 4th Marines get some additional rules; Retreat Hell, a better Counter Attacking value, Every Marine is a Rifleman, machine gun platoons can be incorporated into Rifle Half-Platoons and Most Deadly Weapon giving Marines the ability to ignore the Slow Firing rule on their Springfield rifles. In all other respects, they share the same options as the other US infantry.

In Support the US forces can call on their own tanks from the 1st Provisional Tank Brigade with their FT-17s or either single or batteries of 75mm guns with the ubiquitous sniper rounding out the list.

The Belgians

New to the options for the Allies is the inclusion of, what is left of, the Belgian army. After four years of pseudo-occupation of their homeland by the Germans the Belgian army benefits from the following special rules. Not Another Inch, a better Counter Attack value, Rock of the Yser, a better Rally value and Quick Fire.

With only a single choice of the Compagnie D’Infantrie the Belgians do have fewer options than the other Allies. In a similar formation to the French, you can take 6 Infantrie Sections, 2 Machine Gun Platoons and 2 Stoke Mortars in a single formation and as they are Reluctant Trained the Belgians are very cheap. You can get the whole formation and still have a chunk of points left to fill out on support options.

Speaking of which unless you like 75mm guns or Snipers you might be a little underwhelmed. Although something to mention here is that the Allies can take Support from other parts of the Allied armoury, for example, the Belgians can take 0-1 Renault FT-17 Platoons, 0-4 French Tanks and 0-4 British Tanks as per the below.

The Missions

The missions will be very familiar to those players who have had any experience with the previous incarnation of Great War with similar special scenario rules and follow some of the same basic rules as those in V4.

In total there are 12 missions, 6 basic and 6 more advanced so plenty of scope to play some cool games.

Table Size

It’s important to note that you only need a 4” x 4” playing area NOT 6” x 4” for games of Great War.

Barbed Wire

Barbed wire is still an 8-inch by 2-inch rectangle… you can need up to 6 sections of this grisly stuff.

Who attacks?

Designed an offensive list and want to attack? Better include some tanks, yes tanks, in that list.

I’m not going to spoil all of the Missions – I think that half the fun will be working out how to get the most out of your force for each one but here is a teaser for No Man’s Land so you can see the level and depth of thought that has gone into the construction of these scenarios.

And that concludes our whistle-stop tour through the Great War book – I think we are going to look in some more depth at the book on the next podcast so keep an eye… well and ear out for that!
Until next time…

 – Dunc

Category: ANZACBritishFlames of WarFrenchGermansGreat WarUS

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Article by: Duncan Gosling