Another Longest Day – D-Day Compilation Review

Lee has a look at the upcoming late war D-Day compilation, “Battle of France: D-Day”.

Starting in June 2019, the original D-Day books built on Fortress Europe’s launch of late war for v4 and, in general, did a pretty job making up for the version’s rocky mid-war start.  The team at Breakthrough Assault and Shoot and Scoot saw the focus on more variety of formation, historically focused “Title” command cards to theme formations around specific units and themed missions such as bocage fighting and beach landings as positive, although the absence of some units such as the Jagdpanther caused grumbles.

The introduction of mid-war compilations and the completion of Late War in the European theatre (though some won’t accept it’s complete till Italy gets a book!) made late war compilations seem inevitable and, sure enough, we now have a D-Day compilation.  But how does it rate?  Let’s have a look.

Germany

The first interesting observation is that Heer/Luftwaffe and SS remain separate forces.  Each have their own force diagrams with the instruction “A force must contain at least one formation from this diagram…” seemingly preventing an SS formation being the sole formation used in conjunction with the force diagram, though the caveat “You may also include formations from any German or Waffen-SS force” does allow it to sit alongside.

The Heer/Luftwaffe forces under the “D-Day German” banner have been bolstered by the 21st Panzer booklet formations, fully integrating them into the force diagram, along with adding their interesting combination of SdKfz221, 222 and 231 8-radders “Scout Troop” in the recce boxes, as well as the Lorrainne Schleppers 105mm and 155mm SP guns in the artillery boxes and the Schlepper OP makes a welcome return for 21st Panzer players in the OP box. 

Another small change for the 21st is their halftracks now carry two stands not one. The infantry platoon now allows you to field one halftrack per team (correct historically), one halftrack per two teams (fiscally responsible) or no halftracks (because you can walk faster than they drive anyway). The only downer for the 21st is their rocket launchers do remain absent, still.

Also making a welcome appearance is the Luchs tracked recce vehicle.  Used at company strength by 9th Panzer and present as a model since Ghost Panzers in mid-war V4, the absence of the light tank outside of Fortress Europe was always a curious one and it’s great to see it corrected.  Similarly, the Marder III is now available as an anti-tank option and the Panzerwerfer provides (overpriced) rocket support, having both been re-introduced to the range by the post D-Day books.

A final addition to the German forces in Normandy is the Jagdpanther company. 

Making its debut vs the allies in Operation Bluecoat, the long barrelled 88-armed tank destroyer made a distinct impression on the British Churchills, almost wiping out a squadron of the infantry tanks.  With only Jagdpanthers as HQ and compulsory choices, it’s a tricky formation to field but a unit of two or three of them as a black box support unit could be a tasty option.

Notably absent from the new additions are King Tigers (Porsche turreted or otherwise) for the 503rd (and Lehr’s Radio Demolition Tank platoon) and the panzer 38t chassied Flakpanzer.  Neither is supported by a model in the current range, so clearly that still remains a decider on inclusion.  It’s also a little odd that the Brummbar isn’t folded into the book, rather than being left to a command card.

Looking at the SS section, there don’t appear to have been any major changes or additions. The formation count remains the same, and a study of the contents shows no new units or changes to existing ones.

The Americans

The D-Day America book was the first of the D-Day series and was, in my opinion, a pretty good start! With airborne, sea landing and Operation Cobra based sections, it largely didn’t leave much to revisit.

The one big addition to the force diagram sheet is the M18 Tank Destroyer Company. Making use of the lovely plastic kit introduced with the Bulge books, the M18 actually made its debut in the post-Operation Cobra breakout, being ideally suited to the run to Brittany thanks to its impressive turn of speed. The formation basically replaces this:

with this:

The “Hellcats” are “Trained” which is a little suboptimal with the “Seek and Destroy” special rule, but it does make them relatively cheap and is, more importantly, correct for their “fresh” status in the Normandy break-out. The big advantage of being in the book proper is that they are now a black box support option without any card issues.

Sadly we don’t get a “Task Force Alpha” formation to combine engineers, cavalry patrols and M18s. I’m presuming there is no new command card pack, so that’s a shame. We’ll have to keep making use of Duncan’s work-around.

There aren’t any new units or additions outside of this. I’d argue that the US didn’t need anything else, as it was already a solid book.

The British

The British book was also pretty solid when it first came out. The only criticism that could really be levelled at it were the Sexton and Challenger not making an appearance (the former got a card that was 2pts more expensive than its eventual Bulge version!) and the lack of a favourite unit of mine’ 6th Airborne Armoured Recce Regiment and its Tetrarchs. Does the new book fix those criticisms?

Sadly, no new formations for the Brits. I suspect a plastic Tetrarch is well down Gale Force Nine’s “World of Tanks” ‘to-do’ list.

What we do get is, like the Germans and the Cousins, the addition of the Bulge book units that should have been in from the start.

The Challenger made its debut in the mid-point of the Normandy campaign, rolling off LST’s in July. The Challenger was a failure as a Cromwell replacement, but it succeeded as a fire-support tank to bolster the anti-tank capabilities of its slightly smaller brother in much the same way as the Firefly did for the Sherman equipped regiments.

The Armoured Recce regiments gain access to up to one per Troop (not making an already expensive troop any cheaper thanks to being fast and having “Scout”!), whilst the Desert Rats now have the option to field a Challenger in place of the Firefly. An interesting side effect of this addition is that it helps the Brits get close to fixing their issue with reserves in 100pt games by have a viable “two drop” reserve (two recce troops, one with Challenger, one without, is 40pts) rather than two 18pt units and an awkward 4+pt unit to get to 40pts.

The Sexton was, to be fair, in D-Day British, albeit as a Command Card.

The card put it at the same points as a 25pdr battery but was later replaced by an actual entry in Bulge British that put it at two points cheaper, which largely pushed the towed gun to the display cabinet. The difference between the two books was something of a headache for doing themed tournaments, so standardising on the Bulge entry at least makes things consistent, even if it doesn’t flatter the towed gun, any.

Finally, the Bofors SP gun joins the static Bofors 40mm as an AA option. Trading mobility for being able to be dug-in, the Bofors SP is a solid choice, as the mobility better lets you exploit the gun for when the enemy air stays at home. It’s a unit that I keep meaning to buy, and this may help make the case for it.

Late War Leviathans

The Mid-War compilation had one glaring issue; Mid-War Monsters. Whilst some of the Monsters had a case to be made for being present, the inclusion of paper threats like the T14 in integrated formations made the compilations a headache for TO’s who wanted to keep events grounded in reality.

Thankfully, with a dedicated book coming later in the year, BF have kept the D-Day compilations free of monster units, which will make Eddie’s life easier for Warfare ’24!

Missions

The armies are one part of the D-Day equation, but what has always made D-Day a consistent go-to in wargaming is the unique combination of missions it presents. Daring Glider assaults, grinding beach defences and the claustrophobic Bocage fighting all good a tremendous variety of games for a comparatively small geographic area. As such, it is good to see that the Air Landing, Sea Landing and Bocage missions of the original v4 books have all been preserved in the compilations, ensuring new and old players have access to them all in one book.

Final Thoughts

After the disappointment of the mid-war compilations, it feels like Battlefront have corrected course with “Battle of France, D-Day”. Starting with the solid base that was the four D-Day books, missing units have largely been added to reflect the presence of new or reintroduced models, extending to adding whole new formations. These additions have served to make the book a “one stop shop” that the “North Africa” compilation especially failed to achieve and saves having to bring units in from, say, the Bulge books to address largely artificial absences in the unit count. That said, it is a shame that some, admittedly niche (though a King Tiger feels like a bloody big niche!), continue to be absent. Tetrarchs and ex-French training tanks may not be likely to set the tournament scene alight, but they were characterful units in the v2 and v3 era.

The book would have been considered a good compilation on the basis of the above alone, but going the extra mile to retain the special scenarios from the original books really does elevate the compilation and doubles down on the earlier “one-stop shop” comment. Equipped with this book, a player has almost everything they could need to fight Normandy (and Low Country) era battles, from the army lists to the actual battles themselves.

One thing I will note is that Battlefront has not taken the opportunity to address balance issues by tweaking the points. I suspect this will be left to a Dynamic Point system, much like MW, and this may be the best way of handling it; any points in the book would quickly be out of date.

Another question is the status of the command cards. We haven’t received a PDF of new command cards so I suspect the existing packs will remain in place, but its a shame that things like “MMG Carriers”, a great 1pt card from Bulge British that made the Vickers carriers even more useful, will remain artificially restricted to the Bulge era rather.

All in all, the “Battle of France, D-Day” compilation is recommended to any v4 LW player and suggests that the remaining “Bagration” and “Bulge” (and “Berlin”?) compilations will all be well worth the wait.

There are couple of extras if buying the physical book, you will get access to all the lists on Forces of War with a unique code that comes inserted with each book which is a real boon as well as a handy separate D-Day model catalogue – Martin

5 thoughts on “Another Longest Day – D-Day Compilation Review

  1. Interesting, having all of the D-Day books already though I don’t feel inclined to buy this as well, indeed the (not as good as it could have been) mid-war North Africa compilation I only bought because I din’t have the original books and in that regard I consider it a good purchase. Even with the Forces codes there’s not enough in this book to make it VFM for me, I’ve already bought all the formations I use on Forces, having the unit cards would be nice I guess and buying this book would probably be cheaper than buying all the “print with unit cards” options, especially given it seems that unit cards are very much a “one run and done” item with no re-stocks. Brilliant book and great value though for those that don’t have the books already. The only thing that might make me crack is the new force diagrams making up for the artificial unit exclusions, leading to players needing to take Bulge forces for D-Day. There, I’ve just talked myself into it LOL.

  2. No Tetrarchs , no 6th AARR? These are not the winning conditions that I was looking for! I spent enough time on troops with their Wells bikes. Thank you for the write up. I think we need to do an unofficial conversion of 6th AARR since the powers that be cannot be bothered. This time I am seriously miffed at this omission. I am still going to get this tome because I am a completist.

  3. Many thanks, an interesting review and i’m looking forward to getting the book.

    For me the inclusion of Jagdpanthers and Challengers are very welcome.

    What i’m shocked by though is the pricing of the new ‘retro’ army deals. Whilst i dislike metal and resin hugely and already have a long paint queue, i did consider the 21st panzer until i saw the price. So, scratch that idea and save my painting energy for the eagerly awaited early war.

    I just hope they are getting on with desert and Poland etc for early war for release soon after france.

  4. Thanks for the Review,
    I am especially happy about the Codes for forces, i am a rather New Player (7 weeks in, 6 games played) so getting the Formations unlocked is quite a deal maker for me, given forces confuses me a lot, and the Super Limited payment options are not helping much.

    Is there any chance we see an review of the army Deals? Maybe something along the line of “good for beginners because” or such a thing?

  5. I’ve gone all in buying complete 21st Panzer Army, the book and cards…

    Excited for EW French as well.

    And I’m a happy Hungarian LW player!

    Mb

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