Bulge British Review (Competitive) – Part Two

Hi there boys and girls, Fred here again with the second instalment of me diving into the new book for Late War, Bulge British.  The scene is set, the cast is ready and so onwards to our look into the new British forces for Late War. 

How does this book compare to D-Day British?

Let’s address the elephant in the room: points cost.

Heavy tank destroyer Ferdinand eastern front | World War Photos
If an Elefant ever crashed into a room, no-one took a picture of it, so please accept this photo of one next to a house as a substitute. – Lee

Bulge British has three points cost “issues”, which are the direct consequence of the two layers described previously in my first article.

Number One

A lot of things are now “correctly” priced compared to D-Day (or Fortress Europe) but this only applies to new stuff.  The cost of things that we have already seen has not been changed.

The most notable mention here is the 17pdr gun and its platforms.

Back in D-Day British, you were paying 18pts for four M-10 AT 14 – very nice! Now in Bulge British, you are now paying 22 points for four M10 AT 15. Say what…?

Surely the +1 AT isn’t worth 1 pt per vehicle?  However, I think this really just calls into question the value of the four D-Day M-10 with AT 14 in the first place. This in turn makes the Bulge British M-10C seem… wonky.  If the British D-Day M-10C was 20pts, for example, +0.5pt per vehicle to boost your AT by 1 would make much more sense.

The same applies to the Sherman/Firefly. Surely going from 13pts for two 75mm and one AT 14 Shermans to 15pts just to get +1 point AT on the Firefly feels a bit steep in a 100pts system. But, like the Achilles, the issue lies in the original pricing of the Firefly, which, in my opinion, should have been a +2pts option and not a +1pt.

Again and again, we see this applied to the new toys:

  • Paying 12pts for three Rams may feel a little bit too high compared to 12 points of Sherman or Italy Churchills, but is consistent for having a Careful medium Tank that has a 2+ Remount bonus.
  • Additional new friends of British assaulting builds, PIAT Batteries and RAM Badgers, which are either not cheap or are constraining in their use.

Only one unit goes down in points, the Sexton, and this is a very good change.
Some units even got the bad end of the bat, namely the Cromwell and Challengers, which pay heavily for their speed and lethality – too much I believe for what they bring to the tabletop.

Number Two

Secondly, excluding the “Recce” options (and some niche cards such as the “Tynes &  Tees”), Bulge British doesn’t have “discount” formations/units that other books enjoy.

Back in D-Day British, players had capabilities, thanks mainly to Desert Rats and also Command Cards, to swap “Confident but Rally 5+” troops into “full Reluctant” troops (Infantry, Guns, Carriers…), effectively reducing their motivation, but also gaining significant points reductions, which translates into more troops for them.

For example, the Desert Rats infantry (motor or rifle) was a much more favoured choice than the “regular” or “upgraded” ones. Here, in Bulge British you have lost these options, and it does show clearly when you pay the bill for your build.

Number Three

Thirdly, you pay for shifting from “specialists” to “all-comers”. This seems fair, but actually is a bit new for British players. The best example of this from British Bulge is the Comet tank.  Decently armoured, especially when dealing with mid-range AT threats, speedy – both outside terrain and fighting its way through it and with decent motivation combined with protected ammo is a tremendous platform to them pop an AT 14 gun with smoke and a decent number of machineguns on too. The Comet is a well rounded utilitarian piece and it pays for it.

Not even “trained” can make something this awesome cheap – Lee

In Fortress Europe or D-Day eras, tyou would have to pay for M-10s or M-10C tank destroyers and/or Shermans, Cromwells or Churchills to take on the tank hunting tasks and armoured threat. This also generally meant that two or more units were needed to ensure that you had all bases covered, you can now pay for a single unit of Comets, which could perform both tasks.  The same applies to the rest of the book: the more stuff you can do, the higher points you cost (this is especially true with the infantry) but also the more diluted that specialism becomes.

If we were to compare all books, we can say that they complement each other. In contrast to the US or German books which are fairly inline with each other, Bulge British now offers new approaches to British players, and can mix in well with D-Day or on their own in a pure Bulge list. You can stick to D-Day and do nothing, your list will still perform well. You can go full Bulge, and your list will perform well too, either the same way as your D-Day one, or totally different.  Or you can mix both.

Best expand the book shelf then as it is good to have both books in your library then.

BOING, BOING, BOING! Kangaroo’s assault

How do we use this book ?

From a competitive standpoint, I guess it will be interesting to see players using both layers of the book.  Also, remember that both books can be interwoven (eg; playing a Desert Rats Motor Rifle from D-Day with Bulge UK Supports, or playing a Kangaroo Rifle from Bulge UK with D-Day Supports).  Just be mindful of the new limitations from Lessons from the Front July 2022 and how book choice limits Command Cards.

Having better specialists, albeit more pricy, will make good players even more lethal on the battlefield. The German and US tanks may have gained higher survive-ability with an increase in their armour, but this is partially or totally negated by the new 17pdr (higher AT + capacity to bring more). Let’s not even talk about the poor USSR tanks.

Here, I reckon, the higher pricing of those AT toys will make the reaching of the holy “4-AT assets” more complex; E.G: the double quartet of M10C Achilles, a common sight in competitive D-Day lists, will be less common with Bulge British points, given the 8 points tax and how the new Achilles synergize less with the rest of the list/reserves.
“Tank Busting” wise, D-Day has more options, or at least options that are easier to put together in a 100 points competitive budget.

British players also do gain from Bulge a very “aggressive” gameplay which they were lacking/were struggling to develop in Fortress Europe/D-Day books (notably due to lack of easy access to artillery).

Sextons are better, Tulip/PIAT batteries are easy to get, and Land Mattress in the right match-up / posture can be quite annoying … all those complements very well the classic Mortars / AVRE combos the UK used to have up to now. It is fairly easy now to reach the “four Artillery assets” that make every infantry and gun line quiver (more on that in another article).

From the other end of the spectrum, the inclusion of “all comers” units will be easier to do by adding specific units to existing builds (either Fortress Europe/D-Day, or Bulge). The Sherman “all-kitted” single Unit is nice to have as a 2nd Reserve in an eight Achilles UK D-Day build or as a cornerstone of any list. A Comet unit can be a super reserve firefighter unit, while a Canadian Ram Kangaroo Rifle platoon or Paratrooper Engineer Unit are exceptional line breakers/assault specialists. There is plenty to choose from.
Also from a Reserves perspective (an area where UK often struggle in competition), those “all comers” can be the perfect Units for it (both in term of points to reach the 40% bar but also efficiency when they do come on board).

Unless for very specific gameplay scenarios (such as a tournament with a short time limit on round – like 2 hours including Deployment), I’m not entirely sure the full all-comers builds (such as one with a formation of Comets, or several units of Tulip toting Sherman) will make the cut, as this may be a too big a leap for the current winning British builds in the meta.

But our analysis can’t be completed if we do not address the most complex topic of this book …

Quality & Quantity or Quality Only, a new British Players Experience

Why is British Recce so good?

This is really “a thing”, if not “the thing”.

Let’s not talk about the Paratroopers or SAS jeeps. They are nice models, but they are MG unarmoured (or armoured with Command Card) platforms that can’t Assault. Not worth the bother.

Instead let’s talk about how this book brings :

  1. Daimler in three different package: the classic D-Day one, the full Daimler 2pdr, and the full Dingo.
  2. New Recce: Staghound and Matador AC.
  3. Three Formations of Recce


The current Daimler package (inherited from Fortress Europe and CTRL+C/CTRL+V into D-Day) is one of the best-pointed units in LW. For 2 or 3 points, you get 3 or 4 Armored Cars that are Confident/Veteran/Careful, some with 2pdr, all with MG, and the Scout and Spearhead rules. As a British player, if you were only to use the Recce as … Recce (meaning: Spearhead + sacrificial troop), you will instantly buy at least one Unit of these considering how well they do the job and how cheap they are.

Now, if you were to do a little bit of math-of-war, you will notice that having an armoured tank team that can scout its way into position, and blast the opposition under MG or FP4+ shooting, for a ludicrous points cost, is a really great investment. Especially when you duplicate this many, many times over, “hoard style”.

Now consider British Bulge is giving you the option to get full Daimler 2pdr or full Dingo platoons, still within the variance of the same points as the original Fortress Europe pattern. So, 3 options here, either the classic and solid package, or the more specialised ones (full Daimler 2pdr or full Dingo). All 3 options are available, all 3 being super strong.

New Toys

Bulge British allows you to bring two new toys for the Recce. The Staghound, which is basically a higher armoured Daimler, without Overworked for the 2pdr, and with an extra MG. In line with Bulge British “all comers”, this one isn’t cheap, being around twice as much expensive as the regular Daimler but not being twice as efficient. I believe it is uncertain if Staghounds will make the cut of competitive lists.

Then, enters what I think is the best tank of LW in term of both points and gaming potential: the Matador Armored Car. Take a Daimler, give it the armour of a US Scott and remove Spearhead. Then change the 2pdr for a Sherman Gun (with Overworked). Then gives this gun a 120cm AT2/FP4+ artillery bombardment. Then spinkle on top Smoke Bombardment. All for the price of a US Veteran Scott… Yummy.

How is this scary?

Boom (figuratively and literally). Available to only two of the Recce Formations, which then, all of the sudden, get integrated AT, Artillery, and Smoke Bombardment, on an un-pinnable Veteran/Careful Scout cheap platform.

The Magic Number

As if the D-Day UK Recce Formation was not enough of a problem for the balance of the game, in Bulge British you get not `1, but 3 different Recce Formations, each non-exclusive to the other.

They all have their specifics (like some force you to take a Daimler combination exclusive to the other), but what they all have in common is cheap Careful/Veteran Scout armoured tank teams with guns and/or MGs. Considering how well this operates currently, no doubt these will perform even better.

Also consider how easy it will be to either play two formations in the same force or a formation of Recce with another more “classical” formation.  This brings the advantage of mass, morale and a second HQ.

What does this book brings to the metagame?

Analysing this book from the general metagame, I believe we can say it is not a meta-breaker per se. What the British are allowed to do with this book is either in line with what they were already capable of doing thanks to D-Day, or needs a trade-off (like specialist+ being more costly, or all comers needing swapping of units).

If we are to leave the Recce issue aside, this book is nice for British players and also nice for their opponents. I really like how it opened a new “artillery”/”assault troops” gameplay for the British, as well as the two layers, either specialist being even more specialist (meaning it’s up to the players to be even better in using them for maximal effect) or the all comers approach (both to complement existing builds / find a solution to the existing problem of the builds).

The book does bring several options for the British players to address the current metagame, namely breaking into a defensive German or US gun/infantry line (thanks to more artillery, even more flamethrowers and assaulting infantry), dealing with all layers of tanks (from US light/medium to German heavyweights), and even offers more interesting mirror match ups with British vs. British.

In my humble opinion, the Recce is an issue because a formation of Recce is an auto-include in any Bulge British based build. Whatever 2nd formation the UK player will choose, he/she can’t go wrong with a Recce formation as a 2nd formation, which does not make anyone sweat when looking at the points. Bearing in mind the formation comes at 6 points minimum it’s an auto-include and an auto-include is always a bad thing in a game.

The fact you can play 2 (or 3, but that’s unlikely) Recce formations can be problematic as well, but I guess it’s too early to tell. Sure, maximising the cheap Daimler to form a bigger hoard, backed up by the super reliable Matador AC is a scary perspective.  But it makes balancing the build a little bit complex, notably when having to include AT assets (remembering those go up in points in Bulge), artillery and Infantry, as well as dealing with Reserves.

Make no mistake, I still think we will see a lot of Daimler over the boards, but as the metagame already adapted (at least partially) to it, the issue is mitigated.  Mitigation includes Priest/Wespe for AT3/FP3+ templates (efficient against the top 0 recce), spamming of Triple Flak AA & SS Recce (to match the volume of fire), the inclusion of Stuart and Panzer 35T/38T (that can duel with the Daimler), presence of “discounted” Medium tanks (Panzer IV Brigade, Sherman 3rd AD … immune (or close) to Daimler).

It may not be as much of a problem as it was a couple of months ago.

Sure, before this Book, Brits were already dominating the meta and this book had new options to them (both the 2 layers (specialists+ / all comers) and the Recce formations), meaning their supremacy will be harder to challenge.

But Flames of War is a game of players above all else, so let’s go to the drawing board: British players to exploit this new shiny Bulge Brit book, other players to find means to tackle it!

Non-British players thinking about how to break British hegemony in Late War…

Cheers from France! 

2 thoughts on “Bulge British Review (Competitive) – Part Two

  1. Fred! My only problem with your otherwise excellent article is your clear explanation of how to counter my lists!

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