So we’re back again with the review of the latest German compilation by battlefront – The Ardennes Offensive. This was the first group of books I used when starting german forces in FOW – so it’s a little like coming home for me. This mighty tome (over 225 pages) is a compilation of not only German lists from Blood Guts and Glory, Devils Charge and Nuts, but also some chunky PDF’s such as Panzers to the Meuse, Führer-Brigades, Gebirgsjäger in the West and of course some new material as well! I will say that unlike previous compilations such as Fortress Italy/Bridge by bridge which had lots and lots of new lists, I think you can see that battlefront had a lot of material already, but it’s been tweaked and spruced up.
Generally with this book, the unit histories and maps, as well as pictures of miniatures etc is top notch, and just what we’ve come to expect from battlefront, I’ll be honest my favourite bit is seeing all the different camouflage schemes which appear on the models, and have been highlighted on the website in the past. We also get the painting guides – now with battlefronts own paints. You also get the winter fighting rules which had previously been in Nuts at the end.
Anyway onto the review proper!
FHH and 111 panzerbrigade
So we start off with lists which will be familiar to those who own Blood guts and glory – except it’ll also be slightly familiar to those who own Bridge by bridge, as alongside the existing RT option, we now have a CV option as well! (BbB had the CT option, but a similar set of options to the CV) They have the same rules as before – always attack, and no Kamprgruppe, they also have the same historical flaw – which has always hampered these lists in competitive play – no recon, but at least the veteran version has some artillery to back it up. There are other small tweaks due to it being a compilation – so that for example, in BGG you could get a volksgrenadier support – but it was only RT, only Sturm, and no panzerschrek – now you can have RT or CV sturm or schützen.
You also get two mechanised options, panzersturm (assault rifles), and panzergrenadier (MG’s), again both are RT and CV, and have my favourite Sd Kfz 251/21 triple’s as a compulsory platoon. Otherwise they retain the previous support options, with extra artillery and jagdpanthers for the Vet option.
111, also comes in two ratings, RT and CT – as it never got as much experience as 106, unlike the change in rating in the other list though, you don’t get any new support options.
These lists are still very flawed lists – lacking recon, but a little more access to smoke now than previously, on the other hand they really capture the desperate strikes at the US, and I think the CV option in particular might be worth exploring.
Now I never owned devil’s charge, and now Paiper is joined by Hansen and Knittel, all get the ‘concerted effort’ rule where lufftwaffe and SS units don’t count as allies, and Peipers list still get the spearhead (but now IC and 2 IC panzer IV’s can join in). The list organisation has one big change (which I think is in every list where this happened before!) you no longer need to choose between Recon and Skorzeny – they now have their own slots – this change plus the fact they no longer vanish as soon as they fail a skill check means I think there is a new lease of life for these previously ‘destined for the shelves’ commandos.
Hansen – involves no umm-bop, at all, instead it has MG armed FT panzergrenadiers, it also sports a selection of great support options, including recon, nebs, arty, tank hunters etc. The real new star though I think is Knittel, again it’s FT, but the core is either 234/1 or 234/2 – Puma (or the Sd KfZ 250 and 250/9). This looks like a really fun mech list, with Aufklärungs platoons, and king tigers in support!
I think I once before used a Peiper list and got spanked, whilst I still think some of our friends (who use 3 King tigers) have got it to work, it doesn’t suit my style – saying that though, I really think knittel has legs, and will try to get hold of some more Puma’s to give it a go!
Operation Griffin also returns in the form of 150 panzerbrigade, with their enemy disguises (and concerted effort but this time SS and Heer). Again this doesn’t seem to have changed since DC.
Panzers to the Meuse,
So the possibly most famous PDF returns in book form, and it has a couple of tweaks. The rules are clearer, with not only Lehr and 2, but also 9 and 116 getting clarity regards who spearheads (it’s IC, 2IC as well as the combat platoons – this also includes the command now of the Gepanzerte Aufklärungs company too! Though compared to my last iteration of the PDF, StuG’s no longer can – sad times. There are some smaller changes in this, like 116 only getting mobelwagons for AA, or the big small change that the Gepanzerte Aufklärungs can now be in 251 as well as 250’s – Spearheads for all! 9, for instance also only get 234/1 not Pumas.
These lists I still think are some of the best ones out there for German players, and with a couple of small tweaks I see them once again being popular on the table.
I have always had a love/hate relationship with this set of lists, I always wanted to try and get a list to work from this, but never managed to get one I liked. My favourite Mid War character Remner is back – and is unchanged from the PDF except he can now join any FBB company not just panzer fusiliers and grenadiers – I think this is useful as the extra Stormtrooper and to hit power in a panzer company could be really effective. They also keep the guards rule of rerolling platoon and company checks.
The biggest and most obvious change is the inclusion of a reconnaissance box for the panzer, fusilier and grenadier companies – this is a huge improvement from previously I think giving the list far more utility. The support otherwise seems pretty unchanged to me looking through this, other than the above mentioned options for volksgrenadiers as RT or CV
Ok, onto the bit that you’ve all been keen to read about – and frankly the main reason for this book to exist – Volksgrenadiers. Now I’m always a fan of these guys, so has much changed – well in one word, no. I had hoped for maybe another rating or two, but we do now have ‘Berlin’ digital for that. Moldenhauer is still there, and as a small boost, now confers his infantry assault badge onto the platoon he joins, not just himself – that makes him a little more nasty on both attack and defence. The stosstaktik rule also continues as well. Otherwise the only change I found is that the Volks Corps artillery has a couple of new options, but stays as RT – I do like the 12.8cm K81 – as with bunker buster and a long direct fire range it can threaten enemy units in their own depoloyment zone.
So sadly no major changes, but still my favourite force looks ready to take on those Yankees!
So this brings me back, way back to my tale of 2 winter games, which I think was the first project I did for the blog and involved 25 panzergrenadier. You once again get 25 (CV) and SS 17 (FT) and this time concerted effort applies to Heer, Lufftwaffe and SS! You also get the cloak of darkness rule if you take the mighty flammpanzer hetzer (which I still have somewhere).They’re also still mech – a bit like some of the british lorried rifle companies I imagine to represent them attacking more. The support is similar, including the mighty Sturm tiger as well. The other list in this section is the RV Jagdtiger list – I think it now suffers compared to the Bridge at Remagen ones as it’s not an auto defend, and also has no recon. Whilst these lists are a nice trip down memory lane for me, I cant see myself revisiting them any time soon sadly.
Now this is a very interesting briefing – We’ve had FT, FV and super FV (see ‘Fortress Italy’) FJ’s even FJ’s with ‘enjoy the war’ in ‘Nachtjager’ digital; now though we have the terrifying prospect of CT FJ’s! They have the ‘stosstaktik’ rule like the Volksgrenadiers, but also the rule ‘arrogance’ (how awesome) which means they are not friends with Heer or SS as they are too awesome… They also, for fun, get ‘Detroits Finest’ on some captured equipment. The FJ organisation is very similar to previous; the main platoons though can swap one panzerfaust rifle/MG for a panzerschrek, and one per squad to a panzerfaust assault rifle. The armour support is either StuG’s or captured Sherman’s all FT, with a StuG being swapped for a StuH if needed.
Whilst I don’t see this list being award winning, I think for those FJ players out there, it just gives you a new rating to try with your models and just get a little more utility in this theatre.
Gebirgsjäger in the West
Another PDF which has found printed form, you get both a Heer and SS option, here. Both are mountaineers, but the SS list can also double through snow and woods (oh and is FV). One new option here for one combat platoon, is to turn them into motorcycle platoon which is a nice touch. A big points increase, though, now exists in upgrading the pioneers to panzerfaust pioneers. But the SS list has more AT options than previous.
Again this is a welcome refresh of an existing list, but don’t come here looking for extensive changes.
So there we have it a quick tour around the new Ardennes Offensive. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it is a wheel with extra spokes and more tread than what we had before.
I think as a compilation it stands up well with existing ones for having a wide variety of lists whether they’re RT or FV, across mech, infantry and armour. I’d give it a solid 4 panzerfausts out of 5 and think it’s a great starting point for any German player looking for options of what to play, or an existing player wanting some fun and competitive lists!