Today Martin takes a quickish look at what’s new in the Eastern Front compilation book for the Mid-War period.
Lets start with the obvious, this book is like its North Africa companion a compilation of multiple existing books in this case Iron Cross, Ghost Panzers, Death From Above (Fallschirmjager only), Enemy at the Gates, Red Banner, White Death, Brave Romania and Hungarian Steel. Like its companian it also contains some new Formations, new Platoon options and some Wilcard slot options (though not as many). Also like all things Eastern-Front this is a huge book coming in at a massive 362 pages, that’s 80 more than North Africa! You may need to reinforce your shelving with this. There are also two new 2 player starter sets which Lee has already written about in his previous article.
Layout wise it follows the now familiar set up for the Battlefront books with some historical background, know your forces sections, nation specific rules, a know your tanks section, the Force diagram, the Formations and Suppoort Units and finishing with the catalog section. This one has the Germans first, followed by the three Axis Allies, and closes with the Soviets. So lets take a look at what each nation gets.
Here we have a have a new combined Force diagram, merging the two books and Fallschirmjäger booklet, with no major changes, except for creating the appropriate slots for adding in the new additions.
Firstly there are three new Support units added in the Tank Hunter Support column. The Dicker Max and Sturer Emil Tank Hunters, for me these are a nice addition and these did see service during the Mid War period even if there were only a couple built. The Dicker Max comes in a platoon of 1 or 2 vehicles and has decent enough armour for MW FA3, plenty of AT and is relatively cheap at just 7 points but is restricted by being Slow Firing.
The Sturer Emil platoon is a bit different aside from the 1 or 2 tanks option you have the ability to field them representing the platoon final incarnation of 521st Heavy Tank Hunter Battalion fighting in the Caucuses with a platoon of two plus the surviving Dicker Max. The Sturer boast the biggest gun in FOW the massive 12.8cm FlaK 40 with an incredible AT20 rating! This is coupled with FA5 and SA3 and makes this a very potent long ranged sniper and something I can see being a popular choice given the relatively low points cost at 9 points.
Lastly there is the 8.8cm Bunkerflak Tank Hunter platoon, not really what it was but hey what’s in a name? This provides a mobile but, bizarly, Forward Firing 8.8cm gun on an almost armoured half-track. Costing the same as a Heavy AA 88 so not too shabby at all. The maximum unit size though is only two.
The Wildcards provide two more platoons, the Tiger P makes a return from its North Africa debut and the second Wildcard option is the Panzer 1F, basically a minature Tiger armed with a lot of MG’s! Aplatoon of four, at just 18 points, makes a great assault vehicle or objective holder; with its armour rating its hard to stop/shift in MW.
Onto the Axis Allies. The Finnish don’t really change from their booklet, no real surprise here.
Here there are a couple new Formations added. The Ziryni Assault Gun Battery Formation (some “what if” gaming) equipped with the 75mm Ziryni from Late War but without the Bombardment capability based on the premise that if the allies hadn’t bombed the production facilities then they would have been available in 1943. As it was they first saw service in April 1944. Costing a bit less than a StuG will make these an attractive option for allies for German players, especially if you brought some for Late War.
The other addition is the inclusion of the Turan Tank Company. This is a bit of an odd one as, although they existed, they never saw combat service, spending the post Stalingrad period safely back in Hungary rebuilding. Equipped mainly with Turan 1 tanks they sit somewhere between a Panzer IV early and an Italian M14/41 tanks in performance. Either way they would have been no match for the T-34’s of the Red Army. The formation is pretty basic but interestingly you can mix the platoons up with Turan 1 tanks of up to 5 in a unit handy for assault and Turan 2 tanks in units of 3 with a better 75mm (AT9) gun with Heat ammunition for some anti-tank capability. I can see them as a popular choice as a minimum sized Formation will cost less than 30 points with either tank option.
The Romanians have the only Axis Ally Wildcard option with the Tacam T-60 Anti-Tank Platoon. This is a platoon of 2-3 vehicles appearing this provides Romanian players with some much needed high end anti-tank capability that they definately lack for so I can see this being a popular platoon for all Romanian players.
Well this for me had a few surprises in it, firstly there are three new Formations. First up is a KV-3 Mixed Tank Battalion; just like the original one but this one has the KV-3 tank included as a platoon choice (rolls-eyes, more on those in a moment). The second is the T-43 Hero Tank Battalion Formation, this is pure “what if” gaming as the T-43 never saw any production being cancelled though the turret design was used to create the T34/85 and the hull went on to become the T-44.
The T-43 Formation follows the standard Soviet model of HQ, 3 platoons of tanks, the first of which must be T-43’s and unlike all other Hero Formations you can have up to 10 of them in each platoon! SMG armed infantry and 81mm Mortars make up the infantry slots as always.
Finally the Soviets also get access to the much missed IS-85 (on a positive note the Catalog page lists them as plastic, SBX85 so you can now get just 2 rather than 5 in the LW box) and follow the standard Guards Heavy Tank Regiment Formation model of a HQ and four tank platoons with only one compulsory platoon of 2-5 IS-85’s. You can swap up to two of the remaining platoons for KV-1s to reduce costs. Overall the IS-85 is nice but, like a Tiger Formation, they are just simply too expensive for what you can do with them in Mid-War.
There is also a single Wildcard platoon in the form of the frankly ludicrous, but oh so Soviet, KV-5 Tank (pity they didn’t include the KV-2).
The KV-3 is a monster in Mid War and at 39 points for 3 sits in a nice place for Reserves. Armed with the massive 107mm gun, it is more than a match for any German Tank in the game but, like most soviet heavy guns, is only ROF 1/1 and overworked. FA10 and SA8 with TA2 makes it hard to stop from assaulting and is only hampered by an average Assault rating at 4+. Being reckless probably helps keep the points down but being hit on a 2+ isn’t such an issue when you have this much armour and are immune to nearly every gun in the MW arsenal.
The T-43 is a mixed bag; the good things are FA8, SA6 and you can take them as Hero platoons of up to 10 tanks. The downside is they are another AT9 tank and, at a basic cost of 9.5 points each, they cost nearly the same as a KV-1. I don’t particularly see a place for these in the game or for that matter being popular sellers with them being resin models.
IS-85 is a mid war costed IS-1 from Late War. At 19 points each these are going to be tricky to field; units of two are too weak and units of three are too many points to justify taking in a standard game. A minimum formation of these weighs in at 95 points for 5 tanks! It’s a nice option to have but, given these didn’t actually see service until the start of 1944, adding them as a MW option will be a bit of a stretch for some. Like most of the Italian campaign on the western front, they sit in a bit of a game period timing no-mans-land between the end of 1943 and the start of the D-Day/Bagration operations in June 1944 where the points allocations don’t always work as well.
Finally we come to the KV-5 and what a thing it could have been! 100 tons, twice as big as anything else built in the MW period, and it has the stats to go with it. FA14, SA10, TA2 and Rof 2/1 AT 14 FP2+, good motivation, an average assault rating coupled with 5 MG dice thanks to its secondary MG turret which can fire all around magically through the massive turret behind it! This should have the Forward Firing Rule but doesn’t. At 16 points each they are affordable and come in units of 2 to 5, a unit of 3 is going to appeal to many as it is near unstoppable being immune to everything in MW frontally except the Sturer Emil and most things won’t even penetrate the side armour. Being Reckless, whilst a realistic rating, it would be like shooting at the proverbial barn door, is a bonus way to save on the points.
So there you have it a quickish gallop through some of what’s new for Mid-War on the Eastern Front