Welcome, Battlefront UK. Your mission should you choose to accept it (and you will – no choice) is to provide two complete armies for our upcoming appearance on Beasts Of War. These will showcase the core of the new Iron Cross and Enemy At The Gates books, and allow your agent to showcase the new Soviet and German armies, as well as the brand new Stalingrad Two-player starter set. You have one week from today to accomplish your mission. This message will sit in your inbox until you comply.
Okay; so maybe the order to assemble and paint two new armies didn’t come in as dramatic a fashion as described above, but it was certainly a task worthy of Ethan Hunt and the rest of the IMF team. We were already each building and painting new armies for the Eastern Front launch, and now we had to put those aside and crack on with these. Worse still, we were two men down: Matt and Tim were both off living the dream in Croatia at the ETC (check out this photo album for all the action).
Not one to balk at a challenge we divided everything between us with Gordon and Gareth concentrating on the infantry and Jonathan, Chris and Seb painting even more tanks. In just a few days we had two new armies completed. Here they are:
These are now over at the Beasts Of War studio where they will meet our roving reporter, Simon (aka ‘Freddy‘). He’ll be exploring the new books, new armies and new starter set Stalingrad on their website this weekend.
Snipers have always invoked a lot of talk and enthusiasm around the office whenever we get the chance to update them. There is just something to be said about a one-person warmachine that can instil fear deep inside the hearts of the enemy. These legends of the battlefield always sit above the rest and so they are rightly something we all were excited about during the project.
It all started around the lunch table, when someone suggested we each get a sniper team and really get into modelling and painting. We all have large army projects on the table, and doing a simple sniper team is a great achievable distraction that we can actually use in our armies.
As we were talking about what painting and modelling we’d like to do with our snipers, I spied a set up city table across the room and I started to visualise my sniper operating in the new City Building terrain. Then, as it so often does, my mind instantly went into design mode. So we decided to up the ante a bit by throwing together some missions just for snipers and try and have our snipers ready to face off during the launch event. In the next few weeks we’ll get those missions and our snipers ready, so until then, stay frosty!
One of the first 15mm tanks I ever painted, indeed probably one of the first miniatures I ever painted, was an old Battlefront StuG F/8 assault gun. I had just completed a 1/35th scale kit of an F/8 and when I started into Flames of War all those years ago, my first question was, ‘what StuGs do they make?’. My friendly local hobby dealer, er I mean, retailer, pulled an F/8 off of the shelf and handed it to me. From then on, StuG F/8s have become a staple in every German Mid War army I’ve used.
The StuG Ausf (model) F was a vehicle trapped between the old and new. It occupied a narrow window (about 8 months) between the short and long barrelled assault guns. The main change in the Ausf F was its more powerful medium 7.5cm gun with the newer block mantlet and an extractor fan added on the top. The rest of the tank matches the older models with clean, flat surfaces. The StuG F8 variant incorporated additional armour, schurzen side skirts, a machine-gun shield, and other features seen on later models. In the end, the StuG Ausf F a transitional tank, and I’m drawn to that sort of thing. I enjoy recognizing and shining a light on tanks that mark important steps in tank development, and the StuG Ausf F is a good example of that.
StuG units went wherever the infantry went, dealing with counterattacks and blowing away obstacles blocking the way. So, to that end, my Iron Cross force is a StuG Batterie, a force from the Iron Cross command cards, backed by a platoon of grenadiers. In game terms, the StuG (long 7.5cm) has some excellent features, such as its gun with a respectable rating of anti-tank 10. This will give me an answer to medium tanks, such as the T-34, and a fighting chance with heavy tanks like the KV. They have an average armour profile with a front of 5 and side of 3, enough to give them some protection, but also helps to keep their points down at 9 points each. I’ve taken a full battery of 10 assault guns divided into an HQ of one StuG and three platoons of three tanks each.
With the remaining 10 points, I’ve backed my tanks with some infantry to keep enemy infantry off my tanks and to hold objectives. I can spend these points as either a grenadier platoon with some heavy machine-guns to form a solid defense, an assault pioneer unit to utterly wipe out a target with flame-throwers and submachine-guns, or a balance of the two with a panzergrenadier platoons. For starters, I’ve gone with panzergrenadiers since I have them painted, but I’ll probably experiment with the other configurations as we go!
With that, I’ve got 10 StuGs on my painting table, so it’s time to get stuck in!
The centerpiece battle in Iron Cross is Stalingrad. This battle is accurately characterized as an infantryman’s fight, with over 15 German and 25 Soviet infantry divisions present. The difficult terrain of city fighting kept tanks and assault guns in a supporting role, leaving the heavy lifting to the foot soldiers. Within all of these infantry divisions there was also a lot of variety, with specialist troops on both sides brought in to deal with the challenges of urban fighting.
The infantry formation options in Iron Cross and its command card deck give you lots of options to explore the variety of infantry forces fighting in Stalingrad and across the whole Eastern Front. Let’s have a look at the grenadiers in Iron Cross.
Infantry Formations from Iron Cross
Iron Cross features three infantry formations: motorised infantry that would become panzergrenadiers, the regular infantry known later as grenadiers, and the lethal troops of the assault pioneer battalions. These three forces set the standard for the bulk of German infantry forces in Stalingrad, but there were more… lots more!
Infantry Formations from Command Cards
To cover as many infantry variants as possible, we’ve added several new command cards that converts your standard Grenadier company into a special unit. You can easily change the flavour of your units just by using one of these cards and adding or removing a few small things here and there. Each variant has its own set of advantages and challenges to explore, giving you many hours of entertainment.
Croatian Rifle Company The 369th Croatian Reinforced Infantry Regiment fought in Stalingrad as a part of the 100th Jӓger Division. The regiment was oversized with reinforcements raised from Croatia. Loyal and determined to prove themselves, the Croatians fought hard in particularly difficult fights, such as the battle for the Red October Factory. During this fight, they worked closely with an storm group of the 179th Engineer Battalion.
The German pioneers spoke highly of the Croatians, noting their steadfast determination to finish their assaults. This gives the Units of your Grenadier formation a better Counterattack rating, going from the usual 4+ to a 3+ to continue fighting assault combat.
Fast Company Infantry divisions tended not to be at the spearpoint of the German blitzkrieg on the Eastern Front. This was usually left to the highly mobile panzer divisions, but it sometimes happened that the infantry had to lead the way. To do this, they would form Schnell, or Fast, squadrons by pooling whatever armoured cars, tanks, trucks, and anti-tank guns the division could spare and attaching them to an infantry unit. This ad-hoc unit would speed ahead and secure critical objectives for the division. In effect, the unit tried to exploit weaknesses in the enemy’s lines, grab an objective, and then sit on it with plenty of heavy weapons until relieved by the rest of the division.
The Fast Company command card lets you create one of these vanguard units. You will have some infantry and armoured cars to race ahead and secure the objective as well as a high concentration of anti-tank guns, including the formidable 7.5cm PaK40. If you pair this card with the Softskin Transport upgrade card for your foot-mounted troops, you will have tremendous mobility to grab the best ground on the battlefield well ahead of slower enemy infantry.
Gebirgsjager Company The Gebirgsjäger were specialist mountain troops that fought primarily in the Trans Caucasian Mountains in the far south of Operation Blue. To operate in the mountains, the Gebirgsjäger relied on extensive mountain training to get places usually not accessible by normal grenadier forces. This gives them the Mountaineers special ability to scale cliffs and mountains that are impassable to other types of teams. This means that you can exploit these sorts of terrain to put your enemy on their back foot.
Gebirgsjäger give up their heavy equipment in order to free up their supply lines and make it easier to get into battle. To that end, they replaced the typical 10.5cm artillery their own 7.5cm guns that they could break down and carry by mule through the difficult mountain terrain. You can field these guns using the Mountain Artillery command card to replace your 10.5 leFH18 guns with a battery of smaller 7.5cm guns.
Jager Company The 100th Jäger Division was similar to the Gebirgsjäger in their training to operate in difficult terrain. However, their focus was working swiftly in bad terrain, drawing on the long-standing German tradition of Jäger (hunter) troops. This training served them well in Stalingrad where they were able to maneuver more easily and be where they were needed the most to meet a threat or launch an attack.
The Jäger Company command card gives your Grenadier HQ and Grenadier Platoon Units a Terrain Dash bonus of +2”/5cm, allowing you to get your combat troops to where they are needed more quickly, especially through a ruined cityscape.
Luftwaffe Field Company In 1942, Hermann Göring, leader of the German Luftwaffe (air force) raised 20 field divisions of infantry from spare personnel. These were well equipped with the latest weapons, including the new MG42 machine-gun to replace the older MG34, and 5cm PaK38 guns instead of the more typical 3.7cm PaK36 in infantry forces. East Front veterans would comment on just how keen and green these troops were marching into their first battle, only to see them shattered and broken hours later in the crucible of war.
You can field one of Göring’s companies using the Luftwaffe Field Company card. You’ll see a sharp increase in the motivation of your troops but at the cost of training.
Pioneer Company Engineer units were essential to the success of blitzkrieg operations. They secured bridges, swept minefields, and gapped obstacles for the assault forces to press the attack. In Stalingrad and other city fights, the pioneers were called on to storm buildings, but these sorts of units are represented in the Assault Pioneer formation.
This command card focus more on the operational pioneer units where their job was more about clearing mines and digging in to hold a critical objective.
SS-Grenadier Company Waffen-SS infantry units were not fighting in Stalingrad, however they were still heavily engaged in similar places like Kharkov. During 1942, these units were still SS-Infantry divisions, but, by being fiercely politically loyal, they were heavily reinforced with tanks and were generally well armed. Similarly, the Heer (Army) also had it’s premiere unit, Infantry Division Großdeutschland.
Both the SS and Großdeutschland were well supplied, highly motivated, and considered elite, so the SS-Grenadier Company command card can be used to give both units a solid 3+ Fearless Motivation rating.
The Iron Cross Command Card Pack comes with 48 Command Cards. Not all of them are Formation Build cards like the ones shown above.
If you want to find out more about the cards included in the Iron Cross Command Card Pack you can click here…
From the very start of the Eastern Front projects we knew that urban combat was an essential part of the story of Stalingrad and wanted to include some city fighting rules. We also knew that city fighting generally comes with some barriers to entry, so we carefully marked out some design considerations to make city fighting accessible and fun.
We wanted to make sure the rules played fast and focused on the action.
We wanted the narrative to focus the action on one or two key buildings.
We wanted urban table set ups to be achievable for the average player
We wanted to give players the ability to play city fighting games practically anywhere.
Often city fighting rules games can take a lot of time and effort to use and detract from the fun. The terrain causes strange situations, raises questions, and generally adds a lot of administration time when you’d rather be just throwing grenades into rooms before storming it with flame-throwers and submachine-guns. So we wanted to focus on what matters in city fighting and tried a lot of things out.
The breakthrough came when we freed ourselves from the burden of measured movement inside buildings. Getting tape measures into buildings to measure movement from room to room, up and down levels, and checking weapon ranges was simply taking up time and actually causing a lot of disruption by hitting models and tipping over the buildings. What really mattered about fighting in buildings were the rooms themselves. Everything happens between rooms and the position of teams in the rooms doesn’t matter. It’s a lot easier and more narrative to just point to a room and say “I’m going to assault that room from this one.” and then just start rolling dice. It cuts straight to the action and lets you start throwing grenades, rather than measuring to see if that team in the corner could reach the doorway.
When you read about Stalingrad, the stories you see are about key buildings like the Grain Elevator, the Red October Factory, or Pavlov’s House. The buildings were as much a character in these fights as the soldiers themselves, shaping the fight as well as the battle’s final outcome. We included four special missions in the Stalingrad books that let you recreate these fights. While they draw inspiration from actual fights for Stalingrad buildings, the missions are intentionally designed so that you can use them at any point in the war so you can use them for battles set in places like Leningrad, Arnhem, Cologne, Berlin, or even more remote urban areas like Tobruk.
Achievable Tables The common temptation or expectation is to always try and cover a whole table in buildings. While tables full of city terrain can certainly be done and look amazing, for many of us gamers, this creates a huge barrier to trying city fights. Having a full table of building terrain, is typically unattainable and often impractical for the normal gamer. So we wanted a solution that would work for both types of players. The terrain goal for playing the city fighting missions in the book is achievable and reusable. We limited the essential buildings for these missions to at least two complete buildings so you can get two building boxes and be ready to play. Of course you can add more to your table and play larger urban games if you’d like.
Kitchen Table Gaming
The nature of city fighting is that it takes a lot of troops fighting in a small area to get the job done. Every level in a building effectively doubles the gameplay space below it, so you can fit a lot more troops in a square foot than you would on other tables. This means that you can still use a normal sized force on a much smaller table, which opens up an interesting possibility. The urban fighting missions are designed for a 2’x3’ (60x90cm) table, so you can play a game of Flames Of War wherever you have a table that size. For me, that includes my coffee table in my lounge or my dining room table. (Pro tip, make sure 19 month old children are properly stowed before using this product within 24”/60cm of the floor.) So if you’ve got that friend that you want to introduce the game to, here’s a set of missions that you can use at your home to push them over the edge.
So that’s it! If you’ve never tried urban fighting in Flames Of War, now’s your chance. The rules are streamlined and narrative-focused, the terrain goal is achievable, and you don’t need a lot of space to play. It’s time to grab that bag of grenades and go clear that building!
To go with the release of Enemy at the Gates and Iron Cross we will be having another Live Launch Event on the Flames Of War website.
Enemy at the Gates and Iron Cross both look at the hard-fought battles that took place in 1942 and early 1943 across the Eastern Front. Whilst our Live Launch will be taking place on the 23rd and the 24th Of August so make sure you tune in across the two days to keep track of all the activities and information.
If you haven’t caught one of our Live Launches before you are in for a treat as we will have plenty of things to check out:
interviews with the designers of Iron Cross and Enemy at the Gates,
a look at the double-sided game mat that features new designs with a grass field on one and the city ruins on the other (perfect for some Stalingrad gaming action),
previews of all the new models,
articles written by the Battlefront team across the globe,
and finally, we will be answering your questions about the two new books!
Your Questions Answered!
To answer your questions, you need to know what they are! Send your questions about these two books or Mid War in general through to us at [email protected]. We’ll go through as many as we can and pick out the best ones.
If you’ve never seen one of our Live Launches before you can check out the link below to get an idea of what to expect and to see a full list of all of our previous events.