Saving Private Ales

with  Ales Potocnik

Hey everyone!

I thought I would share the creative process of making a special miniature inspired by the now -classic Saving Private Ryan movie. It was done as a fun project for myself to celebrate the release of the first FOW D-Day book and it seemed fitting to honour Tom Hanks in his role as Captain John H. Miller. So, I decided to make my own Captain Miller. One of the most memorable scenes for me was towards the end, when he is, in a final act of defiance, shooting at a Tiger tank with his pistol!
 
Since I had been digitally designing Americans from that period, I already had the basic clothing and equipment.  I had to pose it as close as I could to the scene here and make some of the other equipment he is wearing. Funny part, I also put some blocks in the back to substitute for the motorbike just to get the height and pose right. I take every piece of gear I have, make it fit onto his body and mimic how it would behave on an actual human. Some of the details are made slightly over-emphasised so they will cast well and they can be painted by us.


Our soldiers have a slightly larger heft due to the demands of the 15mm size. If I am making miniatures for manufacturing in different materials I will have to make some changes when it comes to facial structures and emphasis, density of folds on the clothing because I can’t only go for accuracy, I also need to make sure when we get the final product it will take paint well, and there will be plenty of details to paint. . Accuracy and attention to detail is our primary concern and we always try to pull out the most amount of detail that we can with the scale we are working on and the end material. When I see  our products that you guys build and paint I am always blown away. Least I can do is show you respect by doing the same when I am designing these for you.
I took a little bit of liberty since it is inspired by the movie and not exact reproduction, and tilted his head back, and raised the pistol. This was done simply to make him look cooler and even more defiant. At this stage there are no details on the character yet, only the fold at the belt, and distortion on the webbing in the stomach area. These come in later. I already did some work on the face too. The amount of detail I am adding is way more than usual since something like a lip would be less than one tenth of a millimetre thick!

Slowly by adding detail, distortions, folds,  we are getting closer. His left leg is slightly further extended and raised in the scene, but I wanted no empty space under his left knee and flat on the platform. I made a satchel, added the grenades, muzzle, ammo pouch and then detailed them. You can never completely finish something at this stage, personally I could fiddle with it into infinity finding small little details like pant folds and imperfections to add, not to mention the face.

I do the smart thing and leave it as it is.

Final result in all of his glory. I greatly enjoyed making him and I am happy with how he turned out, let me know what you guys think!

D-Day: American Spotlight

with Phil Yates
The D-Day landings were the biggest undertaking of the US Army to that point in the war. The US Army was huge, but most of its divisions were totally inexperienced. Only a handful of divisions had taken part in the fighting in North Africa, and most of those were still engaged in Italy. To offset this inexperience, they had raised elite assault troops, such as paratroopers and rangers, reorganised their regular troops for assault landings, and brought experienced veteran divisions back from the Mediterranean.

This gives an American commander a wide choice of forces, even though their equipment was standardised to maximise the benefits of Americsn-style mass production. Do you want to field fresh, eager troops, available in significant numbers, or do you want to field the less common desert veterans. Are you content with regular army troops, or do you want a small, elite strike force?

What’s In The Book?
Parachute Rifle Company

  • Hard-as-nails volunteers. Fearless and trained exceptionally hard, so ready for anything.
  • Ready for anything. Platoons include riflemen, light machine-guns, mortars, and bazookas.
  • Platoons can be further reinforced with extra bazookas and light machine-guns.
  • Light infantry, so few integrated weapons. Just mortars, pack howitzers, anti-tank guns, and recon jeeps.
  • Can parachute into battle in airborne assault missions.
  • Regular army troops can provide tanks and heavier fire support.
  • Tanks, who needs tanks? I’ll just rip it apart with my bare hands!
    Glider Rifle Company
  • Large rifle platoons reinforced with light machine-guns, mortars, and bazookas.
  • Platoons can be further reinforced with extra bazookas and mortars for more firepower.
  • Small, hard-hitting formation with just two rifle platoons, heavy machine-guns, mortars, anti-tank guns, and pack howitzers.
  • Can land by glider in airborne assault missions.
  • Take the objective, then hold it with massed firepower.
  • Easy to convert from Rifle Company in Fortress Europe.

Ranger Company

  • Deadly assault troops who rally and hit in assaults on 2+!
  • Small, elite platoons with flexible organisation including mortars and bazookas if needed.
  • Compact company of two range platoons makes it easy to scale. Take as many or few companies as you need.
  • Scale impassable cliffs with ease.
  • Lead the way in assaults.
  • Easy to convert from Rifle Company in Fortress Europe.
    Assault Company & Veteran Assault Company
  • Rifle company reorganised to spread the risk for assault landings.
  • Up to six small platoons with plenty of weaponry: rifles, bazookas, mortars, and flame-throwers.
  • Either normal support platoons or integrated platoons with both a heavy machine-gun and a mortar, escorted by riflemen.
  • Swarm the enemy, pushing through any weak spots found.
  • Field as desert veterans – better tactics, less gung ho.
  • Easy to convert from Rifle Company in Fortress Europe.
    Rifle Company & Veteran Rifle Company
  • Cost-effective infantry with large, cheap platoons that can withstand a lot of enemy fire.
  • Platoons can be further reinforced with extra bazookas and light and heavy machine-guns for more firepower.
  • Formation has integrated heavy machine-guns, mortars, anti-tank guns, and artillery.
  • New 57mm anti-tank guns and 105mm light howitzers.
  • American riflemen manoeuvre quickly at dash speed.
  • Field as desert veterans – better tactics, less gung ho.
  • Fire and manoeuvre. Lots of artillery and firepower to support rapid assaults.
  • Easy to convert from Rifle Company in Fortress Europe.

M4 Sherman Tank Company & Veteran M4 Sherman Tank Company

  • Cost-effective medium tanks with integrated support.
  • Stabilisers for greater volume of fire on the move.
  • Up-gun an M4 Sherman platoon to 76mm guns for more anti-tank punch.
  • Heavy fire support from M4 Shermans armed with 105mm howitzers and half-track mounted 81mm mortars.
  • Flexibility. Can swap out a platoon of M4 Shermans medium tanks for a platoon of M5 Stuart light tanks.
  • Field as desert veterans – better tactics, less gung ho.
  • Grab their nose, manoeuvre to the flank, kick them in the butt.
  • Easy to convert from M4 Sherman Tank Company in Fortress Europe.
    M5 Stuart Tank Company & Veteran M5 Stuart Tank Company
  • New upgraded M5 Stuart light tank.
  • Exceptionally fast, ideal for flanking manoeuvres.
  • Cheap light tanks with light and fast M8 Scott or heavy M4 Sherman assault guns as artillery support.
  • Flexibility. Can swap out a platoon of M5 Stuart light tanks for a platoon of M4 Shermans medium tanks.
  • Field as desert veterans – better tactics, less gung ho.
  • Speed around the enemy flank to seize the objective before they can react..
  • Easy to convert from M5 Stuart Tank Company in Fortress Europe.

Armoured Rifle Company & Veteran Armoured Rifle Company

  • Armoured M3 half-tracks for battlefield mobility, even under fire.
  • A weapon for every occasion. 
    • Platoons have riflemen, light machine-guns, mortars, bazookas, and half-track-mounted machine-guns.
    • Formation has integrated heavy machine-guns, mortars, anti-tank guns, and self-propelled artillery.
  • New 57mm anti-tank guns and M8 Scott light assault guns.
  • Massed firepower overwhelms the enemy when attacking and shoots down any attack.
  • Field as desert veterans – better tactics, less gung ho.
  • Large, resilient platoons withstand a lot of enemy fire.
  • Easy to convert from Rifle Company in Fortress Europe.
    M10 Tank Destroyer Company
  • Massed self-propelled anti-tank guns, with up to 12 in a company.
  • Up to three security sections for perfect initial deployment, spearheading into No Man’s Land to flank enemy tank attacks.
  • New M20 scout car in HQ and security sections. Fast and well-armoured.
  • Use Seek, Strike, and Destroy doctrine to blitz into position and then scoot back out of sight after shooting up the enemy.
  • As mobile as a medium tank, and almost as well armoured, but fewer machine-guns and no top armour, so stay away from enemy infantry.
  • Easy to convert from M10 Tank Destroyer Company in Fortress Europe.
    Support
  • New M8 Greyhound armoured car mounting 37mm gun operates with machine-gun and mortar armed jeeps as well-armed cavalry recon.
  • New 3-inch towed tank destroyer for solid anti-tank firepower.
  • New L4 Grasshopper air observation post makes sure that your artillery are always on target.
  • New M12 155mm self-propelled gun for heavy artillery support and bunker busting.
  • Three batteries of towed 105mm or self-propelled M7 Priest or M12 155mm artillery give American forces powerful artillery support on top of the integrated artillery in formations.
  • Time on Target rule allows supporting artillery to make enemy infantry and guns re-roll successful saves for extra deadliness.
  • New P47 Thunderbolt fighters armed with eight machine-guns, bombs, and HVAR rockets have the right weapon for any target.
  • New M15 and M16 self-propelled AA guns. Mix of 37mm guns for punch and quad .50 cals for volume of fire.

How Do the Americans Play?

The Americans have three basic varieties of troops in D-Day: American. You can field elite paratroopers and rangers, regular troops fresh into battle, or experienced veterans. Each of these has a different play style.

The elite paratroopers of the parachute rifle company are a new experience for American players. They are some of the best infantry in the game, being rated as Fearless, Veteran, and Careful. On their own, they need to be aggressive as they don’t have the long-range firepower to stop the enemy from sitting back and picking them off, but used this way they can be hard to stop. Given tank-destroyer and artillery backup, they also make excellent defensive troops, so you can swing either way.

The other elite option, the rangers, are more assault oriented, being Aggressive, so easier to hit, and rallying and hitting in assaults on 2+. If you sit around, you’ll get shot to pieces, but if you go for it, the rangers are hard to stop without killing every last one of them!
The regular troops are well trained and eager for battle, although still lacking in actual combat experience to polish off the rough edges and teach them the difference between training and life-or-death battle. Most are rated as Confident, Trained, and Aggressive. Their eagerness shows in their ‘Blood and Guts’ approach to warfare which gives their tanks a better Last Stand rating and their infantry a better Rally rating. Once again, they usually need to take a fairly aggressive stance to prevent more skilful enemies massing firepower against them, although rifle companies can often mass enough firepower of their own to turn the tables.

The veteran formations have learned what works and what doesn’t, so are rated as Careful, making them harder to hit, and have ‘Yankee Ingenuity’ pushing their tactics up to 3+. Of course, they’re no longer so ‘Blood and Gusts’ as the green guys.  Their skill allows them to match the best, but they are more expensive in points, so your force is smaller, so tactics need to be more cautious.

The American strategy can be summarized in the phrase mobile tactics. They win by using their mobility, their ability to fire on the move, and their numbers to outflank their opponents and keep them off balance, while applying massed firepower to overwhelm any opposition.
Normandy Campaign Missions

D-Day: American includes three new missions and a linked campaign. The first mission is Shot in the Dark, an airborne assault gone wrong with the attackers scattered across the board (and possibly off it) while the defenders attempt to organise a defence in the dark before the attackers reform and overwhelm them. It uses simple rules to reflect the chaos and uncertainty of airborne assaults.

The second mission is Help Is On Its Way, a refight of the Rangers’ battle at Pointe du Hoc. This mission uses the amphibious assault rules to bring the attacking forces ashore. A shortage of landing craft forces the attackers to land in multiple waves, which tanks to the attacker’s Overwhelming Force rule may include units from previous waves that have already been destroyed. The defenders have bunkers, nests, minefields, and barbed wire to delay the attack, while both sides hope desperately for assistance from a rescue force coming from inland.

The third mission is FUBAR (an acronym for Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition) which allows you to refight the bloody battles on Omaha Beach. This uses the same amphibious assault rules, but is a much more straightforward frontal assault into heavy defences with victory being determined by how fast, or even if, the American player can capture their objectives.

These three missions are linked together with two standard missions from the rulebook in a simple campaign where the outcome of one battle has an effect on the next. If the American player can make their final breakthrough in the fifth mission, they win the campaign.
Who are the Warriors

The D-Day: American book has four warriors: Norman ‘Dutch’ Cota, Lafayette Poole, James Earl Rudder, Turner Turnbull.

Norman ‘Dutch’ Cota, famous for leading his troops off Omaha Beach, showing them how an assault should be done, allows infantry under his command to attempt to charge again if they are driven back by defensive fire.

Lafayette Poole, America’s most successful tank ace, is ideal for leading your tanks’ advance. His men will follow him as he dashes forward, then when he gets close, his accuracy while firing on the move us unparalleled.

Turner Turnbull’s paratroopers refused to give up ground, no matter how many times the Germans attacked. His platoon’s defensive fire is virtually impenetrable.

James Earl Rudder led the rangers at Pointe du Hoc, steadfastly counterattacking any German penetrations into the rangers’ defensive positions.

Command Cards

The command cards introduce a new concept, title cards. These cards have the title of a division and a special rule giving the division’s flavour. The key is that you can only have one title in your force. 

Title command cards for D-Day: American give you the option to field twelve new infantry divisions in addition to the two in the book. These allow you to customise your rifle company force to fight in many different ways. Some divisions give you new equipment, such as SMG-armed assault groups or M7 Priest assault guns as far of the formation. Others give your troops new abilities like attacking at night, riding tanks, navigating reserves to where they are needed, and improved artillery support. Most of the title cards give your division a different focus, trading out the ‘Blood and Guts’ rally bonus of the ‘yankee Ingenuity’ tactics bonus for other advantages.

Your tankers and armoured infantry aren’t left out, gaining the option to be the Free French ‘Division leClerc’, determined to liberate France or die trying. If they want to stay good ol’ boys from the US of A, they get lots of interesting equipment for their Sherman tanks: DD amphibious gear, Cullins hedgerow cutters, tank telephones, and sandbag armour.

The Americans are known for their love of fire support, and the command cards don’t disappoint, giving naval gunfire support, heavy mortars, air superiority, and new weapons loads for your P47 Thunderbolts including napalm and really big bombs!  

If all this firepower seems to blunt to you, you can get all sneaky with the French resistance. They can mess with your enemy’s reserves or fight alongside you on the battlefield! And, when everything else fails, there’s always luck, with the Lucky card giving you a re-roll at the critical moment.

Fortress Europe: British Spotlight

with Phil Yates

After defeating the Germans and Italians in North Africa, the British took the fight to the enemy, invading Italy. At this point, the British Army was in transition from the Desert Rats of Africa to the much larger army that invaded France on D-Day. This book covers that transition. You can either build a mid-war style force to fight in Italy, or get a head start on a British force for the battles in Normandy.

The workhorse of the British armoured forces is the venerable 75mm-armed Sherman tank. After encountering the new generation of German heavy tanks, the British developed the Sherman Firefly, replacing the 75mm gun with a 17pdr gun. Typical platoons mix Shermans and Fireflies together to make cheap, versatile platoons that are capable of handling most situations, especially when backed by their motor infantry platoons.

Some situations require a bit more armour. The Churchill maybe slower than the Sherman, but its heavier armour means it can take heavier hits. Churchills are ideally paired with infantry, where their lack of speed is not a problem.

British infantry are assault experts, hitting hard and then staying put. On top of this, in the right situation, rifle companies can launch night attacks—giving them much needed cover as they rush towards their objectives.

A British force is like a golf bag, it has a club for every stroke. The key is picking the tool for the job at hand.

Sherman Armoured Squadron

  • Uses same Sherman tanks as Mid War. The organisation is almost identical, so easy to transfer across.
  • Upgrade with Firefly (17 pdr) for extra anti-tank capability, and add Stuart recce patrols for extra sneakiness.
  • Solid, cost effective medium tanks with the option of a nasty surprise for enemy heavy tanks.

Churchill Italy Armoured Squadron

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Flexibility to mix Churchill and Sherman units, and to add Stuart recce patrols for extra sneakiness.
  • Tough, slow, infantry tanks to grind their way through the enemy.

Rifle Company

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Tough, assault-oriented infantry.
  • Formation has integrated heavy machine-guns, mortars, anti-tank guns, and reconnaissance.
  • 6 pdr anti-tank guns have better anti-tank with the latest ammunition.
  • Lots of carriers as armoured elements for scouting, flank protection, and raiding.
  • Use night attacks to overrun the enemy before they see you clearly.

Motor Company

  • Similar organisation and equipment to Mid War, with more infantry platoons available, so easy to transfer across.
  • Small infantry units with lots of firepower, backed up with integrated heavy machine-guns, mortars, anti-tank guns, and reconnaissance.
  • 6 pdr anti-tank guns have better anti-tank with the latest ammunition.
  • Lots of carriers as armoured elements for scouting, flank protection, and raiding.
  • Great for holding ground while the armour takes the fight to the enemy.

Support

  • Similar organisation and equipment to Mid War, so easy to transfer across, although obsolete equipment like Humber armoured cars and Hurricane tank-busters are no longer available.
  • New M10 self-propelled anti-tank gives the British excellent anti-tank, particularly with the upgunned 17 pdr version.
  • Three batteries of 25 pdr or self-propelled M7 Priest artillery give British forces powerful artillery support.
  • Mike Target rule allows multiple artillery batteries to range in quickly for rapid and effective artillery support.

How Do the British Play?
The Germans in Fortress Europe are among the last of the old guard, trained before the tide turned, in the days when Germany was winning the war. They are rated as Confident, Veteran, and Careful, so are some of the best trained and most experienced troops available. Their faith in the thousand-year ‘Third Reich’ gives them a better Last Stand rating, so you can trust them to hang in there, even when things look bad.

This training follows in the footsteps of their legendary forebears, the stormtroopers of the First World War. Their Stormtroopers ability allows German troops to attempt two movement orders in each turn. Combined with their high skill rating, this allows them to fight with a finesse that no other army can match.

To go with this superb level of tactical prowess, German engineering provides you with the best tanks, such as the Panther and Tiger, and the most powerful guns, like the long 8.8cm which can penetrate any tank with ease. Even older tanks like the Panzer III have been brought up to the latest standards with bazooka skirts and HEAT ammunition.

In summary, a successful German force will use their superiority in equipment, training, skill, and cleverness, combined with a good dose of aggression, to keep the initiative, hit the enemy in their weak spots, while minimising the enemy’s opportunities to hit them back.

What to Expect in D-Day: British
Fortress Europe forces will transfer easily to D-Day: British and form the basis of solid Late War forces, ready to add on all the new kit that will appear. D-Day will bring new tanks like the speedy Cromwell and unarmoured and upgunned late-model Churchills — including the savage Churchill Crocodile flame-thrower, the most powerful flame-tank in existence. For air support, they’ll have the frighteningly-effective rocket-firing Typhoon fighter-bombers.

To reflect the harsh fighting in Normandy, D-Day: British will have two flavours. The fresh divisions are a little less eager to walk into the meat grinder than the troops in Italy, demanding heavy fire support to suppress the enemy, while the old hands of the Desert Rats are wondering why they are still leading the charge with untried troops sitting in Britain, so are reluctant to take unnecessary risks.

There will be lots of totally new options for a whole new D-Day force as well.

This isn’t to say that a force from Fortress Europe will be superseded. The troops in Italy can still hold their own against any comers, the ‘D-Day Dodgers’ just don’t have as many flash new toys as the troops in Normandy. Whether you stay in Italy, or are preparing to land in Normandy, Fortress Europe is the place for any British player to start their journey.

Fortress Europe: Soviet Spotlight

with Phil Yates

Through 1943, the Soviet Union has gone from victory to victory, throwing the Germans back almost to the borders of Russia in a non-stop series offensives, never giving them time to recover before the next blow falls. These successes have bought time for the Red Army to sharpen their tactics, and despite high casualties, keep formations intact long enough to retain these new skills.

The unrelenting pace of these offensives has led to a dichotomy between formations freshly rebuilt with new conscripts ready for the next offensive, and the heroic survivors that remain after each bloody battle, pushing on as they have time after time. So desperate is the need for troops that even obsolete equipment like the M3 Lee and the KV-1 are still found fighting on the flanks of the latest equipment like the T-34/85 that form the spearheads. The question is simply which of the many options will you field?

T-34 Tank Battalion

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Big formations with up to 25 tanks for less than 50 points.
  • Extremely fast medium tanks.
  • Upgrade with 85mm guns for extra anti-tank capability.
  • Big units of up to ten T-34 tanks for maximum staying power.
  • T-70 and Valentine light tank companies add numbers cheaply.
  • Integrated SMG and mortar companies for combined arms attacks.
  • Outnumber, outmanoeuvre, and outfight the enemy.
    • Field twice as many tanks as the enemy.
    • Use speed to unbalance the enemy and get flank shots on their tanks.
    • Greater numbers give greater firepower to overwhelm the enemy.

Hero T-34 Tank Battalion

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Smaller units – the survivors of many battles. More skilled. A rapier rather than a sledgehammer.
  • Still using the same doctrine, so still Aggressive.
  • Extremely fast medium tanks..
  • Upgrade with 85mm guns for extra anti-tank capability.
  • T-70 and Valentine light tank companies give flexibility.
  • Integrated SMG and mortar companies for combined arms attacks.
  • Give the Germans a taste of their own medicine using movement orders and speed to keep them off balance.

KV-1s Guards Heavy Tank Regiment

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Fast tanks with heavy armour and excellent assault capabilities.
  • Ideal for infantry support, clearing out enemy defensive positions and driving off enemy tanks.

Churchill Guards Heavy Tank Regiment

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Slow, heavily-armoured assault tanks.
  • Cost effective infantry support.

M3 Lee Tank Battalion

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Obsolete medium tanks with thin armour and limited mobility.
  • Hull and turret gun can shoot at different targets.
  • Cheap and cheerful fire support for infantry attacks.

Rifle Battalion

  • Similar organisation and equipment to Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Huge formations with up to 29 teams in a single unit.
  • Unstoppable assaults with big, hard-to-pin down, easy to rally units that charge 6”/15cm to get masses of troops into combat.
  • Komissars improve motivation.
  • Submachine-gun units for assault firepower.
  • Integrated weapons at all levels.
    • Machine-guns, anti-tank rifles, mortars, and flame-throwers in each unit.
    • Massed machine-guns, anti-tank rifles, heavy mortars, and anti-tank guns to soften up the enemy as you charge.
  • Expect high casualties with only a 4+ save – you can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs!
  • Quantity has a quality all of its own!

Hero Rifle Battalion

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Smaller units – the survivors of many battles. More skilled and deadly.
  • Komissars still improve motivation.
  • Better rate of fire as higher proportion of automatic weapons amongst survivors.
  • Still using the same doctrine, so still Aggressive, but fighting smarter so 3+ save.
  • Still have integrated weapons – high ratio of heavy weapons to riflemen. These are duplicated from the Rifle Battalion for ease of reference.
  • Tough, aggressive troops.

Motor Rifle Battalion

  • Sameorganisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Huge formations with up to 35 teams in a single unit.
  • Unstoppable assaults with big, hard-to-pin down, easy to rally units that charge 6”/15cm to get masses of troops into combat, then hit really hard with excellent assault ratings.
  • Komissars improve motivation.
  • Submachine-gun units for even more assault firepower.
  • Integrated T-34 or light tank company for speed and firepower.
  • Integrated weapons at all levels.
  • Expect high casualties with only a 4+ save – you can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs!
  • Quantity has a quality all of its own!

Hero Motor Rifle Battalion

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Smaller units – the survivors of many battles. Extremely skilled and deadly.
  • Komissars still improve motivation.
  • Better rate of fire as higher proportion of automatic weapons amongst survivors.
  • Extremely deadly in assaults.
  • Still using the same doctrine, so still Aggressive, but fighting smarter so 3+ save.
  • Still have integrated tanks and weapons – high ratio of heavy weapons to riflemen.
  • Really hard-bitten troops. Deadly up close and clever tactics.

Reconnaissance Company

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Elite infantry mounted in armoured transports.
  • Integrated light tanks or armoured cars, anti-tank guns, and mortars for combined arms.
  • Deadly highly-mobile shock troops.

Support

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • SU self-propelled guns for any purpose from light to heavy. Dual-purpose weapons – ideal for blasting the enemy at point-blank range, back-up role as artillery.
  • Elite, highly-skilled, tank-killers earn their triple pay – a long gun, a large salary, a short life!
  • Lots of cheap artillery, light 76mm guns, powerful 122mm howitzers, and Katyusha rocket launchers for saturation fire.
  • Deadly Il-2 Shturmovik armoured ground-attack aircraft armed with cannon and anti-tank bomblets!

How Do the Soviets Play?
The victories won by the Soviet Union in 1943 — Stalingrad, Kursk, Donbass, Dneiper, Smolensk, and Kiev amongst them — showed the increasing skill and power of the Red Army and threw the Germans onto the strategic defensive. As 1944 begins these hammer blows continue without respite.

A Wide Variety of Styles
However, by 1944, the Red Army was running out of people to replace casualties, so they created several tiers of formations. At the bottom of the pile were the rifle divisions who were usually desperately short of riflemen. To solve this problem, they’d conscript any adult males from the areas they liberated straight into the ranks. The result was renewed strength, but very limited skill, so they are rated Confident, Green, and Aggressive with a save of just 4+. These massive formations were quickly attrited down to the same old band of heroes who had fought their way back westward since Stalingrad. These heroes are rated Confident, Veteran, and Aggressive, reflecting their crafty tactics and brutal hand-to-hand combat skills, while retaining their aggressive tactics that put defeating the Germans above personal survival.

The tank battalions follow a similar pattern, with the tough heroes of a dozen battles rated as Confident, Trained, and Aggressive with their ‘Crafty’ tricks reflected in a better Tactics rating. When rebuilt with conscripts fresh from training, of necessity their tactics become simpler and their skill rating drops to Green, although their determination to take ‘Not One Step Back’ gives them a better Last Stand rating.

The motor rifle brigades that supported the tanks were given priority for the available manpower as they were seen to be the key to ultimate victory. With almost as many officers and NCOs as soldiers, even freshly-raised units fought with skill, so are rated as Confident, Trained, and Aggressive, although still have the speed and lowered save associated with massed tactics. Once they get battle-hardened, the heroic survivors are rated as Veteran. Like most Soviet infantry, their aggressiveness and high proportion of automatic weapons give them an improved Assault rating as they fight ‘For the Motherland’.

The Sledgehammer or the Rapier?
As you can see, there are two distinct sides to the Red Army, the units brought back up to strength or the next offensive with raw recruits doomed to a very bloody and usually very brief introduction to combat, and the battle-hardened survivors, the heroes of many battles who had seen recruits come and go many times.

These two play very differently on the table. The huge units of new recruits are a sledgehammer, swung with maximum force at the key point in the enemy line, smashing through with devastating speed and crushing strength. They will take huge casualties, so you need to be bloody minded and focus on victory above all else. You must win quickly while you have the strength to shatter your foe, or watch your forces bleed away to nothing.

The heroes of many battles still need to fight aggressively, as their strength will also bleed away quickly, but they need to use finesse rather than massed numbers. They must use their superior speed and skill to gain local superiority in numbers, firepower, and position, then cut the enemy apart.

No matter what their level of skill, Soviet troops have lots of firepower, often from larger calibre guns than their opponents, and are deadly up close. The key to victory is using speed and aggression to overwhelm a section of the opponent’s force at close range, before exploiting their success to win victory.

What to Expect in Bagration
As you’d expect, when the Bagration book arrives, it will expand on the forces in Fortress Europe with bring new equipment like the powerful IS-2 heavy tank with its 122mm gun, thick armour, and the speed of a medium tank, the ISU self-propelled versions mounting guns as big as 152mm, and the deadly SU-100 tank killer that can easily make short work of a German Tiger or Panther! The book will introduce new formations such as specialist assault troops, ideal for breaking through German defences and clearing out fortified towns and cities.

However, we won’t get to Operation Bagration and the Eastern Front for a while, so to keep Soviet players going until then, the Soviet component of Fortress Europe is pretty beefy (easily the biggest in the whole book). It’s got lots of stuff to help you build the core of your collection and start playing.

Fortress Europe: American Spotlight

with Phil Yates

The US Army focused on standardisation to enable it to fight a war on a far-away continent. At the beginning of 1944, they had one type of medium tank, one type of light tank, one armoured infantry organisation and one infantry organisation.

This makes it easy if you are planning to field an American force. Your most important decision is how to combine these standardised components to win your battles. Do you want to go tank-heavy, with just a little infantry support? Do you want to field a solid infantry force with a few tanks for backup? Or do you want to field a balanced mix with the right tool for every situation?

M4 Sherman Tank Company

  • Uses same M4 Sherman tanks as Mid War, including the same T30 75mm assault guns and M3A1 armoured cars in the integrated support.
  • Cost-effective medium tanks with integrated support. A full company of 17 tanks with a recon patrol and self-propelled mortars and artillery for just 70 points!
  • Stabilisers for greater volume of fire on the move.
  • Flexibility. Can swap out a platoon of M4 Shermans medium tanks for a platoon of M5 Stuart light tanks.

M5 Stuart Tank Company

  • New upgraded M5 Stuart light tank. Just as fast as the Mid-War M3 Stuart, but better armour and not so reckless.
  • Exceptionally fast, ideal for flanking manoeuvres.
  • Cheap light tanks with the same integrated support as the M4 Sherman Tank Company.
  • Flexibility. Can swap out a platoon of M5 Stuart light tanks for a platoon of M4 Shermans medium tanks.

Armoured Rifle Company

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Armoured M3 half-tracks for battlefield mobility, even under fire.
  • A weapon for every occasion.
    • Platoons have riflemen, light machine-guns, mortars, bazookas, and half-track-mounted machine-guns.
    • Formation has integrated heavy machine-guns, mortars, anti-tank guns, and self-propelled artillery.
  • Massed firepower overwhelms the enemy when attacking and shoots down any attack.
  • Large, resilient platoons withstand a lot of enemy fire.

Rifle Company

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Cost-effective infantry with large, cheap platoons that can withstand a lot of enemy fire.
  • Platoons can be further reinforced with extra bazookas and light and heavy machine-guns for more firepower.
  • Formation has integrated heavy machine-guns, mortars, anti-tank guns, and self-propelled artillery.
  • American riflemen manoeuvre quickly at dash speed.

M10 Tank Destroyer Company

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Massed self-propelled anti-tank guns, with up to 12 in a company.
  • Integrated recon patrols for perfect initial deployment spearheading into No Man’s Land to flank enemy tank attacks.
  • Use Seek, Strike, and Destroy doctrine to blitz into position and then scoot back out of sight after shooting up the enemy.
  • As mobile as a medium tank, and almost as well armoured, but fewer machine-guns and no top armour, so stay away from enemy infantry.

Support

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Three batteries of towed 105mm or self-propelled M7 Priest artillery give American forces powerful artillery support on top of the integrated artillery in formations.
  • Time on Target rule allows supporting artillery to make enemy infantry and guns re-roll successful saves for extra deadliness.

How Do the Americans Play?
The American forces in this book represent the fresh divisions pouring into Europe ready for the D-Day landings. They are well trained and eager for battle, although still lacking in actual combat experience to polish off the rough edges and teach them the difference between training and life-or-death battle. Most are rated as Confident, Trained, and Aggressive. Their eagerness shows in their ‘Blood and Guts’ approach to warfare which gives their tanks a better Last Stand rating and their infantry a better Rally rating.

American tanks have stabilisers, so they can fire as quickly on the move as at the halt (although not as accurately). On the other hand, they are not heavily armoured and mount mid-range guns, so need to use weight of numbers and clever manoeuvring rather than frontal firefights to defeat enemy tanks.

Their infantry have Garand semi-automatic rifles and BAR automatic rifles, as well as half-track-mounted weapons, and can fire just as well on the move as they can when halted. They are fast moving and have plenty of fire support. Let their support pound the enemy while the manoeuvre, then swamp the enemy in fire and roll over them from an unexpected direction.
The American strategy can be summarized in the phrase mobile tactics. They win by using their mobility and numbers to outflank their opponents and keep them off balance, while applying massed firepower to overwhelm any opposition.

What to Expect in D-Day: American
Your Fortress Europe force will easily transfer to D-Day: American, gaining some useful new kit and skills in the process. Your tankers will appreciate upgunned M4 Shermans mounting 76mm and 105mm guns, and your infantry will find the new 57mm anti-tank gun an improvement over their old 37mm gun.

Some of your older equipment like the M3A1 armoured car and T30 self-propelled guns will be phased out, to be replaced with improved M8 armoured cars, M20 scout cars, and M8 Scott self-propelled guns.

D-Day Americans will also bring veteran American formations. These troops have been through the school of hard knocks. They’ve learned the hard way, so they aren’t as gung ho any more, but their tactics are much better.

There will be lots of totally new options for a whole new D-Day force as well.

As you’d expect these improvements come at a cost, and some players will elect to stick with what they have in Fortress Europe, preferring extra numbers over increased performance. Whichever way you go, your Fortress Europe force is a solid base for any future developments.

Fortress Europe Overview

 with Phil Yates

Fortress Europe is the first step on the journey from the battlefields of Normandy to the ragnarok of Berlin. It is the first Late War book written specifically for the latest version of Flames Of War.

This book has three targets:

  1. It’s the ideal place for a beginner to start their journey, giving them a sampler from four different nations.
  2. It’s a great way to transition your Mid War army over to Late War.
  3. It gives British, Soviet, and Eastern Front German players a place to start collecting their Late War forces until they get their own campaign books.

For a Beginner Starting their Journey
Fortress Europe is a great sampler for a beginner just starting out as it covers the big four of Late War: Americans, Germans. British, and Soviets. This gives you the chance to see the types of equipment, the levels of training, and the play style of each army before deciding which to collect. It also has the added bonus of giving you valuable insights into the opposition you’ll face on the table top!

For a Mid War Player Transitioning
If you already have a Mid War army, you can probably use a lot of it as the basis of a Late War army. Fortress Europe includes all of the Mid War troops and equipment that can make this transition. The big difference between your Mid War army and its Late War incarnation will be the points.

While infantry are pretty much the same points in both periods, tanks get a lot cheaper, so the American M4 Sherman tank goes from 8 points each as a pretty powerful Mid War tank, to less than 4 points each as a baseline Late War tank, even with better skill! The Tiger changes even more, dropping from a hefty 29 points as the super tank of Mid War, to just 12 points as a powerful, but certainly not unbeatable, Late War tank.

At the top end though, the super tough Ferdinand tank-hunter still has exceptional armour and an exceptional gun, so its points only went down from 17 points to 13 points. At the bottom end, a patrol of three Luchs scout tanks went from 6 points to 5 points, since its function as a lightly-armed and lightly-armoured reconnaissance vehicle hasn’t really changed.

These changes make the same army play quite differently. Your M4 Sherman tank company goes from being a handful of powerful tanks to a horde, your Panther tank company moves from the realm of super tanks to become a good medium tank, and so forth. There’s a lot to learn about how to handle your force in this brave new world and a lot of fun to be had doing so.

For British and Eastern Front Players
Late War will be a journey from the beaches of Normandy to the end of the war at Berlin. It will be an exciting adventure, but like anything worthwhile, it will take time to reach our destination. So, much as we’d love to be able to give every nation and theatre exciting new books right now, someone has to wait. Meanwhile, Fortress Europe gives British, Soviet, and Eastern Front German players the opportunity to start collecting their army and get some games in while they are waiting.

What’s In The Book?
Fortress Europe starts with a brief history of the second half of World War Two before diving into the big four of late war: Americans, Germans. British, and Soviets. Each of these has an introduction giving you an idea of their approach to this war, a guide to their most important tanks, their force diagram, their special rules, and then an extensive list of various formations that they can field. The book ends with a comprehensive two-page basing guide telling you how all of the different infantry teams and guns are based, and a catalog of the exciting new Late War products arriving in stores near you.