09 March 2017

Flames of War V4 - Review: Desert Rats

-with Greg

The second release for intel briefings for the new MW rules covers the British forces in Africa looking closely at some of the units which took part in both Gazala and both battles of El Alamein. The volume also provides you with some of the background information on the formation of the Desert Rats and the battles themselves.

(For the record, yes I'm well aware there are no Sherman's in the book and no, I don't know why there aren't given the German's have access to Tigers.)

Featured in Desert Rats you're going to have the opportunity to field a few different formations drawn from the ranks of the 8th Army eventually under the commander of Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery (I still hear Gene Hackman's Polish accent from A Bridge Too Far every time I type that).

Let's take a quick look at them.

The Royal Scots Greys - Grant Armoured Squadron

The heavy Grant tank (called the General Lee by the US Forces) was eagerly received by the British troops. The hull-mounted 75mm gun was more than a match for the German armour as well as protection in the form of its own heavy armour. 

To field your Grant Squadron, you must take your Squadron HQ comprising either 2 or 3 Grants. From there, you must have a least 1 Grant Troop with 3 Grants and you also must make a second compulsory choice of either another Grant Troop or either a Crusader or Honey Troop. There is also a 3rd optional slot for yet another Grant Troop meaning that if you fill out the formation, you're strolling into battle with 12 Grants....something not to be sniffed at by any German opponent!

The County of London Yeomanry - Crusader Armoured Squadron

The British Cruiser tanks were a mainstay of the British armoured forces. In the desert, three different versions of the Crusader tank were available for use. The Crusader II came armed with a 2 Pdr gun which, while great for knocking out armoured targets struggled with taking out infantry. The Crusader CS mounted a 3" gun which could dig out any infantry allowing the other tanks to run over them. The Crusader III mounted an even more powerful 6 Pdr gun but again carried very limited HE ammunition.

To field your Crusader Armoured Squadron, you again must take a Crusader HQ. This can consist of either 2 Crusader II and 2 Crusader CS tanks or you have the option of taking 1 Crusader II for a couple less points.

Again, you have a couple of compulsory choices you need to make. You must field at least 1 Crusader Troop and this can be either a Crusader II Troop with 3 Crusader II tanks or you can field a mixed Troop with both Crusader II and Crusader III tanks in combination. From there, you must take either another Crusader Troop or a Grant Troop to round out your compulsory choices. From there, you have 3 further slots which can be filled by another Crusader Troop each.

The 8th Hussars - Honey Armoured Squadron

As well as receiving the American Grant, the British also got the lighter Stuart which the re-monickered the Honey. This light tank was excellent a getting into the German flanks and wreaking havoc with its 37mm main gun.

Your HQ Troop will consist of either 3 or 4 Honeys depending on how many points you want to spend. From there, as always, your compulsory choices are made as follows.

You must take at least 1 Honey Troop of 3 Honeys. Your second choice can again be another Honey Troop or you can give them some heavy support in the form of some Grants. There are then 2 further slots for 2 more Honey Troops should you want them. With this formation and no support options, you could have access to 15 Honey tanks to really mess with the German lines!

The Rifle Brigade - Motor Platoon

And finally, we have the good old infantry! Motor Company's can really pack in quite a lot of kit if you decide to add one of the to your formation choices.

HQ here consists of 2 SMLE Rifle teams. No mess, no fuss.

From there, you've got to get the core. So, you must have at least 1 Motor Platoon which can be fielded at full strength with 4 Bren Gun teams, a Boys Anti-tank Rifle team and a 2" Mortar team or you can field it with only 3 Bren teams.

You must also field at least one Universal Carrier Patrol with 3 Carriers in it. You do have the option of upgrading them to carry a Boys AT Rifle as well. These guys are perfect for adding fire to your motor platoon or even protecting their flanks.

Your last compulsory choice is then either another Motor Platoon or you can take a 6 Pdr Anti Tank platoon with between 2 and 4 6 Pdr guns. While these aren't so good for hitting charging infantry if any enemy tanks stray too close, you can really mess up their advance.

Now, moving to your optional slots you can choose to field up to 2 more Carrier Patrols or another 6 Pdr Platoon. You also have slots for both a Vickers MMG Platoon or a 3" Mortar Section. 

The Vickers comes with either 2 or 4 MMG teams and while they can lay down a wall of fire to cover your infantry, they can also bombard enemy positions to allow the Motor Platoons the chance to get stuck in. An excellent dual-purpose choice.

The 3" Mortar section allows you a little more firepower to hit enemy positions with as well as the ability to lay down a concealing smoke screen for your advance.

Lets take a look at your support options now.

25 Pdr Field Troop: The good old QF 25 Pdr is still here to offer the big bangs for the British advance. You can choose to have either 2 or 4 guns in your battery. With a reasonable AT value they also can serve a dual-purpose role if required.

17 Prd Anti-tank Troop: Dubbed the 'Pheasant', the massive 17 Pdr AT gun was mounted on the 25 Pdr chassis to get them into action. With its massive AT, it can take out even the heaviest German tank!

Humber Armoured Car Troop: Scouting ahead of the advance, the quick and nimble Humber was well armed and able to deal with enemy scouts as well as the 15mm Besa MG can cut through lightly armoured enemies.

Bofors Light AA Troop: To protect the force from the harassment of the Stuka, the British employed the 40mm Bofors AA Gun to distract the Luftwaffe from their task. You'll be able to get either 3 or 6 guns here.

Hurricane Tank-Busting Flight: Mounting a pair of Vickers S Guns in the wings, the 40mm shell they fired would rip through the side armour of the German panzers. 

Right guys, well there you have it! There is a lot of variety to be had here and by taking a couple of formations you really get a complete combined arms force to take the Germans on with. As I already have a German force, I'm really considering getting a British force under way to use as I venture back into MW!

Thanks for reading team!


08 March 2017

Flames of War V4 - Review: Afrika Korps

- with Greg

First up in our force briefing reviews is the new book for the Afrika Korps. Now, the AK has a special place in my heart. I remember very vividly my old man painting 1/72 scale AK figures and vehicles in the late 80's for use on the tabletop battlefield.

My first foray into Flames of War was also with a German desert force, but I went for the FJ instead of the AK but my heart was still there.

So, with the new version hitting the world in the next couple of days, I thought I'd take a look at what the new intel briefing holds for us...

So Afrika Korps gives you the option to field three different formations.

Panzer III Tank Company

For this formation, you're going to have to field a Panzer III HQ consisting of 1-2 Pz III in either the short 5cm or the 7.5cm versions or the uparmoured version (armed with the long 5cm gun) with varying point costs as a result.

From there, you can either field 2 Panzer III tank platoons (with the same variations as the HQ) or a single Pz III platoon with a Pz IV platoon as well. These are your compulsory choices but you can also add up to 2 additional Pz III platoons and an Pz II platoon in your formation to bulk it out a little. With the new plastic Pz III and Pz IV models being released, this one could be a heap of fun and very cost effective to get on the table.

Panzer IV Tank Company

Much like its lighter cousins, there is a heap of choice with the Pz IV Company. Once again, you must take a Pz IV HQ with 1 or 2 Pz IV short 7.5cm but these can be upgraded to the long 7.5cm gun for additional points.

You must take at least 2 Panzer IV platoons consisting of 2 - 4 Pz IV short 7.5cm in each. Again, you can upgrade them to the long 7.5 as well. Once these are bought, if you want to bolster your formation, you can add an additional Pz IV platoon and also a Pz II platoon.

Afrika Rifle Company

Lastly, the ever important Rifle Company! So, for the Afrika Rifle Company, you're required to take your HQ unit which consists of 2 SMG teams. From there, you once again have some compulsory platoons.

You must take 2 Afrika Rifle platoons which you can run as short with only 3 x MG34 teams and an Anti-tank rifle team or as a full platoon with 4 x MG34 teams and the ATR. You also have the option of adding a little more heavy support in the form of an HMG team and a mortar team for a few additional points.

As well as the Rifle platoons, you must also have a 5cm Tank Hunter Platoon in your formation. You can field this with either 2 or 3 PaK38 guns.

Once you've bought these, once again you can bolster your ranks with another Afrika Rifle Platoon, 2 more Tank Hunter Platoons or a Light AA Platoon. Here, you get to field the Sd Kfz 10/4 with a 2cm AA gun mounted on it. You can have 2 - 4 of these in the platoon.

Now, because the rules have changed for V4, you can choose to have more than one of these formations in your force, meaning you could have both an Afrika Rifle Company and a Panzer III Company alongside each other, which is great for combined arms!

Support Options

Backing up your formations are your support platoons. And boy, do you have some choices to make! You can choose one of each from the following:

Tiger Heavy Tank Platoon: The massive Tiger showed up in Tunisia much to the dismay of allied tankers. These beasts are going to cost you a pretty penny though and can be fielded as a single tank or up to 2 tanks, if you have the points!

Marder (7.62cm) Tank Hunter Platoon: 2 - 4 of the Panzer 38(t) chassis-mounted AT guns are available to you. While lightly armoured, they pack a punch!

8.8cm Heavy AA Platoon: The fabled 88, you can get 1 - 4 of these tank killers as AT support for your Afrika platoons. They are able to take out even the most heavily armoured British tanks at long range.

Sd Kfz 221 & 222 Light Scout Troop: The Germans learned quickly that being able to scout ahead and spy on the British positions would be invaluable. The nimble 221 and 222 scout cars were perfect for the role.

Sd Kfz 231 Heavy Scout Troop: And sometimes, you just want something a little heavier to scout in! And that's where the mighty 231 8-wheeler comes in!

10.5cm Artillery Battery: Digging out the dug-in British positions required serious artillery support and the Afrika Korps has that in the massive 10.5cm gun! You can field a 2 or 4 gun battery here.

15cm (sf) Lorraine Schlepper Battery: And if you need a little more firepower, well call on Lorraine! The massive 15cm gun certainly packs a punch!

Ju 87 Stuka: What Afrika force wouldn't be complete with the mighty Stuka screaming in to drop death on the British forces?!

So there we have it! While there aren't all the choices in terms of formations as yet, these are coming in the future. What you do have here in Afrika Korps is a great start for a journey into the desert!

Next up, we'll be having a look at Desert Rats, but until then....


22 February 2017

Flames of War - Version 4 - The Review Part 1

Well, unless you're a Flames of War player who's been living under a rock since about November (and if you are, you're likely not the kind of person reading this) they've heard all the furore, musings, angst and just general commentary about Battlefront's upcoming release of Flames of War V4.

We here at Behind Enemy Lines HQ keep our eyes on pretty much every wargaming group on Facebook as well as numerous forums and other haunts and we know that there are some very mixed opinions out there about the upcoming releases. What we'll try and do here is, as objectively as possible, give our opinions on the changes and what they mean.

We approached Battlefront for an advanced copy of the new V4 rules and Phil and the team were kind enough to provide them for us, so we can say with all certainty that yes, we've read the rules and we know exactly what's in them and have also tested them in anger.

We'll be looking at the MW version initially and we'll get on to both the Afrika Korps and Desert Rats releases after that.

So away we go.....and to start with, I'd like to just clarify my position on a couple of things:

1. I love Flames of War V3.....and I also now love Flames of War V4. I also love that I can still play both games.

2. Flames of War V4 is most definitely NOT dumbed down, as has been claimed by some. There are strategically important decisions which need to be made but some of the interactions have been streamlined.

3. Flames of War V4 is not Team Yankee. While it borrows facets of TY in terms of movement and the like, at it's heart, Flames of War V4 is just that. It's an updated version of Flames of War.

Right, there we have it. So, what can you expect under the new rules?

So, there are going to initially be 2 releases, Flames of War V4 for MW which has all new briefings and a new points system and then Flames of War V4 for EW and LW using the existing briefings that we all have and all love. 

Lets take a look at MW.

The game at its core is still Move, Shoot and Assault. You're still, ultimately, trying to either take the objective(s) as the attacker or hold on to them if you're the defender. You've still got a heap of tools at your disposal in the form of Infantry, Armour, Artillery and Air Support.

Your force is selected from either the unit cards that come with them when you buy new kits or from the details in your briefings. Having the cards are NOT mandatory, you can get along just fine without them...the sure do add a degree of ease to games though. The cards have all the information you need about the teams in your units and the units that then make up your formation or formations.

They tell you your movement ratings, your weapons stats, how good your troops are at hanging on in fights and all the rest of the info you need in a compact card.

Movement has changed. Now, instead of being a Fast Tank or Slow Tank, you have a variety of movement speeds you can use depending on the situation you find yourself in. If you want you Tiger to move and still shoot, you move it at Tactical Speed. This is considered the optimal distance for the tank to move and still allow its crew the opportunity to get shot off. If you need to get there quickly and don't really have valid targets, you'll consider using your Dash movement, dependent on the terrain situation you find yourself in. That's it for movement...apart from difficult terrain and bogging checks. Bogging checks, as they are in V3, are gone. Now, if you want your team to cross difficult terrain (such as entering a wood) then you have to make a Cross Check. Your unit card specifies the value you need to roll on your trusty D6 to make it into the terrain. If you don't, you stop. No bogged down or anything like that anymore, you just stop. You can still fire your weapons at their moving ROF should you fail the test.

Shooting has changed, but only slightly. The only thing that has really changed here is that instead of the target player selecting where hits are assigned the firing player assigns them. The target player has the opportunity to move hits on a roll of 3+ on a D6. If he or she succeeds, then the assigned hit can be moved to another valid target within the unit and another test can be made. If it fails, the hit stays and no further tests can be made.

Other than that, shooting is the same.

Saves are slightly different for gun teams. They save on a 4+ now.

Artillery is somewhat different. There are a couple of major changes here:

1. You typically only have a single specialist observer per formation in your force rather than one for each battery. They have 3 opportunities to spot for ALL artillery units meaning if you take 2 attempts to spot for your initial artillery bombardment, then you only have 1 attempt left to spot for the next battery you wish to fire.

2. You can aim at ANY point on the table, within range of the bombarding teams and within LOS of the observing unit. 

3. Danger Close is back. You cannot place a template within 4"/10cm or friendly teams.

Planes now operate as units. They still arrive as normal but can be shot down and if they die, they're gone....for good. You buy them in multiples so you could conceivably buy 2 planes and have one shot down and only have one for the rest of the game, providing he doesn't also get shot down.

Assaults, in my opinion the trickiest part of the game to come to grips with, has been tidied up, but is ultimately the same. You move in and as long as you get past all defensive fire, you swing to kill. If you kill, your opponent tests to come back at you. Rinse and repeat until someone is gone or is forced to break off.

One thing that has gone, Tank Terror. Great in my opinion!

Finally, for this part, Motivation.

There are 2 forms of Motivation now, which has been re-designated to Last Stand.

Unit Last Stand: If your unit has taken casualties, they're gonna start thinking about beating a retreat and saving their asses. So if your unit has taken casualties but has:

- 2 or more UNBAILED tank teams,
- 2 or more gun teams,
- 3 or more infantry teams or
- 1 aircraft team

Then they're in Good Spirits and are happy to fight on. If not, they need to make a Last Stand test on either their Motivation score or their Last Stand score if its different. If they pass this, they stick around but they need to check again next turn.

Formation Last Stand: If your formation has two or more units in Good Spirits (including HQ units but excluding transport units) then its in Good Spirits and doesn't test. If this is not true, they're destroyed. No tests, they've had enough and leave. If there are no formations left in your force, you lose.

Now, there is good new here guys!

1. You get a chance to remount bailed out tanks before you make a Unit Last Stand Test. This might put you back above the 2 tank requirement meaning the Unit Last Stand isn't required.
2. You make Unit Last Stand tests before you check Formation Last Stand, so if you pass those tests, your formation sticks around.

Right, so that's the basics covered here in part 1. In the next article, we'll start looking at the specifics of force creation and National rules.

11 February 2017

Project ACW

- with Greg

For as long as I can remember in my gaming "career" there has been one period of gaming that I've always wanted to get into and get playing. That's the American Civil War. This year, I've finally decided to take the plunge and really get into it. I'm going to try and get some regular updates done here for the Behind Enemy Lines readers of my progress with amassing, assembling and creating my armies. Hopefully this can inspire a few of you to get into that period that's been beckoning you as well!

Why ACW?

I really don't recall where the desire to play ACW started but I do remember watch thew TV series North and South (featuring a young Patrick Swayze) as well as reading quite a bit about the history.

There is something seriously vibrant about a well-painted ACW army facing off against another one. I think it can only be match by Napoleonics for sheer beauty on the tabletop.

And so, my journey begins...

Which side?

I'm pretty lucky with this one in that I'll be doing an army from each side of the conflict...just in different scales. 

In 15mm, Mike and I will be building forces. As Mike is a Yankee himself, he's going to be taking the Union while I'll be painting up the Rebs. There's a little more free reign that you get with the Confederates in that the uniforms are anything but. I expect to be painting a lot of greys and browns with some blues mixed in here.

For 28mm, I'm on the Union side with Ryan taking control of the Confederates. This is the force that I have actually made a start on painting. Here's my first base:

Only 40 or 50 more to go.....

Which Rules?

At this stage, for 28mm we'll be using Black Powder from Warlord Games as this is the rules that are generally played in our area. I've had a test game and the rules seem pretty intuitive and well polished. The most interesting aspect I think is the order system in that you specifically order your units to do things such as "march toward the fence line and deploy to fire" or "CAVALRY CHARGE!" and it's up to you to get into character doing it!

I believe we're also going to use Black Powder in 15mm with some conversions for distances and the like.

So there you have it! I'm in and really looking forward to the journey!

01 February 2017

Kompetition Time!

If you've listened to Episode 32 of the podcast, available on the WWPD podcast feed, you'll know that we're giving something away! YAY!!

Unfortunately, its a model for DUST but you could totally use it for Konflikt '47!

So here it is, Damo's KV-47K Light Tesla Walker! (The picture isnt the actual one you'll get, its still in its box and its only primed, but you get the idea).

All you have to do to win is answer the following question in the comments on this post:

What is Damo's pick for all-time worst game that he's played?

B. Age of Sigmar
C. Tiddlywinks

We couldnt really make it any easier, right?

So get your answers in. The competition will close on the 20th of February and we'll make a draw from there!

Good luck......I guess?