The last Raiding Force that was used in our Flames of War Raiding Aces campaign was the American OSS. This is really cool force with some options that capture the mystery of the force that is the forerunner of the American CIA and the Green Berets.
As I have been doing in my other articles, let’s start with a look at the history of the unit.. “Quick, to Wikipedia!”
“The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was the wartime intelligence agency, and it was a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The OSS was formed in order to coordinate espionage activities The Office of Strategic Services was established by a Presidential military order issued by President Roosevelt on June 13, 1942, to collect and analyze strategic information required by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to conduct special operations not assigned to other agencies.
From 1943–1945, the OSS played a major role in training Kuomintang troops in China and Burma, and recruited Kachin, and other indigenous irregular forces for sabotage as well as guides for Allied forces in Burma fighting the Japanese Army. Among other activities, the OSS helped arm, train and supply resistance movements, including Mao Zedong's Red Army in China and the Viet Minh in French Indochina, in areas occupied by the Axis powers during World War II. …Other functions of the OSS included the use of propaganda, espionage, subversion, and post-war planning.”
From the National Park Service On line Library (I know! The National Park Service right?)….An excerpt from pg 311-2 of the PDF provides some great information on the OSS’ efforts with the Italian Partisans:
“They provided much valuable information for the advancing American Army, such as enemy targets and where the retreating Germans were building defenses, erecting anti-tank ditches and emplacing mines. OSS Florence praised “Coletti” (Boni’s code name) for ‘the high level of intelligence you have been sending.’ The praise came from Lieutenant Irving Goff, who years later recalled that ‘We had eighteen radio teams speaking German, French, English, Italian in northern Italy….The intelligence we sent was called by Allied headquarters the best from any source. We had house-by-house….We had an overlay map of all the German positions. The American Army knew where every German was.’ Formichelli’s ‘Cayuga’ mission established contact with the unified Resistance command in the Parma area, which directed thirteen partisan brigades, nearly 4,000 partisans. …During the five-month ‘Cayuga mission, Formichelli subsequently reported that the partisans in his zone had been engaged in 182 actions, conducted 38 acts of sabotage, blowing up 6 railroad bridges and 7 highway bridges. They destroyed two trains loaded with arms and ammunitions, three locomotives, 41 trucks, and captured 57 trucks and numerous weapons and stocks of ammunition. They had attacked 43 enemy command posts and eliminated 26 of them, killed 612 enemy soldiers, wounded 750, and taken 1,520 prisoners…”
The key “flavor” of this list is the small OSS contingent of US military personnel being supplemented by local Resistance/Maquis with US leadership. The Flames of War lists capture this flavor in all its glory. From Easy Army:
In our Raiding Aces campaign, our OSS player was Michael R. (Link2Edition on the WWPD Forums). He is a regular opponent of mine, so I got to face the wrath of his OSS several times. This review will focus on how Michael modeled his force and those figures. You can see the BatReps of our Raiding Aces games here:
For the US OSS in FoW, you have 3 main unit types: the Operational Group, Guerrillas, and Partisans. His Operational Group came from BFs US802 OSS Operational Group blister, the Guerrillas were a standard American Rifle Platoon (as they were armed and equipped by the US), and the Partisans were a mix of mostly the FR860 FFI Rifle Platoon and a handful of US Infantry for flavor. For the figure review, we will focus on the OSS Operational Group and FFI Blisters.
Accuracy: As has been battled ad nauseam on several websites, Battlefront infantry are not true 1:1 representations. They are on the “chunky cherub” side of things. ‘Nuff said. For the purpose of this review, I go beyond that and use “accuracy” to refer to historical vs ahistorical items; proportions internal to the figure; and the mix of figures in the blister.
The OSS blister is a repackaging of several figures from the existing US Para Infantry and US Rifle Infantry sets. This gives a good mix of US uniforms; but, how often did the OSS Operational Group members actually wear their US uniforms? From different sources, I have seen over time, I have seen them wear local garb as standing out in US uniform amongst locals is a sure way to invite enemy fire.
|OSS 1st Lieutenant George Musulin behind enemy lines in German-occupied Serbia, as Chetnik, during his first mission on November 1943 OSS Wikipedia.|
Having the mix of US troops in US uniforms is a concession to gameplay for unit recognition. As stated, the troops themselves are existing sculps and everything looks appropriate for that figure. The uniform mix though is a bit of distracter if you just want to use the blister. Mixing some armed civilians on a stand with a few uniformed soldiers is a good balance; but the OSS Operational Group blister doesn’t include any armed civilians and you would have to buy that blister to get the desired effect. Overall 8/10 out of the blister…If you add some armed civilians from the FFI Blister 9/10.
For the FFI Blister, you have a move to more of a 1:1 proportion; gone are the chunky cherubs…hello to the anorexic zombies. I can't hide my dislike of the infantry sculps BF put out in this timeframe. Striving for 1:1 proportions are fine, but it wasn't executed as well as it could have been. This move also brings up some quality issues to be discussed in a bit. There are several sculps where the hands are too big, arms too long, etc…This detracts from the overall accuracy of the model. The civilian clothes and weapons mix are nice and reflect the pictures and film clips I have seen. They are armed with British weapons...many Free French were. Having these British weapons in an OSS led force isn’t too farfetched, but feels a little off…very minor impact to overall accuracy. Overall 7/10 out of the blister.
Figures from the OSS blister were very clean sculps. Mike R said that figures in his OSS blister had just a little flash and no miscasts. Overall 10/10.
The FFI blister, however, was a different story. Mike said these had a lot of flash, much more than “normal” for a Battlefront product. He also had several miscast figures that were unusable. The faces on many of these also seemed to be deformed, especially the figures with beards. Cleaning these up really impacted the paintability of the figure as well. Overall 6/10.
Versatility: Again, this is where I measure how easy it is to convert/model the figures.
The OSS blister can EASILY be used to fill in models in either an American Infantry or Parachute Infantry teams….since they are the same figures. In fact, when we ran our Raiding Aces campaign, Mike R used teams from his US Armored Rifles to fill in for the OSS Operational Group. Very high versatility. Overall: 9/10.
The FFI blister is very limited. Short of using the figures for objectives or another Western European Resistance forces you can’t reuse them for anything else. You might think you could swap them out in a Soviet Partisan Company, but remember…the FFI troops have British weapons…not a fit for Eastern Front units. Overall 5/10.
OSS Blister. Very high. Nice clean models with good detail. This is Battlefront Infantry at its best. Overall: 10/10.
FFI Blister. On the lower end of the spectrum. While you can really open up the color palette on the civilian clothes, the lack of detail on the faces, excessive flash and miscasts really lower this score. Overall 5/10.
Mike R used a mix of Vallejo and GW paints using a basecoat, wash and hi-light technique to great effect.
|OSS Operational Group Platoon|
|OSS Operational Group Platoon (all sides)|
|OSS Operational Group Platoon with swap options|
|2/3 of a Partisan Company|
|Partisan Leader (US officer with Locals)|
OSS 9.5/10 and the FFI 5.75/10. The OSS Operational Group blister is a great buy. Great sculps and you can use the figures for several US lists. The FFI, however, were a bit of a disappointment. From bad body proportions, to excessive flash, to miscasts, to models that can only be used in 2 lists (the OSS and Task Force A), you have a blister that you might want to think hard about before you buy it. For a 3 foot army no problem…for a 2 foot Army I have second thoughts….for a 1 foot Army I would look somewhere else.
Summary and Lessons Learned: You get some really cool options with this force. The OSS Operational Group, Guerrilla and the Partisans all have an option to swap teams for HMGs, mortars, or AT Guns. The OSS and Guerrillas have the "OSS Detachments" ability where you can swap up to eight Bazooka teams, up to six MG teams, up to two M1919 LMG teams, up to two M2 60mm mortar teams, up to two M3 37mm gun teams, or any number of SMG teams for all the OSS and Guerilla units as part of their base cost whereas the Partisans have to buy a 4th platoon for 95 points and can swap only 5 teams.
Michael R told me that in his games he used the inherent team swapping capability of the OSS and Guerrillas and left the Partisans as an infantry blob. He kept one of the OSS platoons as SMG teams and used the other platoon of OSS or Guerrillas to swap teams for the heavy weapons. Supporting Rifle/MG firepower came from the other Guerrilla platoon. Partisans he saved as a Mass Infantry blob for assaults….15 stands of infantry in assault can be nasty. His Partisans did so well in our games that we called them “Spartasians”… and continue to do so even now. Not only does using the OSS platoon’s inherent swapping save points, but it also gives you Fearless Veteran teams vice the “Unknown” of the Partisans randomly determined morale/training which can be either Fearless Conscript (16%), Reluctant Trained (33%), Confident Conscript (33%), or Confident Trained (16%).
Speed of movement is an issue for this army…they are all on foot. The OSS and Guerrillas do get the "Special Operations" ability where they can Double Time through difficult terrain…but they are still walking. Both of these unit types can also Double Time at night. When facing vehicles with wheeled or jeep mobility, you can find yourself out maneuvered very quickly.
The punch of the list is the OSS. They get Tank Assault 3 and are a threat to armor. The biggest thing, though, is that they are based on the small stands but pack the same “punch” in shooting and assaults as a medium based Infantry team. This actually applies to all of the Raiders and is a very interesting point. What this means is that in the space where I can have 2 normal (medium) based Infantry teams, I can have 3 small based OSS (or other Raider) team lined up base to base. 3 swings vs 2 in assault….7 SMG teams strung out across 4 (3.5 really) enemy infantry teams (which equates to 21 SMG shots to 8 Rifle/MG shots).
Michael also shared with me a neat little tactic he used with these guys…that of what to put in reserve. It is situational dependent. Should you need a big block of infantry on an objective early…start with Spartasians… I mean Partisans…or Guerrillas on board and make sure they are dug in. That huge block will be tough to dig out. If you have to move to get where you need to go, he likes to keep them in reserve and bring them on once the battlefield has developed and bring them on where their exposure to enemy fire is the least. In one of our games, they popped out right on top of my CiC as he was getting ready to flee the board for the win! I just couldn’t kill enough of them in one round to keep them from assaulting...where I died a heroic death.
This force also gets to use Interdiction Raids. I won’t go into depth here since I talked about these nasty tricksy raids in my SAS article. Check them out, they can pack a nasty strategic punch.
I Hope this was helpful. The OSS list has a lot of flavor and can do quite well in a Raiding Aces Campaign. Michael wanted me to pass on that due to the lack of mobility you need to plan ahead several turns, so it is not for the beginner….but once you get a taste of the all the tools in the toolbox and how you can configure your force on the fly…it is a lot of fun to play.
SonBae (AKA Jeff Flint) is a long time gamer and painter and runs a blog at Journey Back To The Table where he posts photos of his work, reviews, BatReps and the “Painting Miniatures Declassified” modeling and painting tutorials.