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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Desperate Measures Reviewed and Spoiled!

by Dirty Jon, Eric and Luke

Short Overview of the Book:

“In the closing weeks of 1944, Germany was under siege on all fronts. The mid-summer battles in Byelorussia and France had collapsed the once mighty Third Reich back to its prewar borders, and Hitler’s grand offensive in the Ardennes had failed to force the Western Allies to the negotiating table. However, the German high command still had some hope at the beginning of 1945. The Allies in the west were on the back foot, the USSR was busy rebuilding after its summer offensives, and for all intents and purposes, Germany itself had not been invaded, so morale and faith in victory were still high.”  This is the first paragraph of Desperate Measures and it  does not disappoint.
Desperate Measures is the new release from Battlefront and covers some of the last major battles of the Eastern Front.  The book is 101 pages long and is written by Mike Haught with assistance from Michael McSwiney.  It starts with the Soviet Winter offensives from January to February 1945, then follows with the German offensive Operation Sonnenwende and the securing of the Northern Flank (the capture of Danzig and Kolberg).
Desperate measures has fantastic graphic design, illustrations and pictures.  Mike Haught’s  insight into the armies, offensives and leadership that drove the strategies of the Eastern Front gives a great overview for those unfamiliar with this period of the war.  The book also features a winter painting guide for both the Soviets and the German armies which provides fantastic tips and step by step instructions for giving your army a great winter look.  

This book is dangerous.  If you are a former Soviet player and maybe you stopped or backed off playing because of the changes in Version 3, you will be drawn back into the Red Army.  The Hero units look especially fun to me, and Desperate Measures is going to give you more options and units that you can use to make up your force.  Some of the new “toys” available are going to make your wallet burn.

If you are leaning toward the Germans, you are in for having just about every option of unit you could possibly want.  Desperate Measures is jam packed with Panzers in all shapes and sizes and unit support options in every flavor. I am looking forward to discounted Panzers and confident trained King Tigers.  There are so many things you will be able to do with your German forces, it will be tough to decide what to do.

With a bunch of new models -  Soviet IS-2 obr 1944, Sdkfz 251/22 (pak 40), Aufklarer 38t and Sdkfz 234/4 (pak 40) - to be released in the future, you can look forward to some great new figures and options to your lists.

Don’t forget to drop by the Battlefront booth at Fall-In to see a copy of Desperate Measures! We were fortunate to receive preview copies and it has been difficult to contain our excitement over this new release.  So read on as WWPD spoils Desperate Measures!

[Edit: Design Notes here]

Russian Overview:

Desperate Measures contains new company types and a totally new concept for Soviets, which will really get Uncle Joe and his minions exited.    The name of the game is more choices, choices, choices with upgrades and new toys for the basic Tank and Mechanized lists.   You will be dusting off your old favorites as they now become much more competitive.

Where the book really takes off in a new direction is the “Hero” lists. These lists have some great special rules that really capture the flavor of these units.  The Desperate Measures Book is a game changer for the Soviets.

Desperate Measures Tankovy:

The first list we come to is Tankovy with Guards Fearless Trained and Red Army Confident Trained options.  DM Tankovy only has two medium T34 type combat companies - the light tank combat company choice, familiar from Red Bear,  has been eliminated.  So, at first glance it appears that not much is different other than the loss of the lights over Red Bear - but that would not be true.  It’s the subtle changes in the support options that make this list potentially more potent.  The Soviet infantry got a boost with some real AT options.  The Tank-Rider and Motorstrelkovy Companies now have the option to add one Panzerfaust team per platoon in the company.   This option gives them the ability to defend and go get enemy tank teams.  As in Red Bear lists, DM Tankovy has access to Guards IS-2 Heavy tanks, with the IS-2 obr 1944 now avaliable.  The IS-2 obr 1944 had a redesigned hull and better loading mechanism.  Battlefront  has represented this with a front hull rating of 11 for the IS-2 obr 1944.  For those that want to go tank heavy, this list has two additional armor slots for Assault Guns of the SU series or ISU series.  The change here is that one box has the option of making a third plain tankovy company to give you 3 medium T-34 companies for that horde feeling.  Other goodies in the DM Tankovy bag include an additional Artillery choice of Motorized Artillery Battalions of 76mm Guns, which was not available to the Red Bear Tankovy.   For Reconnaissance choices, the box includes BA64s and Spetsnaz Platoons.  In addition, Motosikletnayu platoons are an option, which operate like German Motorcycle reconnaissance. The DM Tankovy still has access to your old favorites of Air Support, Razvedki platoons, Sappers, Anti-Aircraft platoons, and New improved Guard Rocket Batteries.  All in all, some serious solid lists can be made from here, treadheads will be pleased.

Desperate Measures Motostrelkovy Battalions:

The Motostrelkovy Battalions come in the familiar Guards Fearless Trained, and Red Army Confident Trained options we are used to.  The significant change to the Motorstelkovy Combat companies is the Panzerfaust upgrade, as mentioned above .  Now you may replace one SMG team per Motor Rifle Platoon with a Panzerfaust  SMG team for 10 points per team replaced.  This option gives a full Motor Rifle Company 3 Panzerfausts, which is very respectable.  Just to be clear: these operate exactly like the German Panzerfaust - you can not move and shoot with them and are Tank Assault 6.  The combat support companies and weapons companies have only a few changes over Red Bear:  the addition of the Motosikletnayu Platoons and trimmed down Tankovy choices.  The Corp support choices also did not change from Red Bear, which is good, as the Motostrelkovy had a lot of them all ready.  The improvements to this list all take place at the platoon level.

Medium Self-Propelled Artillery  Regiment:

Hey!  A completely new list, and its a good one. The new MSPAR is organized with a HQ of a single T-34/85 and two mandatory combat platoons of SU100s, SU85s or SU85M with 5 vehicles per company.  In addition to the two mandatory combat companies, you can have two more combat companies for a total of four.  An army of 20 SU100s is a possibility.  As with other assault gun units, you may also add Tankos to the companies.  Those of you familiar with the Light and Heavy Self-Propelled Artillery Regiments will recognize the similarities right off the bat with the Medium Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment. The structure of the Reconnaissance and Assault Gun Sappers is the same.  Other Corp support consists of T-34 type Tankovy, Guards IS-2 companies, and Motorstrelkovy for salty back up.   The Artillery choices are better for the MSPAR than Tankovy with three different choice boxes.  This makes an Assault Gun Artillery Heavy lists possible.  In addition to all that kit, you also can field the standard AAA platoons and Air Support.

Desperate Measures General Corp Support:

As mentioned in the above descriptions, a lot of improvements have been made at the small unit level. What may look like your old standard corp support has changed slightly.  A good example is the Spetsnaz platoon, which now can purchase a command Panzerfaust SMG team which gives it a little more punch.  Katyusha Rocket Launchers have had the price come down to match the recent Red Bear changes and also the Super Heavy Rocket rule added to the BM-31-12s. The new  Motosikletnayu reconnaissance platoons are a 5 stand motorcycle MG Recon team platoon that uses the motorcycle reconnaissance rules.  As described before, the new IS-2 obr 1944 with a front armor of 11 makes more difference than you would imagine.

Heroes of the Soviet Union:

All the new stuff above is childs play in comparison to the mind blowing “Heros of the Soviet Union” lists.  These new lists represent battle worn and experienced troops who have seen combat and learned a thing or two.   The following units get these special rules

Luckier:  When a CiC or 2iC Warrior team is destroyed, your opponent must roll a 5+ instead of 4+ up to eliminate the leader.

Smarter:  Hero companies pass skill tests on 3+ instead of 4+ - this goes for bombarding artillery as well.

Sharper:  Hero companies do not use Hen and Chicks……..(Massive win!!!) death to hated Hen and chicks!

Hero Tankovy Brigade:

The basic organization is the same as Tankovy, only the units are much reduced due to casualties.  Even the normal Training ratings stay the same - Guards units are Fearless trained and Red Army units are Confident Trained.  The only change is that skill tests are done as Vets.  In the unit HQ, you get one T-34 and three combat companies of T34 or T34/85.  The problem is that you can only have 3 or 4 tanks in the company.  Example: a unit of  four  T34/85 Confident Trained is 330 points.  This brings the Soviets in line with normal Western and German units. Since they don’t have Hen and chicks, you can mix it up with the best of them.  The Brigade support is all the same stuff you see with Tankovy but all at reduced team counts.

Hero Motorstrelkovy Battalion:

The combat Companies of the Hero Motorstrelkovy Battalion are hurting for manpower.  The basic platoon is only 4 SMG teams, which means to get to Quantity of Quality you must buy all three platoons plus the two HMG teams - this totals 15 teams with the Command team.  It will be hard to keep QofQ for any length of time with these guys.  It is a good thing that the Smarter attribute allows them hit like trucks in assaults.  The support choices are only slightly different than the Motorstrelkovy, and you have to make a choice between Roto or Sapper.   The Tank slots are good and you get Hero Tankovy and Hero Medium Self-Propelled choices.  

Hero Medium Self-Propelled Artillery Regiments:

I think the Hero Companies with no Hen and Chicks really helps out this unit, even though its now pretty small.  The SU100 with Hen and Chicks can rarely get a shot off if it moves - without HnC, it can be very effective.  The HMSPAR has a T-34/85 HQ and 4 Combat Compaines of 3  SU100, SU85 or SU85M.  The ability to move and shoot now really frees these guys up.  The Weapons Company choices for the HMSPAR were all missing, so they no longer get Assault Gun Sappers, Reconnaissance, and Mobile AAA platoons.  Don’t worry - you still have some Recon and Artillery options in the Corp support section.

Hero Corp Support:  

The Hero Support choices have the same special rules and reduced numbers due to casualties.  Hero Radevski, Hero Anti-Tank, Hero Light Armored Car, Hero Motosikletnayu Reconnaissance Platoons, Hero Spetsnaz, Hero Sapper, Hero SubMachine Gun Companies, Hero Guards Heavy Tank and Assault Guns as well.  The exception to the reduced numbers with the Hero rated units are the Artillery units.  Hero Motorized Artillery, Hero Reserve Artillery, and Hero Rocket Batteries do not lose strength.  The price for these units - which now fire as vets - goes up.

German Overview:

The name of the game for the Germans in Desperate Measures is variety.  There are about a million choices for your army, from low-cost training troops, to super elite aircraft!

One of the most interesting things for the Germans is the new Enjoy the War special rule.  Basically, instead of making a Platoon Morale check, you roll a die for every team in the platoon (or attached to it) - on a 3+, that team stays on the board and on anything else, it is destroyed.  This rule rocks!  For tournament play, this looks like a great opportunity to deny your opponent points.  One basically has to kill these Germans to the last team.  Another special rule is Tailor-Made Battlegroup, which basically robs the Germans of their ability to Kampfgruppe.

Panzer Kampfgruppe:

In keeping with the choices theme, this Company can be taken as either CV or CT, but not mixed and matched.  There are EIGHT different tank types to choose from for you core platoons:  Panther G, Jagdpanther, Panzer IV J, Panzer IV/70 (A &V), StuG, Jagdpanzer IV and Hetzer.  This amount of choice is daunting, and you only have to match one platoon to your HQ choice.  Each platoon can be between 2 and 4 tanks.  Even better, you can add Assault Rifle Tank Escorts to each tank in the platoon and the HQ for +15 points per tank.  This is a huge amount of flexibility and will really allow player to customize, especially at lower point totals.

Another choice at the Veteran level, is a Beute Panzer Platoon of between 2 and 5 T-34 obr 1942 tanks (375 points), with one upgradable to a T-34/85 obr 1944 for +30 points.  For weapons platoons, there is the Mobelwagen and Wirbelwind.

Panzergrenadier Kampfgruppe:

Again, the choices are CV or CT with no mixing.  You can only add in one Panzerschrek team, but who cares, because all of your Panzersturm troops can be Panzerfaust Assault Rifle teams!  With seven stands and four halftracks, the CV guys weigh in at 320 points.  Ouch.  If you need to save points, you can buy the regular CV Grenadiers with MG Panzerfaust teams for 280.  These guys are just a little small for the giant cost, but with Enjoy the War, they may be a little more survivable.

Like other Gren lists, there are about a zillion support options available, with a good mix of tanks, arty and recce.  What is missing are all the AT Guns and HMGs -- I think at this point in the war, everyone was grabbing an assault rifle or MG and ground pounding.

The Last Panzers - Panzer Ausbildungs

This is a pretty scary title for this section, and it lives up to the name!  In addition to the two rules mentioned above, these lists get:

Replacement and Training Tanks: Combat and Weapons platoon tanks get Unreliable and none benefit from Wide-tracks or Tiger Ace skills.  Ouch.

Panzer Student:  Combat and Weapons platoons do not get Stormtrooper or Mission Tactics.  Double Ouch!

Panzer Lehrer:  CiCs and 2iCs get Stormtrooper and can convey this benefit to platoons they join.

Ok, so this makes these Germans, not so German.  I think that people playing these lists will have a hard time adapting to the loss of these skills.  Now, this does not impact ALL German units, so it will be important to read the rules carefully and apply them properly.  I am paraphrasing here for length.

Panzer Ausbildungs Verband

This list is rated at Confident Trained.  Again, a ton of choices in the HQ.  Panther A or G; Panzer IV G or H; Panzer III L, M, or N; StuG G or Jagdpanzer IV; Hetzer -- all choices for CiC and 2iC and they can be different!

For the Core, you can get Panther A or Gs, Panzer IV Hs, StuG Gs, Jadgpanzer IVs or Hetzers.  Only 255 points for 4 Panzer IVs!  3 Panthers for 405.  Nice.  Again, all these tanks can get Assault Rifle Tank Escorts for +15 points per tank.

Another crazy option is to add in a Panzer Ausbildungs platoon with either 3 Panzer II Fs (65 points) or 3 Brumbars (150 points).  It is absolutely insane the number of choices offered in this single list.  The rest of the support options are pretty good and varied, as we will see below.

Panzer Ausbildungs Abteilung 500:

The big boys, rated at Confident Trained.  This list requires one platoon of heavy tanks and either one platoon of panthers, or another heavy.  For the heavy option, you can get 2 to 4 Tiger I Es (555 points) or 2 Porsche King Tigers (445 points).  With two CV Henschel King Tigers checking in at 690 points, this is a pretty decent discount.  Again, all of the above can get Tank Escorts. [Edit: Not the Heavy Tanks]

The weapons and support options are very limited, but there is a neat Leichte Panzer Ausbildungs Platoon with 4 CT Panzer IIIs for 180 measly points.  Other than that, you are looking at 88s and some fairly interesting Infantry: the Panzergrenadier Ausbildungs Platoon.

This platoon is rated CT with up to seven teams (Rifles - 90 points, Rifle/MGs - 110 points or MGs - 130 points)  and can add in a Panzerschrek (20 points) can choose from four options:

NCO School:  No special Rules

Mechanised School: Can use Mounted Assault (+10 points per halftrack)

Pioneer School:  Replace one team with a Flamethrower (+5 points per team and may add Pioneer Supply Truck for +25 points)

Sniper School:  No +1 to hit when firing the Rifle Pinned Down.  When not pinned, re-roll misses in Defensive Fire. (+10 points for the platoon)

Again, this platoon offers a ton of options.

German Support Options:

The first thing to note, is that there are many options to add in a good old Heavy Panzer Platoon with King Tigers, Tigers or Hetzers.  These are CV and have all the normal rules.  It also lets you get Hetzers with Tiger Ace skills!  BOING!  Hetzers Gonna Hetz, Indeed!

For Tank-Hunters, again, options.  Panzer IV/70s, Jagdpanthers and even T-34s!  How about some SU-85s or an SU-100 (130 points) ?  Yes please!  Tank escorts, too -- OK!  This is insane, and is surely only included to increase Steven’s Beute Panzer collection!

There are decent Recce choices, with the Sd Kfz 250 array; the Panzer II Luchs with optional Aufklarer 38(t) (yay!  new models!); and the Sd Kfz 234/1 and Sd Kfz 234/4 (PaK40).

I really like the Panzerpioner Platoon available in CV (290 points) and CT (225 points).  Panzerfaust Pioneer MG teams?  Yes, please!  You can even add in a Flamethrower and a Supply Truck.  I can see this unit being very scary, but with only 7 teams --- eh.

My K81s are present, and look like they shed a little weight, coming in at 435 points for four, down from 530 in Grey Wolf.  Who knows?  I might actually get them on the board for that price!

Now, there are some other units, but I think I am going to let a few things remain secret!

Eric’s Summary Thoughts  

I am glad Flames of War now has some Soviet Units that do not have strong negatives the Hero Units look fun and exciting to play.  The idea of “Trained Plus” meaning hit like trained but skill test as Vets really adds a new dynamic to the game.  Brilliant! Good work Battlefront I look forward to more of these type ratings.  You could do a lot with it going better or worse with the skill test ratings for Trained, Conscript and Veteran adds a inbetween type troop.  The Germans really got a boost in the Armor fight with the Enjoy the War rule I look forward to playing that!   Great book!

Jon’s Summary Thoughts

Options, options, options!  This book will be very good for veteran Flames of War players, but may be a little daunting for the novice.  There is definitely welcome relief on this gamers part in not having to wade through the same old tired late war German lists.  I wanted something different, and I certainly got it!  I am very happy with the book and I cannot wait to play a themed tournament and see the Soviet players bust out their stuff again!

Luke’s Summary Thoughts

The book is layed out great with great photos and diagrams.  The Soviet forces are really appealing to me along with the new Hero units.  Getting some of the big Soviet tanks back on the table is extremely exciting.  The Germans are just plain crazy.  The Enjoy the War rule is going to be hell for their opponents if they are on the defense.  The platoon has the opportunity to hang in there which can cause a lot of problems for their opponents.  The book is going to put Soviets back on the table for many folks and add great new options for the Germans to put together.

What do you think?  Sound off on the forums....

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