Me and the local Northern Virginia boys who I call "Team Throck," primarily because I'm an egotist bent on world domination, decided to pick up the Flames of War late war campaign set Firestorm Market Garden and get our Bridge too Far on.
You'll notice some unpainted armies as we go along. We've used the campaign as a way to get more of our friends, who have some models and are interested in Flames, deeper into the game and they've committed to painting as we go along. At the very least, most of what you'll see is primed or base coated.
We split up into teams of three where (SHOCKER) I actually get to play allies for once, and set about figuring out how this whole thing works.
On of the great things about the Market Garden campaign is that doubles as a board game. So, to get a feel for it we actually played it that way a couple of times to get our feet wet. While this isn't a review of the board game version, I have to tell you, if you think you want to play the full campaign, sit down with the slimmer board game version first (it takes about an hour or two to play) it will certainly help you understand the campaign planning phases of the operation.
The box components themselves are pretty awesome. You get three hard cardboard maps that fit together to create the Arnhem campaign. Along with dice, rule books with specific mission tables and scenarios, extra tiny miniatures as game pieces, counters and cool looking operational arrows.
As in the previous Firestorm campaign, Bagration, you also get what are called "Firestorm" troops. These are additional units that you add into your army. While you can fight out of any territory which you control, even if it doesn't have a Firestorm Troop, when these guys are present for the fight they add a FREE unit outside your normal OOB (but still counting for Company break) to your army. What's better, this time around, Battlefront provided a couple of posters so you can easily reference what stuff you get.
So let's get down to it. On the first turn Allies get some special moves before each side plans out their attacks. First, they get to freely drop some Para's into designated landing spaces on the map along with supplies. Later, the Germans will be able to interdict some of these landings with the little air power they have available.
|Here's the board!|
|British armor and German deployments on the Meuse Canal.|
|German Firestorm deployments around Arnhem. All of the above are preset deployments, the para drops however are not.|
|British Para and Glider borne forces from the 101st drop near the Ede Road on the outskirts of Arnhem.|
|While the 82nd drops near Neijmegen.|
|And the 101st land near S'hertogenbosh.|
|The 82nd take Groesbeek Heights. Historically, this was the site of some intense fighting.|
|While the 101st moves to cut off Greman routes down to the main British thrust.|
|The Germans get off a counter attack against the 82nd at Groessebek Heights while other para elements begin to move up the road to the Maas-Waal Canal.|
|The 101st is solidly in control in their operational area, pushing into S'hergotenbosh and the Bridges below while Germans seek to attack into DZ-C to destroy off the Para supply dump.|
I won't detail all the fights, as that would just take to long, rather I'll highlight some of the bigger engagements as we work through the turn.
|The German assault into the Grossebek Heights.|
|We made the map especially hilly to denote the terrain in the region.|
|StuG's and StuH's get ready to assault into the defending 82nd Airborne positions.|
|The Para's are heads down behind a couple of ridges making the German advance slow and costly in the face of ambushing air-dropped AT assets.|
|American air power proved a boon to the Para's bogging down the infantry advance.|
|While the depleted German assaults were easily rebuffed, giving the allies the day on the Heights.|
|German's defend against an assault by the 101st at S'hergotenbosh.|
|Backed up by Tigers from Kampfgruppe Hummel (a personal favorite list)|
|The Americans quickly move into the outskirts of the town looking to get aggressive against the dug in Germans.|
|And within 3 turns they're up in the Kraut's face!|
|Doing significant damage to the Tigers while taking a hell of beating themselves.|
|In the end, the Screaming Eagles are able to push through and hold the town.|
|Despite the heavy German armor on the board.|
|Meanwhile down at the start line...|
|The British Armor prepared to jump off.|
|German Fallschirmjagers are playing defense in depth against a very fast British Armored Car company.|
|Looking to speed down the road and smash through the defenders.|
|The Recce pushes up the road to quickly engage the Fallschirms|
|While the armored elements swing around the flank to envelop.|
|Here again, the Germans are frustrated and forced to fall back due to losses and the situation becoming increasingly tactically unstable.|
|Finally, on the outskirts of Arnhem the British Para's surprise German defenders in an early morning attack!|
|Taking significant losses as they slog through house to house fighting.|
|But end up prevailing despite taking nearly 50% casualties!|
By the end of the turn not only had we played an amazing series of games but the allies were firmly in control of key locations across the board. However, heavy German reserves are expected to arrive on turn 2 and the Allies are playing not just against the Germans but also time and distance. Can the allies reverse history, capture Arnhem and end the war by Christmas?
Well, we'll just have to see.
Throckmorton, called T-Rock by Luke, likes to write things, and paint other things. He can be seen on the boards and regularly posting as part of the WWPD crew.