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Friday, May 23, 2014

Bridge at Remagen Reviewed and Spoiled

The Bridge At Remagen - Spoiled

“In many ways the strategic and political situation facing General Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied Expeditionary Forces, in February 1945 was eerily similar to the previous August. After the fierce and desperate battles in the autumn and winter of 1944, the Western Allies were once again advancing along a broad front and closing in on Germany. The River Rhine remained the last physical and psychological barrier between the Western Allies and the industrial heartland of Germany, known as the Ruhr. How to cross that obstacle and which armies would go on to secure the German heartland was a matter of contention with both Eisenhower’s subordinates and superiors.”
-From The Bridge At Remagen, by Mike Haught. Excerpt by Dr. Michael McSwiney.

The Bridge At Remagen is an 80 page Flames of War book from Battlefront Studios that covers the time period from February until April of 1945. The book is written by Mike Haught with assistance from Dr. Michael McSwiney. This book features superb graphic design and the lists inside detail actions by American and German forces over that time period.

The Battle of Remagenis laid out in detail as well as the larger military operations taking place in the battle for the Rhine River and the Ruhr Pocket. Battlefront provides great force diagrams, unit histories and details; as well some painting and modeling guides for units fighting in this time period. As we approach the fall of Berlin and the end of the war, it is great to see new releases releases are high quality not lacking in details or smart layouts.

American players are going to be excited to field a real live heavy tank and all of the options for Shermans are going to absolutely blow your mind. German players are going to see King Tigers and Jagdtigers in a new light, and will welcome back their old friend Otto Carius. So whether you are defending the Fatherland or Fighting for Freedom thousands of miles from home, The Bridge at Remagen is sure to be an essential part of your collection.

The lists in Remagen are unique and look really fun to play, though force structures are quite similar to previous iterations (Blood Guts and Glory). The US lists focus on fast moving armored forces and cavalry groups. These are some of my favorite forces to run, so I am pretty excited about this book. 

 Where we do see significant changes is in the kit (spoiler alert: Pershings!). The book does not contain any US heroes and contains only minor changes in the special rules we have seen in other late war US tank lists. 

 This book adds a “Task Force Riders” rule that lets Infantry teams riding on tanks save on a 3+ when hit, but they lose Truscott Trot - seems like that could be useful! Probably one of the bigger changes is we are now seeing Reluctant Veteran US troops, nobody wants to be the last guy to die in a war! 

 Some of the other changes and additions to the Armor, Armored Rifle and Recon forces are very exciting. As with the the past few Battlefront Army book releases, customization and options are prevalent throughout all of the lists. With the addition of new units and those options American players are going to find this book absolutely fascinating. 

 So lets get into the meat of the American forces.

Tank Company: Covering the 3rd Armored (Reluctant Veteran) and 9th Armored 
(Confident Veteran) divisions. 

The US tank company from either list may take one platoon of Pershings with up to 5 vehicles each costing 200 points for Confident Veterans. The Pershing is a front armor 10 vehicle with a AT 14 90mm gun, it has smoke and Tank Telephones. This is in addition to the usual Hull, coax, and AA 50cal MGs with standard tank movement. Think “American Panther” and you’ve got the jist. The heavy tank platoon has one more surprise, instead of plain Pershings you may take a single vehicle platoon of one Super Pershing a slow tank with front armor 13, and a AT16 gun. Wow - that’s a bad boy for 275 points. The other combat platoons can contain Shermans or a Calliope Tank platoon. The basic tank platoon contains all the options of BGG plus some changes like Up-Armored vehicles that take the front armor to 8; you can do this to E8, 76mm, and M4A3 late shermans. A spreadsheet of options can be taken with the tank platoons, so those used to playing BGG lists will be right at home. As in BGG, the cost of these veteran tanks is staggering. If one were to buy five Confident Veteran M4A3 (Late) Shermans (515 points), upgrade one to a Jumbo (for 40 points) and two more to Easy Eights (55 points each) you are invested into one unit for 665 points. That seems like a hefty investment for any given U.S. list. If you purchase the Reluctant Veteran version of this same list, the cost would be 610 points. Building a great tank list will not be an issue. There are so many options to upgrade and swap out for different versions of Shermans that the possibilities absolutely incredible. In fact, the ability to add carbine teams as task force riders and an extra AA MG is a bonus every American player will appreciate. 

Courtesy of the 9th Armored Division. YVW.
Light Tank Company: You get both the 3rd Armored at Reluctant Veteran and the 9th Armored at Confident Veteran. The light tank company can have 3 combat platoons of either M5A1 Stuart or M24 Chaffee. If you want to play light and fast, these are the guys for you. The support for the Light tanks is pretty salty with two tank platoon options and a tank-destroyer option, but no Pershings. They also get two Infantry slots with either leg, armored rifle, or engineers. The recon is covered by Recon Jeeps or Armored Recon Cavalry platoons. Standard options of Air, AOP and Artillery are also present.

Armored Rifle Company: Again from 3rd Armored rated at Reluctant Veteran or 9th Armored at Confident Veteran. Oh man, my favorite platoon in all of flames of war just became Reluctant with a healthy discount and it still has all the firepower I love. They have the usual 3 combat platoons of armored rifles, but a slight change in the AT platoon department. They now have the standard 57mm platoon or the option to take a armored anti-tank rifle platoon that consists of 4 carbine teams and 3 bazookas; its like the 57mm platoon just ditch all the guns. The weapons platoons of armored HMGs, mortar platoon, recon platoon, and assault gun platoons are all pretty standard. There are two Tank Box support options which can have Pershings, tank platoons, light tank platoons, tank-destroyer platoons, Calliope tank platoons, and mine-exploder tank platoons. The ARC is rounded out with the standard boxes for artillery and air. Take note of these guys, you will be seeing them; and if you don’t own any go out and get the new plastic ARP box - you can’t go wrong. The ARP has some options that I think are very interesting and can be very helpful to the American player. First, is the ability to upgrade all your halftracks to have .50 cal AA MG’s. It is only three extra .50’s, right? Well, that can make a big difference in many situations. The second option is you can dismount your ARs (but must dismount ALL of them) leaving the halftracks at home. The possibility of an ARP advancing across the field on tanks is pretty scary indeed, but by dismounting you save quite a few points.

The Adult Version of the "Big Wheel" 
Cavalry Recon Troop: You guessed it, from the 3rd Armored at Reluctant Veteran and the 9th Armored at Confident Veteran. Each division has a Recon troop, the 3rd and 9th Divisions organized them differently than most US Divisions. Both reluctant and confident have a mandatory 3 combat platoons but that is where the similarities end. The Reluctant 3rd has 2 M8 Greyhounds, a mortar jeep, and a recon jeep as their combat platoons which is vast improvement over the 3 team version. The additional vehicle allows the M8 to go run around and get into trouble. The Confident 9th is even more interesting in that you may replace any or all M8 Greyhounds with Stuarts. They have the old 1 M8, mortar jeep, and recon jeep organization, but hey at least you can switch to a Stuart and go fast. The weapons platoon options are pretty good for these guys: two light tank platoon boxes and cavalry M8 Scott assault guns of up to six vehicles. The Corp support is very solid with two tank platoon options and two infantry boxes as well. These guys can take Ranger platoons for some reason and that sounds fun to me. Two artillery boxes and air round out the list. If there was ever a cavalry list that you were thinking about doing, this is the one. It’s the best I have seen. The option for a Stuart in the 9th is such a tremendous boost for American Recon, not only in this particular list, but as a support option for other lists as well. It is only 15 points to add the Stuart and is clearly worth the points. The one hook in making this particular list is the requirement of having 3 patrols - this becomes a bit of a challenge at 105 points per patrol in addition to the HQ with a cost of 85 points the total requirements is 400 total points. But if you want light, fast, and the ability to pack a punch this is the list you want to take. Those are main changes to the basic combat platoons. Let’s take a look at the support which contains Armored Mortars, Assault Guns, Light Tanks, Recon Jeeps, Mine Tanks, Tank Destroyers, several kinds of infantry, Cavalry recon, Air support and the usual Artillery complements. These guys lack for nothing, and I think CV BGG lists will now be extinct! (Ed: Big words good sir... big words...)

US Corps Support Units: All the US corp support units are Confident Veteran unless noted.

Tank Destroyers: We have an new Tank Destroyer - the M36B1! This is a Jackson on a M4A3 hull. The only change is now you get a hull MG and a front armor of 5. Other than that, the choices of M36, M18, and M10 are the same with some Top armor, and improvised armor upgrades.

Mine-Exploder Tank Platoon: This is a new one and look out - you will be seeing this Confident Trained platoon on the table. This platoon lets you bring Sherman Crocodiles with your tank and ARP Companies. The options are a choice of Sherman Crab, T1E3 Aunt Jemima, or Sherman Crocodiles. You can only mix crab and Aunt Jemima tanks.

The Sherman Crocodile is an extremely interesting option. The tank is ROF 5 with a fuel trailer. It has a front armor of 6 and is 70 points for each one with a maximum of 4 vehicles per platoon. This tank can clear the way for the ARP to crush German Infantry units, halftracks and of course any AT guns they may encounter. Often times Allied players encounter German Infantry that is bristling with Fausts and MG teams. These can be a difficult nut to crack, but with ROF 5 Flame-throwing tanks you have the tools to crack them wide open. Also, it is a really great looking model and will be a fun addition to any force.

Battleworn Rifle Platoon: This is a Reluctant Veteran rifle platoon to go along as support. The good news is they get the “Tank Force Riders” rule and are super cheap. Provisional Rifle Platoon: The US was running out of men and it recruited African American personnel eager to prove themselves, as such this platoon is rated Fearless Trained. They are organized in large platoons with some great firepower. Ranger Platoon: Finally, the Fearless Veteran Rangers we have all been waiting for are teamed up with the Cavalry Recon list. They get all the normal Ranger rules and are now veteran - what’s not to like?! Other Corp support platoons included in the book are Engineer Combat Platoons, Anti-Aircraft platoons, Field Artillery Platoons, Rifle Platoons, AOP and Aircraft platoons which are all the same ones we have seen before so no need to go over them. To close out the American I want to say these lists are awesome! It would be really hard to make a bad list from these.

NOW, On to Ze Germans: Overview: Jagdtiger is awesome.

The German lists in Remagen are, similar to those in Desperate Measures. Indicative of the final days of the Reich we find the Heer and SS desperately throwing everything they have at the enemy. The lists in this book primarily focus on heavy metal (Ed: RAWK!!!) with Jagdtigers, Jagdpanthers, and Tigers. The bulk of the lists are available as Reluctant Trained or Reluctant Veteran. Support units are cobbled from a variety of sources, though don’t expect much in the way of recon! Fortunately, all of the lists in the book get “Defender’s Of the Ruhr” and are thus auto-defend. Yes, that means your reluctant trained Jagdtigers will defend! Interesting! The lists also have “Tailor Made Battlegroup” meaning they cannot kampfgruppe - essentially they are already a kampfgruppe. The infantry list for the Germans in this book comes from the SS Brigade Westfalen, and are rated Fearless Trained. Like the heavy armor lists, they are auto-defend and cannot kampfgruppe. They benefit from “Enjoy the War” like the lists from Desperate Measures, except they pass their checks on a 2+! Like the lists from Desperate Measures, they cannot stormtrooper unless joined by the HQ/2iC, do not have mission tactics, and tanks are rated as unreliable and do not benefit from wide tracks/protected ammo. Westfalen also has the option to field panzerfaust trap teams which are not unlike the ones offered in the Market Garden book - these are going to be some mean, stubborn defenders!

To the Lists!

From Jagdtiger With Love,
XOXO Otto 
Your German Hero: Otto Carius Carius is available as an upgrade to either the company command Jagdtiger OR a platoon command Jagdtiger in the 512 Schwere Panzerjaeger company list for +85 points but ONLY for 2.Kompanie (the Reluctant Trained fellows). He is rated as Reluctant Veteran. Carius benefits from “Setting Up the Shot” as he has previously had: he ignores the +1 for range AND ignores concealment when shooting. Unfortunately, he also costs you a victory point if he’s taken down, much like Rommel, Patton, etc.

512th Schwere Panzerjagerkompanie With the 512thyou get to field a Company of Jagdtigers in either the Confident Veteran 1st Kompanie, or the Reluctant Trained 2nd Kompanie that share a force diagram in the book. There is only one compulsory platoon required with one to four Jagdtigers - 270 each for RT, and 395 each for CV. The HQ can have one or two tanks, which is a nice option. Like other German forces in the book, the 512th also has two special rules: Tailor Made Battlegroup, which means no Kampfgruppe, and Defenders of the Ruhr, which makes them Always Defend. The main difference between the two lists - other than the rating - is the force diagram. With the 1st Kompanie, you can get both Panzer IV Js and StuGs as Combat Platoons. With the 2nd Kompanie, you give that up, but are allowed to choose between Tiger I Es, Jadgpanthers and King Tigers. The common support options offer mobile AAA, two boxes for Infantry, static AAA (including 88s) and some standard Artillery in a mix of RV and RT. There is even some Sporadic Air available, including jets.

Volkssturm... your local bottom of the barrel,
bristling with rockets
An interesting support option is the Volkssturm Platoon (of which this list can have 2). The platoon is very cheap at 105 points and offers some really insane min/max strategies. This is a platoon of infantry with 9 Reluctant Conscript Panzerfaust Rifle teams with the option to swap one for an LMG for -5 points. The platoon loses Stormtrooper and Mission Tactics, but is ignored for determining how many platoons start in reserve - meaning, they always start on the board. Also, they always begin the game on the table in Prepared Positions and are allies with whomever they support. I think it would be very interesting to get a list together with two of these, some Jagdtigers and support with Always Defend. I think you could start with a lot of stuff on the table. Aside from that, I think the big news here is Otto Carius auto-defending with AT 17 assets. Yes, please! The RT version of the Jagdtiger list is the one I am interested in. Who cares if you can hit it?

654th Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung (Nordwind)
This version of the 654th gets all of the normal German special rules and is rated as Confident Veteran. There are two compulsory combat platoons, with one being one to four Jagdpanthers for 235 points each. The other can be Jagdpanthers or Hornisse for exactly half the cost. Weapons platoons is only self-propelled AAA and is either two to four Wirbelwinds or Möbelwagens. For the other support platoons, you get another armor, two infantry, artillery, AAA and air. Additional armor support is a mixed bag of Panthers, Panzer IVJs, Hetzers, etc... I think that this provides for some pretty interesting combinations of armor for the Germans, and makes predicting lists very difficult. I think that having some low-point armor is nice for helping these high unit cost armies fit in to a variety of points levels for tournaments. For infantry, one can select a RV Panzergrenadier Platoon all tricked out with Panzerfaust MG teams and 251 halftracks. For 215 points, this might be useful, but carrying out an assault is pretty much out of the question. The other option is the Volkssturm platoon discussed in detail above. The artillery and AAA are pretty much as stated above. This list is ok, and I am glad they included another historical list and another option. From a tournament perspective, I think that this list is second fiddle to the Ruhr Pocket version described below. For me, I would much rather have cheaper RV Jagdpanthers.

This Panther hunts. Get it?
654th Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung(Ruhr Pocket)
This Reluctant Veteran version of the 654th has a different force diagram and has the Tailor Made Battlegroup and the Defenders of the Ruhr special rules. The compulsory platoons is reduced to one Jagdpanther platoon, with two more optional - the Hornisse is gone from the force selection. Another major difference is the type of armor support available. There is a choice of one to four CV or RT Jagdtigers; RV or RT Henschel King Tigers; RT Tiger I Es; or a selection of Panthers, Panzer IV Js, Panzer IV/70s, or StuG G(late) tanks of the RV variety. Infantry support also changes, with standard Panzergrenadiers and the Volksturm as the choices. This list is very interesting, as I really like the price break for going RV - we are talking 1470 points for seven Jagdpanthers. There are no Jagdtigers available, but being Always Defend and having access to the Volkssturm is really important. With only one compulsory platoon, decent access to artillery, air defense, and the Volkssturm, I can see some really good options in this list.

506th and 510th Schwere Panzerkompanie
Who got two thumbs and loves King Tigers? This guy. The 506th and 510th share the same force diagram, with the 506 rated Reluctant Veteran and the 510 Reluctant Trained. Each have only a single compulsory combat platoon. The 506 retain their Tiger Ace Skills, though the 510th does not. The combat platoon has between 1 and 4 King Tigers, though the 510th can only take 2 (which is a bummer, cause at 215 points each they’re the cheapest King Tigers in the game!). 506 can also take some of the venerable Tiger I E, who retain their Tiger Ace skills. Both have the option to be supported by a Schwere Panzer Crew Platoon. The support for the 506th are wide: 512. Panzerjaegers, 654. Schwere Panzerjaeger, a Heer Panzer Platoon, Panzergrenadiers and much more. The 510th is a bit more limited, sticking to SS support options primarily. Both have access to the Volkssturm and Volksgrenadiers, as well as Volks and Luftwaffe support. Only the 506 can get air support.

I like this list a lot. Lots of King Tigers who auto defend could make your opponents think twice. Far from unbeatable, but a whole new approach!

SS-Panzer Brigade Westfalen Now this is an interesting list! Fearless Trained Infantry with “Enjoy the War” on a 2+ means they are holding on for dear life. In the HQ you can add 3 Panzerschrecks and 4 Panzerfaust trap teams. Combat platoons are standard 7 strong grenadier formation made up of Panzerfaust Rifle/MG troops. Support from HMGs, mortars, and a scout platoon (which, I believe, is the only recce for the Germans in the book!) round out their core choices. Integral support platoons include an Ersatz SS-Panzer platoon comprised of Panzer IIIs (swappable for Panzer IVs) that are unreliable and do not use mission tactics or storm trooper. 507. Schwere Panzer Platoon also supports these guys with the options of 1-4 King Tigers or 1-3 Jagdpanthers rated RV AND with Tiger Ace Skills (even for your Jagdpanthers!). Additional support from more Panzer forces round these guys out (RT Panthers, and an RT Ersatz Schwere platoon made up of Tigers I E with options for adding a Panther and a Panzer IV). They can also be supported by CT Jagdtigers, and RV Ostwinds.

I believe that this will be the sleeper list of Remagen. With all of the huge tanks and tank destroyers, this list may be overlooked a bit, but I think this has some very good possibilities.

That's one powerful motorcycle...
German Corps Support units German support units primarily come from the remnants of beaten and battered remnants of the Panzer Divisions. Support is Reluctant Veteran unless otherwise noted. A Panzer platoon is comprised of 3 tanks and comes with either Panthers, Panzer IV Js, Panzer IV/70(V)s, or Stug G Lates. There’s also a “Mixed Panzer” platoon with a mix of Panthers, Panzer IIIs, or Panzer IVs. Panzerjaeger platoon in the form of 3 Hetzers, and Panzergrenadiers armed with Panzerfaust MG teams as usual offer up some additional support. Plus motorized artillery all pretty standard stuff. Volksgrenadiers are also available as RV or RT in their standard formation. Gebirgsjaegers (CV), and more artillery options are available as well (including Volks rockets, and various calibers and configurations of artillery options). Finally, support from the Luftwaffe is about what you’d expect. RT AA options. Up to 4 8.8s, and a light AA gun battery with 4 or 8 flak38s or flak 38 vierlings, and 3 or 6 3.7cm Flak43 guns. Air support introduces the Arrado 234 B which is a high-speed jet and can’t be intercepted! Air is, of course, sporadic. The Arrado is armed with bombs which are 4+, 6, 1+. Nice stuff! So, there's a look at the major things in Remagen! We hope you enjoy it!

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