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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

WWPD Sneak Peek: The Great War Pt I- The Overview

The Great War is a Flames of War supplement scheduled to be released with Wargames Illustrated 322. It is 36 pages in length and chock full of background information, army lists, and special rules that allow you to play German and British infantry companies in 1918.

The supplement starts with some brief background information on the Great War, with a very high level overview on the first four years. It quickly settles into 1918 and focuses on the British and Germans, culminating with some relatively detailed information on an armored fight at Villers-Bretonneux. But fear not, the supplement is mostly focused on the infantry fighting - it's not a "WW1 Tank Battles" as some folks had feared!

Getting into the army lists, there is one for the British and one for Germans. They are both classified as "infantry companies", although that doesn't mean as much as it does in FoW WW2 (more on that later!). Both options can come as regular Confident Trained troops or more battle-hardened Confident Veteran.

The German list consists of two to three base infantry platoons, which are a mix of pistols, rifles, and MG teams. They can take several HMG platoons, which thanks to early efforts at developing armor-piercing ammunition can be an annoyance to tanks as well. Moving into the German support options, they have two armored selector boxes, and two boxes for additional infantry platoons, or Stoss platoons. The Stoss platoons have a whole slew of WW2-Commando style "Stosstactik" rules to give them the extra punch they had (you can see tactics used in WW2 starting to form here! Neat! -S). The armored platoons can be either captured British tanks or A7Vs. Finally, the Germans round out the force org chart with some artillery options.

The British list follows a very similar format, although it has access to more basic infantry platoons and fewer HMGs. The British overall are very assault oriented with their infantry, carrying over British Bulldog from WW2 and gaining a commando-esque bonus to hit in assaults. The armored support options can be either MkIV (male and female variety) or the lighter MkA "Whippet" tanks. The British are also able to round out their org chart with some 18 pdrs.

It's worth noting that both side's HMGs may fire bombardments, similar to the British in WW2. In addition, all the mortars are direct fire only, with 2+ and 3+ firepower, and a 24" range that rivals the longest ranged weapons available in this era.

Let's take a break and talk about the tanks for a minute. Each selector has the option to field two platoons of them. While they are bought as platoons, each tank operates independently. They are not independent teams, but rather use the Multi-Part platoon rule, with each part being a single command tank. The tanks are EXPENSIVE points wise. This isn't like EW FoW where low armored tanks are available on the cheap. It's hard to estimate where the "sweet spot" will be for points in this era, but if it settles around 1500, taking a single full selector of tanks will be well over half (and possibly over 2/3s) of your army, and taking both selectors of tanks just won't be possible unless you're playing very large games.

The larger tanks (the landships) follow a similar system that the T35s do in Rising Sun, but it has been changed around a bit. You now track "damage" on the landship, and there is a chart showing what a landship can do when has varying degrees of damage. The crew also have the option to attempt to repair the landship. In place of being bailed or bogged, the landship simply takes damage and continues on. The landship are extremely slow, but have the option to push for additional speed at the risk of taking damage. Gun teams and tank teams take a penalty when shooting at moving, undamaged landship as if they were moving - they hadn't had a lot of practice shooting at moving vehicles yet!

We're given three new missions to play. These missions are designed to be played on 4x4 tables rather than our usual 6x4. There is a Fair Fight, a Mobile Battle, and a Defensive Battle, and they follow roughly what you would expect. The defensive battle, as you can be expect, can be quite the uphill battle for the attacker in a trench filled battlefield. There's a small handful of unique special rules that will make live a bit easier for the attacking player, which we'll cover in depth soon.

Remember when we said being an "infantry company" doesn't mean as much as it does in FoW WW2? Well, here if your force contains any artillery, you gain the "Always defends" rule. If you do NOT have artillery, and your force contains either tanks or German Stoss platoons, you gain the "Always attacks" rule. As usual, in a stalemate, you roll off.

In some upcoming articles, we're going to take a crunchy, in depth look at the the armies themselves, the special rules, and the missions.

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