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Friday, June 26, 2015

Review of Nachjager (Digital)

By Mitch Reed

When I did my first article on Nachtjager I promised you a review of the digital only content after it was released. In two’s and three’s over a six week period, the digital only lists for Nachtjager appeared on Forces of War (Forces) and Flames of War Digital (FOW-D) and I checked them out as the dropped.

Billed as a release of 14 lists, the total really comes to 16, since you can field two types (veteran or ersatz) Fallshirmjäger or (British or Canadian) Parachute companies.

The lists:
  • German Grenadierkompanie
  • German Ausbuldungskompanie
  • German Fallshirmj√§gerkompanie (Veteran and Ersatz)
  • British Commando
  • British SAS Squadron
  • British Motor Company
  • British Lorried Rifle Company
  • U.S. Parachute Rifle Company
  • U.S. Glider Rifle Company
  • British Airborne Armoured Recce Squadron
  • British Parachute Company (British and Canadian)
  • British Airlanding Company
  • British Armoured Car Squadron
  • British Guards Tank Squadron
 This is an impressive list, even more so when you realize that the Nachtjager book only had six lists.




So about now you are wondering why Battlefront chose to release this period in late war in two different mediums. I wish I knew, however we as consumers are perhaps giving Battlefront the marketing statistics they need to decide which format is better for future “books’.

Background
On a historical note, the lists in Nachtjager (Digital) cover the forces used in Operation Plunder which had an airborne element (Operation Varsity), three ground elements (Operations Turnscrew, Widgeon, and Torchlight), and an SAS support element (Operation Archway). Plunder was the 21st Army Groups crossing of the Rhine River north of the Ruhr Valley on 23-24 March 1945 and is really remembered for Operation Varsity, which was the largest single day, single location airborne drop in history. Plunder was the last major operation by Britain’s Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, the master of the set piece battle; he ended the war in Europe in the same fashion in which he fought most of the war. Some historians debate if such a large operation was needed, since the Germans were on their last legs and the Rhine River was already pierced by the time Plunder kicked off.


Digital or Forces
The non-digital version of Nachtjager which came out prior to the digital version really covers the forces involved in the British advance to the Baltic and the Elbe River which happened after Plunder, so they came out in an un-chronological manner. As the lists became available you could buy them separately for $2.99 on FOW-D or for $1 per list on forces. You can also unlock all the Nachtjager (Digital) lists on Forces for $10.99, which is what I did, and felt that if I liked any of the lists I would also FOW-D version.

I had a late-late war tournament coming up that only allowed lists from Nachtjager, Bridge at Remagen, or Desperate Measures. Having decided on playing Commonwealth forces for 2015, I picked the Commando list for the tournament, and just so I had all the info I needed I picked up the FOW-D Commando briefing. After reading the brief I realized I didn’t need to buy the download. The Forces version and the FOW-D version were identical and I do not see any reason to get both in the future. Going back to why Battlefront chose to do this, I do not know, perhaps they have a plan in the future for how these tools will work together.


As for the lists; well I will not go in detail on all of them, however I will highlight a few that I liked and either have or will play in the future. In Nachtjager-Digital you can pick from a ton of British lists or a collection of three German or two American lists.

The Germans
Some of you may know that before this year I played with my German’s in late war, so I would like to think I am a good judge of what is a good German list. You have the choice to field a Reluctant Trained Grenadier Company or a Fearless Trained Hitler Youth Training Company. Looking over these lists they do not have anything special that excites me since I do not like trains; which also makes an appearance in the digital version of Nachjager. With each you can only get one tank platoon which makes these lists weak in my opinion.

I will not pass on the Fearless Veteran Fallshirmj√§gerkompanie, this list is one I really like. First of all they get a 2+ Enjoy the War roll which is one of the best rules to have in your force. The core of this list is your F/V MG platoons that can get upgraded with Panzerfausts. In support you can get up to two FJ assault gun platoons, each with three STuGs, and one of those can be upgraded to a STuH. Since they are crewed by former anti-tank gunners they get to re-roll misses on tanks if they do not move. It’s almost like a watered down semi-indirect fire for the Germans. These tanks can also get tank riders for 15 points per tank, not too bad if you like having that option.

Besides the FJ tanks, you get a lot to pick from, F/T King Tigers, C/V Jagdpanthers, and the standard Panthers and Panzer IVJ’s to boot. All these get Enjoy the War as well. Other support includes loads of AT guns, artillery, and AAA; but sorry no choo choo train or recce platoons on this list. This list can also come as an Erstaz company, same options however your combat platoons are F/T. I made up a 1900 point list and just may have to break my promise to play Commonwealth in 2015. In fact I played my Commando’s against Jesse Schaffer, who ran a version of this list, and he smoked me.

From Forces of War 

At nine platoons I get five on the table with the Volksgrenadiers. I can even roll my HMGs into my combat platoons and make a KG with my 2iC and a MG stand to keep my list at nine platoons strong. A very tough list for defense, however you can easily attack with it as well.

The Americans
Representing the 17th Airborne Division in Operation Varsity are two American lists, a parachute and a glider infantry platoon. These lists look a lot alike; the glider riders are C/V while the parachute company is rated as F/V. They get up to two British Churchill tank platoons in support with some tank destroyers. Artillery can be from the US Airborne division or from the British, so you have options. The mix reminds me a lot of the British/US Airborne lists from the Market-Garden book, with little being new or special, but that is my opinion.



The British
The main focus of Nachtjager Digital are the British forces for the end of the war in Europe, that crossed the Rhine in Varsity/Plunder and drove east to meet the Russians. While these lists wrap up the British, missing are the Canadian and Poles who also were fighting in Holland as the war ended. I hope a future update includes them.



For dedicated British players picking up these lists are a must, especially if you’re like me and have 11 Comet tanks in your collection.  Adhering to history, not all of the lists have the ability to field Comets, but enough do to make investing in a box or two worthwhile.  I have already played the Commandos from this list and have looked into playing some others. One thing I like is that the Commando and Airborne lists have the option to equip your platoon command teams with Panzerfausts, which gives you an option few Allied lists have.  I assume the Germans just left them everywhere in 1945.


The SAS Squadron is probably the most interesting list I will probably never play.  It’s a mechanized list that features SAS combat platoons in jeeps which can be armored and even have .50 caliber HMGs on them.  You can get two Comet platoons here and your support is the usual British artillery.  I wish this list was like the Airborne Recce list from Market Garden, in which you can dismount the jeeps and use infantry stands to represent them on foot.



Another list in this vain is the Airborne Recce list in which you can field Crowell or Locust tanks in one of your combat platoons.  The rest is standard British support and sorry no Comets.

The list I like and may play is the Canadian Airborne company.  As you know from my past articles I like all things Canadian (except for William Shatner) and this list seems like a lot of fun.  Being the Canadian, your Panzerfaust command team can keep spawning in most games and the Canadian special rules are some of the best in the game. No Comets, sorry. However you can get up to two Churchill tank platoons and British artillery in support.  This may be a fun list and you can talk about the last winners of the Jeff Nicklin Memorial Cup.

From Forces of War 

The British Para list is identical to the Canadians and the Airlanding list has a few more options since those gliders do bring in a lot of stuff.


The list I played from this release is the Commando list.  I painted up a bunch of them over a year ago and they haven’t seen much action. 


From Forces of War 

As you can see it’s a pretty tight list.  However I went 1-6, 4-3, and 2-5 with them.  In one scenario vs Jess’s FJ list we rolled off who attacked and I lost (I should have gone for the night attack), in another scenario I was just swamped by German tanks.  My Comets did little for me despite their high point cost but I did get to use my Water Buffalos for the first time which was neat.  I think some more practice with this list may be in order.


Besides these two lists the Motor Company is something I may play in the future, and due to this I have ten M5 Halftracks and some White Scout Cars ready to be primed and painted.

Lt Col Jeff Nicklin, Commander of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, KIA 24 March 1945, former Winnipeg Blue Bomber (CFL)

With one book left for the war in Europe to go, it was nice to see the British forces brought into 1945.  While some of these lists are tweaks on what we have seen, you do get some new toys to field and have fun with.  So for the sake of some of the lists I mentioned above, I think picking up some of the Nachtjager-Digital lists is a must.



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