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Monday, September 28, 2015

Preview :Battlefront's Great War Additions: Part 2 The Americans and Germans

By Mitch Reed
In my last article I previewed the new Great War additions that are about to released by Battlefront.  In this article I will preview the new American list, the German Stosskompanie list, and the new missions that are in the new Great War book.

The Americans
For the first three years of the war the US publicly proclaimed neutrality, however behind the scenes the US did fund and supply the British and French in their fight against imperial Germany.  After the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare and the German courting of Mexico to attack the US, the nation could no longer stand by and the US entered the war in April 1916.  While the Americans had a level of resources and manpower that the nations of Europe envied, they had a very small army that lacked many of the modern weapons and training that were needed to fight in Europe.  While everyone knew this fact, the Allies told the US to send the troops over so they could be trained and equipped in France. While the above statement may seem out of place in a preview, it does explain why the US list looks like it does in the new book.

The US list can be built either as Confident Veteran or Confident Trained.  The rationale for this is that many of the US Army’s regular full time units were made up of professional soldiers who have seen combat in Mexico, the Philippines, Cuba, and Central and South America.  The 1st Infantry Division was the first symbol of the American precipitation in the war and was made up of soldiers who had years of service in the army to they are rated as Confident Veterans.  The other big source of manpower for the US was the extensive National Guard system, in which troops trained part time and could be used by their state in case of an emergency.  A prime example of these men is the 42nd Rainbow Division which was an idea of then Major Douglass MacArthur, to take assorted National Guard units from all over the nation and form them in one division that covered the nation, hence the use of the rainbow nickname.  This new unit was mostly made up of part time soldiers who have the rating of Confident Trained to reflect their level of training.

The US National Rules also gives the US list some flavor which is based on America’s role in the Great War.  The special rule “Over There” gives the American player a re-roll for a failed motivation checks when either pinned down or bailed out of their tanks.  The rule displays the amount of patriotism and excitement shown by US troops when they joined the war.  The next special rule reflects the role of the NCO in the US Army and is called “Sergeant York”, and it lets US platoons assault and reorganize without a platoon command team. Additionally, the “Lafayette we are here” rule is taken from the phrase spoken by the US commander General John Pershing when he arrived in France in 1917.  Pershing was acknowledging that the US was returning the favor to the French for helping the US during the Revolutionary War. This rule means that French units in a US list ignore the Allied Platoon rule since the two nations have always had an historical connection.   The last rule is something I also did not see until the final version (or did not notice) is the “Trench Fighter” rule where Trained pistol and rifle teams hit on a 3+ in assault and Veterans hit on a 2+.  The rationale that is given in the rules explains that is was because the French and British trained the new Doughboys.  I do not know if I buy this explanation 100%; and it leads to every list except for the German Infantry Company having this ability.  I know the Great War was a bloodbath so why not make every unit 2+ or 3+ to hit during assaults.

When looking at the US list, it is very similar to the French list with some minor exceptions. 
The company headquarters only has the option to buy up to two 37mm mle 1916 guns much like the French HQ, but the flamethrowers are  located in a separate platoon that can field up to 3 teams, however they have to be lent out to a half-platoon of infantry.  The book lists them as a ‘French Flamethrower Platoon” though the ”Lafayette we are here” nullifies any issue you would have when attaching them to your US platoons.

The only other exceptions to the list are the US ability to select any type of US, British or French tank platoon  in their company and, while they have the same artillery guns as the French, they do not use the “Quick Fire” special rule.

US platoons mirror the French

In breaking down the US infantry platoon the similarities to the French are very obvious.  This should be of little surprise since the French took a more active role in training the raw Americans as they arrived in France by the thousands each week.  The Americans also adopted many weapons used by the French as opposed to the ones used by the British such as the Hotchkiss HMG and the Chauchat LMG.  Even the US Light Tank Platoon uses FT-17s that are also Confident Trained and cost the same per tank.  A force with a bunch of these tanks may be worth it when you factor in the effects of the “Over There” special rule.

The US gave the French some all-black units, the Harlem Hell-fighters performed superbly 

So why would you want to field an American Great War company?  I guess it’s the same rationale for collecting any other list I suppose.  The answer really comes down to your level of interest in the Yanks and how you feel about how their special rules flavor the way in which you play them.  I like the option of being able to take any type of tank unit the Allies have as well.  Another factor is thinking of them as a  Confident Trained version of the French.

The Germans
The last company is a new addition to the German infantry list that was released last summer.  The German’s did need a new list or some new options since you only have one option to play against the three different Allied nations. The Stosskompanie gives the German’s a hard hitting unit made up of elite storm troopers that are trained in tactics never before seen in the Great War.

Stosstruppen are not new to the game and were an option in the original German Infantry list which made your force “Always Attack” and took advantage of some great special rules. The only new special rule with the Stosskompanie is their ability to use the “Night Attack” rule.  If you decide to do this you do forfeit the ‘Preliminary Bombardment” mission special rule, so you do have some things to decide before you play.

The Stosskompanie is rated as Fearless Veteran and comes at a high cost; each full Platoon comes in at 305 points, with the option to add a flamethrower team for an additional 50 points. Speaking of flamethrowers, a Stoss list with 2 combat platoons has the option to field up to 5 of these teams, ouch. 

The Stosskompanie looks is very similar to the German infantry list but you do not have any anti-tank weapons as a platoon or part of the HQ; however this is mitigated by the fact that the Stoss units are Tank Assault 3.

The German infantry list that was released last year is also in the new book and it is unchanged from the original. 

New Missions
The lack of missions for the new period was something I noticed when the Great War line came out last year.  Battlefront has changed this by adding a new mission, Pocket Defense as well as adding two missions (No-Man’s Land and Dust Up) from the World War Two version of the game.

Paining Guides
Finally the book has all of the guides you will need to paint your Great War force.

Summation and Notes
I will not lie to you; I loved every minute of working on the new Great War lists for Battlefront.  I think the addition of these forces were crucial to giving the player all the major forces that were present in Battlefront’s target period of 1918.  Each force created for the game is different enough to give you a unique playing experience as well as a unique learning curve.

What would he do?  Play with tanks! 

If I was to look for one fault of the game it would be the abundance of tanks.  Yes the battles of 1918 were very fluid and open; however it was not the tank that caused this. It was the development of new tactics combined with the mindset that that continuing the stalemate was a losing strategy. Tanks may have won some minor parts of some battles, but it did not win the war nor had much to do with winning the war.

Having played the game a few times I do like playing with either without tanks or one or two per side.  The tanks take away from what is (perhaps by accident) a great infantry tactics game.  So my shameless plug here is to recommend playing the Great War period.  As I have said many times, it is a different game than the WWII version and one that is a lot of fun.  Try it, I am sure you will love it.

This end the two part series on the new Great War book, perhaps in a few weeks or months from now I will have a part three where perhaps I will talk about Diggers, Kiwi’s, Canucks, and Leathernecks.

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