Saturday, May 2, 2015
Battle Group Blitzkrieg Hits the Doorstep
Much like one of Pavlov's dogs, I now have an entirely predictable response to new releases from the Iron Fist Publishing/Plastic Soldier Company Axis that brings us Battle Group. I just pre-order every supplement, and pretty much salivate when I see the satisfyingly heavy envelope arrive.
Battle Group Blitzkrieg, the latest supplement for the Battle Group (BG) rules, arrived this week, and I have been enjoying flicking through it. For a general overview of how the Battle Group rules work, and why I love them so, check out my earlier post here. These are just some initial impressions on the latest release.
Battle Group Blitzkrieg covers the Polish and French campaigns of 1939-40, and it is clear that this supplement is something of a labour of love for the authors, Messrs Brand and Kinrade. Although most gamers are drawn towards the later war period (Tigers! Panthers! About 10 Jagdpanthers on the table at the same time if you play FOW!), it is the authors' contention that early war battles have a great deal to offer gamers. In France in 1940 in particular, German success was not due to the technical superiority of their equipment. Quite the contrary, in fact, as German troops faced by Matilda II and Char BI bis tanks were to find out. Games representing the early war campaigns therefore need to find a way of capturing the German advantages of air support, better communications and more effective tactical coordination. As with every BG supplement, the authors have done so by adding a few special rules to the strong core mechanics of the games system. So for example, the Germans benefit from the Panzermarsch special rule, allowing them to deploy their reserves more rapidly, while Polish, French, Belgian and British air support is less likely to show up than the Stukas. In contrast to the supplements dealing with 1943-5, all sides suffer from less effective communications with off-board mortars, although this is ameliorated slightly by special rules for runners.
The Blitzkrieg rule book itself is the usual quality product we have come to expect from Iron Fist Publishing, containing a good historical overview, hobby sections, army lists and rules, supported with period photographs and model photographs. One of my minor quibbles with Battle Group Barbarossa was that photographs of German tanks in panzer gray were very dark, but they have certainly solved the problem in Blitzkrieg. Battle Group books always contain nicely explained hobby sections with guides on painting tanks, but for the first time Blitzkrieg also has detailed guides for painting British, French and German infantry, a really good inclusion that should help newcomers to the hobby in particular.
Battle Group Blitzkrieg contains detailed army lists for different types of German and Polish formations in 1939, as well as Germans, Belgians, French and the BEF for 1940. The sections on each campaign are also supported by specific scenarios drawn from actual events during the Polish and French campaigns. I really like the look of these, especially since several of the scenarios are infantry actions with nary a tank to be seen. The inclusion of some quite small infantry engagements should make gaming the early stages of the war more accessible to new players, as well as highlighting the fact that Battle Group is far more than just a system for gaming the massed tank battles of 1943.
Congratulations to Piers Brand and Warwick Kinrade on another cracking addition to the Battle Group stable. In a year's time we can probably look forward to the first supplement for the desert war, supported by shiny new releases from PSC. If I could, I'd pre-order it already.