Thursday, February 08, 2007

Battlefront/Flames of War
Festung Europa, 149 pages with multiple full color illustrations, is the latest intelligence handbook for the very popular Flames of War rules system. It contains army lists for American, British, Soviet and German forces available from January – August 1944. Like the previous books in the series, it is beautifully presented, illustrated with vintage black and white photos as well as full color photos of painted armies.
Festung Europa represents Battlefront’s (BF) first foray into the final years of the WWII. It is the first of several books that offers gamers the ability to replay the European battles that doomed the 3rd Reich. It is not merely a rehashing of the force statistics and costs from the previous books, but a completely updated text that more accurately reflects the late war period. For all those waiting for the big tanks – this series will allow those AFVs to be introduced onto the gaming table!
Each nationality has a small intro describing, in a story format, the forces they possess. The army lists provide the gamer to build all sorts of military companies: armored, armored recon, armored car, rifle etc. To this add specialized units like rangers, commandos, guards and Waffen SS as well as variants in the British army to allow Scots, Irish and Guard regiments and other Commonwealth contingents. Each army or contingent has special rules that give each its own “flavor” and individuality; there are specific guidelines for different theaters like Italy and Northern France for the western Allies. Keep in mind that just because you choose an infantry army you are not excluded from having armored support – it is just a matter of what you deem important within the confines of the points available (usual battles are fought between forces of 1500 points). The selections are almost limitless and completely up to you.
One of the many advantages of the Flames of War system is the outstanding support the company provides. From personal experience, a single figure was missing from three packs – I wrote to BF and had replacements from New Zealand within 10 days. Have you got questions (or better said – do you have a question you think has not been asked) about anything FoW related? Merely go on the site’s Forum and you can find the answer – check out the “Lessons from the Front” to get answers and interpretations on many aspects of the game. The website itself is full of interesting articles about campaigns, battles, painting tips, errata and new releases.Another nice thing about FoW is that the game offers the ability to play a game to a conclusion in a reasonable amount of time – and it is fun! There are many different scenarios that can be played on the barren sands of North Africa to the rocky Italian peninsula to the bocage of France to the endless steppes of the Soviet Union. The Festung Europa handbook is the first of the “late war” books; more are planned over the next year. With endless choices of armies, battles and battlefields the replay value will be quite high - and it is fun to play!


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