Monday, August 10, 2009

The Battle for Minsk, Operation Bagration, June-July 1944
Flames of War/Battlefront
Hammer and Sickle (H&S) is the newest supplement from Battlefront and provides forces for German and Soviet players to recreate the destruction of Army Group Center during the summer of 1944. It follows the same new organizational format established by the new Fortress Europe. The Red steamroller is now in full gear as it drives the hated Fascists from Mother Russia. The Wehrmacht must throw whatever it can in the way of the advancing red hordes from veteran blocking units to less than enthusiastic Luftwaffe ground troops. 72 pages, multiple color photos, painting guide for captured German tanks.
H&S is chock full of wargaming data for both sides on the Eastern Front with a whopping 52 pages (72%) devoted to specific battalions/companies and heroes! There are a few pages that describe the battle, Soviet “hammer and sickle” strategy, tactics and forces involved in Operation Bagration; German panzer tactics (in attack and defense), support and blocking force tactics are also described. Special rules for this period and area are explained for both Germans (pioneers, blocking forces, the new flak nests and veteran tank-hunters) and Soviets (forward detachment, volley fire, exploitation, heavy breakthrough gun and decoys). The special rule for Decoys is especially cool, allowing Soviet players to use captured German tanks to fool and surprise the German defenders! Other special Soviet rules allow for more guile and more punch! German special rules are primarily defensive which is appropriate given the nature of this battle, though add some very nice ability to the usually overwhelmed troops.
Forces available to the Soviets include a motor rifle and recon infantry battalions and lend-lease, armored and guards tank battalions. The motor rifle and recon battalions can be Red Army or Guards; the lend-lease tank battalion is a Guards unit. Weapons and corps support companies offer the traditional wide array of fairly inexpensive Soviet weaponry (12x76mm artillery pieces for 275 points, 10xT-34/76 for 415 points) from BA-64 light ACs to the powerful IS-2 heavy tank. Two special units worth mentioning are the Spetnaz platoon (may attempt to infiltrate German positions) and the Decoy Tank Company that can be made up of StuGs, Pz IVHs, Panthers and even a Tiger! Two new heroes are introduced: Kapitan Nevsky (tanker) and Brigade Komissar Dedov.
German forces allow choices of the Sperrverband company (Blocking Force) given the “grim task of hold while the rest of the division escapes”, reserve pioneer and heavy tank companies. The weapons and corps support, with fewer choices than the Soviets, offers a challenge to the German player to build a force capable of holding ground or repelling the Red Army. They are no pushover as choices include 75mm AT guns, Panthers, Tigers and pioneers – if the latter can channel the Soviet attacks, the defensive blocking forces can blunt the Red attacks. Two additional heroes make their entrance: General von Saucken (a monocle wearing tanker of the “old school”) and Feldwebel Windgruber, a pioneer.
This supplement gets right to the point and puts the onus of attack squarely on the Soviets. The Germans may find being primarily on the defensive against the swarms of Soviets difficult but not untenable: the forces available, their special rules and two heroes will make this a fun challenge to overcome. H&S offer new adventures and challenges to the very popular Flames of War community – check it out!
Price: $25


Post a Comment

<< Home