A FLAMES OF WAR review article by Jing Hao
Following the battles of Normandy and the push to liberate Paris, the next step of World War II for the Western Front brings us to Operation Market Garden, the battles along the Siegfried Line, and Germany’s final land offensive in the Battle of the Bulge.
The war in the Western Front between July and September was a general push to the Rhine, with the Allied forces steadily with American and British forces pushing and liberating French cities while bypassing German units deemed unessential in the Southwest. After reaching the Rhine, the Siegfried Line was the next large obstacle, a barrier which the Allies fought for at a high cost.
Montgomery’s Operation Market Garden was launched to create the narrow front in contrast to Eisenhower’s favored ‘Broad Front’. While the American objectives were secured, the operation’s final goals weren’t achieved, and the war would continue on along the river Rhine.
The Battle of the Bulge, the culmination of Operation ‘Wacht am Rhein’ or its alternate name ‘Herbstnebel’, occurred in mid-December. A surprise crossing into the Elsenborn Ridge created massive confusion as the Germans advanced, starting a general retreat by US forces.
However, US heroics were recorded in both the Battle of Elsenborn Ridge and Bastogne, which eventually became a focal point of Hitler’s personal vendetta. Coupled with massive artillery support and relentless endurance by fresh troops, 1945 was a turnaround as the weather cleared, and Patton’s Third Army finally breaking through to Bastogne marked the end of any German offensive in the Western Front.
Bulge Americans follow up from D-Day Americans by updating them with later weapons and equipment in terms of armour and vehicles, as well as following the progress of the Infantry and Paratrooper divisions through D-Day, Market Garden, and the Bulge. While the iconic Allied workhorse the Sherman would still be the mainstay of American armour, later updates bring forth powerful Allied innovations as well as practical testing to yield some of the most powerful vehicles the Allies would ever command.
In this article we will look at the Infantry and Support options gifted to the Americans, two core components which held the Germans for days on before reinforcements could arrive. By adding some twists, Flames of War allows Historically-inclined lists to be built to reflect the formations during the opening shots of the Ardennes Offensive.
The Rifle Infantry
Armoured Rifle and Rifle formations in Bulge are ‘Battle-Weary’ troops given the chance to recover and recuperate in a section of the frontline. That said when the Germans came, one could say they did nazi it coming.
The main bonus would be – Cheaper 4+ to hit infantry with a worse motivation. Similar to the Desert Rats of the British D-Day books.
The legendary Armoured Rifle Company comes with its unique twist in being ‘Battle Weary’, taking a hit to its Motivation while costing lesser than their fresh D-Day counterparts. Followed by machine-gun armed transports, these formations still pack a punch with the assortment of weapons in a platoon, only that their counterattack values would call for some attention.
Caught with their pants down, the 28th never really stood a chance against Kampfgruppe Peiper. A regular US Rifle company, players who desire infantry platoons with a focus on defence would find this appealing, creating an anvil of unmovable infantry while investing more in their armoured hammer.
All in all the new Reluctant infantry has but one purpose – Holding an objective. Big platoons with many stands, let them remain pinned as your anvil, supporting them with guns and artillery while your hammer works their magic.
While the regular infantry took a hit to their stats, Parachute and Glider Companies received a bonus as defenders of Bastogne.
The battle around Bastogne was one of the fiercest the 101st faced in combat. Inserted as a regular infantry division during the eleventh hour, the paratroopers, supported by artillery, held the city until Patton’s Third Army arrived.
The already capable Parachute Rifle Company receives a stat buff to their motivation. Previously Fearless, every rifle, mortar, and AT gun now utters the word “Nuts” to the thought of running away.
The 101st Airborne’s 327th Regiment was trained into a Glider infantry regiment, and together with the rest of the division was deployed to Bastogne. Positioned to the south of the city, the regiment fought hard, sustaining casualties but eventually completing their objective. Although sustaining heavy casualties, the Glider Regiment succeeded where it mattered most – Holding the line.
BULGE AMERICAN SUPPORT OPTIONS
The new addition to the US support option is the T27 Rocket Launchers Battery. Wanna see an MLRS of World War II? The T27 provides it. US rockets in the Bulge perform worse than the German heavy Nebelwerfers, but come at a cheap price at 4 units for 7 points. Another point for them to be this cheap would be their CONFIDENT skill, which makes spotting a little harder than usual.
The T27 is also the first Support Artillery to be hit on a 4+, although one should not count on that when dealing with counter-battery or machinegun fire.
On the next article, we will explore the new armour Bulge brings forth into Flames of War. American innovation, improvisation, and ingenuity comes together to create a fearsome force of tanks that even the British could only envy from far.
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