It's been a while since there were any articles about Flames of War, and what a way to start again! This series of articles will cover World War 2 Germany's most controversial fighting force, the Waffen-SS, and will cover their formations as well as ways players can integrate them into their armies during the events of D-Day, 1944! Get ready for the release of the Waffen-SS on 22nd August!
A brief history of the Waffen-SS
Source: German federal archives
The origins of the Waffen-SS can be traced back to the earliest days of the Nazi regime. Originally a small guard unit responsible for hall security during NSDAP meetings, the Schutzstaffel organization grew into a major paramilitary power in Germany. The SS was organised into 3 branches, the Allgemaine-SS, the Waffen-SS, and the SS-totenkopfverbande. The Waffen-SS would be the military arm of the SS, and was envisioned to be an elite policing force of the third Reich.
Source: Dutch SS troops
Between 1934 to the outset of the second world war, Heinrich Himmler recruited and organised the Waffen-SS into a fanatical fighting force, loyal to Hitler, that would leave an indelible mark on history.
German High Command (OKW) regarded the Waffen-SS troops as unduly aggressive and poorly trained, and did not hold their officers in high regard, especially after a poor start in the invasion of Poland. Unwilling to disband the Waffen-SS, Hitler instead ordered that the Waffen-SS form its own divisions and command structure, but remain under Army control. Rapid recruiting and expansion subsequently ballooned the Waffen-SS into a major fighting force with it's own uniform, ranks and equipment.
The Waffen-SS was the direct combat arm of the SS, and participated in frontline combat as well as brutal occupation and suppression duties in occupied territories.
During the events of D-day, the 1 SS Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, 12 SS Hitlerjugend, the 17 SS Götz von Berlichingen, together with the Panzer-Lehr, were assigned to Panzer group west in anticipation of the allied invasion, together with 2 SS Das Reich, which was already deployed to France. By 9th June 1944, the Waffen-SS forces were fully embroiled in the fighting, but not before committing several atrocities, including the Ardennes abbey massacre and the Oradour-sur-glane massacre.
source: Memorial de coudehard-montormel
Allied forces eventually closed the Falaise pocket, cutting off all German reinforcements and supplies. The fierce fighting left the 12 SS Hitlerjugend all but eliminated, having lost 70% of it's vehicles and manpower.
Another way to play Germans
Long awaited by military enthusiasts and wargamers alike, the Waffen-SS book offers Geman players a very different playstyle from regular Wehrmacht forces. Your Peadot camoflaged fanatics are available in considerable numbers and are well suited for a hyper aggressive playstyle to take advantage of their incredible morale and skill in assault.
Veteran FOW players may lament that the old individual SS special rules have vanished, but the new command cards will add additional flavor for those wanting some extra zing from their troops.
The key distinguishing factor that separates the SS from Wehrmacht forces is that they are almost universally hit on a 3+, representing their aggressiveness on the field. This means that casualties will be inevitable, but rest assured the sacrifices for the fatherland will be well-remembered, as this drawback also means a considerable points discount for your forces. With the SS, it is possible to outnumber your opponent, an otherwise rare occurance for German players.
A new rule reflecting the experience of senior SS officers, the Old Hand Rule improves the skill roll of your troops as long as they are within 6 inches of the CO, encouraging compact formations that can surprise opponents expecting your troops to fumble blitz or shoot and scoot rolls. Especially important for tanks, Old hand will be the key in preserving your forces in the long run.
Astute players will also have noticed that the SS Panther tanks are very much improved from their Wehrmacht counterparts, boasting a 3+ fearless rating for morale, which pays dividends when it comes to rolling the inevitable remount checks. Furthermore, SS Panthers are available at a steep discount, and players can rejoice as fielding a full SS Panther company is not only possible, but also compeitively viable (especially with luminaries like Barkmann in the mix)!
Now available in plastic, the SS Panzergrenadiers will be the lynchpin of your aggressive plays, and there's nothing like showing off a horde of your peadot camo'ed minions on the tabletop. Boasting MG teams, ample anti-tank and 3+ morale, your SS panzergrenadiers will sweep any opposition off the table if they are unprepared to face the ferocity of your troops. Eagle-eyed players will note that a full SS Panzergrenadier platoon only costs 1 point more to field than the much more inferior beach defense platoons, which is guaranteed to raise some eyebrows.
In our next article, we look into listbuilding with the new Waffen-SS forces, as well as explore utilising Waffen-SS troops as support for regular Wehrmacht lists.
About Flames of War
Flames of War (abbreviated as FoW) is a World War 2 Miniatures Game produced by the New Zealand company Battlefront Miniatures Ltd. The 1st Edition set of rules was published in 2002.
Flames of War allows players to wargame company level battles from the European, Pacific and North African Theatres of World War Two, using 1/100 scale miniatures. Since then, this old dame has evolved into its 4th edition, utilising a unified ruleset across both the WW2 system and Team Yankee, the cold war version of the game.
About the Writer:
Eddie is an avid painter who also enjoys anime, studying military history and hopes that Girls Und Panzer will come true one day so that everyone can resolve their differences with tank Airsoft.