Monday, 5 October 2015

Great War Book Review

Hello All

In the tradition of Vietnam and The Six Days War, Great War is graduating from a Wargames Illustrated booklet to a full briefing book. Coming in at 74 pages and including two new armies, three new army lists, new missions and French Saint-Chamond tank (I love this tank!), Great War is now a full period with far more options. Battlefront kindle sent us a preview copy to read and it seemed a little rude not to review it and give you all a few spoilers!

First Impressions

The book looks great, what else do you expect from a Battlefront briefing book? Coming in at 76 pages the history sections in particular stands out and as normal do a good job of giving you an overview of the battles you will be fighting. There is quite a bit of reuse of the old Wargames Illustrated booklet for the German and British sections but if it ain't broke don't fix it.
You have five army lists in total and all but the Stoss Company has options for different ratings, giving you nine list options in total. I'm sure once a few digital lists from been added this will feel like a full blown period that will keep everyone bar the Italian, Austro-Hungary and Russian fans happy.

Special Rules

The special rule section hasn't changed, there are three one special rules all for the Mark V tank and it's variants. These rules are Very Long Tracks for the Mark V* (same as wide tracks up on a 3+), Rough Ride again for the Mark V* and means any platoon which dismounts is pinned (it seems a lot the Mark V* was a transport, it wasn't very good at it!) and Reliable, which means tanks with this rule can re roll failed bogging tests and doesn't break down on the roll of a 1. .

The British

The British list haven't changed much from the WI booklet, the addition of Mark V tanks and French Tanks are the only real changes. There are no options for commonwealth forces but I expect they will be added in digital lists.

The Germans

The main German lists is identical to the list in WI, not a single change in points or organisation. What is new though is the Stoss company! I'm quite excited about this list, in fact I have just finished two platoons of Stoss Infantry so I can run the list.
So what does a Stoss company do? Well firstly they get to Night Attack in any mission without the Meeting Engagement rule, their is a small down side to this, if you elect to Night Attack you don't benefit from Preliminary Bombardment special rule. Still this is a pretty good special rule and being Veterans concealed at night while assaulting an enemy trench seems an effective option.

The lists itself has the option for both HQ flame-throwers and platoon upgrade flame-throwers, so once you get in close with the Stoss platoons that's a lot of flame to get the pin.

You also have the option for a two strong Stoss HMG platoon and one to three Stoss 7.6cm Minenwerfers. Other wise the rest of the support is from the regular German army and includes Tanks, Anti-Tank Guns, regular Infantry, Infantry Guns and Artillery Detachment.
Overall I think the Stoss Company add's a great new dimension to Great War breaking the fold of standard infantry lists. The options to Night Attack excites me and I can see Stoss Companies being very popular with both casual and competitive gamers.

The French 

The first of the new nationalities in the book are the French. They come in two flavours, the Reluctant Veteran Metropolitans and the Fearless Veteran Colonials.
They have four special rules:-
  • They Shall Not Pass allows them to re-roll morale tests to counter attack. 
  • Trench Fighters means that Rifle and Pistol teams hit on a 2+ in assault. 
  • Quick Fire means the 75mm artillery re-rolls failed to hits when firing with four guns, and doesn't re-roll hits when firing with one to three guns. 
  • Finally Trench Warfare Infantry and Gun Teams which are dug in or entrenched to shoot over any Man-Packed or Light Gun teams that are also dug in or entrenched. 
These rules makes the French seem like slightly better British IMO and the list for the Companie De Fusiliers carries this theme forward.

The HQ has fewer options than the German version, but far more than the British. You can have up to three Flame-thrower teams and up to two 37mm mle 1916 Infantry gun teams. The 37mm is surprisingly good with ROF 3 AT 4 and FP 4+ two of these adding and assault can quickly dig out gun teams or infantry.

The Fusiliers platoons are organised as two platoons each with their own command teams. This means you can have two nine team platoons per slot on the force org. While not game breaking (I would guess you'll mostly see two "half" platoons in most games) you could see eight platoons of infantry in a list! The Half-platoons break down as five rifle teams (one is the command team), two MG teams and two VB teams.
Support wise you get the standard two to four Machine-gun platoon and the option for either one to four British made 76mm Strokes Mortars or French 58mm Type 2 Mortars. The Type 2 has a longer range and 2+ FP but is a bit more expensive.

Divisional Support is all Reluctant Veteran. First up is the 75mm Artillery which as mentioned above gets the Quick Fire rule. Like the German and British artillery this platoon makes you auto defend but at a discounted cost because unlike the British you get four guns not three or six and you get the discounted cost of being Reluctant.

The final options are the tanks. The French have three different types, Renault FT-17's, Schneider CA.1 and Char Saint Chamond, all the tanks are Confident Trained. The Schneider is an old looking tank with the off set main gun, at AT 5 it seems to be the lightest of the Landships. The Char Saint Chamond looks amazing! With an AT 8 hull mounted gun this awkward looking tank looks to be the worlds first tank destroyer. Both the Schneider and the Chamond lack the MG's that the other Landships have, with two and four respectively. The little FT-17's are the same as the WW2 versions out of Blitzkrieg, they are not Landships (and shouldn't be), half of them are armed with an AT 4 37mm SA-18 gun and the other half are MG armed. The French also have the option for British light and medium tank.
My thoughts on the French are we have the best defensive army in the game, I'm already toying around with a list that has a two gun artillery battery, two half-platoons of RV infantry which along with the HQ is 615pts for 3 veteran platoons and auto defends. Another 225pts on four HMG's and fill out the rest to fit your fancy.

The U.S.

The second of the new nationalities are the Americans. They come with two different ratings, either the Confident Trained 42nd Division or the Confident Veteran 1st Division.
They have four special rules:-
  • Over There is the Canadian Assault troops rule, re-roll unpinning and Bailed Out tests.. 
  • Trench Fighters means that Rifle and Pistol teams hit on a 2+ in assault. 
  • Sargent York which is Carry On Sergeant. The platoon can assault even without a platoon command team.
  • Finally Lafayette, We Are Here, a U.S. company doesn't count French platoons are allies
The first impression of the U.S. is they are WW2 Canadians fighting in WW1 for the U.S.

The U.S. company is organised and equipped the same as the French above. The only differences are they get their own FT-17 platoon which is also Confident Trained, and they can have one French infantry platoon in the support if they wise too.
My thoughts on the U.S. look like British troops equipped by the French. I can see them being a more aggressive version of the French with the Confident Veteran probably being the best options for this. With Over There to keep them moving and nice cheap Flame-throwers to help with the assaults, I think this is the best none German assault list.

The Missions

There are six missions in the book, The Big Push, Through The Mud and Blood and The Green Fields Beyond return from the booklet. A modified No Man's Land and Dust Up are also included along with a new mission called Pocket Defence.

Pocket Defence is sort of similar to surrounded, the defender is in the middle 20 inches of the board and the attacker deploys either side. What makes this different is the Wayland Reserves rule which means all of the Defenders armoured units start in reserve, well sort of. Wayland Reserves all turn up on turn three automatically. You then roll for them to see which corner or attackers table edge they appear along.
I really want to try this new mission, it looks like a much better version of Surrounded and it might be worth looking at changing it up to work for WW2 FOW as well.

Closing Thoughts

Great War now has the feeling of a full era, a few more digital lists will also go a long way to bulking out what looks like a fun and different version of FOW. I'm looking forward to trying out the new Stoss company and either the U.S. or French lists. The history section is great with a full break down of the operations of 1918, the French use of tanks and a look at all the tanks of the time period. The Char Saint Chamond has got to get some good playing time, it looks to quirky not to use!

I'm a little disappointed there was no commonwealth forces in the British section, I feel this would have added a lot with little work, but I'm sure this will be corrected soon with the digital add ons.

Thanks for reading and until next time


1 comment:

  1. Nice review - thanks
    I'm also looking forward to seeing some ANZAC rules