Following from North Africa, Eastern Front is a major revamp of Ostfront, one of our mid-war compendia. Like North Africa it brings our old books up to our latest standards with the new company organisation diagrams, complete listings rather than modifications for variants, and better overall organisation. It has also undergone a comprehensive re-pointing to bring all of the forces into line and incorporate the last four years of experience.
The German section is both essentially the same, and quite different. While it covers the same material, it does so in a much more complete and easy-to-use fashion. Not only are all of the previous variant briefings such as pioneer companies and SS and Luftwaffe forces are now listed out in detail and pointed out in full, but the Panzer and Panzergrenadier companies have been broken up into multiple briefings.
Instead of two armoured briefings, we now have six: 1942 Schwere Panzerkompanie, 1943 Schwere Panzerkompanie, Czech Panzerkompanie, Mittlere Panzerkompanie, a 1943-style Panzerkompanie, and the Kursk Pantherkompanie. This will get rid of a lot of the perennial questions on how they go together and will help those interested in historical forces get the right combinations of equipment.
Of course most of these briefings now come in two flavours as well—Heer (Army) and SS.
As with all Fearless forces, the SS have benefited considerably from the points reduction in Fearless tanks and guns. If you ever wanted to try SS, but were put off by the points cost, now’s your chance!
The Panzergrenadier and Panzerpionier companies received a similar treatment with the armoured and motorised versions being separated out and given both Heer and SS options. Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie players (and those who have always wanted to play them) will be happy with the new points too. A Gepanzerte SS-Panzergrenadier Platoon is now cheaper than the old army one.
We gave the Grenadiers a slightly different treatment. Here we finally gave the motorised infantry and Panzergrenadier divisions their due. You can now motorise your infantry! The Luftwaffe Feldkompanie also has its own briefing to properly reflect their interesting variations and oddities.
On the equipment side, we have added in the 8.8cm PaK43/41 (new research has shown that they were fielded at Kursk), made the Hornisse a bit more realistic in price, and added the 15cm SFH18 (beloved of late-war players), and the self-propelled 8.8cm FlaK18 showcased in mid-war monsters. The rocket artillery has the new organisation for the Panzerwerfer batteries allowing a devastating bombardment, and an option for the SS to field their R-Vielfachwerfer launchers (seen in Monty’s Meatgrinder and River of Heroes).
Overall, I think most German players will be very happy with the new book.
As anyone who reads the forums will know, the Finnish lobby is alive and well, and definitely keen to be heard! It is no surprise then that they have new special rules for their artillery and the Hunters rule replaces the Ski-equipped rule bringing them in line with their new late-war briefing.
Aside from that, they also benefit from the general reduction in the cost of Fearless tanks and guns.
This particularly helps their tanks and artillery, which also gets a greater variety of guns ranging from the little Russian 76mm regimental gun to the German 150mm and Russian 152mm howitzers.
Wayne wouldn’t have let me get away without some new toys for his bellowed Hungarians (no surprise really, since he wrote most of their section)! They now have access to the Panzer III N in their tank companies and have the Veteran motorised infantry split out from their Trained foot-slogging counterparts. This change allowed Wayne to distinguish the comparatively well-equipped motorised troops from the bulk of the army. Not that they missed out as they gained their own 149mm howitzers for a bit more punch amongst other little tweaks.
Like the Italians in North Africa, the Eastern Front Italians have had quite a revamp. The basic force is now a battalion rather than a company. This gives them a lot more resilience and makes a balance force much easier to develop given their cheap infantry and generally light equipment. As a battalion, they have a bit more support and quite a lot more anti-tank guns!
They even get a German Czech-equipped Panzer Platoon for support if they want it.
The Alpini are now a separate briefing for those wanting a bit more quality in their Italian forces. These are the elite version of the Bataglione Fucilieri and are more than capable of holding their own against anything short of a massed tank attack. The CCNN (Blackshirts) remain an option as well for those who like their infantry a bit braver, even if a little reckless and under trained!
The Romanians also get the battalion-sized force treatment for their foot-slogging infantry. This makes them more resilient, and gives them access to a bit more support including more anti-tank guns, regimental pioneers, more artillery and heaps of machine-guns!
The motorised infantry now have their own high-quality support troops, much better anti-tank and even the option of fielding a platoon in German armoured half-tracks!
Overall, these changes should see the minor Axis powers taking a much more active role in mid-war games on the Eastern Front.
We have lots of cool changes for the Soviet forces as we brought them into line with the Bagration series of books. In general they benefit immensely from the points reduction in the cost of Fearless tanks and guns, while also benefiting from better discounts for large tank and artillery units.
The Tankovy Batalon obviously benefits a lot from the changes mentioned above. It is much the same as before, but now you can have your medium tank company rated as Guards or get two or three more tanks for the same points as you used to pay.
Now a full battalion of 21 T-34 tanks leaves you with over 200 points to get them a little extra support making them much more viable on the tabletop.
On the heavy tank front, you can now field a full Gvardeyskiy Tankovy Polk of up to 21 heavy tanks if you can find someone willing to play a 3500-point game, while the heavy tanks and T-26 tanks of the Mixed Tankovy Batalon are both slightly cheaper as well.
The scouts of the Rota Razveki have benefited too. They are now considerably more affordable and have some quite effective options available to them. Their changes pale into insignificance though beside the new Kazachiy Pulk. Rather than fielding a mere company of Cossacks, you can now field a full regiment in the style of the late-war pdf briefing. While massed cavalry charges are still likely to be shot to pieces, well handled this force can be a really nasty alternative to a motorised force. It has plenty of tanks and lots of speed in any sort of terrain!
The Strelkovy Batalon is both very much the same and subtly different. As you’d expect, the Guards version is fully pointed out, but otherwise it looks much the same on the surface. Look a little closer and you’ll see a number of little changes. The basic Strelkovy Company is slightly more expensive to bring it into line with other infantry, but this is more than offset by the supporting weapons platoons.
Here the combination of cheaper Fearless guns and cheaper command teams for gun platoons combine to give the Soviets a big boost. You can now get 16 Guards HMG teams for the points you previously got 12 regular army teams, while both anti-tank rifles and mortars are nearly half their previous price. On top of this, the anti-tank guns and artillery benefit from the Volley Fire and Steel Wall special rules making them more effective at short range than they used to be. All in all, a Strelkovy Batalon remains a really tough nut to crack.
As you might expect, we also separated out the militia battalion. This highlights its unusual organisation and makes it much easier to field. This battalion simply oozes anti-tank rifles (but doesn’t have much else for anti-tank work) and has 16 HMG teams for what an old-style Strelkovy Batalon paid for six. If you don’t want too much big stuff (although you can have KV-1 heavy tanks and 152mm artillery if you really want), just lots of light kit, then this is the force for you.
Oh, and don’t forget the modelling challenge of having your militia air defence platoon crewed by women from the local factories at Stalingrad as well!
Even the divisional support look good. The SU-76 has Volley Fire making it an outstanding support weapon for both infantry and tanks, while the SU-152 gets the Heavy Breakthrough Gun special rule for that ‘Bang, you’re dead!’ effect.
The Reserve Heavy Artillery Battalion with its 152mm heavy howitzers is also a welcome addition, as is the late-war style Guards Rocket Mortar Battalion with twice as many launchers and the Devastating Bombardment template.
With all these little tweaks, the Soviet forces will remain a potent force on mid-war battlefields (although the tankists amongst you might need to pick up a few more toys to use up the extra points you’ll have available now!)
Overall, Eastern Front covers the same ground as Ostfront, but does so much better—both in terms of ease of use and readability, and in terms of the playability of the forces it contains.