February 27, 2013

FOW Bridge by Bridge Review - its awesome!!

My copy of Battlefronts latest effort Bridge byBridge arrived this week representing the German half of its updated Market Garden compliation.  I only had a couple of hours to peruse it last night and first impressions are that its a fantastic book and a major improvement on Hells Highway.

Hells Highway was a good book and one that I enjoyed using but historically it wasn't very accurate particularly when it came to the German force compositions and kit outs.  Bridge by Bridge rectifies this in spades with 19 - thats right - 19 lists to choose from.

These are based around a more detailed and far more historically accurate analysis and description of each stage of the Market Garden campaign.  Forces are provided for each section of the battle and cover not only the major divisional/regimental groups that were involved but also the large number of kampfgruppes.  While my primary interest was in the Fallschirmjager lists the new ones offer a huge range of options and to my mind make BbB one of the most versatile books I've come across.  One of the best things about it is that you now have the ability to build a force that is themed far more narrowly than before.  My HH 6FJR list was largely based around the regiments operations during the battles of Eerde and Veghel 24th - 26th September (see my unit history).  But this had to compromise due to the divergence of HH from actual events.  The new book fixes all this and allows you take both a general Market Garden themed list while also letting you theme a list around a specific action within that wider campaign.  Modelling wise you could really go to town here by basing your models around that particular action.

The new hardback format is also a big improvement as my copy of HH disintegrated not long after I got it from overuse, the glue binding not holding - in much the same way as the new v3 mini-rulebook.

So how have the Fallschirmjager changed???  Battlefronts own design notes cover the details in broad detail, along with the rest of the new lists available to you so I won't repeat that information - you can read it here.

Fallschirmjager composition changes
Updated historical information aside the most basic change has been to switch from the 6th FJR/ 3rd FJD split into a Veteran FJ and Ersatz (FT) FJ one.  This doesn't really affect you though until you look at how the composition options for each of those lists have changed.

In HH running the 6FJR vs. 3FJD lists were a lesson in compromise as both offered options the other didnt particularly in relation to armour and artillery support.  BbB makes some large scale adjustments here.

One of the subtelest changes has been the inclusion of a Scout Platoon option for both the Veteran and Ersatz list.  At 140 or 110pts for a 3 Squad Platoon they offer a good option, and one that is good counter to the only Recon option offered in HH the Half-Tracked Heer Recon Platoon.

Both lists also get more Artillery the 6FJR or Veteran list in particular, something it was lacking in HH.  While I'm not a fan of artillery due to my Mortar fixation, I can see the benefits.  Most of the artillery options are Heer but there are strong SS options as well including SP SS Artillery equipped with Wespes.  BbB in this respect seems to allow gamers to cross over units from other books far more easily.
Panthers are now available for your Fallschirmjager
But its in the new Panzer or Armoured Support options that the lists offer something really different.  Now both the Veteran and FT companies can take Jagdpanthers vs. only 6FJR in HH.  The Veteran company also has the option of Stu42's, while the Ersatz company can take Panthers (representing the Pz Brigade 107).

Points Changes
Not immediately noticeable in the new book, probably because of all the shiny new toys each list contained, were the subtle points changes made to the FJ lists.  In general FJ infantry costs more but support options cost far less, and with the plethora of Heer support options available 1750pts goes a long way.

The main points changes I picked as affecting any FJ list I run were:
  • CHQ Panzershreks +5pts.
  • FJ Platoon w. PF/SMG & 3 Squads +15pts.
  • FJ Pioneers +15pts.
  • FJ HMG's -15/20pts depending on Veteran or Trained option
  • FJ Mortars -15/20pts
  • FJ Light Guns -15/20pts
  • FJ AA -15/20pts
  • FJ Heavy Mortars -30/45pts
  • FJ Paks -10/15pts
The increase in points cost for the compulsory choices hurts a little bit as does the slight increase in points cost of the Panzershreks, but this is more than made up for by the huge points reductions for the other options.  FJ Light Guns now cost 55pts which is a damn good deal for a reasonably effective Platoon, the drop in the cost of Heavy Mortars also makes them a more attractive option and the AA points decrease means that what is now a compulsory v3 selection doesn't limit you too much in other areas.  Artillery and Herman Goring Panzers are also slightly cheaper.

Final impressions and list changes?
Simply put the book is great, but its going to take me a while to read it through and really figure out what it contains and to make best use of it.  But a couple of ideas have already sprung out at me, particularly with NATCON fast approaching - the 5th March deadline for list submission in particular. 

The 559. Schwere Panzerjager Abteillung list looks very interesting, and is one I could take with practically no new models required. 
Hmmm a company of these looks like fun

SS-Kampfgruppe Graebner is also appealing mainly as his attack over Arnhem Bridge is one of the standout moments of the movie A Bridge to Far (which they really should remake). 

Then of course there are Jagdpanther or Panther supported Fallschirmjager and the numerous Heer options. So many new toys....

Oh and if you want to have a go at the list the wonderful resource of FOW Lists has all of them up and running for you, Easy Army hasn't caught up yet though.

Initial List ideas

Veteran Fallschirmjager with Von der Heydte

Von der Heydte - 170pts
w. 4 x PF Trap Teams
Company HQ - 135pts
w. 2 x PF/SMG upgrades, 2 x Panzershrek
FJ Platoon - 275pts
w. 3 Squads
FJ Platoon - 275pts
w. 3 Squads
FJ Scout Platoon - 100pts
w. PF/SMG + 2 Squads
FJ AT Platoon - 240pts
w. 4 x Pak 40
FJ AA Platoon - 80pts
w. 3 x 2cm Flak 38
Schwere Panzerjager - 470pts
w. 2 x Jagdpanther

TOTAL 1,745pts

This is basically the same list I took to CTA last year but with the Scout Platoon in place of the Mortars, which to be honest were not worth their points.  While many players don't seem to like the PF Trap teams I rate them particularly when you use them to hunt down opposing gun teams rather than seeing them as tank killers only. 

Veteran Fallschirmjger without Von der Heydte

Company HQ - 65pts
w.1 x PF/SMGFJ Platoon - 275pts
w. 3 Squads
FJ Platoon - 255pts
w. 2 x PF/Rifle/MG Squads
FJ Pioneers - 370pts
w. 3 x Squads, Supply Truck
FJ Scout Platoon - 100pts
w. PF/SMG + 2 Squads
FJ AT Platoon - 240pts
w. 4 x Pak 40
FJ AA Platoon - 80pts
w. 3 x 2cm Flak 38
Schwere Panzerjager Platoon
w. 4 x Stug G
TOTAL 1,750pts

More bodies on the ground for this list but a weaker AT component with the absence of the Jadgpanthers.  In HH only the FT 3rd FJD could take StuGs and these would be of the FJ FV variety.  Here you can swap them in for the Jags or take SS Jadgpanzer IV's - but as I have StuG models thats what I would go with.  Scout Platoon stays in as its helpful.  Pioneers and PF/Rifle/MG platoon add some useful CC AT firepower as well as strong anti-infantry support.  Basically dig everyone in, concealed, GTG and you need to get within 16" to hit me and even then your doing it on 6's.  Supply Truck means I can re-roll the dig-in tests I always seem to fail in Turn 1 as well. 


Scott said...

Hey John, I to have picked up this book.
I'm not an FJ player, so havent studied these lists closely nor compared to the HH lists...
I was happy to therefore see a greater variety of lists available that I can use my existing grenadiers to form lists with to play this campaign with.

There are certainly some interesting lists, and presumably themed list restrictions too.

One SS kampfgruppe I was frustrated to find I couldnt field both StuHs and recce in the same force as they were both for the same support choice, Grrr!

Other interesting lists - Con Trained Panthers, Con trained Tigers! How do you fancy 12 Tigers in a 1750pt list!? PSC maybe getting more of my hard earned...

Lots to ponder and no doubt new models to buy to satisfy some of the prospective list builds ahead...

John Murrie said...

The Hummel Tigers are definately interesting. Can I ask where are you sourcing your PSC stuff from now? I was using Maelstrom but with their demise Im stuck as to a reliable source for PSC as well as Forged in Battle products.

I liked the King Tiger list too. The all HMG platoon one was nasty although only RT, and the all AA combat platoons??!

Simon Switzer said...

Yea John, the books are fantastic. My set arrived yesterday and they're both really really good books. The Canucks... like I said on my blog, so damn sexy!

Good Review mate. See yea at the nationals!

Scott said...

Yes there's certainly some weird lists in there! I wouldn't call them balanced tournie lists but more themed to the specific MG campaign...

I get my PSC stuff from Caliverbooks.
Dave and Chris there are helpful and generally quick to answer emails etc...