Friday, 26 November 2010

Flames of War - Stalin's Europe

Stalin's Europe is the latest Eastern Front book release for Flames of War, released 20th November. It covers the Soviet Invasion of Hungary in October 1944 up to the bloody Siege of Budapest in February 1945. The history section of the book and numerous other sources can describe these events in much better detail than I ever could so I'll focus straight on the Intelligence Briefings (army lists) in the book!

Stalin's Europe contains 8 Intelligence Briefings split amongst the Soviet, Romanian, German and Hungarian forces.


First up is the 9th Guards Mechanised Corps, a tank battalion made up primarily of lend-lease 76mm Shermans. This provides an interesting alternative to the T34 led Tankovy briefings and amongst their support options the 9th Guards Mechanised Corps can pick the new SU-100 which is definitely a big-tank eating beastie! The 9th Guards Mechanised Corps also includes the book's first Warrior - Gvardeyskiy Kapitan Dmitriy Loza. A company commander with some rather handy special rules, in particular the Second In Command rule which allows him to take the place of the Battalion Commander for the sake of Battalion Morale checks should the Commander have fallen and thus sparing you the auto-loss! Another great rule of his is the Spetsnaz Loza rule which can allow him to infiltrate his own company and an infantry company at the start of the game!

The second Soviet briefing is for the Storm Battalion. This represents the organisation of the rifle divisions in the Siege of Budapest. The Shturmovye Groups give you an amazing flexibility. Each storm team in the group can be deployed as one of many types of team from HMGs, Anti-tank guns and 122mm Howitzers and plenty in between! These are chosen before deployment so I can imagine the Storm Battalion becoming a popular tournament choice due their ability to adapt themselves to the mission and opponent being played. Initially I have to admit to looking at this list and thinking it was a mostly standard Soviet Infantry battalion but on second glance it looks to me to be one of the most interesting in the book and strikes me as being one of the most popular!


The Romanian Infantry Battalion is a characterful briefing for those wishing to use Romanians in a Late War setting but it's very much the same fare as many Soviet Infantry Battalions but with Romanian traits such as Peasant Army & Hated Enemy. Didn't really do much for me but I'm guessing there will be more than a few that will see its charm!


Both German lists are from the Feldherrnhalle kampfgruppes who fought in against the Soviet invaders in Hungary and in particular during the Siege of Budapest. The first is the Armoured Company. This is a fairly standard German tank company but with the option of taking the new Panzer IV/70 for company command and combat platoon tank teams. There are also the more standard choices like Panzers and Panthers (although these are the newer Panther Gs). With Königstigers amidst the support choices there's plenty of scope for big-tank mayhem!

To me the Feldherrnhalle Infantry Company is the more interesting and unique of the two German briefings. The Feldherrnhalle's unique rules are there for the infantry. Firstly is the Field Fortifications rule to represent their defence of Budapest and amongst the fortifications are the Street Barricades (familiar to anybody who has read the Armia Krajowa briefing that was part of  Project Warsaw) which grant concealment and bulletproof cover to infantry and gun teams manning them. The Feldherrnhalle also have the Street Brawlers rule which can enable Infantry Command teams the ability to hit on 2+ against infantry and gun teams in an assualt. This is to represent the core of veterans who fought as Brown shirts in the running street battles of Germany against the police and militant communists in Germany during the Nazi Party's rise. This is a good defensive infantry list with lots of character and a real punch when they get to fight a battle on their own terms.


The Hungarian lists are in my opinion the most interesting as they bring the most new toys! Amongst the popular German tanks and assault guns are the unique Hungarian ones such as the Turán and Toldi tanks which feature in the Hungarian Tank Company. A relatively standard Panzer Company as far as options go but with Tiger tanks and the Turáns and Toldis thrown in for a unique Hungarian flavour. There's also the option to take some support platoons from the German lists (the Germans can do likewise with a few Hungarian allied platoons). The Hungarian tank company also includes the book's second Warrior - Föhadnagy Ervin Tarczay. A few useful special rules see Tarczay as being an interesting choice for the Hungarian tank company. Around the flanks gives him the Stormtrooper move which he can use instead of using the Hungarian Huszár move (which is similar but carried out in the Shooting step in place of firing). His other rules see him rerolling misses from his tank's main gun and rerolling failed saves against gun teams when hit by defensive fire. Combined with a choice of which tank to mount him in these certainly create an interesting attack oriented warrior for the Hungarians.

The Hungarian Assault Gun Company is interesting in that it uses the Zrínyi assault howitzer to form the core of the company which is a great looking machine and the new mini for it has a real appeal all of its own. You can also use Stug Gs or Hetzers if you want a more Germanic feel to the company.

The Infantry Company is another good defensive infantry briefing with a whole host of options to pick from including Field Fortifications such as the Street Barricades. The special rules for the Infantry see them able to reroll their skill tests to Dig In and another rule that allows them to make an Immediate Ambush with an infantry or gun platoon at the start of their first turn.

All in all I think Stalin's Europe is a really great book. Full of all the best flavours of the Eastern Front there are a host of interesting Intelligence Briefings inside and I'd really recommend everybody giving it a look over as there's quite a lot there to choose from including some potentially big ones when it comes to the competitive scene!

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Black Bard said...

Nice review! I may have to pick this up. Lots of guys playing this around here, and that might add a few fun twists in the predictable fare.

Elazar The Glorified said...

Thanks Black Bard! Certainly lots of interesting stuff to see in here, one of their best books in my opinion for the quantity and quality of everything included inside. Perhaps after I'm done with Totenkopf I'll be coming back to this book...