I have a good postman. His name is Sean. When there’s nobody at home he puts parcels under our back gate to save me the journey down to the Sorting Office. Well anyway, that’s how Battlefront’s latest Eastern Front supplement Stalin’s Europe arrived at our house.
I always get mixed feelings about the release of a new book. It goes something like this:
Excitement: I’m guaranteed a rash of new releases and the chance to field sumfink new. Those SU100s look nice. The Panzer IV/70s look marvellous and, lo, do my eyes deceive me? A WirbleWind! Whoop, I’ve never had it so good!
Trepidation: It’s released, but I’ve got to wait for it to arrive as I live in a corner of the country where all the wargames shops have closed down (apart from Games Workshop, of course).
Bewilderment: It’s arrived, I’ve got it! Look at all those marvellous photos of all the incredibly well painted minis, 8 ‘new’ army lists (2 Soviet, 1 Romanian, 2 German and 3 Hungarian), 2 new heroes, painting guides, barricade rules! Wow.
Disenchantment: Hold on, isn’t that Soviet Lend-Lease Tank Battalion on pages 15-8, pretty much an up-gunned version of the same Lend Lease Battalion listed in Hammer and Sickle, pp. 28-31 ( M4A2s instead of M4/Valentine VIIIs / Ba4 recon instead of Decoy Recon and the unique option to field luvely SU100s rather than SU85s?) .
Urm…am I mistaken or is the Feldherrnhalle Panzergrenadierkompanie on pages 52 – 56, pretty much the same as that outlined in Fortress Europe, pp. 30-35, but with exclusive rights to Panzer IV/70 (A)s? Gosh, I hope this isn’t a ruse: love the models? Then buy the book.
Aaargh, where have all the scenarios gone? (Answer: Wargames Illustrated). Shame.
Aren’t the Street Barricade Special Rules on p. 89 duplicated in Das Book, p.50? Aren’t the Field Fortifications rules on page 88 a copy of those in Stalin’s Onslaught, page 64, but – inextricably – omitting the possibility of booby traps?
Hmm, come to think of it, I can’t really afford to buy a LW Hungarian or Romanian Army can I? Why would I restrict myself to this Theatre? And let’s say I did, even I can see that aspects of this Theatre aren’t featured at all, e.g. Operation Spring Awakening (Unternehmen Frühlingserwachen – 6-16 March 1945), the Last German offensive of WWII. But I guess Battlefront had to draw the line somewhere…
Acceptance: As a Soviet player, the ‘pick-n-mix’ aspects of the Soviet Storm Battalion are quite interesting (I could use this list in street-fighting games in Berlin). The Hungarian and Romanian lists are new to me (but then I haven’t got the Mid-War Ost Front book so I’m not totally informed). The photos are…nice.
So, if I could get my postman to deliver it all over again, would I?
Well, if I had all of my regular LW Eastern Front formations painted up and ready to go, had the spare cash, time and inclination to paint a relatively niche army then yes, I think I would do it all over again. But if I was just starting out and wanted to fight across the Eastern Front I’d probably be better off spending my hard-earned pennies on Fortress Europe or, if I was into fighting specific Operations, then Stalin’s Onslaught or Hammer and Sickle might be the better options.
But it does beg the question: do Battlefront plan to publish a final Eastern Front book covering March – May 1945? Is there a Stalin’s End Game in the pipeline? Will we be given the chance to say ‘Goodbye to Berlin?’
I’m beginning to get that feeling once again.
We give Stalin’s Europe a luke-warm: 2/5.