Military History

Blogging about the Battlefield since 2005

Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Review of Ostfront: Barbarossa to Berlin-Wargaming World War II on the Eastern Front and Beyond

Posted by Daniel Sauerwein on September 7, 2015

Chambers, Andy. Bolt Action. Vol. 10, Ostfront: Barbarossa to Berlin. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2015. 112pp. Illustrations, Photographs. $29.95 (Paperback), $15.95 (e-book and PDF).

Wargaming is a growing hobby, coupled with a resurgence in tabletop gaming, that is popular across the world, but particularly in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and in the U.S. There are many periods represented in both historical and fantasy, and even more options for rules and miniatures, allowing players to dream of elaborate tables, with flocked terrain and immaculate buildings, as well as beautifully painted miniature soldiers and vehicles.

One such game, Bolt Action, allows players to simulate squad-level combat in World War II. Created by Warlord Games and authored by Rick Priestley, of Warhammer fame, Bolt Action offers players a multitude of options for recreating World War II fights in miniature. In addition to the main rulebook, one option for Bolt Action players seeking to take on the Eastern Front is the book Ostfront: Barbarossa to Berlin, written by Andy Chambers.

Ostfront takes players from the Far East conflict between the Soviets and Japanese to the Winter War, the various operations that revolved around Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union, and the Soviet counter-attack that led to the capture of Berlin. Available armies include German forces, Finnish, Soviet, and Japanese, while theater-specific rules provide interesting opportunities for varying scenarios, including night fighting, mud, ice, and snow.

The book does an excellent job of discussing the intricacies of the individual scenarios, including objectives and various vehicle options. It covered the background history of the broad campaigns and the specific battles.  Featuring exquisite artwork that is customary for Osprey-published works, this book is a must for those who seek to game with German and Soviet forces. It is important to note that it is not a stand-alone set of rules, but a supplement to the main Bolt Action rules.

Having played Bolt Action, I’ve enjoyed the mechanics of the game and the smaller, squad-based, scale. This book is one of several theater-specific supplements that allow players to customize their gaming experiences even more than with the main rules. A well-organized, beautifully-illustrated book, Ostfront will delight gamers seeking to either take on the Soviet Union, or defend the Motherland at all costs. For experienced players seeking to expand their Bolt Action offerings and go in a different direction by fighting the Soviets versus Japan, or Soviets versus Finland, Ostfront should be on your shelf next to the main rulebook.

For more information on the game, please visit their webstore and check out this video.

You can also watch a demo game here.

Posted in 20th Century Military History, Book Reviews, Conflict, Other military history, World War II | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review of “Everyman’s War”

Posted by Daniel Sauerwein on June 29, 2010

This evening, I watched the independent film “Everyman’s War”, which deals with World War II. This film, put out by Virgil Films, Inc. and One Eighty Films, Inc. tells the story of several soldiers in the 94th Infantry Division, including Don Smith, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. It received the award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2009 GI Film Festival, which lends great credibility to director Thad Smith’s project.

The film begins with a stirring, but jolting scene from the 94th’s participation in the Battle of the Bulge, near Nennig, Germany, in January, 1945. It shows Don Smith attempting to evade German forces, while seeking to reach headquarters and make them aware of the dire situation for his men, who are facing down the 11th Panzer Division. It then fades to a now elderly Smith reflecting upon his service, while reading a letter informing him that one of his comrades recently passed.

It proceeds to 1943 in Kansas, where a Robert Fuller leaves his family farm for the Army. Other characters that will later interact with Smith are introduced at home, including colorful Angelo Benedetto, who was forced into the Army to avoid prison, and carried his criminal ways to the service, much to the chagrin of Corporal Starks, who became a mentor to Don Smith. German-American Karl Heinrick, faces down bigotry and suspicion to prove himself a loyal and proud American. The impression is given that Smith and most others in his squad are drafted.

The focus on the film is on Don Smith, who was working in a mill in Oregon, while seeming to attend college (he mentioned studying when not working), before the war. He begins a love interest with Dorine, but has to report before he can solidify a relationship. Fuller, Smith, and Benedetto all meet Corporal Starks, a married man from New York, who will become a father while overseas.

The combat for these men begin in northern France in late 1944, protecting coastal batteries in the wake of the D-Day invasion. Benedetto continues criminal activity, which eventually lands him in trouble. Smith and Starks create a strong bond of friendship, which is shattered when Starks is killed, thrusting Smith into leadership, which he proves himself adept at. As the men enter the winter of 1944 and the eventual Battle of the Bulge, the squad is joined by Heinrick, who is brought in as a replacement.

The men enter the town of Nennig to relieve comrades. Smith and his squad in M Company soon face attack from the 11th Panzer “Ghost’ Division, which inflicts casualties, forcing Smith to seek the command post to save his men. In the process his is wounded, but returns to duty several weeks later, only to find most of his buddies are not there, either dead, wounded, or captured. Smith encounters some of the horrors of post-war Germany, including a prisoner taking his life in front of Smith. Smith attempts to piece together what he experienced and saw when he returns home as well as in old age.

This is a story that will touch veterans’ hearts, as they may be able to relate to Smith. Viewers will appreciate the sacrifice of those who fought in World War II. The battle scenes were well-done, and the back-stories on each character exemplified the diverse nature of the American army during the war, ranging from the average men in Smith and Fuller, to those using the military to escape punishment (Benedetto), to those seeking to serve to prove themselves in a time of tribulation (Heinrick). You appreciate the bonds formed by the men, and the heartbreak they suffer, as they lose friends and witness the horrors of war. Based on the true actions of the 94th Infantry Division in Europe, I strongly recommend Everyman’s War for your viewing and give it my seal of approval.

Click here to order Everyman’s War

Posted in 20th Century Military History, American Military History, Conflict, US Army, US military, World War II | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

 
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