In an attempt to get back into Flames of War, myself and fellow gaming buddy Daryl have decided to start new armies. We're hoping that this will give us the impetus to learn the new (ish) third edition rules, and give us a different gaming experience from our usual 40k battles.
You may remember that we started looking at Flames of War last year, but for various reasons we never managed to get into the game properly. For me, two of the reasons were the birth of my first baby and planning a wedding (six days to go... gulp!). However, I would be lying if I said they were the main reasons. In fact, the real reason is that I have a real moral issue with wargaming the second world war. It still feels too close, too real and the politics and issues that underpinned the era are too serious and tragic to make it seem like 'just a game'. This was exacerbated by my picking the Germans - an SS tank army, no less - as my force of choice! Originally I simply wanted to pick a veteran/elite tank force, and the SS Panzergrenadiers in the Earth & Steel book seemed the ideal choice. However, as time went on, I found I just couldn't condone playing the army (they are the bad guys, after all), so the models remain largely unpainted and unused.
Recently though, I've decided to give Flames of War another try. This time I'll be picking an American light tank company. This should help mitigate my worries about doing the wrong thing morally (ie, they're not the Nazis). Another problem is that it's hard to justify games between two Allied armies - Brits vs Americans or Russians, for example.
But this morning I had a brainwave - a slight tweak to the history of WW2 would allow all of the above issues to be avoided. I've laid my ideas out below...
1944 World Map:
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DATELINE: Europe, July 1944
It is a time of global war. Masses armies, the largest known throughout history, clash all across Central Europe. In the East, the Great Bear advances toward Berlin. From the West, the New Americans and Colonial British push ever further onto the continent, every inch bought through blood, sweat and tears. Caught in the middle are the Germans, a once-proud nation brought low by the evils of Nazism and racial hatred.
Against this backdrop of titanic struggle, the actions of a few brave men tip the balance of war in a most unexpected fashion. Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, in collusion with senior military leaders including Field Marshal Erwin von Witzleben and General Ludwig Beck, planned an audacious attempt on Hitler's life. Knowing the Chancellor would be at his secret Wolf's Lair base in advance of his meeting with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on 20th July 1944, von Stauffenberg prepared a briefcase packed with explosives, which he undertook to plant under the table in the Fuhrer's strategy room.
The attempt was successful. Hitler was killed instantly, along with several of his closest advisors. As news spread over the days following, support for the mortally wounded Nazi party quickly disintegrated and many - on both sides of the conflict - made concerted efforts to bring the war to a close. But it was not to be...
Hitler's Assassination at the Wolf's Lair
THE SOVIET PERSPECTIVE
On hearing the news in Moscow, Stalin was delighted. The crumbling of the Nationalist party in Germany was nothing short of victory in his eyes, a vindication of the Soviet communist movement and revenge for the destruction wrought in previous years on the eastern front.
In light of the disarray that resulted from von Stauffenberg's unexpected success, Stalin urged his Red Army to make all efforts to take Berlin at the earliest opportunity. The Soviet armies redoubled their western offensive, with their ultimate goal the annexation of Germany into the USSR and the creation of a geographical buffer between them and the crusading Allied forces.
THE BRITISH EMPIRE PERSPECTIVE
Having committed untold men and resources into the D-Day landings and subsequent push into Normandy, the success of the Hitler assassination was received with mixed feelings in London. Delight over the collapse of the Nazi party was the predominant emotion, however the victory was bittersweet in consideration of the human cost of D-Day.
Churchill realised instantly that the destabilisation of Germany would lead to a power struggle of unimaginable proportions. The fate of Europe - it's security, financial future and political direction - would be decided either through diplomacy, or through force. In either case, Britain must safeguard it's shores, and those of it's dependants around the Empire.
THE AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE
Having only initially entered the war in 1942 after the provocation at Pearl Harbour, the mood in Washington was one of aggressive self-defence. Having committed so much to the European and far eastern theatres, it was unthinkable to simply withdraw and leave Europe to be overrun by the Communists. It was quickly decided, therefore, that America must maintain a strong presence in Germany, claiming that nation for the peoples of the world as a bastion of freedom and democracy.
THE GERMAN PERSPECTIVE
Whilst their political leaders may be in disarray, the German armed forces were still largely intact in the summer of 1944. The morale of the common masses was raised considerably as the yoke of facism was lifted, and the armed services rallied to defend the Fatherland behind the unifying forces of Von Witzleben, Beck and von Stauffenberg (now a national hero) and the remotivated German Home Army.
The German people, under the cosh on both western and eastern fronts, wish only to defend their original national borders against the rapidly advancing Allies and Soviets.
The Soviets see the opportunity to spread Communism throughout Europe, widening it's sphere of influence and creating a formidable geographical barrier between the hungry west and the fertile farmlands and oilfields of her heartlands.
The British Empire, much like the embattled Germans, now only wish to secure her own borders. However, the conversion of middle Europe to Communism cannot be tolerated, and neither can the encroachment of American interests so far from the young nation's distant shores.
The democratic American desire is to prevent it's ideological enemy, the great Red Bear, from controlling the political future of Europe. In addition, America must protect it's own lucrative oil interests from unwanted competition from the Eastern European fields in Maikop (Russia), Grozny (Chechnya) and most of all Baku (Azerbaijan).
THE THEATRES OF WAR
Against this backdrop of upheaval and confusion, each nation must fend for itself in a constantly evolving political situation. Former alliances are forgotten as new agendas are drawn up. Previously friendly nations become bitter enemies and unexpected alliances are formed. Far from ending the war, the death of Hitler has instead proved the catalyst for even further conflict. The prize? The defence of your own nation, control of Europe and the world itself!