Thanks to some alcohol induced inactivity on Sunday, I was able to finally have a flick through Cassino, the latest supplement for Flames of War (btw, thanks Ginge, I had a blast!) It's taken me a bit of time to get round to jotting some thoughts down, but, for what it's worth, here they are:
Cassino is a fairly hefty softback tome, coming in at 152 pages, with plenty of eye candy; lots of maps and miniature photos alongside a few nice illustrations. I particularly like the cover art, from the first preview to the final book - it gives you a perfect snapshot of Cassino, lots of infantry and rubble, the odd tank and the iconic monastery in the background.
It's also, by Battlefront standards, an extremely well make book. The binding looks quite strong so will hopefully last a lot longer than some of their other books (I'm looking at you A5 rulebook!)
Cassino starts like many other Flames of War books do, a little background and straight into the army lists. The previews from Battlefront and others have made it particularly clear that Cassino is all about infantry. As many players (not including myself however,) think Infantry lists are boring and defensive, Battlefront have gone all out to add character to each list AND provided a flexible escalation campaign specifically for infantry.
The Axis forces begin with the 1. Fallschirmjager Division, your fairly standard Fearless Veteran light infantry. I love the Fallschirmjager lists in both Hells Highway and Earth & Steel and, barring the support options, it's pretty much the same thing you'll see here. The highlights of this list are that, firstly, they'll pass morale checks on a 2+, secondly, you can take two pioneer combat platoon choices and a load of artillery, but, lastly, you'll only have one mobile element (Panzer IVs, StuGs or some tank hunters.)
The 44, Reichsgrenadierdivision are up next; a Confident Trained list full of injured evacuees from Stalingrad and their green reinforcements. An interesting Support option is the choice of Italian Semovente Assault Guns; something you don't see on the table everyday. Overall, a nice list for Axis players who like to have more stands then normal on the table.
Lastly there is the 90. "Sardinien" Panzergrenadierdivision, the mobile reserve of the Axis Cassino campaign, who fought basically everywhere and everyone at some point. Their Motorized Movement special rule gives them a bit more survivability (basically, a skill test to avoid being destroyed alongside their 3-ton truck) and, compared to everyone else in Cassino, they have plenty of mobile assets. Another nice list, but I don't really like MG teams as combat platoons, as too often you don't get the benefits of their firepower. However, these guys, like the Earth & Steel lists, are a lot cheaper compared to lists in older books, specifically to compensate for this.
There are some unusual support options for the Axis forces; the Gebirsjager Platoon gives you some Mountaineer teams, the Luftwaffe Heavy AA platoon offers some cheap 88s at Reluctant Trained, while Von Mackensen's reserve gives you some really cheap Panthers, but, regardless of the mission you're playing, they'll be the last thing to arrive on the table!
Lastly, the Fallschirmjager and the Reichsgrenadier forces can take Cassino fortifications, whilst the Panzergrenadiers can take the, slightly more restricted, Cassino Field Fortifications.
So what appeals? The Fallschirmjäger are the main reason I bought the book, so they obviously appeal to me. Besides them, the combination of some Reichsgrenadiers and the cheap(ish) fortifications could produce some interesting defencive combinations. The Panzergrenadiers I'm not too sure about; I just don't like my main force to be composed of MG teams. However, with the motorized assault special rule, the Field Fortifications available and some mobile support options, you could make some effective lists, especially against other infantry.
Up next. . . the Allies