DGS Games

GrogHeads Checks Out Combat Mission: Final Blitzkrieg

Back to the front! ~

Boggit, 13 August 2016

Combat Mission: Final Blitzkrieg is a tactical wargame set on the Western front during the latter part of World War Two. Final Blitzkrieg is mostly about the Ardennes Offensive in December 1944-January 1945, but the game also has scenarios covering the earlier fighting in and around Aachen and the Hürtgenwald.

That “Oh, sh*t!” moment, as my US engineers wander directly into a minefield on the Westwall.

That “Oh, sh*t!” moment, as my US engineers wander directly into a minefield on the Westwall.


The game provides the Americans as the Allied opponent, although I guess – from previous releases of Combat Mission games, we will later see a later module covering the Commonwealth forces. The Germans have the usual force types, SS, Heer and Luftwaffe – all the stuff you’d expect for the Ardennes offensive.

It’s bad enough running into a minefield, but now we’re taking flanking fire!

It’s bad enough running into a minefield, but now we’re taking flanking fire!

 

I’ve had a lot of fun with this game, although at first I thought I might be a bit disappointed as to any wow factor. I’ve played Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy extensively, so I couldn’t help thinking it was just going to be much the same but with snow. In most respects it is of course very similar – in that it uses the same game engine – although it’s nice to see that you can now have tank riders, which the Normandy game currently doesn’t allow – although maybe it should do, and perhaps is a matter for a future patch?

 

US tanks and engineer riders of the 12th Armored Division advance over open ground to position themselves before the town of Herrlisheim. It looks cold, and has that wintry feel. Soon it will get hot for these guys!

US tanks and engineer riders of the 12th Armored Division advance over open ground to position themselves before the town of Herrlisheim. It looks cold, and has that wintry feel. Soon it will get hot for these guys!

 

It’s not all grey skies and snow. Here a Tiger stalks the woods on a warm October day. I love the forest appropriate camo on this tank, which is quite different to that seen in the Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy.

It’s not all grey skies and snow. Here a Tiger stalks the woods on a warm October day. I love the forest appropriate camo on this tank, which is quite different to that seen in the Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy.

 

What pleased me is that Final Blitzkrieg does actually have a very different immersive feeling to the Normandy game. I think it is largely down to the winter/autumn graphics, which make the trees and foliage all look different, and also some of the sounds. If you’re playing a scenario with snow, you can hear a nice crunchy sound as your infantry trudge through the snow. There are also a number of uniform variations, which add to the wintry feel and period immersion.

 

The Tiger roars as it pounces on a hapless US infantry squad. Meanwhile, an AT gun hits and disables its bow MG. Nothing is infallible.

The Tiger roars as it pounces on a hapless US infantry squad. Meanwhile, an AT gun hits and disables its bow MG. Nothing is infallible.

 

As well as new graphics, there are a number of new formations, like the Volksgrenadiers, and German troops now seem to be equipped with more automatic weapons than they did in Normandy, which is historically correct. There is a noticeable increase in German troops armed with the StG 44 Assault rifle, which dramatically adds to German squad firepower – and to their ammunition usage. Fire fights with American infantry now seem much more intense with the increase in automatic weapons, especially in wooded or built up terrain where combat is up close.

A number of new vehicles to the Combat Mission series make their debut, like the M24 Chaffee light tank, the Sherman Jumbo, and the Sturmtiger armed with a 380mm mortar. This mortar impacts like an aerial bomb, but fortunately for the Americans is a slow re-loader and carries only ten rounds (which is just as well really!). Although Final Blitzkrieg shares much with Battle for Normandy, the new vehicles do help to distinguish it as more than a Normandy clone with snow.

For this article, I played a variety of scenarios to get a feel for the game, and I found them all a challenge and a lot of fun. And there is variety – from urban operations in Aachen, to night patrols, stumbling about the Hürtgenwald in infantry encounter battles, to tank actions at Dawn. Generally I found the scenarios I played a challenge, and all with some special quirk that made it memorable.

 

It looks nice and calm for my US infantry patrolling the Hürtgenwald, but it will soon get very bloody. I got a minor defeat in this scenario, in part due to the German infantry’s heavy automatic fire at close range.

It looks nice and calm for my US infantry patrolling the Hürtgenwald, but it will soon get very bloody. I got a minor defeat in this scenario, in part due to the German infantry’s heavy automatic fire at close range.

 

There are a couple of scenarios in particular that I’d like to illustrate to give a feel for the tactical situations. I found the Lanzerath Ridge scenario a nightmare to win as the Germans, even though the Americans have very few men defending. Tactics are absolutely key if you want to have any chance of winning that scenario as the Germans. I include a few shots from one of the early games I played with this scenario just to give the reader an idea of what they are up against. The terrain is an absolute pain for an infantry attack. Even after several attempts the best result I got was a minor victory…

 

Here we go with Lanzerath Ridge. There is a LOT of open ground to cover.

Here we go with Lanzerath Ridge. There is a LOT of open ground to cover.

 

The Americans are dug in and uphill. They have an excellent field of fire – read that as ‘kill zone’.

The Americans are dug in and uphill. They have an excellent field of fire – read that as ‘kill zone’.

 

One brave soul has led the way when my other squads got pinned. It didn’t help him. The bloody spot in the snow where he lies is a mod – Veins base markers. I’ve also previously used Mikey_D’s Bloody Spot, which is good too.

One brave soul has led the way when my other squads got pinned. It didn’t help him. The bloody spot in the snow where he lies is a mod – Veins base markers. I’ve also previously used Mikey_D’s Bloody Spot, which is good too.

 

The US troops as they pick my troops off in the open are not fazed by my numbers, which are rapidly falling. Note the gloves on the soldiers, and the bare tree branches laden with snow, which add to the wintry immersion.

The US troops as they pick my troops off in the open are not fazed by my numbers, which are rapidly falling. Note the gloves on the soldiers, and the bare tree branches laden with snow, which add to the wintry immersion.

 

The advance sort of continues. With the wire fence and the bodies everywhere it looks a bit like aWW1 type attack. The moral is don’t attack unsupported over a lot of open ground with infantry.

The advance sort of continues. With the wire fence and the bodies everywhere it looks a bit like aWW1 type attack. The moral is don’t attack unsupported over a lot of open ground with infantry.

 

I had more luck with the scenario Die Patrouille, which is a small night scenario I liked for its very atmospheric experience. I couldn’t help thinking it would be a nice future feature for Battlefront to add flares for night actions just to add that further dimension to night fighting. That said, I guess modelling troop behaviour for those caught moving when a flare lights up might involve a fair bit of programming, so whilst it’s a nice thought I’m not sure we’ll see it anytime soon.

 

We are tasked to take a bridge and a small settlement to allow our forces to exploit the bridgehead. A US standing patrol is supposedly guarding the bridge and presumably the objective is defended. Here we’ve just crossed the bridge unnoticed.

We are tasked to take a bridge and a small settlement to allow our forces to exploit the bridgehead. A US standing patrol is supposedly guarding the bridge and presumably the objective is defended. Here we’ve just crossed the bridge unnoticed.

 

I’ve split my force to attack the settlement from two side. We’re cautiously advancing, but no contact yet with the Americans.

I’ve split my force to attack the settlement from two side. We’re cautiously advancing, but no contact yet with the Americans.

 

Contact! One guy is down, but we are hitting back too. This contact took place a few seconds after the above picture was taken. Just look at how close we got before we were detected.

Contact! One guy is down, but we are hitting back too. This contact took place a few seconds after the above picture was taken. Just look at how close we got before we were detected.

 

The firefight continues, with a Panzerschreck round lighting up the surroundings. The lighting effects are nice at night, which is one reason I think adding flares would be good.

The firefight continues, with a Panzerschreck round lighting up the surroundings. The lighting effects are nice at night, which is one reason I think adding flares would be good.

 

Firefight over, the flanking advance continues. It’s Interesting that no fire has come our way from the houses. Maybe we have an opportunity there? It looks so eerie at night with all the snow. Even though my troops are moving cautiously, I can hear the snow crunching under their feet. I just hope that doesn’t give them away. A nice touch for a snowy environment.

Firefight over, the flanking advance continues. It’s Interesting that no fire has come our way from the houses. Maybe we have an opportunity there? It looks so eerie at night with all the snow. Even though my troops are moving cautiously, I can hear the snow crunching under their feet. I just hope that doesn’t give them away. A nice touch for a snowy environment.

 

Contact on the other flank. I come under fire from the house on the right, and start shooting back. I’ve set the objective and unit icons back on so you can get a better sense of what is happening in the dark.

Contact on the other flank. I come under fire from the house on the right, and start shooting back. I’ve set the objective and unit icons back on so you can get a better sense of what is happening in the dark.

 

Having suppressed the fire from the house, I start to close on the buildings. My forces on the left flank are moving up to support the right flank’s firefight.

Having suppressed the fire from the house, I start to close on the buildings. My forces on the left flank are moving up to support the right flank’s firefight.

 

Well. I thought I’d suppressed them. Maybe not? I love the winter camo on my SS troopers.

Well. I thought I’d suppressed them. Maybe not? I love the winter camo on my SS troopers.

 

Finally I clear the rightmost house as the Americans fall back to the woods, where another sharp firefight erupts.

Finally I clear the rightmost house as the Americans fall back to the woods, where another sharp firefight erupts.

 

To be honest I got lucky on the draw with close quarter contacts. If the Americans had detected me earlier, I think the outcome might have been different. As it was I was able to engage small groups consecutively, allowing me to get more fire on them than they on me.

To be honest I got lucky on the draw with close quarter contacts. If the Americans had detected me earlier, I think the outcome might have been different. As it was I was able to engage small groups consecutively, allowing me to get more fire on them than they on me.

 

Overall, I thought Final Blitzkrieg sufficiently distinctive from the Normandy game to be worth a look from anyone interested in the Combat Mission series of games. It’s a standalone game, so any new player can start playing Combat Mission with this game, especially if they are into the late war battles on the West Front. I wasn’t sure it was something I’d be too excited about because of the likely similarity with the Normandy game. Game engine wise, it is of course very similar but it does have a different ‘feel’ to the gameplay. After playing with it for a while, I grew to really like it and it is a ‘must have’ for my Combat Mission collection… but I openly admit to being a Combat Mission fanboy.


Chat about it below, or in our forums, or hit our FaceBook page >>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *