The latest book from Iron Fist Publishing / Plastic Soldier Company is Battlegroup Torch, the ninth book to be published and the second based upon the ‘desert war’ of early to mid-World War Two. This is really two books in one, and covers the arrival of US forces. The rules are intended for use with 15 and 20mm figures but could work for 28mm.
Note: The text below is the transcript of our unboxing video (for those who would rather read than listen).
The rules begin with a useful re-cap of the history of the war so far, and explains that although this is a ‘stand alone’ supplement, it directly follows the events outlined in Battlegroup Tobruk. The ‘two books’ in one approach is explained, and deals with the idea of how the nature of warfare during this campaign saw the development of new tactics and a move from the direct ‘desert’ to the more varied terrain of the Algerian and Tunisian river valleys. The arrival of American forces is also covered, an inexperienced but well-equipped army.
Having outlined the history of the various forces and the main events, we move onto a variety of special rules for the two versions of ‘desert war’ included. Rules for combined operations, vehicle war and tear, the effects of dust, restrictions on infantry in 1942 and 1943, different abilities of troop and vehicle types, all focused on emulating the forces and their varied units.
There are nine armies outlined in the book, complete with an army list for each one. These cover every aspect from equipment available, to how it was used, the different types of units from frontline to logistics, armour to infantry and artillery to engineers. Names of possible vehicle types, points values, and more are included, giving a full rundown of what is available during the period covered. The British, German, Italian, American and French forces are covered, both for the 1942 and 1943 period and for particular regions / parts of the campaign. These stretch from page 62 all the way to page 188, and are not only useful in terms of the wargaming but also add an interesting insight into the historical forces.
There are rules for re-creating battles during the campaign, with random terrain generation and a typical scenario. These take into account the year, the location being fought over and how the special rules for fighting in the desert change when one is fighting in the much greener Tunisian river valleys and similar. Dust gives way to mud, sand becomes grass, etc.
The Appendix is designed to provide a series of gaming aids, like quick reference charts for vehiclese, which defines all of the possible choices in terms of game usage. Also included are two rules reference sheets, pull out game counter sheets, and removable vehicle reference sheets for the most likely vehicles being used to save on flipping through the book’s pages during a game.
As with pretty much every release from Iron Fist, this is both a resource for the Battlegroup rules systems whilst also being a handy historical resource. The level of detail, contemporary photographs and the overall look of the book is perfect for those wanting to get a sense of what this part of the war was like. Unlike certain rules systems, the choice of 15 or 20mm scale encourages the use of a ‘proper’ combined arms approach, with not only frontline but also support and logistics options being featured. This makes for a more ‘realistic’ tabletop than in some games and encourages the collection of a more typical unit from World War Two rather than simply collecting the ‘best bits’. Not just a useful gaming resources but also a good read to boot.