Devil's Charge

Devil's Charge Design Notes
with Mike Haught

Welcome to the Ardennes, soldier!
Well, we’re finally here. In the past few years we’ve seen the US Army fight its way through the rocky hills of Tunisia and Sicily, painfully crawl up the boot of Italy, storm bloody Omaha Beach, and sweep across the France in what has been described as an ‘American Blitzkrieg’. Its now the end of 1944 and that same army, for all of its hard-earned victories, is at the end of its tether. Fuel and supplies are only just arriving in force, the men are exhausted, and the raw recruits are fresher than ever.  For the US Army, December was a time to pause briefly to rebuild their stocks and prepare for the final drive into Germany.

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The Ardennes
Devil's Charge Design Notes
This opened a very small window of opportunity for the Germans to launch an ambitious offensive with the best troops they could muster. The plan called for an all-out attack through the Ardennes to capture Antwerp, cutting off and capturing several Allied armies, and forcing a peace settlement in Germany’s favour. No one, including Hitler himself, was under any delusions about the cost of failure in the up coming operation. For the Germans, it was all or nothing.
Devil's Charge Design Notes
German Forces
There were three major pushes in the Ardennes, and Devil’s Charge focuses on the one Hitler felt was so important that he put all of his best divisions on the job. The German Sixth Army attacked the Northern Sector. It had the 1st and 12th SS-Panzer Divisions as well as the 3rd Fallschirmjäger, the 12th , 277th, and 326th Volksgrenadier Divisions. The plan was simple enough: breakthrough with the infantry and exploit with the tanks, and after a rocky start the Germans unleashed several armoured columns behind the American lines. In Peiper’s Charge, we follow two of these kampfgruppes. If you’re looking to field the infantry component, sit tight as the Volkgrenadiers are on their way!

Devil's Charge Design Notes
SS-Kampfgruppe Peiper
Peiper was an aggressive leader and his men were not as well disciplined as they were only a few months before. To reflect this, we’ve rated them as Fearless Trained, making them relatively cheap in points, but still well motivated. This means that you can field lots of tanks, infantry, and support.

The Kampfgruppe was quite flexible and the company diagram reflects this by allowing the player to chose a company that best fits their playing style. Heavy tanks? Sure thing! Panthers and Tiger IIs are ready for your orders. You can also mount up some Fallschirmjager and recreate some of those famous scenes from the Battle of the Bulge.

Devil's Charge Design Notes

Are you a fast player? Panzer IVs and armoured infantry will benefit from the Peiper’s Charge special rule allowing you to get the jump on your opponent with a spearhead move. This special rule was designed to emphasise Peiper’s tactics on the march. He grouped his armoured infantry with his Panzer IVs, which he favoured because they handled the narrow, soggy roads better than heavy tanks, and consumed far less fuel.

Peiper also has a massive amount of supporting firepower, not the least of which is a battery of six self-propelled 15cm Grille K tanks, which will make quick work of any enemy troops holed-up in buildings and fortifications! Wirbelwinds, Ostwinds, and armoured cars will help round out your force.

Devil's Charge Design Notes
SS-Obersturmbannführer Jochen Peiper
You can have Peiper himself lead your Kampfgruppe. His special rule will make sure that in the event you’re stuck with reserves, they will arrive in a timely fashion and exactly where he wants them. This helps him stack the odds in his favour and make sure that he can apply the necessary force needed for victory.

150. Panzerbrigade Kampfgruppe
As a fan of special forces, Otto Skorzeny’s colourful commandos were definitely on the books from day one. Weird equipment, strange missions, and elite troops make for a very exciting modelling project as well as an interesting and funky force on the battlefield.

Devil's Charge Design Notes
The brigade’s tanks were ‘disguised’ as US tanks. I put that in quotation marks, because it was a thinly veiled attempt at best. Even Skorzeny remarked that they wouldn’t even trick a green American soldier, at a distance…in the dark. Still, we wanted to give the group some interesting flavour other than just an interesting model, so we included the Enemy Disguises rule for their tanks and transports. You can’t rely on the disguises for your battle plan, but they might buy you a second or two of confusion to close the gap!
Devil's Charge Design Notes
Skorzeny Commandos
You also have the sneaky Skorzeny Commando teams. Their mission was to dress, talk, and act exactly like American troops, infiltrate behind enemy lines, and cause as much havoc as possible behind enemy lines. You can field these commandos in both SS-Kampfgruppe Peiper and 150. Panzerbrigade (keep your eyes out for sneaky commandos supporting the Volksgrenadiers too!).

Devil's Charge Design Notes
Though the commandos were few in number, their psychological impact on the American troops was enormous. Their area of operations was small, only along the Sixth Army’s attack route, yet American troops as far south as Patton’s Third Army in the Lorraine and Luxemburg were convinced that Skorzeny commandos lurked behind every corner!
Devil's Charge Design Notes
I wanted these teams to really capture the chaos they caused, so these teams operate completely differently than any others in the game. Mounted up in their captured jeeps, they move and make mischief during your opponent’s turn. Weapons, artillery, or aircraft cannot target them, nor can they be assaulted. Be warned, however, that your opponent’s command teams can try and challenge the commando teams, so make sure that you’ve read up and memorised all of the World Series champions of the past few years!
Devil's Charge Design Notes

Commando teams have a menu and from which to choose their favourite entrée of chaos with a side of disorder and a desert of paranoia. Once per turn you can either Spread Rumours to pin down an enemy platoon, Reverse Road Signs to redirect your opponent’s reserves, or Observe Defences to make sure an area is cleared of ambushes. However, a simple failed Skill Check will expose the commandos for who they really are so pick your moments carefully!

Devil's Charge Design Notes
Sturmvogel
The Me 262 was the first operational jet fighter. Though initially designed as a fighter interceptor, Hitler issued an order that all planes needed to be able to conduct ground attacks as well. The 262 was fitted with a load of two 250kg (550lb) bombs and went to work at the end of 1944.

Devil's Charge Design Notes
The Luftwaffe launched Operation Bodenplatte to paralyse Allied airpower and give ground support to the Ardennes offensive. This gave us the opportunity to bring the Me 262 into the game. They cannot be intercepted, owing to their fast speed of 540mph (870km/h), compared to the P-51’s 437 mph (703 km/h) or the Spitfire’s 448 mph (717 km/h). This should give you the ability to dart in and strike the target and disappear well before the USAAF can react!
Devil's Charge Design Notes
US Forces
Facing the Germans was an odd collection of experienced veterans, fresh recruits, and worn out dogfaced soldiers. For the book, I’ve chosen three representative infantry divisions caught up in those critical first hours: the 2nd, 28th, and 99th Infantry Divisions. These were by no means the only infantry divisions in the Ardennes, but their stories stood out to me. The 28th Infantry’s regiments stood against whole German armies, the 2nd Infantry was caught while on its own offensive and had to carefully retreat to safety, and the 99th stood against the odds and, together with the 2nd, fought a high risk fighting withdrawal to the Elsenborn Heights.

Devil's Charge Design Notes
While I have focused on these three divisions for the story of Devils Charge, they were designed to try and cover all US infantry divisions in the Ardennes. You’ll see this reflected in the support options. One might ask, “why does the 2nd Infantry have access to the Scrapyard Tank Platoon, based on the 740th Tank Battalion? Everyone knows they were attached to the 30th Infantry, not the 2nd!” That’s because the 2nd Infantry was designed as a template to cover the 30th and any other veteran infantry division rushed to the front in the Battle of the Bulge. The same applies to the 99th Infantry variant, which gives you the template to build a company from the 106th Infantry. Worn out divisions, such as the 4th Infantry, tired and exhausted after the Hurtgen fighting, use the 28th Infantry’s Perimeter Outpost as its base. With a little creativity and research, you should be able field any of the US infantry forces from Holland to the Swiss border during the last days of 1944 using Devil’s Charge.
Devil's Charge Design Notes
Special Rules
Each of the US forces in this book has a little special rule associated with it that reflects their story in the Ardennes. These rules were chosen not so much with the intent that they were division-specific, but more to give that ‘template’ the right feel in the Ardennes campaign.

Devil's Charge Design Notes
All of the US forces in Devil’s Charge have a bonus special rule called Why We Fight. After the Malmedy Massacre, in which 84 US prisoners were killed in cold blood, rumours and cries for revenge swept across the area. The men became hardened against the SS, whether fuelled by revenge, or the knowledge of what was in store for them if they surrendered. The Why We Fight special rule reflects that raw determination by giving US troops the ability to re-roll failed motivation tests in assaults involving the Waffen-SS.

While the incident certainly enraged all American troops that heard about it, the Why We Fight rule specifically targets the guys who were close to that incident or knew that surrender was not an option: the engineers that collected the survivors, the infantry and cavalry men who faced Peiper’s onslaught, or the outposts that had no option but to stand and fight.

2nd Lieutenant Audie Murphy
Audie Murphy is a man who needs little introduction. We knew that we wanted to include Murphy somewhere in the Bulge series, so the question was where to put him. As a member of the 3rd Infantry Division, he certainly wouldn’t fit in Blood Guts & Glory, which was all about tank forces, or Nuts!, which is all about the 101st Airborne in Bastogne. So Devil’s Charge became his home.

Murphy can be fielded either as a company commander with some pretty impressive special rules, or as a “hot” objective that actually fights back! If you want to field him as a part of the 3rd Infantry, I would suggest you use the 2nd Infantry as your template. In concept though, Murphy represents the massive number of heroes and Medal of Honor winners found all across the front, so I haven’t restricted his use to any specific division or company.

Devil's Charge Design Notes
Perimeter Outpost
The Perimeter Outpost represents the only time Americans really fought from extensively prepared positions in Western Europe and that was really on accident. After the bloody fighting in the Hürtgen Forest, the 28th Infantry Division was decimated, exhausted, but victorious. They were pulled off the line and stationed in the quiet sector of the Ardennes. There they prepared winter quarters and awaited reinforcements to bring them back up to strength. The rifle companies reorganised themselves into outposts, dug deep reinforced foxholes, and even incorporated portions of the German Siegfried Line into their defences.

The Perimeter Outpost force centres on the Outpost Platoon. These in turn were based on under-strength rifle platoons, heavily reinforced by 57mm anti-tank guns, M1917 and M1919 machine-guns, and fortifications.

Devil's Charge Design Notes
Rifle Company
The Rifle Company comes in two varieties: the veteran 2nd Infantry and the trained 99th Infantry. The story of these two divisions is interwoven and makes for an amazing story. I’ll leave you to read about it in the book, but I believe the stand these two divisions at the Elsenborn Ridge made an key contribution in stopping the Germans in the Ardennes.

There is a third sub-variant, the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate), which was made up entirely with Norwegian and Norwegian-Americans. I included these guys after getting wrapped up in Lieutenant Colonel David E Pergrin’s memoirs of the 291st Engineer Combat Battalion.

Devil's Charge Design Notes
Engineer Combat Company
Like the Tank Destroyers, the US engineers have been a long anticipated force in Flames Of War. No other battle in World War II saw so much combat action by the US Engineer Corps, fighting and slowing down the enemy, Once Peiper was through the crust of the American defence, all that stood in his way were a few bridges and the 1111th Engineer Group. The engineers held or blew up all of the critical bridges and caused so much grief that Peiper called them “The Damned Engineers!”

The force in Devil’s Charge is based on the 291st Engineer Combat Battalion. They have some great new models such as their 2 ½-ton dumptrucks and armoured bulldozers. They can also set up roadblocks, an interesting combination of fortifications, machine-guns, bazookas and booby traps. The engineers were very clever and will richly reward creative modellers with an awesome looking and performing force. 

Devil's Charge Design Notes
Cavalry Recon Troop
The freshly arrived 14th Cavalry Group’s armoured cars, Stuart light tanks, and assault guns were all that stood in the way of the Germans at the Losheim Gap. They fought hard, but were eventually overrun. They then returned to the battle in support of the 7th Armored Division and by the end of the year they had received some of the new M24 Chaffee light tanks.

This force also includes a veteran variant based loosely on the 2nd Cavalry Group, Patton’s Ghosts. This option is available for players that prefer more experienced troops to lead their charge!

Devil's Charge Design Notes
Light Tank Company
The Light Tank Company in Devil’s Charge is F Troop from the cavalry, not the standard D Company of a tank battalion. As such, light tank companies from cavalry formations were given priority as the new M24 Chaffee Light tank became available. Among the first to receive them in force were the 14th and 2nd Cavalry groups, the former losing most of their older Stuarts in the Losheim Gap, while the latter lost theirs in the Lorraine fighting. The crews instantly took to the light tanks armed with powerful 75mm guns and used them to seriously challenge German tanks using superior speed and cunning.

Devil's Charge Design Notes
Tank Support
US divisional support received some serious firepower in the latter months of 1944. Many of the infantry division’s internal tank battalions began equipping with many of the new tanks. What does this mean for Flames of War? Jumbos, M4A3 variants, and 76mm-armed tanks all become available to support your troops! 

One of the weirdest options is the Scrapyard Tank Platoon. This platoon really embodies the chaotic and desperate reaction of US forces to the German attack. The platoon is based on the 740th Tank Battalion, which arrived on the battlefield after having all of their Shermans taken away as replacement vehicles for other the units. After some foraging, they found some worn out M4s, old M10s, self-propelled, and even grabbed some new vehicles such as M36 Jacksons and M24 Chaffee light tanks. The battalion’s platoon commanders were given free reign to assemble their platoons however they wanted, and so too are you in Devil’s Charge. You can choose up to five vehicles from a grocery list of various US tanks and self-propelled guns, so have fun!

Devil's Charge Design Notes

Artillery Support
The Americans had access to weird and wonderful artillery platforms during the Ardennes, from rockets to captured German guns.

T34 Calliope tanks were armed with an impressive 60-rocket launcher. In Flames of War, this massive salvo makes each tank count as four weapons when firing a bombardment. The platoon has four of these beasts, giving you a bombardment of no fewer than 16 weapons firing a 12”x12” (30cm x 30cm) square template, re-rolling misses! Sixty rockets takes a  bit of time to reload through, so you’ll have to spend a bit of effort or time to reload your Calliopes.

Devil's Charge Design Notes

Captured artillery was also used by the US Army during the last few months of 1944 to help deal with ammo shortages. We’ve included a wide array of guns, from howitzers to long 8.8cm anti-tank guns. These will add a bit of flavour to your American force, but be careful as German players might fight harder to capture them back!

One of the biggest changes you’ll spot with the standard artillery options is that you do not have to take a 105mm howitzer battery before taking the heavier 155mm options as normal in other books. This isn’t because of any doctrinal changes or reorganisation, but rather representing the number of times heavy artillery found itself engaging the German spearheads on their own. There are lots of stories of taskforces being built around a heavy artillery battery, with infantry platoons protecting the battery from enemy troops as the guns engaged enemy tanks and vehicles. These form cool forces in Flames Of War and I wanted to make sure that players could field these interesting taskforces in the game.

Devil's Charge Design Notes
Aircraft
As the Germans closed in on the Bastogne, the 406th Fighter Group took to the skies with a new weapon, the 5” High Velocity Aircraft Rockets. P-47 pilots hated the old 4.5” rockets for all their problems, and were greatly surprised with the performance of the new rockets. Perhaps the greatest strength of the new weapon system is that it still allowed the plane to carry bombs, making it an extremely versatile aircraft, and one to be respected on the Flames Of War battlefield!

Devil's Charge Design Notes
Ardennes Battlefields
At the end of the book I’ve included a few pages to talk about the battlefield challenges the Ardennes posed to both sides. This section introduces players to the Ardennes and gives players some suggestions on how to treat that battlefield in Flames Of War. I’ve also included optional winter weather rules if you want to represent your battlefield in the grip of ice and snow.

Devil's Charge Design Notes
Devil’s Charge!
Well, there you have it! Devil’s Charge will be available on 14 July 2012. Prepare the men; the winter offensive is here!

~ Mike.


Last Updated On Thursday, July 5, 2012 by Blake at Battlefront