Firestorm Market Garden Design Notes

Firestorm: Market Garden Box Front It’s All About the Bridges!
by Ken Camel

Firestorm Market Garden
Firestorm Market Garden supplement’s the two battle-books, Hell’s Highway and A Bridge Too Far. We wanted to give players the opportunity to build their lists and get into the swing of Operation Market Garden before they had to get down to the serious business of playing a campaign, so we planned to finish our focus on this interesting period with our Firestorm campaign, rather than part way through as we did with Firestorm Bagration.
If I could describe Firestorm-Market Garden in two words they would be paratroopers and bridges. Keep both of these two concepts in mind as you once again work your way through the Commanders rules, the General’s rules and the Organizer’s handbook.

The uniqueness of using airborne paratroopers in required some additions to the core campaign system that introduce a number of new concepts for Market Garden. These include Air Missions, Airborne Supply, and Landing Zones that require new strategies for both the Allied and German generals.
What is Firestorm?

Firestorm is the name of the campaign series created by Battlefront, to support campaign organisers quest for a system that allows ultimate flexibility, whilst still retaining the ability for individual players to affect the final outcome.

For more information check out our Firestorm Primer:

What is Firestorm Market Garden?...
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Air Missions

The success of the Allied advance into Holland is critically tied to the proper use of your air assets. Selecting the right mission, committing enough airlift or air superiority, and delivering the right mix of airborne paratroopers, glider infantry, and supplies to a critical landing zone will make or break the Allied attack.

Air Missions are broken into Air Drops, Interdiction, and Close Air Support. 

Air Drops deliver the goods, whether they are delivering fresh paratroopers or badly needed supplies. The overabundance of supplies in one Drop Zone could mean a critical shortage in another. Having enough supplies to keep your isolated airborne troops fighting may mean the difference between victory and defeat. Interdiction Missions allow you to prevent the critical arrival of German Reserves and Reinforcements. Delaying the arrival of hard-hitting mobile Tigers and Panthers will also keep your vulnerable paratroopers alive and in the fight.

Close Air Support allows a player to call on aircraft during their game and can provide critical air strikes, allowing the ground forces to seize their objectives.

The German Luftwaffe can have a particularly significant effect on the game by either isolating a battle area through interdicting air resupply or in supplying close air support at a crucial time in a critical battle.

Though your Air Missions are limited the correct decision in committing your air asset can be extremely important.

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Ground and Airborne Supply
It is important to ensure that forces are well supplied as a lack of ammunition (or food and water for that matter) can cause a range of problems. Units that are out of supply may suffer a penalty in their games, although occasionally these logistical issues can result in troops that fight on long after others would normally give up.

Your British armour is supplied by road from the various Supply Depots located on the edge of the board, so as long as a unit can trace a line (via a road of course) back to a starting location they are considered to be in supply. However, Allied airborne troops are supplied by air through Landing and Drop Zones until the Allied player links them via road to one of their Supply Depot’s.  This Airborne Supply is limited and is quickly used up in combat or manoeuvre by your airborne troops. Since Airborne Supply can only appear in an Allied controlled Drop or Landing Zone, protecting these areas is vital for paratrooper and glider operations behind the front lines.

German supplies and reserves arrived from all over the Reich. In the campaign, multiple supply depots, variable reinforcements, and variable reserves represent the randomness of the German supplies and reserves. The sudden arrival of German panzers can change either general’s strategy with the outcome of just one battle.

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Landing Zones (LZs and DZs)
Landing and Drop Zones are areas on the map that allow you to drop paratroopers, glider troops, and Airborne Supply Markers.  They are limited in number and as such become valuable areas to protect. This is true until you open a supply line from your permanent Supply Depots by connecting your airborne troops via roads to your more mobile armour formations.

Attacking the Landing and Drop Zones is one German strategy that can isolate a battle area by cutting it off from Airborne Supply.  This makes it easier to permanently capture the more highly prized airborne troops. It also limits the number and intensity of Allied attacks behind your lines allowing you to use your limited attacks to keep the Allied armour from breaking through your lines.

These new airborne strategies give Firestorm Market Garden a different flavour than Firestorm Bagration. There are several other aspects of the Market Garden Campaign that make it quite different than the Russian Front.

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The Bridges

The actual Market Garden campaign was all about securing the bridges over the numerous rivers and canals of Holland. This is also the case for Firestorm Market Garden. Taking and securing the bridges brings Victory Points to the side that controls them. Additionally, since supply and the bridges are all linked via the limited roadways then the control of these roadways drives the battle plans of the two generals.

The value of the bridges grows the farther the Allies punch into Holland with the Bridge at Arnhem being the grand prize. Securing the Arnhem Bridge with the Nijmegen Bridge becomes nearly required for either side to win the game. But remember I said nearly.

With three different routes to Arnhem the German player needs to be shrewd on his deployment and commitment of his Firestorm troops.  The failure of reserves and reinforcements to appear at the right place can cause catastrophic results. Linking the right troops together in the right area can provide the counterattacking capability to not only halt the Allied advance but sever their supply lines potentially leaving large Allied armour formations out of supply and vulnerable to destruction.

On the Allied side, the three roads leading north provide enough options to keep the limited German troops off-guard. Add some well-placed paratrooper attacks to isolate bridgeheads, towns, or roadways and you have many options in keeping the Germans from consolidating their scattered forces and preventing your drive to Arnhem.

Firestorm: Market Garden Campaign Map
Planning Your Strategy

During the development of Firestorm Market Garden, play testers and staff alike tried numerous strategies. Quite of few of these strategies have failed from the lack of supplies, blocked reinforcements, failure to secure initiative at the right time, and of course, losing on the battlefield. The pitfalls are many but the rewards are great.

Allied Strategy seems to revolve around two camps. The first is to concentrate on breaking through Eindhoven early and opening up road supply to Nijmegen as quickly as possible. Picking one of the alternate routes to open and keep the Germans from cutting a single road also seems to be part of this strategy. This involves concentrating on the Allied airborne forces and focusing their attacks on the roads to secure a swift route north. Of course if you concentrate on this and fail to take Eindhoven, then these successes will be for nothing.

The second Allied strategy is to concentrate early on securing the Arnhem Bridge with your paratroopers.  Build up enough supply to sustain your troops until they can be linked in the final turn for a sweeping victory. The danger here is allowing the Germans to build a solid defence in the south while your paratroopers take the bridges. Not being able to punch through at the end will leave you short and halve your victory points not connected to your Supply Depots.

German Strategy also seems to follow these two camps as well. If you can retreat and fortify Eindhoven early you can force the Allies into a battle of attrition holding their big armoured units to the south or forcing them up the longer secondary routes. This leaves them vulnerable for a quick flank attack severing the supply lines and threatening any forces cut off by bold counterattacks.

A second German strategy is to focus on isolating and mopping up the vulnerable paratroopers before they can consolidate and dig in on the bridges or in the towns. Early reserves can help this strategy as marrying up Tigers and Panthers can give you a counterattacking force that will rip through isolated paratroopers caught in the open.

Though all of these strategies have resulted in victories the fortunes of war have also sent them to just as many defeats. Flexibility in commanding your troops is the only way (plus a little luck) to guarantee victory.

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Firestorm Foundations

Veteran players, or since Firestorm Bagration was our first campaign perhaps they should be considered Trained, will recognise many of the building blocks in our Market Garden campaign. These include the General’s Wargame, battlefields and terrain of the Dutch countryside, two new Missions and two exciting Scenarios. In addition, your Firestorm Troops have been upgraded to inlcude: Königstigers, ‘88’s”, FW190s, Fallschirmjäger, heavy Allied artillery and Typhoons.

The Generals Wargame
The General’s Wargame is a fast-paced two-player game based on Firestorm Market garden that takes between an hour and one and a half hours to play. When both players are constantly involved in planning and executing attacks, time flies and the hardest question is whether you can fit in another game!

As well as being a stand-alone game, the General’s Wargame is also a great tool for the general’s playing the Firestorm Market Garden campaign.

The Dutch Countryside
The Firestorm Market garden map is divided up into 60 areas of Open, Hill, Forest, Polder and Town terrain. The rulebook includes suggestions on how to build these unique Dutch battlefields and terrain. (insert pic of Battlefield)

Missions and Scenarios
The Missions of Hasty Assault and Breakout are incorporated into the campaign and are included in the suggested Missions Table. These missions highlight the type of battles fought in Market Garden. (Insert pic of Mission)

The two special scenarios allow you to recreate the specific battles in Veghel and Nijmegen.

Firestorm Troops
The 1st Airborne Army and XXX Corps is fully kitted with their own range of Firestorm Troops. The hodgepodge of German units that participated in Market Garden is also not forgotten. Certain German Firestorm Troops represent these variable units.

For example, the “88” figure (which represents certain German Corps assets) might ultimately be a couple of dreaded 8.8cm FlaK guns or a Tank Hunter platoon containing Jagdpanzer IV or even Jagdpanther tank hunters.

Firestorm: Market Garden Box Back
Have Fun!

Most of all Firestorm Market Garden is about having fun either by being the organiser, playing the Generals Wargame or contributing on the gaming table. The dynamics of the campaign and the multitude of strategies allows for a stimulating Flames of War campaign and a fast-paced, head-to-head General’s Wargame.  Both the campaign game and the General’s Wargame allow you to recreate those fateful days of September 1944. In addition, both historical and ‘what if’ campaigns are available for play in order to meet your gaming club’s or opponent’s particular wargaming interests.

Some suggested reading regarding Firestorm Bagration

An introduction to the Firestorm Campaign System...

The Firestorm Bagration Design Notes...

A summary of the Firestorm Staff Campaign...

A day in the Life of a Firestorm-Bagration Commander...

Firestorm: Warsaw, the little brother of the Firestorm series...

Total War, rules for bigger games that featured first in Firestorm Bagration...

Last but not least, a Firestorm campaign can take a normal everyday club or pickup game and give it a tangible result (in addition to bragging rights of course).

Coming Next!

Coming next week, the unboxing of Firestorm Market garden to reveal the fully loaded contents used to recreate A Bridge Too Far.


~ Ken.