When one thinks of the infamous Ostfront, the eastern front of World War Two, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t typically the Italian Army! Although these men are far better known for their efforts in North Africa and on their home soil, they also saw significant service in Russia, and, despite facing great hardship were able to give a good account of themselves in combat. With the release of Campaign Case Blue, we now have a full set of rules and extra units to allow you to represent an Ostfront Italian force, making full use of the awesome new plastic boxed sets! Let’s get amongst it!

The Italian contribution to the Eastern Front took the form of the 8th Italian Army, also known as the Armata Italiana in Russia (ARMIR), which translated simply to the ‘Italian Army in Russia’. Commanded by General Italo Garibaldi, the ARMIR consisted of some ten divisions, along with an air corps, and had grown from the initial Corpo di Spedizione Italiano in Russia (CSIR), a much smaller expeditionary corps. Serving in the Don sector in the south of the Eastern Front, the ARMIR comprised around 235,000 soldiers, but was significantly lacking in armour, anti-tank weaponry, and most particularly appropriate winter clothing – not an ideal situation in a Russian winter!

Italian and Soviet patrols clash on the Eastern Front.

Advancing to and holding positions along the River Don, the Italians achieved decent success in the early stages of their operations in the Soviet Union. When the Soviets launched Operation Little Saturn in December 1942, the Italians found themselves outnumbered by at least nine to one in some sectors, and faced significant numbers of Soviet tanks that they were ill-equipped to deal with. Overwhelmed and with their allies collapsing around them, the Italian forces took horrendous casualties and had more or less ceased to exist in a functioning capacity by February of 1943, despite a brave resistance and a desperate breakout from the Soviet encirclement by the Alpini of the Tridentina division.

Now, all of this is covered in far greater detail by the Case Blue campaign supplement, and represented on the tabletop by the many scenarios found within – I’m not going to spoil all the surprises! I know you’re eager to hear about the new Italian rules for the Ostfront, and to be honest, I’m excited to talk about them. Avanti Savoia has been a blessing and a curse for Italian players since Bolt Action First Edition (let’s be honest, a curse more often than a blessing!), and Case Blue adds an exciting new way to utilise your Italians – but we’ll get to that in a second! First, we’ll take a look at some of the new units found within!

First up we have the Fucileri squad – on paper, they look pretty normal, being able to be fielded as Regulars or Veterans with the option to take a couple of LMGs – but hang on… they start at 10 men with the option to add… 10 more?! That’s right, it’s time to break out the big squads! While at Veteran they’re definitely on the pricey side, I’ve long had a soft spot for a 200-point, 20-man Regular ‘blob’. The sheer number of bodies can make them very difficult to deal with, meaning they’re likely to stick around for a significant length of time, and if you can get a good charge off, you can bury virtually any opponent under an avalanche of dice – just watch out for Fanatics!

‘Black Feathers, White Hell’

Our special miniature for Case Blue is ‘Black Feathers, White Hell’, depicting an embattled Italian Alpini soldier in winter gear. You’ll get this figure free only when you buy Case Blue directly from the Warlord Games webstore.

Alpini and Bersaglieri also get their own Case Blue-specific rules, while the Monte Cervino ski squads bring some very well-trained Mountaineers to the party, always using their unmodified morale for all tests, which makes them very resilient to both Pins, and all manner of flamethrower-based nastiness – the only way to shift these lads is the hard way! The CCNN ‘M’ Battalion squad allows you to bring up to 18 Regular or Veteran Tough Fighters, representing the very best soldiers the Blackshirts could field, while two new and interesting artillery types also enter the fray – the Voloire horse artillery battery, which is a Light Howitzer than can run 12″ (old-school horse artillery is seriously cool!), and the dual-purpose 75/32 Modello 37, which functions as both a medium AT gun and light howitzer, all for a cool 80 points at Regular. While there were never enough of these excellent guns to go around, they were some of the best available to the Italians on the Ostfront, as represented by their rules.

Oh, and there also happen to be some Savoia Cavalleria horsemen, who I hear are supposed to be pretty good… If you want even more offensive cavalry, they also get access to a brand-new Cossack squad, available both on foot and with horses! I’m sure absolutely no-one will be flicking straight to pages 105 and 127 as soon as their copy of Case Blue arrives!

Italian and Hungarian forces press through another Russian village.

That whistle-stop tour through the new Italian units brings us nicely to their new special rules, which may be used in place of the national special rules found in Armies of Italy and the Axis for Ostfront games (and for other games with the agreement of your opponent or Tournament Organiser!). Improvised AT allows the Italian player to re-roll penetration rolls when using weapons with a Pen of less than +3, while Large Squads allows units of 14 or more men (remember those Fucileri?) to cause D2 pins when shooting enemy units! Lastly, CREDERE, OBBEDIRE, COMBATTERE adds some cool bonuses to your ‘M’ Battalion squads, Alpini, and Bersaglieri units (and HQ units modelled as such) respectively. Not a bad handful, that! As for modelling choices – Ostfront Italians couldn’t be easier! They’re just like regular Italians of your preferred flavour… just chilly, so omit the sun-hats! The plastic boxed sets do a great job of representing these brave but underequipped men, and you can always include a few ‘liberated’ German or Soviet bodies for that extra winter flavour – it really is that easy!

Italian Army & Blackshirts


Alpini Mountain Troops

Case Blue unlocks some awesome new ways to play an Italian army in Bolt Action – what’re you waiting for?

‘Black Feathers, White Hell!’ A lone alpino traverses treacherous terrain in the bitter Ostfront cold.
Leave a Reply

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

You May Also Like