Italy: Soft Underbelly Campaign Book

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With the Axis Powers ejected from North Africa, the Western Allies look to take the fight to the “soft underbelly” of Europe – Italy. This campaign supplement for Bolt Action focuses on Operation Husky, the airborne and naval invasion of Sicily, the hard-fought battles in the villages and rugged mountain passes of that island, and the advance up the Italian Peninsula towards Rome. With a host of scenarios, new units, special rules & theatre selectors, this new book contains everything players will need to refight these important battles in defence of the Regno d’Italia or to strike at the weak link of Axis Europe to knock Italy out of the war.

The Campaign
This book hones in on the first six months of the strike into Italy, from the eve of Operation Husky in July 1943 to the assault on the Winter Line in December 1943. These operations were the catalyst that led to not only the downfall of Mussolini’s new Roman Empire, but the protracted 22 months the Allies would subsequently undergo in a divided Italy. A future campaign supplement will explore the final 16 months of the campaign in Italy.

The campaign is presented in sections – each with extensive historical context along with a handful of scenarios to refight the most famed battles of this period of the war.
Operation Husky:
Scenario 1: Biazza Ridge
Scenario 2: Storming the Pig’s Snout
Scenario 3: In the Streets of Gela
Scenario 4: Primosole Bridge

The Race for Messina:
Scenario 5: Escape from Troina
The Invasion of Italy:
Scenario 6: Delay the Enemy
Scenario 7: Tanks on the Beach!
Scenario 8: Montecorvino Airfield
Scenario 9: Standoff at the Calore

The Winter Line
Scenario 10: Termoli
Scenario 11: Mozzagrogna
Scenario 12: Monte La Diffensa
Scenario 13: Ortona

New Units & Theatre Selectors
The Axis:
Following the defeats the Italian Armed forces had endured since Italy’s entry into the Second World War, Italian morale was in a steep decline. They were dogged with poor and outdated equipment, outdated military practises and had been crippled by the loss of some of their best formations in the North African Campaigns. To represent this state of affairs, players are afforded an alternative set of special rules when fielding Italian armies in Soft Underbelly’s historical scenarios, or when otherwise using one of the book’s Italian Theatre Selectors. For example, rather than use the ‘Avanti Savoia’ special rule in the Armies of Italy and the Axis book, ‘Defeat after Defeat, Followed by Impending Defeat’ is used. If, at the beginning of any game turn, the Italian player has lost three or more units more than their opponent, their entire army suffers from -1 morale.

Italian players have a handful of new infantry units to choose from, including Motociclisti Infantry, Engineer Demolishers (Guastatori), the British Commando-styled X Arditi raiders and Carabinieri Military Policemen.

German players meanwhile have the option to outfit many of their core units as more representative of the theatre, as well as the addition of Panzergrenadier squads forming the Herman Göring Division. The Fallschirmjäger had a heavy presence in Italy and were often called in to avert the direst of positions – earning the respect of friend and foe alike. As such, where squad compositions differ from other theatres, these are detailed, as well as the introduction of Fallschirmpioneers – who proved just as valuable an asset in their glider-borne assaults as they did in implementing demolitions and booby traps into defensive positions. Their pivotal role in the battle for Primosole Bridge held the British up for three days.

The Allies:
British Commonwealth players have the option of a multitude of nationalities to call upon, and any such unit will benefit from a specific special rule. For example, Canadian Infantry Sections benefit from the ‘Tough as Old Boots’ national characteristic, whilst Guards regiments have ‘Discipline’ – enabling rerolls of order tests (Armies representing Scots Guards can even include a bagpiper by way of the new Highland Officer unit entry). There are also new special rules and unit entries for Royal Marine Commandos and Commandos (especially handy considering the recent release of the new plastic kit!).

US players are not left out. They will have the opportunity to delve into the exploits of The Devils Brigade (I.E The First Special Service Force), whose intense mountain training was particularly fortuitous on the slopes of Mt. La Difensa. The multinational Black Devils carried the best equipment available – units may be equipped with a Johnson LMG for example. They are not the only famous US troops to be detailed, as Darby’s Rangers, who led the way for many of the most notable operations of the campaign are detailed with full rules for their fielding on the tabletop.

Within the pages of Italy: Soft Underbelly you’ll find rules for fielding Francisci (along with a handful of other notable heroes on both sides from the Italian campaigns) as a Veteran Major, where he can bring his ‘Gallant Leadership’ ability to bear on the tabletop.

Major General Enrico Francisci. Known as “The Fighting General” for his gallant and inspirational leadership style. Initially fighting in the Greek campaign and on the Russian front prior to being redeployed to Sicily. He was killed whilst leading Gruppo Tactico Venturi in a counterattack against US 3rd Infantry Division. He was posthumously awarded the Italian Gold Medal for Military Valour joining a host of previously awarded honours.

Number of pages: 176


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