A number of years ago my family went to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa where among the exhibits, I first saw a Panther tank in person. I was instantly wowed by this awesome machine. At 3 meters high with a high velocity 75mm cannon and lines that made it somehow superimposed between the armoured behemoths of World War II and modern battlefield predators, the Panther tank instantly became my favorite vehicle. Tracks, wheels, or wings, nothing beats the Panther for me!
Panthers in Flames Of War
Move ahead a few years to when I began to play Flames Of War . I was happy to use Panthers. I found they were great in defense where they could outrage the Allies with their whopping 40-inch range at AT 14. Using Stormtroopers to Blitz and then Shoot and Scoot, my Heer Panthers (from D-Day: Germans) worked in the role of long-range tank snipers. However, game after game here they stayed and it became a little predictable. For 1 point more, my Tigers got the other missions. With the same Front Armour, Side Armour 8, Top Armour 2 and a Last Stand and Remount of 2+ they were that much more flexible. Despite this, I always wanted my Panthers to have the opportunity to fill other roles too, as was only fitting of this World War II titan. Fortunately, with the impending release of the D-Day: Waffen-SS book, that time has come….
New Stats Means New Options
So, what is different that breathes new life into the SS Panthers? It’s the stats. The SS used the same equipment as their army counterparts, but were trained differently with an aggressive, sometimes even fanatical approach. They tended to have higher losses and therefore did not accumulate the experience which is reflected in the stats for the SS Panther platoons. Because of this, on the down side, they are Hit On 3+, and count as Trained for skill. However, they trade this for a Fearless Motivation and most importantly a hefty decrease in points by almost 25% from their army counterparts.
These changes amount to the a very different playstyle. Let’s take a detailed look at just some of the possible differences:
The Panther Company
For regular army units, the Panther is just too expensive to have full Formations on the table at the 100-point limit. As a result, you often do not see them in games and certainly not in any great numbers. If they are there you can be certain that they will always be sitting back at a distance looking for long range pot shots. Now with the SS Panthers, 98 points will get you 11 Panthers on the table! (To field the same number of army Panthers from D-Day: Germans would cost a whopping 121 points.) With the SS you can reasonably have a horde of Front Armour 9, AT 14 panzers all bearing down on your opponent! Trading the Hit On 4+ for 3+ should not be too much of a disadvantage, because even though the hits are going to be made, the penetration rolls remain the same and you have a 3+ remount due to your Fearless Motivation. Moreover, though the Allies in Late War have plenty of 17 pounders, 3-inch guns and 76mm Shermans, all hitting with high AT ratings, chances are they will not have the numbers or range to go toe to toe with so many Panthers all at once.
Panthers in Assaults
Let’s face it even though the Panther is still better fighting at range you will occasionally need to engage in (or receive) assaults. Side Armour 5 can possibly repel a few bazookas or PIATS, but with a Motivation of 4+, army Panthers tend to run away when it is time to roll for Counter Attack. If your Panthers are defending an objective this is an even bigger issue as they will likely be pushed off it. The SS however changes this. Though they have a skill of 4+ making them less likely to cause casualties in an assault, they also are much less likely to be running from the fight with their Fearless Motivation. So, go ahead and sit your SS Panthers on an objective. If they have to fight up close and personal, they are not the ones that will be running away.
Panthers in Defence
As mentioned above the Panther is best in defense. The SS version is not much different. Front Armour 10 at long range will go a long way to offset the Hit On of 3+ and the gun is still the AT 14, 3+ Fire Power marvel that the German long barrel 75mm always has been. But I hear you say the SS Panther loses out because with Skill 4+ your Blitz followed by Shoot and Scoot Stormtrooper special orders are less likely to succeed. Don’t worry though the Old Hand rule takes care of this.
With your Panthers skulking within 6 inches of their Formation HQ they now stand the same chances of Blitzing out of cover, taking their shots like they were stationary, and then Shoot and Scooting back to safety as their army counterparts.
Get Out and Play
Now that we have shed the light on the differences that are coming with the SS Panther it is time to get ready to put yours on the table. The new stats in the D-Day:Waffen SS book will not only give you a new host of fun options for how you can use these mighty hunters, but also usher in an age where the Panther can become a top carnivore on the Flames Of War battlefield. Now is the time to let your Panthers go on the Prowl!
I have heard much confusion and discussion about the TOW missile and the new WWIII: American book. One of the most exciting things about the new book is not only the new toys but the options to get more mileage out of existing weapons systems. To my mind, the most fascinating upgrade is to TOW missile systems.
Let’s look briefly at what TOW actually is before discussing how to get the most out of your TOW system in World War III.
Initially produced by Hughes Helicopters and still produced to this day by US Company Raytheon, some fifty years after first produced. The TOW system (which stands for “Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire Guided or TOW for short) was first produced in 1970, just in time to see trials in the tail end of the Vietnam War. The original BGM71A missile (to use it’s US designation) saw action in 1972 when it was used on 24 April against of all things, a captured US made M41 light tank. The original use of TOW saw mainly helicopter firings used although a ground mount was also available initially. The armoured solutions you see in World War III came along much later. This early version had a range of some 3,000 metres and reduced armour penetration.
During the Cold War the Improved TOW BGM71C came out with better range and better AT through a new warhead, with the BGM71B (known as TOW-ER or Extended Range) being identical to BGM7A except for having the improved range of 3,750m. This Improved TOW BGM71C missile is what was sold to various NATO forces as well as Israel and Iran in the Oil Wars book and represents a hugely successful system. With the base sight being thermal imaging as standard using the AN/TAS-4, as an all-weather weapon it is unsurpassed for production levels (although there is debate about whether this night sight was supplied to Iran).
With AT21 and range 48”/120cm in game, the Improved TOW represents a threat to all but the most advanced tanks on the table and can account for anything up to Front Armour 18 reasonably in my experience. The first outing for the Improved TOW was in Lebanon in 1982 where IDF General Peled’s TOW jeeps exploited the vulnerabilities of Syrian T72’s in spectacular fashion. This action saw up to nine T72’s destroyed for no tank losses on the Israeli side.
Apart from US forces, the Improved TOW system is also available in game to British (Lynx Helicopter), Canadians (M150 TOW tank destroyers), Netherlands (YPR765 PRAT), Iranians (on AH1 Cobra, M113 and Jeep), Israelis (AH1 Cobra, M113 and Jeep) and West Germans (Jaguar 2).
That makes it a very widespread system indeed. In all cases, apart from the Iranians, it provides a thermal imaging system for the firing post which incrementally improves the weapons performance.
Now, in the new United States World War III book, we see the new BGM71D system, also known colloquially as the TOW-2. This new weapon has the same range but a bigger enlarged warhead that provides significantly better hitting power. The Improved TOW missile warhead was 141 cm long while the newer TOW-2 adds an additional 10cm of length, all of which is heavy explosive filler although both have the same 152mm (6”) diameter warhead. This part is important as it means the TOW-2 is backwardly compatible with older launchers.
The new warhead offers AT23 which is a quantum leap forwards for democracy and freedom loving NATO forces and is introduced as standard on the M2 Bradley IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) and M3 Bradley CFV (Cavalry Fighting Vehicle). If you take any TOW-2, you must upgrade ALL other TOW launchers at a cost of one point extra per unit. So that means if you run AH-1 Cobras supporting a Bradley equipped Cavalry force, you need to up the cost by an additional one point per flight to accommodate the far more lethal TOW-2. Currently the TOW or TOW-2 system is available to the US Army in M2 and M3 Bradley, M901, HMMWV and AH-1 Cobra systems, while the USMC can use the same options in the HMMWV and the LAV-AT systems.
The only issue with the TOW system was the requirement to keep the seeker sight on the target to guide the weapon onto the unlucky focus of the operator. With a speed of 200 metres per second and two seconds to allow for the gyroscope stabilised warhead rocket to kick in, it is a nerve wracking 20 seconds to get to a target at maximum range, all the while with a heightened level of enemy attention upon the operator!
If you’re facing some serious frontline enemy – or are involved in a NATO training exercise versus Challengers or other US forces – where you will be facing front armour of 19 or more, I’d recommend this as a small price to pay to keep your grunts comfortable in their fox holes. A well-run US force can accommodate the best missile in the game and the TOW-2 is clearly this with excellent range, hitting power and night vision to suit. Nothing will scare a T-64 commander more than facing TOW-2 missiles which can comfortably outrange their main gun rounds.
At a pinch, you can even use it to clear enemy out of bunkers OR engage helicopters although I only recommend this after you’ve cleaned up the enemy’s heavy armour.
If TOW-2 is so good, why wouldn’t you buy it, I hear you ask?
In many cases it will be overkill. Against most Oil Wars forces – apart from our good friends in the IDF – you won’t need the additional expense of the TOW-2. If facing T-72 or earlier model Soviet equipment, it’s a proven fact that the Improved TOW is more than sufficient to deal with 1960’s Soviet technology. Why waste a brand-new missile on an outdated ride?
When facing APC’s, even the much-vaunted British Warrior IFV won’t be any challenge for a US Improved TOW missile after all.
But much like the USSR in the Cold War, you need to balance the budget. TOW-2 is a lovely option to have available but may be a sledgehammer to smash open a walnut shell – capable but likely to leave a mess.
With World War III: American being released there are a ton of new and exciting options available for players. From new Formations, to new variants and weapons players are spoiled for options and this definitely extends to the support options commanders can choose from. Few things are as connected to victory on the modern battlefield as artillery and so we’ll take a quick look at the new kid on the block the M270 MLRS and compare it to the workhorse of fire support the M109.
American players have had the supporting fire of M109s since the beginning of the game. It’s a tried and tested unit that provides a lot of flexibility for commanders. Its 155mm shells provide AT 4 artillery fire with a 2+ Firepower, it’s solid. It’s got pretty solid armour for a self-propelled artillery system, has smoke and the option for specialist rounds like DPICM, Minelets and copperhead rounds. Fully kitted out this unit is a high end swiss army knife, it can do it all, or be taken without upgrades to provide good old direct fire support to your combat teams.
The M270 MLRS is the new big fire support option for U.S. forces. While it came out with Team Yankee British, the MLRS is going to be available for the British, American and German forces. This new artillery system provides a few things for the American forces in World War Three, not the least of which is a really sweet model. I’m a big fan of the look of MLRS systems and with the armoured cabin and huge rocket bank I was in from the moment it was released.
Looking at the M270 MLRS’ stats there’s nothing huge to immediately write home about. Lightly armoured it’s just beyond unarmoured with 0/0/1, it can take Minelets for 1 point and has a AT of 3 with a 5+ FP on it’s Salvo. This is where a lot of people write off this vehicle, but there is a lot more under the hood than most people see. In my opinion the largest negative is that the MLRS cannot provide a smokescreen and so loses some flexibility.
Another unit with mines is always amazing. The MLRS is about board control, plain and simple this unit helps you dominate table space more than anything else, and mines are a great way to do this. With the MLRS rule letting 3 teams count as 6 you can drop 2 minefield tokens and cover a key gap, or route forcing your opponent to make tough decisions.
Salvo fire is huge. People always forget just how big salvo fire is. An artillery template is 6”x 6” or 36 square inches, the Salvo template at 10”x 10” provides 100 square inches, or just under three times the area enabling it to hit a lot more targets. The downside to this is almost all of your shots will cover terrain features and as such will be harder to rang in. An MLRS battery really loves having an M113 FIST team to make sure it can range in on 4s if you’re planning on repositioning it or using the mines.
The MLRS rule makes each team firing count as 2 teams, so your three-team battery of MLRS for 9pts fires as six teams and rerolls all misses to hit. When you compare this to a similar pointed unit like the minimum M109 unit at 7pts you start to see how effective this system can be. Rerolling all misses in three times the area gives you dominating fires. This is especially effective against infantry and unarmoured tank teams that a single hit will also pin, but enough AT 3 against top armour will put dents in a lot of armoured units.
The firepower as we initially discussed is what commonly turns people off of the MLRS, at 5+ it looks like it’ll be ineffective but when you start to run the numbers the MLRS more than holds its own.
The table below describes the likelihood of any team under the respective artillery or salvo template being hit, infantry dying, dying to a repeat bombardment and the same for dug in against 3+ to hit and 4+ to hit infantry.
3+ to Hit
4+ to hit
The MLRS rule drives your hit percentage up massively, and it provides a bigger advantage against harder to hit teams like 4+ infantry or teams out of line of sight. This translates to more infantry kills in the open, providing kills almost ⅓ of the time against Soviet and other 3+ to hit infantry and ¼ of the time against 4+ infantry. With the size advantage salvo brings, you are hitting almost 3 times as much area, letting you hit more teams, more often, potentially multiple units, and then killing more often.
Against dug in teams the 5+ fire power is a detriment, but hitting teams more often brings the numbers up and you find that the MLRS is roughly half as effective at killing dug in teams as the M109. When you remember that the system hits almost three times the area this evens out pretty nicely. The area advantage is where the MLRS shines, as it can almost completely cover the area where defenders can hold an objective from the start of the game. This lets you blanket the area and just bath the enemy in fires until they move or die. Few players will leave units to sit under a template all game, and those that do will regret it.
If an MLRS system is targeting an objective and given multiple turns to fire, there isn’t going to be much left to defend the objective and paired with robust reserves like the new M1A1 Abrams you can have a game winning combination that is very hard to deal with.
MLRS also excels as a cut-off for all of the above reasons. With 100 square inches of table space covered if you protect an objective or key terrain with the MLRS template and call a repeat, on average about 50% of Soviet teams are going to die. That is a crushing level of fire that few forces can accept to take, and being pinned under that template and having it continue basically spells death for anything that doesn’t make it out quickly. Making a no go zone for enemy infantry allows you to shape the battlefield and force players into a bad position.
The M270 MLRS is a gem of a unit that adds another key tool to the American arsenal. Does it replace the M109? Nope not even close. But what it does is give you another option for how you want to take apart your opponents. The M109 provides dominating specific fires and a toolbox of ways to assist your army with specialist munitions while the M270 MLRS provides board control, being a murder machine for troops in the open and can truly perform area denial on its own because of this. What does this mean for American commanders? There is the right system available to support your battle plan waiting to be called upon to hit the table.
One of my absolute favorite things about WWIII: Team Yankee and Flames Of War is that with more missions not only can you play the force you want, but you can play the force you want how you want, most of the time. Bidding for mission types is an amazing dynamic to the game that lets you push tank armies aggressively, defend with hardened infantry, maneuver with mobile forces or try and catch people with their decisions.
All of the missions bring a lot of variety and complexity to the game, but the one thing almost all of them have in common is reserves. In some form, somebody, if not both players are starting with things off the table. Having a plan for these forces is key.
If you haven’t read The Art of Reserves by Jed Byrtus you probably should give it a review. Reserves are an integral and important part of the game and far too many people see it as a problem, a deficiency, rather than looking at the many advantages it offers. Jed walks players through the basics of reserves, and the advantages they bring to players as they come on to the table. It’s a great read and I really suggest it.
When I look at reserves I see two general styles of reserve forces
“Racing To The Rescue”
So what differentiates the two? Technically a reserve has no task, where a counter moves is a known tasked entity, but in game terms I would argue planning and number of units. Commonly with racing to the rescue, you’ll see reserves for a list that are a collection of smaller units adding up to 40% of the overall list. These are often but not always chosen immediately before the game and have minimal planning in terms of their employment or order to arrive. We’ve all done this, the excruciating finger math of what 40% is, and ‘I’ll figure it out later, I have to deal with my 60% now!” plan. Usually when you see units like anti-tank missile units, artillery or reconnaissance in reserve, you know they’re racing to the rescue. This type of reserve faces two major problems, first it comes on over a large period of time, with many units in reserve it just takes a long time to get that many 5s! The second issue is many haphazardly chosen units have difficulty contributing on the turn they arrive. Artillery and AT missiles can’t move and shoot (bombardments at least) and so will have to wait another turn to effectively contribute.
Counter moves on the other hand are commonly very few, sometimes only one unit, that is a known entity that has a plan (that may change as the enemy gets a vote). Counter moves forces are commonly a large consideration of a players list building process, picking the perfect tool to add the effect you want when your reserves arrive. Players commonly use these with defensive forces like infantry to bring tanks on to blunt enemy attacks or launch counter attacks of their own.
The World War III: American book brings us two new variants of the iconic Abrams tank, and I’m here to tell you it’s the apex predator of counter moves units. The finest reserve you can have, and a game winning unit. WWIII: Team Yankee has seen the game progress in terms of story and equipment. With the next generation of tanks joining the war we’ve seen a big progression in the protection and lethality that they can bring.
Strengths and Weaknesses: Few but perfectly formed.
At first glance many people are turned off by the cost of these vehicles, with the Challenger coming in at 11 points or 13 points for the ROMOR armour package, and the M1A1 at 14 points, 18 points for the M1A1HC. In a 100 point game 2 M1A1HC come in at 36 points, or the vast majority of your reserve. You have 4 points left over to take an extra unit, which if you’ve read The Art of the Reserve you know gives you a great opportunity to take a unit to control when your tanks come in and potentially provide them more protection, like taking a unit of VADS. This allows you as the player to come onto the table with purpose and more importantly you can set them up for success.
What you get in the next generation of Abrams that sets it apart from the Challenger is simple, speed and violence. The Challenger has a reduced rate of fire on the move, less AT but is better skilled for a Blitz or Assault. The Abrams on the other hand is fast and mean. With a tactical move of 14”, ROF 2 and AT 23, it epitomizes violence of action. With the HC package, the tank jumps to a Front Armour of AT 21 and so ignores most weapons on the battlefield, which combined with Chobham armour makes the tank is nearly impervious to damage in assaults. It’s the toughest nut to crack in the game and will be the central focus of your opponent in any game it takes to the field.
Threats: Not quite invincible
So what scares an armoured commander? Infantrymen would immediately answer dismounting, tankers might jest running out of gravy. But in reality it comes down to 3 things, shooting second, exposing Side Armour and missiles.
You never want to shoot second, you want to be first, first to shoot, first to hit, first to kill. Shooting second for a tanker means you did something wrong. Tanks lurk in the shadows, and appear like the specter of death and lay waste to what lies in front of them before disappearing again to rearm, and refuel to do it all again. This is exactly what putting your tanks in reserve grants you, the chance to shoot first. To say there will be no threats to my tanks until they’ve at least done something. You can start behind terrain, but air, artillery or just aggressive play can see your tanks get caught up in things. In reserve they lay in wait to bring the pain.
Everything can’t be Front Armour. And anything that isn’t Front Armour you don’t want being shot at. Luckily for the Abrams there is Chobham armour that provides really improved protection vs HEAT rounds used by infantry and missiles, but there is little protection from even older anti-tank guns along the side of a modern battle tank. There are few things as morale crushing as having a super tank flanked and destroyed by a tank 20 years or more its senior. Leopard 1s and T-62Ms can flood the battle space and push for side armour and that can be scary. Numerous tanks with high rates of fire can push to flank and engage these big cats and so are a key target for reduction prior to the arrival of your big tanks. But tanks and infantry have to move, navigate terrain and the enemy, and this takes time. Aircraft can do this much faster, from the moment they arrive attack aircraft and some helicopters like the Hind can push straight to attack your side armour, and they will because attacking your frontal armour is a much less viable course of action. This means two things for an American list, first that the destruction of aircraft should be your focus, destroy the best flankers. Second it means that because they’ll go for side armour, how you provide your anti-air defence can be different. Instead of creating a forward zone of protection you can shape lobes around the side of the tanks. This forces players into going for it or taking the tank from the front.
Missiles are really scary. Being shot at by something you can’t see, from a range you can’t respond at by something that can destroy you with ease is in a word unsettling. Missiles come from the sky on strike aircraft and helicopters, from specialized tank hunters, even infantry are covered in missiles. I say again, missiles are scary. While most missiles can’t move and shoot from ground platforms (with some exceptions) they are commonly cheap and can provide blanket coverage across huge sections of the table as many have great ranges. Against most modern main battle tanks like the Abrams or the Leopard 2, AT 21 and the occasional 23 are pretty scary with ~10-20% kill rates per shot on tanks in the open. With how numerous these can be for their cost it can be a hard time to be a tanker.
Armour 21 is a game changer. With FA 21, Milans, Spandrels or TOW can’t touch you frontally, and the Spiral, HOT and TOW-2 have a lot of work to do with less than a 6% kill rate per shot. For those playing along at home that’s roughly a 1 in 18 chance of killing one of these tanks frontally with AT 23. As yourself what army has 18 AT 23 missiles sitting around? The hunter quickly becomes the hunted when a tank like the M1A1HC hits the table. And while the AT 21 systems had been exceptionally cheap, they are now totally ineffective and the more expensive AT 23 systems, are considerably more expensive but inadequate for the task at hand.
Targets without Cover Against Anti-Tank
The 0% chances were noted for the possibility of a bail (yes, a double bail destroys a tank but for ease of explanation I went with this)
So what does the survivability of the M1A1HC along with its lethality and mobility have to do with reserves? It’s changing the game. In the Art of the Reserve, Jed clearly pointed out that things in reserve can’t be killed until they arrive. They can’t be shot at, mined, assaulted. They are safe from the few systems that can threaten them, and in reserve they give you the opportunity to set conditions to do what tanks do best, exploit.
Setting the conditions is an absolute key to success with anything, but for huge investments like the M1A1HC it’s critical. Can these tanks do it without setup? Sure, sometimes, but you have the chance to really tip the odds in your favour and let these tanks do the work they were meant to do.
Reserves, like fortune favours the bold. The attacker usually picks their reserve units once they know what the defender has placed in reserve. This allows an attacker a lot of flexibility and options. While the major argument I’m making here is leaving your big tanks in reserve can pay big dividends, for the attacker you can flip the switch and go full tilt from turn one. If a defender chooses to place their big threats such as air or large units of high AT weapons in reserve, an attacker can change things up and give an objective the bums rush. As we’ve previously said, a lot of the time there is little that can stop an next gen Abrams once it starts rolling and should the scenario permit, taking an objective fast and dirty can really catch an opponent off guard with little to no rebuttal, exploiting their play for the late game.
If you are the defender or the defender puts considerable AT assets on the board, placing your Abrams in reserve is a great option and lets you spend vital turns degrading the units that can harm your tanks. Few players can resist leaving their heavy hitters like air support available or AT units like ADATs out of the game over the course of multiple turns. If a player has fast air they roll to see if they come in, this doesn’t force them to place it or attack but even the most steadfast player can be enticed to use their air if they see an opening, a chance to do something, people want to use what they have available. This is where you can begin to blunt the spear. A plane here, a helicopter there, a missile system or two in the wood line, it all adds up and quickly. As the number of key high AT units disappear, the lifespan of the Abrams skyrockets. Look at the numbers again, it takes a lot to kill a FA21 vehicle, every single HOT missile system, Storm or Hind that burns makes the Abrams that much bigger a threat.
Opportunities: What happens when an immovable objective meets an irresistible tank. Victory.
The M1A1HC as a counter moves force, a unit with a plan, isn’t showing up just to get drawn into a fight or to kill a unit here and there, it’s showing up to win the game. And WWIII: Team Yankee is all about objectives. Can you win by destroying the enemies army? Absolutely, but it takes a long time and the longer the game goes the more opportunities there are for something to go wrong. Taking objectives is fast and violent, like these tanks, it’s the better way to go. Once these tanks arrive on the table, the countdown to victory begins. It’s now just a matter of when, where and who. Infantry can’t destroy you and so can only resist you so long on the objective, especially after turns of bombardments prior (setting the conditions). Tanks can only hope to hide or flank you, and all the while, you’re hunting them, they’re for the most part, simply a delay. Air can’t hold objectives, they can only hope to get to you in time. There are only so many tools in the toolbox and this one unit seems to attract them all.
The Abrams family of tanks are fast. With a 14” tactical they can use terrain aggressively and push rapidly while putting down heavy fire, but the tank also has big numbers when it comes to dashing and this allows the Abrams to threaten objectives almost immediately after arriving. The Abrams does have to worry about being flanked by other tanks in reserve but this is where players have to make key decisions, how fast do you push based on the time line to their tanks arriving, or where their tanks arrive. In a game like Counter Attack the reserves will almost never be able to threaten your flanks for multiple turns unless they’re units like Hinds and can be ignored for a turn as even a Leopard 2 can’t bail you range, and missile systems like a Storm can’t fire the turn they arrive. All while you drive around with an AT 23 gun and 3 machine guns, like a boss.
Overall, the M1A1HC Abrams brings something new, and adding this to your lists is going to be way too much fun. It’s not just FA 21, the Challenger has FA 21. I’ll say it right here and right now, it’s not an Abrams, it can’t do what the Abrams can. It’s not as fast, has worse cross (at FA 21), has a worse gun both in ROF and AT. It just doesn’t add up. It’s made to sit an eat shots all day, but the Abrams is here to take objectives and to own the field. The Abrams in my opinion is made to show up fashionably late to the party. Launching when the commander has set conditions by degrading the threats to these beasts, the Abrams is a juggernaut. It is the apex predator of reserves, the perfect counter moves force.
Comrades, today we will be conducting an intelligence briefing to confirm and describe new equipment being fielded by the British army in the Northern Sector alongside German troops. As I’m sure you’ve all heard there has been a recent rearmament and push of military equipment in the British sector in what is believed to be preparations for a new offensive.
We will be discussing vehicles previously not fielded in the region, their capabilities and how to defeat them.
The British have continued to flood the sector with any and all equipment they can muster and have turned to the older Fox Scout car. While new to the hostilities it is an older vehicle that is armed with a 30mm cannon and is more than a match for our BMPs in a gun fight. The vehicle is less mobile and will restrict its movement to open ground and roads but is small and easily hidden so can be difficult to engage directly until it starts shooting which can be a problem for our lead forces.
The British continue to rely heavily on massed reconnaissance forces to
determine out axis of advance and attrit our lead forces. Make no mistake this vehicle is dangerous and is being seen conducting rehearsals in large number. Combined arms against these packs of cars is key. Artillery can easily scatter them or dissuade them from using terrain like urban areas for
cover and should be used more than liberally when these vehicles are engaged. Their crews across their entire vehicle fleet have fought on long after others would have left their vehicles behind, this is expected to be the case with the Fox so mass firepower and ensure their destruction. They have no ability to affect our tanks and small coys of tanks work well against them as they are similar to the Warrior IFV which we will discuss shortly.
British defense scientists have developed a new armour technology ‘chobham’ which they have put into service on two new vehicles the Challenger tank and the Warrior Infantry fighting vehicle seen here.
What makes this armour interesting is that it has been specifically designed to defeat HEAT warheads. While this has an effect against all HEAT warheads it is of significant importance for smaller shoulder based weapons and smaller missiles such as the RPG-7 and the Spigot missile. These weapons become ineffective against chobham armour even against the side armour of the vehicle. What does this mean to you the commander on the ground?
Shoulder fired anti-tank weapons used by Infantry units can’t stop these monsters from assaulting. We are very used to having complete command of positions with our RPGs against vehicles and it is possible to bail a Challenger or a Warrior but is incredibly unlikely so you will need other nearby supporting units such as BMPs or tanks to make your defensive fire effective. Both of these units are incredibly effective at taking objectives in the late game so expect that they will hold back and attempt to attrit our forces before pushing forward.
While BMP-2s can engage the Warrior they are at a disadvantage as the capitalists, copying our design but adding greater armour, have made engaging these with BMPs a losing affair. At long range the Spandrel missile is a good bet against the Warrior but due to their Chobham armour it is still possible for the vehicle to survive a direct hit. The Warrior is not as numerous as the BMP and few carry an anti-tank weapon, as such they are perfect targets for our tanks who with the capability of the 125mm gun will often see the passengers destroyed.
Brutal goes a long way. Even early model tanks like the T-62 are perfect at hunting these vehicles and pinning the infantry they support. For the Challenger, Chobham along with the frontal armour make it incredibly resilient against our ground-based weapons. Even powerful missile systems like the Storm will find it incredibly difficult to hurt these, our defense scientists suggest a hit from an AT-6 Spiral missile will only destroy an up- armoured Challenger 11% of the time. Flanking these vehicles is the only ground based solution, and is risky, but while the British Army is planning a great offensive spearheaded by these tanks we have a different opinion of the situation.
Gentlemen, the air force has reorganized its forces and will have flights of SU-25s on standby at all times. There is nowhere the Challenger can hide from the air force. Armed with the Kh-25 air to ground missile the SU-25 will destroy these tanks with ease. Even frontally, a hit from the Kh-25 will destroy a Challenger 80% of the time and more importantly, as we have seen with their Chieftain tank British forces are unwilling to commit their armour to battle while the SU-25 is in the air. This gives our ground forces the time and space to take up key positions and more importantly reduce their anti-air assets to be able to destroy their armour on arrival.
That brings me to their new AAA system, the Chieftain Marksman. Re-purposed older tanks are having a turret similar to the German Gepard installed. Adding to the Blowpipe and the Rapier missile systems the British army now can provide air defence coverage similar to our own. As you all know their other systems are missile based and provide large coverage but lacked the ability to deal with large numbers of aircraft simultaneously. The Marksman solves this problem and will threaten full wings of MI-24s and
SU-25s with hundreds of 40mm rounds. With more armour than the Gepard this vehicle is more suited to supporting ground operations and can rapidly destroy light armoured vehicles and infantry formations, so expect it will be in a position to move forward. While it will be rare to see all three systems in an area at once, it is a possibility, but this will most likely come at the cost of other support. It is also very difficult in most of the European theatre to hide three large units like this against an entire attacking force.
Using artillery and direct fire weapons to suppress or destroy these is key and destroying them will open the air for the air force to take apart the other elements of the enemy force. Remember enemy air defence systems can only fire on air or ground targets at a time so threatening them with both at once will force them to make tough decisions and provide you with options. The other main support vehicle being pushed up to the front is their version of the Grad, an MLRS system that primarily delivers scatterable munitions such as DPCIM and mines.
Unlike the other howitzer and mortar based systems the MLRS can deliver munitions across huge areas and will be a huge threat to dug in companies. As with the air defence systems these will be a priority target and based on the threat using either tanks or aircraft is your best bet to deal with these. Should you be engaged by the MLRS staying in place is not a good option as repeated bombardments will quickly dig out our infantry. Leaving the position is unfortunately also a concern as the British are exceptional at directing artillery fires and the area hit with this system is so large that many teams will be leaving cover but unable to leave the blast area. If engaged, go to the source, either by destroying the spotting teams or the launchers themselves. Destroying the launchers is a task commonly best suited again to the air force and you can see this is a running task of dealing with their hardened and rear elements.
Even with their advancements, the Soviet army along with the air force is prepared and more than capable of destroying the capitalist aggressors with ease. Our combined arms forces supported by the air force are the ire of our enemies who are scrambling to copy our structure. Using all of the tools at
your disposal will see you to victory.
Remember the following when planning for battle:
Once your reconnaissance has determined the enemy force you face you need to understand it and its key elements so you can divide an destroy it, dividing and destroying is the key to victory.
Identify what elements NEED to be destroyed by the air force
Identify threats to the air force and plan their destruction if you don’t you will lose your air support and then have serious problems on the ground.
The British want a war of small attrition, they fight like cockroaches always staying if you do not eradicate them, too much is never enough when it comes to the application of firepower, destroy units and move to the next or risk being delayed or even taking critical losses from the remnants of their force.
Their artillery systems are now a threat to not only platoons, but entire companies. If you ignore the firepower of the British army you will not survive long enough for punishment by higher.
The British army has the most numerous reconnaissance force on the front. They are more than capable of counter reconnaissance and attrition tasks.Combined arms is the way ahead as they cannot stand against the might of our armour. This ends the briefing for today. Happy hunting Comrades.
One of the newest, most exciting weapons featured in the British Army book is the Marksman Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun (SPAAG). Following the Falklands War, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was livid at the losses sustained by the Royal Navy and the British Army, in part due to issues with the Rapier towed antiaircraft missile systems. Problems were experienced due to the need to “zero” the system and calibrate after each road move or unloading from a Naval landing craft. This meant valuable time of 15 minutes was wasted while cables were laid, stabilising of the sights and the calibration of the Blindfire radars was done.
It was acknowledged that the British Army’s reliance on missile systems was overoptimistic and a few within the Ministry of Defence noted that the Argentines had been pleased to have available Swiss Oerlikon twin 35mm Antiaircraft weapons on ground mounts for the Falkland Island defences.
Some of these weapons had even been captured and pressed into use with the RAF Regiment, who were delighted to have a solid backup to the longer ranged but troubled Rapier system.
Thatcher met with Minister of Defence Michael Heseltine in 1985 to discuss options as tensions had historygrown extremely hot with the Soviets. When the Iron Lady asked about options, Heseltine’s private secretary had a brainstorm. He pointed out that the Finns had expressed interest in a Marconi systems private development, the Marksman. This was a modular turret that could be mated to almost any Main Battle Tank. The Finns had in fact ordered a prototype system to be tested and put onto a modified Polish made T55. Although the testing was in the preliminary stages, the weapon
had shown promise.
The Prime Minister jumped at the idea, especially when advised that 15 fire units of twin 35mm Oerlikon KDA guns that had been captured in perfect order from the Argentine Army and were still currently in use with RAF Regiment reservists of 1339 Royal Air Force Auxiliary Wing. These weapons were confiscated by Royal Ordinance Factory in short order and integrated with seven other sets of 35mm that were in testing along with the sole prototype unit. This gave the factory enough for seven batteries of three Marksman SPAAG’s as an initial production run. More guns would be forthcoming from Krauss Maffei who provided spares from their busy Gepard production lines.
With the Challenger tank coming on line and taking over from existing MBT regiments, two squadrons of recently replaced Chieftains were stripped of their turrets and assigned to the fledgling project. For the first time since the Crusader SPAAG of World War II, the British Army had access to a world
class self propelled anti aircraft gun. Done in complete secrecy, this weapon would even surprise the average “squaddie” who expressed their shock and admiration at the exciting new designs when displayed for the first time on Salisbury Plain.
The Marksman provide an outstanding gun platform and was noted to be even more stable than the T55 the Finns had provided for testing, as the Chieftain was larger and more robust for the heavy recoil of the twin cannons. Some wag tried to describe it as a Brit Gepard, which was shouted down by indignant Royal Ordinance Factory staff. One superintendent pointed out that not only was it better armoured than the Gepard, it also had a laser rangefinder for engaging ground targets out to 8 kilometres, Marconi radar enabling air targets to be engaged out to 12 kilometres and fully stabilised gun sights for the commander and gunner. British technology had actually improved on the work of the Bundeswehr’s prized SPAAG.
More than a few officers bemoaned the fact that it had taken the Cold War turning hot to get the stingy taps of the Treasury to open a little more to provide funds for this superb weapon. Having access to ammunition kindly provided by the Argentine Army had proved helpful in getting reluctant bean counters to sign off on the process.
Initially, as the British Army was already heavily committed with the British Army of the Rhine, operators from the Royal Air Force Auxilary Regiment were integrated with British Army Chieftain crews to provide composite teams to operate the new equipment. This ensured a clever mix of
experienced gunners to operate the expensive new electronics and qualified drivers to maintain the frustrating Leyland engines of the Chieftain tanks. As Corps assets within British Army of the Rhine, the new vehicles were extremely popular and the seven batteries tended to see lots of action in the
Third World War. It was a particularly innovative weapon that took the battlefields in World War III as the Marksman. British troops soon found that the Marksman worked very well as a “backstop” support to the highly
successful Tracked Rapier. Occasionally ground commanders got overconfident and put the Marksman in the front line as a fire support weapon. Even with the thick hull armour of the Chieftain chassis, the vehicles didn’t stand up long against infantry RPG fire and cases are known of local commanders being castigated for such waste of scarce resources for inappropriate missions.
In game terms, you will find the system works very well as a complement to the existing missile systems as a mobile and well armoured platform capable of medium range effective AA support. As summarised to the troops on issue originally :
Keep the Marksman at range, behind the front line armoured forces it’s designed to protect.
Prioritise against air targets which are the bread and butter of the Marksman system.
Protect the Marksman with combined dismounted and armoured forces, ensuring it’s not swamped by enemy infantry.
Team up the Marksman with Tracked Rapier and if possible Blowpipe to ensure the full range of Air Defence assets are used appropriately. The key is to have Rapiers at the back, Blowpipe in concealing terrain scanning the skies while the Marksman keeps up with the armoured thrust forward.
Plan the use of the Marksman carefully, using it’s excellent rate of fire and mobility to provide an umbrella of firepower over your vulnerable armoured spearhead.
Risk the Marksman unit as a solo asset, remember you’re part of a larger team.
Assume that the Marksman is a dedicated armour killer. You only carry 20 rounds per gun of APFSDS ammunition. Make them count. Your primary mission must be air defence, the anti vehicle ammunition is not there for use as a primary choice.
Overestimate the range of the guns. Unlike the missile systems of the Rapier and Blowpipe that you’ve become used to, the Marksman is lethal – except at shorter ranges. Use the mobility of the vehicle to make the enemy pay. You have exceptional firepower and mobility and this should be used carefully.
Run the depleted formation, Marksman provide best support as a full unit.
Expose the Marksman to enemy fire until you’ve cleared the way. This secret weapon is priceless and not to be squandered in small scale efforts.
In conclusion, the combination of the two forces used here – Royal Tank Regiment and Royal Artillery – bring to mind the two mottos, which are respectively “Fear Naught” and “Ubique” (which translates as “Everywhere”) The Marksman truly allows your armoured crews to Fear Naught, Everywhere.
An FO is someone who spots for the artillery unit or battery and their primary role is to guide the rounds on target with the help of a laser range finder that gives a 10 figure grid reference, or with a tested method of map to ground with the help of an artillery protractor and a 8 figure grid reference.
A grid reference allows the FO to give a more accurate target indication when calling in a fire mission. The grids themselves, one grid square is 1000m x 1000m with a 4 figure reference, 6 figure increases it to within 100m x 100m, 8 figure to 10m x 10m, and 10 figure to 1m x 1m which allows for more accurate fire control. Most rounds land between 30 and 90 seconds from firing. This also depends on the rounds used, for example a normal HE round from a M109 155mm can be fired up 15km or an Excalibur round to 40km. So having a FO is mission critical as they can direct the fire support to help suppress or cover the axis of advance. Same can be said for JTAC’s
(Joint Terminal Attack Control) for strike aircraft.
So how does this become relevant in our games of WWIII: Team Yankee? There are many ways our FOs can be used in our games be it to spot or range in on a new viable target location. Having our FOs in cover and in prime position with good line of sight is a must for the continued use of our artillery in subsequent turns. Having an FO twill help with the +1 to range going a long way, especially if your target may be in short or tall terrain or covered by a smoke screen. Remember, any team leader can also spot for your artillery but only the FO has the +1 to range in.
Now let’s move onto the Artillery and what the FO has to work with out in the field.
So using your artillery on the enemy infantry is a good start as it can prepare the way for your own infantry or tanks for an assault, but can also pin enemy infantry down, and is very useful if there are any ATGM (Anti-Tank Guided Missiles) in the unit. Now if you are going to use your artillery to help launch an assault this can be tricky as it requires some good judgment on the template and ranging in so that you won’t get that danger close or within 4” of the template with any of your teams.
Key to achieving this is one: by having good line of sight from available team leaders and FOs (remember the +1 as this helps against target in cover) so that you can position that marker where you need it, preferably at the back of the enemy platoon. The goal here is not to kill but to keep they heads down so that your infantry can benefit from the reduced fire while launching an assault. Also if you chose not to lunch an assault you can, with the added effect of repeat bombardments, force the infantry to re-roll their saves.
As most tanks have a top armour of two it makes it hard to destroy them, and the chance of making them bail quite low so it’s best to leave heavy armour to the dedicated anti- tank units like milians and spandrels. The best use in this case is to go after soft skinned AFVs as their top armour is ether one or zero and if it’s a transport a good chance to take out some pesky infantry as well. Also of the opportunity arise direct fire is also good against AFVs as most SPs artillery (self-propelled guns) have a good AT and FP to destroy them.
So that’s two ways of basic use of artillery and our FO, but here is where things can get interesting.
Other types of arty like the rockets, mortars and special shells, deployment of arty, the use of ranged in markers for certain missions and smoke bombardments is where we’re headed next. First of the different types and how to use them.
Rockets are great for coverage and area suppression of a target being a salvo rather than arty, so a bigger template. This is great for getting large blobs of infantry or AFVs that are too spread out for normal arty to target and hit, even better now with the new weapon system like the British MRLS.
Now once again don’t think you will be able to destroy tanks, as rockets tend to have a low AT rating.
Next up the mortar. Mortars like rockets don’t have the AT rating so don’t expect them to take out tanks or AFVs in droves. Best use for these is to lay down some smoke to ether get your infantry in position for an assault or to cover a flank of your precious tanks from enemy AT fire while they advance. Also don’t forget if they are targeting infantry repeat that bombardment next turn to make them more effective.
Now onto the special shells. While all types of special ammo will require you to pay the extra points, what you want to know is it worth taking. Well yes and no, first let’s talk about the types, most arty like the M109s and the 2S3s give you the option to take thing like copperhead rounds or the reds equivalent. The drawback to these is its either direct fire which requires line of sight or an FO to guide it onto the target. Great for tanks as it has a higher AT than normal and gives you a better chance to do damage to them.
Next up minelets, oh boy do I love these! The best job for mines is choke points- good old choke points. For those of you not military-minded a choke point is where you funnel the enemy into a kill zone so you can wipe them out or manage a larger force by a smaller one. So for example West Germans, Leo 2 Company up against a BMP horde. Just seeing this can give a player nightmares but with the use of minelets you can force your opponent to reposition their units around the mines and giving you the best use of your guns. Best used in conjunction with the terrain as well to achieve that choke-point.
Bomblets operate on the same principal as rockets, great for suppression.
Also don’t forget Smoke bombardments as these are great for covering the advance of your forces especially out in the open.
Now for the last use arty the ranged in maker and there deployment. As for deploying your big guns, generally you want them somewhere you get great table coverage and out of line of sight to avoid counter battery fire from enemy arty. Unless your goal is to use the arty as a direct fire platform, I’d
advise against it as your arty is very soft skinned and prone to being destroyed if able to be seen. The other one is the deployment of the ranged in marker at the start of deployment for certain missions, if placed well can give you an advantage from the start. Choosing were to place it can be difficult but if placed in a wood in the enemy deployment zone this can then deter infantry and keep them pinned from turn one, it also helps avoid the +1 to range in for the template if it touches short or tall terrain and smoke.
Another is to place it in the most likely axis of advance of the enemy’s route as it can force them to rethink how to move and allow you to set up that all important choke point. So that is some of the uses for arty and FO’s.
Lastly weighing up the cost of arty to things like air support it can become a difficult choice, especially if you are a Soviet or East German player, NATO players might find it a bit easier. At the end of the day it comes down to what role you want them for, be it cheap mortars and rockets for suppression and smoke or arty for range and the direct fire just in case things start to look bad.
I hope you have enjoyed this rollercoaster ride with me today about artillery and FOs I wish you the best of luck in the future, so get out there play some games try new thing with your arty and remember it’s not just to pin infantry and that they are other ways out they that can give you the tactical edge in the fight.
The 29th Boat Assault Company have been near and dear to my heart since they first arrived years ago in the Bloody Omaha book, at that time I leaned heavily into numbers over elite units so it was an easy choice for me between the 29th and the Big Red One.
The US Assault Company is a unique Infantry company that has a mix of specialty weapons from Bazookas to Flame-Throwers, this unit has a weapon for every occasion. Along with this unique composition you have access to lots and lots of units in one formation. Having access to six core infantry units is a key aspect of this list.
Before getting into the list let’s look at what you get in a unit. For nine points you get:
5x M1 Grand Rifle Teams
2x M1 Bazooka Teams
1x 60mm Mortoar
1x Flame Thrower
As a bonus you can replace one of your Bazookas with M1919 LMG at no cost.
The version of the Assault Company I am running are Confident, Trained, and Aggressive. They also come with the Blood n’ Guts trait that gives them a 3+ to rally, that will keep my units moving forward. I could go with the Big Red One elite option, but the 29th is who I want to play. Since I am going for the cheaper version that is easier to hit, it is important then to make sure I have the numbers to absorb losses more easily.
To this end I am going to take 5 units of the Assault Boat Sections, adding in the HQ and M1917 Machine Gun platoon that gives me an even 50 points. I am choosing to leave the 2 Bazookas in each unit instead swapping any for the LMGs. I don’t think those units need the rate of fire since I am going to run two units of the Support Boat sections with the M1917 Machine Gun platoon for 5 points a unit, and I have a unit of M1917 guns. Adding in those units brings me up to an even 60 points.
Next I want to add some artillery; this will be simple as I already have loads of small one gun templates, so adding a full strength mortar platoon for 6 points would be ideal.
So right now my army comes to 66 points and I have 10 units in my formation, so it looks pretty solid and I have enough artillery and machine guns to deal with most infantry lists I come across. I do feel that I am relying too heavily on my Bazookas to take care of all the tank threats that may be in the game. To cover this weakness I decided to look in the book and see what I could get for 34 points tank wise. I quickly landed on M10s, as those give me 8 AT 12 tanks, and the downside of not being able to deal with infantry is covered by the rest of my list. An HQ and two units of 4 M10s comes to 34 points exactly, giving me a full 100 point list with 13 units- seems good on paper.
Now the list has some Achilles heels, I have no dedicated anti-air units so air-power can be quite effective against me. I am also weak against light tank lists, like a Stuart company. At a 100 points you can get 50 of them and at those numbers they will swamp me, my M10s don’t have enough shots to kill them all and the Stuarts AT is high enough to kill an M10 even when hitting front armour. But no list can cover all the bases and even against light tanks and air-power I will have a fighting chance, as I do still have loads of bazookas and my M10s have self-defence AA.
So here is my final list
Assault Company (66 points)
Assault Company HQ, 2 Pts
Assault Boat Section, 9 Pts
Assault Boat Section, 9 Pts
Assault Boat Section, 9 Pts
Assault Boat Section, 9 Pts
Assault Boat Section, 9 Pts
Support Boat Section, 5 Pts
Support Boat Section, 5 Pts
M1917 Machine Gun Platoon, 3 Pts
Mortar Platoon, 6 Pts
M10 Tank Destroyer Company (34 Points)
M10 Tank Destroyer Company HQ, 2 Pts
M10 Tank Destroyer Platoon, 16 Pts
M10 Tank Destroyer Platoon, 16 Pts
As a list this works really well- it’s easy to split it up when figuring out reserves and it is flexible with the ability to both attack and defend quite well. On the defence you place one Assault Boat Section and Support Boat Section on each objective, freeing the rest of your force to be placed in such a way that they can delay and assault the incoming enemy models. On the attack I would focus one objective, soften it up with the loads of artillery templates this list has and band all my infantry together and swarm the weakened objective. I will use my HMG and tanks to threaten any reinforcements to the attacked objective while also proving much needed fire support to my main attack.
Well, I hope this gives you an idea of how you want to build your beach landing company. Perhaps you want better quality of troops instead of numbers by swapping out the 29th with Big Red One, or maybe you do have a Stuart player in your area and you want Shermans instead of M10s. I highly suggest tweaking your lists to fit your local m eta and your playstyle.
Well that’s it until my next List Tech, hope to see you on the battlefield.