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My M113 Mech Combat Team – Yankee Force

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I’ve been working on the ins and outs of this force for a few games / months now, and feel it’s finally a force I’m comfortable with, so thought I’d share the force and my thoughts.

First of all, a few disclaimers:

  1. Not a single drop of paint hit these models from my brushes.  They were fully entrusted to a fellow HoG, Big Paul, who made an amazing job of them.
  2. I’ve never played Flames of War (and never will!) and my current experience of Team Yankee is about 7 or 8 games in total.
  3. I still feel there’s so much to learn about this game and the tactics of the individual missions, so bear that in mind when I’m theorising and everything here is my current opinion and subject to change!

Overall Force Composition and Strategy

Easy things first.  This is based on a 100pt game, as that seems to be the normal level of play.  If I needed to go higher, I would add an Abrams formation and redistribute the forces to ensure a good split between the two formations.  (My first few games I took both an Abrams formation and a Mech formation, and it never seemed to do too well – more on this later).  I have the option of a couple of A10s as well, but really don’t like the randomness for their use (4+ seems overly harsh for the points invested – if I were Brits on the other hand, Harriers would be an auto-add).

Support

(1) 1 x FIST Observer

(14) 4 x Cobra AH1 Attack ‘Copters

(15) 6 x M109 Artillery tank teams with Bomblets upgrade

(6) 4 x VADS AA tank teams

Formation

(1) HQ – Mech Combat Team

(7) M113 Mech Platoon with +1 Dragon team

(7) M113 Mech Platoon with +1 Dragon team

(7) M113 Mech Platoon with +1 Dragon team

(24) 3 x Abram Tank teams

(6) 6 x M106 Mortar Teams

(3) 2 x ITV Anti-Tank teams

(3) 2 x ITV Anti-Tank teams

(3) 2 x ITV Anti-Tank teams

(3) 2 x ITV Anti-Tank teams

Total 100pts

What you may notice straight away is that I have basically ‘maxed out’ the formation in terms of unit count.  This has 2 advantages:

  1. (Minor) very difficult to break the formation
  2. (Major) much more options for deployment of units

Number 2 is the critical one here. The Fist will always deploy, and the Commander gets the choice.  So that leaves me with 12 Combat teams to choose between when deploying.

The ITVs are key to this, being extremely cheap per unit card to pick up.

This force is keyed generally towards defending on missions, and it is here where the defender tends to have less units on board first turn than the attacker.  With a low unit count force, I have struggled to deploy everything you need to defend objectives and cover good defensive positions / lanes of fire.

All 3 defensive missions (Bridgehead / Fighting Withdrawal / No Retreat) give you up to half your units on table with the option to Ambush with one of them.  The general plan is to ensure that 2 Infantry Platoons are deployed to table for Objective defense, the VADS  are on board in good defensive positions to protect against early Air attacks, and the Cobras are sat in cover (protected by the VADS range-wise) to offer some early retaliation.  The last team slot will go to the 3rd Mech Platoon or the Mortar Platoon depending on board layout and mission.  The Abrams will sit in Ambush, with the goal of revealing behind an Enemy tank platoon and getting some easy kills.  The HQ would start off board (more on this later).

The Units

So that’s the overall plan, let’s cover the units in detail.

M113 FIST Observer

Quite simple, get into cover with a reasonable field of view!  If there’s somewhere elevated at the back of the field, the further from the enemy the better!  Doesn’t tend to draw fire unless the M109s have Wire Guided Missile upgrades (so they don’t!)

AH1 Cobra Attack Helicopters

These aces very rarely let me down in a game, seeming to be very survivable and pushing out a good rate of damage thoughout the game.  First thing – ALWAYS ensure they have cover, as without that additional + to hit (5+ as opposed to 4+) they die quickly!  I Start them deep in my half to avoid the majority of AA fire.  If you can remove some of the Enemy’s AA, you can send these across the board to destroy some light armoured targets with Gatling guns / rockets (Artillery / AA are prime examples) then on the following turn you are lighting up enemy tanks from their rear armour.

M109 Field Artillery Battery

I’ve been using these as a unit of 3 for some time, occasionally with the Laser Guided Projectile upgrade.  Even with 3 of them, they were able to pull off good results against Infantry and light tank platoons.  With 6, Russkies will be being hit on 2+ with a successful first range-in.  Normal ammo will work wonders on digging troops out of Buildings or working on tank teams.  The bomblet upgrade is there specifically to deal with advancing infantry companies on foot that won’t be benefitting from Bulletproof cover, as the Firepower rating of 6 is too poor to do much otherwise.  I’ve specifically not given them the Laser Projectiles upgrade for 2 linked reasons.  Firstly, it’s 6 points, and secondly, if the Fist Observer dies the projectiles can no longer be fired.  This makes the Observer a massive target.

The other option with these is for the Smoke, meaning in combination with the M106s 2 turns of cover can be granted.

M163 VADS

As the only dedicated AA unit available to the Yanks, this unit is an auto-add.  Luckily. it’s also exceptionally good.

With a 32″ AA range, there’s no issue with this unit sitting back.  It should be in a position where it can’t be shot at by land units (deep in a wood, or behind a building, for instance) so the only opportunity to attack it is with Air assets, which it WILL kill.  Firing from stationary, these will quite easily munch through a unit of 4 Hinds.  When reacting in the enemy phase, I suggest firing one team at a time until you have achieved your desired result.

If you find yourself in the position of having removed all enemy air assets, the VADS are more than capable of going on the offensive against enemy light tanks and infantry; with anti-tank 6 and the amount of dice being thrown you will achieve good results even if the Firepower is only 5+.

M113 Mech Combat Team HQ

As your HQ can change the unit he’s with each step (in your turn and the Enemy’s) you are going to get the most out of this chap by keeping him in range of multiple units, for different reasons.

A tactic I intend to try, for instance, is using the HQ attached to the M109s to assist in them Blitz moving onto the board.  The HQ would then move up to within range of an Infantry platoon to ensure it’s survival.

Supporting ITVs in making blitz moves / scoots is also a possibility, providing that a Mech Platoon is nearby OR the HQ is out of line of sight of any possible attacks.

M113 Mech Platoons

As the ‘core’ of the Formation, the boys get the least enviable task of defending the Objectives.  Quite simply, the Infantry get set up on the Objective and get dug in (or in a building depending on how the objective is placed).  The M113s will support, with the option of going after unprotected enemy Infantry / assets if the opportunity presents itself.   The 3rd unit, most likely being in reserve, can be used to shore up an objective if required, or even push against weakened enemy lines or objective.  If deployed in a fortified position ahead of an objective, the enemy could find their MBTs taking fire from Dragon missiles from rear armour if they push too hard.

M1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks

Sadly, one of the most fun units to use in the force also ends up being one of it’s most temperamental.  A line of M1s opening up on a Russian armour column is a joy to behold, but that action is almost certainly followed by complete annihilation of the M1s in return fire.  With the points paid for them, and the ease of them dying, the numbers in my force have dwindled to bare minimum.

That said, I believe they have their place as my premier Ambush unit; 6 shots into the rear of a tank Platoon should result in 3 or 4 deaths, and then give the opponent the choice of coming back to face the Abrams or ignoring them and rushing forward.  With this in mind, they may end up holding Ambush until the 2nd or 3rd turn.  Time will tell how this works out.

M106 Heavy Mortar Platoon

These entered my force primarily for their smoke bombardment.  The ability to drop a 24″ line of smoke across your entire front line, that you can fire through at no penalty if within 6″ of you, is potentially a game winner in itself.  With the Range-in point pre-placed before deployment, no rolling is even required for this if you can envisage your full set up in your head.  I would look to drop smoke first or second turn to protect either my front line of my ambushing Abrams.  Further from that, pounding on Infantry with the mortars or going hunting with their machine guns is equally useful for the points they cost.  In a pinch, they can also provide some AA cover without sacrificing too much in your own turn.

M901 ITV Anti-Tank Platoons

With so few MBTs in my force, the ITVs are there to provide that missing punch to enemy MBTs.  The trick is getting the ITVs into good positions without getting shot up.  The suggestion is to ensure the enemy can’t get an easy line of sight to them whilst they are on the move, as being hit on a 5+ is much worse than a 6+ once they’ve settled in.  Hitting these on a 6+ is a nightmare for your opponent unless he saturates them with fire or drops very lucky.

To achieve this, having them move up to a position with the HQ within range (such as in a wood) then Blitzing to the front of the wood next turn using the Commander’s skill level offers a little more in terms of reliability.  Alternatively, get them into position out of current line of sight, but overseeing a zone where you know your enemy is going to move into in a couple of turns.  The wait should be worth it due to the threat presented; and if ignored, it’s a shooting gallery for you.  Alternatively, a smoke bombardment could easily cover them getting into position.

The unit count is too small to consider using in Ambush; the Abrams or M109s will always be the better choice.  So figuring out the best way to get these into position once claimed from reserves will be the objective.

It should be noted that Big Paul who painted all my forces is a Russian player, and hates ITVs.  He was very reluctant to paint the additional 4 🙂

Summary

So there you have it.  This force has adapted over my past few games as I’ve trialled various things, and I’m hoping it’s where I need to be now.  Time will tell, watch out for the next few Battle Reports!

As always, comments and thoughts are welcome.  In the meantime, here’s some more shots of the sexy Yanks posing for photos.

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