Malifaux Nationals 2016 part 1

Last weekend was the 2016 Malifaux Nationals tournament – the ‘Grand Tournament’ if you will for the Malifaux community.

The tournament was run at Battlefield Hobbies in Daventry, a relatively new gaming venue, which opened this year. This was the first time I had been down to the venue and I was impressed, there is a well stocked shop with a variety of historical and fantasy games, including Bolt Action, Flames of War, Malifaux and the usual Games Workshop products. As well as the shop there is a sizeable gaming area out the back, consisting of a hall with a mezzanine level above it.

The Battlefield Hobbies gaming area, full to the brim with Malifaux players


This weekend there were 124 players battling it out for a share of the glory, I didn’t have much confidence going into it, as I haven’t played much Malifaux (if any) in the past 6 months – too many other games to play! but I was looking forward to catching up with everyone from the scene. The Malifaux scene is one of the friendliest scenes I’ve been involved with,¬†and everyone makes sure they are there to have fun first and foremost. We had also planned a night out in Northampton – which TBH was one of the major draws for going down ūüėČ

In the weeks leading up I was struggling to decide on what faction/masters to take along, this tournament had a few different ways you could play:

  • Fixed Faction – The standard way to play Malifaux, you declare one of the 7 factions available and you can then switch between any masters in that faction.
  • Fixed Master – An alternative way of playing, where you select one master for the entire tournament, but can select different crews to go with this master, in this case you could switch faction in the case of dual faction masters.
  • Trinity – Three fixed lists with three different masters, each list must be from a different faction and must be used at least once during the seven games.
  • Fixed List – For the masochists out there – submit a fixed master with a fixed list which must be used in all games with no changes.

So there was quite a variety, my initial thoughts were to use Arcanists as they were my first faction way, way back when first edition Malifaux came out, I was planning on primarily using Ramos and Colette, giving me options for several different strategies and schemes. However as it got closer to the tournament I realised I hadn’t had enough practise with either of these masters, Colette especially having lots of tricks to try to remember – so to keep things simple I decided to go fixed master with one of my favourite masters – Perdita and the Guild.

I even made a T-shirt


When Malifaux was first released there were always cries of ‘Perdita is broken’ mainly due to her damage output and her high defence, but as the game has progressed the amount of ‘tricks’ from other masters has reduced her down the pecking order and lots of players regard her as a bit of a ‘noob’ master. I like the amount of mobility and damage a Perdita crew can output, with Francisco, the enslaved nephlim and austringers Perdita can advance up the board quite a way before she activates, giving her more chance to use her 14″ range pistols to cause maximum damage, also Francisco giving her +2 Df and WP is always good, making her a mighty DF9 and WP9!

My standard Perdita build normally consists of the following models:

  • Perdita herself – normally with Badge of Office and Trick Shooting upgrades, Trick Shooting allows her to ignore armour or cover – enabling max damage from her shooting/melee attacks and Badge of Office because even with Df7/DF9 she still only has 10 wounds, and a big attack getting through can really spoil her day.
  • Francisco – the only other family member I normally use, he’s Perditas right hand man, sticking with her and boosting her DF/WP as well as allowing her to push towards him and doing some nasty melee damage as well. He comes with the Wade In upgrade, because it might as well be on his card – Hard to Kill and a (0) heal is just golden.
  • Enslaved Nephlim – Perditas totem gives a lot of mobility to the crew, allowing friendly models to push towards other friendly models, regardless of LOS – couple with a trap or pathfinder and the crew can get towards the middle of the board quickly.
  • Lone Marshall – some mobile shooting with built-in positive attack/damage flips – very useful to get around cover, his push also stops him getting caught up in melee
  • Guild Austringers – Long range (18″) no LOS shooting is great, but his Deliver Orders action is probably even better – giving friendly models extra pushes and allowing them to perform interacts for free – very useful for schemes such as Cursed Object
  • The rest of the crew is made up of either dogs, witchlings, watchers or occasionally another enforcer depending on the strategy/schemes in play.

So, the decision was made, bags packed and after an early start we headed down the M1 towards Daventry and potential glory.

Team Yankee Battle Report – Lee vs Jimmy

Following on from my musings about my Mech Platoon list, I fielded it against Jimmy’s Afgantsy force.

Forces were as follows:

Lee’s American Mech Inf Force

Support

(1) 1 x FIST Observer

(14) 4 x Cobra AH1 Attack ‚ÄėCopters

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

(6) 4 x VADS AA tank teams

Formation

(1) HQ ‚Äď 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

 

Jimmy’s Russian Afgantsy Force

Support

(32) 7 x T72 Main Battle Tanks

(6) 4 x BMP2 Recon Tanks

(7) 2 x SU27 Frogfoot Strike Planes

(4) 4 x Shilka AA tanks

Formation

(1) MI-25 HIND Air Assault Battalion HQ

(12) 4 x HIND Assault Helicopters

(6) 2 x HIND Assault Helicopters

(19) Air Assault company comprising of: 10 x AK47 / RPG-18 teams, 9 x RPG7 teams, 2 x PKM LMG teams, 1 x AGS17 team, 1 x AT4 Spigot team, 1 x SA-14 Gremlin AA team

(13) Air Assault company comprising of: 7 x AK47 / RPG-18 teams, 6 x RPG7 teams, 2 x PKM LMG teams, 1 x SA-14 Gremlin AA team, 1 x AT4 Spigot team

100 pts

The Mission

I chose to defend and Jimmy chose prepared attack.  A roll on the chart gave us Fighting Withdrawal.

fighting-withdrawal

I dropped my objective in the centre of my half and Jimmy dropped his on each flank.

Set-Up

I set up predictably with an Infantry platoon sat on each objective.  ITVs supported each flank.  My VADs were set as mid-table as possible whilst still getting concealment, but I could see that me left flank was a little exposed to Air attack.  My Cobras claimed a building line for cover on the left flank.

I dropped mines in¬†between buildings on the centre table, hoping to push Jimmy’s forces to the flanks and to the objectives that could be removed¬†in the late game.

Jimmy placed his Tank platoon in mid field, using his Recon spearhead to push them further up the table.  He placed his largest Infantry company on my left flank, supported by 4 HINDs, and the other on my right supported by 2 HINDs.  His Shilkas deployed opposite my Cobras.

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 Turn 1 РRussians

Jimmy’s¬†infantry set off moving up the board on each flank, and his 4 strong HIND¬†unit pushed down my left flank out of range of my VADS.¬† In the middle, his T72s and BMPs positioned themselves for opportune shots at my VADS unit.

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Firing commenced; firstly the Shilkas opened fire, killing a single Cobra.  Their comrade Gremlin teams were unable to land any hits.  In the middle, the T72s and BMPs opened up on the VADS and FIST; again needing 6s, they only succeeded in killing the FIST Observer.

The HINDs opened fire, the left flank HINDs taking AA MG fire from infantry and M113s and losing 1 of their number (note the pic shows 2 lost, this was until we realised Guided cannot fire at Helicopters in the enemy turn so we put it back on!).  The remaining HINDs were unable to inflict any casualties on either flank, but pinned the right flank Mech Platoon.

Turn 1 – Americans

My right flank Mech Platoon unpinned.¬† Deciding to ‘go for it’ I deployed my Abrams from Ambush and moved up to counter the T72s mid-table.¬† My VADS shuffled up to the right corner of the corn field to get some teams in range of the HINDs on the right.¬† In the mid table, my M113s moved down the road to take some pot shots at Jimmy’s Shilkas in the distance.

I began my shooting by deploying a smoke bombardment from my Mortars across the centre board, protecting my Abrams and centre VADS from any return fire in Jimmy’s next turn (the mines would prevent him from¬†pushing up to or through the smoke without significant risk).

My Abrams opened up on the T72s, killing 2 and bailing 1.  My Cobras killed another T72 and bailed a 2nd, and a single Dragon team from the left flank was able to draw line of sight and kill another.  With 4 destroyed and 2 bailed, the last T72 was testing for breaking, which it failed.  The surviving tanks fled the field.

My M113s let rip at the Shilkas but were unable to bail or destroy any teams.

The VADS unit opened up, destroying a HIND on the right.¬† The 2 ITV platoons on the left fired on the HINDs, killing all 3.¬† The final HIND on the left failed it’s morale check, leaving the Russians HINDless.

The M109 Artillery ranged in on the right flank infantry company using the right flank Inf Platoon’s leader as Spotter.¬† Firing bomblets, they hit around 9 bases of infantry.¬† Only 1 failed their save, but the unit was pinned.

Turn 2 – Russians

With the right flank Infantry company failing their pin check, the left flank advanced.  The Frogfoots became available and came on board right behind my left flank ITV teams.   The BMP Recon team redeployed from centre board to right flank, taking cover behind the corn field.

Shooting commenced, with the Shilkas downing another Cobra and the Spigot team punishing the advancing M113s, killing 3 of their number.

The Frogfoots opened up with their 30mm guns on the 2 ITV platoons, destroying 1 and bailing the other 3.  The weaker unit fled the field, leaving the other platoon with 2 bailed teams.

Turn 2 – Americans

The ITV platoon failed to remount any teams.  The Abrams platoon moved up to gain line of sight on the Shilkas and Spigot team.  The VADS and centre Mech Inf Platoon began moving to the left to support that flank.  Everyone else sat tight and opened fire on any targets they could see.

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The Abrams faired worse shooting¬†than the previous turn, killing a Shilka for their trouble.¬† On the right flank the ITV, M113 and infantry teams were able to kill 2 BMPs and bail one, with the unit then failing it’s morale check and fleeing.¬† The M106 Mortars failed to range in on their target Infantry.¬† On the left flank, the Russian infantry company was hit by the M109s and Mech Inf, losing 2 bases of Infantry and becoming pinned.

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Turn 3

Jimmy had a good look at the board.¬† On the right, his infantry wouldn’t be able to reach the objective intact before it would be removed.¬† On the left, the Company might get close but the Americans were reinforcing and still had the Abrams and all their artillery.¬† Whilst I would be removing a unit at the end of my turn, I could simply remove an ITV unit from the right with no appreciable effect on my ability to defend.

At this point the game was conceded by the Russians.

Conclusions

Running through this report, we realised we missed a key rule, in that low cover doesn’t count as concealment¬†from aircraft shots.¬† This could have helped the HINDs on the right flank to do damage to the ITVs, and changed how the HINDs on the left flank were used.

The realisation that Guided weapons can shoot aircraft was a big eye opener for us both, as my ITVs were able to function as secondary AA units against the HINDs with great effect.

Discussing the HINDs, we both agreed that fielding 4 and 2 isn’t enough, and that 4 and 4 needs to be the way.¬† I also think 4 frogfoots as opposed to 2 would really help.

Regarding the mission, this was a really poor mission for Jimmy.  Between the terrain set-up, the minefields and my choice of forces, he was always going to be struggling with his slow moving infantry.  In future games the use of spearhead to push his infantry further up the board may be a big help.

In terms of my own forces, I was very happy with how they worked together.  The mission allowing me to deploy everything / ambush was a massive boon, and taking out the T72 company and HINDs in the first turn essentially won it.  I did resist dropping 3 M109s and bomblets for a 4th Abrams, and in this instance I think it paid off, but I think I may make the change anyways to give the stronger Ambush unit.

 

 

 

Flames of War LW Strelk vs FJ

After several months of playing Early and Mid War me and Colin, impresario of Janco Toys and long time enemy of the glorious forces of the Red army decided to play a game of Late War.

In truth I always struggle more with my beloved Russians in LW than in EW or MW so I asked if we could do more LW games.

We played pincer and as we both had infantry forces we rolled to see who would attack and who would defend, Colin rolled to attack.

Red Army Hero Strelkovy Polk

HQ

2 x Strelkovy companies

3 x IS-2 1944

4 x SU-100

4 x T34/85

Priority IL-2M

IMG_0633[1].JPG

FJ Company

HQ

2 x FJ platoons

1 x HMG platoon

3 x Pak-40

4 x 150mm Artillery, i normally hate these guys

2 x Jagdpanthers

IMG_0635[1].JPG

Table with a rather modern petrol station, TY is in full effect in Janco’s at the moment. It was laid out a little oddly with massive gaps on each side but we decided to leave it as it was. Would have been interesting if we had rolled a lengthwise mission.

IMG_0634[1].JPG

I had the 2 Strelk companies on the table, one dug in around an objective and the other close enough to come to their assistance but still able to dash to the unoccupied objective if needed. The SU-100’s were in ambush hoping to take out the Jagdpanthers and because it was mobile reserves my IS-2 and T34 platoons were in delayed reserve.

IMG_0637[1].JPG

The Germans had the artillery ready to blast me to death, two platoons of FJ and the MMG that I was sure were just going to rush the closest objective. The Jagdpanthers on the edge of the deployment zone gunning their engines ready to try to get down to the other objective and wait for my reserves.

IMG_0636[1].JPG

Game on, the JP and an FJ platoon made a move to start the rush for the far objective whilst the MMG made towards the edge of the wood ready to get shots off later in the game. The second FJ stayed put, not sure why but this was a mistake my opponent later regretted. Artillery took a pot shot at the Strelk to the side of the rather spiffy church but did nothing. The Paks waited for my reserves to arrive.

IMG_0638[1].JPG

Turn one for the Red Army and in came a single plane and up popped the ambushing SU-100’s. They took out one of the JP which was a relief as I had no doubt I could take out everything else but worried a little about the AT16 tank hunters. Plane managed to kill a single base of¬†infantry but bounced off the top of the JP. The FJ were pinned however.IMG_0640[1].JPG

Turn 2 for the Germans and the FJ failed to unpin which was nice, the MMG moved a little further forward and the JP moved slowly to keep itself in cover. Artillery bailed a couple of SU-100. The second FJ now moved forward.

IMG_0642[1].JPG

IMG_0641[1].JPG

Turn 2 for the Soviets

Planes came in and hit the FJ in that had just started to move and the SU-100’s moved a little to try to get into a position to get at the JP. Two of them failed to remount. I had to move a couple of stands of infantry¬†to ensure the plane could come in but as they were behind a wood I thought they were fairly safe and I needed to do something to the FJ as they looked like they would roll the objective, live from turn 6, and I would then need to re capture it. Took out one stand and an MMG leaving¬†them both pinned.IMG_0643[1].JPG

Turn 3 for the Germans and the FJ in the built up area stayed pinned again, everyone else unpinned. The pinned FJ made for the cover of a building and the assault on the woods began. The JP went off and hid again, Colin was worried about either the SU-100’s of the soon to arrive reserves getting a flank shot.

IMG_0644[1].JPG

As me Hero Strelk pass skill tests on three’s this would be bloody with two forces in effect Fearless Vets in the assault, I hoped my batalon commissar would give me the edge. Also I could afford the losses as due to the slow moving force trying to get to the other objective I had left my second company of infantry ready to come over and give a hand if needed.

IMG_0645[1].JPG

After a few rounds of scrapping and despite some rolls such as the above, white were my dice the purple my enemies, it ended like this. With a single base of FJ and and the commander of the MMG left alive both of which passed the test to stay. My Strelk also passed their test and stayed on the table.

IMG_0646[1].JPG

Turn three for the Hero’s of this match and first off a roll for reserves, non. Needed to hold off the JP for another turn. Plane came on and did little other than a stand and a pin on the lads who had decided a corrugated iron hut was a safe place to be.

IMG_0647[1].JPG

After the plan left they pulled back the roof to give more protection.

IMG_0649[1].JPG

Turn four and the Germans were in trouble, the JP and FJ from the tin hut who managed to unpin for a change moved closer to the objective. It would be time to move my second Strelk soon if the reserves did not arrive.

Due to a rush of excitement the camera man forgot to take a few pics, he will be re educated. The IS-2’s came on an took a pot shot but moving with rate of fire 1 meant I missed. The German artillery bailed out one but being fearless they got back in again.

Turn five the German Commander and 2IC picked up the last of the FJ near the wood and went for it again. Unfortunately before they got there the second Strelk moved into the woods and took the fight to the enemy, they were going to go after the artillery and ATG’s but for once the inner Orc was quietened and they stayed hidden in the wood. The SU-100’s moved to hold the second objective in case the JP moved towards it.

JPs killed a T34 and bailed another and the SU-100 that could see the JP and the IS-2s all missed.

Last turn of the game the T34’s, IS-2’s and an SU-100 shot at the infantry and the JP with the plane managing to take out the JP. Plane def my Hero of the Soviet union this time.

IMG_0650[1].JPG

With that the game was called as the last couple of stands of infantry were not going to get to the objective and now the remaining Russian assets free from the tyranny of the JP were pretty much free to hunt down whoever they wished.

Observations

The FJ were ideally suited to defending and the Strelk to attack so of course we rolled the opposite. The IS-2’s are great at getting hit with TA2 and FA11, terrible at actually managing to hit anything. The T34’s without H&C are good but you don’t get many of them. Plane had a great time as enemy had brought no AA.

If the Germans had rushed the objective in the woods or had not spent so long pinned and moved to the other objective it may have been tougher.

Good game and a win to the Soviets in LW so mission quite literally achieved.

Shiny new Airbrush

So I’ve been painting miniatures for a while, a few years ago I took a dive and bought an airbrush. This was a hopeful purchase in that it would help improve my painting and make painting bigger things like tanks easier and quicker.

I was right it did help and it did speed up painting larger things but then the problems started.

Due to me being cautious about spending alot of money on an airbrush for a first time purchase I got a cheap chinese airbrush. This came as a set with a compressor and 2 airbrushes.(the top 2 in the pic below) The black one was pretty much useless to me because you cant control the paint flow with the trigger (Also known as a single action airbrush), this meant ¬†I stuck to using the silver double action one (Double action allows you to control the amount of paint is released with the air trigger, press down for air draw back for more paint). Due to me being new to this I didn’t look after this airbrush that well as well as it being a cheaply made one it started to fail and caused more problems than it was worth. This airbrush got retired pretty quick.

img_20161116_225409

Next I bought the shiny blue one. Thinking ive upgraded here (still a cheap chinese airbrush) but it did the job well I was happy……then I went to try some fine detail. Oh wait the needle is too big for fine detail and I was having to waste alot of paint due to this being a suction airbrush (paint goes up) instead of a gravity feed airbrush (cup on top and paint settles into airbrush) and yet again I didn’t look after it right because I was annoyed with it and stopped caring for it.

Another Dead airbrush (I’ve recently cleaned this enough to get it working again. It will only get used if I want to base coat something HUGE).

My last airbrush (bottom in the above pic) was yet again a cheap airbrush, slightly more expensive than the last ones. Its done great for what I’ve been using it for, it can’t quite get amazingly fine detail but I couldn’t have managed that anyway. Now I felt I had outgrown this airbrush. It still works fine if the paint is a bit thinner than I like using. It has an issue with clogging too much.

At this point I’ve spent ¬£100 on first set (came with some useless paints), ¬£25 for blue airbrush, ¬£40 for last silver one. ¬£165 total.

Now comes the big daddy airbrush. My new shiny Harder & Steenbeck Evolution 2in1 and a shiny new compressor with tank. (My old one didn’t have a tank which caused some of the issues I had in the past).

This monster cost £210 for the full kit:
Evolution 2in1 airbrush
Compressor with tank and regulator
air hose
quick release for air hose
in line water trap
airbrush holder for desk

This is a great kit and well worth the price. I’ve used it a couple of times and my god I’ve been missing out. This is amazing. I have so much control, I have more air pressure if I need due to the tank on the compressor, The movement of the airbrush is so fluid, My hand hasn’t cramped holding this (this happened alot with the others). It dismantles easily, so easy to clean. I can’t wait to get into using my new toy properly and get some good painting done with it. Hopefully I remember to post the minis on here for you all to see.

So total spent: £375.
How much I should have spent: £210

If I had not been so tentative about buying an airbrush I would’ve bought the evolution first and saved myself alot of trouble and money. Saying that I would have probably damaged it by not cleaning it properly.
If you are interested in an airbrush I recommend trying a friends or asking for advice/researching as much as possible and buy a good brand. (eg. Harder & Steenbeck, Iwata) as these companies put alot of work into the build of these airbrushes and it will make your life alot easier.

If you’re getting an airbrush. Research. Don’t buy cheap and good luck.

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 ūüôā

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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Dropfleet Commander – Lee vs Scott

So after 2 failed attempts to complete a full game, Scott finally found time in his busy Rock Star schedule to give a proper play through.  It would be my Scourge against his PHR in a 999pt game, with the forces as follows:

Scourge

BG1 (SR10) – 1 x Basilisk Battlecruiser

BG 2 (SR12) – 1 x Hydra Fleet Carrier, 1 x Chimera Troopship, 2 x Gargoyle Strike Carrier

BG3 (SR12) – 1 x Hydra Fleet Carrier, 1 x Chimera Troopship, 2 x Gargoyle Strike Carrier

BG4 (SR4) – 4 x Djinn Frigate

PHR

BG1 (SR10) Р1 x Scipio Battlecruiser

BG2 (SR9) Р1 x Ikarus Vanguard Carrier, 4 x Andromeda Escort Carrier

BG3 (SR9) – 1 x Ganymede Assault Troopship, 4 x Medea Strike Carrier

BG4 (SR5) – 3 x Pandora Frigate, 2 x Echo Corvette

MISSION

The mission would be take and hold with 3 clusters and a column approach.

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Turn 1

I activated my BG2 first, moving my Troopship and Fleet support up the middle of the table and sending a strike carrier each to the edges (at this point I was worried about the Corvettes to which I had no counter so wanted to spread my risk).  The PHR moved on with their BG2, with the Andromedas pushing down the left flank and the Ikarus pushing right.

On the next flip the PHR went first, commiting his BG2 strike carriers and Ganymede.  I countered by full thrusting my BG4 Djinn up centre board, as I knew I would win initiative with them next turn.

Scott committed his bombers to my speeding Djinn, to which I responded with Escort fighters.

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Turn 2

I won the flip with my BG4 Djinn and took a standard order to bring me into firing range of his Strike Cruisers.  Through my close Assault attacks and crippling rolls, both Carrier Frigates were destroyed.  The PHR Bombers then activated, inflicting very minor damage to the Djinn as their defensive fire and fighters nullified most shots.

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Enter the Scipio… Moving up into the middle of my Djinn group, it opened fire and when the shooting stopped only 1 Djinn remained.

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The rest of the turn was spent jostling for positions and moving up to clusters.  My remaining Djinn was taken down by the Pandora frigates.  My Battlecruiser took a Full Thrust up the right flank, angling directly for his Ikarus.

In the launch phase, long range Bombers were committed and troops started to hit the surface.

Turn 3

My ‘big move’ this turn was for my Basilisk to take down Scott’s Ganymede¬†on the right flank, so that BG went to the bottom of the deck.

I got my second wave of Gargoyles into Atmosphere and moved my Hydra and Chimera up, managing to take out one of the Pandora Frigates.  The PHR Bombers then activated, destroying my Hydra and severely damaging my Chimera.

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I committed my second Carrier group, moving up the centre board and taking pot shots at another Pandora, this time only inflicting 1 damage.  Scott responded with his Scipio, turning and broadsiding my Chimera taking it 1 hit from death.

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On the right, Scott’s Ganymede¬†was able to avoid the tender mercies of my Basilisk by running silent.¬† I instead went weapons free on the Medea in Atmosphere scoring 4 hits (needing 6s!) resulting in 8 damage to be saved.¬† With Scald in effect and several 4+ saves failed, the Frigate was destroyed.

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In the launch phase, Scott went after my beleaguered Chimera, undamaged Chimera and Basilisk.  I placed all my defensive fighters on my undamaged Chimera.  As expected, the damaged Chimera was lost.

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Turn 4

On the right, the Echos took down my last gargoyle whilst my Basilisk took a Station Keeping order to broadside the Ganymede.  The PHR bombers activated, inflicting 3 damage.

In the middle, my 2nd Chimera was destroyed by the Scipio and friends.

The Basilisk took even more fire.  In the ground combat phase, my middle cluster fired defence weapons to down the last Pandora and the left and right clusters were dominated by the PHR.

In the launch assets phase, my Basilisk was finally crippled with a decaying orbit and my last Chimera destroyed.¬† Rolling a 1 to repair it’s drives, the Basilisk burned up unceremoniously in the lower atmosphere.

In the scoring phase, it was 10-6 to the PHR.

Turns 5 and 6

With me only having 1 Gargoyle on the board, the next 2 turns went quick!

The game ended 22-10 to the PHR.

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Conclusion

An enjoyable but frustrating game for me (I think Scott had a ‘whale’ of a time ūüėČ ).¬† A lot to ponder over!