The Poor Bloody Infantry of the British army return to the desert war in the latest book for Mid-War; Armoured Fist. Here, Mark N. looks at fielding them with a more ANZAC flavour to them.
But what about everything else?
Armoured Fist is an excellent source book, and many would argue that they would have preferred to have seen this coming out instead of Desert Rats last year. However, such a swathe of plastic models would have taken a lot of time, effort and money to get everything ready in time. Instead, Armoured Fist builds on and replaces Desert Rats perfectly, and brings back many of the missing elements that players expected to be in the other book.
Regardless, the book is a much needed injection for the British forces in the desert, and in this article I’ll be showing off a couple of Australian lists, with the Rifle Company as its Core Formation, supported by some of the lovely newer kit and finally a fully fleshed out Australian 9th Division list, supported by the Divisional Cavalry, trying to recreate the old lists from ‘North Africa’ as best I can.
+++++EDIT: Since the publication of this Command Card, the wording and the cost of the card has changed. See the actual card for the effect+++++
The core of my core
The core formation is very similar to almost every British Rifle Company I’ve taken since I started playing the game all those years ago. A good strong, stable core as follows:
This, naturally, is a very defensive list, with the Universal Carrier Patrol being included to expand my deployment zone in missions such as Dust Up, to allow more an expanded front.
This also gives a nice 51pt, solid core to my force, allowing this entire formation to be fielded in a mission with reserves, backed up by some lovely support options.
Now, no doubt you’ll have noticed that the Rifle Company HQ, Rifle Platoon, 3-inch Mortar Platoon, and Vickers MMG Platoon have a strange little cross next to their entry. Well, this is because with Armoured Fist comes a new swathe of Command Cards (which finally balance the ‘Scout Tanks’ card). The units marked with an ˣ have the ‘ANZAC Rifle Company’ Card applied. This card gives each unit with the card a Rally rating of 3+, meaning your boys get back in the fight quicker after being pinned down. This gives the Australians a hint of their old ‘Fearless Veteran’ rating back, without going the whole hog.
To be honest, despite their nickname as ‘Diggers’, they were just as good as a regular Tommy at digging a foxhole after all. Note that the 6pdr Troop do not get this card, as they are already Fearless rated, being Royal Artillery.
The shiny new stuff
Armoured Fist adds a lot of ‘new’ units for the British to use in the desert. The biggest addition is the Valentine, which appears in two new lists:
- Death or Glory Squadron
- Valentine Armoured Troop
These little tanks make perfect infantry support tanks. They move at the same speed as your infantry, and their thick side armour (Third thickest after the Tiger and Churchill), allows them to get stuck in against infantry and guns such as Italian 47mm, and German 5cm, without too much to worry about.
With that said, let’s throw a couple into the list above, along with some other useful items of support such as heavier anti-tank guns, and aircraft to harass the back-line guns. I’ll also add in another platoon of 6pdr guns, as they are fantastic for the price, and as mentioned are Fearless Veterans, in old money.
This increases the Core Formation to a very solid 63pts, meaning that by dropping something small, you can field your entire Core Formation on the table in a Mission with Reserves.
All in all, this list will probably be very troublesome for any Afrika Korps players. With the big guns easily able to take on their Panzers, while the infantry either sit in, or get stuck in with their ability to get back in the fight quickly after being pinned.
Naturally, the entire core of this force is based off the new Rifle Company option which appears in Armoured Fist. They are very similar to the Motor Company from Desert Rats in terms of Skill and Motivation, with the same rules such as ‘Deadly’, and ‘Bulldog’. It will make a lot of British Infantry players very happy to get their PBI onto the field again in all their glory.
Also bear in mind that a lovely new box of plastic infantry is coming for the Rifle Company.
But what is missing?
As per the other books, some things haven’t made the cut. And here is a quick list of infantry specific support weapons that don’t appear in Armoured Fist:
- 2pdrs. By this points of the war the 2pdr was being phased out in favour of the 6pdr, and was relegated to defensive roles.
- Engineers. The old Royal Engineers platoon was bulky and slightly ineffective, lacking many of the rules of full infantry platoons.
- Deacons. These obscure SP Anti-tank vehicles are perfect for the planned ‘Wild Card’ releases.
- Heavy Mortars (4.2″). Oddly these are absent from the book.
- Heavy Anti-Aircraft Guns (3.7″). Once again, these oddities were usually relegated to port defence.
- Bishops. Another strange chimera of a creation, the Valentine chassis carrying a 25pdr would make an excellent ‘Wild Card’
- Heavy Artillery (5.5″). Deemed by most players as having no place in a company-level game, the big guns are removed.
It may only be my own humble opinion, but even with the above options removed, there’s still plenty of clout that the British Rifle Company can bring to bear on the dastardly German and Italian menace. I’m looking forward to getting my boys on the table again and taking the fight all the way to Tunis.