Breaching the Line

Four years ago our nation and empire stood alone against an overwhelming enemy, with our backs to the wall. 
Now once more a supreme test has to be faced. This time the challenge is not to fight to survive but to fight to win the final victory for the good cause. 
At this historic moment surely not one of us is too busy, too young, or too old to play a part in a nation-wide, perchance a worldwide vigil of prayer as the great crusade sets forth.

King George VI

The long wait is over, the British are back in style for the DDay: British book.  If you have been following our posts you will now what to expect in it and are probably wondering exactly what you will field.  For me I have been waiting to get my Breaching Group back into the fight.  This was a favorite of mine in Version 3 and even went to the ETC with me a few years ago.  Now its back, in the form of a command card.

For those not familiar, the Breaching group is a formation designed to support the infantry as they breached the Atlantic Wall and the defensive points beyond it.  Fire power and armour are its watchword

The formation itself is made up a pair of Sherman DD troops (the name is somewhat misleading as they are just normal Shermans) with a HQ troop.  Then you can add Crocodiles (up to six) and AVREs as core.  This makes it very different to any other army construct in the book, shifting some excellent support options to your core choices.  The cost of this is a lack of core Anti Tank and infantry support.

My list

My breaching group is of cause planned as an attack force, although I need to plan it carefully to be functional when utilizing reserves.  Against some obvious defense lists (eg German Beach Defense force) I am likely to choose maneuver to mitigate their dug in status (flamethrowers like non-concealed and gone to ground troops!).

Burn baby burn.

HQ 2 x DD shermans 8
3 x DD shermans 12
3 x DD Shermans 12
3 x Churchill Crocodiles 21
2 x AVRE 8
2 x AVRE 8

Typhoons 8
4 x Achilles 18
Carrier patrol 2
Daimler patrol 3

100pts

This is a bit of an all comers list.  It has a daunting amount of firepower to get rid of infantry and pesky guns. Twelve flamethrower shots as well as two brutal templates (which never have to re-roll hits for 1-2 guns).  AT wise who doesn’t love four Achilles (well apart from the enemy), and if that doesn’t work AT6 rockets from the Typhoon can ruin a Tiger’s day and provide almost no save to TA1 medium armour. 
Looking at lists in the meta this could be a nasty unit vs the Soviet Churchill horde.  Even the Shermans and Crocs have AT10, which while nothing to shout about, is enough to counter medium armour.  I have two recce options which can make dashes for objectives, sprearhead and generally be a pest.  Importantly the Daimlers with AT7 can actually take out enemy recce, which is a nice little bonus.

Their rounds were known as flying dustbins they were so big.

When using reserves, my most likely option is leaving the air and Shermans in reserve and having everything else on table.  However if I was facing a more armour based force I would leave the AVREs off and free up points for the Typhoons and Shermans, perhaps at expense of recce as well.

Tactics

This list appeals to my current play style of aggressive and fast action.  I want to get stuck in.  I dont have a lot of units so what I need to do is produce multiple targets and maximize the chance of weathering the AT fire. 

The Shermans are the squishier aspect of the list, but even that is FA6.

The key thing here is measuring.  The AVREs and Chruchills have very formidable armour.  Broadly you can pretty much negate AT12 at long range for the AVRE and ignore for Crocs.  Against AT14 those AVREs start to look vulnerable.  PAk43 with AT17 is scary and needs to be avoided.  The key is closing to 16.1 inches from guns on turn 1.  Worst case you are now on 5s to hit and best case 6s with scenery.  Suddenly you are more survivable than you might think, even against  high AT.  Next turn your AVREs will be in range of the guns even without blitzing.  8 inch move plus 6 inch to centre of template is 14 inches and the template has a depth of around 3 inches from the center point (depending in angle) meaning if you plan it right you can reach out to 17 inches.  Yes AVREs can move and shoot, making them a really mobile threat.  With 3+ skill you could extend this to 21 inches with a blitz.  That means turn 2 you should be hitting pretty much what ever you want around the objective. 
Never forget that 21 inchs with blitz means that you may well get a 1st turn bombardment off as well.  a nice alpha strike.  As for the Crocs they will need a blitz to get in range (8 move, 4 blitz and range 6) which is harder with skill 4+.  If you you have scenery to conceal I might been tempted to close beyond 16 inchs on turn 1.  Obviously not against PAk43 but yes against Pak40s and maybe 88s.

Lets do a bit of maths.  Against 88s (AT14 vs FA11) and hitting on 5s you have a 7.4% chance of killing a croc (not looking at bails), so 13.5 shots.  That means statistically 4 x 88s wont kill a Croc in turn 1.  Also by closing with the Crocs you force the opponent to react to them (I call it Croc fear, its the allied version of Tiger fear), protecting your more vulnerable AVREs.  At long range (5 to hit AT15 vs FA10) you have 11% chance of dying to each 88 shot so only 9 are needed to get through (still hard).  

Basically the aim of the list to create a hobson’s choice .  While all this is happening the Achilles are providing overwatch, prioritizing anything with a gun beyond AT 12 (So Panthers and Tigers).  Even then some players will use these assets to target the Achilles themselves (Likely on 6s), which is fine, because then they aren’t attacking the Crocs and AVRE.

Of course no list can do everything.  If I come up against a Tiger company I am going to have a tough time and will need to be more defensive, making sure the Achilles and Typhoons are on table, drawing the Tigers forward and using DF smoke.  

I am so tempted to get a model for this, paint it to match and field it to some raised eyebrows.

I don’t think it will be a massive meta winning super list but boy does it look fun, I can’t wait to blow something up with the AVRE.

Parting thought.

A slightly alternative build I have thought of is to focus more on the AT side of the house and squeeze in eight Achilles.  This really is a threat to Tiger forces which are popular at the moment, plus with auto penetrate, can also deal with hero T34s, Panzers etc as well.

HQ 3 x DD Shermans 12
3 x DD Shermans 12 
2 x AVRE 8
2 x AVRE 8
3 x Churcill Crocs 21

4 xAchilles 18
4 x Achilles 18
Daimler Patrol 3

100pts

If you came up vs Tigers or Panthers you could fieldeight Achilles, recce and Crocs on table.  Considering you will face seven Tigers and something like arty and recce that will certainly tie them up while your reserve Shermans arrive and start dashing up to threaten objectives.

Tigers….Pesky

This is probably a bit scarier in the current tank heavy meta but perhaps less fun, I love my AVREs and Typhoons.  In theory I could drop the AVRE completely and add the Typhoon back in.  Now you do have a very scary AT force, however given the Crocs cant assault or hold objectives, that is putting a lot of pressure on eight FA6 Shermans!

The fact that these hard choices are present is fantastic though, no list should be perfect, or super overpowered, all you can do is plan, mitigate and play as best you can.

For now lets load those fuel tanks, find those flying dustbin rounds and let rip.

Category: BritishFlames of WarLate WarList DiscussionV4

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3 comments

  1. and first list a typo too. you put 3 crocs in your army, in the text you just have 12 shots with flamethrowers, should be 18 as crocs have rof 6

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Article by: Mark Goddard