Following up on my recent article on getting the best out of the new Italian starter sets I thought I would continue with a look at the US forces. I will be looking at what you can do with the starter sets and if needed what extra units you could add if you want to make it a bit more competitive.
For the purposes of this article the assumption is that a new US player will purchase;
- “Kasserine” starter set
- “Fighting First – M3 Lee Tank Company” Army Deal
At £122 RRP, this is a lot of units and you can easily get between 10-20% discount by shopping around online (Battlefield Hobbies will do it for £109.8 with free UK shipping).
In total, you will start your US MW journey with:
- 9 x M3 Lees
- 6 x M4 Shermans
- 9 x M3 Stuarts
- 4 x M10 Tank Destroyers
- 3 x M7 Priests
- 2 x T28E1 AAA guns
Even a quick glance shows that this will be more than the typical 100pts required for a game. Let’s see what we can do with it:
Wow, 157pts, add some command cards for a nice round 160. That’s a full 40pts more than the Italian force with their two starter sets.
With just the ‘Fighting First’ Starter Set you can produce;
This is still over the magic 100pts but with the loss of the Stuarts, you would be bang on. The only issue with this force is that you have a very brittle formation. The loss of five Lees would lose you the game and, given that they are aggressive, that isn’t that hard to do. The challenge is that the M10s and Shermans are both very expensive at 8pts each. Wisdom, and experience, would suggest that we are going to have to make an either/or choice here.
Better 100pt lists
True to the challenge here is my top pick using only the items from the starter and army box combo;
Tough choices have had to be made and some units left out. However, this is a pretty good armoured force. Nine Lees will kick out a solid volume of AT9 and are highly mobile thanks to the Stabilisers rule allowing full ROF with a +1 to hit on the move. The turret cannon is also useful against lighter targets, ie perfect for taking out the armoured cars and light tank spam.
I have decided to go with the Shermans over the M10s because of general utility. The M10 is great at dealing with heavies. However, in the desert, the Tiger is the only heavy you’ll face and, at 20+ points a tank, you will really only ever face one of them. AT10 is fine against Germans and amazing vs Italians. The Sherman FA6 makes it surprisingly survivable in MW and AT10 is a real sweet spot. It is also core to the formation so helps prevent formation breaks.
The Priests are a great artillery unit with FP3 and Time on Target. This means if you range in on your first attempt the enemy have to reroll infantry and gun saves (like a repeat bombardment).
The Stuarts are a really zippy addition to the force, they must use smoke or concealment to mitigate the light FA. I just can’t deal with a reckless rating (2+ to hit) therefore I think it is more than worth 2pts to upgrade them to aggressive trained using the ‘courageous and faithful‘ command card.
This force is all about attacking either a prepared attack or a mobile battle. Use the stabilisers and get into the fight. The long game won’t work in your favour versus a cautious rated opponent if you hang back, you just won’t hit them and they will gradually whittle you down. Speed, aggression and surprise are the watchwords here.
Tweaking it up
The starter sets are a great jumping-off point for your US forces, however, they aren’t designed to optimise your list with point efficient units. However, with a few more purchases and honouring the core list, I would suggest;
To make this force you will need;
- Armoured Rifle Platoon – UBX51
- Armoured Mortar Platoon – UBX62
- Armoured Recon Patrol – UBX59
- T30 75mm Assault Gun Platoon – UBX63
By trading out the Stuarts and Priests I think the force has become much more effective. The Assault Guns and Mortars both provide smoke and a FP 4+ bombardment. True, they are green so you need to try and avoid scenery, but they start ranged in in most missions. They are also both core and super cheap. They will be massively useful and keep you in the fight.
The recce is also core (now you are starting to be really hard to shift) and acts as a force multiplier allowing you to optimise your deployment (or shut down the enemies) in missions where you can spearhead.
The final addition is the Armoured Rifle Platoon. This is in my opinion is one of the best units in the game with its swiss army knife approach. Halftracks, 5 bazookas, LMGs and 14 stands total makes it a super addition. Stick that on an objective and it will take time to shift. Also, it is great at supporting your tanks on the offensive.
These sets are even better value than the Italians (which were already great). This is only the tip of the range of formations you could make and what you could addon. Whether you just get the Fighting First starter set or combine it with the Kasserine set you will be all set up for your first 100pt games.