Today Mark G takes a look at the Command Cards for US Fighting First book.
The last time I looked at command cards it was their first outing. Some aspects went down really well and some were, how shall we say, ‘dividing opinion’. Well, BF has had a chance to take feedback and now present their latest set for the lovely new Fighting First book.
For those new to Mid War the Command Cards allow you to spend points to buy special rules, add a character (who also changes rules), buy what can only be called buffs (eg re-roll misses), add new units or change the stats of existing ones or even field whole new formations.
With 39 cards in total it’s certainly a big pack and rounds out Fighting First book.
Units & Formations
I’ll start with what I suspect everyone is waiting for, which is the new units that aren’t in the main book. Well there is only 1 (standby for the next section before you gash your teeth) and it’s the Rangers;
I’m afraid that the rumours of the 57mm where not true, sorry to be the bearer of that news. However it’s nice to see the Rangers included which add a really good assault unit (of quite a large size) to the army.
Formation wise you have 2 new options with a Combat Engineer Company, which interestingly allows you to take 37mm guns as core combined with better digging in and minefield crossing skills. These represent the forces who had to defend the Kasserine Pass.
Next up we have an Armoured Recon Company;
Now I find this one quite interesting. You have a lot of cheap core units there which could allow you to keep your formation in good spirits while your support does the heavy lifting. This could allow you to afford to run a full unit of Shermans with no bother (a very scary prospect!).
Where the new cards differ from the German and British packs is the number of alternative options for existing units. Basically it allows you to field units with different core stats; for example, a better ‘to hit’ score (at a point cost). It’s almost like the trained or veteran choice of V3 and there is an option for pretty much everything allowing you to field a some more experienced US troops who have been bloodied in combat and lived to tell the tale. For example,
This card changes you to being hit on a 4+ (Vet in old money) and improves the skill (making them trained in old money). This change alone opens a lot of options allowing the humble Rifle Platoon to hunker down nicely in foxholes and survive artillery bombardments while doing better in counter assaults, but also helping to minimise hits on the offensive as you take the attack to the enemy. While I can’t give away the points, what I can say is that they are nicely balanced vs the smaller yet better equipped German infantry platoon.
Again this steps up the number of Special Characters compared to the German and British set with 5 on offer. For a (quite affordable) cost you can a reposition a unit after deployment, improve digging in ratings, shoot after a follow me (On Shermans ouch!) or even give a chosen stand an auto counter attack (only that stand though). Rule wise it does seem to bring back some of the twists that were a traditionally added by characters in V3, however its different to V3 in that you don’t pay for the model. However there is nothing to stop modellers doing something special on their formation commander models to represent them.
This is my pick of the bunch and I will certainly be thinking about adding it, if anything to help that Bazooka hit those Panzer 3s as they assault.
Formation Commander Cards
Like the other two sets, the US Cards have quite a lot of options to ‘pimp out’ your Formation Commander, in essence very similar to what we have already seen but just US unit versions. They range from the giving ROF2 to the secondary weapon on your Formation Commander Lee, to ignoring an armour or infantry save on your commander. For me these cards are not something I will be using. Firstly they are quite expensive and secondly I’d rather pay the points for improving the rating of my troops rather than something like a one off save.
This is where we start getting a good bit of flavour. Much like the cards at the end of the British and German packs we have some abilities which can really effect the game and actually are quite fluffy (Like the SAS raid in the British pack).
Some of my favourites are;
- Favourable position: Gives Tank Destroyers an improved “Shoot and Scoot”.
- Tank Raid: Deny air support to the enemy once (Take that overpowered Hurricanes!)
- Don’t Know When They Are Beaten: Auto pass all rally, remount and last stand tests for this turn (Very nice when tons of your expensive Shermans have been bailed).
- Arsenal of Democracy: Re-roll all your reserve dice for 1 turn.
- Us Army Air Force: A bit of double edged sword this one;
While the cards have somewhat split opinion in the FOW community the release of the US ones shows that they are here to stay and dispels the myth that they were rushed out to pad the first two books after the community reaction. BF seems to have taken on board some feedback and the US pack is bigger and gives greater weight to changing/adding unit options rather than offering buffs. I know the argument is still there that these cards could just be in the main book. However, the separation continues to allow them to be optional if players or TO’s don’t want to use them. What I do like is that there doesn’t seem to be anything broken in this set, i.e. no super combos like the British Cautious Movement 4+ to hit fearless Stuarts and Crusaders.
At pocket money prices they are good value and easy to pick up with your next order or after a game at your LFGS.