Today Lee has had a chance to flick through his FLGS Store Review copy of Iron Maiden and has some thoughts to share on Team Yankee’s latest army book.
“Rinteln” says the passport. “Where in the UK is that?” is normally the question asked. “Germany. Well, it was West Germany then.” is my reply; the last bit a qualifier that normally heads off a question on nationality. I find that works less and less as the events of the 20th century slip further into the past.
When Team Yankee was announced I was excited. Not especially for the US or USSR, although both had some cool kit. No, I was excited for the promise of a “British Army of the Rhine” (BAOR) force. Chieftains! Scorpion CVR(T) (Combat Vehicle Recce (Tracked))! SLR! DPM! That’s what I was after!
I had been born in a British military hospital, grew up in Paderborn, rode on a Chieftain on a family open day at Kirdcudbright range. 15mm Chieftains was what I wanted – recreating 3RTR, B squadron – the old man’s unit.
Possibly the only British armoured unit that closed field gates behind them – the advantage of recruiting from the West Country
And now, finally, I got a shout from Brighton’s FLGS – Dice Saloon, that an Iron Maiden review copy was in the week’s delivery. Would I like to look at it?
Once upon a time I would have been out the door by the time I finished reading the message. This time it had to wait till after Matilda* had gone to bed and the wife had been fed. But I was impatient with excitement all the time.
Classic British reserve on display
Where to start!
The cover (the featured image at the start of the article) shows off the main items of British Kit with Chieftains taking centre stage, leading a column of FV432, CVR(T) and dismounted Infantry whilst Lynx helicopters fly overhead. Its nicely rendered, though strangely passive compared to the excellent Leopards cover and the aggressive Team Yankee cover. The title is still a little clumsy but maybe I’m still hurt from 3rd Armoured getting the glory over 4th Armoured! I guess the three way connection of Thatcher, Heavy Metal and the Irons Division was too much to pass up. Maybe we’ll get “Armoured Farmers” at some point in the future!
Inside, the Iron Maiden book continues the “white space” stylings of the other Team Yankee books with a similar layout of background story, unit history of 3rd Armoured (real up to the ’85 deviation point) then the army lists before finishing with scenarios and painting guides. The sections are interspersed with vignettes to give some flavour of how the British Army fights; a Chieftain Troop leader encounters a Russian Combat Recce Patrol (hopefully they turn up in the Soviet book next year!); a Swingfire team utilise the remote firing capability of the system to disrupt a Soviet Force; a RAF Harrier Pilot runs the gauntlet to hit a bridge choke point with BL-755 cluster bombs. The stories, and the background for the war in Europe set the tone suitably without wearing out their welcome or feeling clumsy.
The inside back cover closes out with some photography on the Chieftain and some background text on the tank – making for a better closer than Leopards map and diary snippets.
All in all, nicely presented. But does the content back up the looks?
(as an aside – the back cover shows a CVR(T) next to a Chieftain and it looks like someone put a 10mm model next to a 15mm one! It helps you appreciate how small the Scorpion/Scimitar are!)
I may store my CVR(T) inside the Chieftains for optimum army case utilisation
Team Yankee had two lists for each faction, Leopard had three for its. Chieftain ups it further with FOUR lists for the British. We have armoured and mechanised infantry forces as per Team Yankee, a recce tank company like Leopard’s Aufklarung and then we throw in the NATO equivalent of the Afghansty with the British Air Mobile Company. All four formation types draw from the same force structure so, in theory, like Leopards there is the possibility for some interesting picking and choosing of formations in a force.
The Chieftain equipped armoured formations feel like a return to Flames of War, 3 strong troops (to use the correct parlance for a tank platoon – bloody Donkey Wallopers influence…), tanks that drop in rate of fire when they move, a 2IC. But the Chieftain feels very different from its WWII counterparts.
Its armour, whilst slipping behind the composite armoured M1 and Leopard 2, is still better than a T-72 in the front arc and (just) able to turn soviet gun fire. If Armour 17 is too dicey, you can upgrade any or all Chieftains to Stillbrew equipped Mk.10, dropping the cross to 3+ (same as a Leo 2) but boosting front arc armour to match the Leo 2 and M-1 at 18.
The gun matches the Leopard 2’s 120mm for performance, excepting the fire control limitations dropping RoF on the move, and also gains brutal as the “cowpat of doom” High Explosive Squash Head (HESH) gives a better HE punch vs Infantry. The main limitations are the weak side armour with no real HEAT protection (fear the RPG-7 and flanking BMP-2!) and the low dash speed. The Chieftain is less “hands off” than a Leo 2 and careful use of tactics to play to its strength will be required to maximise its potential. It’s definitely a sniper over a knife fighter!
The Armoured Squadron formation can have up to four troops of Chieftains – two compulsory, plus a supporting troop of Infantry, Scorpion CVR(T), Abbot battery and Swingfire section (the FV432 variant). Unlike the Germans there are no composite formations with mixed mandatory platoons.
The Swingfire is worth mentioning – think an ITV’s armour (ish) and ability to stay gone to ground combined with the Jaguar-1 HOT’s AT value. A useful support choice.
Combined with the generous offering of troops in the force section, it’s entirely possible to get a workable force using just the armoured formation and not needing to rely on multiple formations.
The teams have an excellent skill of 3+ (useful for Blitz/Shoot and Scoot) and, despite being “Death or Glory” a mid-range but realistic morale of 4+ (although the protected ammo and morale boosting Boiling Vessel (BV) gives a remount of3+). If the Donkey Wallopers of the Cavalry are this good then one can only think how much better the RTR will be! 😀
This section is presumably bought to use by the book’s sponsors “Euromissile” (well, now MBDA). I say this because the Milan appears a lot in the Infantry formation.
A British Infantry platoon of the period had a platoon HQ with a 2″ mortar and three, eight man sections (plus a driver for the FV432) armed with SLR, 66mm LAW, a GPMG and a Carl Gustav recoiless rifle. In Iron Maiden, the infantry platoon gives us four stands of SLR/GPMG/LAW equipped infantry, three 4-man stands equipped with Carl Gustav and 1 2-man stand with a 2” mortar. Not a bad match, although I was expecting the HQ just to have a Flames of War style “section mortars” rule rather than a discrete mortar stand. The 2″ mortar can fire smoke and has a rule to let it fire over friendly troops – all very similar to its WWII counterpart.
The Support Company is also present in strength. In reality the company had two Recce sections of 4 Scimitar CVR(T) – typically operating in pairs, a mortar platoon of 8 81mm mortars, from about ’86, a Milan mobile section with 4 Spartan Milan Compact Turret variants and then 4 Milan sections, each split into two detachments with 2 Milan firing posts for a total of 4 x 2 x 2 = 16 Milan! All of these are present in Iron Maiden – including the asynchronous MCT**. The Milan sections feature as a single 4 post platoon, but also the option to add a 2 post detachment to each section (presumably to save faffing around with having independent two stand detachments – adding them to an Infantry platoon makes the book-keeping easier), plus the MCT section. Our company can thus consume over half of the battalions AT assets and all the rest of the organic support. Clearly the Battalion HQ really likes us!
Milan, apparently almost as common in the 80’s Infantry Company as miner strikes…
Combined with the Charlie G’s HESH round, the British Infantry thus have a very strong anti-tank capability and a decent anti-infantry capability as the HQ can purchase a pair of tripod mounted GPMG to add to the platoons. The troops are decently motivated at 4+, but can counterattack on a 3+ – British Bulldog lives on! Combined with an assault value of 3+, the British Infantry will be a tough nut to crack on the defence, even in assault.
The 81mm mortars, an export success story, have a longer range than WWII 3” mortars and possess a useful smoke bombardment – and very cheap at 4pts for 8 tubes! The company/formation support is rounded out with an Abbot battery and a Chieftain troop.
All in all, I can see a British Infantry Formation being a *very* popular defensive force.
This is an intriguing force, based off a real experiment conducted in the ’84 Lionheart exercise, apparently. The aim was to create a tank blocking force that could be airlifted into position to counter a Soviet breakthrough.
We get up to three airmobile Infantry platoons, differing from the FV-432 mounted version with the Carl Gustav teams being replaced 1 for 1 by MILAN teams but otherwise the same and carried in 3 Lynx. We also get an 8 post MILAN platoon (it can be smaller) carried in 3 Lynx.
The Lynx in this case is unarmed and basically serves as a marker to show where it has landed for its vulnerable turn of the ground.
Again, we get a near ridiculous number of MILAN but, without the Carl Gustav, it does seem like the Airmobile platoon may struggle to hold off a tank assault – it really needs to thin out the enemy with MILAN shots in the turns before!
I’m struggling to see how to use this as a force in its own right – even with access to all the goodies in the Force tree. But a single platoon (purchasable as a support choice at the force level) may be a handy unit to make a sneak grab of the objectives in Breakthrough or Counterattack.
It’ll be interesting to see what people make of this option going forward!
Medium Recce Squadron
Equipped with various members of the FV100 family, mainly the Scorpion and Scimitar CVR(T) scout vehicles, the Medium Recce Squadron is lacking in armour but has speed and a small amount of punch in its favour.
The Scorpion packs a 76mm low velocity gun but canister and HESH rounds give it a “better than expected” AT14 and FP of 2 but with the “HEAT” attribute. The 30mm Rarden armed Scimitar shoots faster but has a lower AT value of 10 but no “HEAT” tag so it can penetrate an MBT from the side. Both have Scout and Spearhead so can chose their position a bit more freely. Detrimentally, they have the “sneak and peak” rule, the second new rule introduced in Iron Maiden which means their tactical move is only 6” when firing – the over worked commander being the limitation. It’s going to need some nuance to position and pick the shot!
I’d say the Scorpion is maybe a tad too good, on paper at least. I’d be inclined to use the Scorpion over Scimitar which, given the Scorpions were phased out in favour of Scimitar (and the re-turreted Scorpion/Fox hyrbid – the Sabre), seems off. Maybe the table will prove out the Scimitar as the better choice.
Another small gripe is that the recce troops operated in discrete pairs. You can represent this by buying just two but that means you max out on troops a bit early. It would have been nice to have a WWII recce style option of buying 2 x 2 patrol troops as one option so you can still hit the correct numbers. However, I suspect it’s unlikely to be a huge issue unless you go full out with a recce squadron.
They also get Striker – Swingfire on the more compact (and better armoured) Spartan chassis, plus a Spartan mounted Infantry section.
Unlike the Leopard 1 equipped Aufklarung, the CVR(T) equipped Recce Squadron has maybe less attraction as a standalone formation. But the presence of the Striker and the low cost of the CVR(T) means that it may be of use as a cheap Swingfire delivery system for an anti-tank focused defensive force.
It’s worth noting that the British Army is largely an Infra-Red force – only the OP and Swingfire/Striker has a thermal vision capability. Russian players may finally want to ponder the occasional night attack!
Tracked Rapier and Blowpipe MANPAD (firing from the back of a Spartan) feature as the AA element of the Support section. Tracked Rapier is comparable to an SA-13 in general performance, although with a slightly higher RoF (I’m guessing because it has eight read rounds, but its firing cycle is far longer than the fore and forget SA-13 so a little odd). Blowpipe has a lower RoF than a six man SA-14 team; but is otherwise comparable and has a secondary ground attack capability, apparently (I’ll not stir that hornets’ nest again).
We also get divisional fire support from the ubiquitous M109 (no fancy rounds though). Like the Abbot, a battery can have as many as 8 guns! Shame there is no more Mike Target!
Finally, we have the Aces High (right, that’s the only Iron Maiden pun you are getting. WWPD have you covered of you want more! :P) of the Army Air Corp Lynx and the RAF’s Harrier GR Mk.3. The Lynx packs a TOW missile punch ala the AH-1 Cobra but has no secondary weapons, making it similar to the PAH-1. The Harrier packs the BL-755 which has stats similar to the Tonadoes MW-1 system. Perhaps a tad generous? It’s a bigger sub munition but there are a lot less floating to ground. It also packs the Aden 30mm cannon for an anti-helicopter capability. It has the third and final new rule “jump-jet” – Harriers arrive on a 3+ rather than a 4+ making them slightly more likely to turn up to get shot down!
There are two scenarios – both putting the British on the defensive. One sees a Recce squadron conduct a fighting withdrawal – a fitting scenario. The other is a Chieftain heavy static defence with deep reserves. A third scenario is mentioned as coming soon on the web with rules for fighting all three on a single table. One for the bank holiday!
The scenarios look fun and the ones from the previous book have apparently been interesting (not had a chance to play any yet).
The Colour of War range gets yet another shade of green! Chieftain Green. The guides are useful (I wish they still have Vallejo equivalents) with a nice “osprey-esq” illustration of a British squaddie. Of interest is a Berlin-Brigade equipped Chieftain. No paints are mentioned but I wonder if this is foreshadowing a Berlin Brigade booklet list.
“Hey Jim, I’ve come up with a camo scheme that’s sole purpose is to make future wargamers break their brushes…”
Iron Maiden had a lot of expectations to meet and largely hits them. In Iron Maiden we get a NATO force that emphasises a defensive style of play and which presents a strong focus on Infantry. It will no doubt stir the still forming meta for Team Yankee.
It does have a few odd choices – the sheer quantity of MILAN available for example; although its entirely possible that Battalion would grant that support. I’m inclined to leave it to the Cold war Warriors to grumble about! But in general, the actual kit stats seem about right.
All in all, Iron Maiden is a great closer for a NATO heavy 2016. Let’s hope the Warsaw Pact entries for 2017 keep building on this game.
(* she is only partly named after the tank!)
(** I am torn on the MCT. On one hand, its good to see it as it is a neat looking thing! On the other, I think Team Yankee is going to work better when we have a fixed starting point in reality of what was in theatre on 1985. Bringing stuff forward, even if it is reasonable that some may be rushed out, starts a very slippery slope. Just my opinion).
EDIT – Fixed an error in the number of CVR(T) in the support company and calling a troop of tanks a platoon.