(Gonna take the time)Toto – Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had (ooh, ooh)
Nearly five years ago the Flames of War V4 tour of duty began, and it began in Africa. Since that first foray into Mid-War, we have seen 9 books, 3 booklets, a stand-alone 90th Light Division box set and five years of fun. Now, for 2022 Battlefront will release the first compilation book combining all of the armies that fought in the heat of North Africa and Sicily on a new 288 page Mid-War monster of a book.
The first thing to say is that, if like me you already have all of the lovely Mid-War books then this isn’t the volume for you unless a) you are a completionist or b) you are interested in the what-ifs of the Mid-War Monsters as they return as both new formations and, for the first time we have seen in anger, the Wildcard slot.
This really is a hefty tome and includes all of the forces, formations, units, painting guides and catalogues for the Mid-War forces, as well as the return of the Mid-War Monsters so if you have never dipped your toe into one of the most interesting and unique periods and theatres then this really is your one-stop-shop to do that.
Let’s look at each a nation and see what is new for 2022…
Germany – Afrika Korps
As you can see everything from the Flames of War V4 period that can be found in the new North Africa book. Notible new inclusions are:
- 15cm Bison Infantry Gun Platoon
- Tiger (P) Heavy Tank Platoon
So, no new formations for the Afrika Korps but a couple of new, shiny options to spice up your Mid-War German desert forces.
15cm Bison Infantry Gun Platoon
No idea why this wasn’t included as an option previously, and strange that it appears as a support option not as an in formation gun platoon but it is here and it is pretty good.
It is a point more than a comparible sized battery of 15cm (SF) Lorraine Schleppers and has a pip more Front Armour and better movement brackets across the board. It does however have a 15cm gun that has two less Anti-Tank but does have a moving rate of fire. There is definately some ups and downs there that make it a viable alternative to the Schleppers and I love it’s inclusion from a historical perspective. Thumbs up.
Tiger (P) Heavy Tank Platoon
And next our first Mid-War Monster – the Tiger (P). Exactly the same across the board with two small exceptions. Number one, you get a Cross 2+ rather than the standard 3+ and number two, your movement brackets are worse across the board. It’s an interesting inclusion that will be interesting to see on the table top but it’s not revolutionary for a German player.
Italy – Avanti
Like their Axis pals the Italians have all the options from those that appeared in the origianl Mid-War book and those found in the Death from Above supplement alongside a formation of P26/40 Heavy tanks and new additions for:
- P26/40 Heavy Tank
- Semovente (Long) SP Battery
- Semovente 90 Battery
P26/40 Heavy Tank Company
This formation has an exceptionally fluid composition and allows for some very interesting builds indeed. As a player who has always found the fighting in Italy itself fascinating I’m now hopeful to see some addtions to the later period too.
P26/40 Heavy Tank Platoon
Still underarmoured the “heavy” tank of the Italians, the P26/40, is at least bringing a gun that can threaten the Allies mainstay tanks. Should you take them on from the front? No. No you shouldn’t. But I does give you a viable alternative to just taking the M14/41.
Semovente (Long) SP Battery
From an incredibly selfish perspective, seeing as I have four of these already, I love the return of the Semovente 75/34 AKA the Semovente (Long) SP Battery. These long-barrelled 75mm armed self-propelled guns are a couple of points more than their short 75mm armed cousins but bring longer range and more Anti-Tank to the table-top. These punchy little fellows add some more mid-level Anti-Tank to the Italian arsenal.
Semovente 90 Battery
Strangely, for a unit that saw some service in 1943 on Sicily, we come to the Italian Wildcard entry in the form of the 90mm Semovente. Don’t be thinking of moving these too far, or too often, although if you are lucky enough to roll a veteran unit the Blitz and Shoot and Scoot on a 3+ is a nice ability. Front Armour 4, and 5 at range, is nothing to be sneezed at especially for a unit with a 40″ range.
Strangely you have no indirect fire capability and you need to be careful of opposing artillery fire but for for just a point more than a 90mm Lancia or 88mm gun they are definately an interesting choice. Note, that you must take a least two in a battery so be careful of losing any vehicles!
Britain – Armoured Fist
The choices available in the British protion are the compilation of the three previous volumes that cover the desert war period and up into Sicily and is a volume and a half of diverse options for you to play with. New inclusions are the Armoured Assault Squadron formation and units for:
- T14 Armoured Assault Troop
- Churchill GC 3-inch Gun Troop
- TOG 2″ Armoured Troop
- Boarhound Armoured Car Troop
Armoured Assault Squadron
The Armoured Assault Squandron is a spicy meatball of options but my goodness you better be playing a high points value game!
T14 Armoured Assault Troop
The T14 is a Sherman on steroids. The Front Armour 7 is only a pip more than it’s smaller cousin but it’s Side Armour 6 is bringing some serious stopping power. And it needs to. The points cost is WAAAY up there – more than the Churchill, but you have good movement, good armour, good gun, direct fire smoke, excellent Counter-Attack; all round it is very good indeed.
Churchill GC 3-inch Gun Troop
An option for one of the grey boxes in the formation is the Churchill GC 3-inch Gun Troop, and it is also a Wildcard option in the book. This beast is reminiscent of a Jadgtiger and brings an Anti-Tank 11 gun to the British arsenal combinded with a Front Armour 8 hull making it a nice mid-long range tank killer.
Troops of a single tank seem a nice option as the points quickly stack up and on the surface it seems to be a bit of a jack-of-all-trades option. The gun is good but not stellar. The range is good but not stellar. Bit of a puzzler this one.
TOG 2″ Armoured Troop
The TOG is another Wildcard unit available to the British forces and brings with it the hitting power of the 17pdr. At Anti-Tank 12 it is threatening a Tiger to the front at normal range and still has a chance at over 16″ away.
For the same points as a British Sherman you get access to that bigger gun, but lose direct fire smoke, a Front Armour that is slightly worse than Detroit’s Finest but a better Side Armour. If, and it is a BIG IF as you are criminally slow, you can get into an Assualt you can definately shift some infantry – even if that infantry is in terrain. A very interesting, and viable unit.
Boarhound Armoured Car Troop
A Spearhead unit gone wild – the Boarhound is reasonably well protected with a decent 57mm gun but it is costly because of it. Like the Late War German Puma, the Boarhound *can* take on medium tanks but it really shouldn’t. Front Armour 4 is enough to bully other recce and light armour but you really can’t stand toe-to-toe with anything touting a long 5cm or any 7.5cm gun.
To take advantage of your gun you really need to Dash into a good postion and then remain stationary to lay down the maximum number of potential hits you are getting. I think you really have to want to take the Boarhound as you can nearly get three Honeys for each Boarhound, that means a Honey formation for the cost of a full troop of them.
United States of America – Fighting First
The American forces of Mid-War are reinforced with the M27 Tank Company and T14 Assault Tank Company formations and Wildcard units for the M6 Heavy Tank and the T55 Tank Destroyers. Plenty of food for thought alongside the units making their way into the book from the All American booklet. New units are:
- T14 Assault Tank Platoon
- M4 Sherman Assault Tank Platoon
- M6 Heavy Tank Platoon
- T55 Tank Destroyer Platoon
M27 Tank Company
Much like the other tank formations you have access too the M27 takes the same structure and includes all the support options you are likely to need.
M27 Tank Platoon
Essentially a 76mm armed Sherman in Mid-War… yes please! Front Armour 7 and 2 moving Anti-Tank 12 shots is amazing and should be rightly feared by all but the biggest of big cats. The downside is that you will need to make those shots count as there won’t be many of you in the platoon, or formation. Three M27 tanks, which is really where you need to be, is the same as a platoon of four Shermans with 75mm – it is not a “no brainer” and that I like.
T14 Assault Tank Company
The T14 appears again here in a similar guise to the British but I like the formation that the US have access too. The standard armoured support units give it some flexiblity and staying power meaning that you could, in theory, only take the formation units and not really feel like you are cheating yourself.
T14 Assault Tank Platoon
Here the T14 reappears but in the form of a US tank and this does make a difference. You are more easily hit and importantly, for an assault tanks perspective, you only hit in Assault on a 5+. You should stick in the fight but you aren’t going to shift stuff very quickly or easily. You are able to take bigger platoons but if you want 5 of these monsters then be prepared to commit around half your points.
M4 Sherman Assault Tank Platoon
Now, then – who likes the way that Mistaken Target and the Jumbo works in Late War? Well now you can do something similar in Mid-War with the M4 Sherman Assault Tank Platoon. Including a T14 and 2 or 3 regular Shermans is much more economically viable from a points perspective and it gives you that potential to move hits around the platoon depending on what is shooting you.
M6 Heavy Tank Platoon
The M6 is truly a nightmare on tracks – main 3″ gun with a coax 37mm gun, .50cal machineguns coming out of the wazoo and armour that can match the feared Tiger nearly pound-for-pound. What it lacks in sublty it makes up for in sheer unearthly grunt. I would say that this issue here is points; it is not. Platoons of a single tank are a little more than two Shermans. The M6 50 tonnes of impossible to ignore.
T55 Interceptor Tank Destroyer Platoon
Whilst the US was not really interested in the Boarhound they were at using the chassis to mount an impressive 3″ gun in this, the last, of the US Wildcard entries. Cheaper than the comparibly armed M10 the T55 is a very interesting option but looking at its stats you absolutely have to kill whatever you are shooting at before it returns fire or, heaven forbid gets the drop on you! Is Hit On 3+ with a Front Armour of 0 (zero) is a recipe for disaster but saying that it is still armour! If you need to shave some points then you can include a platoon of 4 for less points than a platoon of 3 M10 tank destroyers so as an ambushing unit I do see some potential here.
So, there we have it a comprehensive compendium for all of the forces for fighting in the desert and Sicily for 1941-1942 with an added twist of the return of some What-Ifs. For the gamer who missed the Mid-War at the start of V4 this is an excellent books and will give you everything you need to experience the unique forces and enviroment that North Africa and the Mediterrean have to offer.
To compliment this there are new starter sets coming out of each of the four main protagonists and that is something else all together for us to collectively drool over…
Until next time…