In the last article we looked at each element of the 4th Mechanized Brigade, noting that the force consisted of two formations, one with Leopard C1 tanks and one with m113 mounted infantry, plus a range of Canadian support, plus allied support from the US or Germans. In this article we will take those elements and create some formations to tackle various battlefield scenarios. I will assume an 85pt tournament limit, but I’ll also address the 64pt 2018 official limit and some thoughts on the 50pt small force game. It should also be noted that I will be assuming a red vs blue scenario too.
I noted that the Canadians have possibly the best Leopard 1 formation in the game. The Canadian C1 versions marries the extra hitting power of “brutal” with well-trained crew of adequate motivation. Additionally, its formation allows many Leopard 1 to be taken, including a 3 tank HQ troop, whilst also allowing infantry to be taken without impacting total tank numbers, another boon.
Given these capabilities it would be rude not to look at creating a formation to take advantage of all these features. The obvious starting point is to shove as many leopard in an 85pt list as possible!
85pt Armoured Force
A fully maxed out three-tank HQ and all four platoons sporting four C1’s burns through just under three quarters of our points.
From there I want to make sure I have the other essential food groups of Infantry, anti-air and artillery. Recce is also handy for the spearhead move. A full-strength infantry platoon and a Lynx patrol rounds out the formation and ticks two of the boxes. A four strong ADATS platoon gives me a hefty anti-air capability with a secondary anti-tank capability so I don’t bother using the formation’s TOW platoon. But, with a handful of points left I’m unable to secure any artillery support.
I instead double down on protection from the biggest threat to tanks after ATGW – a leaf blower list! I can just squeeze in a half battery of Blowpipes. That’s going to give an extra six shots in the air should a gaggle of Hinds and Frogfoots turn up. It also gives us a nice even platoon count of eight, plus the HQ unit.
The strength of this army is the number of brutal shots it puts out – thirty eight if all tanks are present. That’s going to shred a company of BMP-2 *and* the infantry inside. I would expect most Soviet players will avoid that occurring by dismounting and avoiding any free infantry kills for NATO, but that makes the enemy sing to our tune.
The weaknesses, as ever, are massed enemy ATGW, massed enemy air and enemy MBT. Whilst the Leopards can overwhelm a single platoon of T-64, massed enemy armour is going to require some really good order rolls and some luck on the anti-tank rolls too. You can’t afford to get in a long-range fire slog versus tanks or ATGW because you will lose – even with ADTS helping. You need to stay out of sight and, with no smoke barrages, that can be at the whim of the table.
Massed enemy air will overwhelm all but the strongest air defence. I can easily demolish two air company but a leaf blower will have another two left standing to ensure my anti-air is forever silent afterwards. Still, it’s a bigger dent that some forces can put out.
The big concern in any of these match ups is the Leopards being hit (inevitably brewing up) and the Infantry being over-run (especially in missions like Breakthough). If the terrain is light then our big advantages of mobility and command are neutralized and it will favour who ever can pull-off long range fire best (hint, not us). We need to utilize any tree line or wood to hide behind until we choose to pop forward and fire, maximizing the shots on one company to annihilate it.
64 pt Armoured Force
I’ll admit there’s a temptation to double down on tanks and keep all 19 Leopard, plus a solitary platoon of Lynx to round out the 64pts. But that leaves us short of anti-air (Hinds are cheap) and any infantry to hold ground or clear out urban areas (though “Brutal” will help).
We sacrifice a tank troop and a tank from the HQ troop and third troop to give us some points to play with. That affords us a full strength infantry platoon, an extra Lynx to help us position our own forces and allows us to retain the ADATS to provide anti-air or top-end AT support. We still have thirteen tanks (as many as a full strength West German Kompagnie!) to put out a large volume of fire to shred BMP and threaten heavier armour with some clever positioning. I opted to have a two tank HQ for resilience but you could trade off a 1 tank HQ troop and bring all three troops to 4 tanks; the sums are the same.
If going all armour is a little too risk then combined arms is always an option and we don’t have to sacrifice much armour to do it.
85pt Combined Arms Force
We are going to switch to a two formation list; One tank formation, one infantry formation. The tank formation loses a HQ tank, one troop of tanks, and it gives up its infantry; who now form one of the infantry formation’s core choices. The infantry formation uses the gained platoon and the points saved to get a second infantry platoon, HQ, four M125 mortar carriers and two full strength TOW platoons to partly restore the firepower we lost. We gain an OP, still keep ADATS, but we lose the Blowpipes.
The end result is a more rounded force that lends itself to the defensive with its two large infantry squads and TOW missiles, but can still go on the attack thanks to the 14 Leopards (one more tank than its West German counterpart!) and mechanized nature of the infantry.
The list partly addresses the other lists’ weaknesses. It is better versus ATGW by dint of having smoke to screen and HE to suppress (dismounted Spigot teams, at least), as well as the TOW to reach out along with the ADATS. The TOW and ADATS also help deal with MBT by giving a stronger long range base to hit enemy MBT whilst the Leopard maneuverer to the flanks.
The list is, at best, neutral versus leaf blowers. Its trading six guided AA shots for six, less likely to hit and only good versus helicopters, guided missile shots. However, Leafblowers struggle to deal with big, dug in, NATO infantry platoons so it’s probably a bit of a tie on that one.
64pts Combined Arms Force
The 64pt force uses the same twin formation format as the larger version, and essentially keeps the same core and support. We lose one troop of Leopard 1 and the two troops so suffer some loss of anti-tank, but still bring ten Leopard 1 to the table, backed up by two large platoons and a half battery of mortars. This force should be a bit more resilient in the face of massed Soviet infantry and IFV.
The 50pt game
Fifty points is not much, but we can still bring ten Leopards to the table!
Given 50pts is a common starting point for escalation points I wanted to keep the force from introducing anything that wouldn’t be of use for all four lists above. The common denominators through all the lists amounted to:
- Ten Leopards
- Two Lynx
- One Infantry Platoon
- Four ADATS
That came to…52 points. I dropped the infantry to a smaller platoon (still bigger than a West German Marder platoon) and that left us with this:
The shopping list is:
- 2 x TNBX01 “NATO Leopard Tank Platoon (x5 Plastic)” @ £30 each
- 1 x TCBX02 “M113 Platoon (x5 Plastic)” @ £30 each
- 1 x TCA300 “Lynx Recce Patrol (x2)” @ £16.50 each
- 2 x TCBX01 “ADATS Platoon (x2)” @ £16.50 each
- 1 x TCA702 “Mechanised Platoon (x32 Figures” @ 11.50 each
For a total of £150 RRP. That’s a hefty sum for fifty points but its generally two thirds of the cost of each list variant so we’re taking some pain early on.
Fun With Friends – redux
There are certainly other combinations, using US and West Germans, that are worth exploring, even as intermediate steps to use existing forces whilst new Canadian troops are painted.
One of my early concerns with the 85pt armoured force was the lack of artillery support. Sadly the Armoured Squadrons lack the cheap mortar unit on the mechanised infantry and the Canadian M109 is not more attractive than any other non-US M109 option. The obvious answer was to use a bit of “Vorsprung durch Technik” and take the West German LARS system.
A full strength LARS platoon with mines is the same cost as a medium strength Canadian M109 battery but the salvo template and minelets really gives a bit more for the enemy to worry about, even if at the cost of outright firepower. The force had no blowpipes and one less HQ tank.
In the end I decide the extra anti-air punch of the Blowpipes was of more use. However, I already have a LARS platoon for my West Germans so its not a bad intermediate step as I build the force up (one less thing to paint!)
Another one of my musings was the cheapest way to get from 50pts to 85pts. Heavy MBT pack a pretty hefty advantage in the points/£. The Leopard 2 is one of the best NATO MBT in the game and comes at a point-eating premium.
Dropping a three strong Zug and upping the infantry platoon to full strength instantly got my 50pt list to 85pts! Again, it has the advantage that it’s an already painted unit!
Of course, the US have somewhat edged in on the Leopard 2’s “best in class” crown with the IPM1. It may still only AT20 compared to AT22 and lower in skill and morale, but its packing a load of armour and can pretty much laugh off a BMP-2 company’s fire.
If we drop one tank from the HQ troop (making it a single tank troop), we can afford to increase the infantry platoon to full strength and add a four-strong platoon of IPM1. That’s a lot of mobile, well protected firepower!
I think all the lists have potential in their weight classes. I probably lean to the “Armoured” forces that maximise the tanks as an “all or nothing” approach that still has aspects of combined arms. I’ll certainly be interested in seeing what everyone does with the Canadians going forward. Certainly Ben has come back from Gaming Expo with an arm full of ADATS and Lynx and Leopard 1s!