Today Mark takes a look at the exciting new Marine forces in the Stripes book.
I was somewhat surprised to see the USMC in Stripes. But I must admit I am hugely excited by their inclusion. While most people are aware that their likely tasks in WW3 would be support to Iceland and Norway, Team Yankee includes their presence on mainland Europe, via Denmark, quite nicely.
You get to play as the 2nd Marine Division which saw combat in WW2 and participated in the invasion of Grenada in 1983. By July 1985 they have been assigned to 2 MAF (Marine Amphibious Force) which is a Marine Air Ground Task Force containing 2 Marine Division and 2nd MAW (Marine Aircraft Wing).
In the Team Yankee story the Norwegians and British are successfully holding the Soviets ‘up north’ so 2 MAF are committed to assist with a NATO counter attack towards Bremen and Hamburg. Landing on the coast at Jutland they link up with West German and Danish forces and start to press forward.
In order to field the 2 MAF you get three different formations which we have a look at in detail now.
Marine Tank Company
The Marine tank company forms along the backbone of the venerable M60A1 Patton Tank with the following options:
As you can see the formation gives you a great deal of choice with affordable medium armour backed up by hard as nails infantry, powerful TOWS, a swiss army knife Scout Section and even some LAVs.
Maxing out all options in the formation gives you 17 M60s, a massive rifle platoon, 3 scout Humvees, 2 TOWS and 4 LAVS all for the cost of 90pts. Add in some Stingers and Harriers and I really think there is a viable 100pt force here.
Hq 2 x M60
5 x M60
5 x M60
5 x M60
4 x LAVs
2 x Humvee TOWs
3 x Humvees with an M2, MK19 and TOW
4 x Stinger
4 x Harriers
The huge plus for this force is that you can be rather smug and claim its completely balanced and un-gamey and importantly is ‘historically’ pure with all Marine units fighting in the fashion that they would have.
The list obviously has some advantages and disadvantages,
- You have 17 4+ to hit tanks that kick out ROF AT20 on the move!
- Great anti vehicle capability with enough AT20, AT21 and Harriers (AT6 hit top armour) to deal with BMP hordes (deal with BMP2s first!) and even T72 and T55 swarms.
- Massive mobility, this list is designed to attack, move fast and hit hard.
- A solid base of infantry (covered in more detail in the next section below). It can do everything but crack heavy armour from a distance, however it does pack SMAW teams to deal with heavies charging you.
- Its different to other forces you will currently see for NATO in Team Yankee; its a refreshing changing which will be fun to play or play against.
- The M60s are fragile. Don’t let FA15 fool you; AT21 missiles will rip them apart and both red and blue forces have them aplenty. You need to be crafty, use your movement orders and keep to cover. Remember, you have full ROF on the move so you can move from blocking LOS to blocking LOS before leaping out on mass to hot them with one massed salvo at a time of your choosing.
- Repeat after me…’dont assault with M60s’. With side armour 8 (not even bolstered by Bazooka Skirts!) and every man and his dog packing an RPG18 or LAW (minimum) it will not end well.
- This list will struggle vs infantry. With no templates for bombardmenFt and the Marine M60s not having the brutal rule, combined with the armour’s vulnerability to RPGs in an assault, means that it will be very hard to shift the big Soviet blobs and neigh on impossible to shift dug in British platoons. However, short of 3rd generation MBTs, there isn’t really anything that can.
Marine Rifle Company
The back bone of the US Marines is, of course, the humble marine rifleman. So it should be no surprise that Stripes allows you to field the rather potent Marine Rifle Company
As with the Tank Company you can build a nice balanced force just from the core units.
Hq 1 x M16 rifle stand
Full marine platoon with 9 stands (MGs and LAWs) plus 2 x Dragons, 1 x Mortar, 2 x SMAW
Full marine platoon with 9 stands (MGs and LAWs) plus 2 x Dragons, 2 x SMAW
Short (still massive!) marine platoon with 6 stands (MGs and LAWs) plus 1 x Dragons , 2 x SMAW
5 x M60s
6 x 50 Cal HMMWVs
2 x TOWs
2 x TOWS
4 x LAVs
All of this for a measly 72 pts with 8 pltns.
Support wise to get to 100pts I’d go with
4 x Stingers
4 x Cobras
4 x Harriers
3 x M109s
That’s a grand total of 12 platoons which is a frightening prospect for a ‘half on’ game. Lets look at the pros and cons;
- Well 12 Platoons is rather cheeky! It really is a swiss army knife of a list which can react to pretty much anything. Whatever you are facing you will have some sort of answer to.
- There are no expensive toys for enemy ATGMs and Tanks to blow up. Want to buy Storms and bags of AT21? Well, sorry. Wou just wasted your points!
- Double air is a big deal. Yes you need to attack together (Not hard with the Jump Jet rule), but double air allows you to alpha strike enemy AA with the Cobras (GTG before they fire) and then bring the pain with the Harriers to take on the BMP/BTR/T55 swarms. Also you will find the air a great little thing to have in your back pocket vs a Afghanski with all their Hinds especially as they will target your Stingers first.
- You have three, really big, platoons. The two large ones are pretty much the size of a medium Soviet platoon, but have actual skill and a 4+ to hit which is rather lovely.
This infantry can be aggressive. Remember deploy forward of the objective to keep the enemy out of 8″ of it. That way when defending on some mission you can win at turn 6.
- The Infantry packs the Shoulder-launched Multi-purpose Assault Weapon – the US answer to the Carl Gustav. This provides a point defence against assaulting enemy armour that will stop all but an ERA/Cobham equipped tank dead in its tracks. It can also bring the underwhelming M47 Dragon, M60 LMG and a 60mm light mortar that can drop a single FP4 shot out to 32″ on any PKM teams that may try and blunt an assault.
- Transports – sorry but the Marine Rifle Platoons only get two amphibious transports so you will not be tearing around the place in them. That means you do need to be careful with your deployment and be respectful of the humble MG if you start running around and going on the offensive (As you should, you are a Marine!!).
- You have somewhat of a vulnerability vs T64s. Now I don’t often say this because in most cases Soviet Armour is a no-go due to weight of Milan and TOWs – the dreaded AT21. However you don’t have that much, in fact 5 shots plus the Cobras. If you face a T64 heavy force (good news there won’t be that many), you will need to throw everything at them. Every AT21 shot goes on them. You may need to forget the anti AA Alpha strike, and just accept the enemy AA return fire, to get a few more kills on the T64s. If you can whittle them down enough then they will struggle in the assault (your SMAW is the last line of defence). If I was playing T64s vs anyone I would be assaulting very fast as that’s what they are there to do! You have to react faster.
- You don’t have anything mobile which is particularly survivable. Now that shouldn’t be a shock because you aren’t a heavy armour force; you are the Marines of 1985. But it does mean you need to be careful and make maximum use of cover. Remember the mantra, ‘The best armour is not getting hit’.
Marne LAV Company
The Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) Company is the reconnaissance force of the Marine lists. Its highly mobile, hard to hit and has a bit of a sting in the tail. Lets take a look;
What I like about the LAVs is that, like the HUMVEEs, they can do pretty much everything, with AT, Mortar and, shall we say, Vanilla LAV-25 varieties. Lets see what a full formation gets us
HQ 2 x LAV-25
4 x LAV25
4 x LAV25
4 x LAV25
4 x LAV TOW
2 x LAV M
All that for 22 pts, or to put it another way, with a little tweaking you could take 3 formations of that with this years offical BF Tournament points!
Keeping with our theme of basing forces around a formation, it’s obvious that we need to add another Marine Formation to this, to fill out its weakness. They key weakness is lack of anti tank and assault capability. Now if I wasn’t trying to be pure Marine, I would add an armoured Cav formation with some IPM1s. However, we are sticking with the leathernecks here so I am going to add in an M60 Formation with some integral Infantry.
HQ 2 x M60
5 x M60
4 x M60
4 x M60
2 x TOW Humvee
Marine Rifle Platoon with 9 MG/LAWs, 1 Dragon and 2 SMAW.
Support of 4 x Stinger
Okay, so 11 platoons ,allowing five on when ‘half on’ which is still rather nice, and gives flexibility versus different lists. However this list is designed to go on the attack!
- This army moves fast and stings hard. In missions where you have room to use spearhead you will be dominating the battlefield, taking key terrain ready to attack in force.
- The current ‘sexy meta’ is the BMP/Infantry swarm and this is a wonderful answer to it. The LAV-25 has ROF 3 AT8 which will slice them apart, allowing your M60s to then take on the bigger boys.
- Anti air is supplied by the ‘must take’ Stingers but also all the LAVs have the anti helicopter rule.
- Once you deal with the transport the sheer weight of shots this force puts out will slowly but surely close down a dug in Soviet blob and you have a brilliant massive rifle platoon to assault them once weakened.
- Its different. Honestly the UK Meta is so heavy on NATO infantry swarms and Soviet Infantry swarms that I would love to play this just to see something happen!
- The enemy has probably wasted 6-8 points on AA.
- As with all the Marine lists everything is rather glass hammer. You need to be clever, move fast and be decisive. Above all else, use cover.
- T64s will be struggle for this list, due to the lack of AT21 (6 shots). Its not the end of the world, if you are facing them you just need to be clever with your M60s which can easily crack them from the side. Also remember that you don’t have any high cost units to feed these expensive ROF1 tanks.
- Beyond your mobility you haven’t got much to reach out and touch the enemy back lines (Arty) however if you deal with the enemy OP and don’t sit still (why would you?) the Soviets will really struggle to range in on you.
For completeness here is the support options for the US and Marines. Most have been talked about from the 2nd Marine perspective but its worth pointing out you can take marine M109s.
Well there you have it. Three different Marine formations from the new Stripes book. As you can see each brings a host of options and you can easily build pure US Marine lists which will provide competitive and fun games. In my next article I will be looking at combining US forces to build more optimal tournament builds. In the mean time we have loads of other Stripes articles inbound so stay tuned!