Today Mark takes a look at the two US Artillery options in ‘Fighting First’
Boom Boom Boom
The US has had quite the reputation in FOW when it comes to artillery. It’s time on target (TOT) was the fear of every army in V3 with the ability to force the enemy to re-roll saves if they ranged in during the first attempt. Combined with the higher arty AT in V3 they were fantastic at popping tanks. With the move to V4, TOT is still with us but it doesn’t work versus tanks. However, with the new ranged in rules, artillery is the bane of infantry and guns and it’s a brave (or foolish) player who leaves home without some.
Ignoring the mortars (which isn’t proper arty!) the US get 2 options; the 105mm field battery and the M7 priest battery. Let’s take a look at them more closely.
105mm Field Artillery Battery
The humble 105mm Battery is the staple of the US army and would serve on all fronts and remains fairly unchanged even today.
Firstly model wise, the BF set comes with 4 guns and a set of flexible plastic crew. While this isn’t a review article, I will point out that these new flexible plastics are better than the British sets which had some issues. However I feel they are less sharp than their metal predecessors (although they have survived a fall which is nice).
Just like the Priest the 105mm has AT 3 (same as the 25pdr) and FP 3+ (vs 4+ on the 25pdr). This fire power makes it an anti infantry/gun beast once ranged in. However the draw back versus the 25pdr is that it’s direct fire is only ROF1. While this makes it a worse as an anti tank gun, it’s worth pointing out that a 105mm is a brutal gun so forces guns and infantry to re-roll saves in direct fire.
Points wise, a battery of four will set you back 10pts, which is fairly cheap, and easily included in most armies. The reason it’s so cheap is that the guns are hit on a 3+ and have a morale and skill of only 4+. This makes a big difference compared to their British and German counter parts.
The key disadvantage of the field battery is the mobility. Once you plonk this down on the board it isn’t going to go far (max 4 inches) and even then only at dash which negates it’s gun shield. Therefore it’s not something you are likely to want in reserve and must be carefully considered for deployment. Personnelly I like it just behind my infantry guarding an objective so it can supply defensive fire vs a cheeky Armoured Assault.
- Concealed in the open when dig in.
- Has a 4+ save against all threats.
- Has to be reduced to half strength before you fire a 2 gun battery.
- Larger foot print means more lines of observation
- Vulnerable to being pinned.
- Pretty much static.
- Hard to hide.
M7 Priest Battery
Utilising the same 105mm gun but planted on the armoured chassis of a medium tank, the M7 is the US’s self propelled offering. The gun has exactly the same stats and the unit the same morale, skill and to hit, as the towed gun. However the key thing here is mobility and a degree of survivability.
The model is also in plastic by Battlefront and like the field battery comes with the flexible plastic crew, in only 2 poses.
While the battery only costs 11pts, so 1 more than the field battery, you only get 3 guns. Now for me that’s really risky. When I buy arty I want it to kill things, but I am a realist and accept that I will take loses. The issues is that if you lose a single M7 you now have to start re-rolling to hit during a barrage. The trade off is that you gun is now very mobile and the vehicle also has FA3 so is immune to small arms and has a fair chance versus AT7 guns at long range. The smaller size of the units does make these a lot easier to hide, especially if you want to get it into a wood (as you can in v4).
I am just not that convinced about using a ROF1 “slow firing” gun (so plus 1 to hit on the move) as tank, infantry or gun hunters. It’s seems a rather desperate move and not effective for the points. Remember you can get a small ARP for 12pts that kicks out a FP4+ bombardment and has bazookas and halftracks as well as infantry.
A little added extra that really is worth considering though is the .50 cal that each one gets. It’s a threat to aircraft (not a lot but better than nothing). It’s also a nice weapon for keeping lightly armed recce units honest.
Finally a key thing to remember is that a Priest battery can not be pinned.
- 50.cal AA
- Cant be pinned
- Immune to small arms
- Easy to hide
- Only 1 death away from a 2 gun battery.
- 1pt more expensive
For me the Priest just pulls ahead for my play style. I want a battery that can deliver a powerful arty barrage but when backed up against a wall can help out in other situations. As I say I’m not convinced about rolling Priests up as direct fire, however when holding the line they can be a mobile threat that might just add some defensive fire when you need it or allow a cheeky flank shot, especially with a successful blitz move. As I don’t take AA due to the ineffectiveness of it for the points the .50 cals are a great addition and something that I would want around.