Today Lee takes a look at the “WWIII:TY – American” book.
When Team Yankee came out, I went quite heavy on the US stuff, then largely never did anything with it as my West Germans, then East Germans took my attention. I almost got going again with Stripes but, again, it didn’t quite catch. I think the issue was clear.
I needed an excuse to paint Americans in Gulf War desert tan. Well, it looks like the time is here.
Firstly, what has changed for the units that were already in Stripes?
Everything that was available still is, so nobody’s armies are invalidated, keeping in line with the general policy of the US books.
How they do change is in the introduction of the new goodies like the M3 Bradley Scout as an option along with the M113/M901 scouts, the M1A1 along with the M60 and M1, and the M2 Infantry platoon along with the M113 one. The exception to this is that the M60 Combat Team and M113 Armoured Cavalry Troop don’t get access to the M1A1 or the Bradley, in formation.
Next is the introduction of the BGM-71C TOW2. This was the latest version of the TOW family as the likes of Bradley reached the front, sporting a larger single warhead and improved guidance over the earlier I-TOW. Generally everything that had ITOW, such as M901, now has a slightly more expensive version with the TOW2, boosting its AT to 23. Handy with T-80 on the horizon! There is a catch; if anything in your army uses TOW2 then everything with a TOW system must have TOW2. Putting in a section of M3 Bradley for scout duties can suddenly incur a lot of hidden cost!
So that’s the old, what about the new?
We have six new formations, three in the existing 1st Armoured Division plus three for the newly introduced 9th “Hi-Tech” Infantry Division.
The Ironsides new formations are basically variations on a theme:
- An M1A1 formation that follows the template of the revised M1 formation, but with the fearsome new M1A1 and the “it costs how much???” beast that is the M1A1HC. The latest version of the M1 combines the armour, mobility and gadgets of the M1IP but combines it with the same 120mm as the Leopard 2, bolstered by a Depleted Uranium fin round that boosts the AT over its German counterpart to AT23.
The HC reflects the most numerous Gulf War example that takes all that and adds layers of depleted uranium to the armour matrix making it the hardest tank in the game but also the costliest!
- The M2 Mechanised Formation takes the mechanised infantry out of their M113 and into the M2 Bradley. The formation follows the pattern of the M113 one, giving it in formation armour and recce but losing the dedicated anti tank of the M901 sections as every IFV has a TOW launcher anyway!
The Infantry Platoons loses the option of an additional Dragon but gain a mount that sports a 25mm anti-helicopter stabilised autocannon and a TOW2 launcher so its seems moot! The M2 Bradley can be uparmoured which improves its front and side armour vs solid shot and dramatically improves it vs HEAT rounds. This all adds up and a Bradley platoon is over twice the cost of the M113 equivalent.
- The final Ironsides addition is the M3 Armoured Cavalry formation. This again follows the patter of the M113/M901 version but swaps out the aged M113 chassis for the M3 Bradley. It also loses the option to take M60 tanks information. It should be noted that both flavours of Cavalry gain the option of taking the AH-64 Apache in place of the Cobras in formation. More on that later!
The other new formations all belong to the 9th “Hi-Tech” Infantry Division. This formation was formed to experiment with the concept of motorised infantry; infantry equipped with light vehicles to be deployable as light infantry but as mobile as mechanised infantry, making use of the HUMVEE and its variants. In game this manifests as platoons made up of moderately large infantry platoon of six SAW teams, three Dragon teams plus an M60 LMG team, plus TEN M60 toting HUMVEE to carry them around.
Interestingly, the units of the 9th Infantry Division are all skill 3+ (2+ on the HQ), a step up from everything else in the book. This will let them use the orders to better ability, essential for their lightly armoured tin cans.
The attack battalions did experiment with light framed dune buggies but they were quickly replaced with HUMVEE too. These manifest as platoon of four Humvee armed with a mix of M2 0.50 HMG, 7.62mm machine guns and 40mm automatic grenade launchers. The 7.62mm Minigun puts out a lot of dakka.
They are also joined by a third element, a light tank company.
The US has had a long and complex relationship with light tanks. By the 80s this had manifested in brief interest in AAI corporations “Rapid Deployment Force, Light Tank” prototype that sported, at one point, a rapid fire high velocity 75mm that, somewhat optimistically, would put five rounds on the same spot of an enemy tank, burrowing through. The same gun was also experimented on a Sheridan chassis with an elevating gun mount.
in the end, army bureaucracy wasn’t interested in a light tank that didn’t have the same gun as a MBT so the project never went anywhere. In the TY universe, this apparently wasn’t the case and the 9th was able to receive enough light tanks to put them in formation. This creates a moderately fast glass cannon, with fragile armour but a cannon that can defeat most the 2nd rate Soviet tanks frontally, and the first rate stuff like the T-64 and T-80 from the flank. It also has “hammerhead” (somewhat bizarrely taking the guns trait from an entirely different concept to the model depicted), allowing it to mitigate its armour with the best armour available, not being hit.
The formations themselves pack in two to three of the core unit, plus one each of the two units, plus a recce unit (four HUMVEE with a mix of weapons including one TOW) and, except for the RDF/LT formation, a fire support unit (four TOW armed HUMVEE). Whilst they can’t rival the HUMVEE Light Divisional Cavalry Squadron for sheer number of TOW (or TOW2) rounds it can put down range, it is more versatile. And hey, they are both cheap enough that you could combine them together and go with an army of HUMVEE!
The Marines don’t have access to any new units in the formations but do get access to TOW2, making theLAV formation and its four strong AT platoon only more attractive, and now can benefit from the Formation Support rule to get Army support without needing whole extra formations. Sadly the USMC M1A1 can only be achieved by “count as” of a US Army one by this route as it is not present as an option in the book, a bit of a missed opportunity given one unit had them in the Gulf!
New Support Units
Talking of support units, what the Marines do get is the LAV-AD. In reality this was a 90s program that only saw 19 units delivered before the US forces got bored of Short Range Air Defence (SHORAD) and instead relied on air dominance to do the job. In the TY universe, the USMC gets on board with it much quicker!
The LAV AD takes the LAV chassis and adds a new turret that packs the 25mm gatling gun from the AV-8B in, along with tracking equipment and a pair of Stinger missile pods, looking all the world like the US Military Industrial Complex had a copy of Battletech manuals nearby for inspiration! The LAV-AD packs a heavier gun punch than the VADS; in range anti-tank and rate of fire, whilst still having the ability to deal with ranged air threats.
The LAV-AD box is written such that the two weapon systems are options rather than two discrete systems so you can only fire one and can’t do a sneaky trick of firing one system in the owners turn, then the other in the opponents. The only real downer is that LAV AD shares the same box as the Stinger teams which is a bit of hit for those wanting to do a pure USMC army as you remain with only one SHORAD option. As always, the rules don’t prevent a US Army player taking USMC support so expect to see it appear in US Army based forces too.
The other new support option (but also a formation asset for the Cavalry) is the AH-64 Apache. This is as devastating an attack helicopter as the game has seen, sporting a 4+ save along with Hunter Killer and a 64″ range AT 25 missile attack. It also has rockets and a gun (with a shorter range than the AH-1 20mm which is a little weird when it has a 1.5km range) but these are very much secondary systems. It will be interesting to see if the 4+ save and AT25 pays off the premium over the TOW2 version of the Cobra. The appearance of the T-80 will probably be key to that!
The US Forces also gain the MLRS, introduced in the British book. There’s no mechanical difference between the British and US versions, except skill 4+ on the US and, oddly, its the same points.
And the Rest…
The lists are followed by a five page spread on the Gulf War, covering the deployment, major battles, a two page map and a one pager on the M1A1(HC).
Then we have the scenarios and the painting guide from Stripes. Sadly there are no new scenarios to use the new units, nor a painting guide for US in the Gulf, which is a bit of a missed opportunity in both regards, but not a deal breaker given all the new list comment and the ability to use other forces for the scenario.
Finally we have the catalogue pages. The only think if note here is that the A-10 does not appear to have a new plastic model.
The book throws a lot of new content at the players but it, or the unit card pack, is still a worthwhile addition for the established player wanting to stay in 1985, if only for the long awaited Bradleys. Those willing to embrace the alternative timeline of TY will find much to experiment with with the the light formations and the Gulf War era kit too. It would have been nice to see the USMC get some more love with their own M1A1 support and not just have one USMC SHORAD box but its the only real omissions when it comes to tying the new toys in.
I’ve been busily planning what to do with the pile of unpainted US toys sitting in a shoebox on the shelf and we’ll be looking at that. and other ideas, over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!