80’s Heavy Metal

Lee takes a look at using “Big Battles with Leviathans” for WW3:Team Yankee


I’m goING to preface this article by pointing out that it‘s largely redundant.  Most gamers likely have worked out how to do high end tank battles without the need of defined rules (“Alan Wars” as my cohost Mike calls it).  This article is really here to provide guidance for those who want a codified system for more structured wargaming such as escalation leagues or tournaments.

That said, what is “80’s Heavy Metal”? 

It isn’t this:


Or this:

A braver editor would have allowed me to go with the South Park version…

It’s this:

At least when it’s not broken down…

Battlefront recently dropped “Late War Leviathans” into Flames of War to not only add the “Clash of Steel” experimental tanks/AFV into flames but also add a new method of playing by allowing larger point games whilst avoiding swarms of low end tanks.  This got me thinking as WW3:Team Yankee definitely favours mass over quality; an M1A1 is superior to a T-55, tank on tank, but struggles to defeat its point value of T-55 before they inevitably get a 100mm fin round into its flank.

Or, indeed, a T-72M steel fin round

So, how to take the frame work of “Late War Leviathans” and apply it to WW3: Team Yankee to allow a codified means of encouraging some hot high-end tank on tank action? 

What is the Team Yankee equivalent of a “Late War Leviathan”? “Heavy Metal”, if you well.

Generation Gap

So,what qualifies as “Heavy Metal”?  My initial thought was that tank generations may supply the answer.  Generations are always both somewhat nebulous and largely driven by BD/Marketing (see also: Lockheed Martin and the 5th gen fighter monopoly).  Tanks generally use the following definitions:
Gen 1 – Tanks designed during the closing stages of WW2 or immediately after.  Guns are typically 90-100mm.  Armour is just good old fashioned steel in quantity. Examples; Centurion, T-54/55, IS-3, M47.

Of course, some Gen 1s can keep up with the Gen 2’s with a bit of love!

Gen 2 – Tanks in the missile age.  Guns are typically a 105-115mm cannon, armour is either scant (better to be fast and not be hit) or have even more armour than the first gen.  Stabilisers start to become standard, as does NBC equipment and Infra-Red night fighting capabilities.  Examples; Leopard, T-62, M60. 

“Armour? We don’t need no stinking armour!” Leopard 1 design criteria or British WW2 Cruiser Tank doctrine?

The generation gap gets a bit murky here.  Is the T-62 really a Gen 2 or just a Gen 1 with a better gun, much like an upgraded Centurion?  Similarly, T-64, T-72 and, to a lesser-extent, the Chieftain fall into a 2.5 generation as they sport the 120mm guns and, in the case of the “T” tanks, early composite armour (BDD) that many would consider a hallmark of…

Gen 3 – Tanks enter the information age.  Guns are typically 120mm and almost all smoothbore (Britain clinging onto HESH-friendly rifled barrel longer than is healthy), combined with advanced multi-axis stabilisers and, more often than not, thermal sights.  Steel armour is assisted by advanced composite armour or explosive reactive armour, answering the missile threat of the last gen.  Examples include the M1 Abrams series (especially the A1 onwards), Leopard 2, Lerclerc and T-64BV/T-72B/T-80 ERA equipped tanks.

Honestly, I couldn’t be bothered to scroll through the media library till I got to the Leopard 2 so accept another ANZAC tank, the M1A1

In my first go at this, I figured I’d just limit the “Heavy Metal” tag to 3rd gens; tanks with a 120+mm main gun and either “ERA” or “Cobham” armour.  The problem was, that left whole books with no viable tank, especially the last v1 hold-out; “Oil Wars”. Only the Mk.2 Merkava met the criteria!

So, my second stab went with:

  • 105+mm main gun
  • Either FA15+ or “ERA” or “Cobham Armour” or “BDD Armour”

That places the ERA-equipped Centurion as the lightest tank in the “Heavy Metal” category (so on par with the T-44 in “Late War Leviathans”), along with M60’s , T-72M and Iranian Chieftains, although you would need three full formations to meet the minimum spend for a 80s Heavy Metal list!  Still it does provide inclusivity for all books, albeit not necessarily all nations. 

Using the second set of criteria, we get the following list. I’ve split the tanks into three categories. “Definitly Heavy Metal” meet my first set of criteria and are all proper gen 3 tanks.
“Glam Rock” meet my second criteria and are mostly gen 2.5 tanks. They shouldn’t cause any issues being included.
“Light Rock” meet my second criteria but are really there to widen the number of nations that can participate and may cause a swarm issue but certainly less than massed Gen 1 tanks! TO’s should think carefully before allowing these.

NATO (and Israel and Iran)
Definitly Heavy Metal – M1 Abrams family, Leopard 2, Leopard 2A5, Challenger, Challenger (ROMOR), Leclerc, Merkava Mk.2
Glam Rock – Merkava Mk.1, Chieftain with Stillbrew
Light Rock – M60, Chieftain, Centurion with ERA

Warsaw Pact (and Iraq/Syria and Finland)
Definitly Heavy Metal – T-80, T-72B, T-72FM2, T-64BV
Glam Rock – T-64, T-72
Light Rock – T-72M, T-72FM1

List Construction

As alluded to a paragraph ago, we lift the army selection rules for “Big games with Leviathans” from the PDF, albeit changing “Leviathan Units” to “Heavy Metal” units.  So, we need to spend 75% of our points on “Heavy Metal” Units, minefields are reduced in frequency and reserves must be a mix of “Heavy Metal” and non “Heavy Metal” units.  I’ve included the table from the PDF to guide points.

TO’s who really want to keep games to Gen 3 tanks may want to think of restricting forces to only a single formation but that will further limit the number of nations that can field a force to meet requirements, albeit the big four (USA, UK, USSR and West Germany) will all be able to field a force.

Example Lists

So, let’s put this to test with a US and Soviet list. 

The M1A1(HC) is a monster of a tank but rarely seen on the tabletop in 100pt games.  Let’s set the points limit to 150 Heavy Metal points and see what we get.

Two platoons of “HC” standard M1A1s plus a similar HQ is a lot of heavy metal, by tonne at least! We easily meet our 112pt minimum spend on “Heavy Metal” units.
We also have some mortars for smoke and anti-infantry/soft skin fire, backed up by infantry to hold ground or clear buildings and 6 Bradleys that can shred helicopters, light armour and even chuck some TOW2 downrange.

On to the Soviet side now.

I opted for mass, “Heavy Metal” style, with the T-64BV.  Sporting “Advanced Stabilisers” it can put the “pedal to the metal” to try and flank the depleted uranium enhanced front armour of the M1A1HC whilst doing their best to survive the incoming TOW2 and DU fin rounds through their Kontakt-1 ERA armour and numbers.  A Shock platoon of T-80 provides a hardy reserve, both through its enhanced Kontakt-5 ERA armour and being hit on 4s. 


Hopefully that provides some food for thought for burgenoing metal heads. If you give these rules a go then let me know how they go!

How Lee painted his ANZAC tanks will be covered in an article in the new couple weeks or so.

By the way, Lee has taken a look at Clash of Steel over on our youtube channel.

One thought on “80’s Heavy Metal

  1. Excellent article. Will definitely be giving these a try as we have opted to go Gen 3 tanks simply to keep the table less cluttered and bring down the unit count, so in our case T-80 Shock vs some force configuration using M1A1s (still likely the Cav). While we’ve managed to source pretty much everything we still have no infantry and decided to put scouring the internet for them on hold after BFs Dec ’23 announcement of new plastics for Soviet and US and a new 2 players starter with them (hopefully opposing mech company based) so it will be a while before we get round to testing these as everything TY went into the pending tray while we paint up 15mm ancients and FOW North Africa.

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