Animus in consulendo liber (Latin: “A mind unfettered in deliberation”)Roman historian Sallust
You wait ages for a WW3:Team Yankee book and then two come in a matter of months! WW3:NATO Forces follows hot on the heels of Nordic Forces and brings the Team Yankee “Free Nations” book up to v2 standards whilst also adding some new units and formations. Let’s take a look.
The Red Dawn book opened up a new front with an amphibious and airborne invasion of the Canadian Western Seaboard. WW3:NATO Forces picks up on this and expands the Canadians to cover not only the forces in Europe with CENTAG but also the Canadian Force Mobile Command on the home front.
The book has a single force diagram for Canada but does go to the effort of explaining which forces belong on which front so players can choose to embrace the theming or just make a combined force.
The theming also extended to the built in allied support; the Canadians always had in-build US and German support for CENTAG but this is now joined by British support from British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS), giving a good excuse to paint some Chieftains or Challengers in BATUS camo! Whilst I can take or leave the whole “Invasion USA” plot line, I do appreciate the effort that has been given to theme the Canadians appropriately.
In terms of CENTAG formations, the existing Leopard C1 Armoured Squadron and M113 Infantry Company are joined by a new Leopard 2 Armoured Squadron, the Canadians acquiring Leopard 2A4 to replace C1 losses as the Germans re-equip with the new Leopard 2A5. The Canadian Leopard 2A4 is slightly cheaper than the West German version, being only confident rather than fearless but otherwise is no different to the German original. In reality Canada didn’t acquire the leopard 2 until 2007 so purist will no doubt prefer to stick with the leopard C1, but the option is there.
In addition to the new Leopard 2 formation, the CENTAG forces also gain some new unit options in their formations.
The M150 TOW is joined by its replacement, the M113 “TOW Under Armour” or TUA. This is basically the same vehicle as we have seen in the Nordic forces book, the NM142. Introduced in 1988 it gives the Canadians a Hammerhead TOW launcher with the capability of firing TOW2, bolstering the AT capability of the Canadians. It also has a top armour of 1 so its less likely to die to a mortar barrage!
The other new unit is the Coyote recce vehicle. Introduced in the mid 90s as a replacement for the Lynx and effectively a Canadian version of the MOWAG Piranha II LAV-25 used by the USMC, the 25mm autocannon provides more punch than a .50 but the wheeled chassis limits terrain mobility and armour.
The final new addition for the CENTAG Canadians is the Eryx missile. Much like the TUA, we already saw this in the Norwegians and is a a wire guided missile introduced in the early 90s. Canadian Infantry can swap all the Carl Gustavs in a platoon for the Eryx missile. It packs a hefty punch; a AT24 Tandem Warhead out to 16″ with no minimum range. However it pays for this by having no moving RoF (so can’t be used when pinned), nor can it be used in an assault after the initial defensive fire. I like this as its not a no-brainer upgrade over the Carl Gustav.
Meanwhile, at home…
With the heavy armour in Europe, all that’s left on the home front are quick reaction forces like the Canadian Airborne Regiment, plus armour and mechanised infantry battalions in wheeled units with amusing names like the Cougar and Grizzly (kids, ask your parents).
There are four formations, two “armoured” squadrons with wheeled fire support vehicles, a wheeled mechanised infantry formation and an airborne formation
The “armoured” squadrons ape the Leopard formations in organisation but replace the tanks with either the six wheeled, 76mm armed Cougar or the eight wheeled, 25mm armed Coyote. These units are fielded in units of three-four vehicles but lack the spearhead and scout of the recce versions (of the Coyote at least). using the same turret as a Scorpion, the Cougar is surprisingly punchy, It doesn’t suffer from sneak and peak like a Scorpion does, but does suffer in terrain with its six wheel design compared to tracks.
The Grizzly mechanized company mimics the M113 mechanized company, replacing the M113 with the wheeled Grizzly and the TOW MUA with the wheeled Iltis TOW section (the M150 remains an option). The Grizzly uses the same chassis as the Cougar but replaces the Scorpion turret with a smaller one armed with a 0.50 and coaxial 7.62mm, plus a troop carrying capability. The Infantry inside have only one Carl Gustav team, the other two teams swapped out for more SAW teams, but can upgrade it to an Eryx missile team.
The Canadian Airborne have the “Airborne” rule, allowing them to conduct air assaults.
They combine large Huey helicopter-borne infantry platoons with man-packed fire support in the form of 0.50 HMG and 81mm mortars (up to eight teams of each!) and Iltis recce and TOW section. The Iltis is a jeep like Volkswagon that sports either a 7.62mm MG for recce, or an ITOW for AT work. Both come in sections of two, with up to three sections each providing some fragile but necessary fire and recce support on air landings
There is only one new addition to the Canadian support; we get the option of long-barrelled M109 to join the existing short barrelled ones. These join the M113 mounted Blowpipe MAMPADS and the ADATS dual role missile system.
The NATO support to Canada has been expanded. The US can now provide M1A1 Abrams and AH-64 apache support and the West Germans have added Leopard 1, M113 mounted Panzergrenadiers and MLRS to their support. These can be taken with CENTAG and also for the Canadian based forces as the US provide cross-border support (till the Texas invasion) and West Germany, like Britain, has a training cadre in-country.
Talking of in-country training cadres, BATUS provides the Canadians ochre-streaked Challengers and Chieftains, FV432 and Warrior mounted infantry, plus Lynx and Harrier support.
As ever, the Canadians represent a great way to expand from an existing NATO force, using an existing West German, US or British force to provide support to a growing Canadian force.
The French army in Team Yankee certainly had its fans. The AMX-30 left little to right home about the the AMX-10RC armoured cars and VAB mounted infantry had its fans whilst the gun-slinging Gazelle 20mm gave many a Soviet air defence gunner an untimely end. The French were also an odd mix of soft stats. Veteran but average in assaults (something we saw with the Nordic forces too), fearless but not willing to stick around.
French Heavy Metal
The new book builds on the existing force and adds some new elements. The star of the show is the Leclerc MBT. A 3rd generation tank, contemporary to the late 90s tanks like Leopard 2A5, the Leclerc combines superb mobility with composite armour and an auto-loading, fully stabilised 120mm main gun with a co-axial .50! It can match the M1A1 for direct fire and stop a shot from the front as well as a Leo 2A5 but does drop off on the side armour resistance. It does pay for this, a unit of three are more expensive than the equivalent Leopard 2A5 platoon and, whilst a unit of two is close a one-drop reserve in 100pts, a 5+ last stand makes it a dicey proposition if the enemy somehow bails one. Thankfully you can take a platoon of AMX-30 as a compulsory platoon to get close to a viable formation.
The AMX-10P Compagnie De Chasseurs makes a few gains. Firstly its fourth platoon can now be another infantry platoon, a platoon of AMX-30 or a platoon of Leclercs.
Secondly, the infantry platoons themselves new toys. The 89mm LRAC anti-tank teams can now be replaced by APILAS teams or Eryx teams (though you cant mix). This is a tough call, The Eryx has more punch but the APILAS is no slouch at AT21, can still fire whilst pinned and fight as an APILAS team in assaults.
Additionally the MILAN teams can now be MILAN2 teams. These gain Thermal sights and an AT of 24, but do double the cost.
Someone stop the Cavalry
Those hoping for Gulf War era up-armoured AMX-30 and AMX-10RC will be disappointed; these units stay the same. However, the Escadron De Cavalerie do gain something, an almost doubling of its formation size as the VBL Patrouille D’Eclairage De Cavalerie joins the show. It can also have both a supporting VAB infantry platoon and a fourth AMX-10RC troop; its not a choice anymore.
The VBL Patrouille D’Eclairage De Cavalerie is a unit of three light armoured car that are relatively agile over terrain (including water), nippy on a road and have a surprising punch in the form of a drive-by APILAS shot! It provides the formation a spearhead move too, all whilst bulking out the RC formation. These will be very popular, I suspect. They can upgrade the APILAS to an Eryx shot but, with no moving RoF, I suspect you wouldn’t want to do it to all the platoons; maybe one ambush unit.
The VBL also appears in its own formation the Escadron D’Eclairage. This sports 3-9 VBL Patrouille D’Eclairage plus an optional VBL Groupe De Antichar Milan. You don’t need to speak French to work out what that does, and how it achieves it! Three armour cars sporting Milan 1 or 2!
The problem with this formation is that its core platoon are only two-strong vs the VBL Patrouille D’Eclairage De Cavalerie platoons of three. With a morale of 5+ that does not sound like a resilient platoon. But there are lots of them and they are cheap. I think I do favour the Escadron De Cavalerie though. It offers a better mix of larger platoons.
The VAB Compagnie D’Infanterie also receives some love, even though it was always a popular formation before! The core VAB Section D’Infanterie receives the option of Eryx missiles and can add a Milan 2 in place of the Milan 1. It can also upgrade two of the four VAB to VAB T20, sporting a 20mm autocannon, providing a handy anti-light armour capability.
The formation receives two new support units, a fire-support platoon of four VAB T20 pus a mortar platoon with three or six man-packed 120mm mortars carried in either VAB or AMX-10P. The latter provides some powerful in-formation in-direct fire and smoke screening which suits the formation nicely. Finally, the eight strong MILAN section can also be fielded as MILAN 2 teams, gaining thermal sights and the at24 MILAN 2 missile. It can also take a Leclerc platoon in-formation (or a platoon of AMX-10RC or a platoon of AMX-30).
I suspect fans of the AMX-10RC or VAB Infantries will remain very much so. Both formations gain a lot of strength with their additions.
There are two new support additions. The ubiquitous MLRS continues its appearance in every NATO book as the French also bought it, a rare imported US weapon system!
The French also gain a third AA system to join the Roland and AMX-13 DCA; the Mistral MANPAD. This has much the same performance as a US stinger team and works much like a West German Redeye attachment; you can have one team per Roland tank
The French certainly received a big boost. the Leclerc is a beast, more than I was expecting! It gives the French the one drop reserve they were asking for, but its a bit of a monkey paw situation as you can only utilise that effectively by taking a fragile platoon,
The French Cavalry was always the highlight of the v1 book and I think its only got better with the addition of MILAN2 and mortars to the VAB infantry and a bolstering of the AMX-10RC formation to make it more resilient. There can’t be too many complaints with the French player base.
The Dutch only get one new formation but its a doozy. The Leopard 2A5 Tank Eskadron assumes that the Dutch as equally as quick to buy Leo 2A5 as they bought the Leo 2 originally. Being Confident Trained, they certainly make it cheaper to purchase and one troop of three tanks will be a comfortable one drop reserve for 100+ point games, making it a viable unit.
Sadly the YPR-765 company can’t take a Leopard 2A5 platoon in formation. What it can do, though, is throw the Dragon 1 on the scrap heap and get the Dragon 2 with its AT21 warhead! It can also add TOW2 to the PRAT, further boosting the formations AT.
The YPR-765 company also gains the option of taking towed 120mm mortars rather than self-propelled ones. There is no point saving or real difference in performance, but it does better match the historical force organisation.
The Dutch gain two new units; the MLRS and the AH-64 Apache. the Dutch were an early export customer for the fearsome attack helicopter so it seems appropriate that they get it
Overall, the Dutch don’t get the wholesale changes of the other nations but what they do get does bolster their capability, especially against high end armour.
Yep, the vegemite force that is the ANZAC are very much still in the book. With the Pacific front still untouched I suspect that wont change any time soon so lets just see what they have gained.
The Aussies gain two cavalry formations one in LAV-25s and one in M113 (expanding on the existing M113 cavalry troop). The NZ component of the ANZAC is also expanded to take the two Scorpion troops and turn them into a whole Scorpion squadron.
The existing Leopard 1 and M113 Infantry formations get some additions.
In the Leopard formation, one of the compulsory leopard platoons can now be an M1A1 troop. The M1A1 would replace the leopard in Australian service, but here they get hold of a small number of US ones (book says “leased” but, let’s face it, the Aussies probably did a bit of moonlit acqusition) to replace combat losses. The improvement in crew quality (Fearless Veteran vs US Confident Trained) is offset by the drop in AT from 23 to 22 as the Aussies have to scrounge German and Dutch ammo; no silver bullets. This does make for a better 100pt one drop reserve though and still adds a jump in firepower to the Leopard formation.
The “big” change in the M113 Infantry formation is the addition of Milan 2 as an option to the Milan AT section,. With up to eight posts in a formation, that’s a lot of AT24 to send down range.
Both the Leopard and M114 infantry formations gain access to additional recce options. Each recce box now has the M113 Cavalry Troop plus the LAV Cavalry troop as an option. These also appear in their own formation which pairs two to three cavalry troops (M113 or LAV, you can’t mix) with an optional tank platoon (Leopard or M1A1), M125 platoon, MILAN AT section and a M113 Cavalry Assault Troop which is basically a M113 mech platoon with extra Carl Gustavs!
The M113 Cavalry Troop is a mix of M113 LRV (T50 turreted M113) and MRV (Scorpion turreted M113). Compared to Free Nations there now appears to be two additional troop configurations that allow more LRV to be swapped out for MRV; you can now do 3 LRV plus two MRV troops, plus two of each troops.
The LAV Cavalry troop sports three to four LAV-25 (again “leased” from USMC stocks). I prefer the M113 firepower (especially the two LRV and two MRV configuration) and armour but we do have a lot of road on our tables so that top-end speed could be useful.
The New Zealand Scorpion squadron just lets you field two-four scorpion troops, with an optional ANZAC M113 Mech platoon. Its nice that they are present but the Australian cavalry squadrons feel much more rounded forces.
Support options have been fleshed out so that the Anti-Tank Land Rovers and Redeye M113 are joined by RBS-70 M113 SAM and Royal New Zealand Air Force A-4 Skyhawks with CRV-7 and optional Mavericks (though they end up almost as expensive as an A-10 flight if equipped!). The British support has also been fleshed out to add MLRS and a tank option; Challenger or Chieftain. I wonder if you could do a Challenger/M1A1 combo list. Hmm…
I do like the ANZAC Cavalry formations. They feel like a ‘Nam throw back bought into the 1980s kicking and screaming. I just wish they had a Pacific theatre to play in!
The new nation added by the book is no great surprise; Belgium always felt like something of an off omission from the last book so its good to see them added.
Belgium is very much in the NATO standard stat mould: Hit on 4s, Confident, trained. The Belgians get a tank squadron, an infantry company and a recce formation as formation options.
The Leopard formation packs few surprises; two to three Leopard platoons, an option on the fourth platoon to be tanks or infantry, a Gepard unit and a recce unit. Nothing wrong with that, its a serviceable formation.
The Infantry formation sports a combination of turreted IFV and tracked APC platoons that can be mixed in the formation. The IFV is the AIFV-B C25 is basically the same as the Dutch YPR-765 and sports the same effective 25mm cannon to shred BMP. The APC is either the M113 or the AIFV-B 0.50. The latter adds an extra 7.62mm MG to the vehicle and a Milan post and is a no cost upgrade; its just slightly slower on road. The Infantry themselves are the same in all three cases; seven stands of infantry with FN’s greatest hits, a Blindicide AT team (is this Fate of a Nation all of a sudden?) and a 60mm mortar. A Milan 1 or 2 can be added and the Blindicide can be swapped out for an APILAS which feels like something that should always be done…
The Infantry are joined by an M106 mortar platoon (yes please), a Scimitar recce troop (yes please) and the choice of a 90mm armed Kanonen-Jagdpanzer AT Platoon or a Milan Platoon. Hmm… four obsolete tank hunters or four Milan 2 each with their own APC to maximise Milan post rule use. Its a hard choice…
The final formation is basically the Belgians doing a CVRT formation. Two-Three Scimitar or Scorpion troops, a Swingfire troop with four Strikers and a Spartan infantry platoon. Its fine but its odd that the Scorpions and Scimitars cost the same as their Skill 3+ British counterparts. As always the points breakdown at the lower end of of the 100pt system. The Strikers and Spartans do reflect the lower skill in their points
The Belgians received M109, Gepard and Mirage 5 (with BL755 bombs!) as organics support. They can then take either West German SAM, Rocket and Helicopter support or British Tank (Chieftain or Challenger), Infantry (Warrior or FV432 mounted) and Helicopter support. I lean to the British because I think the addition of a MBT platoon will help shore up the anti-tank capabilities of the Belgians, but the Belgians are a pretty well-rounded force. They fall into with the Dutch and Danes as capable second tier forces that punch into the top tier.
A surprise in the book was a section that adds the Milan 2, HOT2 and Dragon 2 into the existing NATO books, i.e. American, British and West German. It explains how to add them into the relevant unit and the cost delta required. British Milan spam just got deadlier!
The book rounds out with the three scenarios from the first book.
All in all, the NATO Forces book does a good job bringing the Free Nations forces up to the same standard as the rest of the WW3: Team Yankee releases to date. Purists will baulk at more mid-late nineties kit in their 198x game (and more ANZAC in their European front game) but that boat has long since sailed and like-minded players can still field lists with the correct equipment if they so wish. In the context of the nebulous TY time period, none of the additions feel like they push the envelope much beyond what we have already seen.
I do think that some of the additions go a long way to fixing some holes in the existing lists that made units somewhat difficult to get the best out of. It will be interesting to see what the community makes of it.
Anyway stay tuned as we bring some more deep dives on the lists. Martin is looking at making another go at the French, friend of the podcast Darren Hart is looking to write up a historical based looked at the Canadian Forces on the Northern flank once he has a copy of the book in his hands and no doubt the Hobby Hipster, Duncan will dust off the Dutch. All that plus our podcast and YouTube content too!