Today Mark drops the “sunshade” on the new weighty tome of Armoured Fist
Its fair to day that when Desert Rats, the first British V4 MW book dropped there were some concerns that the options it provided were a bit narrow. While some of the most iconic tanks were there, the Sherman, Valentine, Churchill and Rifle Company were absent. BF promised a new book and as we approach the one year anniversary of V4 ,they have delivered. Weighing in at 76 page,s its one of the larger of the MW books and also incorporates everything from the original Desert Rats. Its worth noting that if you have the original book you can take it to your Local Gaming Store (or contact BF) to claim a free plastic Churchill!
Taking off the covers
Well lets face it, readers want to know what they are getting formation and model wise so here it is:
Heavy Tank Formations
- Sherman Armoured Squadron – 9th Armoured Brigade
- Grant Armoured Squadron
Cruiser Tank Formation
- Death or Glory Squadron – 17th/21st Lancers
- Crusader Armoured Squadron
- Honey Squadron
Infantry Tank Formation
- Churchill Squadron – 25th Tank Brigade
- Valentine Squadron
- Rifle Company
- Motor Company
Support has also been expanded with Priests and the Kitty Hawk. Additionally you have the normal US ally options that “Fighting First” introduced.
Firstly it is interesting that Shermans are referred to as Heavy Tanks [compared to the light cruisers, that is very much how the British Army viewed them – Lee], however on reflection they do sport the second highest armour and best gun in the British force.
The original absence of the Sherman has been long discussed over the last year, but its now here in all its Front Armour (FA) 6 glory. Unlike the US offering its also ‘careful’ so hit on a 4+, albeit with the normal British ‘fight another day’ 5+ last stand. These guys come in a bit more expensive than the US version (note no stabilisers) but that ‘careful’ rating is huge. Combining long range and FA6 (becoming FA7 at range) and you are 6’s to hit with excellent armour. I would not want to be gun-duelling them with Panzer 3s; better to get in a knife fight.
Key to the Sherman formation is that you can take the second compulsory platoon as Grants, Crusaders, Honeys or Churchill’s (ouch) allowing you to effectively field these costly tanks in a viable formation structure.
The Grant formation really hasn’t changed since Desert Rats, keeping the same options. [[Sadly, and somewhat oddly given regiments like the 3rd RTR had a mix of the two in the same regiment, it doesn’t gain the Sherman (or Churchill) as an option for its second platoon. – Lee]]
Cruiser Tank Formations
The most obviously exciting thing here is the Death or Glory Boys of the the 17th/21st Lancers.
Cue “the guys with the skulls on their caps are the bad guys” confusion…
Here you have bags of choice with an HQ of Valentines (with Crusdaer CS tanks!) or “borrowed” Lees, mixed with aggressive Valentine III and Crusader IIIs troops as core units.
Key here is that everything has an ‘aggressive’ rating (3+ to hit) but keeps a ‘confident’ 4+ rating, with no 5+ ‘last stand’. In other words you may find that you take more casualties but you wont be as put off by them! Additionally the Valentines actually move faster thanks to “Tally Ho” (albeit costing them a lower chance of passing ‘tactics’ checks) than their ‘careful’ cousins of the Tank formations. The key is striking fast and hard. Also worth a note is that the Crusader IIIs come in platoons of three, but all pack 6pdrs and are FA4. For me this formation is very interesting with cheaper tanks than their ‘careful’ counterparts and the ability to rapidly overwhelm forces. Watch this page for an upcoming list discussion article.
The Crusader formation is unchanged from Desert Rats version with the choice of one 6pdr or two 6pdrs per platoon and an ‘aggressive’ rating. Again, no Sherman option for the second compulsory unit.
The Honey formation is also unchanged.
Here come the big boys; Infantry Tanks designed to close up with the infantry and support the assault of enemy lines.
First up is the monster Churchill. FA8, Side Armour (SA) 7, and Top Armour (TA) 2 makes it almost immune to everything short of a Marder or 88, where it at least till enjoys a save! Combined with a ‘careful’ (4+ to hit rating), 3+ remount, 4+ motivation and 3+ counter attack and these are really a unit to watch (especially on the other side of the table…). The trade of this is that they are slow, so have to have their flanks protected.
As you would expect these are expensive tanks. Their price means the formation may not be that viable (even with Shermans as the second platoon) but they will be fantastic support to other formations. Interestingly they can take a rifle platoon as a core unit. I can see these being a huge meta change and on a lot of people’s painting table.
The Valentines round out the Infantry Tank formations.
Unlike the Death or Glory Boys these are also ‘careful’ but lack “Tally Ho” so move slower but use ‘tactics’ more effectively. While armoured to the front like a Sherman, its the SA 6 which makes them a cost effective assaulting machine. AT7 isn’t that scary, but they aren’t there to kill tanks, they are there to close and assault, taking that objective and winning the game. With SA6 that means if you pin a Platoon of three PaK-38s you actually could directly assault. Even assuming they pass a fire power check if you match their AT9, you still will only lose 1, statistically.
If you want a bit of ranged hitting power, you can upgrade ont tank per troop to a 6pdr with AT10 for Panzer clearing duties but you do sacrifice a point of SA.
There are two options in the book – Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and The Rifle Brigade and there are some small differences in the Company structures, as the Highlanders are a Rifle Company and the The Rifles are a Motor Company, and both add some variety into the pool of available British infantry.
The back bone of most armies is the humble infantry man. I never was a fan of the Motor Company due to their small size making them poor at assaults, and attacking wins games in V4. However, this is now solved with the large rifle platoon of nine stands. You drop the high rate of fire of the Motor Platoon Brens for Bren/rifle stands but gain mass for a sensible increase in points. They are all ‘careful’ and ‘confident’, retaining the British 3+ counter attack and 3+ assault rating. The formation can also take up to 6 tubes of mortars in a single platoon where as the motor company was limited to 2. Also the 6pdrs are not compulsory. I feel this formation pairs well with some infantry tanks, as one would suspect!
The Motor Company remains broadly unchanged so if you are having fun cruising around the desert with bren gun teams there is nothing immediate you will need to change.
An obvious point to pick up on is that at this time there is no option for Indian or ANZAC troops but the obvious precedence has been set in other V4 releases that Command Cards could give options to include these troop types – hopefully with some flavourful rules to boot.
So on to Support options and there are 3 big ones to talk about; Priests, Kittyhawks and Daimlers.
The Priest brings some mobile, armoured artillery to the desert theatre but is clocking in at around 25% more than the static 25pdrs – so which is better? Well the Priest has a better indirect and direct firepower and the inclusion of a .50 cal is always nice but with a FA of 3 it does make it much more vulnerable to marauding armoured cars or fast moving, outflanking, tank units. I think it’s going to be a personal preference whether you want to drop these in over the standard 25pdrs and probably down to the composition of the rest of your list as well.
Kittyhawks now give the British some serious airbourne artillery with the 500lb bomb. 2pts less than the Hurricane for 2 planes means I think you will definitely want to give these a crack as either an alternative to the Priests and 25pdrs (or maybe as well as the 25pdrs) as their ability to reach anywhere on the table could be a vital against infantry heavy Axis forces.
The Daimler Armoured Car/Dingo 2:1 platoon is back and it’s very nice. For a bargain price you get two mobile 2pdrs and a load of MG dice to go harass your opponent with. Beware though the Daimler is Overworked so you will need some good rolls to bring those 2pdr round accurately in on the move.
There we have it – Armoured Fist; ready to punch the Axis forces squarely in the jaw in the sands of North Africa.
It’s a well presented book that, by v4 standards, brings a lot to the table, especially if you have been holding off investing until now, and brings the Brits on par with the US and Italian books. Those who did invest can look forward to an extra Churchill tank at least.
Yes, some of the more fringe units (The other two members of the ecclesiarchy, Deacon and Bishop,for example) are holding out for Wildcards; and the commonwealth troops and armoured cars are banished to command cards; but we finally have the core elements of the First and Eighth armies on parade and the British Army can go toe to toe with anything v4 Desert can throw at it.
Look out for more content on the Armoured Fist release coming up in future posts!