With the new US book upon us, we now have the full arsenal of the US democracy at our disposal. While some will be excited by the new Shermans (and AT13), I have always had a soft spot for the Chaffee.
The Chaffee is a light tank and like it’s Stuart cousin, it is fast. 12″ tactical fast in fact, which, combined with a 20″ cross country dash, makes them rather nippy! Unlike the Stuart they pack a 75mm gun and therefore sport AT10, stabilisers and smoke rounds and finish it all off with a lovely 50cal AA MG.
Now, of course, they come with a down side and that is a Front armour of 4. They are not something you want to get into a head to head fight with medium or heavier armour. On the flip side, high AT weapons are wasting the points they have paid to kill such flimsy armour!
The Chaffee excels at dashing around, flanking people. Use smoke to screen them and exploit that blitz when you need a 16″ tactical move. Then let those enemy tanks have it with full ROF thanks to your stabilisers. While you won’t have much luck against Tigers, they are perfect vs Panthers and Panzers.
Here is a list I think is a great start for anyone wanting to jump into this new formation.
List & Tactics
First off I am not a big fan of the aggressive version; sure they are cheaper but, when you are FA4, being cautious is your best armour. However, I also want to get a few more hulls into the army, therefore I am going with the 3rd Armoured Division card. This makes my core units reluctant (but still have 4+ remount thanks to protected ammo), but saves me 2pts per Chaffee platoon, 3pts for any Sherman Platoons and 1pt for everything else. This poor remount will be mitigated by the Patton card, giving a 2+ remount to units within 8″ of my HQ, plus I can re-roll a reserve dice each turn.
Okay, I know Patton wasn’t in the 3rd Armoured Div, however really the ‘character’ cards are a abstract way of representing commander perks so this could be Leroy H Watson (the actual 3AD commander).
Veteran HQ 2 x Chaffee – 7
5 x Veteran Chaffee – 17
5 x Veteran Chaffee – 17
4 x Veteran Shermans with 3 x 76mm, 1 x 76mm Jumbo, AT13 HVAP upgrade – 25
3 x M4 Armoured Mortars – 2
3 x M8 Scott – 5
Patton (Leroy H Watson) – 4
4 x Hellcats with AT13 HVAP – 18
2 x M8 Greyhounds 1 x MG Jeep & 1 x 60mm Mortar Jeep – 5
Total = 100pts
This gets me:
- Twelve fast, AT10 light tanks,
- Two AT13 units for a total of 16 potential AT13 shots, all of which can blitz on a 3+,
- Two smoke bombardments and three FP4+ artillery templates (1 has to re-roll hits).
- Topping it off, all platoons who’s unit leader is within 8 inches of my formation commander rally/remount on a 2+ and I can re-roll one reserve dice per turn.
There is a lot to like there!
What I am missing is infantry and here is the key lesson about the new US lists; You have to make tough choices if you want to go tanks.
I perhaps could have squeezed in a short battle weary rifle platoon, but I would have lost the recce and made the Hellcats trained (‘Fresh’ card). I just don’t think it is worth it. Recce, while a little situational can really allow the Chaffees to push up close on turn 1. Use smoke to screen them and they can be threatening flanks on turn 2.
Reserves wise I have a fair few choices. This build doesn’t have an obvious “one-dice” option. Instead I can switch things up to match what I am playing. If I am facing a Tiger company then the Chaffees may not be so useful so I will ensure the Shermans and M18s are on table. If I am facing medium armour then I will leave the Shermans off and also a platoon of Chaffees. With Patton I should get things back on table a lot fast.
Apart from the Shermans the list is very fragile with no other FA above 4. Therefore its vital you manoeuvre effectively, use your high dash and try and exploit tall terrain. It is better to get into position for a turn (or even 2) and get those perfect shots then get bogged down in a gunfight you won’t win and isn’t getting you closer to the obj.
With 3+ tactics/skill, blitz is vital. Yes, it is always a gamble, however bringing that max ROF to bear, especially for the AT13, is critical when fighting heavy tanks. Also don’t forget to shoot and scoot. Next turn the Chaffees can burst out of terrain and finish of anyone who is left.
My own mantra is that that good players bombard and great players smoke (not literally, that is a filthy habit). By that I mean use your smoke bombardments; think where they will cause max effect. It is generally better to screen off your units, or ensure you get into an assault than perhaps kill a gun or infantry team. This is even more true when you have FA4 tanks!
Chaffees are super cool, they are fast and they allow you to bring two units of AT13 along for the ride. They really bring something new to the US arsenal and that is fun in itself. While I would always recommend the Veteran Chaffee Formation over their aggressive twins, I highly recommend the 3AD card. In my example list I saved 10pts. Even with Patton to partially mitigate the reluctant rating, that still got me my Scotts and Mortars for 1pt extra. In comparison the same formation but with the aggressive rating would only saved an extra 4pts above the 3AD.
Always remember the best armour in the game is not getting hit in the first place.
Until next time enjoy the US forces and happy flanking and hunting.