Double Trouble Pt 2 – The Kasserine Starter

Welcome back to my irregular series looking at using the new two player starters to build an army using one or more copies of the starter plus other purchases.

In the last part we looked at the Tobruk set so now we will take a look at what we can do with one or more Kasserine sets to build US and German forces.

First, lets remind ourselves what the Kasserine set gives us:

  • Four M3 Lees
  • Three M4 Sherman
  • Five M3 Stuarts
  • Six Panzer III
  • Three Panzer IV
  • Three Pak38 5cm AT guns

Now, lets take a look at using the US side.

US Armour

US armour formations generally allow two types of tank to be present in the formation; the core type (shared by the HQ and at least one mandatory choice) and a second type.  So not matter what, one of the three tank types will be out of formation, in support.

We do not have enough Stuarts (as they have a two tank HQ and need two compulsory Stuart platoons before a second type can be added) or Sherman (as we only have three which is the minimum platoon size so no spare tank for the HQ) so we have to use a M3 Lee formation. 

The boxset gives us:

  • A HQ of one M3 Lee
  • A compulsory platoon of three M3 Lee
  • A compulsory platoon of three M4 Sherman
  • A support platoon of five M3 Stuarts

That’s a 54 point force; 58 points if we give all the M3 Lee long barrelled 75mm.  However, even with the M4 in formation, its a very brittle force; lose the HQ and two other Lee or Shermans and its game over.  Still its enough to learn the ropes with. 
But where to go next? Clearly we need to fill out the formation so lets swap our Germans with a friend for their US (or just buy our own box!).  Now we have the following the play with:

  • Eight M3 Lees
  • Six M4 Sherman
  • Ten M3 Stuarts

Lets stick with M3 Lee formation:

  • A HQ of one M3 Lee
  • A compulsory platoon of four M3 Lee
  • A compulsory platoon of five M4 Sherman
  • An optional platoon of three M3 Lee

The formation now has a bit of redundancy with an extra platoon and reinforcement for the two original platoons.  As a bonus the five-strong Sherman unit is a single dice reserve at 40pts.  All up, the formation comes to eighty points before any M3 Lee upgrades to long guns.    To use the last twenty points getting to 100pts, lets put the ten M3 Stuarts to good use and add a twenty point formation in the form of:

  • A HQ of two M3 Stuarts
  • A compulsory platoon of five M3 Stuarts
  • A compulsory platoon of three M3 Stuarts

Honestly, this formation will likely last as long as choc-ice in the Tunisian day time unless we hid the HQ and weak platoon near an objective and just send the five strong platoon to support the big boys.  But it does use up two boxes with only one Sherman spare and gets us 100pts for less than £80!  

in the long run I’d be inclined to dissolve the M3 Stuart formation, keeping five in formation support.  I’d then drop a Sherman from the Sherman platoon and plough the points save to add M4 81mm Armour Mortars, T30 assault guns, a cavalry recce platoon to the formation and an understrength rifle platoon in force support.  The last two points get used to fund the Courageous and Faithful card for the Stuarts, making them a more survivable “aggressive”. 

The additions to the formation not only strengthen our formation and thus the force but also gain us a Spearhead unit with the cavalry and the assault guns and mortars grant us two smoke bombardments and templates.  To my mind they are near mandatory buys for a US force.

The only real problem with this plan is that the formation support requires a near £60 investment and the infantry, because you can’t buy a single rifle platoon but instead need a rifle company box, brings it to £90.  We could forgoes the infantry in favour of adding the Sherman back in and upgrading some Lees to long 75mm.  There is certainly enough firepower in the force to dig the enemy out!

German Armour

Only the Panzer III company allows a mix of PzIII and PzIV so lets start there and see what a single box gets us.

  • One HQ of a single PzIII Short 5cm
  • One platoon of five PzIII Short 5cm
  • One platoon of three PzIV short 7.5cm
  • A support platoon of three PaK38 5cm AT guns

That comes to 60pts before upgrades to the tanks.  If we were going true Kasserine then there shouldn’t be any short 5cm and the only short 7.5 should be on a PzIIIN!  If we upgrade all the IIIs to uparmoured long 5cm and the IV to long barrel early G models then that makes the force swell to 90pts and makes our five strong platoon a single dice reserve!  I’m not sure the force resilience increases to match with only three platoons in the formation, though.

Unlike the other three nations, its hard to recommend adding a second Kasserine unless the US side is of use.  The PaK-38 are redundant without building the force around a Afrikakorps rifle force which can use the second platoon.  The extra PzIII are are useful but you really only need an extra three or four and maybe an extra PzIV.  Still, let’s run the sums and see what we can get:

  • One HQ of a single PzIII Short 5cm
  • One platoon of four PzIII Short 5cm
  • One platoon of four PzIV Short 7.5cm
  • One platoon of four PzIII Short 5cm
  • One platoon of three PzIII Short 5cm
  • A support platoon of three PaK38 5cm AT guns

The two platoons of four PzIII Short provide us our reserve which means we’d start a game with four PzIII, four PzIV and three AT guns on the table.  Its not… terrible.  But having spent a weekend getting shot up by massed Crusaders I’m not convinced its the way to go!  It doesn’t have much of an answer for Grants/Lees or heavier and still gets swamped by lighter tanks.  It’d certainly be fun list to learn the game with and if you are gaining the Germans by swapping redundant US stuff for a friends Germans then its certainly not a waste of time.  But you’ll quickly want to add in heavier hitters like Marders and/or 88s which sends you towards a force like the one I’ve been looking at, previously.

Hopefully that provides some food for thought!  I’ll be revisiting this series when any Eastern Front starters get announced but, for now, its time to get back to the games table!