What follows are a few observations from the perspective of a veteran Flames of War player making the transition to Team Yankee. Given I lose more than I win, I certainly don’t claim to be a tactical genius; and given my military experience doesn’t extend much beyond a good few years in the Corps (Sea Cadet Corps that is) I certainly don’t claim to be applying any real life tactical nuance either! Consider it points of discussion and nothing more. Nearly a year after Team Yankee’s release, it seems a good time to have a think about what we have learnt so far.
The Empty Battlefield
Anyway, a few weeks ago Marc wrote up an After Action Report (AAR) for his first game of Team Yankee. Whilst I was reviewing it ahead of publishing, I noted that his opponent had done a silly thing by putting his T-72 right up against the tree-line in firing positions. It meant that they were visible whereas if they had been >3” back from it they’d be out of sight so they wouldn’t get sniped in the first turn.
Now, the reason I spotted it is because I did the same mistake in one of my first games with the West Germans. I set up two of the Leopards hull down on a hill to overlook a company of T-72 in a corn field – about the only cover on that flank. Whilst, I got the first turn, the concealment and gone to ground status of the Soviet tanks meant I missed. His massed return fire was more effective…
In both cases, tanks were placed ready to shoot, even though it meant they were in sight of the enemy. But why? Because in Flames of War, it’s generally beneficial to be static and generally exposure to a first turn shoot can be tolerated as concealment, gone to ground AND RANGE make the chances of being hit suitably remote. Plus most weapons have a firepower of 3 so even a direct hit may only leave a tank bailed.
In Team Yankee, range is rendered a non-factor by laser range finders or guide weapons so suddenly the chances of a hit increase. The tank based weapons also pack a bigger punch at FP2 so suddenly a burning tanks is a much more likely outcome. Clearly a spotted tank is a dead tank.
But both myself and Marc’s opponent missed one vital aspect. We need never have been in sight at all.
Sure, looking good is important. But not being seen is better.
Every tank in Team Yankee (so far, we have one exception coming up…the Chieftain) can move 10” with no impact on its rate of fire or chances to hit. The M1 and Leopard 2 further increase this to 14”. The T-72 or Leopards of the AAR didn’t need to be in sight to maximise their own return fire.
The T-72 should have started well back from the tree line, denying Marc easy hits in his first turn. Hell, even if they won the roll they should have probably hung back as the M1, concealed and gone to ground, would be near impossible to hit. Likewise, my Leo 2 should have been well out of sight behind the hill, letting the T-72 make the first move, thus tilting the odds of my 4 shots making a mark.
Even AFV with a moving RoF of 0 can utilise this tactic to an extent, depending on how well you think you can pass a Blitz test. A Jaguar 1 platoon, lurking behind a rise or back from a tree line has good odds of pouncing when needed. BMP-2 may not pass it often but the salvo of AT-5 missiles they put out when they do can really ruin a MBT platoons day; as my opponent seems able to prove to me on a regular occurrence!
In both cases, setting the thin skinned AFV up in firing positions risks them getting wiped out by the enemy before they have chance of a shot. Sure, if you fail the Blitz move you still have RoF 0 if you move that turn, basically squandering a turn of shooting. But as my tankee friend observed recently, a dead tank *always* has RoF 0.
From this we can see that we need to get more used to the idea of being in a position to move and fire, rather than wait and fire. In the set-up, if we know we may or will have the second turn, we set our tanks back from the hill, not hull down. Back from the three line, not already lurking in the shadows.
A Soviet 125mm smoothbore is mighty – but it can’t shoot through hills!
In this example, we have a 60pt Encounter mission. I have a disadvantage in numbers so both my HQ and the platoon of 2 Leopard 2 are lurking out of sight, aiming to move into a firing position as the T-72 reveal themselves. At least that was the plan. I rolled the first turn and, rather than wait and let Nathan make the first move; I moved out, missed and then died in the massed return fire. Like I said, a tactical genius I am not.
As can be seen here… Shortest game of Team Yankee ever!
Smoke ’em if you got ’em
Another tactical change from Flames of War to Team Yankee is the use of smoke.
In Flames of War we drop smoke on the enemy position. It then limits vision to no greater than 16″. If the enemy wants to shoot at range, then they will have to move, with an attendant drop in RoF. Very handy with Tiger platoons. Even with 16″ its still worthwhile as shooting counts as concealed and gone to ground.
Do that to a Leopard 2 or M-1 and, whilst you may get them to leave cover, they will still have full RoF. Even at short rage, the smoke is worthless due to the Thermal Vision. Suddenly, the value of smoking the enemy position drops dramatically.
BUT we don’t need to smoke the enemy position. We can now call fire on any position of the table. So, lets drop it in front of advancing troops. Now the enemy has to move right up to us to see through the smoke (even with thermal vision, the range of visibility is reduced) – a trickier prospect for the enemy to consider.
For those who like a good pre-planned fire mission, we can even build this into the placement of the ‘ranged-in’ markers before the game starts. We know where the objectives are and, with a bot of though, we can work out the obvious firing positions of the enemy. We can then work out where our advance will be on the first turn, place a “ranged-in” marker about 6-7″ ahead of that, and job’s a good on. We can even use that as a deception tactic so the enemy responds in their set-up whilst we get ready to hit the other flank…
One of these days I may actually get to attack in a mission to try all that out…
In conclusion, once we get away from thinking like Flames of War players, there are a lot of interesting tactics that we can implement to make better use of the capabilities of 1980’s kit and the Team Yankee rulesets. I’d be really interested to hear what else everyone else has discovered so hit us up here or on the Facebook page.