Fred here, back for some Competitive goodness.
Today, let’s talk about the biggest fish in the tank : the British in Late War !
This article aims at addressing why they are so good in the current meta, and to give hints to their opponents to beat them… or at least give them a harder time.
Put the scuba on, we are diving deep in trouble waters !
1. Britain at (Late) War
The British (UK) in FoW LW currently have access to 3 Books :
– Fortress Europe
In competition right now, it is fair to consider only 2, D-Day and Bulge, although players can pick Units and/or Formation from Fortress Europe to complement their lists.
Apart from an exceptional card (Artillery Expert) or very specific concepts, Fortress Europe doesn’t really constitute a good basis now given how to Build Force (as per LFTF 2022). Who knows what BF may have in mind in the future for the veteran Fortress Europe Book, it may come back handy …
Albeit it is hard to summarize 2 Books in a couple of words, we can state they provide UK :
– specialized Units
– Units with flaws
– very aggressively priced Units (consequence of specialization + flaws)
– tools to negate both specialization and flaws, but with pricey tags on.
Both Books give access to a wide array of Formations (Tanks, Infantry, Mechanized Infantry, Recce…), an extended Support and Command Cards Decks, and, with the possibility to cross-select Books, can mix&match tools (e.g : Desert Rats in Bulge, Kangaroo Rifle in D-Day). And that’s plenty enough to make them very efficient.
2. Sharks don’t swim with seals
The main dilemma of all wargamers when facing the drawing board and building their Force is : how to find the right balance between all the assets they want to complete the goals settled and the ones they effectively need and afford.
About about removing this issue ?
This is exactly what UK Forces are doing, and this is why they rule the fish-tank now.
From a practical perspective, UK Forces can rely heavily on specialization : meaning being super good at doing something, trading this advantage for being weaker at doing something else. This is an overall motto of the UK in LW, emphasized in key assets such as the Anti-Tank, the Recce, and Anti-Infantry/Gun.
This is also combined with inherent flaws to the Units.
Either it is limited capacities to play with Skills : most UK Units have a Skill of 4+, preventing them to use Blitz / Shoot & Scoot Tactics, or Range In properly (but for Royal Artillery) or even be heavy hitters in Assault (expect Infantry).
Or Motivation : most UK Units are Confident at best, with many having worse Counter Attack / Last Stand, or plainly Reluctant overall (Desert Rats).
Flaws being relative considering almost everything is Careful, a huge protection in the lethal LW environment.
Both transcripts into several of the most aggressive pricing of FoW Late War. Because being excellent somewhere with penalties elsewhere cut your price tag. Apparently by a lot.
UK have the best Tank Destroyers of LW, the Achilles: AT14 @18 points for 4 in D-Day, AT15 @22 points for 4 in Bulge, mobile and deadly, best points-for-points can openers around.
UK have access to dirty cheap Recce : Bren @2 points for 3, Daimler @1 point for 3 (Dingo) or @2/3 points for 3/4 (mix 2pdr + Dingo) or @1 point for 1 (2pdr only), super great at doing reconnaissance but also as pure fighting vehicles.
UK have exceptionnal Anti-Infantry/Gun assets : PIAT-Battery @3 points for 3, WASP @3/4 points for 3 (Reluctant or Regular).
This is combined with the ability of UK to spam them hard : 8 Achille is a fairly common sight in D-Day Build, a Formation of Recce from both Books starts to be efficient and useful at lower than 10 points and a must-have as a 2nd Formation, PIAT-Batteries/WASP/Artilleries are super easy to fit in a Force.
But those are just the most usual suspects.
UK players can still relies on more costly options, that still range fairly high in competition, simply because these are simply good, just not exceptionnal or all-rounders : Anti-Tank Guns, Infantry, Tanks, Artillery … comparing apples to apples, most UK Formations and Units appears discounted compared to the other Nations options. If not exactly point-for-point, at least in a global Force.
Never dismiss the UK capacity of bringing Careful troops that can be well protected on the field, or their capacity to hit you hard, either with a flow of firepower (including pure fire…) or assault (those UK Infantry platoon can be very mean, especially those with twin PIAT or armored transports to ferry them safely).
What would appear as the principal issue with this goodness is Reserves.
With so many cheap, cost-efficient Units, with lot of synergy between them, as a UK player, you just want to have them all on the board. Always.
Luckily for them, in the galaxy of cheap, they have access to higher (by British standards) cost Units. In the Tanks area : Sherman, Churchill, Crocodiles, especially when numerous or upgraded.
Infantry can also play this role : loaded Paratroopers or upgraded Infantry with transports.
Both can use specific patterns or Cards to counter the UK flaws (just bear in mind they will pay for it, but that’s actually less of an issue when looking at fielding Reserves count).
Cherry on the cake, they can have, both in D-Day and Bulge, Partisans squads : FFI, FTP, Dutch Resistance. All those 3 Units always start on table with a point cost of 0 for Reserves calculation, thus reducing the pool of Units not starting on table and reducing the problem.
All in all, a UK Force can potentially have :
– more firepower than your army (with combination of specialists troops AT/AP for very good price),
– more troops than yours (at the Start of the Game or during the whole Game),
– troops as well or better protected than yours (Careful + use of armor and/or Scout).
A UK Force can tick very well all the points of a Competitive list, including the Rule of 4.
E.G : D-Day 2*4 Achilles + 2*4 6pdr comes at 52 / 56 points. Bulge 2*3 PIAT-Battery Bren + 2*4 Mortar comes at 18 points. Solid basis for both, plenty of torque remaining for a power list.
From personal opinion, unless in a specific concept, I would build any competitive UK Force with :
– 6 to 8 Heavy-AT (depending on choice over 8 Achille or souping of Achille/Firefly/Comet),
– at least 1 Infantry Unit (more if there is an Infantry Formation involved ; 1 UK Inf Unit always brings a lot of solutions to their gameplay),
– a Secondary Formation of Recce (Primary Recce and Secondary Recce can be an option, but not always the go-to),
– and max-up at least one of the Rule of 4 (AT or Artillery – but you can also have both now).
3. Seals can outsmart sharks
OK, so UK in LW can :
– out-gun you
– out-number you
– out-protect you
– or even all of this…
As King Theoden would say : « What can men do against such reckless hate ? »
Answer : be smart and adapt.
A. Turn the strenghts of the UK against them :
– UK being specialized means, you should look at taking them out of their cumfort zone. In a nutshell : avoid feeding their specialists and force those to play against targets they are not designed to tackle. E.G : dueling with Achille/6pdr with your Medium and Heavy Tanks ain’t smart ; using lighter armor to negate the high firepower is. Cheap Artillery will murder your Inf/Gun line ; protect your Objectives with armor. Deadly Infantry will gut your Unarmored teams ; give them Armored teams to chew with.
– UK being super efficient while being stationnary, you should consider fighting a mobile war. E.G : with Skill 4+ and/or Overwork on most of their Tanks Teams (some even move slow with only 8’/20cm Tactical), position your vehicles to limit retaliation fire when engaging. Smoke Bombardment also helps a lot in preventing your troops from being saturated by direct and indirect fire. Their Forward Firing Teams can’t fire at you if you are behind them.
– UK Units having flaws discounting their price, you should use them at your advantage. E.G : TD/Recce/Bren being top 0, fielding heavy artillery (AT3/FP3+ or 2+) will threaten them badly. Many UK Infantry/Gun rallying on 5+, committing resources to keep them Pinned down will save you precious time. Many specialists UK Units being fairly limited in Assault (limited Defensive Fire dice or Forward Firing, bad Counter Attack, Top 0 or 1…), don’t hesitate to throw your Infantry In Contact to make damages and have them back away from your lines.
B. Maths-of-war hammer them : this is true in every FoW game, even more important when fighting the UK. With such a huge firepower at their disposal, you have to calculate when you commit and when you don’t.
– UK can spam a lot of troops for direct fire duel. Consider things like 15 Daimler (10 Daimler 2pdr + 5 Daimler Dingo) that will cost roughly the same (or lower) as your 4 Careful AT-Gun. Best case scenario, shooting, your guns will take out 1 Unit of Daimler (8 shots hitting on 4+, no save from the Daimler, Firepower 3+ or 4+). Leaving 4 angry Units delivering massive obliteration to your guns, now not Gone To Ground anymore. Should you consider not shooting, you divide by 2 the losses taken by your Guns, having them survive and still being a threat for the UK. Note : that doesn’t mean you should never shot at all against such targets. Just : be smart and consider what would happen if your Unit is shooting alone in this duel. More friends to the party, more fun…
– UK can bring massive Inf/Gun line breakers with their Flamers (WASP, Crocodiles, Badgers, Engineers) and Artillery (everything with a 4+ Firepower, some with a Salvo Template, some with Saturation Bombardment). Considering Flamers will hit you as any normal shooting and have limited range, there is a world of difference if your troops stay Gone To Ground or not, and if many models are in Range or not. Against Artillery, you should consider several tactics to lower the hits on your troops : moving troops to avoid Repeating, forcing re-Ranging In, Smoking the Area to have your troops hits harder.
– UK are expected to play mean against you, play meaner or smarter. Answer to UK bringing mass spam Light and Medium Armored Teams to the party can be you doing the same : GER have Recce/Half tracks (250, 222, Stummel, Triple AA…), FIN/ROU have EW Tanks (T26, Pz38T, Pz35T, R35, T38…), HUN have Toldi/Turan, US have Stuart/Sherman/TD… Answer to UK great AT-capacity can also be using solely lightly armored Teams (Armor 1-2) or super armored Teams (Armor 15+) to mitigate this UK efficiency.
C. Never forget the mission : this game is all about the Objective and the conditions to get or keep them.
– Attack is a very good stance for UK, one that optimize their capacity to bring their full Force on the board from the start, to have all the tools and put high pressure on opponent. They are likely to choose it. So you can either mirror their stance to force them into an Attack vs Attack Scenarios, where UK have to deal with Reserves. Or you can prepare your army to Defend against them, using several of the tactics mentionned above.
– Defense can be well plaid by UK, notably in Build with a solid Rule of 4 – AT. However, two factors can be used by Opponent. Reserves being an important one : Deep or not, UK will hardly (if not never) be able to put all their AT-assets on board. Mobility being the second one, with the Attacker having the liberty to choose his axis of approach to put the less mobile UK on the backfoot.
As a conclusion, UK are a very good army to start with for beginners, and a super good contender in competitive LW. The fact they are currently top of the foodchain doesn’t mean they are unbeatable : remember, FoW is a game of players above all else.
Happy to read your views and opinions in the Comments section.
Knowledge is power : share it widely !
[Or you can ignore all this and embrace the wonderfulness that is the 77mm HV – Lee]