Musings of a Hobby Hipster: Revamp is the new Vamp

So… we’ve looked at stopping, selling up, and starting again but that is not always the most practical of approaches. Sometimes revamping what you have is the best way forward so let’s look at going back to the future and revisit my Australian Divisional Cavalry Squadron.

Divisional What Now? 

I know, no one was as shocked as I was that I owned, not only a fully painted British (well… Australian) army, but that it was an EARLY WAR desert British ((well… Australian)) army but, there it was, on the shelf and I even had the tournament report to back up the fact that I even used it in anger.

After this initial confusion, the old grey cells started to pick up and I started to ponder whether I could do the unthinkable for these antipodeans that was so preposterous for my Mid-War Americans. Could I revamp this army AND bring it into the V4 fold? Well… I’m going to try!

So, this was my V3 list from the last DAK, DAK event at Dice Saloon, Brighton (before they moved to their swanky new location). As you can see it is brimming with a hard-hitting punch… This is going to be interesting.

Here We Go… Backety, Back, Back

Not only are we revisiting an old V3 army but we are also revisiting the Mid War period and the Armoured Fist British book. Now, this list is not going to be 100% spot on – 18/25pdrs are an Early War addition, as are the MKVI Vickers, so let me lay out my thoughts on what I can use, realistically as what in this new V4 force.

V3 OriginalUsed as in V4 List
18/25pdrs25pdrs
Vickers MKVIHumber Armoured Cars
25mm Bofors Anti-Tank Guns6pdr Anti-Tank Guns
2pdr Anti-Tank Guns6pdr Anti-Tank Guns
37mm Bofors Ant-Tank Gun Portees6pdr Anti-Tank Gun Portees

As you can see some of this is… well… a stretch but I’m not going to be taking this list to events and I think that Lee and Eddie should be ok with me proxying them but as always with proxy units, it is better to check in advance rather than having a confusing and frustrating gaming experience. 

To the Future

And here we have the initial draft of what the 9th Australian Divisional Cavalry could look like in V4. 

So, let’s walk through this new list one step, and one unit, at a time and see where the strengths, weaknesses, and future opportunities might be. 

Australian Divisional Cavalry 

Starting with the core of the old V3 list we have the revamped for 1942 Australian Divisional Cavalry formation from the Armoured Fist command cards. These additional formation cards and unit Title formation cards tend to be my favourites and this simple addition is no exception.

As everyone will be aware, the PIAT armed Universal Carrier is the apex predator of the Late War period but their Mid War cousins are not quite as fortunate with their armament. The anti-tank of 5 is a little lacklustre (though an improvement over v3!) but against the more historical opponents of late 1941 and early 1942, they should be fine.

It is also important to factor in that there are two formations in this list and the Divisional Cavalry will bring the majority of the mobility in the list. There were no Crusaders in my original list so the addition of these tanks will form a large part of revamping this force. 

This will give me eight 2pdr armed Crusaders, alongside nine universal carriers, all with Boys anti-tank rifles. Getting my mind back into Mid War this is a pretty dangerous force for flanking panzers; anti-tank 5 and 7 will carve up most Axis armour from the side and, with their high Tactical move of 14″, they can really get up an exposed flank whilst keeping the enemies armour honest.

Rifle Company

In my original list, I could only afford to put in a single infantry platoon, which was a useful asset to have, but the Armoured Fist Rifle company gives you so much bang-for-your-buck I had to expand my investment out to a full formation. I managed to find a single pack of BR747 Australian Rifle Platoon over at Frontline Games in Germany (thank you Bret!) so that I can manage the compulsory rifle units, happily for me.

I already had 25mm Bofors guns and 2pdr anti-tank guns to create the frankly delicious two 6pdr batteries that you can have in the formation, along with some spare plastic universal carriers to round out the formation. I was toying with the Vickers MG platoon instead of the carriers but I just couldn’t justify the additional points, so more carriers it is!

Speaking of costs that I couldn’t justify, let’s talk about the Anzac Rifle Company command card. It’s too expensive. Three points for a Rally of 3+ rather than 4+ for Infantry units only.

It is that final part of that statement that is the real killer, “infantry units” means that the investment in your 6pdrs is unaffected by this card as are your universal carriers. That means that you really have to max out your infantry AND take the additional Vickers MG platoons AND 3″ mortar platoon to really get the most out of this upgrade and even then is it worth it?

Thematically I am gnashing my teeth at not including this card in my force but, from a practical sense, I am really not a fan. What I am a fan of is the Rifle Company – why on earth are we not seeing more of these about in Mid War? For less than half of the standard points that most people play you can grab yourself a solid infantry core with integral anti-tank and artillery with some additional mobile firepower from Universal Carriers. I think that this is a little gem in Mid War.

Support

With the Divisional Cavalry and Rifle Company formations being so economical with points I could still dip into some support options to really round out the force.

With my 18/25pdrs masquerading as the most devastating gun in all of Mid War; the actual 25pdr. Now the gun is the same, just the carriage is different so I think that I can live quite happily with this. The 25pdr also gives me some proper artillery and, with Rate of Fire 2 and an Anti-Tank of 9, it can be pressed into taking on all but the most formidable of Axis tanks to the front.

Next up I’ve got the 37mm Bofors anti-tank guns on portees, which again will be more 6pdrs but this time on the mobile platform of a cut-down Morris 15cwt truck. 

Firstly, these look awesome and I won’t be told or hear otherwise. Secondly, they give me even access to even more 6pdrs with the notable mention that they can now get around the battlefield, or even be placed in reserve, very easily.

Bofors 37mm Portee (BR152)

The downside is that they are a bit susceptible to being shot at so I will have to be extremely careful how, and when, I commit them to the fray. Interestingly, in V3, you could dismount them during the game to become standard gun teams but I don’t think that this is an option for the V4 iteration, so something else to bear in mind there.

The Bofors AA guns are a like for like unit from one version to the next but again in this list, they give some more static anti-tank (and anti-air if someone is brave enough to invest in a Stuka or two) meaning that in most games you can leave the 40mm Bofors on one objective and the 18/25pdrs on the other meaning that the rest of your forces can deploy as suits which is always a nice position to be in.

Finally, we come to the Humber Armoured Cars being represented in this list as three lovely Vickers MKVI tanks. Technically these tanks saw front line service into 1942 and were equipped with the same 15mm Besa MG as the Humbers were armed with so I think that the comparison and inclusion are close enough for me. These will add even more Spearhead into my army – which at this point is getting a bit potty – but also more mobile Anti-Tank 5 capability to my mobile forces.

Cans of Beans

Overall, this army is already feeling like the V3 incarnation that got to the tabletop but now brings some more stodge in the form of the Rifle Company and more mobile anti-tank in the form of the Crusaders but without feeling like I am compromising the theme of the army to do so.

Where I feel I may come unstuck is that my armour will not last long in a prolonged slogging match with the chunkier of Axis armour, well, to the front at least, so I will need to be exceptionally careful how and where I commit it.

I’m happy that I have a second formation in the mix now. That means that I can at least commit my mobile forces when I need to in the knowledge that it won’t mean an auto-loss as it once would. 

I actually think that this is a balanced and actually well-rounded list that has a lot of tools. It has plenty of mid-range anti-tank, a decent barrage and a good balance of mobility and staying power.

Will I struggle against a Tiger? Sure, but what army doesn’t in the Mid War period? Could I get overwhelmed by tank spam? Certainly, but I feel like I have a good shot at giving them a bloody nose! Could Americans be an issue in a blue on blue game? Indubitably, but that is only an issue in competitive event games and I don’t really play many of those! 

To Vamp or Not to Vamp? 

Having looked at both sides of the proverbial coin now why one over the other? I think for me it is how seamlessly that you can slot new units into an existing force. The Australians were ripe for this as the new additions would be mostly by themselves, and would not have the same units in the force already. With my Mid War Americans adding new Lee tanks or some Shermans would create a real jar in terms of their painting and that I think is the real crux for me; will this look nice on the tabletop?

If the answer is a resounding no then maybe, just maybe, it is time to think about going back to the beginning rather than back to the future. I’ll be back soon with a cup of single-origin, cold brew flat white artisan coffee with more thoughts from the hipster’s beard.

– Dunc

Category: BritishDesert WarEarly WarFlames of WarHobby HipsterMid WarRamblingV4

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Article by: Duncan Gosling