Well Battlefront have kindly sent us the latest release pdf of NATO Forces WW3 Team Yankee and some of you may remember I got bounced in to making a Force for TY some years back, in point of fact it was February 2020 and I have played precisely 1 game with what I painted up and the rest of what I collected has languished in my cupboard of opportunity ever since.
My real issue was I picked the French as my Nation of choice for no good reason other than I don’t have a French FoW army and rapidly discovered that the AMX-30 tanks isn’t very good, it is relatively pricey for its on table top capability and having tin foil armour and a pea shooter for a gun. Well with the new NATO Forces book I have decided it is time to try again and resurrect project France.
So what’s changed? Well, just about everything. There are two new Formations, better equipment – including of course the shiny new plastic Leclerc tank; basically the French mechanised forces have come out of the 60’s and into the 90’s. Whilst their Support and Air Corps remains just a powerful as before.
So let’s start with a look at the Force options and a few of the exciting changes that have occurred aside from the obvious new Formations. There are a few new handy support options with the ability to field even more artillery with the addition of the 120mm Peloton de Mortier (also available in the VAB Formation) and the US-made M270 Batterie De Lance-Roquettes Multiples to drop minelets. You still have 4 aircraft slots, always a French strong point. These have seen some points reworking with the anti-AA gunslingers going down in cost by 4pts while the Anti-tank helos have gone up by 4pts but can now be equipped with the even more potent HOT-2 (AT 25!) for a lttle extra; even with this upgrade it still makes the two platoons cheaper than before overall. The HOT-2 option occurs throughout the French Force and any units that could take HOT or TOW weapons can now sport the 2nd generation missiles (note you can’t mix them so it’s either all 1st or all 2nd generation missiles, a common thread in all the new NATO forces).
A final interesting option is the by taking the AMX Roland SAM AA battery you can unlock the Mistral Group giving you some effective infantry AA cover as well, as far as I can see this is the only way to access the Mistral group which is interesting if a little annoying.
There is one removed option as well to report, the AMX-10 RC is no longer listed in the Support section and now only occurs in the Formation more of a tidying-up exercise as it’s a black box platoon so can always be added as Formation Support but removes the oddity of an AMX-10RC Formation Suported by an AMX-10RC platoon.
The thing everyone will want is the new plastic Leclerc Main Battle Tank and I’m no different here. This mighty beast finally gives us French players (liberal descriptyion of myself here) something to deal out the damage, having an all new smooth bore 120mm main gun compared to the old 105mm of the AMX-30B. Add in proper frontal and better side armour with good mobility together they put it in the top tier of NATO MBT’s certainly its comprable to the Leopard 2A5 if a little more expensive of the other mainland European Nato and Nordic Forces Nations. These will porovide a solid hard to shift fire base for the lighter vehicles to work around.
The Leclerc comes as a complete Formation option but with only 1 compulsory Leclerc Platoon of 2 or 3 tanks plus the HQ tank you can keep the points cost down here and the numbers up by equipping the second compulsory tank platoon with the cheaper AMX-30B, the third slot is more Leclercs but the fourth option like in the AMX-30 Formation as well as the tanks contains the infantry option of an AMX-10P section which itself has been improved substantially with new anti-tank weaponry (sadly not available separately according to the catalog section but we shall see what Direct Order offers up). An HQ, two tanks and one mechanised infantry platoon weigh in at a hefty 75 points, leaving just about enough points for including my existing helicopters, some AMX-AUF1 artillery and a dedicated AA unit. This is how I will be updating my Force, applying minimum spend for maximum impact!
But its not all about MBT’s. You will have spotted that there is another new formation option with a new VBL reconnaissance company added which allows the French player to field a massive 12 platoons of light reconnaissance vehicles, one platoon of which are armed with Milan 1 or 2 missiles. For less points than 2 Leclerc tanks for the entire Formation I can see this being a very popular choice amongst the more competitive community members. Mind you, being all metal and resin it will be some what pricey; even a basic Formation of HQ and 3 compulsory platoons as a second Formation will set you back a fair amount of money but does leave you loads of points to play with. Mixing these with the Leclerc formation could work in larger games
Finally there are changes within the existing Formations. The AMX-10P Compagnie de Chasseurs is the least changed, just receiving access to upgraded antitank weapon options for the platoons and access to an integrated Leclerc platoon in the final platoon slot alongside the existing AMX-30B platoon. This is still a pretty poor Formation overall even with the Leclerc option. Its one highlight is it can have all plastic vehicles but it wont win too many games.
Next comes the Escadron De Cavalerie, which is much revised thanks to the new VBL platoon options. Overall this is a fairly low cost Formation but offers quite a bit of flexibility and has some serious punch if well used in a hit and run style of play. The down side is its all metal and resin and the shear cost may put people off.
Lastly comes the VAB Compagnie d’Infanterie. This really benefits from the new equipment now available, gaining integrated anti-helicopter protection through the VAB T20 section, inbuilt artillery with the 120mm Mortar Section, as well as AT from the Milan Section, and the addition of the Leclerc as an integrated tank platoon choice. This is probably by far the stand-out choice of Formation; if only all the VABs were plastic kits rather than metal/resin. I could see me, and probably you, buying into this option certainly if you are planning a new Force this is the place to start, hobby dollars permitting. It has everything you need and is a great option for lower point games and can be coupled with the Air Power for bigger games. The only thing it is susceptible to are fast jets; everything else it can deal with comfortably so maybe some Roland SAM launchers is the key add in here.
So there you have ait a quick run through the new NATO Forces French and to describe it as an update is rather an understatement. Apart from two of the original formations its basically a complete reappraisal of the French and sees the addition of some cool and effective new kit the only thing missing is an AMX-30B update to the ERA-clad AMX-30B2 BRENUS which would have filled the gaping gap in capability between the two MBT options.