Second Steps, How to Grow Your Starter Sets: British Bulge

Today, guest writer Mike Robinson looks at building upon the British Bulge Comet Armoured Squadron starter set.
Also he’s learned how to make memes and, whilst sorry in advance, will make no promises on stopping.

Battlefront has put out a box full of interesting new toys making this a nice box for starting a British army or augmenting an existing collection. So let’s not waste anymore time and get to the box.

The box comes with:

  • Four Comet (77mm) Tanks
  • Two Cromwell CS (95mm) Tanks
  • Three Chafee (75mm) Tanks
  • Four Challenger (17 pdr) Tanks
  • One Kangaroo Rifle Platoon
  • Three Kangaroo Transports
  • Two Archer (17 pdr) Tank Destroyers
  • Two Sexton (25 pdr) Self-propelled Guns

So why am I so excited by all this new stuff? Well Cromwells are cool and Comets are bigger and better Cromwells. Getting a bump in front armor from 6 to7, getting an extra 8 inches of range, and a MASSIVE boost in Anti-tank from 10 to 14! With all of those brigade panthers hiding in every forest you get a fast medium tank with enough punch to scare everything but a Tiger II or Jagdtiger.

The Cromwell CS tankss provide some nice utility, with their smoke barrage and brutal direct fire, they can help but with only two I would not count on them to do the heavy lifting to dig out infantry.

While American players are familiar with the Chafee, they’re new to the British. They’re basically scout Cromwells; you give up some front armor, but you maintain all that speed combined with scout and spearhead so you can really get these tanks into a position to divide your opponent’s attention.

The Challengers give us the fastest 17 pdrs you’ve ever seen, being put on a stretched Cromwell chassis, maintaining all of the Cromwells other stats, save ‘cross’. It’s an interesting choice between running them and Comets since they are so similar and probably down to personal preference. Do you want an extra point of front armor and smoke rounds or do you want the extra point of anti-tank penetration? They cost the same points 21 for three and 28 for four.
Personally I lean towards the Comets. There are plenty of mid range AT units running around to deal with armored car and halftrack spam lists that I rate the extra armor over the extra punch.

Ok on to my favorite part of this box, the Kangaroo Rifle Platoon and their transports. Now the infantry is nothing special; they’re the exact same Rifle Platoon you’ve seen in D-Day British and even cost the same points. However, when you spend the extra 2 points for three Kangaroo Transports this unit comes alive.

The Kangaroo is basically a turretless Sherman tank that’s been turned into a transport. So we have a front armor 6, side and rear armor 5 transport. Not only are they the best protected mechanized infantry infantry in the game, the Close Assault special rule lets you dismount and assault as long as you do not dash the Kangaroo in the movement phase. So, just imagine driving up on dug in infantry hosing them down with 9 dice of machine guns and then a whole ‘deadly’ British rifle platoon jumps out and moves into assault.

The Archer is… interesting. 
It’s the same improved 17 pdr we see on the Challenger but built onto a Valentine chassis, albeit a lot less armored one. Armor 2 all around and no moving rate of fire means that you have to manage these carefully. On the other hand it’s much faster than the towed version that it shares a box with on the force org chart. So maybe a cheapish ambush unit that you can get across the table when it’s done where you drop it, but it’s a niche unit.

Sextons make the jump from command card to actual unit with a model here and I actually quite like them. Being cheaper than the towed 25 pdr and the Priest should make this the go to artillery choice, but Battlefront only gave us two of them and, like I mentioned with the Cromwell CS tanks, only having two makes it hard to have them do what you want artillery to do: dig out infantry. 

So let’s see what the list looks like out of the box.

So 104 points is a whole heap of points and, while it would be easy to throw a Lucky card in as Duncan cries and call it a day, there are some problems with this list.
First the formation is just too damn fragile; only three units, one of which is front armor 4 recce, is going to get you swept off the table quickly. Having two weak batteries between the Sextons and the Cromwell CS tanks is also less than stellar. The CS tanks don’t even have Mike Target if you really wanted to try something crazy. The Archers also don’t really feel like they have a place when you get four Challengers and four Comets, considering they have a moving rate of fire and a 12” tactical move. I would probably try them with a more infantry focused army.

Now, don’t worry.  I’m not going to leave you with a heap of complaints; I have a plan.

Let’s make the necessary cuts to give us some room to bulk up this formation a bit. The Archers are the first thing to go; they’re just not mobile enough in this list when the Comets and Challengers are rushing around at high speed and, like I mentioned before, the Challengers fill that extra high end AT role.

Next we cut the Sextons. I know, I know.  I said these would be my go to artillery choice but only having two really hurts and the Cromwell CS tanks do a good enough job of giving you that smoke barrage and infantry pinning ability.

So that’s freed up 15 points but we’re going to need a few more for what I have in mind. So, let’s drop one of the four Challengers saving a further 7 points.
Now we’ll spend an estimated $50 to buy another platoon of Comets and get another platoon of three into our army. This makes the formation less fragile and provides us with more hard hitting and reasonably tough tanks.

Now what to do with our last two points? Well I’m going to do something a bit unprecedented for this series and recommend a Warrior card.  Something that Bulge: British gives us is a handful of cheap Warriors so now we can finally tap into some of these quite strong powers without having to give up an entire unit for it. The one I’ve picked is Reg “Titch” Snowling.  I won’t go into the man’s actual combat record (although he sank a U Boat with a Comet, like the absolute mad lad. Look it up) in game we can discard the card to give a platoon of Comets the ability to reroll two missed shots and two failed firepower checks. So save this card for the all important opportunity on out of position Panthers or that precious side shot on Tiger IIs and you can force through damage that Lucky can only dream of.

So our final list is a bit more focused on taking on other armor and utilizing our superior speed to outmaneuver opponents. Make sure to pick your stance accordingly. There is still room to play around with this list you could drop the CS tanks and add one of the left over Comets from the box to make a two Comet HQ freeing up 5 points and if you take the command card out you could put the two Sextons back in if you adore the 25 pdr. Use that leftover point for a Dingo Recce Patrol. 

So let’s end with the cost breakdown. This will be based on similar products since pre-orders have not gone live yet. Remember to check your friendly local game store for deals or if you’re in the UK Breakthrough Assaults lovely sponsor Battlefield Hobbies.

  • Comet Armored Squadron  $110
  • Comet Armored Troop $50
  • Bulge: British Command Cards $10
  • Total $170

While we’ve left off more units than usual we have spent a record low total for this list. I hope to see your fancy new Comets on the table, but please do be nice to my poor Panthers they’ve been through a lot lately…