Today Lee launches our Stripes coverage with an overview of the book and what’s coming up.
The US were the first NATO force to hit Team Yankee – No surprise given the name – and in many ways they felt like it. Whilst the US force has it’s proponents, many felt that it lacked AA to deal with the Soviet “Leaf Blower lists” and, excepting a double US Mech formation list, lacked an answer to the (Spandrels) rocket’s red glare of massed BMP. A lack of a Spearhead option also only served to compound things. The US had fallen out of favour compared to the NATO darling that is British Infantry (mechanised or airmobile).
So, after the Soviets were given some love with Red Thunder, it was time for Battlefront to give the US some special attention. Have they done that? Time will tell, but I think so. When we got the review copy here at the Breakthrough Bunker it got most the Team Yankee players like myself very animated as we threw together hypothetical lists and dusted off neglected US forces that had been set to the back of the display cabinet. I can’t think of a Team Yankee book that has had that effect amongst us.
Firstly, we have a host of new formations. The Army gains the light Humvee scouts of the divisional cavalry, the versatile heavy scouts of the US Armored Cavalry and the parachute infantry of the 82nd (sensibly not taking to the canvas but acting as helicopter mounted infantry). Duncan and Myself will be looking at these new formations in-depth, discussing some of the new units and the list possibilities they present.
We also gain the US Marine Corps. Assigned to shore up a Northern flank that the Anglo-Dutch bolstered Norwegians are holding firm, the leathernecks have landed in Denmark to relieve the Germans and Danes of LANDJUT and drive South to link up with the North-bound NATO counter-attack.
As one would expect, the USMC’s rifleman are the Star of the show, but the USMC also bring the M60A1 tank company to offer the US a low cost/high motivation tank force, plus the LAV company as a light tank ‘anti-BMP’ formation. The two Mark’s will be taking a more detailed look at the USMC lists and some interesting lists that can be constructed.
The other thing the book brings is new equipment for the existing formations. The Armoured Combat Team benefits not only from the integration of the M113/M901 Scout Teams introduced during the Red Thunder campaign, but also from the introduction of two new tank options – the uparmoured “Improved Performance” IPM1 and the cheap but surprisingly high tech M60A3, sporting thermal vision and laser range finders that the USMC can only dream of. The Mech Combat team, generally considered the best of the formations of the Team Yankee book, is largely unchanged excepting its tank platoon gains access to the above options and it also gets the two scout platoons. I’ll be taking a look at what the new Armour means whilst longtime US player Lee Long looks at the Mech Combat Team (the pairing of similar first names is entirely co-incidental).
The final big change is the breadth of options we get in the force chart. The VADS and .50 AA MG are bolstered by Stingers (fired from the cupola of the HMMWV – blowpipe Spartan style), the Chapperel SAM and the somewhat divisive Sgt York self propelled AAA. Leafblower lists finally lose their easy prey.
Elsewhere, the A-10 is also joined by the USMC’s Rockeye armed AV-8A Harrier to provide a low end air support option and we also gain an extra Cobra platoon, a Huey mounted Airborne platoon, plus an interesting new slot – the NATO Allied Formation. This allows the US to take a (legal) formation from any other NATO book to reflect the US forces fighting alongside the Germans in CENTAG and the UK and Low Countries in NORTHAG. I’ll be taking a look at some of the interesting match ups we can make with the new NATO formation slot. The only minor quibble I have is that the USMC are a little too well integrated into a common force structure given they are largely separated from the rest of the US forces in the fluff, but its perhaps understandable and will be up to players to execute their own level of containment here. Mark has a list that shows that a “pure” Marine list can be achieved and looks very competitive.
The book is presented with the normal level of polish with the background story focusing on the “Old Ironsides” of 1st Armoured Division in CENTAG and the 2nd Marine Division “The Silent Second” supporting LANDJUT. Each list has some accompanying fictional vignettes which are generally interesting and set the scene, though a couple seem to really force the 80’s references in! The back end of the book is rounded out with a full compliment of three scenarios to play through, a painting guide (minor quibble on how vibrant the MERDC green is here and the lack of a guide to painting Afro-American soldiers – segregation if the US Military having happily long since been revoked) and a product catalogue outlining the US releases.
All in all, Stripes does a good job building the US back up into contenders without ever over-powering them. Some will be disappointed that kit like the Bradley is still AWOL, others that the force organisation doesn’t quite jive with reality, but I think Stripes builds on what worked with the Team Yankee US whilst patching up the worst of the holes. Perhaps the greatest strength is the ability to string some interesting formation combinations together to hopefully avoid the US becoming a cookie cutter army with only one “right” answer to list building. To my mind, if you are a US player then this book is a near necessity if you want to break out of the “double mech” mould.
Ultimately the proof will be in the fighting and the upcoming part 2 of the Firestorm campaign should give the US forces a chance to prove their mettle!