The thin beige line. Defence Brit infantry

There was also a feeling among many of the men that, having landed, they had achieved their objective, and there was time for a cigarette – and even a brew-up – instead of getting on with the task of knocking out the enemy defences and pushing inland.’

US – British a liaison Officer  

Today I will be exploring a different type of list.  At the moment most people will notice that armour, mobility and attack is perhaps favoured in FOW and personally  I like it after the “sit in, dig in” meta of the old version.  That said some readers have commented that infantry is in a tough place in the current meta.  Sure there are exceptions; a well built German Beach Defence force is a hard counter to many things but struggles with its poorly trained troops.  The US have armoured rifles to hold objects but lack high AT.  Enter stage left the new Brits and here I think we have an amazing defensive infantry force.

While British infantry comes with many options and variants from the basic cautious, trained, confident variety with war weary (5+ Rally) to the Desert Rats with their cautious, trained, reluctant stats, along with a whole bunch of cards to alter these further.

I will be focusing on the Desert Rats.  For me the difference between the basic rifle company and the Desert Rat company just isn’t that game changing but comes at a significant cost difference.  All you really get is a -1 worse last stand, which I personnely view as fairly irrelevant given how often it happens, and a worse counter attack.  Now that is important but it’s mitigated by a the ‘bulldog’ rule bringing the counter attack back up to 4+.  Therefore to me I really see this as almost confident trained (with 3+ assault) ‘Cautious’ infantry.

Maths wise you get a 12% price drop on the basic infantry and 20% on 6pdrs and 33% on wasps.  All that for really a marginally worse last stand than the war weary basic rifles.  Yes please!

Building a defence list

I have three principles in a defence infantry list.  

  • Firstly build you army in two parts, 60pts and 40pts,
  • secondly minimise the number of units in reserve (one big one over lots of low points ones)
  • thirdly have something to counter attack.

I always start with what I will have on table when playing with reserves (which is most of the time as a defender) so here we go:

Desert Rat HQ 2 x SMG teams 2
Desert Rat Full rifle platoon 8
Desert Rat Full rifle platoon 8
Desert Rat Full rifle platoon 8
Desert Rat 6pdr x 6. 12
Daimler patrol (3 strong) – support item 2
4 x 17pdr – support item 12
Typhoons 8

Humble looking but deadly 

Regardless of the scenario this can be on table.  You have two mighty AT units, a whopping TWELVE AT11 shots and a perfect ambush plus eight AT14 shots on four confident cautious 17pdrs.  
What is important is the third infantry platoon.  I normally don’t go with three but experience has shown that with reluctant troops that third platoon is vital.  It mitigates the poorer morale and also allows you double up platoons on your more exposed objective or when they are spread out, sit in the middle and reinforce when the enemy attack commits.  Also in breakthrough and counter attack it gives two platoons to move on the objective, which, supported by the HQ, massively mitigates reluctant morale.

The draw back of the list is the lack of mobile AT, which is a shame but you can’t have everything.  I could drop the third platoon and exchange the 17pdrs for a quartet of M10C, however then you are giving the enemy four lightly armoured vehicles (by LW standard) to concentrate all their AT on.

The Typhoons allow you to reach out and touch things.  Don’t underestimate the cannon for brassing up self propelled artillery especially German ones that come in threes.  It just loves armoured mortars as well.  It’s rockets and bombs can also assist with pinning traditional artillery.  Of course the mighty AT6 rockets can make quite the impression against a platoon of armour.  I find it often makes opponents play differentmy, spacing out and sometimes being overly aggressive and close to quickly with me.

Finally the recce helps to mitigate enemy spearheads and is vital in some missions to get a more favourable deployment, also they can also zoom around threatening objectives in some scenarios (eg contact).

Next up we look at reserve options and we have 40pts to play with.

I am discounting more infantry; I already have 29 stands of them!  What I need is mobility and offensive action.  Let’s bring on the Churchills.  

I see three real options and this really comes down to personnel style.  Remember reducing reserve rolls is key you need to make those 5s really matter when you roll them on your reserve dice.

Option 1

3 x Churchill Crocodiles 21
Churchill troop with 2 x 75mm and 1 x 6pdr 18

Here you have these beasts with FA11, packing AT10 *and* a ROF 6 flamethrower.  The only draw back is that they can’t hold objectives so its limited in supporting a counter attack.  However you get three FA9 tanks with SA8 and TA2 perfect for the counter attack role.  I love both these units, they complement each other brilliantly.

What’s not to like?

Option 2

Churchill troops with 2 x 75mm and 1 x 6pdr upgrading commander to FA11 20
Four M10C Achilles 18
Damiler patrol 2

This is better if your meta sees a lot of armour.  The Churchills do the same job but have one tank with FA11 (remember “mistaken target”!) but the Achilles can really cause hurt to everything tank wise.  If you keep facing tigers then this is option for you.  Oh and if facing a tiger company you can also put achilles, 6pdrs, 17pdrs and a Infantry platoon on table when in reserves.

One of the most scary units in the game right now

Option 3

Churchill troops with 2 x 75mm and 1 x 6pdr upgrading commander to FA11 20
3 x Sherman’s and 1 x firefly 17
damiler patrol with 4 vehicles.

A real counter attack option with the Churchills and a solid Sherman platoon.  While not super powerful the AT10 75mm and AT11 6pdr happily deal with medium armour plus 2 X AT14 shots is always welcome. 

I lean towards Option 1 and 3.  I need to get some more games in to decide.  I love a trio of FA11 tanks, it’s changes the way the enemy acts and soaks up even 88 shots at long range.  While I have to counter attack it’s important to remember that in a lot of defensive games I just need to clear the enemy from 8 inches around the objective not take an objective and therefore these can do that as well as anything else.  It’s battles such as fair fight, and dust up where it’s more of an issue because I have to take the enemies’ objective to win.

The Desert Rats are still fighting today.

My brain says option 3 is the more sensible choice but my heart says fry the Jerries and bounce 88 shots.  

Now I need to get these on the table and try them out.  However Desert Rats will have to wait until my Paras re done.  So many infantry and so little time!

8 thoughts on “The thin beige line. Defence Brit infantry

  1. Are the main force points deliberately wrong (due to NDA or something) or is it a technical typo.
    Surely 4 17pdrs can’t be 2 pts when 6x6pdrs are 12. And with the current numbers they are up to 42 not 60.
    Other than that I would love to try this list out once I get my hands on the book.

    1. The 17pdr is a typo and should be 12pts for 4. That said, I can’t make the main formation add up to 60pts so need Mark to check his workings!

      thanks for spotting that. Its all a test to check the readers are reading…

      1. No that was me typing this on an iPad in a rush at Heathrow before I lost my Wi-fi. Sorted now I had missed the typhoons to make the 60pts


  2. The problem with the Desert Rat infantry in defense is once they are pinned, they are likely to stay pinned. Any kind of enemy arty can wreak havoc on your plan. How much is the Canadian Command Card to make them rally on a 3+? Thoughts?

    1. I am not that scared about arty due to cautious rating. I generally find it a bit underwhelming. Different story vs aggressive inf.

      Most German armies only have 1 template and my if a self propelled my typhoons can suppress them fairly easily with 6 cannon shots.

      The inf can’t hold forever, true but they only need to until the reserves arrive. The enemy will prob only get 2 repeat bombardment on me assuming I don’t start under it and then 3 crocs are on table.

      Also if the arty is hitting my inf they aren’t hitting my guns.

Comments are closed.