American Army

| May 29, 2006 | Miniatures | 0 Comments

The American army provides us with a wide variety of generally aggresively costed units; the M4A1 and Mustang are prime examples. Their army list provides a lot of units with interesting combat abilities;covering fire pinpointer, veteran crew, flamethrower, hard charger, etc. In fact with the Americans they often have so much that it’s hard to decide what to work with.

The Americans have two basic infantry; the Marine Riflemen and the M1 Garand Rifle, both of which may appear similiar but generally have different roles. The Garands are best used in tandem with the Red Devil Captain, both to gain the extra dice from their Stars & Stripes ability, and also for the reduction in enemy cover saves from the RDC’s pinpointer ability. The Garands are great for use as standard infantry, and with Stars & Stripes can even close assault vehicles for 8. The marines, lacking Stars & Stripes, don’t have quite the same firepower as the Garands, but are sometimes better at holding positions because of Gung Ho or assaulting tanks; even a King Tiger should think twice before giving a marine a 1 in 4 chance of disrupting it. However, the problem with marines is that their SA is useless when they’re disrupted, whereas the Garands continue to be useful; not caring if they or the command are disrupted.

Often replacing Garands/Marines in armies, the BAR Gunner is an often overestimated, but still useful unit. On paper covering fire is a great ability, but in practice there’s a good chance each turn it will be useless if you don’t win initiative. Even if you do go first, preventing the attack of an enemy soldier is alright, but with the up to +2 dice of a Garand you have a much better chance of simply killing the target outright. While I’m not saying to leave the BARs out of your army, I would recommend using one, maybe two, with your infantry to support them.

The Hunting Sniper is a bit more pricey than the similiar Imperial or Fanatical Snipers, having his bonus attack dice against artillery. Generally a bit expensive for something of such limited use; for 1 more point you could have a Quad 50 for more and better firepower. Gun Crew Hunter at least has the potential of seeing more use than SS or Commander Hunter as most nations have artillery worth fielding (whether AT guns, newer mortars, or AA guns), whereas SS will only be in certain armies, and Commanders tend to be in very limited numbers, not to expose themselves if they can help it.

The Mortar M2 is a cheaper alternative to current US anti-infantry units like the Quad 50 or Sniper, having a 32% chance of killing any infantry. It’s low defence and negligable attacks at close range hinder it somewhat, and disruption renders it fairly useless. The Mortar M2 needs to be in an area far enough away to be out of range of regular infantry, but have a good line of sight so they can’t simply hide from it.

An excellent AA unit, the Quad 50 is currently the closest thing the Americans have to an MG team (suffering only from speed 0 /relocate 2 instead of speed 1). It’s a bit more expensive than a Vickers for nearly the same attack (+1 vs vehicles at long range), but the AA SA helps make up for it. Unfortunately, since it’s artillery, it will have to hobble along without the aid of a transport. Deploy it the maximum distance out that you can to try and position it early.

A unit that strikes fear into many players, the Marines M2-2 Flamethrower is a great psychological weapon as well as a tactical one. Jeeps are their friends, dropping a pair flanking an enemy AFV gives the opponent the choice of chancing the ‘three sixes’ from the flamethrower, and being destroyed. They’re best used when you go first, but even second they are quite useful since their attacks negate cover, making them excellent for defending the objective, or forcing your way through dense terrain. More often than not your opponent will simply try to avoid contact and destroy them at range, so keep them in cover whenever possible. Flamethrowers are great for supporting the advance of your armour, clearing out all those pesky infantry.

Powerful units, the Screaming Eagle Paratroopers aka Teletroopers are a threat every army build needs to take into consideration. With Hard Charger you can afford to be more aggresive, even taking defencive fires in the movement phase since at worst you’ll just end up where you started. Close Assault 8 is a strong threat to most armour, and the +1 from the SE Captain raises it to a 25% chance of disrupting defence 6. Even more so than the flamethrower, the SE Paratroopers are a psychological weapon that constantly forces your opponents to reconsider their orders. The SEs have several uses, such as taking and holding the objective early on the game, appear near support units and eliminating them, or even popping up and bolstering your lines. At 9 points they are expensive, but well worth the cost.

The Screaming Eagle Captain is an interesting commander, very expensive but very powerful. He has the same attack as an MG-42 or SS-PG at close-medium range, but lacks any close assault value making him only useful against infantry. With +3 initiative and the Paratrooper ability it’s sometimes useful to keep him ‘offboard’ to benefit from the initiative while keeping him away from harm, but his PT Commander ability means you might want him to give his Stars & Stripes like effect to his fellow Screaming Eagles. If you do, keep him as safe as possible because disruption will be costly (and not too difficult to cause on a defence 4/4 unit); not only will you lose out on +3 initiative, but his PT Commander ability won’t function either, reducing the effectiveness of your other SEs. It’s generally best to keep him offboard until at least midgame, unless you really need the extra firepower.

In my opinion one of the best all around Allied Commanders to date, the Red Devil Captain is both a decent infantry and commander, at a decent price. For 7 points you get a SMLE with close assault 7, +2 initiative, and gives pinpointer to allied infantry. As I’ve said with the Japanese army, pinpointer is a great ability either against enemey infantry (reducing cover by to 33% from 50%) or with AT units; only letting vehicles save on a 6. Because of Stars & Stripes they are excellent with Garand troops, perhaps with a Bazooka to give them a bit of ranged support against enemy AFVs.

An ATG without all the abilities of the 17-Pounder, the 3" Gun M5 provides a stripped down alternative. You lose the decent SAs of Extended Range and AP Rounds, but nor do you have to deal with the Large SA. For 4 points less the US gun only has -1/-1/-1 AT values, making it ideal if you want something reasonable powerful for a lower cost.

Another AT unit, the Bazooka provides you with a cheap and mobile (for an infantry) unit. Bazookas are fairly ineffective at medium range, but can at least harm lighter AFVs. At close range they have a fair number of dice and a decent close assault. Overall I prefer flamethrowers for their greater versatility, but a supporting Bazooka can sometimes be useful.

A cheap transport, the Jeep has no other purpose in the game. It works great with moving short range units up to the enemy on the opening turns, then going back to bring other up if it survives. With such a high speed, this 4 point unit is great. However, if you’re looking for a little more firepower the M5 Half-Track has decent AI values, and even has the AT attack to threaten a weak defence. At 14 points they’re very pricey, and best used in larger games where your opponent may ignore them.

The FO Jeep is a fairly costly spotter, that is also extremely vulnerable. With chatting on the radio and a 1/1 defence, you had best be sure you’re in a good position or enemy units will destroy you. 11 points is costly for a single-use spotter. Try to keep in cover along the road when possible so you don’t have to hope for good movement rolls, and gain at least some protection. Generally I consider this unit too many points for something so fragile, and in a US army 28 points for a +1 dice mustang is a bit much. When the US gets some indirect fire artillery this unit may see much more use, but until then they’re relegated to displays. Also, I find it amusing that the Jeep without the gun has an attack, while the Jeep with one doesn’t. Even more amusing, unless I missed it nobody has complained about this much either??

Set I’s American Tank Destroyer, the M18 Hellcat doesn’t live up to it’s expectations. It barely has better vehicle attack than a Sherman, and the increase in speed comes at the cost of your defence, making it vulnerable even to the Panzer II C. While the speed can be somewhat useful in larger games, being vulnerable to most everything makes it likely to be a one-shot unit at best.

A vast improvement over the M18, the M36 MGC is a lightly slower and a lot more expensive, but has much better defence and amazing great AT firepower. Whereas the Hellcat’s flanking attack puts it on par with a Panzer IV G/F2, the M36′s makes it as powerful as a King Tiger. Extended Range and Flanking attack are nice little bonus, letting you try to ‘sneak’ in a flank attack from a distance. With the M36 however, the flanking attack is more of a bonus than a necessity; it already has enough dice to harm most vehicles.

In a standard game, the M24 Chaffee is inferior to the similiar M4A1 Sherman; the reduction indefence makes it easier to kill despite having superior armour, and the +1 speed isn’t as much of a factor. In larger games it is best used as part of a flanking force, where the +1 speed will make a significant difference. They can be used to aid friendly Paratroopers in need of a little AT support, or vice versa; having the PTs support the Chaffee against infantry.

The American Tiger, the M26 Pershing gives the US army a heavy tank good against other vehicles, and even useful against infantry if need be. The Pershing is an M36 MGC with the defence to back it up in a heavy tank battle.

The tank to which all other tanks are compared, the M4A1 Sherman provides the US army with a good generalized unit at a low price. Use it to support infantry, attack enemy tanks, shoot aircraft, or take out support units. The Sherman’s sheer versatility make it THE allied tank, and great for both competitive and casual armies.

For three more points you can upgrade your M4A1 to an M4A3 (105) Sherman, reducing it’s AT attack, but greatly increasing it’s AI. With 11/11/9 attack, even elite infantry and aircraft are vulnerable to this unit. Bombardment means your targets won’t benefit from that annoying cover save. This means while it’s not as good as the M4A1 at hunting tanks, it can still be useful especially against the low defence rear tanks available; Nothing is more annoying than that 3 hit attack being largely negated because of a lucky cover roll.

For fire more points you can instead upgrade an M4A1 to a Veteran M4 Sherman Rhino; while it doesn’t change any of your base stats, it does give the Sherman two abilities with good synergy. The Rhino should keep to cover whenever possible, otherwise the extra points you paid could be rendered useless; remember that Veteran Crew doesn’t negate the penalties from damaged counters, only from disrupted counters. Currently with Veteran Crew defencive fire can’t stop you, so this makes the Rhino a great unit to hold or contest the objective; take out his AT units quickly and there may be little he can do to stop you. For casual games I have found this quite distasteful and against the spirit of the game, and have House Ruled Veteran Crew/SS-Determination.

The last of the Shermans, is the ‘big brother M4A3E8 Sherman Easy Eight which in fact has little in common with the other Shermans other than it’s speed of 4. For 11 points less than the Pershing it has less AT dice (-3/-2/-2), but gains Transport, Excellent Suspension, and AP Rounds. It seems a little overcosted, and often has difficulties against heavy tanks. To make it worth the price you paid for it, make sure to use all of its abilities to their fullest. Flamethrowers make good units to transport on the Easy Eight, but Marine Riflemen might be useful alternatives as well.

The ugly stepbrother of the Sherman, the M3 Lee is best used in historical North Africa games (preferably free of Tigers & Panthers), where it’s ability to engage multiple targets, especially low defence Axis ones, comes in handly. It’s best used hugging terrain so it can fade behind them, but can also use the ‘fade’ to advance on the enemy when you go second. Overall the sheer cost makes it inferior to the M4A1, and outside of scenarios it’s doubtful it will see any play, nevermind competitive play.

Last, but not least, is the P-51D Mustang a useful and relatively low costing aircraft. It’s single-use rocket makes fielding unprotected low rear defence units very risky, but against heavy tanks the rockets have at best a 14% disrupting them, and can’t damage them alone. As a fighter (AA Aircraft), the Mustang will make short work of potentially damaging units like the Stuka, or protect key units from enemy aircraft, defencive firing in response to them approaching. After it’s rockets the Mustang loses some of it’s usefulness, being only able to harass minor AFVs, but is still effective against infantry. Use it to take out enemy commanders and support units, or disrupt enemy infantry so your own units can move in.

There are simply so many combinations of units to make up armies I don’t have the time to go over them all. Paratrooper or Sherman heavy armies are often quite effective, and the Pershing allows the US to make it’s own ‘Tiger’ armies. There are many supporting units to chose from, and so many variations of tanks that it’s often just easiest to render the choie down to ‘Sherman or Sherman Rhino’.

An example American army:

Veteran M4 Rhino x1
M4A1 Sherman x1
P-51D Mustang x1
Red Devil Captain x1
Flamethower x1
Jeep x1
Bazooka x1
BAR Gunner x1
Marine Riflemen x1
M1 Garand Rifle x2

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