Set 1 and 2 Unit Reviews

| March 29, 2006 | 0 Comments

This article is a review of each of the units from Axis & Allies Miniatures Base Set and Set II organized by country.

CHINA

Kuomintang Machine-Gun Team – Set II Uncommon
The Kuomintang Machine-Gun is typical of AAM’s Nationalist Chinese; sacrificing quality for quantity.  While individually these Machine-Gun teams are inferior to the Vickers, they are also less costly, and with only slightly worse stats.  The only major drawback the Kuomintang Machine-Gun has is the Overheat SA, but even it can be managed. Whenever possible keep the attacks to longer ranges; they may be slightly less effective, but they also significantly reduce the chance of overheating.

Kuomintang Officer – Set II Uncommon
I simply can’t stress enough that there is no reason to ever use this officer.  Even when playing a Nationalist Chinese only army I’d much rather use a Kuomintang Machine-Gun or 2.5x Riflemen for his cost.  +1 Initiative does very little when your opponent has +2 or +3.  With no command effect, or even special ability, he’s terrible. The Commissar is the same cost, has close assault 6 and bravery enforcement all for the trade off of one less infantry die at close range; 5 instead of the KUOMINTANG Officer’s 6.

Kuomintang Riflemen – Set II Common
The KUOMINTANG Riflemen have several uses, first and foremost as Commissar fodder; it’s one less point than standard infantry which quickly adds up if you plan on sacrificing multiple units.  While cover rolls won’t save the Riflemen, and defencive fire can immediately kill them, they still aren’t all that bad.  For 1 less point their attack is -1/-1 compared to standard rifle infantry (MAS, SMLE, Mauser), and you can use the fact that your opponent generally won’t attack them if there’s a better target to your advantage.  I wouldn’t deploy them in significant numbers in a standard army, but they could have their uses.

T-23 Series 1933 – Set II Rare
Most players take one look at the T-26’s unreliable SA and write it off as useless. I’ll admit it can be difficult to play well, but hardly useless.  They are best in early war scenarios from 1939 to 1940 before the defence 5 units start coming out, and their attack dice are actually pretty good during this period.  What one has to take into consideration is unreliable; that at any point an attack can permanently immobilize you.  To that end, always try to stay in cover, and more importantly where you have a good field of fire.  There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a corner somewhere far away from the battle.

 

FRANCE

MAS 7.5 mm Rifle – Set I Common

With the Urban Combat SA the French infantry are great for defending Town Hexes, and are great for the defender when playing an assault scenario.  The MAS is a 1939 unit with the same basic stats as the British SMLE, but with the previously mentioned Urban Combat SA.  Because of this there is very little reason to every take a SMLE instead of a MAS; only if you don’t have enough SMLEs, or are playing a historical or British only army.

Renault R35 – Set I Rare

In early war scenarios the Renault dominates the battlefield.  It’s 4/4 defence is hard to penetrate, and the 8/7/5 AT dice, while not spectacular, is more than a match for Panzer II-III’s.  However, as the years progress the Renault quickly becomes obsolete, even considering it’s low point cost. With a mere speed 2 the Renault fails miserable as a ‘swarm tank,’ since even the lumbering German behemoths can move out of the way faster than the Renaults advance.  A fun tank, the Renault’s niche is in 1940 scenarios involving the invasion of France.

 

POLAND

7TPdw – Set II Rare
The polish tank is an interesting one.  It doesn’t replace the Humber Scout Car, being slower, having less defence, and no strike & fade, but it does offer an alternative to Machine-Gun teams like the Vickers or Kuomintang Machine-Gun or as a less expensive M3 Stuart.  The 7TPdw has a slightly worse attack than a Vickers, but gain increased mobility, and is slower and has less defence than a Stuart, but at half the cost.  While this tank is fairly useless against other AFVs, as an anti-infantry light tank it is useable.

Cavalrymen – Set II Uncommon
At first glance the Cavalrymen seem to have a few deficiencies; low defence, bad attacks, no close assault, and a fairly low hand-to-hand; after all Hand-to-Hand 9 isn’t much better than the standard 8 dice at close range.  However it’s their mobility that makes them good; both speed 4 and determined charge means the cavalrymen can move out from behind cover, where the 3/3 defence doesn’t matter since they can’t be shot at, and right into the enemy soldiers.  As soldiers themselves, they don’t have any penalty for moving through hill or forest hexes, so can often go faster than vehicles through rough terrain.  A favoured tactic of mine when going second is to send the Cavalrymen right into the middle of the enemy during the assault phase.  Any disruptions are irrelevant since they will go away as soon as you’re done.  Then the next turn

if the enemy tries to get away they have a Hand-to-Hand 9 attack coming at them. Most likely you will lose your Cavalrymen in the exchange, but against Snipers, Machine-Gun Teams, and the like it can be worth it.
SOVIET UNION

Commissar – Set I Uncommon
For a mere 5 points Commissars have only one real purpose in the game, but they do it well.  Bravery Enforcement can have a major impact on a battle, at worst they eliminate the -1 penalty of disruption or damage, but more likely they allow your infantry to hit on a 3+; or a 2+ for snipers. While Kuomintang Riflemen make great fodder, any soldier with a destroyed counter works just as well; you’re going to lose the unit anyway so why not sacrifice him. Commissars do not make great primary commanders, since their initiative is only +1, but they combine well with Red Devil Captains (if you don’t mind mixing nations) or Cossack Captains (if you want to keep it to Russians).  If worse comes to worse remember that Commissars do have Close Assault 6

Cossack Captain – Set II Uncommon
The Cossack Captain seems to have given up riding horses, and taken up riding Russian Tanks.  The KV-1 seems to be his favourite, since most enemy infantry will then be unable to harm it.  Disrupt as many enemy infantry as you can with your Cossack Captain beside them they need at best 6’s to hit anything.  While the Captain may not have a spectacular ranged attack, he is best up on the frontlines anyway. At 9 points he may be a bit costly, but his command effect can be powerful if put to effective use.

Fanatical Sniper – Set II Common
On it’s own, the Fanatical Sniper isn’t too bad, with a 26% chance of killing an SS-PG, 30% of disrupting the SS-Panzer IV F2. Against normal defence 4/4 soldiers it has a 46% chance of disrupting them. However, when combined with a Commissar’s Bravery enforcement the sniper is now hitting on a 2+; greatly increasing it’s effectiveness.  This sniper may not be able to put out the sheer volume of attacks of a Machine-Gun, but can slowly and accurately take out one at a time.

Guards T-34/85 – Set II Rare
The Guards T-34/85 is comparable to the KV-1, costing only 1 point more.  The Guards T-34 is slightly better against Vehicles (+1/+1/+0), and a little worse against infantry (-2/-2/-1). It trades off Hulking Mass for Superior Armour 2; both of which are comparable, and Transport to gain Guard Crew.  The T-34/85 also sacrifices the ‘all around defence’ of 6; dropping to 6/5, for +1 speed.  I prefer the KV-1 for a few reasons; the facing is irrelevant, at times hulking mass is more useful, transport is a good ability, and it’s effective against both vehicles and infantry.  However, with the extra dice and re-roll from Guards Crew the T-34/85 is much more effective against heavy tanks, something the KV-1 sometimes struggles against.

IS-2 Model 1944 – Set II Rare
The Russian answer to the Tiger I is found to be a bit lacking.  It costs 5 more points, and simply put, you aren’t getting what you paid for.  The IS-2 has +1/+1/+1 vs Infantry compared to the Tiger I; 8/8/7 isn’t bad, but if all your IS-2 is doing is hunting infantry than something’s wrong and more importantly the Tiger I can simply overrun an infantry in it’s way once per phase.  The IS-2 has a mere 1 die extra at close range compared to the Tiger I, and lacks Extended Range 10. While extended range may not come into play in standard games, in the larger ones it is a significant drawback.  Now, while all that may make the IS-2 sound terrible it’s not.  Currently it’s the Allies’ only heavy tank of that class, it has great AT values, an all-around defence of 7 is hard to get passed, and with Superior Armour 2 on top of that.

KV-1 – Set I Rare
The KV-1 is simply a great tank.  It’s not too expensive; it’s effective against infantry, vehicles, and even aircraft.  It has a good defence coupled with Hulking Mass, meaning the KV-1 is going to stick around for a while.  Transport allows it to carry supporting pieces such as PPSh’s or Grenadiers along with you, helping to defend against enemy infantry or aid in assaulting enemy AFV’s.  The only real drawback is that it’s firepower against vehicles is still somewhat low, currently that’s typical of most Allied tanks.

Mosin-Nagant – Set I Common
The Mosin-Nagant is not as bad as some players seem to think.  Command Dependant is a drawback, but the piece is still usable.  Close Assault 8 on a standard rifle infantry is a huge deterrent, especially with a Commissar close by. Even a King Tiger should fear that combinations; with an almost 50% chance of disruption.  Because of their drawback the Mosin-Nagants are best used defencively such as holding the objective.  Take care to protect any commander you use with them, as you don’t want formations of riflemen stuck far away ‘limping’ towards the battle. Also not that with the errata they can unload from vehicles by themselves now, allowing you to move a few up closer to where you want them to hold fast.

PPSh-41 SMG – Set II Common
These SMG toting infantry at first may seem vastly superior to Mosin-Nagants.  After playing them a few times you can see otherwise.  Losing command dependant is great, but having only an effective range of 0-1 greatly limits their playability.  As tank riders they make great supporting units, protecting their vehicles from enemy infantry or serving as shock troops through areas of sense terrain so that their lack of range is irrelevant.  More often than not though you’ll find yourself wishing that they could shoot just a little bit farther.

PTRD-41 Antitank Rifle – Set II Common
Possibly the worst unit so far (at the very least in the top 3), we hardly needed a unit that specializes in hunting Panzer II’s.  It’s dice against both vehicles and infantry are low, and even with a Commissar they don’t improve enough to be useful.

T-34/76 – Set I Rare
In 1941 this tank is simply the best there is.  Beyond that I generally prefer paying the extra four points for a KV-1.  There are some differences that can be significant depending on your playing style.  The T-34/76 is faster, and the four points could be spent on other units.  Defence 5/5 with superior armour 2 makes it hard to damage the tank from a single shot, but multiple attacks are just as effective.  It’s slightly worse at shooting infantry, but the points you save can buy you a PPSh for a tank rider.  All in all it’s a good medium tank that doesn’t become obsolete as the years pass.

T-70 Model 1942 – Set II Uncommon
The T-70 is a great little tank. With speed 5 it excels at flanking the enemy and surrounding them. It’s attack dice may not be great, but 9 dice at close range against rear armour is bound to be effective, and you can easily afford to take several of these tanks.  The T-70 is rarely going to be shot at when there are better targets available; pair them with T-34s or KV-1s. If disrupted, simply attempt to zip away and hide until the counter is removed.

ZIS-2 57mm Model 1943 – Set II Common
While I generally prefer not to use the current antitank guns, the ZIS-2 is decently priced and fairly effective.  It won’t do much to Tigers unless they’re foolish or forced to get close, against most medium tanks they will work well enough.  As usual, the Commissar greatly increases their effectiveness. Unfortunately the ZIS-2 has the same stats as the British 6-Pounder antitank gun, but for 1 point less.  The years and nations are different though, so in historical games (or using the national historical limits) both should still see some use.
UNITED KINGDOM

6 Pounder Antitank Gun – Set I Common
As with the British SMLE, the 6 Pounder has been made obsolete by another unit.  In historical games or one you’re only using British units for the 6-Pounder is still decent.  The eight dice at long range make it a threat against most medium Axis armour, the Inspiring Lieutenant allows them to reposition during the movement phase.  As with all antitank guns so far, the 3/3 defence is significantly low, and easily disrupted or destroyed.

Archer – Set II Uncommon
While the defence is low, everything else about this tank is fairly good. The Fixed Rear Gun is interesting, but not a significant drawback. For 21 points you get the extended range and vehicle attack of a Panzer IV, with Strike and Fade. I’d have to say that’s pretty decent. Unfortunately it’s slow, so should stick to the roads when possible.

Churchill Crocodile – Set I Rare
The Crocodile is an interesting vehicle.  It’s extremely slow, but has an extremely high defence to help it get where it’s going.  At medium or long range it’s next to useless against infantry, but up close it’s 10 dice flamethrower will fry them.  Against vehicles it’s no better than an M4A1 Sherman, but again the Flamethrower SA makes it devastating up close.  The Crocodile is best used to steadily move towards the objective and hunker down, flaming anything that tries to usurp it.  Move along the road whenever possible for the movement bonus; it increases your speed by a substantial 50%!

Cromwell IV – Set II Rare
The Cromwell IV is representative of what seems to be a popular British theme so far; mobility.  While outwardly similar to an M4A1, the Vanguard ability allows the Cromwell IV to be up close to the enemy immediately, where it can put it’s 14 dice at close range to use.  The Cromwell works well with other Vanguard units such as the Crusader II, infantry that can deploy behind enemy lines such as Paratroopers or Partisans, and fast units like the M3 Stuart and Humber Scout Car.

Crusader II – Set I Rare
The Crusader II is good in 1941 scenarios, and alright in 1942, but fairly useless after that.  It’s main advantages are it’s speed of 4 and Vanguard.  It has enough dice to be a threat to most vehicles, but is incapable of handling infantry.  Prone to Breakdown is similar to the T-26’s unreliable, and most be treated accordingly.

Humber Scout Car – Set I Uncommon
A staple unit, the Humber Scout Car is a great infantry hunter. It’s high speed, strike & fade, and good attack dice against infantry all combine nicely for an effective hit-and-run unit.  It’s best used to support your tanks and remove key threats.

Inspiring Lieutenant – Set I Uncommon
Still the only British Commander available, the Lieutenant can be very useful, or at times just a waste of points.  He has the attack stats of a standard infantry, and an even higher close assault value.  Tally-Ho! Lets him move your infantry faster and even allows artillery units to move when normally they can’t.  The Lieutenant is best used as part of a mobile army, which the British excel at.

M3 Stuart – Set I Uncommon
Fast, inexpensive, and effective, the M3 Stuart is a great unit.  While it’s vehicle attack values may not be great, like the T-70 it’s fast enough to out manoeuvre the enemy and get a rear shot.  All Guns blazing means any exposed infantry are just asking for it.

PIAT Gunner – Set II Common
The PIAT is nearly double the cost of a Bazooka, and not nearly as effective as two.  It has no medium range, and the close range is the same as the Bazooka.  Hard to spot gives it slightly more survivability, but then so does having two units instead of one. Overall I just don’t see this unit as being worth the cost; at 5 points it would have been good, at 6 somewhat usable.

Royal Engineers – Set I Common
One of the worst units in the game, the Engineer can still have his uses.  Close Assault 16 is about the only thing he’s good for, but getting in the same hex as the enemy can be a problem.  For the same cost two M2-2 Flamethrowers or Bazookas would be much better. Blowing up bridges is laughable, and they only have a 50% chance to even do that.  Even most house rules I’ve seen for Engineers doesn’t make them worth using.

SMLE No 4 Rifle – Set I Common
Along with Royal Engineers, 6-Pounder Antitank Guns, and PTRDs the SMLE is one of the worst units in the game.  The French MAS Rifle simply makes them useless.  The SMLE is 1941, not 1931, and doesn’t have anything to replace Urban Combat. Again except for scenarios or insufficient numbers, why would you ever want to use it?

Valentine II – Set II Rare
For 16 points this tank’s is defined by its 5/5 Defence. In 1940 games that’s going to be difficult to harm. It’s dice aren’t the best in fact it’s just a beefed up Crusader, but in it’s year it does well.  Beyond 1941 though this vehicle loses any effectiveness it had. It’s too slow and lacking firepower; the 5/5 defence just isn’t enough anymore.

Vickers Machine-Gun Team – Set I Uncommon
The Vickers is a staple Machine-Gun for the Allies. It’s not as effective as an MG42, but does the job well enough.  Six dice at long range against most infantry gives a one-in-three chance of disrupting it, giving you a decent chance to disrupt multiple targets or destroy a single one.

UNITED STATES

3″ Gun M5 – Set II Common
With a few more dice at all ranges than the 6-Pounder/ZIS-2, the 3” Gun M5 is a little more effective against the larger axis tanks, but at the cost of 12 points in a single 3/3 defence unit.  Also, although it has no real impact upon the game the model is simply terrible. Combines well with several Allied Commanders; the Commissar for +1 to hit, the Red Devil Captain to reduce enemy vehicle saves to 6+, and the Inspiring Lieutenant to help position it.  Still, as I’ve said previously I’m no fan of how easily these units become ineffectual.

Bar Gunner – Set II Common
For the same points as a M1 Garand Rifle, you lose a die at medium range, lose stars and stripes, but are able to pin down your enemies. You still have to be fairly close to do it, as the MG only fires up to medium ranges with the dice of a regular MAS/SMLE rifle team.  But if you can win initiative, get the BAR into position, and not have too many enemies around then you can pin down a unit so the rest of yours can move in.  Sometimes useful, but mostly not that great. I’d rather just kill the target.

Bazooka – Set I Common
The Bazookas are a great specialized AT unit. While slow on foot, they work well on Jeeps; dropping off all around the target and pinning it, unless it wants to risk the 9 dice on it. Still, if available, the flamers are a better all-around unit.

Jeep – Set I Uncommon
One of the best allied units; the Jeep can transport Flamethrowers or Bazookas adjacent to the enemy where they hopefully take them out. More often than not your opponent won’t fire on the “useless” Jeeps since they have no combat value by themselves. Commanders are great on them so you can spread their effects around. On bigger maps they can zip around your infantry where they’re needed. And if having a gun that can’t shoot bothers you, remove it.

M1 Garand Rifle – Set I Common
The Garand Rifles are one of the best of the 3-4 point Allied Infantry.  Compared to a standard infantry they have an extra dice at medium range, increasing the chance of disrupting a 4 defence soldier from 33% to 50%.  But then when beside a Commander they get +1 dice on attacks, increasing it even more to 64%.

M18 Hellcat – Set I Rare
Without any kind of evasion the M18 Hellcat is generally a one-shot wonder.  It has great speed and High Gear 2 usually allowing it to either get a flanking shot, or force enemy armour away so they don’t get shot at.  However with only 3/2 defence the Hellcat is easily destroyed in return fire.  Even machine-guns have a good chance of harming it at medium range. For one more point I’d much rather use the M4A1 Sherman with it’s +2/+2 defence, and slightly less attack dice vs vehicles, but much better against infantry. The Hellcat is always extremely vulnerable to aircraft like the Stuka, which it has next to no chance of retaliating effectively against.

M24 Chaffee – Set II Rare
A terrible replacement for the M4A1 Sherman 4/3 defence with superior armour 2 is much worse than standard 5/4 defence. While against either the enemy needs six successes to damage, against the Chaffee it’s much easier to disrupt or destroy.  Also multiple attacks have a greater chance of doing harm to the Chaffee.  So in the end you’re paying 1 more point for -2/-2/-1 attack against infantry, +0/+0/+1 attack against vehicles, and something that’s easier to kill. It’s year is 1945, making it undesirable even for most historical scenarios.  Hardly seems worth it, especially for a rare.

M3 Lee – Set I Rare
The M3 Lee is hard to use well, and very expensive at 175% the cost of a Sherman.  Like a Sherman it is good against infantry, but it’s primary attack is worse than that of a Crusader or other light British tanks.  While the Additional Hull-Mounted Cannon is only slightly worse than a Sherman’s (-1/-1/-1) it is fairly easy to get out of arc of this slow moving tank.  With strike & fade going first allows you to hit-and-run, but not very far.  Also not being able to receive cover makes the M3 Lee very vulnerable. In 1942 North Africa games the M3 Lee can be usable since it can engage multiple targets, but that’s about the limit of it.

M4A1 Sherman – Set I Uncommon
The Sherman is without a doubt an excellent tank for it’s points. Well rounded, it can deal with any threat; infantry, vehicles, and even works decently against aircraft. It’s cheap enough that you can afford multiples of them, and no points are wasted on mediocre special abilities.  Any new tank is always measured up to the standards set by the M4A1.

M4A3E8 “Easy Eight” – Set I Rare
The Easy Eight is not nearly worth it’s points.  About the only thing it has going for it is the high defence and loads of SA’s.  It’s attack dice are only +1/+1/+1 over a Sherman’s again vehicles, and worse against infantry.  All the abilities it has are nice, but don’t make it worth the points; there are so many units worth taking over it – like the Crocodile or simply taking regular Shermans instead, since it’s worth about 2.5x the cost of one.

M5 Half-Track – Set II Uncommon
Almost the same as the SDKFZ251, there’s one small yes major difference; against vehicles its 3/3/3 instead of 2/2/2. This makes the M5 capable of taking out light vehicles, disrupted Panzers, etc.  It still doesn’t make it worth the cost in a standard game, but in larger battles the Half-tracks really shine.  They just aren’t worth shooting at when tanks are coming at you.

Marines M2-2 Flamethrower – Set I Common
A great Allied infantry unit, the flamethrower is able to threaten any unit in the game.  Most players just won’t want to take the chance that you’ll roll three sixes against their Tiger, and withdraw.  Even ignoring the three sixes, the fact they ignore cover makes them powerful and good for clearing out the objective. I prefer them to Bazookas simply because they are much more versatile.

Mortar M2 – Set I Common
The US Mortar is decent, it has the long range and isn’t too costly. It works well with the Red Devil Captain, becoming a slightly lesser version of the Japanese mortar. Works well with the Commissar to cancel out inaccurate. Even with a Commissar this unit makes for a terrible AA attack; 6 dice hitting on 5+ against defence 4 won’t do much, and cost you 2 or more points to do so.

‘Red Devil’ Captain – Set II Uncommon
The Red Devil Captain is still one of the best Allied Commanders.  He has decent attack stats, a solid command ability, and a good cost. Infantry are extremely hard to remove, and the -1 to cover rolls helps considerable in dealing with them. Anti-vehicle attacks reduce the target’s defence to a roll of 6.  Overall a good unit, and possibly worth using a pair in your army if infantry heavy.

Screaming Eagle Captain – Set II Uncommon
A good unit with +3 Initiative Commander. He fights well against infantry (10/8), but is weak against Vehicles. His command effect basically gives “Stars and Stripes” to all paratroopers; currently only US Screaming Eagle Paratroopers and himself. He does start getting expensive when using multiple paratroopers; him and two ‘troopers are 29 points alone. One drawback is that without hard charger and a defence of 4/4 he’s not going to be that hard to kill. The counter is that you simply don’t have to place him, and you still benefit from the +3 initiative.

Screaming Eagle Paratrooper – Set I Common
Expensive, but nice. At almost double the cost of an SS-PG the Screaming Eagle has only slightly worse stats; 1 more die on close assault, but 1 less on short and medium vs infantry. Hard Charger is a deceptively powerful ability. It doesn’t quite allow you to ignore defencive fire, but certainly reduces it’s effectiveness. Hard Charger may not quite as powerful as the SS Haupsturmfurher’s command effect, but for a few extra points each unit has it built in, instead of having to have the command move with them. The ability to simply appear nearly anywhere on the map is a very powerful psychological tool as well, forcing your opponent to second guess every move, and approach cautiously.

Veteran M4 Sherman “Rhino” – Set II Rare
The Sherman M4A1 is already very good for its cost, the Rhino for 5 points more gains two abilities with amazing synergy; Brushcutters and Veteran Crew. They allow the Rhino to sit in the forest and have a 33% chance any hit barely effects them; -1 Defence.  However the 5 extra points begins to add up if you replace M4A1’s with the Rhinos, and the Rhino is very dependent on luck for cover rolls; it is damaged and destroyed just as easily as a regular Sherman.  Also Veteran Crew doesn’t prevent the penalties from being damaged. Like the M4A1, the Rhino is a capable if impromptu AA unit.

 

GERMANY

Jagdpanther – Set I Rare
Quite a terrible unit, it’s best to either pay the 6 more points for a Tiger, 8 less for a Panther, or get two Panzers. Actually pretty much anything is better. Range 12 is fairly useless on standard maps, but alright on larger ones.  While no turret isn’t always a huge limitation, it means occasionally the enemy will be able to slip out of arc.  It’s infantry attack is terrible, and while the vehicle dice are good, it’s only a few more than most other German Tank. The Nashorn for 12 less points is better, despite it’s drawbacks.

King Tiger – Set II Rare
It’s a bigger Tiger for even more points. The 8 Defence is forces most units to engage it at closer ranges. It still suffers from weak rear defence, which a Sherman swarms can easily take advantage of. Also in standard games 29 points doesn’t leave a lot for support. Although most players are impressed by the sheer power, it actually isn’t that good against a skilled player.

Light Mortar – Set I Common
Another terrible unit. Just take a Blackshirt instead.  The medium range is about the same, but is far superior at closer ranges, and has both Ruthless and Close Assault, which often go nicely together.

Mauser Kar 98k – Set I Common
The Mauser is a decent basic unit, but is usually a filler unit for extra points after you’ve taken the SS-Panzergrenadiers. Sometimes it’s worth paying the extra point for the ruthless Blackshirts, depending on the exact scenario.

MG 42 Machine-Gun Team – Set II Uncommon
The MG42 is a great anti-infantry weapon; 7 dice at long against infantry with double shot is enough to keep them pinned down, or moving a different way. Suppressive fire could be useful for defending an objective, but is otherwise a waste. The MG42 is definitely worth the +3 points over the Japanese MG.

Nashorn – Set II Rare
It’s a large investment for a single unit that has several drawbacks. Its defence is very low, it doesn’t benefit from cover, and extended range 20 is unnecessary even in most larger games (unless they’re very open). The Speed 4 means that you can retreat a fair distance when the enemy closes. The dice against Vehicles is slightly better than the Jagdpanther (+0/+1/+1), but fairly useless against infantry. It’s not a great unit, but it’s good at what it does. The Nashorn is great in larger scale games (150 pts and up), but in smaller ones it’s just too much to support, and one bad die roll from it can ruin you.

PAK 38 Antitank Gun – Set I Common
The PAK 38 is decent, with only -1 dice at long range compared to the 6-Pounder/ZIS-2, but it gains the Seasoned Crew ability meaning vehicles only get a save of 6+ against it. Not too bad, though it has the standard artillery limitations of 0 speed / relocate, 3/3 defence.

PAK 40 Antitank Gun – Set II Common
Very good for a common; for +4 points over the PAK 38 you get a huge increase in dice and range: +4/+4/+5. It seems they’re trying to make up for the Sherman domination. The increase in dice raises the chance of damaging a Sherman from 6% to 61%; slightly more than 10x. It lacks the Seasoned Crew ability on the PAK 38s, but the stats on the PAK 40s are very impressive. It may still only have defence 3, but at 14 points you can afford to field a few of them. Combine the PAK 40 with a Wehrmacht Elite Sniper; the sniper disrupts the AT finishes it off.

Panzerfaust 30 – Set I Common
A great backup antitank unit, 6 dice at medium range is effective against the rear of most Allied Tanks. Far superior to the US Bazooka, and well worth the extra point. The Panzerfausts are useful for guarding the flanks of your tanks. Also would work well in theory with the Imperial Sergeant; Banzai Charging an enemy tank. Unlikely to happen except against disrupted units though.

Panzergrenadier – Set I Common
Terrible waste of points, even at 3 points I’d only CONSIDER using them. With only 7/5 attack against soldiers, they have to get pretty close to do any good, though this is not the main purpose of the Panzergrenadier.  The Panzergrenadiers are made for tank hunting, and close assault 8 allows them to do that reasonable well.  However getting there is the problem.  Because the only Axis transport is currently the Halftrack it will cost 19 points to be able to use their mechanized tactics. It allows you to load up and unload adjacent to the enemy, which will simply force him away.  In theory it sounds nice. In practice your opponent simply destroys the half-track and/or Panzergrenadier and you’ve wasted a fifth of your army.

Panzer II Ausf C – Set I Rare
The Panzer II C just isn’t good against anything.  It’s only somewhat useful against infantry where it has a 33% chance of disrupting at close or medium range.  Doesn’t sound so bad until you consider that you can get an MG42 for +1 point that has a 50% chance at long range, and even higher at closer ranges.  Against vehicles it’s even worse, the Polish tank is the only one the Panzer II C has a reasonable chance against, and even then the Panzer has to be at least medium range to have better odds than the Polish tank firing back at it.  Against aircraft each shot has a 10% chance of disrupting; again not so great.

Panzer II (F) Flamingo – Set II Uncommon
A fast flamethrower for 17 points. It’s only slightly less fragile than the regular Panzer II, and has to be next to something to be able to hurt it. A ‘Flock’ of these could be fun, but overall it’s just to fragile to be worthwhile.  Without double shot it’s even worse than the Panzer II C at medium and long ranges.

Panzer III Ausf F – Set II Uncommon
The Panzer III F is a great tank for the Germans, giving them a low cost unit with a decent ability and attack stats.  In earlier scenarios the Carro Armato’s forward defence of 4 can make a big difference, but otherwise the Panzer III F is generally a better choice.  The Smoke Screen ability provides a much needed tactical advantage to the Axis player.

Panzer IV Ausf G – Set I Uncommon
The Panzer IV G is primarily an anti-tank tank, and does it’s job well for the points.  The extended range can be used to keep the opponent at bay in larger games, but generally doesn’t come into play in standard ones. It does have weak rear armour, but good infantry support will protect it.  In standard games these work best in pairs, though the Panzer IV G has nearly become obsolete because of the SS Panzer IV F2. Aircraft are the bane of this and many other Axis tanks; as they can always be positioned to take a rear shot.

Sd Kfz 222 – Set I Uncommon
This armoured car is much like the Panzer II C, but with a bit better survivability. It’s high speed combined with Strike & Fade make it hard to catch.  However it’s attacks are nearly the same as the Panzer II C and without double shot.  It’s best used to hunt down defence 3/3 infantry or light vehicles.

Sd Kfz 251 – Set I Uncommon
The halftrack is simply too expensive and too fragile to use in a standard game. However in larger games it becomes much more useful because of the speed it can transport units, and because it generally isn’t worth firing at with other more powerful AFVs around.

sIG 33 – Set I Rare
The sIG is a decent investment in earlier years, but is very fragile.  The Brummbar is almost 50% more points, but has significantly better defence.  In general, even if the sIG never fires a shot just the threat of it forces your opponent to react to it / divert resources to deal with it. Infantry can’t advance on it because it’ll tear them apart. Vehicles can, but it can just withdraw and lets your tanks take care of the threat.

SS Haupsturmfuhrer – Set I Uncommon
An excellent commander, his +3 Initiative and Fanatic / Exert Will abilities are always useful. Combined with SS Panzergrenadiers that are already a pain, the SS Haupsturmfurher makes them that much more of a threat. Always keep him out of sight when possible, as he has a high priority target for your enemy.

SS Panther Ausf G – Set I Rare
While it’s attacks are not significantly better than a Panzer IV’s, the SS Panther G has great mobility. Not only is it speed 4, but SS Determination means it’s very hard to stop it from going where it wants.  Unless you have enough infantry with good anti-vehicle attacks around the objective (one on each hex adjacent), you can’t stop the Panther from contesting it with just infantry.  6/4 Defence with Superior Armour 2 means it’s hard to damage from the front with a single shot, but needs to be very careful about the placement of it’s rear.  Again extended range 12 is generally not too useful, but on some maps can be uses to keep your opponent away.  Again, like the Panzer IVs, aircraft are a strong threat, though the Panther has a bit better survivability against an attack.

SS Panzergrenadier – Set I Common
The SS Panzergrenadiers are good for their cost, but not impossible to kill. They just take a bit of tactics and a bit of luck to kill. It’s a safe assumption that any Axis army is going to have a few of these guys in them, so you should be prepared for them. And if they don’t then you should be more than prepared for whatever infantry they are using. They have 10/8 dice against infantry, proving to be more than a match for most.  Ruthless is a great ability, making them that much more powerful.  Combined with Angriff/Banzai Charge these SS can quickly become a powerful menace. Players tend to get very cocky with them though, and that leads to their downfall. An SS Commander is nearly must for a group of SS Panzergrenadiers.

SS Panzer IV Ausf F2 – Set II Rare
The SS Panzer IV F2 is a remake of original Panzer IV G, gaining SS Determination and Battlefield Awareness for only two more points.  Battlefield awareness is best you like a shield; it’s defencive obviously, but can also be used to press in on your opponent; move up to him and give him the choice; stay there and be shot at, or try to move away and be defencive fired at.  Either option is not for your opponent. If you go first then this gives you the option to move away; and as long as you can get out of line of sight the defencive fire is irrelevant as it simply goes away at the end of the turn.

Sturmpanzer IV “Brummbar” – Set II Rare
The improved sIG, with great armour so now mere Machine-guns can’t rip you to shreds, and even tanks have to manoeuvre around to get a good shot at you. The +7 points for the +4/+2 defence is a lot, but at least you don’t have to constantly watch and see if it’s in mortal danger from just about every unit. Excellent vehicle for destroying entrenched infantry, though it still has trouble with defence 5 soldiers. Extremely vulnerable to aircraft.

Tiger I – Set I Rare
The Tiger I is good, possibly the best tank around despite its cost. Overrun is best against units without close assault, especially machine-gun teams, or single soldiers that can’t harm you as you move in (i.e. not Bazookas, Flamethrowers, PIATs, etc). 37 points still leaves you with some decent options for support units as well; Panzerfausts and SS-Panzergrenadiers being good options.

Wehrmacht Expert Sniper – Set II Uncommon
The Snipers seem to be comparable to the MG teams of the same nations; the Wehrmacht Expert Sniper sacrifices double shot and some dice for the defencive ability of Superior Camoflauge. Headshot is a powerful ability, and seems to have been made as a counter to the Sherman Rush. Unfortunately all it really does the Rhino is give it -1 defence, but against the Stalin it’s disgusting. 6 Dice at +1 to hit works out to an average of 4 hits; good enough to disrupt most infantry, kill defence 3, or headshot any tank. The Wehrmacht Expert Sniper has a significant impact in games; its good against vehicles, infantry, and even has a 33% chance of hitting aircraft.

Wehrmacht Oberleutnant – Set II Uncommon
For one less than the cost of a Panzerfaust 30 and Imperial Sergeant, he’s both combined, though without the Hand-to-Hand. His Antitank abilities mean you want him near the frontline, but that makes him a big target. I see him as more of a reserve unit so he can deal with any armour breaking through. He lacks the +3 Initiative of the Haupsturmfurher, which hurts a little, but is otherwise a decent Fighter-Commander, though a little expensive. Angriff is useful with and against many units, though it has had errata to make it slightly less effective.
ITALY

Blackshirts – Set II Common
Blackshirts are useful 4 point Italian troops.  While an SS-Panzergrenadier is obviously better, provide a slightly less expensive alternative, or 4 point filler unit.  In Italian armies the Blackshirts should he the backbone of your army.

Carro Armato M13/40 – Set I Rare
These “rolling coffins” are actually decent tanks despite their huge drawback.  Their attack against infantry is fairly decent for an Axis unit, as is their overlapping fire ability.  Because of the Highly Flammable SA the Carro tends to draw a lot of fire as your opponent tries to make it explode – this can be used to your advantage.

Fucile Modello 1891 – Set I Common
In most cases inferior to Mausers, one or two up on the frontline where they will quickly be lost anyway could be useful.  The extra dice are good, but don’t last long and make the infantry pretty bad afterwards. Even in Italian Armies, the Blackshirts are a better choice.
JAPAN

47 mm Type I Antitank Gun – Set I Common
This Japanese artillery is inferior to most, having significantly less dice than even the ZIS-2 at only one point more.  They can’t banzai charge, are extremely vulnerable, and are only good against light vehicles.  The only reason they could be worth using is because their vehicle attack is still one of Japan’s best.

Arisaka Rifle – Set I Common
While the Arisaka Rifle may look good at first, upon closer inspection they are found lacking. With only 5 Dice at medium range, they have only a small chance of scoring a hit against other infantry.  Once, or if, they close in the Arisakas prove a bit more able, but the difficulty is getting there. The Arisakas require supporting fire from Machine-Guns or Mortars to disrupt the enemy and allow them to close where they can put their Hand-To-Hand 12 to use.

Imperial Sergeant – Set I Uncommon
An expensive but decent leader, the Imperial Sergeant is often found leading a group of rapidly closing Arisaka Rifles.  His Hand-to-Hand 10 is great at keeping enemy infantry away though, and his Banzai Charge command ability allows the Arisakas to close with their Hand-to-Hand faster.

Imperial Sniper (1939, Common)
The Imperial Sniper gives Japan yet another anti-infantry unit to choose from.  The Sniper may not have the raw power of a Mortar, or double shot of the machine-gun team, but he does have accuracy and concealment.  His Commander Hunter ability will rarely see use, as enemies will simply avoid him when possible.  Like other snipers he’s usable to shoot down aircraft, but not great at it. Like the other anti-infantry units he combines well with the SNLF Captain’s pinpointer ability.

SNLF Captain – Set II Uncommon
Another good Japanese unit. Even at one less point he might not be quite as good as a Red Devil Captain, but his pinpointer ability is deadly especially combined with the Type 89 Mortar for -2 to cover rolls. When it comes down to it he can still fight moderately well at close range with 7 dice and using his own pinpointer ability.  Again like the Red Devil Captain, the SNLF Captain works well with antitank guns, making the vehicles save on only a 6. Unlike the Imperial Sergeant who emphasizes the melee aspect of the Japanese, the SNLF Captain focuses on their ranged aspect, and is best when used with several ranged units.

SNLF Paratroopers – Set I Common
Basically 5 points for an Arisaka Rifle, you lose Hand-to-Hand 12 and get the Paratrooper ability. They aren’t overpowered, as many seem to feel the Screaming Eagles are. Like the Arisaka they aren’t particularly effective until you close in to the enemy.  As with any paratroopers or partisans, they are effective in keeping your opponent second guessing his moves, though because of their rather lacklustre abilities the SNLF Paratroopers don’t pose the same level of threat that a Screaming Eagle does.

Type 1 Ho-Ni – Set II Rare
This Tank Destroyer is just what the Japanese needed.  While it’s dice are only the same as an M4A1 Shermans, it’s by far the best vehicle attack the Japanese have. 12 Points is well worth the investment, and in an all Japanese force I’d recommend at least two.  Don’t expect it to survive a counterattack though.

Type 2 Ka-Mi Amphibious Tank – Set II Uncommon
A fairly useless vehicle; the Ha-Go is far superior.  The ability to cross lake hexes is currently pretty useless; as most of the time it costs the same or less movement to simply go around them.  Stream crossing is never bad, but otherwise the Ha-Go is faster, has a bit better attack, and has two good abilities.

Type 89 Mortar – Set I Common
Expensive, but good. The seven dice give you a 43% chance to destroy any infantry. Combined him with a SNLF Captain and they can only save on a 6 (roughly 35% chance of death).  They are best used to fire at long range then withdraw when the enemy closes. Too many mortars quickly become expensive; generally 1-2 combined with a Machine-Gun is best.

Type 92 Machine-Gun Team – Set I Uncommon
The Type 92 Machine-Gun Team is three points cheaper than the MG42 but shows it with its low attack dice. Against infantry it has the same attack as a Kuomintang Machine-Gun Team, though is somewhat better against vehicles.  This Machine-Gun is best used to support your Arisakas by disrupting enemy infantry.

Type 95 Ha-Go – Set I Rare
The Ha-Go is one of the best Japanese tanks, despite a fragile 2/2 defence.  They are fairly dependant on their being forest terrain on the map; the more the better.  With Forest Camoflauge the Ha-Go can’t be hurt too badly, but repeated disruptions will allow the enemy to quickly close the distance and destroy your reduce defence 1/1 tank.  Forest Runner allows you to quickly move through the map and flank your enemy.  Poor suspension isn’t too bad most of the time, since you can at least move along the roads.  For only 9 points it’s dice are decent against both vehicles and infantry.

Type 97 Chi-Ha – Set II Rare
The most powerful Japanese tank so far, the Chi-Ha has improved 3/3 defence, which still means most other vehicles will easily destroy it. Its increased attack dice are, however, useful. Surprise Fire is best uses on forest hexes with roads going into them, as taking the movement roll can be disastrous if you fail.  Probably not worth taking over a Ho-Ni/Ha-Go combination.

Type 97 Te-Ke Tankette – Set II Uncommon
Not worth using. Ever.  Pay the two points for a Ha-Go. At close range it can barely hurt most infantry (19% chance of disruption, 3% kill), and 6/4/3 dice against vehicles is bad. Only use I could see is against a Chinese army, and even then it’s not great.

 

ROMANIA

Antitank Grenadier – Set II Common
Not so great for 5 points; Compared to an average rifle team you lose out on your anti-infantry (-1/-1/-) but you do gain 3 close assault dice, and 9 dice will scare any tank away.  Compared to a Panzergrenadier (which itself is pretty bad); you lose Mechanized Tactics to only gain +1 Close Assault.  Very disappoint for the Romanian’s basic soldier.

R-2 LT-35 – Set II Rare
About the only thing worthwhile about this tank is the 3 Defence in the front. Compare it to the Ha-Go for the same points: Same attack against vehicles, -1/-1/0 attack against infantry. You also lose Forest Runner and Forest Camoflauge, but don’t have poor suspension. The Defence 3 makes it so machine-guns can only take you out at closer ranges and that’s really about it. It’s marginally ok, but I’d rather go with the Ha-Go. When taking the year (1941) into consideration, it’s just that much worse.

Category: Miniatures

About the Author (Author Profile)

Leave a Reply