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Friday, April 13, 2012

List Dissection: US Tank Destroyer Company

Seek.  Strike.  Destroy.

In this installment of our list dissections, I'm going to pick apart the new Tank Destroyer company from Blood, Guts, and Glory as we build up a 1625 point list.  So the first big decision is of course: M10s or M18s?  The main difference is of course that the M18s move faster (they're light tanks so move 16" in cross country and road terrain) while the M10s have armor 4/2/0 (compared to 2/0/0 on the Hellcat).

After careful consideration, I decide that the M10 is the better choice in this list for one major reason: the list is mechanized.  Because it is mechanized you will be defending while facing enemy armor, and in my mind that means you're TDs are going to want to pop in cover and concealment, essentially negating your 4" extra move should you decide to move out.  Armor 4 is paper thin, however, at long range you have a very slight chance of saving vs the standard AT 11 of German medium tanks.  But you're also granted much better protection vs light guns like AAA, or the cannons on the various recon units you may face.  

Additionally, you will be attacking infantry which means your M10s will often be stationary blazing away on enemy positions where your speed is again negated.  Your side armor of 2 also means you have a better chance of making it into an assault- especially so if you buy the top armor 1 upgrade allowed M10s for +5 points each. All that being said, however, the two units are fairly equally priced for a reason- and there's plenty of scenarios where the M18s would be preferable.  As you can clearly see from my photos, I decided on M18s not because I think they're the better choice, but because A) I think they look cool, and B) they open up the similarly constructed (though wildly different on the table top) Task Force A.  
So now that we've decided on M18s forming our core, the first pieces of the list come together.  Our HQ is 2 M20s and I've added the recovery vehicle since they're great in V3.  95 points.  I now add 2 full units of M18 TDs for 820, bringing our combined total to 915.  Wow, over half of our points tied up in vehicles that can't even save vs standard AT 11.  This makes me feel uneasy, but hopefully our tricksiness and veterancy will allow us to carry the day!

Next up, being a mechanized list, I know I want something that can really hold ground.  I consider the Tank Destroyer Engineer section and am drawn to the idea of the 5 pioneer bazooka teams, but decide my ranged AT is already handled.  Ultimately I settle on a full strength veteran Armored Rifle Platoon.  I just can't pass them up.  On defense, digging them out will be very difficult, while on offense they can bring the pain and assault a position far better than my tank destroyers can!  Clocking in at 295 points, this brings my total to 1210.  At this point I decide that getting to 8 platoons is not going to happen, so with 410 points left I know I have to squeeze in 3 more units to bring me to 6.

Next, with the reduced cost of Stuarts and their obvious synergy with M18s, I can't pass up a unit of 5!  I decide on trained for them, however, so I'll need to be a little bit cautious with them.  They'll be for harassing, flanking, and keeping infantry away from my TDs.  5 Trained Stuarts come in at 200 leaving me 210 left.

Even though my TDs are recon, I know I must take some inexpensive units here, so I consider the Tank Destroyer recon unit, but at 90 points it's just a bit too pricey.  So I drop down to trained and get a single section of cav recon for 70 points.  I have exactly 140 left which is just enough to get a battery of 4 trained 105s.  They'll be used for smoke and harassment.  I also like that they are static so in any "Mobile Reserves" missions, them + Armored Rifles + a TD unit can start on the board.  Not ideal, but better than nothing.

So there it is, all 1625 spoken for.  HQ + 2 units of M18s + 5 trained Stuarts + Veteran Armored Rifles + Trained Cav Recon + Trained 105s.  Now, let's talk about what this list is capable of.

Defending in a lot of defensive battles is going to be a mixed bag.  Vs a horde of tanks it will probably struggle.  M18s are the ultimate glass cannons- what they don't kill will kill them.  But concentrated fire, effective smoke and terrain use, and herding the enemy with the Armored Rifles can mitigate that.  I'd rather face a veteran panzerkompanie than a FHH Panzerbrigade, that is for sure.

Attacking is, again, very situational.  Against some opponents the speed will be overwhelming.  We can be in the enemy deployment zone on turn one, and shift our attack rapidly when resistance is hit.  On the other hand, we just cannot take effective fire.  Well placed Anti tank guns can shut us down quickly if we're not careful, though I do believe the speed of this list will allow us to dictate where the engagements occur- preferably AWAY from static AT assets!

Fair Fights are where this list really shines in my opinion.  In a Free For All for example, we are able to quickly redeploy and throw our opponent off guard.  The ability to hold our M18s from committing to the field until we know it's the right time is very beneficial.  We should be getting 8 shots at short range coming out of pseudo-ambush every time or we're not deploying them to their full potential.  I don't know many lists that can survive 16 AT 13 shots coming at them at the crucial time that I decide.

So in conclusion I think this list is a really fun and unique option for the Americans.  I don't think it's a total killer in my hands though- there's enough shortcomings to make me hesitate using it in a tournament setting.  Partially, though, it's just that it doesn't fit my playstyle.  This list has a good shot of being the defender and I much prefer to attack!  Still, this list has the potential to scare the pants off of German armor players, and I am looking forward to getting it on the table, I just hope it's in a situation where I can get all of my platoons on and dictate the pace of the engagement!

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