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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Building Lists Without Recon

So new book ABC with list XYZ you always wanted to run just came out - but low and behold your most favoritest and bestest list doesn't have a Recon Platoon slot.

While there has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth over this and there is no 'true' replacement for a good reconnaissance platoon, this article will examine the capabilities of a recon platoon and how to replicate those effects with non-recon units.

Please note this may require you to build your list in a way that you had not originally intended, but will provide a more well-rounded solution in a general tournament environment. It's also important to mention some army lists do not have the options to provide even these 'secondary recon' elements - I'm looking at you RT Panzer-brigade.

What do you mean I have to buy four 8-Rads?

Recon Platoon Capabilities

While not exhaustive, the main capabilities a good recon platoon provides to a list are:

Defense against enemy ambushes
Low cost (good reserve platoon)
Ability to lift Gound-to-Ground status

Reconnaissance teams certainly have other abilities, but they are specific to the unit itself and do not provide 'synergistic bonuses' (or positive externalities for all you economists out there). Cautious Movement provides improved survivability for the recon platoon, but does not boost the capabilities of other units in the list like the three listed above.

Protecting Against Enemy Ambushes

"I reeeally hope that smoke is coming out of German tanks."
The two most common ambushing platoons are AT Gun platoons and HMG platoons. Both have their obvious targets; however, it should be noted that the vast majority of ambushing platoons are usually very strong against only one type of team - usually Infantry or Tanks - but not both.

When this is the case, an attacking list without a recon platoon (by design or through loss) can mitigate ambush positions by advancing with the opposite type of unit. For example, should your opponent place 4 Pak40's in ambush, you can reduce the effectiveness of that ambush by leading your advance with a platoon of dismounted infantry.

That being said, you must of course build that infantry platoon into your list.

Let's say I got a Jagdpanther platoon box for Christmas and I really want to throw those cats on the board. While perhaps not 'optimal', you could choose to run them as part of the Schwere Panzerjaeger company out of Bridge by Bridge. Alas, there are no recon platoon slots for that company. However, there are multiple slots available for solid, veteran infantry platoons. For this particular setup, I might suggest:

You can also lead with that Bergepanther!

While not "Top Tier Tournament Worthy" (The Jagdpanther itself is unfortunately sub-par), the list still incorporates the tenets of a well-rounded army. You have two solid infantry platoons to cover your advance, mortars for smoke/pin/filler, good medium tanks, and good heavy AT.

Low Cost

I don't think this needs to be explained all that thoroughly - most army lists contain a number of low point cost platoon options that can be used to round out your platoon count. In the list above, the AA, Mortars, and second Infantry platoon provide the list with a good on-table/reserve point ratio. I usually try to aim for at least 75% of my points on the board in a 50/50 deployment scenario.

Ability to Lift Gone-to-Ground Status

"I say, ol' chap, I do believe the Huns are right over that bridge."
This particular capability is the most difficult to replicate - mainly because nothing else can do it (okay, yes - Tank Telephones - but who uses those things :P).

In a list with no super-sneaky Canadian tanks or American Tank Telephones, a reconnaissance platoon is the only option for lifting gone-to-ground status. Thus, our only option when constructing a list to fight without it is to use tactics that disregard gone-to-ground status. In Flames of War, that means Assaults.

That might mean changing the way your list works, so that it includes multiple smoke templates (since you'll probably miss the first attempt trying to roll that 6) and larger, fearless infantry platoons.

It also might mean changing your tactics in game to either A) convince your opponent it's a good idea to shoot and reveal himself (using anything from putting a tempting target in range to bribing him with delicious beverages), B) spending some additional time to set up a more advantageous assault, C) or bringing something that would be impervious to most defensive fire AT rounds (5x IS-2's with Tank Escorts).

I will recognize that all of the above options are usually less-than-optimal choices; either during the list construction portion of the game or the tactical play on the board. You will be fighting uphill if you have to attack without recon. How steep the slope is entirely up to you.

In closing, it's all about what you do with those points you can't spend on a recon platoon. If you can manage to devise a list that doesn't just squander those points away and uses them to augment the strengths already in the list, then you should be no worse for wear in a standard tournament environment.

Hop on over to the forum and we can discuss what works and doesn't work without recon in detail.

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