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Monday, June 20, 2016

Leopard Arrives to Adrenalize Team Yankee

 By Mitch Reed and Luke Melia
 The good people over at Battlefront supplied us with an advanced copy of the first follow on module for Team Yankee. Leopard: The West German’s in World War III expands the NATO faction by introducing us to the host of the conflict. The 48-page softcover book, written by Wayne Turner, has all the information a player will need to run a Bundeswehr list; and also has a painting guide, new scenarios, and a back story that gives the player some context on West Germany’s military after WWII and their expected role in the event of a Warsaw Pact invasion.

Mitch has composed the majority of this article. I have inserted comments, review notes and opinions in italics to differentiate between us.  -Luke

"Armageddon It"

When making a game about a fight that never took place it is important that the designers give the player some idea about the environment that these forces will fight in. This background is explained in detail at the beginning of the book and explains the growth of the post war German Military and how it played a key role in the NATO alliance. Having the largest ground force in NATO and knowing that the next war would be fought on their land it, the role of the Bundeswehr cannot be overstated and including them made an excellent selection (if not the obvious choice) for the first module to follow on the initial Team Yankee Game.
OOB For KG Muller
The contextual back story leads to the introduction of Kampfgruppe Muller, which is a part of the 1st Panzer Division, 2nd Panzer Brigade that battles the Soviets in northern Germany. The WWIII fight of KG Muller is what the book’s lists and scenarios are based upon.

The Beastly Leopard 2
Toys of the “Rock Brigade”
Before we get to the lists that will be “Bringing on the Heartbreak” to the Soviets I want to first detail some of the major weapons that will make up the forces of KG Muller. As the name of the book indicates the game will focus on the Leopard 2 main battle tank (MBT) which is still in use today. The term Leopard 2 is almost a bit misleading since the German’s have put out almost 13 variation of this excellent tank. This tank is certainly not “Foolin’” Featuring a 120mm L/44 gun the Leopard hits a bit harder than the M-1 Abrams and is a little quicker when dashing. The Leopard also has a Morale and Skill rating of 3+ as compared to the 4+ of the Abrams. These benefits do come at a price and each Leopard you add to your force will cost you 11 points versus the 8 for the Abrams.  

The Leopard is great, but the cost is sizable. You lose a side armor, but I do not think anyone will mind that at all. You get a better gun than the M-1 Abrams. Many people casually looking at this will say "it's only one better AT", yet this one extra AT is going to make all the difference in the world because the chances of killing a T-72 at a distance just went up significantly. Just like the Americans, the West German player is going to have to take advantage of the terrain, shoot and scoot and play a more subtle game than the Soviets. You can not afford to lose these tanks.

The Leopard 2 is joined by its predecessor the Leopard 1, which was still in use while the newer tanks were being fielded. With a cost of 3 points per tank you can get a few of these tanks in the recce list, however they are not as fast or as well protected as the Leopard 2. 

The Leopard 1 only has an AT of 19 and a front armor of 9 which means that it can not go toe to toe with any Soviet MBT. However I feel this may be the best asset of the book. The Leopard 1 has a great functionality for the allies. I foresee this tank being used in the Panzeraufklarungs Kompnie as a great counter to the BMP-2 horde which has been the subject of much controversy in the Team Yankee community. The Luchs are literally two for one in points and also listed as having spearhead, recon and of course thermal imaging. ROF 3 halted and ROF 2 moving with AT 7 and FP 5+ is going to play hell with lightly armored vehicles such as the BMPs. The only shortcomings here is that the range of the 20mm Rh 202 gun is 20" and for a recon vehicle it only has a 10" tactical move.  However, these light tactical elements, when used together, are going to cause Soviet players to rethink current strategies and will create a variety of new options for the allied player.

Adding to your force of Leopards is the Jaguar tank hunter which comes in two versions, The Jaguar 1 one mounting the HOT missile and the Jaguar 2 armed with the deadly Improved TOW missile. This vehicle’s capability is much like the M901 ITV, however the Jaguar 1’s missile hits harder and both versions have better protection to keep it around a little bit longer than a M901. All of these benefits does make the Jaguar 1 twice as expensive as its US counterpart, however it is easy to see it is a worthwhile purchase. 

The great special rule for this unit is that they "may be placed on the table in missions with Deep Reserves in addition to the normal limit of one unit with front armor greater than 4".

Your Panzergrenadiers will get to ride around the battlefield in the excellent Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV). You also get the Milan Anti-Tank Missile to either mount on your IFV or dismount with your infantry; the Milan is a big improvement over the US Dragon with a greater range and killing power. The Marder can also mount a 20mm cannon which great to keep enemy helicopters away from your tracks. When dismounted, your infantry can pour out more fire than their American counterparts and is armed with the Panzerfaust 44 to deal with tanks at close range.
The West Germans also possess the Luchs wheeled recce vehicle and the Fuchs wheeled APCs which are used to haul around your Aufklarung troops.  

As you have already read I am a big fan of the Luchs. 

Marders on the march!
Leaving the ground domain for a bit and looking to the sky, the rotary and fixed wing air assets the West Germans possess is most certainly not “Two Steps Behind”. Your forces can call in the excellent multi-role fighter the Tornado, which can employ either its cannon or can “Pour Some Sugar” on the Soviets in the form of bomblets. The rotary wing asset is the PAH attack helo which, like the Jaguar, can fire the HOT missile.  

In Team Yankee you need to have air power. The PAH seems pretty pricey at four points each when it only fires the HOT missile. The AT is fabulous at a 23, but it is only ROF 1 and just like other air assets can be taken down from a distance if the AA has a clear shot so it is imperative that you be cautious with these and fly below the tree level to keep them from being blown out of the sky. The model itself looks great and like so many other items in this game I will have to own them because they have such a strong table top appearance. 

A lot of goodies to be had here!
As for the support options, they come in the form of the reliable M109G self-propelled gun, LARS “Rocket” launchers and the M-113 Mortar to bombard your foes. The airspace overhead can be guarded by either Gepard anti-aircraft guns, Roland missiles, or dismounted infantry with Redeye ground to air missiles.

Overall the West German’s have some very solid weapons at their disposal that really expand the options for the NATO player. 

“Let’s Get Rocked”; the Lists of Leopard
Leopard revolves around the three types of units found in KG Muller: a Panzer, Panzergrenadier, and Panzeraufklarungs company. All three of the units have very distinct capabilities and all of them can take advantage of the great West German support units.

The Panzer company gives you the option to take two platoons of Leopards or swap one out with Panzergrenadiers in Marders with your mandatory platoons. You can also add up to two extra platoons of Leopards to pack a mighty punch. The list is rounded out with the availability of a Jaguar 1 platoon and up to two platoons of Luchs to do some scouting. Integral support is given with the M109G and the guns on the Gepard.

The Panzer Grenadier list really gives you some great options. Much like the Panzer list, your two mandatory platoons can be a mix of Marders and Leopards with the option of taking an extra Marder Platoon. Your support adds the M-113 Mortar option to augment the fire of your M109G SPGs. On this list you get a choice between taking a Jaguar 1 or 2 platoon but not both and the list rounds out with up to two Luchs recce troops and the same M109 and Gepard options as the panzer unit.

The Panzeraufklarung gives you less options in combat platoons but it is quite large. Here you have 3 mandatory platoons, two Luchs troops and one with Leopard 1s. In fact this is the only place the Leopard 1s make an appearance. With these mandatory forces you can purchase 2 additional Luchs troops and another platoon on Leopard 1s. In support you can also add two platoons of panzergrenadiers in wheeled Fuchs APC and one Leopard 2 platoon. Like the other lists, the Gepard is available however the only template weapon you can have are the rockets from divisional support. Out of the three lists available in Leopard, this one seems very interesting and can give a player a huge force to throw at their opponent.  

This is my favorite list so far in this book. It is light, flexible and still packs a punch. By itself it can not hope to stand up to a T-72 company, yet when paired with a Leopard II Panzerkompanie it is deadly. 

A ton of info in this book for you to read
Bundeswehr will never be “High and Dry”
Like other nationalities in Team Yankee, the West Germans do have some special rules. The first is Bazooka Skirts which protects the sides of your Leopard 1’s from, HEAT weapons and Forward Defense which enables you to place your Jaguars on the table in missions with Deep Reserves. I think this last special rule will be a fun one and will give the West German player something
interesting to throw at their opponents.

The book ends with 3 missions that tell the story of KG Muller and of course a paining guide.  

The three scenarios are "At the forward edge of battle", "Delaying Attack" and "Flanking Attack", and feature great new battles to enjoy. I really like the feel of these scenarios and hope that something similar will be incorporated into Flames of War as some new missions, with modifications of course.  NATO Green is a color I had not seen before and it is used extensively for the  West German forces on vehicles and the infantry. 

“Too Late to Love” Team Yankee and Leopard?
I have been looking into Team Yankee since I covered the rollout late last year. During that event I had the chance to speak with the folks at Battlefront about this new game. I say it is a new game because that is what it is, it is not Flames of War “Modern”. Since that time I have read through the Team Yankee book more than a few times and looked at the possibility of making up some lists. What I felt the game lacked is some flavor, since many cold war gone hot games fixate on the US vs. the USSR in the Fulda Gap. Leopard add some of that flavor by introducing some new weapons and a nationality that every NATO vs Warsaw Pact game has to include; the West Germans. I know other nations are planned to join the Team Yankee line up, and I feel they too will add some of the diversity that you find in Flames of War. I would love to see the Canadians (I know what a shock) and of course the East Germans who can have warrior teams taken from their genetically altered Olympic athletes.  

Fill 'er up!
I think Leopard gives those who hated the Commies back in the day some great options as far as lists. The backbone Leopard 2 tank is a beast and I think it way outshines the other MBTs in the game. As far as options, I feel that the West Germans may be the cream of the crop, they have so many great tools that can do so many nasty things to an opponent. Even with this they could have added some flavor that Battlefront added in its back story; like units made up of mobilized reservist who are not as well trained as their active component counterparts. Maybe the different mechanics of this game make a point like this moot, or it’s just me comparing Team Yankee to FoW. 
Overall I like this new book and I feel it will motivate me to start collecting a few lists and play it on a regular basis.
I have always subscribed to the belief that, in games, variety and diversity is the key to a successful
system. Multiple factions or in this case, Nationalities, are important to gamers. We want to have options, options and more options. In my opinion, one of the reasons Flames of War has enjoyed such success is because players have the ability to choose from a plethora of different nationalities and time periods, but can also custom build lists that not only interest them from a historical aspect, but also work for them on the game table. It's fun to build lists and Leopard has a lot of different units to chose from. Team Yankee has garnished some criticism because of this lack of diversity and some folks have said that it looks boring. The more books, Nationalities, lists and models that are released the more this system is going to grow. If I had one major criticism to make about Team Yankee is that it was not released with more Nationalities available. I believe it would have been a great advantage to do so.

Leopard is a great book. As we have discussed at length, this book will be a figurative and literal game changer for Team Yankee. It is well written and features great scenarios and back story. This is a must buy for everyone who is playing the game, but please be warned. If you buy or even just read this book, you are most likely going to be buying a West German army.

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