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Monday, August 29, 2016

Going Deep; Building a Commonwealth Lists from the Bulge

By Mitch Reed

With the addition of the Commonwealth in Battlefront's upcoming Battle of the Bulge  I wanted to take a deeper look at the lists provided in the book and select two that I may play in a Bulge themed tournament.  My first army in Flames of War was the Canadians, I even painted them with the “greener” battledress and when I expanded my collection to play other commonwealth lists I made the choice to but new figures and paint their battledress brown, so I guess you can say I am dedicated.  This expanded even further when I collected an entire airborne army, and even more when built and painted an entire force just for the Mediterranean in Mid-War.  I must have about 15 Churchill tanks, and even more Cromwell’s and I always look for great lists in which to get these forces on the table.
For this article I plan to use a 1500 point total, and only select forces in which I have models.  I will try to pick a list that is both fun to play and somewhat competitive.  I know a lot of folks feel there is a “science” into picking a list, perhaps there is, however I am going to pick something I would bring to the table, not necessarily for a tournament.

7th Armoured Division: The Desert Rats

I have played the Desert Rats in the past; I liked the Reluctant/Veteran list from the Overlord book.  In this list you can put a ton of Cromwell’s on the table and with the “Cautions not Stupid” rule I was able to overcome the low motivation rating at certain times.
This is a pricey list, especially with what I plan to take.

So let’s start off with the command element. I like the Cromwell CS, and I wish the list had the option to take one regular Cromwell and two CS, however it does not.  I will take one of each for my command element at 170 points.

This list requires two combat platoons; and you have some good choices to mix up the tanks in these platoons.  I like the fact that you can take two Firefly’s in a platoon and upgrade them to Challengers.  I will do that with one platoon which will cost 475 points.  You may ask why take two very expensive tanks, well for one they move as light tanks so they can keep up with the Cromwell’s, they have an AT rating of 15, and get to fire 3 shots when stationary. So taking advantage of Semi-indirect Fire becomes that much more deadly.  Also they have Protected Ammo, where the Firefly does not.
The second platoon will not have the two and two mix, instead I will take 3 Cromwell’s and upgrade the Firefly to a Challenger for 425 points. 
So far I have two platoons and a command element; 10 tanks for 1070, ouch.  This does not give me much room for support at 1500 points.

This force will need some recce, so I will pick two Daimler 1’s and a Dingo for 105 points. So my total now is 1175 points with 3 platoons.

No HMGs???
Infantry is a requirement on a list like this and the small Motor Rifle platoon does not cost very much, however they have no option to take a .50 cal HMG, I will look at other options.  At a higher point total a Commando platoon would be my choice but I am trying to save points here. My choice is the Desert Rats Rifle platoon for 180 points, its 9 stands which is nice however its only transportation option are trucks, I would have loved some Kangaroo’s, but no joy.  This unit costs 180 points and my total is now 1355 point and 4 platoons.

Arty is next, and these guys have some good options.  With 145 points left I am limited on my choices and I will take the platoon of 2 Sexton’s that brings me to 1500 points and 5 platoons. 

As far as the British go, this is a small list. In missions with reserves I will get two on the table which will really suck.  I do have a very fast and deadly force, so I will be forced to play very aggressive with this list.  Would I bring this to a tournament?  I would; only if I wanted to play for fun. I could drop the Challenger’s and get back 60 points, but that would only enable me to trade in the Sexton’s for a battery of 25pdr guns, which is not a good option for a fast and aggressive list.  How well this list plays will be based on the mission more than what list I am playing against.  Like I said before, I like the fast tanks and I plan to play this list in a friendly game to see how it does.

51st Highland Division

Much like the 7th AD above, the Highland Division makes third appearance in the game.  The last time we saw the Scots they were Reluctant/Veterans in Normandy and by the end of 1944 they have become Confident/Veterans.  Nicknamed the “Highway Decorators” because they left the distinctive “HD” from their patch on all roads they traveled on. I picked them over the Welsh list because “Skins” platoon and the Breaching Group did not appeal to me, plus I have read so much about the 51st over the years.

I plan to take the optional “Bagpipes” with the command team for 10 points mostly because I have painted a few kilted pipers in my time. 

So with 40 points spent I will take my two mandatory rifle platoons. They are 180 points each and I can get three Ram Kangaroo’s for 20 more points and then upgrade them with .50 Cal HMGs; total cost is 215 points per platoon.  So right off the bat I have spent 470 points; almost the same amount as my first Desert Rats Platoon above.

Now for support choices.  Right off I will tell you that one of the great things about British lists is the ability to take Churchill’s.  They are well armored and work well with infantry if you use the night attack rule.  While I also love those flame spitting Crocs, I will take the 3 Churchill’s with the upgraded armor for 325 points.  So now I have 3 platoons and have spent 795 points.

Now I need things that can actually kill other tanks.  My choices are tanks from the 29th Armoured Brigade or some tank destroyers.  I really wish I had some Archer’s, so since I do not I will go with the TDs and their 17pdr guns for 370 points.  I am at 4 platoons and have spent 1165 points.

Next I need some cheap British artillery.  The 25pdr can’t kill much but the British artillery rules makes them a good buy.  185 points for a battery of four gets added and now I have spent 1350 points and have 5 platoons.

Now for the Swiss army knife of British units, the carrier platoon.  If the point total was higher I would get one recce patrol and one Wasp platoon, however with 150 points left I will go for the recce patrol, with 2 extra hull mounted guns for 10 points; one of which will get upgraded to a .50 cal HMG for 5 more points and the other to a PIAT at no cost.  This platoon ends up costing 105 points, so now I have 6 platoons and 45 points left.

Yes I could drop the extra armor on the Churchill’s and gain back 3 points, but what would I get?  So with these 45 points I will get an AOP for 25 points, add a carrier to the command element for 5 points, and then add jeeps and tractors to my artillery for another 5 points.  I could get a Sherman OP for the battery but let’s be honest, an observer on foot is very survivable. So I will stop here at 1490 and make sure my opponent knows my total, maybe they will underestimate my force.
This force looks familiar to me and it should, I have played lists like this many times in the past.  I guess there is very little than can be done to change up a British infantry list.  Still my favorite lists are the infantry lists from Road to Rome, they have the best options to take in Late War.

While the main thrust of this book is most certainly the Yanks, these lists does give the Commonwealth player some options in a themed tournament.

Stay tuned for my next deep dive on some German lists I plan to play.
Twitter: @MitchWWPD

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