08 April 2011

Know your support options - US

This is the first of a 4 part look at the support options for the 4 core nations of Secrets of the Third Reich. Each week I'll compile a list of "battle proven" support options and describe them a bit from a gamers perspective - and how I usually play these units. Units described will be taken both from the core rulebook and the Doomsday expansion. Feel free to ask who makes specific models in the comments, a lot of the units that will be shown are original West Wind or Grindhouse models - but I also use stuff from Artizan Design, Warlord Games etc.

Why I focus on the support options, well because each basic SoTR platoon is pretty much made up of the same backbone material, 1 command squad, 2 infantry squads, HMG/AT and Mortar team. Players may include more core troops or try to theme their army in one way or the other around the support options. The support options are also sometimes tricky to include, since you only get 3 basic Support option slots for a SoTR platoon, and most of the time the support options are expensive and force you to pick one over the other depending on the opponent or your favored playing style.

I will start this week, with the US support options.


The US are the nation that relies on numbers in their regular infantry squads, they have the largest basic squads but also lack serious punch when it comes to squad upgrades. When other nations pack their infantry squads with anti-mech rifles, LMG upgrades, Light or Medium AT weapons the US are left with a Packed LMG upgrade and 3 SMG/Assault rifles. Rest of the squad is made up of Semi Automatic rifle swinging guys.

You might say that the US infantry squad is specialized on being a pure infantry vs infantry unit, making the platoon rely more on their support options for taking care of the nasty armored and weird stuff  in enemy platoons.

Chameleon Snipers
The US platoon has a serious drawback when it comes to Anti mech rifles, there are no Anti mech rifle upgrades, or anti mech teams in the OoB. And the US are also the only nation that lack Sniper Teams, you only get a Sniper rifle upgrade in your command squad but that's it.

This makes the Chameleon Sniper support option very interesting as it combines Sniper ability with the punch of a Anti mech rifle. What really makes these guys special compared to regular snipers are the ability of almost certain kills when hitting infantry, and their special suits that make them almost invisible to enemy attacks. Enemy attackers cannot target your Chameleon snipers with "Long Range" weapons, and suffer -2 to hit on "Short Range" and weapons that have no limited range! Place a Chameleon sniper in hard cover and you get -4 to be hit, no one is going to touch your snipers. The only way of getting to them is to use flamethrowers, direct assault, mortars is you can hit them in terrain with no roof or blowing up the terrain they are hiding in with something really heavy (Medium AT +). On top of the headshoot ability these guys can also target specific mecha limbs and vehicle parts which makes them even more devastating against Light and sometimes Medium armored vehicles. You won't have to risk of hitting a mecha and rolling on the mecha body table - realizing you hit the leg when you can aim at the flamethrower arm instead! At 6RP they are a very good investment, just make sure you put them in good terrain and beware of drop mechas or drop troops with flamethrowers!

Light flamethrower mecha
This one is universal and fits all nations as you can use the mechbuilding chart to build a small chassis, light armor mecha armed with a flamethrower. Don't forget the free assault rifle pod attachment!
First of all, this is a dirt cheap support option, it comes for 4RP! Second, small chassis vehicles can be bought in squadrons of 1-3 / support option slot, making it possible of having 3 small mechas roaming the battlefield and still include other support options if you like.

Flamethrower mechas are your throwaway infantry assault vehicle. Light armored front can withstand enemy "light infantry" classed attacks and the flamethrower comes with no movement restriction meaning you can stomp 12" each turn and still set things on fire - especially efficient against troops camping in forests. Or why not just set forests on fire as a precaution limiting enemy movement through that piece of terrain?
The drawback is the flamethrower, once you get immobilized you are left with a useless piece of machinery that will either be outflanked or completely ignored by enemy models for the remainder of the game. Still, at 4RP it's almost a no brainer in most armies regardless of nationality.

APE squad
This heavy duty unit is quite expensive but packs a LOT of firepower. They come with 5 packed LMG's and can be upgraded with a flamethrower for free and a HMG for a additional 1RP. The squad is on the expensive side, basic cost 7RP, 8 with HMG upgrade. They are also rather slow and bulky making them a rather immobile unit best left for fire support - one activation is often enough to shred enemy fire teams - and no one can escape the combined suppressing fire value of 4-5 Packed LMG's, rate of fire 10+ and a HMG!

These guys have one Ace up their sleeve, the Detroit Engineering special rule makes them less likely to die during "resolve Downed models phase". If you are clever enough to leave your platoon medic nearby these guys will NEVER die as they get a total of 2 recovery bonus on their Down rolls, and makes them very likely to stand up and fight again next turn. Their Heavy Personnel armor makes them tough to wound, but I would still try to hide them in hard cover -as they are only 5 models per unit and when caught in the open they are easy pickings for LMG and HMG teams. Still, if you need serious backup in terms of firepower these are your go to guys.

Jet Rangers
The light armored and armed answer to German Drop troops. The Jet Rangers can be tricky to use the first couple of times as you might be too eager to throw them into situations that do not fit their play style at all (close combat for instance). Their light personnel armor makes them vulnerable to everything and everyone, never try to get into a fair firefight with enemy units.

The Drop Troopers are best used to hit enemy platoon support that has been left behind unguarded, HMG and Mortar teams should be priority targets. Just wait until the enemy has activated everything or almost everything so that you can drop down safely and take them out. Armed with SMG's they even out their penalty to hit from dropping onto the table and hit enemy models on 4+ in the open. Including the packed LMG is really up to you, I tend to include it as I can afford to lose one or two models without crippling my firepower too much. This unit also comes with the special ability of jumping and dropping grenades at their foes as they pass over their heads.  You are most likely to get to use this ability late into each turn as a clever opponent will leave as many units as possible in "overwatch" mode at the start of each turn. These guys will never be able to measure themselves with the German Drop Troopers but they are still a good unit if you like to make your enemy nervous and unsure of your intentions while keeping them in reserve. At 6RP, and 1additional RP for the packed LMG and another for Explosives these guys range from farily priced to expensive. I would skip the explosives and focus on hit and run tactics.

Not as much of a Support option than a character, but I think they should be included here as well. They are very expensive at 8RP, their ranged weapons are often more for show than doing actual damage. The packed LMG upgrade is pointless. What the Sentinels can do is to go all Popeye over enemy units in close combat or punch a hole in Light-Medium armored vehicles. They can be used as a expensive morale boost, since they give +2 to cool to anyone within 8".

They are also fearless themselves meaning they can never be suppressed. You could use them as an expensive anchor on one flank to keep a Green or Veteran platoon together - but what they should be doing is ambush enemy vehicles. I seldom include a Sentinel in my platoon since you can get better stuff for the same amount of points - but if you want to theme your army with a cool model they can be a lot of fun if used correctly. Never leave them out in the open, wait until enemy vehicles are close enough and have already activated before you spring your close combat fists of fury attack at their flank armor.

Historical vehicles

Two vehicles are frequently used by US players. The Sherman and the M10 Wolverine.
Both vehicles have Medium armor and Medium AT ability as such they are mostly suited to take out Light armor, sometimes they are lucky enough to knock out Medium armor as well. Never leave home without "Improved sights" or you won't hit with the main gun at the default 4+ to hit very often.

The Sherman comes in two versions, Firefly at 12RP and regular Sherman at 11RP. The 11RP is speed class III making it pretty fast, the Firefly packs a Heavy AT gun but is slow with the speed class II (remember you can never go above Slow speed and fire maing guns!). I tend to play with the regular Sherman, and it is best used as a mobile machinegunplatform. You get 2 machineguns that can always be fired by the crew from the inside, and if you feel safe enough you can pop the top hatch and fire with the pintle mounted machinegun as well.

That is a devastating amoung of anti infantry fire, especially since you can split your machinegun fire within your firing arc to attack different units - and standing still or going slow speed you can fire the main gun as well as a nice bonus! Better use this tank against infantry hordes than against other vehicles really. Again a support option that provides the US platoon with much needed extra firepower.

The M10 Wolverine is a very cheap mobile AT gun. It comes at a price of 6RP making it affordable as a decently mobile AT unit. It is however slow with Speed Class 2, it lacks machineguns except for the pintle mounted MG - and the biggest drawback is being opent topped in the turret. Mortars, grenades and even infantry assault will kill your crew with ease. Best used parked next to some infantry for protection - and make sure to know out enemy mortar teams ASAP.

Next week: the German support options


  1. GREAT article Anatloi, very useful indeed. Looking forward to the next installment!

  2. Thanks, I got a very good suggestion to dog a fifth part on custom built mechas as well - I'll include it at the very end :-)


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