The Art of Reconnaissance

Recce

I am finding that reconnaissance use is truly an art. It is an easy concept in theory and extremely intricate to use effectively in your games. However, I figured that since I have been focusing on reconnaissance abilities in my games lately that I would write about it. I must apologize if this article is a little inconclusive because I am still working out my own tactics. However, why not dive into the things I have been trying and the things that I am trying to perfect. I figured that I would cover the following aspects that I am trying to work on myself:

  • How many reconnaissance forces do I need?
  • When do I double?
  • When to shoot and when to hold fire?
  • How do I block ambushes most effectively?
  • How can I get the most out of my Recce troops?

How many reconnaissance forces do I need?:

The reason I started here is that for a long time I noticed that quite often recce is an afterthought to most people, myself included until more recently. However, I am finding that I need an absolute bare minimum of 2 teams and truthfully more than that is better. I have even found that 2 platoons has been immensely effective. I was once able to literally stop an ambush from appearing entirely in a game that I had 8 Recce jeeps and a US AOP on security patrol. It was a pretty amazing feeling. I guess what I have found, even at the new 1420 LW points, is that I never leave home without at least two recce armoured cars. I usually attempt to have 3 (single platoon) or 4+ (2 platoons). I have found that with 2+ teams I am able to get the most from not only my recce forces but also my entire army.

When do  I double?:

I find that this rarely comes up but can be crucial when it does. Personally I find that doubling is only necessary in one of two reasons and should only be done with one of two safety checks in place.

First is that you should only double if the enemy has deployed deep in their deployment zone (playing on a mission with a long table) and you need to get your recce troops in deep to stop those ambushes. I find that I have only done this once or twice as it is usually not necessary between road movements and the recce move before the beginning of the game.

Second is if you have cleared the way of ambushes on one front and now need to move your recce to another side of the board to stop the sideways ambush in later turns or want to threaten a secondary objective that has been all but abandoned.

However, one should always take one or both of the following safety precautions when doubling your recce forces.

  1. Double them along with a good portion of the rest of your force in order to overwhelm the enemy guns, giving them far too many targets (even with double shots) than they have shots.
  2. Double them out of line of sight. As I have mentioned before, if enemy forces pull themselves out of position to get double shots when they are on the move then I always consider that a win!
  3. Of course, if you can do both of these things then all the better! Just be sure to not move the majority of your force at the double but then hide most of it out of line of sight as this will likely result in the visible platoon that doubled being very incapacitated, unless of course that was the point of your maneuver.

When to Shoot and When to Hold Fire?:

I am actually finding this question to be rather easy. While I used to often shoot with my recce I am finding that the only time they shoot now is in defensive fire. My recce troops rarely have upgraded guns (with the exception of AA guns). I find that it is more advantageous to be gone to ground and moving around the field doing what recce is supposed to do by limiting ambushes and also using their extra MG fire to keep enemies off of your tanks.

This doesn’t mean that I never fire with them but it does mean that the times are few and far between to be sure! I have found that they will often live longer when staying gone to ground and moving out of sight in order to always make the enemy play cat and mouse. This works best if you are either trying to keep the enemy platoon(s) busy or bring in relief to deal with the enemy forces that are harassing your recce troops.

How do I Block an Ambush Most Effectively?:

This is something that is so important but nearly impossible to write about. I find that it is so situational to your advance, the placement of enemy troops, the terrain. However, I am going to do my best to at least address a few general concepts regarding ambush blocking.

One of the most primary things is to think about the worst place for you to be ambushed and just start there. If the enemy can ambush behind you then that is almost always where you want to start as having a bunch of AT show up behind you can be devastating. It is also my favourite thing to do when springing an ambush, be patient and then shoot them from the rear! 

Another thing that I have found that is of utmost importance is to look at a few things involving your recce team placement. You want to be sure that you are in cover from as many angles as possible as this will help you stay alive. This rule applies always as well by the way. The next thing is that you want to make sure that your recce troops are forcing the enemy off of any linear obstacles. The key here is that you want the enemy to be firing at you while your main column is concealed and I find that linear obstacles are a perfect ambush spot as they make you in the open but the ambushing platoon concealed. If you can force them back from the edge of it then you are both concealed which I consider a huge win! The last thing is that you want to make sure that you have a good get away if you decide to break off. Breaking off so that the enemy can still shoot you is useless. (Though please remember that if you are veteran than getting into long range is all that is necessary so long as you are still concealed as you will be gone to ground, concealed and long range.) It is also important to note that this means that if you break off you are not now in line of fire of some other platoon because then you will just become targets for a new platoon  and eventually suffer the same fate.

How Can I Get The Most Out Of My Recce Troops?:

The first and most important thing is to keep them alive! Recce troops often had some of the shortest life expectancies of any conflict but that doesn’t mean you have to treat them like this is an un-avoidable fact! This can be helped by some of the previously mentioned advice, do not shoot often and keep a clear getaway in mind when placing them.

There are a couple other ways that I like to get the most from my troops once they have pushed the ambush into a less advantageous position. The following are all ways that I try to make use of my recce if I do not need them for ambush protection or removing gone to ground.

  • threaten the enemy reserves (which are often soft, smaller platoons that don’t like to be picked on)
  • Push the enemy reserves away from a specific area. This can be done extremely well if either the reserves or your recce are infantry or gun teams. You simply space them roughly 4.5 or 5 inches apart and then make sure that the enemy is coming into a very specific section of the board edge that their reserves are coming from. Remember that you cannot stop the reserves from showing up as they will push your troops out of the way if there is no legal entry point. However, if you leave a legal entry point then they must use it first!
  • Threaten the less defended objective that has had troops pulled from it in order to reinforce against your main thrust. I have won many games with my recce in this way, especially the lists that have 2 or 3 platoons.
  • Use their self defence AA guns that so many of them have to help provide some extra AA coverage. Remember that all teams in the platoon may fire so long as a single team is targeted by an airstrike!
  • Use their extra MG fire to help provide Anti-Infantry support to your armoured contingent.
  • Use enemy infantries zone of control against them by forcing the enemy infantry to stay far away from the flank of your armoured forces which is a favourite assault point!

Conclusions:

I find that the biggest thing I have learned is that I need to first and foremost keep my recce troops alive and they may not kill a lot but will keep my troops alive and my advance moving! Not to mention removing gone to ground which allows my shots to be more effectiveI have also been finding that learning to use recce appropriately is a way to differentiate the good players from the great players.

As always please discuss the article below or in our Tactics Forum here!

2 thoughts on “The Art of Reconnaissance”

    1. I did mention it briefly but wanted to focus on the aspects I find people do not do much or very well. Plus I find that I have to be careful not too long. Perhaps I will focus on that aspect another time. 🙂

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