The third month in our look at artillery. This time we get to look at one of my favourites! I am going to be looking at the British and commonwealth forces. These are my favourite as I tend to find them the most useful artillery in the game. Perhaps my bias comes from the fact that I usually play Canadian and New Zealand forces, both of which have additional rules to support their artillery.
Personally I have found that the British artillery has two strong advantages:
- Reliability (Mike Target) as it ranges in more often and ranges in early more often.
- Versatility: 25 pounders have some great direct fire and are mounted on a turntable to give it even more versatility in direct firing.
Lets examine these advantages and others in depth!
The British Artillery
Since one of the advantages I have already mentioned is a rule I figured that this is once again the best place to start this discussion. So here are the rules for British / Commonwealth artillery:
- Independent Command
- Combined Bombardment
- HMG Bombardment
- Mike Target
This is pretty minor really. I find that what it usually allows is really just defensive. You can attach out the battery staff team and command in order to give yourself 6 teams in each platoon which makes them slightly more resilient when taking casualties. It also allows both batteries to share the staff team which does create a few restrictions on your deployment but also gives a bit of a points break for only having a single staff team.
Like the US forces this is one of the rules that makes you just shine above all other artillery. The ability to combine batteries gives you two distinct advantages. First is that you can combine 25 pounders with 5.5″ guns in order to get a combined bombardment with AT 5 and FP 4+. Despite the 25 pounder having a better high explosive shell than US 105mm howitzers they are only given a 5+ firepower which does dilute this combined bombardment over the US combined bombardment.
However the largest advantage comes from being able to orient your template. Remember that as long as the platoons have a staff team you can combine and when you combine you are able to orient the template centered on ANY of the batteries involved. This makes it much harder for your opponent to move in a way that minimizes teams under the template.
This is an interesting rule that often gets overlooked. While it does not have a firepower and so is “useless” at killing dug in troops it allows for a couple of great support abilities. The first is that it helps to pin the enemy. Pinning the enemy at 40″ away is great! The more times you make people test motivation the more times they will fail. I try to make opponent test motivation as often as I can. It also allows you to hit veterans at long range which their direct fire cannot always do if they would need a 7+ to hit. But when you bombard they no longer take the penalty for long range which means that they are now able to hit those long range targets easier (or at all). Probably one of my favourite places to pin the enemy is their artillery. If they have pinned artillery then you have rendered it useless! I attempt to pin my opponents artillery as often as I can as I find it is one of the best counter battery tactics! Even if they artillery is dug in and cannot be killed it can still be pinned!
These are also almost as effective as mortars when hitting troops in the open. I say almost because of course they do not allow you to re-roll your first attempt to range in. You lose the versatility of smoke with the HMGs but gain the fact that they are also HMGs which is perfect for defensive fire when the enemy gets closer.
This rule is the reason to field British artillery in my opinion. I absolutely love this rule. First of all it makes all of your artillery range in far more effectively on their first attempt which is a huge bonus. This makes artillery punch above its weight in my opinion. Then we add the fact that it makes the same artillery fantastic on repeat bombardments. This means we have a rule that supports every turn of firing! It is this rule that I find makes British artillery excellent for offense (enemy needs to re-roll saves on repeat bombardments) and defense (re-roll first attempt to range in). It gives you something for every situation which is just incredible!
Because of the re-rolls that are required by the enemy if you repeat a bombardment I have found that it can be extremely effective to leave a platoon of guns ranged into a choke point that the enemy is likely going to need to pass through. This forces them to go into a zone where you will get a Mike Target requiring them to re-roll saves or go around buying you extra time as the defender. I have used this to disastrous effect on many occasions.
It also makes the 5+ firepower of the 25 pounder hit above its weight class by ranging in on the first attempt more often and requiring those re-rolls by the enemy on repeat bombardments.
When you combine this ability with your MIke Target rule you will often range in on turn one. It also gives you 5 attempts to range in which means that even if you need a 6 to range in you usually can. This is important because quite often your repeat bombardments are more effective and so as long as you range in at all then you will be able to rain death down upon your enemies.
The other advantage that British AOPs often get is that they can sometimes run Dixie Air Support which allows your ground attack aircraft to be led by the AOP which means that you can get within 12″ of friendly teams rather than the normal 16″. This can mean that you are hitting the enemy for an extra turn as they close with you.
Now lets examine how to best use your different artillery weapons!
At first glance these appear pretty lack lustre. However, the nice thing is that they are in almost every platoon of infantry so at least they are plentiful. When you consider them to be included in most infantry platoons then they start to seem pretty good. First of all they are a small base when moving which is nice for fitting into small spaces or getting extra attacks when assaulting. It also means that most infantry platoons have at least a single inherent smoke screen. Unfortunately it isn’t very reliable but it can fire smoke which is a great advantage, especially when paired with the ability to fire smoke over friendly troops. One piece of tactical advice I find is to run them running at the front of your platoon when on the move. This means that if you need to fire you might be able to remain stationary which can be crucial when you only have a ROF of 1 and need that smoke to work, or dig out that HMG that you are facing. Not moving means no penalty for ROF 1 and moving on this little mortar.
These are not bad, but honestly I find that unless you cannot take the 4.2″ mortars then you should go with something else. There is very little advantage that the 3″ mortar provides the British troops. Often HMGs or 4.2″ mortars are a better choice. They do get the one advantage of being able to direct fire, though this is not enough to justify taking them over HMGs or 4.2″ mortars in my opinion.
These are fantastic mortars. Unfortunately they do not take advantage of British artillery rules but they do offer both smoke and a much better bombardment (4+ firepower) over the 3″ medium mortars. I love these guys and often take them into my list.
These are great! Unfortunately they are not able to be taken in most lists. However they are a strong counterpart to British artillery. They provide some direct fire defensive fire at times as well as the fantastic ability to combine with 25 pounder batteries with absolutely no loss in effectiveness.
In airbourne lists they also get the advantage of firing a repeat bombardment as 5.5″ guns! This is insane when you combine it with the Mike Target rule! I like these little guys a lot when I am able to take them.
These might be my favourite artillery in the game. I love that they get 2 AT9 FP 3+ on a turntable for direct fire. These can provide some excellent AT, especially in MW! I want to highlight the turn table here. It is impossible for enemy vehicles to get behind your front arc and assault your guns without them being able to fire in defensive fire. This is the reason that the middle rate AT on them with ROF 2 becomes so powerful! AT 9 will hurt literally every vehicle out there in defensive fire. I have seen many a Heavy tank get bailed out because they figured those 25 pounders wouldn’t do anything. Granted it is rare, but it does happen and I find the more I can stack small numbers in my favour the better my overall chances become! Remember that the 25 pounder is nearly impossible to flank! The only way to flank them is to have terrain or other guns get in the way of firing arcs but you will still nearly always be facing one in defensive fire. The enemy cannot even get behind your guns to shoot them out as effectively (unless of course the AT 9 wont penetrate front armour).
They also are a great bombardment. They are considerably cheaper due to their firepower of 5+ which is not such a penalty when you add in the Mike Target re-rolling. I find that a lot of people tend to talk down about the 25 pounder but I have found that they are amazing! One of my favourite things to do is to take a full battery of 8 and a small battery of 2 in my lists. This allows me to combine bombardments for maximum effectiveness. I rarely run less than 10 25 pounders in LW if I am going to run 25 pounders. The exception would be if I plan to take 5.5″ guns. However I do love the 25 pounder and they make it into most of my British lists.
These are great guns and are made drastically more useful by the Mike Target rule. The fact that they are going to range in more often on the first attempt makes them better at taking out enemy armour and then add in the re-roll failed saves on repeat bombardments and they become absolutely deadly to anything. If you have a great choke point it can definitely be worth leaving them ranged in there so that the enemy must go around or brave the murderous repeat bombardment from a Mike Target!
I felt it was important to mention at least a couple of nations for the commonwealth as they gain additional rules to really add some devastation to things. The two I am thinking of are Canadians and the New Zealanders.
The reason these guys are in here is that they have artillery batteries that are extremely hard to pin! Because of their assault troop rules they are able to re-roll motivation checks to unpin and remount bailed out vehicles. This benefits ALL of your artillery whether self propelled or towed. I find that I love the fact that my artillery is so hard to pin as this is one of my favourite counter battery tactics with any army. If I am facing artillery (regardless of how much) I want to pin it! Make them take checks, this is why the Canadians are so fantastic at shutting this counter battery strategy right down! That re-roll for motivations on unpinning checks is extremely valuable and makes sure the guns keep on firing! You may yet have your opponent asking about your belt fed artillery just like the war.
I have these in here for their Rumpus special rule. This might be part of my reason for being so biased towards the 25 pounder! The rule allows the New Zealand player to get a time on target bombardment for batteries of ONLY 25 pounders. When you combine this with an AOP and Mike Target you are raining death on your enemies with immense effectiveness! I have many Tiger and King Tiger kills with my New Zealand 25 pounders and my opponents have learned to fear them! I never leave home without 10 guns assorted into the 3 batteries as mentioned before. (a full gun battery of 8 and then a small battery of 2)
Utilizing your national rules is always what you want to maximize if you are using British artillery. It is for this reason that I want to again mention using 10 25 pounder guns. This allows you to have a bombardment of 6 and 4 (one with re-rolls or double wide and one normal) or a bombardment of 10 getting double wide with re-rolls or the pizza box. You can also use two single 4 gun batteries and then a 2 gun smoke bombardment. The combinations of having two platoons of 4 and a single platoon of 2 is nearly endless. I absolutely love having 10 guns. It is cheap enough that I am not investing a horrendous amount of points into it and it allows me to have maximum flexibility.
I should also say that I believe that part of the reason I find the 25 pounder is so effective is that people do not expect much from it. However their low cost and supported rules tends to allow them to punch above their weight class in my opinion. I love these little guns and the versatility they provide for my lists! If you haven’t yet then try some out!
As always please discuss the article below or in our Tactics Forum here!