I played my first game of Team Yankee against Tracy two days ago. We used the models from the two box sets, Bannon's Boys and Potecknov's Bears, along with several Flames of War models as proxies so we could get a feel for the entire range. While its too early for me to give a proper review, especially how our game went, I did gain a lot of insight into the new rule set.
I played US while Tracy played as the Soviets. Even as we were setting up we both were learning new aspects of the rules. I quickly realize my list had a major flaw. Essentially I had nothing that could shoot at Strike Aircraft. I had no idea helicopters are unable to shoot at airplanes. So I was really worry about my chances before the first die roll. Turns out my anti-aircraft problems were worst than I thought and I didn't even get the chance to be concern about the Frogfoots! For the mission we rolled up Dust Up, which gave us Delayed Reserves. Only getting half our forces until turn 3 (maybe) really change how we approach the game. Tracy decided to start with a unit of T-72s, BMP-2 Recons, Gophers and Hinds. I had a unit of M1 Abrams, Mech Platoon and M109 Field Artillery Battery. In addition we both had our commanders and an observer. Tracy "won" first turn (neither of us wanted to go first) so his Hinds had to fly off the board. Since they used spearhead the BMP-2 were close to an objective so they moved up to take it. The T-72s moved across ruins and half of them got bogged down. The remaining T-72s plus the commander shot at my unit of M1 Abrams. They only bailed out two of my tanks which would be no big deal in Flames of War. However in Team Yankee since I only had three to with start, that was a morale test. Failing that test would mean I would instantly lost a quarter of my entire force just like that! Luckily I passed the morale test and began my turn 1. The Abrams remounted and were ready to go. Tracy had place pre-planned artillery target on that objective so I was hesitant to approach it with my M1s and commander. It slipped my mind until later that his artillery was still in reserves so I had nothing to worry about. I was fairly sure my shooting was going to removed the BMPs off the map but if I had bad dice rolls I would instantly lose the game. My Abrams destroyed three and bailed out the 4th BMP so now Tracy couldn't win on turn 2. Mech Platoon dash across the field to take on the Gophers. The Gophers couldn't do anything at the time but I wanted them destroyed before my aircraft came in from reserves. My artillery rain fire on the Gophers as well but I only manage to bailed out two of them, who immediately remounted next turn!
Turn 2 was the beginning of the end. The only Anti-Aircraft weapons I had were AA machine guns on the Abrams and M109s which I wasn't confident in their ability to take down Hinds and the Dragons in Mech Platoon. However Dragons are guide so I can only fire them on my turn and they can't be fired while moving. Given they also have a minimum range means the Dragons will never be a threat to the Hinds if Tracy knows what he is doing. So on turn 2 6 Hinds showed up and wiped my commander and M1 Abrams off the map. Turn 3 the hinds nearly wiped the M109s off the board as well and there was little I could do about it. Neither one of us got any reserves on Turn 3 so I surrendered. There was a chance with some good rolls I could delay Tracy from winning next turn. Ultimately I felt it wouldn't have help me win the game and next turn Tracy had a way to auto-win.
I wrote the previous sections the day after the game so those was my initial impressions. However my feelings have change after spending a day reading the rules and the forums. While my lack of dedicated AA made the game an uphill battle for me, I now realize that slope wasn't as steep as I first thought. My list did have the tools to deal with the Hinds if I only played it better. My points about Dragons were mostly true. However I forgot to consider the Blitz Move order. The ability to move 4 inches and still shoot changes its usefulness. During the game I thought both of the Abrams' AA machine guns range was 16 inches. This allowed the Hinds to be able to shoot at the Abrams outside of that range. In actuality the .50 cal machine gun has a range of 20 inches! If the hinds can shoot at the Abrams, the Abrams can shoot back with the .50 cal. I am not entirely sure I would have shot if I had known because in my mind its probably not worth giving up the ability to fire the main guns on my turn. Of course we had this rule WRONG as well when we played. The rule is if you fire AA weapons during the opponent's turn you are not allowed to fire that WEAPON on your own turn. We are used to it being teams but it is per weapon fired. That means the Abrams can fire both AA guns during the opponents turn and still fire its main gun on its own turn. So I had no reason not to shoot at the Hinds! I had another powerful option against the Hinds I didn't realize was there. My artillery had the laser-guided projectile upgrade which gives the guns the Guided special rule. That means while the FIST is alive the artillery could shoot at the Hinds on my turn. The next time we play should have a much closer result. That said I learn several things about Team Yankee in that game.
1. Options - When I first learn Team Yankee was just going to be Soviets and US at the start, I was concern that the initial lists would be limited in the options you could take. We were both pleasantly surprise this was not the case when we made our list. With the system as it is I could easily makes 3 to 5 very different lists and I wouldn't be shock if that number goes up the more experience I get with the system.
2. Need dedicated AA - Weapons need AA in there description to be able to shoot at Strike Aircraft. Only relying on Guided weapons to take out helicopters might not be enough to stop helicopters from taking over the game. US and Soviets both have cheap options for dedicated AA so remember to take some.
3. Strike Aircraft in reserves - Strike Aircraft can go in reserve like any other units and they count when picking how many units need to go into reserves. In the starting step rolling for Aircraft is before rolling for reserve. That means Strike Aircraft in reserve can not be used in the same turn they arrive from reserves. So if you put Strike Aircraft in delayed reserve, the earliest you can used them is turn 4!
4. Bogged Down - Being bogged down doesn't matter for morale, just destroyed and bailed out. This is one of the differences from Flames of War that caught me by surprise.
5. How many Abrams? - Abrams are really expensive so it is tempting to go with a few as possible. Six total Abrams (1 HQ, 2 platoons of 2 and 3) cost 48 points out of a default total of 100 point game. With the new morale rules however one or two bailed out results means a morale check that could wiped them out! I don't think there is an easy answer to this and will always be something to consider when making a list.
6. Brutal Game - Things die fast in this game compared to Flames of War. I'm used to playing with strategies that limited my own casualties. In Team Yankee that's not going to work. My models WILL die and I need to plan around what to do with those that survive. This makes delayed reserves a lot scarier than in Flames of War. I wouldn't be surprised if most delayed reserve games end before reserves even show up!
I foresee us playing at least two more games next week. Whatever knowledge I gleam from those games I will share here. Until next time...