They Came from a Land Down Under: Lost Anzacs in Team Yankee!

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“Waltzing Matilda….”

Hello there! I did say I would reveal my next Team Yankee project on April 25th, and as you may have guessed from the Free Nations book, and the date, its the Anzacs!

Wait, what?

Yeah, that was my reaction too, upon finding out that the Kiwis and Aussies were in the game! It was a pleasant surprise, as I quite like the countries in question, and actually have a small connection to Australia myself. But what are they even doing in West Germany in 1985?

 

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Yeah Sam, I think our Anzac friends might agree with you there!

Well, there are two reasons. The first is the one the book gives us; The Australians and New Zealanders were invited by the British to a military exercise taking place in June 1985, and upon finishing it, were committed by their parent governments to stay, in case of hostilities with the Warsaw Pact. This isn’t entirely without precedent; Exercise Lionheart in 1984 in our real timeline had exchange officers from both nations embedded in it. A full brigade of troops is fanciful, but amusing, and one must remember it IS a game at the end of the day.

The second reason is much, much simpler. Battlefront Games is from New Zealand. They wanted their own country in it. That is entirely fair! Can’t say I’d do much different, in their place.

As for why I’m playing them, it came down to again, two reasons. Firstly, my friend and I always like to have two armies for a system, and he wanted to play Canada. As we are both Canadians, I will admit to being a little sad. But I got Australia instead, and man, am I happy about that!

Secondly, my own family history is amusingly on point here. We come from Anglo-Pakistani stock, and when it came time for my, well, large family to leave the home country, we chose two destinations. It is incredibly amusing, and the source of many jokes, that we chose almost literally the two farthest places in the world to settle apart from each other! Half went to Australia, the other Canada. We remain close, and as a kid I used to relish the visits of my odd speaking cousins.

As a child, I researched their military history almost as much as my own adopted country. The Battle of Gallipoli hold a place in my heart as much as Vimy Ridge. And who could forget Kapyong, where the Royal Australian Regiment and the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry both won a Presidential Unit Citation from the United States for holding a vital pass? A classic tale of Commonwealth brotherhood. The Royal New Zealand Artillery was there too, and they shouldn’t be forgotten either!

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3rd RAR, looking fine in their Slouch Hats! Canada had the adjacent hill, and fought just as hard.

As you can probably tell, I was pretty excited to get started on this project. I’m still stuck on priming miniatures, as much of this was purchased while it was still too cold to prime, and that issue still continues. For now, I’ll just show off what I have.

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An officer from the Royal Australian Regiment. He’s a model reused from Battlefronts Nam game, and honestly the kit used in Vietnam remained much the same as in the 80’s. He’s got an M16, a Giggle Hat, and a map, which in the hands of the junior officer here, is probably his most lethal weapon(to his own side!)
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The first major deviation from the Nam range lies in the choice of platoon Anti-Tank weapon. This digger is armed with a Carl Gustaf, a fairly nasty anti-tank recoilless rifle.
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The anti-tank guided missile option for the Australians is the Milan. In real life, these were fairly scarce, but in Team Yankee they were given a large amount to help the cause. These are a nasty choice in the game, but are also my only really strong AT option.
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A hilariously mad-max concept, but not one unique to Australia, was mounting a 105mm recoilless rifle on a jeep/land rover. The Australians used theirs in Vietnam. In Team Yankee, they have a good role as a unit to hold in Ambush, allowing their weapons to be trained on the side armor of enemy vehicles.
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In service, the soldiers using this equipment commonly went on to have serious hearing loss!
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Adopted in 1976, the Leopard AS1 is the Australian variant of the venerable Leopard 1 Main Battle Tank. The Australians trialed both the M60 and the Leopard, and chose the latter. Agile but thinly armoured, these can fire well on the move, but get punished severely for being hit.
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During the Leopard 1’s development, the Germans believed that HEAT ammunition made armour fairly useless, and focused primarily on speed and armament. Developments in armour eventually overtook this thinking, leaving the Leopard as an interesting period piece. Luckily, they never needed to test it in our timeline. In Team Yankee, this hot-rod only has a front armor of 9, abysmally low.
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All these criticisms don’t matter to me for two reasons; It’s a very pretty tank! Secondly, you can take a great many of them for the points you usually pay for a typical NATO big-shot tank. You can’t out-horde Pact players, but you can advance at speed quickly, and take double the shots while doing so. Four countries in Team Yankee get the Leopard, and the Canadian/Australian ones have the “brutal” rule, allowing you to force enemy infantry to reroll successful saves, representing canister/splintex ammunition in use by the two countries.

All in all, my Anzac force is coming along. I still have two boxes of Leopard 1’s to build, giving me a total of eighteen in total! I still am waiting in the mail for another Mechanized Platoon, and I still need to order an insane amount of m113’s, a task made harder by the fact that Australia used the T50 turret, so I can’t just cannibalize other nations M113s. The Scorpions in my British list will probably be transferred to this list, to represent the New Zealand contribution to the war effort. They will be replaced in the British list by Foxes. I also require a Tracked Rapier troop; this gives my Anzac’s the serious anti-air option they require to be competitive, while also expanding the options available to the British list.

I’m quite pleased with the progress I’ve been making; the assembly line will continue tomorrow, churning out more tanks, and waiting for the weather to finally cooperate. Once this project is done, hopefully the shut-down will be over and I can get a game in, as believe it or not, I still haven’t tried out this out! If not, I will probably start on my Oil War forces, Syrians, mainly to fight my friends Israelis down the road. I also, on impulse, purchased two ADATS(an odd weapon platform adopted by the Canadian Army) Anti-Air platoons during Battlefronts daily deal, mostly because, c’mon I’m still Canadian at the end of the day. They’ll probably see use in my friends eventual army, but gives me an excuse to paint my own country’s armed forces.

Now, my friends gave me permission to post what they got done! So without further ado, lets have a peek!

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One Hundred points of German Steel. This is my friend, Chris’s work. Very heavy on the elite units.
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He also owns an airbrush; Meaning he actually got a start on painting! This is his Leopard 2, and is his first model in 15mm scale. Not a bad start my friend!
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My other friend, Ty, has less free time on his hands, doing important work at the moment. When he gets time, he is working on his Soviets. Firstly, we got here some BMP-2s!
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And here we got some T-64’s and some Geckos. The Tanks have mine-rollers, a neat ploy to prevent my MLRS minefield shenanigans!

And that’s all I got for today! Lots of painting in our collective future!

This was a fun post to write, and have one last aside to make. While it is certainly not a big deal for other parts of the world, I’d like to wish any Australians and New Zealanders visiting a good Anzac Day! It is a seriously important day for them, and while I may be half a world away, for at least a few hours, I’ll celebrate your achievements along with you. From Gallipoli to the Kokoda Trail, to Kapyong and Long Tan, may your soldiers be remembered as some of the finest in the world. Happy War-gaming Mates, wherever you might be! Stay Safe everyone!

 

Cold Weather for a Cold War: A Foray into 15mm

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Oh boy, here we go again!

It feels good to be back! It has been a long time since my last post, with my own personal situation and the global chaos that has been 2020 having caused a whole slew of issues, with my problems at least finally back in control! I apologize for the few of you who read my content, but for now at least I’m back.

With Covid-19 looming large, and a shutdown (albeit a soft one) in Canada, I found myself with not a lot to do. A quarantine project was needed, but having burned out of 40k(again), I couldn’t really muster any enthusiasm. Luckily, as it so often turns out to be, my friend asked me a quite innocent question that caused an avalanche.

“Hey, Andrew, you ever hear of a game called Team Yankee?”

I had, but not paid it much mind. 15mm was a scale I’d sworn off on doing, what with the tiny models and multiple infantry on one base thing. But 28mm was a topic my group had covered quite comprehensively, and my research showed me a game that was fun, if not entirely always realistic. The Cold War is also a fascinating topic, with lots of ground to cover, from Korea all the way to the hypothetical situation in West Germany with the Able Archer exercise causing a global thermonuclear war. Interesting, and also terrifying. As well, unlike many of my peers, my parents didn’t grow up with the terror of the Cold War looming as they had the quite real terror of the Indo-Pakistani wars instead, so it was a topic I needed to study myself. So it was a solid background for a tabletop game, trading my current existential terror of the pandemic for the historical existential terror of World War Three.

With my interest in the history, real or otherwise piqued, I turned to the game. Team Yankee is based off the venerable Flames of War system. I have heard many things about that game, not all of them good, admittedly. But Team Yankee from, at least from all the battle reports I had watched, looks incredibly fun. Simple to learn, with a degree of strategy above Bolt Action(which does platoon level infantry action really well, less so armored combat) or 40k, where many games I’ve played having been decided in the list-building step. The smaller scale also means that company level warfare was now playable on our 4×6 tables.

As for what countries each of us would play, my one friend picked the Soviet Union, while the other picked West Germany. Myself? I had a couple in mind, but the first one is the focus for today…

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“We’re fighting a land war in Germany….again?”

The British, or more specifically, the British Army of the Rhine, was my first choice. With a strong defensive focus, and a few nasty surprises, these chaps hit like a truck(or is that a lorry?) and can take it in turn. I wasn’t able to get the Challenger starter box, or either of the older Charlies Chieftains boxes, so my army was made up of what was available in Canada at the time. I didn’t know until later that this was one of the stronger nations to play, that was an accident, I swear!

We all agreed to build up to 100 points, and to have that 100 point army painted and complete before the next time we saw each other. Without any further distractions, onto the pictures!

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Your average British infantryman of 1985. Soldiering on with the L1A1, this model is actually superbly detailed for 15mm…
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…with his webbing and equipment well defined and easy to see.
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Four to a base, with specific weapons, usually three rifleman with anti-tank rockets, and a special weapon. This stand has instead replaced a rifleman with one with a radio, and the special weapon for an officer. This is the command stand.
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The full platoon. This size force is usually your entire army in Bolt Action or other 28mm platoon level games, but here it is simply part of a larger formation.

 

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Warrior IFV’s(Infantry Fighting Vehicle). This is a newer unit in Team Yankee, being rushed to the frontlines. These are solid, safe transports for the infantry. Three, the ones without the MILAN missile on top, are my troop transports, while the other two without are my MILAN Warrior Anti-Tank unit.
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These are in scale with the infantry, and you can see how they might fit into the transport.
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I’ve uparmored these Warriors, which isn’t correct for 1985-87 if this was a historical wargame, but being an alternate history of World War Three, I figured I could take the liberty. Also, it makes the vehicle much more survivable. In reality these kits I think first saw action in the UK contribution to the First Gulf War.
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The MILAN anti-tank missile, fitted to the top of this Warrior. This gives me an additional anti-tank option. Again, I don’t believe this configuration saw real life use, as the British didn’t want their transport crews to get any funny ideas and try to kill a tank.
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These cute little tanks are Scorpion Light Tanks. Traditionally used in the reconnaissance role, these guys let me expand my deployment area. They can also hammer enemy light vehicles, and maybe even kill a few!
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These things are small! Armed with a 76mm cannon, these little tanks can be a nuisance.
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Ah, finally, the real meat of this list. Five Challenger 1 main battle tanks. With the best armor in the game, these lads will survive almost anything coming their way, but will be heavily outnumbered in doing so. These are also up-armored with the ROMOR armor package, making them considerably more expensive but even more hard to kill. This package was first seen during the Gulf War, but I think they existed earlier; they just had no need to fit them.
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You can see the size here! A solid mass of still to this day classified armor, they will be a serious threat to Ivan.
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And, while completely ridiculous, we have on table artillery. While they shouldn’t even be on the battlefield, what with their massive range, that is an allowance to make it a game, not a simulation. In any event, these are MLRS platforms, and fire a scary barrage of rockets over a massive area. They will devastate anything under the template, but will not survive enemies who close in to kill them.
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These platforms can be taken by the British, Americans, and the Germans! A NATO vehicle through and through. This should help even up the battle against waves of enemy BMPs and infantry.
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And now we leave the realm of reality for fiction. These are Chieftain Marksman AA vehicles, armed with twin 35mm cannons firing at a rapid rate. While the system did exist, and was trialed, it was an entirely civilian venture, and was not adopted by the British Military. It was picked up by the Finnish later, who would put it on their T-55s, and later, Leopard 2s. In this timeline, it isn’t completely crazy to assume that a British government might see the need for such a vehicle…
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A Resin, Metal, and Plastic kit. Not a nightmare to work with, but a serious pain in the butt. Still, I know my enemy loves Hinds, so this is an investment to prevent any “Ride of the Valkyries” shenanigans.
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Conveniently, said kit came with the full plastic Chieftain kit, allowing me to make the normal Chieftain Main Battle Tank as well. These older tanks have the Stillbrew armor package; A measure meant to expand their service life. While my side armor is still thin on these guys, the main gun and frontal armor is very, very good for a 70’s era tank.
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And the whole army. I’m quite happy with this, not an overwhelming amount to paint, and very sturdy, at least in armor. Morale with my small units could be an issue, however.

As my friends complete their armies, I’ll ask them if they are okay with me showing off their progress. While it will be a while before I can play, it’ll be a fun project. I’ve already learned a considerable amount about the last years of the Cold War, and painting…when the weather finally cooperates to allow me to prime, will be a blast. Except for the infantry, in their fancy DPM uniforms. Almost makes me want to play the Warsaw Pact!

In any event, I didn’t stop here, as that would be an intelligent option. I also picked up another book, for cheap, on eBay. Reading it gave me an idea for another force…

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Oh boy! More tanks!

As the weather is downright miserable in Canada(at least my little corner of it.), I’ll be cracking on with assembling this second army. A few clues to what it is. Firstly, it is in the Free Nations book. And secondly, I will be posting progress pictures on April 25th. If you got a guess lemme know! You won’t win anything, but it will be slightly amusing! I’ll see you guys then.

As always, Happy War-gaming, wherever in the world you might be! And, stay safe everyone. May not be 1985, but we still got a crisis to worry about. Take care!