Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume Two

Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume Two

Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume Two
Fate Of A Nation: Arab-Israeli Wars, Six-Day, 1967.
with Blake Coster

In the first instalment of Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown, I talked about the rationale behind selecting the Israelis for my new Fate Of A Nation force. Since Fate Of A Nation limits players to fielding only Tank Companies, the focus of this week’s article is about the pros and cons of each of the eight Israeli tanks featured in Fate Of A Nation.

Read Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume One here…

Read Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume Three here…

Fate Of A Nation
The fate of a nation hangs in the balance. Israel cannot lose even a single battle. One defeat would mean the destruction of the tiny Jewish state. Not waiting to be attacked by the Arab forces massing on its borders, Israel strikes first.

Learn more about Fate Of A Nation here...
Fate Of A Nation
Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume Two
The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
The Sho’t & Centurion
I mentioned in my last article that the thicker the armour, the bigger the gun and the better the crew, the higher the points cost for any given vehicle. This is definitely the case in terms of the Sho’t (or Scourge in English). Coming in at a hefty 205 points (at least for the HQ version), that cost is justified considering it's armed with the mighty L7 105mm gun, with an impressive Anti-tank rating of 18, mounted behind Front Armour 12. Throw in Firepower 2+ and you’ve got yourself the best tank (in my humble opinion) in Fate Of A Nation.

Right: An Israeli Sho't or Scourge.

When you consider the United Arab Republic (or UAR) and the Jordanians can field plenty Heavy Metal of their own, the Sho’t is well worth considering. But like anything in life, you get what you pay for and I’m quite happy to pay for the proverbial Finger of Death (whatever it points at dies) and the battlefield survivability of the Sho’t.

What’s worth noting is taking a Sho’t in the HQ Section commits you to taking a minimum of two more in at least one Combat Platoon. At a combined total of 610 points (HQ version plus a platoon of two) that might be too rich for some; especially when a few bad dice rolls could mean nearly half your army literately going up in smoke. But you don’t want to have a Dreadnought Syndrome either, that is keeping them out of harm’s way simply due to their expense. The other option is to field just a Combat Platoon’s worth. MMM… decision, decisions.

The Centurion, on the other hand, is basically the Sho’t with OQF 20 pdr instead of the L7 105mm gun. The OQF 20 pdr is rated at Anti-tank 17; Firepower 3+ and is well worth considering at 180 points (again for the HQ version). Like the Sho’t, taking it in the HQ means you’re tied to at least two more in a Combat Platoon, but at least you’ll be 55 points better off than if you fielded the Sho’t.

Common sense tells us to take the Centurion over the Sho’t? That is the beauty of 1500 points: it forces you to make some tough decisions when constructing a list. A more experienced player might indeed choose the Centurion over the Sho’t. However, remember what I said in the last article about having the odds in your favour? With the Sho’t I feel secure that the odds are constantly in my favour.

But with that said, I can’t afford the HQ – Combat Platoon combination so will have to settle for a single platoon consisting of two Sho’ts.

The Magach 2 & 3
Déjà vu; I just finished talking about two tanks that are essentially the same. Well, with the Magach 2 and 3 it the same thing all over again with the added complexity of why field the Sho’t or Centurion when the Magach 2 or 3 are nearly as good? Who would have thought making a list would be so complex a task?

The difference between the Magach 2 and 3 is – you guessed it – the gun; the Magach 2 is armed with a M41 90mm main gun while the Magach 3 carries the L7 105mm gun (the same gun as the Sho’t).

Left: An Israeli Magach 3.
Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume Two
However, unlike the Sho’t – Centurion comparison, the M41 90mm of the Magach 2 is two less Anti-tank (Anti-tank 16 vs. 18) than the L7 105mm gun.

Both the Sho’t and Centurion also have Stabilisers, which the Magach lacks. This allows full Rate of Fire (or ROF for short) while moving at a penalty of +1 to the score To Hit. That is a big bonus, especially when your opposition is only Trained or Conscript. There are a few other attributes that either version of Magach lacks in comparison to the Sho’t or Centurion. While less dramatic on the battlefield, Protected ammo, Wide tracks, Skirts and the ability to fire Smoke make for a more flexible asset on the battlefield.

To a regular player, the Magach would be a sensible choice. But, as with my everyday life, in my gaming life I tend to be a little out of step with everybody else (but that’s okay, it just means I stand on the bits other people miss) and I’ve decided to ignore both versions of the Magach purely on physical appearance (plus what I said about the Sho’t or Centurion being better all-round vehicle). Next!
Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume Two
M51 Isherman
Big guns! Now we’re talking! My absolute favourite tank in Fate Of A Nation is the M51 Isherman. That 105mm D1504 gun with that massive muzzle brake looks great! Statistically speaking, it’s not too shabby either; ROF 2; Anti-tank 16 and Firepower 2+. However, that 105mm gun is only behind Front armour 7, which means those guns are cheap(er) but extremely vulnerable to most things on the battlefield.

Right: An Isreali M51 Isherman.
This is where the Veteran status and a few Special Rules for the Israelis really come into play. Fielding the M51 allows me to field a unit that can take up a position in concealment such as hull-down at long range behind a hill and blaze away at the enemy with only minimal risk of being hit in return. This tactic is only further enhanced by the Israeli Special Rule Gunnery First, which states a player may re-roll failed rolls To Hit if the shooting team is further than 16”/40cm away from the enemy and remained stationary in the Movement Step. Sweet!

To maximise the number of M51s I can field, this is the option I will take as my Company Commander in the HQ section along with a Combat Platoon of M51 Ishermans.
M50 'French' Sherman
The M50 'French' Sherman, and to a lesser extent the M51 Isherman, is probably the best compromise in terms of firepower, mobility and armour protection in relation to its points cost. I’d go as far as calling it a true Workhorse.

Like the M51, the M50 is rated as a Standard Tank, which means when travelling cross-country it has a 12”/30cm of movement; great for advancing toward an objective or flanking slower enemy tanks with masses of Front armour. Wide tracks mean moving through rough terrain is less of an issue and the 75-CN-50 gun, while less effective against Frontal armour than some other Israeli tanks, will auto-penetrate the Side armour of nearly all UAR or Jordanian vehicles.

Left: An Israeli M50 Sherman.
Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume Two
Chuck in Protected ammo and plenty of machine-guns to tackle any infantry that might wonder into the open and you’ve got yourself a real winner (once more, in my humble opinion). With that said, a few of Combat Platoons of M50 Shermans are in order.
Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume Two
This is my Dark Horse among the Israeli armoured fighting vehicle (or AFV for short). It has a same gun as the M50 Sherman i.e. the 75-CN-50 but only rated ROF 1. However, unlike other ROF 1 weapons the AMX doesn’t suffer any penalty To Hit while moving due to the Autoloader Special Rule. It doesn’t gain the benefit of Gunnery First rule but may re-roll failed rolls To Hit if it didn’t move in the Movement Step.

However, what it lacks armour protection it makes up for in mobility. Rated as a Light Tank, the AMX has a standard movement distance of 16”/40cm. Which means it can out-manoeuvre anything rated as a Standard Tank and will run rings around anything rated as a Slow Tank.

Right: An Israeli AMX.
This makes is the perfect vehicle for some battlefield misdirection i.e. hold them back while an enemy tank platoon engages another platoon then manoeuvre them forward to threaten the enemy flank, which will force them into some tough decisions.

Well worth considering, but is only slightly cheaper than the M50 Sherman which I rate as a better battlefield all-rounder.
M1 Super Sherman
Unfortunately I don’t rate the M1 Super Sherman too highly. It’s basically the same statistically as the M50 Sherman with a slightly less effective gun (i.e. Anti-tank 13 vs. 14) but is the same points cost of the AMX. At least with the AMX you get the added movement distance and I personally would rather have the +1 Anti-tank of the M50 or the extra movement of the AMX.

Sorry, M1 Super Sherman, you just don’t quite make the cut.

So with that in mind, here’s my 1500-point list with an option to upgrade to the 1750-point list.

Left: An Israeli M1 Super Sherman.
Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume Two
Israeli P'lugan Tan'kim (rated Confident Veteran)
P'lugan Tan'kim HQ
with one M51 Isherman upgraded with Searchlight.
130 points
Combat Platoons  
Tan'kim Platoon  
with two M51 Isherman upgraded with Searchlights. 250 points
Tan'kim Platoon  
with three M50 'French' Sherman.
295 points
Tan'kim Platoon  
with two M50 'French' Sherman. 200 points
Tan'kim Platoon  
with two M50 'French' Sherman. 200 points
Divisional Support Platoon  
Tan'kim Platoon
with two Sho't upgraded with Searchlights.
415 points
Total Points:
1500 points
1750 Point Upgrade Option
Air Support
Priority Air Support with Dassault Outagan equipped with Napalm.*
280 points
Total Points: 1750 points
* = 1750 point upgrade option requires dropping all of the Searchlight upgrades on the M51 Ishermans & Sho'ts.
Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume Two
1750 Point Upgrade
To pay homage to the success of Operation Moked, my 1750-point upgrade option includes Priority Air Support with my Dassault Outragan equipped with Napalm at the cost of 280 points. This, however, does mean I have to drop all of the Searchlight upgrades on the M51 Ishermans and the Sho’ts. But I only included them to make up the 30 points to reach the 1500-point total anyway.

Next Time On Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown
Join me for the next instalment of Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown as I talk tactics and Special Rules in regards to my Israeli P’lugan Tan’kim.

Till then, let the odds ever be in your favour.

~ Blake.

Right: The shadow of an Israeli Mirage looms over an airfield during Operation Moked.