|Boot Camp: Fire Teams|
|by Robert Mull|
It's not enough to build a good army that's efficient on points. You need to consider how your units will work together and the synergies that can be created between individual units. By constructing fire teams you can create functional groups that build on each unit’s strengths, while minimizing their weaknesses. While there is no hard and fast correct approach to the construction of fire teams, there are several guidelines to keep in mind.
What is a Fire Team
A fire team is my name for a group of units that will move and act as a single entity. They are picked to go together because their abilities complement one another, increasing the overall performance of that group and therefore, my army.
Even if there are no synergies in my fire team to exploit, having a group that I move and use as a single unit is still very useful. Fire teams allow me to break my army down into distinct groups, each with a purpose. When I am moving my units, I am moving my fire teams, not each unit individually in whatever way seems best at the time. I know that my fire support team is designed to provide support at long range, so those units will always be moved accordingly, as will my anti-armor team, my close-assault team and whatever other teams I might have. It also helps remind me what I should be attacking and what I should be avoiding with those units. Finally, it also forces me to build a more coherent army with clearly defined roles, rather than just picking the best units I can get for the points.
Building on Unit Strengths
Grouping a “Red Devil” Captain with a Mortar M2 and Vickers MG is one simple example of a fire team. The Captain allows both the Mortar and Vickers to fire more effectively, usually causing more damage at long to medium range against soldiers. If you swap out the “Red Devil” Captain with a Commissar and add in a couple of cheap three point infantry units, you now have the ability to increase each die rolled by your MG and Mortar for the cost of a single infantry unit. The change in commanders leads to very different synergies and you should consider the differences carefully.
Grouping two Sd Kfz 222s into a fire team can provide you with a fast-moving forward deployed force that can use its speed and Strike and Fade ability to keep enemy soldiers pinned down and unable to support advancing vehicles. Now you can add in an extended range unit, such as a SS-Panther Ausf. G. This provides you with an armored unit that can force enemy vehicles to have to close quickly or hide to avoid being hit while they can’t strike back. Provided that the map is accommodating, you now have a fire team that is effective at stripping vehicles of their accompanying soldiers.
Fire Teams Affect How You Play
The units you choose to group should reflect your strategies for battle. If we look back at our fire team built around the “Red Devil” Captain, it’s only really effective at medium to long range. Even though it’s a great fire support team, it isn’t useful for close combat or storming a held objective. The way you play this fire team is significantly different than the way you would play the same fire team with a Commissar. With the “Red Devil” you have a better chance of hitting units in cover. With the Commissar, you can temporarily increase your chances of hitting, but the cover roll is unaffected. Knowing what your strategy and play style is crucial to building effective fire teams.
Each fire team has a specific role to play in your battle strategy and you should have other fire teams that combine to give you a well thought out and flexible army. There comes a time in any battle, however, where you have to continue the battle with what forces you have left available to you, even if they are not particularly suited to the task at hand. If you are lucky, you can regroup your units into new fire teams to make the best of what you have.
The most important thing to remember about fire teams is that by incorporating them into your army, you are taking your army building to the next level. No longer is it about picking a few units that are really good and figuring out what else you can buy with the points you have left over. Instead, you are now breaking your army down into functional groups with distinct roles that will perform more effectively than a group of individual units. The next step, is to combine your fire teams so that they complement each other and give you the best army possible.