Wednesday, 4 September 2013

That Useless Unit

Morning everyone,

I'm back again with another article derived from my own going attempts to procrastinate.
This time I'm looking at how to enjoy/use/tolerate that unit which just seems pointless.

What do I mean by this? Well the other day I was playing my friend Army Dave, he's only just getting into FoW and was fielding an eclectic assortment of units. Amongst these were a pair of heavy infantry guns. We spoke a bit about using them, they're not great artillery (2 guns) they're not great anti tank (RoF 1) and they're not great against anything in direct fire (range 16 iirc) but how do you get use out of them? In this case I thought the main use was 'filling the gap' they're useless at everything, but can do a bit of everything.

But they're not alone IMHO, other units I have which I love but struggle to use include -
  • Sturmtigers - seriously how often do you need to level a city block in a game of FoW?
  • Centaur tanks - they can support my para's but limited numbers, trained and not great AT just mean they never find a home
  • Staghounds - I love the model but with lots of terrain wheeled recon just rarely does it for me.
  • Bofors SP - never got anything out of these guys other than a set of models I disliked putting together
These are just a few options I can think of, I'm certain you all have others, whether through accident or design. But I'm trying to look at these sorts of units in different ways, not of them actually doing something, but more what they force your opponent not to do.
What do I mean by this? Well if I place a sturmtiger on the table, and you do have a lovely church with a great place to observe from - you will think twice about placing a spotter there. Likewise the humble staghound, it may get there slowly, but that risk it could lift your AT guns GtG means that you have to waste firepower on them somehow.
The other alternative is to build your list around these guys - I'm not saying you'll win a tournament, but if you know that you will have sturmtigers likely against the ubiquitous allied infantry, well they will deal very well with buildings and the odd gun team, but I need everything else focusing on 'the other bits' like the GTG infantry and tanks. Either way if you want to include 'that unit' include it in your list building. Don't just bolt it on but think how to maximise it's strengths and cover it's weakness.

Anyway I hope you enjoyed this. Until next time - stay useless


  1. Interesting.

    I often think about "vanity units" when building lists. That unit that you are attached to but is not really optimal. The unit you have to include even if it is not the best choice.

    My current vanity unit is probably turretless Stuarts. They are pretty good. For Germans I think Panthers will probably be my vanity unit. Not optimal at the moment, but too cool not to include.

    Sometimes it can be fun to target your opponent's vanity unit(s). If they have a unit they are really attached to it can be funny and advantageous to target them.

  2. I love that expression: "vanity units". I have some turretless Pz I for my early war armies transformed into ammunition carriers; not useful at all to play with any set of rules but I like to put them on the table

  3. Serious tourney lists, no place for them if you intend to stand a chance of winning, but in fun lists for casual play, I'll happily take something silly. For me, it'll soon be my Canadian Recce platoon of Humbers. Much like your Staghounds, terrain will probably nerf them, but in that one moment where they can actually get to the road safely and make a mad dash for an objective, they'll shine!

  4. Always glad not to be the only one who notices these. Love the vanity unit concept - I always equate it with shiny model syndrome - and I think both the players are aware of it in some subconscious level

  5. Yeah I hear what you are saying, I tend to put my Grilles in this pigeon hole... difficult to find a role where they will shine..., you end up thinking they may do 'OK', but if only 'OK' then you, in the end, decide to spend the points elsewhere...