Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Armies of France Review: Part 1: French

My copy finally showed in the mail yesterday and I spent part of last night going over my book getting familiar with it and looking at what has changed from the PDF and compared it to what I heard online and on the BAR for inside scoops.

The final result is mixed with both excitement at some good changes and some negative things that I really dislike. First I will go into an overview and discuss things as we go…for this post I am just going to focus on France, then to the Partisan list then on to the rest of the book…

Special Rules:

Communication Breakdown: In a nutshell, if the first dice drawn is yours. Your opponent can ask you to redraw a new one after putting that one back. Not a huge negative factor and is flavorful.

Forward Artillery Doctrine: This is a nice option if you ask me; you get one free inexperienced or regular artillery or anti-tank gun. The only limit is you can’t take a heavy artillery option. Plus this does not count against your unit choices from the reinforced platoon list.

Hurriedly Conscripted Reserves: Take 3 or more inexperienced units and get another unit of the least cost free (with the same gear). At first I thought this was crap, now in retrospect I think this could really have some options.

New Weapon: VB Launcher was introduced in this book and several armies can opt to take it. Simply, it is a light mortar that can be taken as an option for a squad at the same price as an LMG, the range is jut 6-18”, it is HE(d2) and indirect. I see some prospects here.


Headquarters Units:

Officer: Nothing special, just like other lists.

Medic: Allows for Regular and Veteran only. Nothing else to write home to mom about.

Forward Observer: Same as any other army.

Infantry Squads and Teams:

Regular Infantry: Nothing different from the PDF except the VB launcher and you do get the option for the 12th guy with a pistol for a few less points.

Inexperienced Infantry: Same as Regular in options but no SMG option.

Dragons Portes (Mech Infantry): Nothing special but a smaller unit size of 10 with the option of 2 lmgs and a VB launcher as well and are Regular infantry.

Groupe Franc/SES/GIA: Veterans, 2 LMG options with a VB launcher option, 3 SMGs as before. They also give skies to the Chasseurs D’Alpines for free.
NOTE: This part I am unhappy about in two parts. Alpine Chaussers get jack. These were mountain and snow specialists, thanks guys for the free skies. The Belgium list gets for their Chaussers an option for Tough fighters. No bonus to outflank? Nothing. Second I am going to defend the GIA or rather the Groupe Franc, they put in the book they are “heavily armed RAIDERS used to INFILTRATE enemy positions and undertake deep RECONNAISSANCE missions. What the flip? You give them NOTHING really? Very disappointed here.

Foreign Legion Vets: Still have Stubborn and gains a VB launcher. Nothing new.

Senegalese Tirailleurs Infantry: Small up charge Regular unit with Tough fighters, otherwise standard regular French Infantry.

Moroccan Goumiers: Veteran Senegalese, small up charge with Tough Fighters. LMG only and 11 man unit size.

Calvary: Can be up to 13 men! Same price as a SS Calvary unit in price with horse for Veteran but also can be Regular also.
Note: It does not say CALVARY for the list and there is debate online if this. It is the same cost and well, it is pretty dumb to just have them be living bicycles for the French (and other armies).

Motorbike Section: 13 man squad again that can be on motorcycles and sidecars. LMGs only. Sad nobody makes them!

Machine Gun Team: Standard as other books

Anti-Tank Rifle Team: Standard as other books.

Sniper Team: Same as before

Light Mortar Team: Yes, still 3 men. A little more expensive than other armies due to the bonus man.

Medium Mortar Team: No changes.

Artillery and Field Guns:

Light/Medium/Heavy Artillery: No change from other armies.

Anti Tank Guns: Both Light and Medium options and the same cost as other armies.

Anti-Aircraft: A single light automatic cannon as other armies in cost.


Renault FT: MAJOR (almost  50% point drop) compared to the PDF. Think of it as a cheaper MMG on tracks.

CHAR D1: About 1/3 of the points dropped off and lost the 9+ frontal armor perk in the PDF.

CHAR D2: Cheaper than the D1, also no major difference but takes extra pin markers if hit due to Unreliable.

RENAULT R35, R39 and R40: Light Tank now, points dropped a great deal from the PDF.

HOTCHKISS H35, H38 and H39: Not a bad new tank if you can stand dealing with the single turret rule and willing to upgrade the gun to a light ATG.

FCM 36: New tank, but really sucks, cheap but has no option to upgrade the ATG.

AMC 35: New Tank, to me will be a standard tank for the French, I know of only one company that makes a resin model of it. No single man turret rule or slow on this guy. Still a light ATG though.

Somua 35: Massive drop in points, but also now a light tank, no medium ATG but they did get rid of the Vulnerable spot rule and gained the 9+ front armor rule. Still has the one-man turret rule.

CHAR B1: Small points increase from PDF, lost the medium ATG for a light version.

CHAR 2C: Small point drop from PDF, otherwise no change.

Tank Destroyers:

There are three trucks with guns mounted on the back, just saving time typing on this. Two are light and one has a medium ATG.

Armored Cars and RECCE Vehicles:

AMC SCHNEIDER P16 Half-Track: Points went down from the PDF but also lost the light ATG for the low powered version with no upgrade options. They also pulled the dual directional steering rule.
NOTE: I am a little annoyed not as much by the ATG change but the steering rule as it clearly states there are two drivers, front and back!

AMR33 and AMR35: I was happy to see this addition, a tankette for the French in essence.
NOTE: I am VERY disappointed that someone feels asleep here and did not cover the other variants like the ZT1 and ZT3. I really like the ZT3 and was about to buy one as I really liked the look of the vehicle and it had a 25mm gun (light ATG). Maybe Warlord can PDF this as an add on PDF.

Here is more about the ARM series of tanks: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMR_35

painting and photography by Steve Thompson
ZT3 made by Army Group North Miniatures

AMD PANHARD 178: You’re typical light ATG on wheels with Recce.

LAFFLY S15TOE: Armored car with Recce and MMG…

AMD LAFFLY 80AM: HMG and MMG armored car with Reece. Almost missed the fact it has a HMG.

AMD LAFFLY 50AM: Recce vehicle with a low vel ATG….nothing special.

AMD PANHARD 165/175: Overseas version, Recce with low vel ATG only….no upgrades.

Transports and Tows:

11 vehicles, nothing special and includes a ton of tractors, some armored options including the UNIC. Nothing special to note but they did cover finally a vehicle that can haul a heavy howitzer!

Overall: The French list gets about a 3/5 review. It would have be stellar if they would have included the ZT tanks, forgot dual directional steering on the P16 and I was really disappointed by the treatment of the Alpine Chaussers and Groupe Franc lack of rules as well as the lack of making it clear if Calvary is well just that in the rules. I assume they are until they say otherwise in a FAQ. I can deal with the light ATG being moved around on a few tanks with no medium option being a bit of a disappointment as well. 


  1. I'd never heard of the ZT tanks before, or indeed a number of the other vehicles. Were they fielded in significant numbers?

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_combat_vehicle_production_during_World_War_II

      Not many ZT series tanks, but depending on what model there was limited #s.

  2. Thorough review and a nice looking tank!

  3. In your post, you mention a company who produces the amc35. I can not find it anywhere. Could you please mention this company? Thx

    1. The 35 is listed as an AMR 35 here http://hobbyarmordepot.homestead.com/worldwarii.html

      The major problem is models are 1:48, a bit larger than I would like.