A traditional wargame with modern sensibilities.
By Ben Newbon, Columnist.
Most days as a child I would wake up to the low thomp of helicopter blades or the roar of a jet skimming chimney tops. Growing up in rural Herefordshire UK has meant even though not directly associated with the Armed Forces, it was still a part of everyday life for me.
Fast forward 14 years and I am writing this article surrounded by many of the Battle tanks, infantry and aircraft that I grew up with, albeit 1:100 scale instead of 1:1 scale. For many years 15mm gaming was the twilight zone for me, always there waiting for me to dabble in it’s dark arts but I was always too worried about painting them, after all infantry is just the size of my thumbnail. So instead I concentrated on 28mm in the form of Warhammer Fantasy (Age of Sigmar), Warhammer 40,000 and Bolt Action (28mm World War 2) and left 15mm gaming to others. That was to change when I saw Battlefront Games' Team Yankee. Based on the book ‘Team Yankee’ by Harold Coyle, the game is fought at the height of the Cold War where Russia has just started World War 3 by invading West Germany. Using your infantry, tanks, vehicles and aircraft you have the power to halt the Soviet advance or strike deep into the Capitalist West.
The game works like many of the table-top wargames that many of us are familiar with. Models, dice and a tape measure, but where this game differs to most is the inclusion of stat cards for the models. These cards come with all Team Yankee models and show you all the details you need to use them in battle. What this in turn means is that you don’t really need to buy a rulebook for your army when you start out, I like this as I can buy more models instead. Another thing I like is that the scenarios are not balanced. This sounds really weird I know but bear with me! Most games are just a slog between two armies until one comes out on top, but this game is more of a rapier to a normal game’s sledgehammer. Often the games follow an army pushing deep into enemy lines, only a small defence force is available at the start and reserves roll in over the course of the battle. This will often mean you are outnumbered and outgunned to begin with but with careful planning, ambushing units and often a bit of luck, you can win. After all a good sailor isn’t made on calm seas!
Within the game the different unit types form a pseudo Rocks-Paper-Scissors style game. Tanks beat support vehicles, support vehicles beat infantry and infantry beat tanks. Of course this is a dice game so it’s not guaranteed but generally this is how you will want to combat your opponent’s threat. For example using my British BAOR (British Army On the Rhine) forces I will use my artillery units to laydown smoke to blind anti-tank units as well as dig light vehicles and infantry out of cover, all the while moving my tanks up the board making sure that they have clear fields of fire while keeping their front armour (always the thickest and strongest) towards the biggest threat. The tanks then take care of the lighter vehicles and the Anti-Air to make way for my airmobile infantry to come in and take objectives. Of course this all changes depending on the enemy, no point in moving forward if you are defending and there is no time for artillery units if you need to rush an objective. This game is one of high gambles and high pay offs. ‘Fortune favours the brave’ after all!
The models themselves are high quality and a very reasonable price, especially when compared to other larger and more well-known companies. Battlefront Games are expanding more and more into plastic models, for people like me who like to get their models put together quickly and easily, they are perfect. Other models come as either a resin/metal hybrid kit or just metal (mainly their infantry) which are made with Battlefront’s usual high quality. Their customer service is great and will do everything they can to make sure that people with any dramas are looked after very quickly.
All up the future looks bright for this game, with five nations already released and more coming in every quarter, plus small army add-on booklets - I see this game becoming more and more popular. There is something so much more invigorating about using an entire army in comparison to just using one or two squads and a few vehicles and Team Yankee much like its Flames of War brother lets you do this.