My game group has shown a good level of interest in Battlefront’s Team Yankee of late, and being one who’s happy to go with the flow of what people are playing, I took a chance and bought a West German starter set and some other bits and pieces. I spent the next few days perusing the books – the fluff in particular, and glued a couple of models together, then on Saturday got a demo game in at the club.
At this point I want to make perfectly clear two factors – we were playing roughly 60pt lists in a game I’m told is supposed to be played with 100pt lists, so yes, this was a smaller than average game. Secondly, Dave, the guy demoing the game did a great job explaining the rules, and in no way made any attempt to either crush me, or conversely, give me an easy win.
To demonstrate my experience of the Team Yankee demo, I want to make a comparison of the other game I played this weekend, a “regular WW2” game of FOW, at roughly average points (1250/1500). The WW2 game had my US paratroopers grimly holding onto their defensive positions, withstanding numerous bombardments, until the reserves came to relieve them. There were so many climactic moments, it’s hard to single out just one – my opponent’s PAK 40’s gun shields saved him over and over again, one of my platoons made 13, yes 13 saving throws, my medic failed every chance to revive someone – you get the idea. The pivotal moment of the battle came when the Germans decided to break the deadlock by launching an assault, defying the odds and ultimately winning the game. We both had an awesome game, it could’ve gone either way, and I left it wanting to play more. I can say this about plenty of FOW games I’ve played.
In Team Yankee, my army rolled up, blew the crap out of everything, game over.
Wait, what? That’s it?
I don’t quite know what I was expecting. Going into the game, I thought I’d have to learn about the high-tech semi-modern world of warfare the hard way, with weird and wonderful weapons catching me by surprise. What I did not expect, was for me to effortlessly zoom my super tanks forward at breakneck speed in the very first turn, shoot my uber-cannon with absolutely no penalty, and then mop up the survivors with helicopters from the other side of the table.
The whole thing has been on my mind over the weekend, not least of all because I already invested a chunk of change into the game. Does the game really play that much differently at the recommended points level? Was it a bad match-up of units? Did we not use enough terrain? I certainly thought we did, more than a regular FOW game for sure. So what am I missing?
What my issue essentially boils down to is choice. Or to put it another way, necessary tactical decision making. In a WW2 game, my units suffer a shooting penalty if they move, that’s a choice, the units fare well against certain units, and poorly against others, that’s a choice, I have to maneuver in a way that makes the best use of terrain and cover, that’s a choice.
But in Team Yankee, I can hit anything I want, wherever I want, and as long as I get the first turn, my opponent’s force will likely be so damaged that they can’t hit back effectively. Like a Wild West gunfight, if I get the drop, it’s over. There’s not even a wide variety of units to pick a force from, let alone options to kit them out in different ways.
I hate to judge an entire system from one game, so I will give it another go. But until I am convinced otherwise, I’ll be spending my quality hobby time with Tigers instead of Leopards.