Monday, March 11, 2019

Comparison of BMP Killers

Until Charicon, no one locally had ever run into BMP-2 spam in Team Yankee. So it would be fair to say that everyone who faced it (which included me) was a) surprised by its effectiveness, and b) defeated. This is partly my fault: as the resident Soviet, I have never inflicted a BMP Battalion on anyone, leaving people unprepared. As penance, I have been putting a bit of thought into things that might make a difference in future games, with the caveat that I have not been on either side of a game where a BMP horde was defeated, so am coming at it from a theoretical perspective rather than practical experience of what has worked in the past.

Part of the problem at Charicon was the game size. We were playing 60 points, and that probably favours light armour more than say 80 points. As the game size increases, I believe that while you will get more BMPs in total, their damage output doesn't increase at the same rate as they're more likely to get in each other's way, while their opponent's ability to kill them is also increased by having more shots on the table. This is a real dilemma. 45 points on a 6x4 table is a blast to play, as you have space for manoeuvre, and NATO armies built around Chieftains and M60s seem to do okay. 80 points as is being played at Natcon should help armies with Leopard 2s and Abrams be competitive, without totally overloading the tables with spam armies. It could be that 60 points is an uncomfortable level for game balance.

The second part is finding units that are cost-effective tools for killing BMPs, and to resolve this we must turn to some Team Mathee.

My basis for comparing the effectiveness of units is as follows:
  • Ranking them by theoretical BMP kills per point of unit cost over one turn of shooting.
  • The target unit is assumed to be a unit of four BMPs at short range without concealment
  • Bailed out results are ignored. This makes the maths easier, but is also reasonable given their good Remount stat.
  • The comparison also includes template weapons, assuming six targets under an Artillery template, and 12 under a Salvo template, averaged over three turns of shooting with artillery, or one turn for aircraft.
And here are the unit rankings in terms of cost-effectiveness, showing the results with both halted and moving ROF, with the higher numbers being better:
To clarify what the chart means, if you spend four points on a platoon of Scorpions, and are able to get them into a position to get halted shots at a platoon of four BMPs, you are likely to kill all four of them (one kill per point times four points). If you do it with a 9pt platoon of Leopard 1s, you are likely to kill at least three (0.37 kills per point times nine points).

The standout performer is the Scorpion. The combination of ROF2, AT14, and FP2+ in a 1pt/vehicle package is an absolute winner, expected to wipe out a platoon of four BMPs in a single round of shooting. The downsides are a moving ROF of 1 and a 6" tactical move, so making the most of their abilities requires careful play. A 13pt Scorpion Squadron as a screen for a larger British force would probably cause a BMP battalion a few issues.

The next best in my opinion would be the LAV-25. Their AT is high enough that BMPs don’t get much of a save, they get full ROF when moving, and they can be bought in large enough numbers to outweigh their FP 5+.

Luchs are a bit of a red herring: relatively high numbers of kills per point, but as they only come in 1pt platoons, they are not exactly a game-changer. The Scimitar competes for the same unit slots as the Scorpion. Gepards, Shilkas, and VADS are all pretty effctive, but generally have more important things to do mid-game.

The artillery was a bit of a disappointment. I thought it would be pretty good given the assumptions about the number of targets under the template and the number of turns that the. There are a couple of issues affecting it. One is their AT rating of 4, giving the BMPs a decent save, only killing on average one per turn. The second issue is their price: 10 points for four British M109s, giving them a low cost-effectiveness.

The final part of the answer is tactics. Don’t be an idiot like me in my game, sitting there taking fire, relying on being at 5s and 6s to hit to keep you safe. Your tanks will die and you will lose. Badly. BMPs can’t fire their missiles on the move, so you need to try to keep them moving. Try to find defilade positions that allow you to take them on a platoon at a time. Smoke can be used to achieve the same thing. And make the most of your movement orders to maximise ROF while reducing the number of turns of return fire that you face.

So that is my take on three things that could help take the edge off BMP spam. Game size is definitely not something that should be manipulated to give one side or other an advantage in matched play, but the way in which game balance is affected by size is a useful thing to know when planning games or tournaments. The other two things (knowing which specific units in my list will be tasked with killing BMPs, and looking at positions and tactics that will get the most out of those units) are certainly things that I will be trying to pay closer attention to the next time end up playing against Soviets.

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