Getting started with the French in Great War

Getting started with the French in Great War

Getting started with the French in Great War
With John Lee

With the re-release of Great War, I thought I would look at the French Starter Set and how a new player, or someone on a budget, could get a force on the table that would be competitive, or at least hold its own. For the new player, it opens the door to playing Great War without needing to buy, assemble or paint too much and get into playing the game quicker.

For starting out you will only need the Book and Starter Set along with some dice and tokens. I find Unit Cards are useful as well in the game itself. As you get into it, you can also get some specialized terrain such as trench lines and shattered battlefields and maybe add some more unique tanks and even cavalry!

So, what is in the starter box and what can we use it for?

GFRAB02 Clavery's Chargers
  • 1 x Company HQ (with 2 teams)
  • 2 x Infantry Platoons (with 11 teams)
  • 1 x Machine-Gun Platoon (with 4 teams)
  • 2 x 75mm Stokes Trench Mortar
  • 1 x 75mm Field Gun
  • 1 x Char Saint Chamond Tank
  • 1 x Schneider CA.1 Tank
  • 1 x White AM 1915/18 Armoured Car
  • 1 x Sniper

The book contains all the rules, army lists, missions, and the catalogue. You can essentially build four French infantry Formations and the single Belgian Formation from this starter set. They all have the same Formation layout, and you can add more units from the respective support diagrams. We will be looking at 100pt lists and only need the book and starter set to play – so the cost will be $125  – cheap entry into this game! There is a fifth French Formation of Cavalry, and we can also use most of the Starter Box for that too but will cost you more to purchase a couple of packs of cavalry, infantry, and armoured cars on top of the book and Starter Set.

Getting started with the French in Great War

Starting with the French first, the infantry Formations have the same TO&E but each one has different stats and therefore the points will be different and allows you to choose which one suits your playstyle:

 

Formation

Motivation

Skill

Is Hit On

Special Rules

Compagnie de Fusiliers

Reluctant 5+

Veteran 3+

Careful 4+

They Shall Not Pass, Trench Fighters

Compagnie de Tirailleurs

Fearless 3+

Veteran 3+

Careful 4+

They Shall Not Pass, Trench Fighters

Compagnie de Fusliiers Russe (Russian Legion)

Fearless 3+

Trained 4+

Aggressive 3+

Trench Fighters, Attack At All Costs

Harlem Hellfighters

Fearless 3+

Trained 4+

Aggressive 3+

They Shall Not Pass, Men of Bronze

The special rules affect the above ratings. They Shall Not Pass gives the Units a better Counterattack rating while Trench Fighters gives the units a better Assault rating. Attack At All Costs is unique to the Russian Legion. If a Unit is forced back during defensive fire during the assault, the Unit may pass an immediate Counterattack Test to Charge into contact again but receive another round of defensive fire. If the Counterattack Test fails or the Unit is forced back a second time, then the Unit falls back as normal. Men Of Bronze gives the Harlem Hellfighters a better Last Stand rating.

The Formation comprises the following units:

  • 1 Company HQ
  • 2-8 Infantry Platoons
  • 0-4 76mm Stokes Trench Mortar or 58mm Type 2 Trench Mortar
  • 0-2 Machine-Gun Platoon

The Starter Set contains everything we need for this Formation alongside some of the support Units you can find on the force diagram. Starting with the Compagnie de Fusiliers Formation, here is what it looks like for 100pts:

HQ

3
Fusiliers Section, with Flamethrower and 37mm mle 1916 16
Fusiliers Section, with Flamethrower 13
76mm Stokes Trench Mortar 5
76mm Stokes Trench Mortar 5
Machine-gun Platoon 15
Char Saint Chamond 21
White AM 1915/18  11
75mm Field Gun 9
Sniper 4

We are using everything except for the Schneider CA1. Tank and one of the 37mm mle 1916 teams. If we look at the next Formation, Compagnie de Tirailleurs, we can field slightly less again due to their better stats:

 

HQ

2
Fusiliers Section, with Flamethrower 19
Fusiliers Section, with Flamethrower 19
76mm Stokes Trench Mortar 7
Machine-gun Platoon 16
Schneider CA.1 13
White AM 1915/18  11
75mm Field Gun 9
Sniper 4

We lose the 37mm mle 1916 teams from both platoons, one Machine-Gun team, one 76mm Stokes Trench Mortar, and the Char Saint Chamond tank but have the best stats for the Formation Units.

Onto the Russian Legion now and we only lose a flame-thrower team and the Char Saint Chamond tank:

HQ

1
Fusiliers Section, with Flamethrower and 37mm mle 1916 17
Fusiliers Section, with 37mm mle 1916 15
76mm Stokes Trench Mortar 7
76mm Stokes Trench Mortar 7
Machine-gun Platoon 16
Schneider CA.1 13
White AM 1915/18 11
75mm Field Gun 9
Sniper 4

Finally, the last infantry Formation, Harlem Hellfighters, we only drop the Char Saint Chamond tank:

HQ

1
Fusiliers Section, with Flamethrower and 37mm mle 1916 18
Fusiliers Section, with Flamethrower and 37mm mle 1916 18
76mm Stokes Trench Mortar 5
76mm Stokes Trench Mortar 5
Machine-gun Platoon 16
Schneider CA.1 13
White AM 1915/18 11
75mm Field Gun 9
Sniper 4

The Belgians are organized along French lines, and we can use the same starter set. They have only one Formation, which is the Compagnie de Infanterie. It is slightly smaller than the French Formations:

  • 1 Company HQ
  • 2-6 Infantry Platoons
  • 0-2 3” Stokes Trench Mortar
  • 0-2 Machine-Gun Platoon

Still uses similar support options as the French so we can maximize the starter set and in fact, due to their stats (Reluctant 5+, Trained 4+, and Aggressive 3+) they are cheaper meaning for 100pts we get to use most of the starter set and need to add another Schneider CA.1 tank! We can’t use the White AM 1915/18 armoured car as it was not used by the Belgians. To get the 100pts and with the extra tank, we had to drop the sniper:

HQ

1
Fusiliers Section, with Flamethrower and 37mm mle 1916 13
Fusiliers Section, with Flamethrower and 37mm mle 1916 13
76mm Stokes Trench Mortar 4
76mm Stokes Trench Mortar 4
Machine-gun Platoon 11
Schneider CA.1 13
Schneider CA.1 13
Char Saint Chamond 21
75mm Field Gun 7

The extra tank (GFR090 Schneider CA.1 Tank) would cost an additional $16 to get your list to 100pts.

Back to the French now and let’s look at the Cavalry Formation - The Escadron de Cavalerie. This formation has a rich history dating back to the Napoleonic era and beyond. The Formation is made up of the following Units:

  • 1 Escadron de Cavalerie HQ
  • 2-4 Cavalerie Platoon
  • 0-1 Cavalerie Machine-Gun Platoon
  • 0-2 Automitrailleuse Platoon

We can use most of the Starter Set for this formation as well as Cavalry can dismount. In the game, the Cavalry can dismount either at the start of the game or at the start of the movement step. This is a potential 100pt list:

HQ

2
Cavalry Platoon 14
Cavalry Platoon 14
Automitrailleuse Platoon 33
Automitrailleuse Platoon 11
Schneider CA.1 13
75mm Field Gun 9
Sniper 4

The Cavalerie Platoons have a slightly different configuration to the infantry platoons. Essentially, they have one more Berthier rifle team, so we need to look at an additional infantry platoon to get the extra team we need for dismounted cavalry. We want to take advantage of the armoured cars in the Formation, and we should get an additional box of them to round it out. To run the cavalry, you would be looking at $340:

1 x FW916 Great War Book

$25
1 x GFRAB02 Clavery's Chargers Army Deal $100
2 x GFBX04 Cavalerie Platoon $140
1 x GFR712 Fusiliers Platoon $34
1 x GFR300 Automitrailleuse Platoon $41
TOTAL: $340

There we have it. This starter set covers multiple options for the French and Belgians and you can easily add more tanks, cavalry, artillery, or machine-guns as you explore what you can use to suit your playstyle. Play with 125-150pts and you can field all the starter set with extras on the table. Also note you can take British tanks as well as French tanks – giving you some more flavour on the tabletop. Enjoy!

~ John


Last Updated On Thursday, November 30, 2023 by Ryan Smith