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Building An Italian Tank Company: Taking a Combined Arms Approach

Building An Italian Tank Company:
Taking a Combined Arms Approach
with Chris Townley

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Italian forces in Avanti and more specifically their tanks. Rather than just continuing to mull it over in my mind I thought I would share some thoughts with the community and see what everyone else thinks.

At first look an Italian tank commander doesn’t appear to have a lot of options, although a more positive commander would embrace the simplicity and clarity of purpose of Italian armour. You have two choices, one of which is relatively cheap and capable of knocking out enemy medium and light tanks, whilst one is excellent at providing fire support as well as knocking enemy armour, but at a higher points cost. But both tanks can be bought as part of a single formation and mixed however you prefer, which is always a plus.

The Italians learned about modern warfare the hard way in 1940. Now they are back, showing the world what the Italian soldier can do. Fighting under the famous ‘Desert Fox’, General Rommel, they form a crucial part of the Italian-German Panzer Army. Tough, determined, skilled, and aggressive veterans, the Italians broke through the British Gazala Line to save the trapped German Afrika Korps, held the line at El Alamein, and opened the way at Kasserine Pass, before holding up the American offensive at El Guettar. Fight or die for the new Roman Empire!

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Avanti: Italian Forces In North Africa 1942-43 

Lets start out with the M14/41. To my mind at (approximately) two points per tank this is a great foundation to build your force around. From a points perspective it is roughly comparable to the British Honey tank, but hit less often (Italian tanks are Confident and hit on a 4+) and have better Motivation and Skill. Of course you cannot have all these benefits without some negatives as the Honey is marginally faster at tactical movement speed but is much faster when dashing. This means that as an Italian player you need to come up with a plan for your tanks and stick to it.

Building An Italian Tank Company: Taking a Combined Arms Approach

The last point of comparison is around the guns. To my mind they are largely a wash as the Stuart has slightly higher AT rating (7 vs 6) but this is somewhat made up by the M14/41 having HEAT rounds, whilst the Honey suffers from a lack of HE.

Bearing all of this in mind I think it is hard to pass up on taking and HQ and two platoons of M14/41 tanks, preferably at full strength. This comes in at only 26 points for 11 tanks. You could take a third platoon and really boost your numbers, but I am saving that for some Semovente SP guns. Before I talk about the Semovente though I will say that even if you don’t agree with my choice to add them, you should definitely take a third platoon in your Formation, just to strengthen it from a morale perspective.

So moving on to the Semovente SP gun. Whilst I think the M14/41 is the baritone of your formation, the Semovete is the tenor. The M14/41 tanks do the hard work whilst the Semovetes bring the extra firepower (and flair), whilst only costing 4 points each.

Building An Italian Tank Company: Taking a Combined Arms Approach

Looking at their card they have excellent Motivation so can be counted on to hang around on the table, as well as shrugging off bailed out results with a Remount of 2+. The Skill of 4+ is average, but if you roll well with your 8 Million Bayonets you can count on them going up to a 3+ allowing you to be a bit more tricky with how you employ them on the tabletop. Like the M14/41 their speed is pretty average, and with a 4+ Cross don’t try to push them through any rough terrain. However, their gun makes up for this in some ways thanks to having both an Indirect and Direct Fire option.

The enemy can run but they cannot hide. Speaking of the gun it is much like the rest of the tank, it has pros and cons. Indirect Fire is definitely a pro and so is the AT value of 8 which makes it capable (although not proficient) at knocking out Shermans and Grants. The con though is definitely the range which is only 20”/50cm. Take me closer so I can hit them with my sword!

Taking all of this into account (and the fact it looks awesome) I feel like there is always a place for the Semovente in my Formations filling up that 3rd platoon slot. I want to max out the platoon and if I was only taking one Formation this would be an option, but personally I love the idea of two formations, each with the 11 M14/41 tanks (from earlier) along with 3 Semovete SP guns. This comes in at a handy 38 points per Formation, or 76 points all up.

Filling out the force to 100 points comes down to personal choice more than anything else so I thought I might run through some of the options and give my opinions on each.

Infantry: what tanks take, infantry hold. Hard to beat some infantry to round out your force, they can hold objectives, slow down the enemy, and go places that your tanks (and their 4+ cross) cannot.

Building An Italian Tank Company: Taking a Combined Arms Approach

The Weapons Platoon (from the Bersaglieri Weapons Company) is a great defensive choice. For only 8 points once fully equipped it can defend itself from other infantry platoons and light / recon tanks. Don’t plan on taking the fight to the enemy with them though.

A Rifle Platoon (from the Bersagliere Rifle Company) is another cost-effective option putting 9 teams on the table for only 9 points. Each team has enough Rate Of Fire to pin down incoming infantry platoons so can play defensively, and with the large platoon size if they get to take it too the enemy you can count on a good Assault Phase.

Building An Italian Tank Company: Taking a Combined Arms Approach

Last up is the Assault Engineer Platoon (from your Force Support). Coming in at 15 points you are really committing a large chunk of your remaining points but they do have the tools for every job, including a pair of Flame-thrower teams.

Moving on to the other options you have a mix of recon and gun options to choose from.

If you are playing Italian tanks you must take either a platoon of AB41 armoured cars or L6/40 light tanks. Think of these points as a tax you pay up front to give you Scout and Spearhead. Choose whichever on you want, but make sure you choose at least one of them as the ability to Spearhead and increase your deployment area (effectively mitigating some of your tanks speed issues) is too good to pass up on.

Building An Italian Tank Company: Taking a Combined Arms Approach

Next we have the 90mm on Lancia and 88mm AT gun. Once again I feel this comes down to player choice – their points are a wash at 6 points each and it just comes down to mobility vs protection. I do feel though that much like the armoured cars or light tanks, you need to take at least one unless you are not planning on facing any Churchill or Tiger tanks, or are planning on being exceptionally lucky with your artillery or aircraft.

The Autocannone 20mm AA Platoon is very meta dependent in my opinion. Your tanks have plenty of machine-guns for spraying enemy infantry, and your 88mm and 90mm guns can shoot down aircraft so it really comes down to whether the RAF have come out to play.

Now we move on to the 100mm Howitzer Battery. Fearless and Careful, the artillery are the backbone of the Italian Army. I think this is a great weapon and if I was only taking one Formation in my Force I would definitely take a Battery as it can fill the role of improved AT gun with its AT of 9, and it is more than capable of smashing enemy infantry and gun teams that think they are safe in their foxholes thanks to Firepower 3+. Don’t forget that it also packs Smoke.

Lastly we have the Falco. Opinions on air power are always very divided so this one comes down to personal choice and play style. Personally I think the idea of a pair of biplanes supporting my army is very cool, but more importantly for 5 points all I need to do is knock out one Sherman or Grant and they have paid for themselves. Plus they can hunt down teams that are out of site of the rest of your army.

So, I was sitting at 76 points before running through all of the options available to us, what would I pick?

Building An Italian Tank Company: Taking a Combined Arms Approach

Lets add a pair of Lancia (90mm) because I think they look great and that’s enough for me, so now I have 12 points available, add in four L6/40 light tanks for 4 points and I have 8 points left over. Drop in a full-strength Weapons Platoon and I hit 100 points. 

That gives me two Formations that are hard to break and have 14 tanks in each, an infantry platoon that I can dig in on one of my objectives to keep it safe, a pair of big guns to take out enemy armour, and some light tanks to not only expand my deployment options, but can also hunt down enemy recon or infantry that get a little aggressive. If I really wanted to I could drop one of my 90mm guns and add in some air support and an extra L6/40, not a bad return just removing one vehicle.


Last Updated On Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by Chris at Battlefront