British 8th Army Starter Army I

Box Contents

The British 8th Army Starter Army is a mix of plastic and metal models containing:

  • x6 British 8th Army Infantry sprues (36 Infantry) – Plastic
  • 8th Army MMG Team – Metal
  • 8th Army Medium Mortar Team – Metal
  • 8th Army 6-pdr Medium AT Gun – Metal
  • 8th Army 25-prd Light Howitzer – Metal
  • x2 Universal Carrier ( with 8th Army passengers) – Plastic/Metal

The Desert Commandos List

Generic Reinforced Platoon
Officer
2nd Lt (Rifle) – Vet – 65
x1 Buddy (Rifle) – 13
78pts
Forward Artillery Observer – Reg – 00pts
Infantry
Commando Section – Vet – 5 men – 70
NCO SMG – 2
x4 SMG – 8
Tough Fighters
Behind Enemy Lines
80pts
Commando Section – Vet – 5 men – 70
NCO SMG – 2
x4 SMG – 8
Tough Fighters
Behind Enemy Lines
80pts
Veteran Infantry Section (Early/Mid War) – Vet – 7 men – 91
NCO SMG – 3
94pts
Veteran Infantry Section (Early/Mid War) – Vet – 7 men – 91
x1 LMG – 20
111pts
Veteran Infantry Section (Early/Mid War) – Vet – 6 men – 78
x2 LMG – 40
118pts
Medium Mortar Team – Vet – 65
Spotter – 10
75pts
Boys AT Rifle – Vet – 3930pts
MMG Team – Vet – 6565pts
Artillery
Light Howitzer – Vet – 66
Spotter – 10
Gun Shield
76pts
Transports
Bren Carrier – Vet – 72
Pintle LMG – 10
Forward Facing AT Rifle
92pts
Bren Carrier – Vet – 72
Pintle LMG – 10
Forward Facing AT Rifle
92pts
Total13 Order Dice1000pts

Breakdown

  • Rifle – 20
  • SMG – 10
  • LMG – 3 (2)
  • MMG – 1
  • Medium Mortar – 1
  • Light Howitzer – 1
  • AT Rifle – 1 (2)

(x) denotes a vehicle-mounted weapon.

Notes and Analysis

The objective of this list is two-part – 1) use as much of the Starter Army as possible and 2) make a List that works at a competitive level. Please keep in mind, this List was written using only the contents of the Starter Army.

Interesting decision from Warlord on this Starter Army. Why the inclusion of both a howitzer and AT gun? Both of those options take up the Artillery slot in the Generic Reinforced Platoon. I checked all the 8th Army and North Africa Theater Selectors I could find to see if there was one that allowed for both artillery pieces to be included, but alas, no luck. There are some options for two Light Howitzers, but what are we going to do with the Med. AT Gun? Well, nothing. That’s what. However, besides the AT Gun, this list uses every other component of the Starter Army!

I tried to find a Selector that allowed for both a Med. and Light Mortar but came up empty on that. The 8th Army sprue includes a Light Mortar and it would have been great to use that in the list. We will, however, make use of three of the AT Rifles. One for an AT Rifle Team and two others added to the Bren Carriers. Also, note the list uses the metal radio operator as the Forward Artillery Observer instead of a passenger in a Bren Carrier. We need every last body we can find for the infantry squads.

Thoughts on tactics:

I must admit, I struggled to create this list. I struggled to hit 1,000pts. I am happy with the end result, but I was surprised by how limiting the Starter Army was once I got down to the list writing. I think this box is fantastic. I love the 8th Army plastic kit and getting not one, but two Bren Carriers in the box is fantastic! But boy does this army need a tank. Toss in something like a Crusader or a Matilda II and now we are really cooking. Again, I like this army list and I love this Starter Army box, I just didn’t expect it would be as tricky as it was to hit 1k.

Before we dive into what the list has, let’s take a look at what it lacks. You lack solid AT. Yes, there are three AT Rifles and a Light Howitzer (with the option to fire as a Light AT Gun), but that is not going to do much against Armor 9 targets. This army is very thematic for a North African conflict in Early-Mid War. Beyond that, you will struggle. But don’t let that stop you! I would absolutely take this list against some Late War nonsense but you’ll need to play real cagey if you face a Medium or Heavy Tank.

That’s enough of the bad. How about the good? Well, you’ve got a ton of good. First, this list is 13 Order Dice! That’s fantastic at 1k and you will almost certainly be higher in the die count (always a good thing). The list is made up of many smaller-ish units and support teams. You don’t have any large blobs of Stubborn Infantry or heavy armor, you will need to be mobile and know when to strike.

You have not one, but two small squads of Commandos, all with SMGs. You can roll them up in the Bren Carriers or keep them back for Outflank on foot depending on the needs of the mission. You have plenty of backline support with the Arty Observer, Med. Mortar, MMG, Light Howitzer, and double-LMG squad. Use all of these support elements to cover the advance of the Brens and the other Vet Squads.

For your National Characteristic, I recommend Vengeance or Rapid Fire but it’s going to depend on your playstyle. If you are looking to play aggressively and push your Commandos and Brens forward, Vengeance can make all the difference. But, if you want to play a bit more conservatively, those extra few Rifle shots from Rapid Fire are always nice. However you choose to roll, this list has some serious fire support units and you should be able to win the Indirect Fire battle (Arty Observer, Mortar, Light Howitzer). Keep the Lt. close to your base of fire with your three Vet units with LMGs. Once you have your enemy pinned down, swoop in with the Commandos and the Bren carriers.

At the end of the day, we are looking at a unique Starter Army and a unique army list. I think I’d truly enjoy taking this force to the table.


What’s Next?

Considerations for next steps and expanding your Canadian collection:

  • A Tank – You need a tank. Luckily, you have a host of options. You can go with something cheap like an A10 Cruiser CS (Armor 8, Light Howitzer, 135pts Reg) or the other end of the spectrum with a massive Churchill (Armor 10, Med. AT Gun, 265pts Reg) or something in-between like a Matilda II, the Queen of the Desert (Armor 9, Light Howitzer, 155pts Reg). Whatever flavor you pick, it will be a welcome addition.
  • An Armored Car – You’ve got plenty of options here as well. You can go heavy or light. The AEC is more tank than an armored car and a Recee Carrier/India Pattern AC are all viable. The choice will be informed by what your army composition looks like. The Armored Car slot in your force is flexible and can provide that missing piece in your force. What do you need? More speed? More AT? More anti-infantry? Whatever it is, a solid AC choice can fit the role.
  • Campaign: The Western Desert – This Starter Army is tailored for Campaign: The Western Desert. The book not only provides historical background on the Commonwealth 8th Army but also new units and a host of Theater Selectors. Not only that, there are new Army Special Rules for South Africa, India, New Zealand, and Australia. Of course, you can use the National Characteristics in Armies of Great Britain to represent a Commonwealth force, but the Army Special Rules in The Western Desert provide even more options and uniqueness.  

Andrew

2 thoughts on “British 8th Army Starter Army I

  1. Thanks for this. Excellent breakdown. In the campaign for the western desert book you have what’s known as a ‘Jock Column ‘ which has a mandatory 1-2 anti tank, 1-2 howitzer and 1-2 40mm Bofors Gun so I feel it’s possibly supposed to be for that platoon but you will need to buy the bofors. For me however the anti tank gun is going to my US Marines. The ‘8th army Italy 1983’ also has two artillery slots and two mortar slots from the Italy soft underbelly book so if you really wanted to bring the pain I do feel it’s possible.

    I was lucky enough to pick this up on eBay this weekend with the 4 metal HQ models, a Matilda II and the 8th army paint set (all unused) for £52 so I’m a very happy man that this has been posted at the same time. That and a sniper team will get me to 1250pts with ease.

    5 man commando units to ride the Universal carriers is an excellent idea that I will be stealing 😁.

    Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you as always for the comment Stephen! I took a hard look at the Jock Column for this list but as you point out, you’d have to have a Bofors and the other part that threw me is the 1-2 2-pdr AT Gun is a Light AT Gun and the one in this Start Army is a Med. AT Gun (the 6-pdr). Just a strange inclusion in the box, in my opinion.

      Great shout on the 8th Army Reinforced Platoon (Sicily)! I overlooked that one hidden in the depths of Campaign: Italy: Soft Underbelly. I’ll need to make a second platoon uses that for it’s Theater Selector and Platoon structure. Interesting that this Starter Army was shipped out years ahead of this book but the Theater Selector is a perfect option!

      That is a steal of a deal you got! The Starter Army plus a Matilda II and some paint? Just lovely!

      Like

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