|A lot has been written about the use of DCs and FTs and yet no article describes their use as I see them. They are best unused. Read on.|
Using DCs and FTs Correctly
This has to be one of my least favorite weapons, right up there with the ATR and just about any American tank. While it carriers a potential wallop of up to 36-3, they often are death charms for the manning infantry. Delivery of the weapon is the tricky part.
First, the DC has two purposes. It can blow stuff up real good. Used in this manner, their applications and tactics are straightforward. This is not what this article is about. Rather, their second use is as a SW, attacking other units in direct combat situations. As part of a normal scenario, the DCs are given for a single purpose - often to blow up some fortification or tough building. By all means, use them for that purpose. However, it is common in campaign games for units to be assigned these weapons with no specific use. It is mostly for those situations I write target this article.
The basic problem is that the delivering infantry has to be adjacent to the target. Obviously, if the target is small enough that you are not worried about its DFF/SFF/DF then that target may not be a good choice. I hate wasting such a powerful weapon on small targets. And yet, the correct target, a large kill stack, is going to be too powerful to survive to use the weapon. Ironically, this is the exact situation for which you are looking: one that you *can't* use the DC.
Remember, the DC itself packs such an impressive FP that no self-respecting kill stack can afford to have an operable one next to it. In other words, the kill stack *has* to DFF/DF against it. On top of that, since the stack forms a mandatory fire group, your opponent has to decide how much FP he is going to allocate before the attack in order to pin/break the unit. He doesn't have the luxury to fire at it once, see the result and fire again hoping to get a better result. The implication is that any fire directed at that unit will not be used against others. By moving this DC unit first, you force your opponent to fire, making the way for the other assaulting troops a little easier, perhaps. I would much rather my main attack force face the halved SFF of a large stack rather than its deadlier DFF. If by chance, you opponent chooses not to attack the DC unit opting to wait for other units instead, then, you have you ideal situation for a DC vs. the kill stack. True, DF is always available as are ROF weapons not addressing that point either; you have to face some peril.
Chances are, the unit with the DC will not survive unbroken/unpinned, that is why I like to use a HS. The HS is going to draw an amount of fire disproportional to the HS's threat otherwise. But that is exactly the point, make your opponent fire at small targets, leaving the more important targets alone. While it may break, it is unlikely it will be eliminated. Just rout away, rally and come back. Understand now how a one-use weapon can be used more than once? While you have it and is posing a threat, your opponent had better factor that into his strategy.
This introduces the next concept: simply not using the weapon. Having a weapon like this around is much more effective than not have it around. The threat of its use is as much of a weapon as its actual use. When it gets used it is no longer a threat and the opponent suddenly has many more options. But by keeping the weapon within striking distance, you opponent is going to be uneasy. Again, a weapon that should only be used once is being used many times. Of course, there will come a time, you will want to actually use it, that is the point of the weapon, but you will have to decided when to make that moment count.
Using a DC on the defense is even easier since your opponent has to come to you. In that case you have DFF rather than receiving it. Also, if there is a hex you very much want to prevent him from taking, consider setting the DC. With some effort, it can become a 36-3 atom bomb. You may also want to consider setting it so he will have to take the time to defuse it. Either way, it is a very effective tool.
Naturally, the actual situation dictates the timing and tactics of the weapon. But I have seen too many DC wasted by bad planning, timing and execution They are hard too weapons to use for sure. Very few times will they ever be used in the optimal situation but because of the high FP and the fact it can be used only once. Even so, I feel I have to try for that one perfect attempt. In practice I use it more to draw fire than anything else. It does draw fire well.
If DCs are my least favorite weapon, the FT has to be my favorite. High FP, no TEM effects and it can be used full strength during the AdFPh. What is there not to like about it? Well, mostly the -1 for manning infantry and the fact it is going to draw even more fire than DCs.
This weapon is the opposite of my DC for all the reasons I just stated. Additionally, I am told its a multiple use weapon, although my breakdown on the first use is actually over 100%. In theory I think it can be used several times. As a tactic, I move this unit last. Since your opponent is going to fire madly at it, most of the other units will move. Again, the idea is to perplex the opponent. If he waits to fire at the FT, then all the other units move safely. If he fires at other units, then the FT has greater mobility and will fry at whomever it aims. There is little you can do about DF but by moving as I described, your opponent has to make hard decisions.
Again, I like using HSs here. I would much rather a HS taken out of action than a full one. There is something to be said for the extra shot provided by a squad, but most of the time I am just happy for a FT to shoot that I tend not to press my luck. Do not assign a leader to a FT. The ones with good enough morale to survive the DF shots can be used much better elsewhere. Lower morale leader minimizes the odds. Heroes should never be used. While they have good morale, they can easily the eliminated if they break simply by rolling a five or six. Then a FT is left unpossessed - hardly a good situation.
Another common tactic I like to use is move a HS or some equally unthreatening unit next to the kill stack. He is not going to waste firing at that. After that unit moves, start moving up some choice targets. The idea is to get him to DFF. If he does, is limited to SFF to the HS next to him. Bring the FT unit to two hexes and blast him in the AdFPh. While the attack will be halved, it is still a 12 FP attack no TEM, respectable attack regardless. Also, the FT is safe from the blistering effects of DFF.
Like the DC, the FT are a potential weapon by not using them. They are so powerful (the FP equivalent of 4 to 6 squads) just the threat of them is enough to for your opponent not to stack. The difference between the two support weapons is that I use the DC much more capacious. They are used only to draw fire and run interference for the other troops. FTs however, are the single unit that has to survive and the other troops has to screen it.
Both are awesome weapons but it takes a good deal of effort to use them effectively. I have seen too many of the weapons squandered. While I am glad to see my opponent squander them, it hurts me as an ASL player for that to happen. Because of the danger of using them, I might be better served to pick secondary targets rather than just the juiciest ones. But my style of play is so conservative anyhow, I indulge myself with these two weapons.
As always, I encourage discussion. If you agree or disagree, feel free to write me.[Back]