By Bill Jaffe, Product Manager at 1A Games

One of the questions I’ve asked as well as been asked by Tide of Iron fans is what is the best way to build squad bases. My usual answer is there is no one best way, but I have come to realize a general guide would be very helpful. We will focus on the Americans and Germans first. The Soviets and British will follow in a later article.

So, to start with your basic infantry figures are (all stats shown are versus enemy infantry, Mortars, and MGs):

Regular Infantry = 1 Firepower (1 attack die), 4 Range

Elite Infantry = 2 Firepower (2 attack dice), 4 range

PLUS special ability Battle Hardened = +1 cover (1 defense die) versus suppressive attacks

Officer = 1 Firepower (1 attack die), 4 Range

PLUS Fast Recovery (squad recovers from pinned or disrupted)

Rally (fresh squad that is pinned may still fire with one half its Firepower)

Determination (+1 defense die), and

Increased mobility (+1 movement)

The above figures may move and/or fire only once per turn, even if they are on Opportunity Fire (the ability to fire at enemy units while they are moving). Units that move may use only one half their Firepower.

Every figure on a squad base must all fire together at the same target, but a MG or Mortar may fire by itself even if other figures are on that squad base.

Machine Gun (MG) Crew

American MG = 3 Firepower (3 attack dice), 5 Range

German MG = 4 Firepower (4 attack dice), 5 Range

Trait Heavy Infantry Weapon (may not move and fire in the same turn and may not assault)

Rapid Opportunity Fire (if the MG fires by itself, it may continue firing at multiple targets during the turn) 

Mortar Crews

Mortars have two types of firepower:

Suppressive Fire (causes pinned or disruption only) = 4 Firepower (4 attack dice), 8 range

Normal Fire (causes casualties – remove enemy figures) = 2 Firepower (2 attack dice), 8 range

Trait Heavy Infantry Weapon (may not move and fire in the same turn and may not assault)

PLUS

Area Attack (both types of Mortar fire affects all enemy squads in a hex)

Ballistic Fire (Mortars may fire over blocking terrain)

Minimum Distance (enemy target must be at least two hexes away)

No Opportunity Fire, and

No Mixed Fire (may only combine fire with another Mortar on the same base)

Specialization Tokens (infantry only, not Mortars or MGs)

Engineer: Dig entrenchment = 2 cover (2 defense dice)

ALSO there are Operations cards that give engineers more abilities

Anti-Tank (AT): In attacks versus vehicles the squad has +3 Firepower (3 more attack dice), and range of 3 hexes versus vehicles (instead of usual 1 hex range versus vehicles)

Flamethrower: +2 Firepower (two extra attack dice) when attacking an adjacent enemy unit, and the enemy defender has -5 to his cover (remove 5 defense dice). Defending enemy armor not affected by Flamethrower.

Medic has two abilities (may do both in same turn):

Bandage = +1 cover (1 defense die) versus normal attacks

Heal = Fatigue the medic squad and as an action roll 1 die: On a roll of 4-6 replace one regular infantry figure in the squad or any squad in the same hex.

In most scenarios you will get mainly Regular infantry with a smattering of the rest of the types of figures. One thing I like to do is spread my Elites out among the bases since 1 Elite figure with 3 Regulars provides either 5 Firepower or 3 Firepower if that squad moves and fires. When moving and firing you may fire first and then move, or fire after movement is finished.

I like to put an Officer on a base with a MG Crew to make it harder to suppress the MG, and it allows the MG to get into position easier with the Officer’s +1 to movement. Another thing I like to do, even though risky (this squad becomes a prime target), is put an Elite figure, an Officer, and MG on the same base as an anchor to the defensive position. This squad is +2 cover versus suppressive fire – a huge benefit. And if you can be in cover (woods or building or rough) that makes this squad even tougher to suppress forcing your opponent to use a lot of firepower or cards to eliminate or suppress it.

Mortars are a bit easier to use, especially if you have two in the same division. Putting them together on the same base is the best option as you end up with an 8-dice suppressive attack or a 4-dice normal attack and that’s a pretty potent squad. The one negative is that it only takes two hits to eliminate the double mortar squad. Although Mortars and MG Crews have 2 pegs they are removed after receiving just one hit (like single peg infantry figures).

When I build squads with the Engineer specialization token I look to see if the following Operations cards are part of my forces:

Lay Smoke: Spend 2 movement points to lay smoke in the same hex

Clear Mines: Enables that squad to clear a minefield marker

Clear Tank Trap: Enables that squad to clear a tank trap

Lay Razor Wire: Enables that squad to place a razor wire counter in the same hex

With any of these Operations cards in play I usually place one or even 2 Elite figures (+2 defense dice) in the Engineer squad base since my opponent will surely be looking for these squads and will try to prevent them from being able to do any of the above actions. If none of those cards are in play I just build the squad with 4 Regular infantry figures.

For a squad with the Anti-Tank specialization I always add an Elite figure and sometimes an Officer. The Elite figure provides a one die cover bonus and the Officer provides all the his special abilities with movement being the first one I want since many times I use AT squads to hunt tanks.

Flamethrower squads are the ones I always try to include 2 Elite figures since it must get to point blank range (1 hex) so the extra two cover dice are vital.

For Medic squads I sometimes add an Officer but mostly it’s just 4 Regular figures.

MG Crews often get an Elite figure and an Officer on the squad base given how important the MG is. I want the MG’s ability to fire to be available as much as possible, especially when on the defensive.

I find that experimenting with squad building, especially when replaying the same scenario, often leads to useful combinations I haven’t thought of before, but most of what is written above can serve as a basic primer.

In the next post I will talk about the British because they have different specializations.