How to keep your Challys Happy and Alive

How to keep your Challys Happy and Alive How to keep your Challys Happy and Alive
with Garry Wait

Many of us love to get our big toys on the table such as the glorious new Challenger minis as well as my old favourites, the M1 and Merkva II. While it brings out the frustrated wannabe tank commander in all of us, nothing is more disheartening than seeing your lusciously painted new minis vapourise through poor tactics.

So how do you get the most out of that fantastic new heavy MBT mini you got for Christmas and just finished painting up? Resist the temptation to charge the enemy foolishly and consider what real tactics worked historically and continue to work. 

No matter how good your tank is, all modern tanks have one weakness: their sides and rear.

Yes, startlingly simple but you’d be surprised how often I see players losing the invulnerable to disappointingly preventable hits.

So what do you do to keep your tanks safe and happy? Think about what works realistically.  

Combined arms. 

Much like the Wehrmacht found in Blitzkrieg, the Red Army against the Finns in 1939/1940, and even the Israelis in 1973, unsupported tanks don’t last long. It’s no different in WWIII. Yes, your wonderful Challenger ROMOR is fantastic frontally but how humiliating is it to be shot from the side with a lowly T55 or APILAS?   

How to keep your Challys Happy and Alive
The key to preventing this is to build a force designed to work together. No sane modern tank commander sends excellent heavy armour into a situation where it isn’t intended. Look at the situation when tanks were sent into Grozny in the early 1990s and scores of MBTs were destroyed or disabled by poorly armed troops. This can happen in WWIII if you insist on attacking built-up areas unsupported.
How to keep your Challys Happy and Alive Those cheap and lowly foot soldiers you thought were only good for holding an objective? Consider how they can screen your tanks and prevent sideshots from even the most determined enemy. The whole 5cm / 2” bubble around each team may not seem much but when you space out a unit, it’s a considerable help. Don’t overreach and make sure you stay near your infantry support. It’s amazing how useful this can be. Pure tanks look good in the movies, but they don’t work alone in reality – not with success.
Similarly, when you operate MBTs, surprise and concentration of effort are essential. For this reason, I wouldn’t leave home without at least one and ideally two smoke template options. Modern armour is tough but smoke – especially with the “hot” advantages of modern smoke screens that can interfere with thermal imaging like VIRSS from the UK – can be a saviour when you are worried about sitting your tanks in the crosshairs of experienced enemy missile operators.
Consider your avenue of advance and put down ranged in markers to throw in a smoke screen to cover your attack on a prepared position. This goes doubly for WARPAC players who don’t always enjoy the same skills as NATO.    Think ahead and save some steel from ruin.

As tankers, you’re perennially worried about the threat from the air.  Whether it be strike aircraft with submunitions like Harriers or Tornado or whether it be guided missiles from A10 or Su25 or even a flight of attack helicopters, one hit on a vulnerable side or top armour rating can ruin a tanker’s day.

How to keep your Challys Happy and Alive

For this reason, I don’t send my troops into the field without at least two AA options. Now that AAMGs are rightly relegated to their place as a desperation weapon and more usually a morale-boosting weapon (personally or for your 15mm troops!) you need to equip your troops with an umbrella of AA. Don’t skimp on this, guys. It’s a worthwhile investment.

How to keep your Challys Happy and Alive

Recon is invaluable not only for their spearhead ability but consider where the enemy can place an ambush and send some recon to scout it out. If you can deny terrain to your opponent it can make it all the harder to get those all-important flank shots in. I played a game this way during the week just gone and sending a unit of recon as a dash was invaluable. It forced my opponent to deploy further away than he wished and meant he had to engage my MBTs frontally with predictably poor results. Although it cost me my recon, the return fire bagged an enemy MBT platoon. A good exchange of points and combat power. I went on to win that game based on the MBTs that hadn’t died in the ambush so the recon sacrifice wasn’t in vain.

Finally, many players forget to turn turrets to focus on where they are firing. This is important and should be considered when you’re about to fire. It can be very important to focus on firing arcs just like tankers are taught in reality. Make sure that you aren’t blocking your line of fire by friends and make sure that you aren’t giving away free hits on your thinner side armour. Don’t make it easy for your opponent!

DO remember to bring :

  • One or more units of infantry and don’t leave them behind as a cheer squad
  • Smoke template providers, preferably two. It works once a game remember. 
  • Air Defence. Two lots just in case your opponent gets lucky and dodges one lot OR eliminates one unit as Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD). Always have a backup.
  • Recon and use them aggressively.   

DON’T  :

  • Overreach and race off with tanks alone. Similarly don’t expect unaided tanks to win alone
  • Hope your enemy misses with their shooting and throw around smoke to mix up their options. Make it a challenge for them – they really will enjoy it even if they don’t admit it.  
  • Hide your recon and lead from the rear. Their place is to find the enemy’s strengths and guide you to victory, not to fight it out alone but as part of a combined team.
  • Allow air to ruin your tanker’s party. Give them something to think about and remember tanks are a tool that works best when supported.