Hardened Veteran Guardsman
It should be noted, that I, Comrade, am in no way, shape or form a professional player, not tournament player. I am however a casual player and have been annoyed that there is not a single Faction overview for the French, thus this. Please comment if you have anything to add, or have other opinions. Thanks
Color Code: Cyan is Great Green is good Yellow is satisfactory Red is failure
Army Special Rules:
Communication Breakdown: This is common for most of the non-primary Armies in Bolt Action. Frankly, it could be worse, and its not an AUTO lose initiative, its just the opponent gets a second chance to seize it again. In return the french gain 2 positives
Forward Artillery Doctrine: Choose a Light/medium artillery/anti tank gun for FREE to your army. But really, who's not gonna choose a Medium Howitzer? Its free. (Spotter does cost points though)
Hurriedly Conscripted Reserves: Buy 3 inex squads, get one free. Its not BOGO, and its not as awesome as what the Ruskies get (The free squad is equal to the cheapest inex squad you buy) but its something.
Army Equipment Special Rules:
VB Launcher: a 6"-18" light mortar that moves and fires a 1" blast template, or smoke grenades for the measly cost of what an LMG costs. For INEX squads, I highly suggest it, it always hits on a 6, unlike the rest of the squad, and can clip a few people when it does, being able to launch smoke it just extra bonus points. Available on all infantry squads, unless you're a Morrocan in french colonial service. Would you like to know more?
One man turret Oh man. This can be an issue, order tests required to do any advance order, if failed your unit just kind of sits there, dumb to the world, or as I have read it in the rules, immediately goes reverse away from the closest enemy unit it sees and goes down (On the positive side, thats not gonna be far for most of your tanks because they are SLOW) if they fail this test as part of a first wave scenario rule, the unit goes directly into reserves per the latest FAQ)
HQs, Observers and Medic
Captains and Majors Your standard Bolt action OPTIONAL addition to your platoon. I don't use them, but the 12" morale boost and snap to orders may be useful to your army.
1st Lieutenants: Yes, I've marked these greens, they can be yellow if only used to fill up the compulsory slot but combined with the Hurriedly conscripted reserves rule, having a mandatory 1st Lieutenant on the field is a huge boost to the leadership of your Inex squads, keep him close to them, remember he can activate 2 other squads along with himself, so activate him, do leadership checks with the squads near him, then move him closer to the squads that were out of his leadership boost so they can use the morale boost when they activate.
2nd Lieutenant: Your standard second lieutenant, activates 1 squad near him and gives +1 morale, nothing fancy
Medic: Once again, your standard medic, a 1 in 6 chance of bringing back a fallen comrade within 6" for the cost of about 3 regulars. Not a fan, but it may be your cup of tea. I'd use those points for Officer bodyguards
Forward Observer: Once again, your standard option that can be found in most primary armies
Regular Infantry Section: Max squad size: 12 Regulars., can have 1 LMG and 1 VB launcher at standard prices, of note, for the 12th man you have to buy the man armed with the pistol (Which is cheaper, and always becomes the LMG loader if you have one) But also of note, that the only man who can be equipped with an SMG is the pistol equipped soldier. NCO gets a rifle. Can have a VB launcher in squad. No option for Anti-tank grenades
Inexperienced Rifle Section Max squad size: 12. Inexperienced., same rules as the above team, except they're inexperienced rather then regulars, marked as green due to getting a free squad after buying 3. Good for filling in the line.
Dragons Portes infantry Section: Max squad size: 10. Regulars. I refer to these guys as DRAGOONS. Because I can. NCO can have an SMG, 2x LMGs can be bought for the squad, have access to Anti tank grenades, and can get a VB launcher. Historically were the french version of mechanized infantry.
Groupe Franc/SES/GIA, Veteran Infantry section: Max squad size: 12. Veterans. options for 2x LMGs, NCO and up to 3 others can have SMGs (once again, anyone with an SMG becomes a loader for an LMG automatically.....) anti-tank grenades, a VB launcher and SKIES (which are free)
French Foreign Legion: Max squad size: 12. Veterans. Stubborn, these guys aren't fleeing the field for anything,for only a small increase in points. More in common with standard Infantry sections then the above special Veteran infantry section due to the 12th man being bought with a pistol, which can then be upgraded to an SMG (NCO only has a rifle) options for 1x LMG, and a VB launcher. No Anti-Tank Grenades. As usual, the SMG/pistol man becomes the loader for the LMG.
Sengalese Infantry Section: Max squad size:12. Regulars. Native Colonial Troops from North Africa, these men are going to be your armies close combat specialists due to being Tough Fighters. They have all the same options as the foreign legion above.
Moroccan Goumier: Max Squad size: 12. Veterans. these guys do have the Tough Fighters special rule for only a small increase in points cost.... but the only other option you have for them is to buy a single LMG. There's no other options. If you need close combat troops, I point you to the Sengalese squads above
Cavalry Squads: Max squad size 12. Regular or Veteran. Never used them, not a cavalry guy, they do get options for a single LMG, and are equipped with Carbines, which count as pistols when on horseback, but as rifles when dismounted. TOUGH FIGHTERS when mounted, so these are also an effective close combat unit, and better then Moroccans due to being able to move a whole lot faster.
Motorbike Section: Max squad size 13. Regulars. can be in motorcycles and sidecars, have options for a single LMG.
Machine Gun Team: Squad size: 3 men. Inex/Reg/Vet. 1x MMG standard, no HMG option. Never really been a fan of these, you'll find out later in the Tank section.
Anti-Tank rifle Team: Squad size 2 men. Inex/Reg/Vet Standard Anti-tank rifle team. Loader has no weapon.
Sniper team Squad size: 2 men. Reg/Vet. Like most sniper team, but this teams spotter has a pistol, so once things get into the I'm in 12" and its no longer a sniper battle, least he can shoot someone.
Light Mortar: Squad Size:3 men. Inex/Reg/Vet. Nothing special here, no options for a spotter.
Medium Mortar: Squad size:3 men. Inex/Reg/Vet. Has a spotter option
Light Artillery: Squad size: 3 men. Inex/Reg/Vet. No Spotter option. Has a gun shield. Most French starter sets contain the 75mm French Light Howitzer. Though I use the Medium Howitzer as my free option, I have found success in bringing a light howitzer to the field as a veteran unit, 6's to wound and being a general pain to the enemy
Medium Artillery: Squad size: 4. Inex/Reg/Vet. Can add a spotter for a small points increase. Suggested uses is to get it for free with the Forward Artillery special rule, useful for anti-tank too. (Not the best mind you, but useful for it, not only for the possible damages, but the pins)
Heavy Artillery: Squad size: 5 Men. Inex/Reg/Vet. Spotter option, never used one, but that doesnt mean it wouldnt be useful. Points arent too expensive and it does decent at Anti-Tank duties
Light Anti-Tank Gun Squad size: 2 men. Inex/Reg/Vet. Yes, I know its labeled green and I've been talking crap about not getting it for the free gun part. Still true, but the French have an addition to the regular anti-tank gun where you can get a low velocity anti-tank gun for a discount in points if you're trying to save on points. The options upgrade this one level.
Medium Anti-tank gun: Squad size: 3 men. Inex/Reg/Vet. This ladies and gentlemen is the most powerful anti-tank gun you're going to get in the french army. If you really absolutely need it, this is one of your few choices to get something with higher then 4+ pen. That is why this one is labeled green, due to the rarity of getting access to it.
Renault FT-17: This tank is AMAZING. I don't care what anyone else says about it. Yes, its on got a Damage value of 7+. and it only has an MMG. But it is also cheaper then an MMG team. Yes, that's right, you can get an armored vehicle with an MMG that doesn't flee from enemies for less then 40 points. Your enemy is also going to have a conundrum too, deciding on whether or not to spend a turn shooting at the annoying little machine or target something else. PLUS errata lets you upgrade its MMG to a low velocity light Anti-tank gun for tank killing and HE explodee goodness, still keeping it really cheap. You can even afford to make this thing a Veteran rank vehicle, which will help bypass its one man turret rule. Its SLOW, pitifully slow. The design was made to move forward with your infantry. I suggest you do so in the game. Its not a huge loss if it dies. Trust me.
Char D1: Your standard early war tank, slow, regular light anti-tank gun w/ hull MMG, downside is the one man turret rule, and frankly the increase in points from Reg to Vet for what its armament is, its not worth it.
Char D2: Look at the above entry, now add on the extra negative of being unreliable. That's the Char D2. This thing is a mess. Take only if you really want to give yourself a challenge.
Renault R35/39/40: This thing is almost as bad as Char D1, BUT it does have the redeeming factor of its Armoured all around. Its slow, One man turret, has a low velocity light Anti-Tank gun(Which can be upgraded to a regular) and is a bit more exensive then the Char D1, but it does have a Hull MG. No Coaxial gun though.
Hotchkiss H35/38/39: its a tank that ISN'T slow and isn't too expensive. One man turret rule applies, points wise its cheaper then both the D1 and the R35, and it can upgrade its low velocity gun to a Regular (which makes it par for points with the D1) its biggest detractor? No hull gun, it has a Coaxial MMG, so you're only firing at one thing a turn with this thing. Youre only question with this one vs the Char D1 is whether or not you want to move 9" a turn or 6".
FCM36: Its like the Hotchkiss, but cant upgrade its gun, its stuck with a low velocity light Anti-tank gun. You can almost get 2 FT-17 with low velocity guns for 1 of these. Just don't. Real world France also despised them, ceasing production after only 100 were manufactured
AMC 35: One of the few tanks in the french list WITHOUT the one man turret, and its not slow. Plus it fields a regular light anti tank gun. Panzer II/III equivalent, in fact its a little bit cheaper then the Panzers with the same equipment
Somua S35: Its NOT slow, its front armor counts as 9+, has a regular light anti-tank gun with coaxial MMG (No hull gun.....) and is restricted once again by the one man turret rule. It rates as green for its low points cost for its frontal armor of 9+ and not being to expensive, its closest competitor being the Hotchkiss, just depends on whether or not the frontal armor is worth the extra points to you.
Char B1 and B1 Bis This thing right here is amazing. Expensive, but amazing in early war. Fielding a Turret mounted light anti-tank gun w/ coaxial MMG, a hull mounted Light Howitzer, and a forward facing hull mounted MMG. This thing is also Armoured all round. Its only detractors is the one man turret. I guess I should mention its Slow, but this thing shouldnt be moving that much. Designed to move and support the infantry waves, it excels at this. Its not a tank to be scoffed at in late war games either, but is also outclassed, but it will still put the hurt down the field. In late war I would rate this GREEN but I am biased in this
Char 2C: A beast of a tank, this one fields a turret mounted Light Howitzer, and 4 MMGs, plus, if your splurging on points, you can upgrade this thing to a heavy tank with a Damage Value of 10+, and it gains the command vehicle special rule. its does NOT have the one man turret rule. but is slow.
Laffly W15 TCC Tank hunter: Take your standard army truck, throw a medium anti-tank gun on it facing backwards, maybe some armor If youre lucky, and go stop the blitzkrieg. This appears to have been the thought process of designing this “Tank Destroyer”. Its fast, its fragile, and its carrying one of the few mobile Medium Anti-tank guns you can buy in your army without raking you over the coals for points. Rated 4 out of 5.
Laffly S20TL Portee: Look at the above entry, remove all creativity and thought process, instead just throw a light antitank gun in the back of the truck and drive around with it. You have options for which direction it faces on the field, and generally that means whatever direction your troops threw it in the truck. Front or rear facing. Just pay the extra points fot the W15 above. Its not even a lot of points. You’re going to need the extra punch.
Citrogen-Kegresse Portee: (2/5) See how the last entry was just soldiers throwing an anti tank gun in the back of a regular unarmoured truck? Well this one is them throwing it into the back of a regular unarmoured Half-track. The only other difference is you don’t get to choose a facing with this one, it only faces forward.
Armoured Cars and Recce Vehicles
AMC P16 Half-Track: Equipped with a Low velocity Anti-tank gun and a coaxial MMG. This thing is comparable to other vehicles similar to it (looking at you soviet BA-10). Its NOT opentopped, has recce. Its only real detractor is the Low Velocity gun, which is par for the course for France.
AMR33/35: Its a tank, that somehow got lost in the armored car and recces section. With only an MMG, tracked and no recce special rule this thing is an FT-17 that moves 3” faster for twice the cost. If you really need something like this in your list, look at the Laffly S15T0E a little further down.
AMD Panhard 178: Its fast (ish) is all wheeled, mounts a regular light anti tank gun w/coax MMG. Its competing for the same spot the P16 is in, even in points price. Trade in the all terrain features of a half trak for a wheeled vehicle with a better gun. Are you fighting on ruin covered streets in a crumbling city, or on open fields? They are similiar enough I rank this a 3 out of , personally the AMD Panhard is superior to the P16 slightly… but the P16 looks cool.
Laffly S15T0E: a wheeled Recce platform with a Turret MMG, your standard type found across army books for standard prices.
AMD Laffly 80AM: Another wheeled vehicle sporting a turret mounted HMG w/ rear facing MMG. And Recce. You’re paying what other people pay for a single turreted HMG Recce Vehicle
AMD Laffly 50AM/ AMD Panhard 165/175: Wheeled, Recce, turret mounted Low Velocity Anti-tank gun platforms with coax MMG. These have been placed in the same category because… its the exact same stats to include points. Major competition, the P16, which is a half track so is better in difficult terrain then these 2 vehicles, or the AMD Panhard 178, which has a better gun than these 2, but both of those vehicles are also slightly more expensive.
Transports and Tows
General Purpose Trucks/ Cars and utility Trucks: These can not be given weapons. The General purpose truck is to move your squads while the Cars/utility trucks are used to move small teams and officer groups. The General purpose truck can tow light stuff.
Berliet VUDB Carrier: Its an actual wheeled APC. While the rest of the world rambles around in thier open topped Half Tracks and trucks, you can ride in style with your 7+ armoured carrier with an LMG by passing all that annoying small arms fire for only a minimal points increase thats well worth it. Can only transport 7 men. No tow capacity
Laffly S20TL Six Wheeled truck: a soft skin wheeled truck featuring 2x pintle mounted MMG with 360 degree fire arcs. A put my dragoon squads in these. The VUDB and this are at about the same points cost. Can transport 10 men, and tow your light stuff
Lorraine 38 Carrier: another enclosed transport, but this one is tracked and it costs more points then the VUDB without weapons, with an MMG it gets expensive. No Tow
UNIC/CITROEN Half Track: (2/5) So… this is a half track, and it doesnt say it has the open topped rule.. but the captured version in the German book does have it, so in fairness, I also run it as an Open topped transport, you don’t have to, but it kind of looks like it is. Beyond that its expensive, unarmed, and then armed its going to cost more then 10 Inex men squad. Plus it only has a transport capacity of 5 men. Can tow light stuff
Laffly S15 and V15 Tractor/ Renault Eu Chenillette, Lorraine 37: nothing of note here, the laffly can transport 5 men, but these are all mainly light Tow vehicles, any can be upgraded to having an MMG, the Renault and Lorraine should have the open topped special rule, but don’t.
Laffly Heavy Tractor: Can tow anything, and it costs pennies, no weapons. Wheeled
Somua MCG/MCL Tractor: The half-track Tow anything. No weapons, but its an armoured vehicle, and all terrain vs the wheeled Laffly above. But it comes at a premium price.It should be noted that this thing should also be Open-topped, but isnt according to the Army book. I’d run it open topped.