This page is an introduction to the uses of artillery. If you haven't done so already, read the first few pages of the
, which cover the mechanics of artillery.
The artillery tutorial also covers national differences, and how to set up artillery for a scenario.
The purpose of this page is to give some suggestions about how to use artillery and deploy (and not deploy)
when facing an opponent with artillery support.
Characteristics of artillery attacks
With some exceptions, artillery has a low attack strength, usually in the range of 0 or +1.
Against infantry this will give a 10-20% chance of a kill, with the most likely result being a suppression or disorder.
Artillery rarely will kill an
armored vehicle, as even the weakest armored vehicle will usually have flank armor that prevents the final
attack strength from being a net 0 or better. The usual result will be no effect with some suppressions or an occasional lucky disorder.
Despite low attack strength, artillery attacks have several major advantages:
- There are fewer defensive modifiers that effect IDF attacks. Soft cover, normal hard cover, and hull-down have no effect.
Notably, there is no modifier for firing artillery at a suspected target.
- Artillery attacks every unit that has an aiming point under the template. Against an unwary
opponent, this can stop an infantry attack in its tracks.
Suggested artillery tactics
Almost all of these have two sides. A recommendation for the defender usually implies that
the attacker should look for a situation where the defender has not followed the suggestion.
Set up your FOs
The defender should examine the ground and place his FOs in a position to give maximum coverage. Look for positions with
a height advantage (which gives you an extra up 1 spotting modifier). Your objective as the defender is to start hitting the attacker
with artillery as soon as possible to disrupt the attack.
The attacker should bring FOs with him and set them up in a position to cover the advance. If a defending asset such as an anti-tank gun
or HMG opens fire, the attacker should be in a position to bring down IDF on it as soon as possible.
One of the most common mistakes seen in Battlefront games is a shoulder-to-shoulder advance
by infantry (often used by players familiar with other rules). This should be punished severely by an opponent with artillery assets. When
advancing with infantry across open ground, spread your units out and stagger them so that
smaller artillery patterns (mortars) can only hit one at a time. While it is often impossible
to avoid larger patterns, even these should only be able to hit 2 or 3 targets. A dream target
for artillery is a pattern that picks up 7 or 8 advancing infantry in one fire mission. Even a net 0 attack should
kill at least 1 and leave many of the rest suppressed or disordered.
Grouping around tanks
The spotting rules allow moving tanks to be spotted from 60-80, while moving infantry can
only be spotted at 20. Usually tanks and other AFV class units are not good targets for
an artillery attack because of the low attack strength of artillery attacks. However, if advancing infantry is closely
grouped around tanks, a pattern dropped on the tank will attack them as well. While advancing far from the enemy, infantry
should not cluster around tanks, but only move in closer when actually assaulting the objective. The need to support the
armor needs to be balanced against the vulnerability of the infantry to artillery fire.
Use artillery attacks to eliminate high-value soft targets
If a large anti-tank gun opens fire, it poses a significant threat. Artillery is the best way to handle a target such as this,
as it can be used effectively even against suspected targets without negative modifiers.
Soften up the defender before moving up
Just before you assault an enemy position, fire artillery missions on the target. Your object here is two-fold. First, because IDF
attacks are resolved before direct fire, a lucky disorder result can add an extra +1 modifier to a supporting attack. Second, any
suppression or disorder result will reduce the effect of defensive fire and give you a better chance of winning close combat.
Strip the infantry from attacking vehicles
An assault against a town or woods requires infantry support. Tanks by themselves in dense area terrain can be assaulted effectively by
infantry using the -2 modifier that vehicles have against troops in dense terrain. The defender should use his artillery to attack infantry
moving up with tanks.
Final protective fire
If you are defending from dug-in or built up sectors, you can often effectively drop artillery that covers both enemy units in the
open and your own units. The artillery is less likely to effect your own units than the targets.
Learn how to use your special patterns
The U.S., British/Commonwealth, and French have special patterns that are unique to their nationalities.
The US time-on-target pattern is useful for destroying a point target. If enough artillery is available, even big tanks
can be vulnerable, and a large TOT attack can almost ensure the disorder/destruction of a soft-target.
British/Commonwealth Mike, Uncle, etc. patterns can put a large area under artillery fire. This is best used to strip attacking infantry
from a German assault or suppress wide areas before an attack goes in. Unlike the US, the British special mission is designed to neutralize
the target instead of destroying it.
The French special pattern allows all of the artillery in a battalion to be used in a shelling attack (the standard rules allow only
one battery to be used). The result is similar to the British special attack, putting a relatively large area under the artillery pattern.
Smoke is an important but often under-utilized asset. Because the number of smoke missions is usually limited and it dissipates,
you must time its use carefully. Smoke has the following characteristics:
- It inhibits spotting.
- It puts a negative modifier on all direct and defensive fire attacks if the target, firer, or LOS passes through the smoke.
- It puts a negative modifier on call-for-fire rolls that pass through the smoke.
- It does NOT effect close combat.
- It goes away after 2 turns unless "stoked".
These suggest several tactics.
- Drop smoke ON big defensive units to inhibit their fire.
- Drop smoke between your units and the enemy to inhibit spotting and interfere with defensive fire and artillery.
- Drop smoke on enemy units on the turn that you assault them.