Italy
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Historical Background:

The performance of the Italian armed forces during the Second World War has been the butt of jokes for over sixty years. However the notion that the Italian military fought poorly and surrendered readily is not exactly true as there are examples of Italian forces fighting quite successfully and bravely. But the widespread belief seemed to be that the Italians were cowards, with disasters such as the failed takeover of a much weaker Greece and ineffective fighting in North Africa used as evidence. While these and other military mistakes by Italy do stand out, these debacles were not due to cowardice by the soldiers. What the Italian military lacked during their offensive campaigns was not bravery, but modern weaponry, good leadership and above all a clear lack of desire to achieve Mussolini's goals. The last being a very poignant factor as recent history has shown how a determined, yet supposedly inferior force can defeat a superior yet unmotivated one.

When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Italy was in no way ready for an offensive war. However Mussolini desperately wanted to participate in the redrawing of the map of Europe and so overlooked the state of Italy's military-industrial complex in order to feed his ego. Italian industrial power was a mere fraction of that of Britain, France or Germany and was not ready to produce the guns, ammunition, artillery, tanks, and trucks on the scale that was needed. At the beginning of the Italian entry into the war, its forces were equipped more in line with the First World War rather than the Second.

Italy's artillery included vestiges of the previous century with a contingent of horse artillery and many leftovers from World War I. The newer models, while very effective were never made in large enough numbers. Modern tanks were virtually non-existent at the start of Italy's war effort and had more lightly armored vehicles and "tankettes". By the time Italy started producing better tanks and mobile artillery that could compete with the allied weapons it was too late to make a difference. Small arms, such as Beretta pistols and automatic rifles were very capable, but several machine and sub-machine gun types were often poorly made. Even the shoddy models were always in short supply since Italy lacked the industrial strength for mass production of weapons.

- Source: lifeinitaly.com

Strategies:

Building your army
Although considered as a minor Axis nation, it got a significant boost in the North Africa set witch puts it in in the big guys league. Italy can now be a stand alone country.

Let's start with Infantry.
The backbone of your army should consist of Fucile Modello 1891 although the cheap Italian Conscript is another option, but the terrible "Lack of determination" SA makes them vulnerable. As veteran, you can find the Blackshirts, Italian Alpine Troops and the Stalwart Hero. The first two units are cheap enough that you could also field them as your regular infantry. Although both are good 4 points units, Alpine troop specialize themselves in short range. They are also more resistant to because of "Steely Resolve 2" SA. Not much can be said about the Hero unit other than it is like a regular LMG soldier with 5/5 defense that ignores face up disrupted counter. For their support weapons, the Breda Modello 37 is a decent MG. The 47/32 Antitank Gun is an interesting unit, being the only cheap AT gun in the game that can potentially disrupt or even get rid of infantry. It is a long shot I know but I thought it was wroth mentioning. The other support weapons are unremarkable at best by themselves, although Brixia M35 45mm Mortar paired with an ammo dump can be very good against soldiers at medium range.

Now on the vehicles.
Italy's only armored car is the good Autoblinda AB41. You normally want at least one of these in your build as it can get anywhere quickly and stay out of harms way most of the time with it's SA. For the tanks, it is a lot more tricky. Your basic tank should normally be the Carro Armato M13/40. However, it has one HUGE issue: if it gets damaged, you loose it instantly most of the time. Same is true for the veteran version. You might be tempted by the cheaper Carro Armato M11/39 and you would be right early in the war. However, it's paper thin armor makes this unit obsolete as the war goes on. What are the other options? The L3/35 and L6/40 are not what you would call beasts, the first one being anti-infantry only and the second having only a 20mm auto-canon. So it brings you back to the Carro Armato M13/40, right? Yes and no. The Semovente 75/18 still have the chance of blowing up when it gets damaged, but it only happens on a dice roll of 5+. It also has a better AV attack but a lower AI attack. A mix of those 2 units should be fine. The cheap Semovente L40 da 47/32 can be used as a flanking unit because of it's good speed. If you expect your opponent to have heavy tanks, the Semovente 90/53 is the unit you want with it's powerful 90mm gun mounted on the same chassis. Make sure you protect it though as it is another unit with paper thin armour. You might want to bring an ace airplane for air cover.

Finally Aircraft.
The North Africa set brought an airplane to the Italian army, the Macchi C.202 Folgore. By itself, it does not have any real weakness. With the introduction of Angels 20, an ace version of it came out for one point more that has both "Ace" and "Agility". Another plane wroth mentioning is the Re.2001 CB Fighter Bomber. While its regular attacks are not spectacular, it does enable you to make a "Bombs" attack once per game witch can come in handy, when you don't want to risk your tank against certain soft but powerful unit (like the M-10 or the M7 Priest).

Gameplay

Because of the negative SAs on your tanks and the Strike and fade SA on the armored cars, going first is actually a good thing with this army. You will be able to use your units before your opponent, witch means that if he trigger the negative SA, your tank was able to fire this turn.

Units represented in Axis and Allies Miniatures:

Aircraft:

Vehicles - Tanks:

Light tanks

Medium tanks

Vehicles - Assault Gun:

Vehicles - Tank Destroyers:

Vehicles - Armoured Cars:

Soldier - Commander:

Soldier - Artillery:

Soldier - Hero:

Soldier:

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