Veteran SMLE

Unit Card:

AAM_Contested_Skies_Revised01_Veter.jpg

Set - Rarity - Number

Contested Skies - Common - 1/45

Reviews:

Sharpe:
Following the British declaration of war against Nazi Germany, the Australian government raised the Second Australian Imperial Force. The 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions departed for the Mediterranean theater where they earned distinction as tough, resourceful fighters with little respect for their English superiors. Australia’s initial battles in the Pacific did not go well as large numbers of her troops were among the beleaguered garrison of Singapore. Soon, however, the Australian infantry were leading attacks across the daunting Owen Stanley range and landing on the beaches of Bougainville and Borneo. This piece, from the Contested Skies set, most certainly represents valiant Australians like the “Desert Rats” at Tobruk or the 2/14th battalion on the Kokoda Trail.

The sculpture is very good, showing an Australian in a desert or jungle uniform rushing forward under fire. It really captures the spirit of an aggressive and fearless soldier. Similarly, the card art is impressive with a more relaxed Australian moving ahead, maybe just after he looked into the endless desert or the slope of a mountain trail. Still, the picture captures a sense of resignation as the soldier might be wondering exactly how the Brits were going to bungle it up this time.

The unit’s statistics are not quite as interesting. Its attack dice (9/7/-) are above average for line infantry. CLOSE ASSAULT 7 is again above average and its other Special Ability, STEELY RESOLVE 2, makes the Vet SMLE harder to destroy in one shot. Unfortunately, there is nothing distinctively Australian about the piece. It could easily represent any seasoned Commonwealth unit. The Vet SMLE also suffers in comparison with its most similar opponent, the Wehrmacht Veteran Infantrymen. The WVI has identical statistics and abilities, but it gets an additional Special Ability, SUPPRESSIVE FIRE, for the same point cost. Also, the WVI used in conjunction with SS Hauptsturmfuhrer creates a devastating combo for the Axis player. All in all, for the same cost, the Vet SMLE is an inferior unit. Similarly, on its own side, the M1 Garand can potentially roll more attack dice, interact more effectively with leaders and costs one fewer point, even though its defense isn’t quite as good.

Nevertheless, the Australian riflemen do add some juice to the Allied player’s force. An Inspiring Lieutenant can double their Speed during the Movement Phase (if you can wrap your mind around the concept of a British officer getting an Australian to do anything faster), allowing the Aussies to seize key terrain and form a firing line before the Axis arrive at the objective. The Australian Officer's ability to decrease the effectiveness of Cover will help against the Japanese in the close Pacific terrain. STEELY RESOLVE gives them more staying power and no Japanese or early war German tank can stand up to their CLOSE ASSAULT.

Over all, the Vet SMLE can be the backbone of any pure Commonwealth army. It looks great on the map and delivers substantial firepower. Still, a shrewd commander has to consider if he’s getting his money’s worth.

Plastic Figure Notes:

Vet_SMLE.jpg

The sculpture is very good, showing an Australian in a desert or jungle uniform rushing forward under fire. It really captures the spirit of an aggressive and fearless soldier. Similarly, the card art is impressive with a more relaxed Australian moving ahead, maybe just after he looked into the endless desert or the slope of a mountain trail. Still, the picture captures a sense of resignation as the soldier might be wondering exactly how the Brits were going to bungle it up this time.

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