Free French Musings [1000 points, Western Desert]

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    So I was actually very excited for the Free French theater selector in the Western Desert campaign book. I’ve liked that selector since it was an unofficial PDF supplement available on Warlord’s website. I was thrilled that it was largely translated in tact into the Western Desert Campaign book.

    After playing a 700 point version of my list at AdeptiCon (and being generally happy with how my units performed), I have started working on ramping the army up to a full 1000 points for general play, or possibly use in future events depending on how much I love it. Anyway, I’d like to share the 1000 point list I’ve put together, talk about some of my choices, and talk generally about what I like about the selector.

    Free French Reinforced Platoon (French, Western Desert)
    (103) Vet First Lt + Assistant
    (129) 8 Vet Foreign Legionnaires- Light Machine Gun, Pistol Loader
    (79) 5 Vet Foreign Legionnaires- 3x SMGs
    (79) 5 Vet Foreign Legionnaires- 3x SMGs
    (77) 7 Reg North African Infantry
    (88) 8 Reg North African Infantry
    (60) Reg Medium Mortar + Spotter
    (50) Vet Marksman
    (70) Reg Cannon de 75 Portee- light AT rounds
    (70) Reg Cannon de 75 Portee- light AT rounds
    (55) Free French Light Howitzer- light AT rounds
    (0) Free French Light Howitzer- light AT rounds
    (70) Bren Carrier- 2x LMG
    (70) Bren Carrier- 2x LMG

    So my thoughts on the selector. There are some really interesting choices in there, although overall I feel that the selections are quite a bit more limited than most others (but this is to be expected playing Desert Foreign Legion either Vichy or Free).
    In terms of infantry, I was happy that they opened up the option for Legionnaires to take several SMGs, as that adds a bit of flexibility to them, it is also kind of needed to add some close combat punch since Goumiers aren’t in the selector, and the Senegalese being capped at regulars with limited options really hurts them.
    I think the North African Infantry Sections are something most people will sleep on. Algerian Tirailleurs. Mountaineers is a really strong ability in a game like this, being able to treat rough ground as open ground seems like a small price to pay for one point per model. (as long as you remember that obstacles aren’t technically rough ground, so you still need to watch out for those). But they feel like they will really be able to wheel around the battlefield and dart from cover to cover really effectively. Of course they are held back by very limited options, but you can’t have everything.
    I see no reason to take the generic French Infantry though. The whole allure of this selector is to play with Foreign Legion…

    The Marksman is awesome. 50 points for a vet sniper is great… worth the cost for sure, but he is pretty fragile without his buddy.

    The 2 armored car slots are interesting. I’m not a huge fan of the Dodge Tankette, or anything with a low velocity light AT gun and open topped combined… Universal Carriers are awesome, so a Universal Carrier with a Light AT gun strapped onto it sounds pretty cool. Still, I think the real winner here are the soft skins. The 75mm Portee with the light AT rounds has great flexibility (similar to the British Light Howitzer). The HMG truck also seems like a real winner… 12 HMG shots makes any infantry uncomfortable. Softskins are softskins though, and you become painfully aware that EVERYTHING on the opponents side of the table is a threat for them.

    Artillery is limited, but again, I really like the flexibility of the AT rounds on the 75mm guns. Light AT Gun + Light Howitzer means it can usually find something to shoot at. That said, I really want to like the 25mm Hotchkiss AA gun- especially since you can duel mount the dude for a nice double auto cannon. But I really don’t like the “cannot voluntarily go down” rule attached to them- which seems like it could get them into a lot of trouble.

    The biggest thing this selector is missing is a big AT gun. The heaviest you can get is a Medium Anti Tank Gun. Which while it isn’t a bad choice, I don’t like giving up the flexibility of the 75mm guns for just one extra pip of AP. This really only becomes an issue if you are playing a pickup game and end up across the table from some late war armor though- and even then, 4 light AT guns should be able to hold for a little while in a firefight.

    Honestly, one of the things I really like about this selector is how different it feels from my Soviets. I feel like its a great second army, it lacks the depth of choice and options of a major power, but has a lot of character and uniqueness that make it a fun army in its own right. Most importantly, it does a lot to fix my gripes with the Vichy theater selector in the Armies of France book which wouldn’t let me take Foreign Legionnaires or Tirailleurs as my two mandatory infantry squads.

    Has anyone else been dipping their toe into Bir Hakiem and rocking Western Desert Free French? Any impressions about how the army is playing for you, thoughts on this selector, etc?

    • This topic was modified 5 years ago by akaean.
    Danny Burles

    Glad I found this post, this army sounds like a kitbashing wet-dream Now I know what I’m doing with my month off. 😍

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