Welcome back commanders. Our discussion about the M2/M3 Bradley got so long that we had to write a separate article just to cover this new plastic model that's making waves online.
This series of articles cover the American release, and will not only talk about the new unit entries, but will also explore how your existing units can be used and list building ideas.
We have our special guest Lance, CANCON 2019 finalist and USA specialist, to conjure up some lists to discuss the usage of the Bradley.
As is tradition with our articles, you can simply skip to the TLDR sections to glean what you need to know!
The M2 / M3 Bradley
The M2/M3 Bradley begun life as the US Army's 1958 project to obtain a fighting vehicle that could operate in an NBC contaminated department. After being stuck in development hell for close to 2 decades, the unveiling of the Soviet Union's BMP fighting vehicle spurred the production of the Bradley fighting vehicle, which entered service in the US army as both a troop transport and a scout in 1981. First deployed in Europe to training units in Germany, the Bradley would go on to earn a solid reputation in Desert Storm as one of the main players in the battle of 73 Easting.
In-game, the Bradley is ubiquitiously available to USA forces throughout the force list, particularly in the M1 Armored combat team, the Bradley Mech company, and the M3 Armored combat team. The uparmored M2a2 variant boasts Applique armor, which gives the Bradley the ability to resist RPGs and Carl Gustavs up close, boosting its survivability, but still leaving it vulnerable to tank cannons.
The Bradley shines in the firepower and mobility department. It was designed specifically to keep up with the M1 Abrams, and acts as the perfect light escort to cover the tanks flanks in battle with stabilizers and a very powerful dash speed, aong with 2+ cross.
Armed with new TOW 2 missiles, the Bradley is able to defeat any tank in the game frontally, up to and including other M1a1hcs and Challengers, which makes it a threat that cannot be ignored. The bushmaster autocannon also works as an excellent anti-IFV weapon, which is made all the better by retaining ROF 3 on the move. Put simply, as long as it gets the first shot, the Bradley can destroy any opponent in it's line of sight.
However, it pays a price for such abilities. As a quintessential glass cannon, savvy opponents will gun down this poorly armored vehicle as soon as they get the chance with ATGMs or low yield tank guns (looking at you T55s). Furthermore, the Bradley costs a hefty chunk of your points total, so fielding them in large numbers will be a problem, compounding the issue if you intend to (rightfully so) field them alongside M1s.
Bradleys are at the end of the day, expensive tank escorts and as such should not be treated like tanks, even if they look like one.
Players should hug cover whenever possible and utilise their superior range and AT23 to snipe tanks, while taking the opportunity to dash up alongside friendly MBTs to keep flanks clear of infantry. Although skill levels are the typical 4+, shoot and scoot should be done to keep Bradleys out of danger from return fire as they reposition to a new spot.
The m3 scout bradleys take the reverse approach, as they typically start out in positions overlooking critical points on the field, and should aim to hold out as long as possible either out of LOS or gone to ground while friendly MBTs pull fire away from them as they move into range to threaten or capture objectives.
As a general rule of thumb, a Bradley in the open is a dead Bradley, and during fire and movement, players should always try to keep bradleys clear of ATGM positions or put some concealment between them. If enemy tanks attempt to pursue, your own MBTs will be in a good position to interdict and counter them.
As such, the Bradley is a flexible machine which favours attack and maneuver stances. Defense is possible with the stock Bradley, which also acts as a fantastic ambush vehicle.
Do take note that the uparmored Bradley is affected by deep reserves, and as such is poorly suited for taking on defense battles.
Another quirk to note is that because the Bradley is equipped with TOW2 missiles, any other TOW equipped vehicle in your force is also forced to upgrade to TOW 2 (the TOW tax), which adds up very quickly.
+ Tow 2 missile for delicious AT23
+ ROF3/3 Autocannon
+ stabilizers and fantastic mobility
- low armor
- bullet magnet
- automatically locks your force into buying TOW 2s for other ATGM units
Overall Verdict: B+. Powerful, but locks players into a manuver playstyle.
Lance's verdict: B. Expensive for the role it plays when there are cheaper, more specialised options in the same book.
List building with Lance
Lance has taken the M2 Mech combat team and built a sample list highlighting the uses of the M2 Bradley as the key component of a USA force alongside M1 Abrams. This list is intended for defensive battles and should be always on the defense stance.
M2 Bradley Mech combat team
HQ - 2pts
Small M2 platoons x 2 - 20pts
M113 mortar x3 - 3pts
M1a1hc Abrams x2 - 36pts
Combined arms (heavy) company
HQ RDF/LT - 2pts
large RDF/LT platoon x 2 - 18pts
Large light motor infantry platoon - 10pts
LAV-ADs x 4 -8pts
VADs x 2 -3pt
Grand total: 100 points
This list is built as an all-comers defensive force, with flexible options for both reserves and ambushes depending on the opponents you meet. The M1a1Hcs are always in mobile reserve, with another small platoon joining it. If facing other NATO opponents, the MBTs and both company HQs can be put into the backfield. If facing hordes, a small platoon of Bradleys can instead be the 2nd reserve to shore up weakpoints.
Similarly, ambush options can be customised depending on your opponent's lineup.
Vs spam: RDF/LT platoon
Vs heavy tanks: Bradley platoon
While small, the list packs enough punch to defeat any opponent head on, and care should be taken to preserve the Bradleys as you only have 7 of them.
The elephant in the room: M1s, Bradleys and point totals
On the subject of fielding Bradleys as an escort with M1 Abrams, particularly the M1a1hc, the point was repeatedly brought up about how expensive fielding them together was and how a 100 point playing field would be incredibly restrictive to a prospective USA player. Meanwhile in the wilderness of the internets, The folks at Battlefront have repeatedly emphasized that points totals would be inflated to 120, which has led to some heated discussion over how outnumbered American forces would be facing hordes on the table.The mechanics certainly do favour rolling large amounts of dice, hence the repeated cries of 'muh spam' in this game.
However, USA and elite force players in general need to turn this idea on it's head and understand the concept of space and positioning to ensure they are the ones rolling the largest amount of dice in any encounter. In military terms, METT (Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Time) are key factors that also apply in-game to Team Yankee. Given that any game played using the mission matrix is about capturing objectives, USA players must aim to play to the mission and not concern themselves with whether they have enough shots to wipe the table clean.
The New USA book gives players the capability to do so with very maneuverable units packing heavy firepower. Therefore, positioning is paramount to master using smaller forces against a numerically superior opponent. Learning to dominate chokepoints and firelanes while sitting within 18 inches of objectives will be important tools to control the tempo of the battlefield and ensure that you are not flanked, no matter the size of the game.
Wayne Turner has mentioned that the M3's bushmaster ROF should be the same as the M2 and it will be errataed in the next FM101
A combined Bradley/M1 force allows you to do just that, as the Bradleys can move fast enough to keep out of trouble and deter flankers, while the M1s do the heavy lifting of being battering rams in the spearhead. The M3 Bradley Armored combat team is perfect for this role, as 2 M3a2s only cost 6 points each, and you can easily fill out your force with a few boxes of Bradleys and supplement it with either US marines or the new light motor company. Coupled with 4IPM1s or 2 M1a1hcs, 13 M3a2 bradleys comes out to just 75 points, which in 100 or 120pt games gives you a lot of wiggle room to add support units, especially the light motor platoons.
What are you looking forwards to field with your USA forces come July? In our next article, we take a look at how you can build a historical force for desert storm with JEROM1E, and explore the cornucopia of options for painting up your favorite plastic tanks.
About the Writer:
Eddie is an avid painter who also enjoys anime, studying military history and hopes that Girls Und Panzer will come true one day so that everyone can resolve their differences with tank Airsoft.