Second Front – Beginners Guide

Just a few good habits to get into.

Simple Rules for New Players

Don’t Stack

  • No, really….Don’t do it.
  • There are exactly two instances where stacking is okay.
    • If you want the leader MP bonus, and you are SURE you’re out of sight for the entire move.
    • If you have a firebase with a good leader. E.g. two squads with MMGs and a two-star leader sitting in the back hammering away is fine.
  • Otherwise, spread your squads out, no more than one per hex. That way, any successful attack will only hurt one squad.
  • By bunching up squads in one hex, all you’re doing is making sure one attack will hurt all of them.
  • It also means that the enemy will run out of defensive fire. Each squad can only fire twice, so if you can swarm it at least some of your troops won’t even get fired upon.

Concealment Is Your Friend

  • See that question-mark over your troops at game start? Guard it with your life.
  • Any concealed targets results in all attacks being halved, so stay concealed if you possibly can.
  • Don’t ditch concealment just to fire a 2% attack, the concealment is far more important.
  • So use Low Crawl/Advance to get into position, and always use covered routes whenever you can. Even if you’re running in the open, if no enemy units can see you, you keep concealment. So check LOS from every known enemy position before moving.
  • Even if you’re defending, don’t think you can’t move. Low crawl into un-spotted locations, and then advance back in after the enemy fire-phase. (also affectionately known as ‘skulking’).
  • If they can’t see you, they can’t shoot you.

Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em

  • There aren’t nearly as many opportunity for smoke in SF as there is in ASL, but it’s still pretty useful. So any scenario that gives you guns or tanks, check if they have smoke-ammo.
  • Let’s say you have an enemy MMG in a church-tower covering your entire approach. Throw some smoke at them, and not only do they get a +2 for the smoke, the fact that there’s now a Hindrance means your troopers are no longer considered moving in open ground.
  • That’s a +3 shift for a simple smoke-attack. Sure, you’ll probably run out after one shot, but why let that stop you?
  • No smoke-ammo? Okay, what about smoke-dispensers?
  • Run your tanks out into open ground you want your infantry to cross (staying away from enemy AT-weapons obviously) and fire the dispensers. Now your infantry suddenly have a nice comfy cloud to cover their approach.

The Right Leader For The Job

  • Leaders are insanely important in SF. But not all leaders are made equal.
  • One- and two-star leaders should either be in charge of your firebase to lend their modifiers to the attacks, or lead your assault-teams into battle. They should always be doing something, either to the enemy or to their own troops.
  • Silver-star leaders on the other hand have no business being in the front line. Their job is to sit a few hexes back in covered terrain, and rally any troops that break. If you stack a silver-star with a squad, you’ve just made matters worse for yourself.
  • Not only does he not modify the squads morale-check, but if the leader breaks then the squad takes a second morale-check.
  • So keep your less efficient leaders back in good rally positions, and you’ll get the most out of them.
  • It also means that an enemy two-star leader should become an immediate munitions-magnet. Actually, any enemy leader you kill means less chance of broken units rallying and getting back into the fight.

Take Your Time

  • Don’t sprint across open ground to get an objective one turn earlier. You probably won’t make it in the first place.
  • Figure out how many turns you have to take each objective, and then use ALL of that time. Covered approaches, getting a firebase in place, making sure there’s no hidden AT-guns out there.
  • Sure, if the enemy firebase breaks from a lucky attack, by all means use the opportunity to get as many squads forward as you can.
  • But otherwise, you’re far better off being methodical. The modern battlefield is kinda lethal.

Respect The ROF

  • The rate of fire can be deadly. Those dinky little 50mm and 60mm mortars might not pack much of a punch, but the amount of shells they can lob makes it a numbers game. Eventually, one of them will get a hit.
  • Anyone who’s run into the 37mm flak-gun in “Recon in force” will know what I mean.
  • So even if you’re in a covered position, once you get acquired by one of these weapons give serious thought to finding a fallback position. It’s not always possible, sometimes the ground is just too good to give up and that’s fair enough.
  • But don’t sit in a mortar-barrage simply because you’re too lazy to move out.

Close Combat Is Risky

  • All combat in SF is based on dice-rolls, and thus inherently risky. But close combat is doubly so.
  • Even with 3-1 odds, there’s a good chance everyone will be wiped out. Definitely never attack with 1-1 odds, unless you need to tie down the enemy position. And even then, expect to lose.
  • But there are things you can do to mitigate the risk. The Ambush modifier.
  • For those who are unfamiliar with close combat, it’s a simultaneous attack. Both sides roll the dice, and the results are applied simultaneously, which is why it’s not uncommon to see both sides wiped out.
  • But if one side ambushes the other, they get to fire first, and if they wipe out the enemy he won’t even get to fire back.
  • So maximise your chances for an ambush.
  • Gold-star leaders modify the ambush, and so does concealment. Especially concealment. Remember back in section 2 when I said concealment is your friend? Doubly so in ambushes.
  • Even better, you only need ONE unit to be concealed in order to get the modifier. So if you have two squads and a half-squad all within advance range, by all means shoot the two squads but keep the half-squad concealed. He won’t contribute much to the fire, but that ambush modifier is golden.

Kick ‘Em While They’re Down

  • Make every effort to ensure that broken enemy units STAY broken, and go for ‘surrender for failure to rout’ if it’s at all feasible.
  • Any unit that is under what I know as Desperation Morale, or in SF has two red exclamation marks, is much, much harder to rally than a unit with just one. So make sure they get that other exclamation mark whenever you can.
  • Move adjacent to them, or if that is to dangerous just fire at them. Anything will do, even a solitary sniper will add that oh-so-important second exclamation mark, and force them to rout again.
  • If you can’t get into position to force a surrender, at least make sure you have units covering enemy rout paths. Interdiction fire in SF can be lethal.
  • In short, any unit that you can keep broken is one more unit that can’t return to the fight.

Minimize The Risk

  • I suppose I could’ve just had one rule that said “Don’t Be Daft”.
  • But SF is a dice-heavy game, and even when you do everything right, Lady Luck might decide to slap you around.
  • It happens, and the lack of certainty is arguably a part of the game.
  • But based on my ASL play, the best players know this and minimize the risks they take. This is warfare, so risk is inherent in the activity, but you can do much to mitigate the effects of a lucky roll.
  • It’s pretty much a summary of all of the above; Use ambush in close combat, use covered routes and concealment to your benefit, don’t run in open ground within enemy range, don’t move armor into unkown territory if there’s an AT-gun out there and you don’t know where it is etc.
  • Basically, treat your counters as you would real people. After all, the more of your squads that survive, the more punishment they’ll be able to dish out.

3 Comments

  1. Any advice for getting flamethrowers and demo charges into range? Many scenarios have them but the majority get lit up before they even had a hope of using them.

    • Consider how you approach your intended target. Concealed units in good cover are pretty hard to kill. So keep concealment, and then advance (not move) into range.
      Then the enemy has an unenviable choice to make. He can either try to shoot concealed targets in cover, and if he misses he’s probably dead. Or he’ll have to move out of what is presumably a good defensive position
      Using other squads to draw fire from the target is also helpful.
      If the target has already fired once, any subsequent defensive fire will be halved.
      I mean, it’s a little hard on the bait, but you have to be a little callous at times. 🙂

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