Well, maybe not Benito himself, but his forces are definitely on their way to defend their interests in Africa with the latest release from Battlefront for V4 Mid War; Avanti!
As you've come to expect from Battlefront, Avanti is a beautifully presented volume with a heap of colour pictures, great historical coverage of the major aspects of the Regio Esercito Italiano (Italian Royal Army) and their place in the battlefields of North Africa.
Continuing on with the desire to keep initial selections easier for newer players, Avanti allows you to choose from three different formations for your Italian forces. These include a Tank Company choosing from either the M14/41 Medium tank or the Semovente SP gun.
You'll need to take a Tank Company HQ comprised of a single M14/41 tank. From there, you must select 2 tank platoons with the option for a third if you'd like it. You can choose from either the M14/41 platoon, which gives you access to between 3 and 5 M14/41's, or you can choose a Semovente SP Battery containing between 2 and 6 Semovente's.
Your second formation option is the Bersaglieri Weapons Company. After the massive losses taken at the siege of Tobruk, the Italian's reorganised their forces in a 'fewer men, more weapons' scenario.
As always, you'll need to take the Weapons Company HQ consisting of 2 Carcano rifle teams. From there, you must take at least one Weapons platoon up to a max of three, and also take at least one 47mm Anti-tank platoon up to a maximum of two.
You have both full and short options in the Weapons platoon. The full option will give you a platoon with 3 Breda MG teams, a Breda HMG team and a 20mm Anti-tank rifle team. In the short option, you're reduced to 2 Breda MG teams. In both cases, you also have the option of adding a 47mm AT gun.
Your 47mm AT platoons are pretty much as they wrote. You can choose from between two to four 47mm AT guns. These are great for ambushes, a seriously cool little gun in MW!
And of course, your final option is the Bersaglieri Rifle Company, the well-regarded backbone of the Italian forces in North Africa.
The Rifle Company HQ is compulsory with it's 2 Carcano rifle teams. You'll then need to take at least 2 Rifle Platoons, with the option for an extra one. As part of the formation, you can also choose to take a Breda MG Platoon, an Assault Mortar platoon, an 81mm Mortar platoon and up to 2 47mm AT gun platoons.
Your Rifle platoons come in full and short versions here, with the full platoon consisting of 9 Breda MG/Carcano Rifle teams while the short option only has 5 teams. Selecting the Breda HMG platoon gives you a platoon of 3 Breda HMG teams.
On the infantry artillery side of things, the Assault Mortar platoon gives you some direct fire mortar action which can fire over any teams in front to either add some pins or possible lay down smoke. There are 3 teams in this platoon. For something a bit heavier, the 81mm Mortar platoon gives you either 2 or 3 mortar teams. The 81mm mortar has a better range than the British mortars meaning they have a little more survivability.
8 Million Bayonets
One of the coolest things about the Italian army in V3 (and something I know Damo was fond of) was not knowing just how good your troops would be until they actually got on the table. The issue was the large volume of combinations that there could have been.
This has been simplified in V4 through the extra column on the Motivation and Skill stats we pointed out earlier. After you've deployed, but before the first turn, you roll your 8 Million Bayonets die and if you roll the Elite symbol (left) then you get to use the improved stats! If you don't have an 8 Million Bayonet die, you can just use a d6 and any roll of 5 or 6 means you have the Elite troops. Easy as that!
The Italian Army in Africa has quite an array of support available to them. We'll have a look at the options you have here and then discuss the potential for German allied platoons as well, a relatively new addition to V4.
The first support we'll have a look at is the Assault Engineer platoon. This is what you take to get into those pesky dug-in infantry positions. You can have a full or short option on this one. Taking the full option will give you Breda MG/Carcano rifle teams, 2 Brixia mortar teams and 2 Flame-thrower teams. The short option reduces you to 3 Breda/Carcano teams and a single Brixia and Flame-thrower. I think this platoon is a definite addition for me, so much firepower!
Next up, the AB41 Armoured Car platoon. You can have either 3 or 4 Armoured cars here to provide both a Scout option for your force or to provide some fast fire support for your infantry.
As further infantry support, you could also choose an L6/40 Light Tank platoon. You'll have access to between 3 and 5 tanks. These things are super cute, but don't let their diminutive size fool you, they can pack a punch!
Moving on to some heavier support, we're going to take a look at the awesome 90mm Lancia Anti-tank Battery. Similar to the Afrika Korps, the Italian Army found that their heavy AA guns somehow made amazingly powerful anti-tank guns as well. Mounted on a Lancia Truck for added manoeuvrability, you can get between 1 and 4 of these bad boys.
Because the Italian factories couldn't keep up with the demand for the 90mm AA gun, the Italians also purchased a number of the German 88mm for added barrels in the field.
Moving on to the Italian artillery, you've only got a single choice here in the 100mm Howitzer. Your battery can contain either 2 or 4 guns to lay down support fire for your infantry. A well-placed shell also has the potential to take out the British armour in the desert.
Rock me Amadeus! Air support in the desert is provided the rugged CR.42 Falco biplane. Your flight consists of 2 planes and they can either drop their bombs or strafe with the 12.7mm MG's.
And to make sure you don't get shot down on your way in, you can also buy some dedicated AA in the form of the Autocannone, the 20mm AA gun mounted on a truck. You can have either 2 or 4 AA trucks.
As well as using Italian support, you now have the option of taking German allies in support of your Italian troops (and vice versa as well!). You can choose to field two compulsory German units as Allied units but could also field a whole German formation as a support formation. If you don't have a copy of Afrika Korps, Avanti also gives you the stats for the German compulsory units for you!
Finishing off Avanti, as always, you have painting guides for your Italian forces with details of how to get them on the table.
Coinciding with the release of Avanti, we'll also be seeing new plastic model releases from Battlefront, including the plastic kit with the M14/41 hull and parts to allow you build them as either the M14/41 or the Semovente!
Next up, we're going to take a look at building some sample lists from Avanti for you...so until then...