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Thursday, January 26, 2012

List Dissection: The German Tank Swarm Pt 2

Continuing on from Tom's first part posted earlier.
Mid War
Mid war is the period for which it is most difficult to assemble a German tank swarm. The mainstay tank of the period, the Panzer three, is pricey, especially in its more useful later variants like the IIIM or IIIN.  It is difficult to achieve the critical mass needed with Panzer IIIM/Ns. There are a few other options. You could try taking only the earlier cheaper Panzer IIIs or you could try to maximize light tanks such as the Panzer II or the 38t. For this example, I'm going to use the 38t.

The 38t is pretty much useless against other tanks. By mid war AT 6 is a mere pop gun. However you can get a lot of 38ts which are still really good at machine-gunning infantry, assaulting dug in troops, and blowing up guns. The trick with this list is to increase the number of support tanks to deal with enemy armor, without ending up with too few 38Ts for use against infantry.
A Lot of Tanks

In good news, by Mid War the Germans have a wide selection of awesome anti-tank vehicles.  My favorite is the Panzer IV f2. It combines decent armor, FA 5, with a superior AT 11 gun. A Panzer IV f2 standing at long range and cover, properly handled, can destroy an almost infinite number of opposing Shermans or Soviet T-34s.  Panzer IVf2s are expensive, though. So I usually take three and a second unit of something else cheaper, like Marders.

I took this list to either guns of August or the Williamsburg muster last year.  (I can't remember which.)  It performed quite well against infantry lists, but against a Tankovy list of mostly T-34s, my support tanks were simply overwhelmed.

ConfidentVeteranCzech Panzerkompanie
Armoured Company
German Mid-War
PlatoonQtyUnitPoints
Headquarters
Czech Panzerkompanie HQ p.31
2Panzer 38(t)120
Combat Platoons
Czech Panzer Platoon p.31
4Panzer 38(t)240
Czech Panzer Platoon p.31
5Panzer 38(t)300
Czech Panzer Platoon p.31
4Panzer 38(t)240
Czech Panzer Platoon p.31
3Panzer 38(t)180
Weapons Platoon
Mittlere Panzer Platoon(up to 4 IV F1,F2, G)(Heer) p.34
3Panzer IV F2 or G435
Divisional Support
Tank-hunter Platoon (PzJag I or Marder)(Heer) p.86
3Marder I220
Company Points:1735
Source document: Eastern Front
More Easy Army!


Late War
Late war returns us to more familiar and more effective territory for the German tank swarm.  The price to performance ratio of a Panzer IVH to a Panther or Tiger is almost exactly the same as that a Panzer IIC and a Panzer IVD.

In late war natural mainstay tank is the Panzer 4-H.  You could also use the Stug or perhaps mix in some Panzer threes. The Panzer 4-H and the Stug are to my mind interchangeable: the Panzer IV sports an extra machine gun and a turret, the Stug has a fixed gun but slightly better armor.  Six of one, half-dozen of the other.  The important thing is to get a critical mass of AT11 guns, at long-range undercover so that the enemy will need 6s to hit them, if they can see them at all.

StuGs!
In most builds you will end up with around a dozen mainstay tanks. 15 or so is a more desirable number but often hard to squeeze in once you have purchased your support vehicles. I prefer to keep my tanks in large platoons of 4 or five and only Kampfgroup them if I need to reach an even number of platoons.  If you attach your headquarters tanks to an already large platoon of five, you get a really beefy assault unit.

In late war the Germans are spoiled for choice of support units. Against the Western Allies, I usually take two Tiger ones. The Tigers main gun can punch through almost any Allied armor. (Except for Churchill variants.)  Their top armor of two grants them extra protection against plentiful, nasty Allied artillery. I'm not even sure the Tigers are necessary; you could just take more mainstay tanks instead.

Against Soviets, I prefer the Panther or its variants. Ideally the German tank swarm will stay at range against a foe, and the mainstay tanks will protect the flanks of the snipers.  Therefore the Panthers heavier from armor and slightly more powerful gun render it a better choice for destroying Soviet heavies. Sometimes I take two J├Ągdpanthers. They cost slightly less than three Panthers, and they have a ludicrously powerful gun for destroying IS-2s and the like.

You really want to smoke for this Army.  In Late War, the Allies can outnumber you with some pretty good tanks.  Smoke blocking line of sight can cut the enemy numbers into smaller segments for you to concentrate fire.

The Late War German tank swarm usually plays more cautiously than its early war or mid war counterpart. It's mainstay tanks have a longer range and there are usually fewer of them in the Army. Infantry anti-tank weapons can be markedly more plentiful than in earlier eras, especially you are facing Americans. Ideally you want to play all of your tanks as long-range snipers, closing with the enemy only when you need flanks shots or enemy ranged antitank capacity has been neutralized. This, of course, is easier said than done.

ConfidentVeteranPanzerkompanieGerman Late-War
PlatoonQtyUnitPoints
Headquarters
Panzerkompanie HQ p.21
2Panzer IV H190
Combat Platoons
Panzer Platoon p.21
5Panzer IV H475
Panzer Platoon p.21
5Panzer IV H475
Divisional Support
Tank-Hunter Platoon p.50
2Jagdpanther470
Rocket Launcher Battery   p.53
1
1
1
3
Cmd SMG team
Observer Rifle team
Kubelwagen
15cm NW41
125
Company Points:1735
Source document: Fortress Europe

Yet More Easy Army 
Conclusion

The German tank swarm maximizes inexpensive tanks and mixes them with a few heavy hitters.  I find them quite enjoyable lists to play; each move you make with such a highly mobile army has a powerful effect on whether you win or lose. Unlike with an infantry Army where you spend a lot of time dug into a hole, you feel in charge of your own battlefield destiny.  Unlike with an elite tank army, you have enough numbers to make a few mistakes or suffer some bad luck and still come out on top.



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