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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
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.

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
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
Rocket Launcher Battery   p.53
Cmd SMG team
Observer Rifle team
15cm NW41
Company Points:1735
Source document: Fortress Europe

Yet More Easy Army 

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.


SinSynn said...

My late war Axis tank list is pretty similar-

HQ- two Stugs
4 Stugs
4 Panzer IV's (for MG's as you mentioned)
3 Panther A's
1 Tiger 1e
Bergepanther recovery vehicle (cuz I have the points, and why not?)

I've given up on the Nebs.
Since I'm usually in 'avoidance mode,' and backing away from my opponent (and hopefully making those critical storm trooper rolls!), I just can't protect those guys.

Sneaky Stuarts, swarming Russians, or something tends to kill them before they can really be valuable a lot of times.

And since I'd rather start 2 platoons of tanks on the table, the nebs end up coming in last from reserves in most cases anyway.

I also fail morale checks like no one's business, so I use the 4 tank platoon...and only one tank runs off after I lose three!
Dice Gods hate me...even if the 1ic is handy.

Nice series of posts!

Phil Gardocki said...

I have built 2 companies so far, both with pretty much the same concept as above. But when I get to the table, I get the feeling that my opponents are regarding me as some kind of Jerk for not having any infantry. Is there some kind of prevailing ill feeling in FOW against pure tank companies?

Phillip said...

I'd go with Recon instead of the Nebs for the Late War list(and recce is less difficult to protect. Inevitably you'll run into something you don't want to assault(Say US AI in a building) and then you'll be glad for recce's ability to remove gtg.

Phillip said...

Other sneaky little tip for the list with the JgPanthers:

move the platoon commander off to one flank and leave the 2ic/or 1iC within command distance of the other one. This will allow you to move the two JgPanthers seperately. Although only one at a time as the 2ic/1ic becomes the Command team so one of the two will be out of command.

Craig C said...

My preferred tank swarm midwar is the panzer III J (late) good bang for your buck for a panzer III


indierockclimber said...

Agreed. Unfortunately, the very cute Panzer III J (early) is a victim of not being good enough for mid war and being too good for early war. I love that little tank, but it just straddles the line of usefulness.

Braxen said...

there goes the German doctrine of combined arms warfare...

As sexy and/or fun it may look, I believe this type of list for Germans actually ties them one hand in the back instead of taking advantage of their flexibility

Now if you are talking about Soviets...however they learned too!

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