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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

List Dissection: The German Tank Swarm pt I

By Tom
The German Tank Swarm

The German tank swarm is one of my favorite list builds for Flames of War.  It maximizes the natural strengths of medium German tanks: their Veteran rating and their ability to Stormtrooper. When you consider that the enemies will need a 6 to hit German tanks in concealment at range, and that the German tanks can simply stormtrooper in and out of cover two thirds of the time, German tanks have a natural advantage over other nations, even if their armor and armament aren't really any better than their foes.

In this family of list builds I combine a large number of mainstay tanks (well, a large number for Germans anyway) with a few sniper tanks for destroying enemy heavy hitters. The mainstay tanks should achieve superiority by eliminating enemy support units like artillery or antitank guns while the sniper tanks destroy any enemy armor that the mainstay tanks can't deal with. Once the German armor has battlefield superiority, it can begin to destroy enemy infantry that's dug-in, either with its cannon fire or with an assault by a large platoon of tanks. Some smoke is also quite nice with this build, but it's not essential.

German armor varies quite a bit across the course of the war. There are different choices and tanks for each era but the core principle remains the same. Here are sample lists for each of the three eras: early war mid war and late war.

Early War
In early war our mainstay tank is the Panzer IIC. Our support tank is the Panzer IVD.  I took a variant of this list through early war nationals last year at Historicon.  It only did so-so, but at least it beat the BAR in its one matchup.

My Pz II's vs. Steve's Panhards
I like the Panzer IIc as a mainstay tank over the alternatives because it can be upgraded to a relatively tough front armor of two, it has a decent armament with an AT 5, firepower 5+, rate of fire 3 gun.  This is enough to harm most other light tanks, such as the Hotchkiss or poorly armored mediums like the British cruiser tanks.  You could also take Panzer ones in Panzer twos mixed together or 38ts.  Personally I found the 38ts to be a bit expensive and to take away from the critical mass needed among mainstay tanks. (I think the 38t has a very poor price point in early war; it pays too much for its gun and its armor without really being able to hurt FA 4 or 5 French tanks.) I tried to include around 15 Panzer twos or more if I can squeeze them in the list.

I usually include for Panzer IVDs in two platoons of two.  The Panzer IVD occupies a really important place in the early war German arsenal of tanks.  It's AT 7 gun with 3+ firepower can decisively hurt the heavier medium tanks or even the heavy tanks like the char B (if you get around the flank) or the Somua.  Unlike the Panzer II, whose gun tends to result in a lot of bails the Panzer IV’s gun kills things dead.  The Panzer IV’s front armor of three doesn't sound like a lot (especially to a French player) but at range it's actually quite survivable.
In early war there is no cheap smoke for German armor. So I don't even bother. Sometimes I'll take airplanes, not so much because I expect them to kill anything, but because their template forces the enemy to spread out.

Running this Army is pretty straightforward. The Panzer twos engage enemy light armor or infantry. Since the Panzer to has a range of 16 inches on its main gun they would usually have to move before engaging enemy. However they are not especially good at night fighting in the open and in situations when they must move constantly. Ideally I try to move them into cover where in the next round they can fire with their full rate of fire of three. The Panzer IVs engage heavier armor at a distance or, if they absolutely must, close in to take side shots at bigger tanks like the Char B. 

When fighting the dreaded British Armored Regiment the role of the tanks are oddly reversed. In these circumstances it is better to engage the lightly armored British cruisers with an overwhelming number of Panzer twos and to engage the Vickers with the Panzer IVs.  British 2-pdr guns largely make hash out of the difference in armor between a Panzer II and Panzer IV, but the more lightly armed Vickers have a hard time penetrating the Panzer IVs armor, particularly since the Panzer IVs have range on them.  

I would like to note that there are a few things the Panzer IV cannot kill: notably the British Matilda II.  there are a few stupid tricks you can use if your opponent brings that kind of monster to the table. The best option is to kill everything else in his list until it breaks. If an invulnerable tank threatens your objective, then you can always feed it Panzer twos until you win elsewhere.  However it must be said that if your opponent fields a bunch of Matilda's together without any softer stuff, then you really cannot defeat it. I am not especially worried however, because pure Matilda lists really suck against almost any other force. So in a tournament I'm prepared to take the loss or play for a draw against a really lopsided heavy tank list. It really worries you then take some pioneers or air.

ConfidentVeteran Mittlere Panzerkompanie
Medium Armoured Company
German Early-War
Mittlere Panzerkompanie HQ p.69
Panzer II C (late)
Combat Platoons
Panzer II Platoon p.67
5Panzer II C (late)280
Mittlere Panzer Platoon p.69
2Panzer IV D300
Mittlere Panzer Platoon p.69
2Panzer IV D300
Panzer II Platoon p.67
5Panzer II C (late)280
Weapons Platoons
Panzer II Platoon p.67
4Panzer II C (late)225
Divisional Support
Air SupportAllied Platoon  p.102
Priority Air Support Ju 87B Stuka
Stuka Schwerpunkt (2 Aircraft Dice)
Company Points:1700
Source document: Blitzkrieg Book
All Hail Easy Army!


cbaxter said...

thanks for the article tom, i love me some pz iis

Ancientsociety said...

What's your opinion of Bunkerflaks as a backup? I agree it's a ton of points but their range and firepower seem to be a good addition to the Mittlere swarm.

W.DesertForce said...

In the second to last paragraph, I think you mean "2-pdr" not "6-pdr."

indierockclimber said...

You're absolutely right- adjusted!

@Ancient- I've never used them personally, though I have faced them. They're just so expensive and fragile. Not terribly scared of them, but run right they could be a real menace!

Tom de Mayo said...

Yeah, there are a lot of typos in this one. (I was testing out voice recognition software.) 6 pdrs is my own fault tho.

As far as bunkerflaks, go, I have some painted. I've never tried them. They are soo pricey and so fragile. The awkward layout is a killer, too.

Adam1776 said...

Is there a variant for this list from the Hellfire and Back book? My group mostly plays north Africa for early war.

Tom de Mayo said...


The desert is more Steve's thing. I cringe at the thought of buying everything over again so I can paint it tan instead of gray. IIRC, the Mittelere Panzer List in H&B is largely the same as the one in Blitzkreig, but you can't take quite as many Pz IIs and must mix in more Pz Is. The principle is the same, tho: lots of light stuff backed up by some heavy stuff.

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