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Friday, February 17, 2012

HMG Love

MG 42 at Cassino
This article is about my love for the HMG. 

Many FoW players shy away from HMGs.  They are largely useless against vehicles of any sort.  Under v2, they weren't very survivable, either.  Armies that couldn't attach them, like the Brits, had trouble bringing them into defensive fire.  Why bother?

I've played in several infantry-only or infantry-centric tournaments over the last year, and my respect for these weapons has increased as a result. (Shan's Eastern Front tactics articles were a major influence.)  Now, they are one of the first things I add to any general purpose infantry list.

The reason?  Defensive fire.  When infantry fights infantry, stopping an assault can be all-important.

Let's review the math.*

The following table shows the average number of dice need to generate 5 hits, at each level of difficulty.  Most Trained attackers will require a 3+ or 4+ to hit.  Most Veteran Attackers will require a 4+ or 5+. 
To Hit
Average RoF needed

Now, naturally, this is a dice game.  You could roll really well, or really badly.  Flukey things do happen. To be safe, the defender will want as many more dice as possible, to create a greater buffer against mischance.

The following table shows the RoF rate for various common infantry platoon compositions. Naturally, the exact rate will vary depending on the selection of support weapons like mortars, bazookas, SMGs etc.

Rifles x 10
Rifle (US) x10
Rifle/MG x 7
Rifle/MG x 10
MG x 7
10 (at +1)

If you compare this to the pinning chart above, the mathematics of assault becomes clear.  Most unpinned units can easily deflect an assault by a Trained or even Veteran attacker, but once Pinned and Smoked, they will struggle to muster the dice needed to stop any assault.   Again, the chart shows an optimum: a full platoon, where everybody has LoS, and no one is out of the 8" magic zone.  In an actual game, a canny opponent will try to reduce your platoon, flank you, and attack only a portion of your platoon.  When you take this into account, even mighty MG teams like PzGrens, when Pinned, will have a hard time reaching the 5 hits needed to stop an assault by Concealed Veterans.

Here is where the HMGs have a role.  When attached to a combat platoon, or just hanging out behind the lines, each HMG adds 3 dice to a pinned platoon's RoF.  This can make up the numbers rapidly.  Armies without Combat attachments are more viable now, too.  Under v3, you no longer have to do weird micro-measuring to be sure they will be pulled into an assault.

When playing German Grenadiers, I almost always take four HMGs.  If I can, I take 8.  Ditto for US Rifles. Only heavily mechanized force like Lehr don't need the extra dice.  A big platoon with attached HMGs makes an excellent holding platoon for objectives, or to back up an assault. Even on the move they can discourage counter-assaults. 

* I know there are some Wargamers out there who hate math.  "I want to see how they play on the table." Or "Well, once my three pioneers destroyed a whole Stelkovy." Or just "Math makes my head hurt."  Whatever.  If you don't do the math in a wargame, you're playing blind.  Quit embarrassing us, math-haters. Take up blindfolded golf or Zen archery instead.


Neal Smith said...

Nice article!

I love how a lot of the blisters I've collected over the years are crying out to be painted for V3! :)

Dirty Jon said...

Math FTW.

Vladdd309 said...

Great post, it's all about the math!

SinSynn said...

Really good stuff!
Two thumbs up, and I only wish I had more thumbs.

Samulus said...

well well well, it seems that when I accidentally ordered 8 HMG teams rather than 4 this wasn't such a bad eventuality afterall... MG42s FTW. Sovitt Strelkovy, shudder in your boots.

Mik said...

"HMG Love"

Good text for a new WWPD shirt?

cbaxter said...

great article thanks tom

zed said...

It's a wargame but the more dice you roll etc.

good article

Craig C said...

The only HMGs I regularly took in 2E were a couple bought as part of the cpmpany stelk and the British HMGs with carriers- which made them versatile and survivable than any other 2E HMG.

I am expecting to face a lot more HMGs in V3- infantry support weapons (HMGs and mortars) are far more viable in the new version- should make for some interesting games


Souldier said...

Steve can we get your thoughts about halftracks of a gepanzerte company providing a similar role?

Im considering adding extra halftracks to my Gepanzerte panzer pioneer force. At +5 points for an additional halftrack it seems very tempting!

Great article.

Hatchitt said...

Tank you! Thank you! Thank you! I think I speak for everyone else too, MORE "HOW TO" ARTICLES LIKE THIS! (Caps Mean Yelling) I started up about year and half ago playing. Finally starting to get the whole FoW v2 rules and now 3 comes out. Where's the aspirin? These little tidbits of strategy are so helpful. Thanks again WWPD. This is such a great website.

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