Know Thy Enemy, and Thyself - LW Wiking Panther!
Welcome to a new series of articles providing an in-depth mathematical analysis (or as I like to call it: Mathnalysis!) of individual units and their relative strengths and weaknesses on the Flames of War tabletop.
"It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle." - Sun Tzu (one of many translations from The Art of War)
While the roll of the D6 prevents us from 'knowing' with 100% certainty, Sun Tzu makes it clear that intelligence is the key to winning the fight. Knowing when to engage, when not to engage, when the odds are in your favor or against you are all key to playing well. This series aims to arm you, the player, with the information necessary to make the best decisions possible and lead you to victory.
Today's topic: LW Wiking Panthers!
The German Panther tank is, overall, one of the most versatile pieces on the Flames of War battlefield. It has superior armor, superior mobility, and a superior gun - essentially making it 'the standard' with which all other tanks are measured. Because of their effectiveness, every army in LW (and even MW!) needs to be able to answer the question: "What will I do about Panthers?"
The Wiking Panther is a different flavour of Panther, with different abilities and ratings than your bog-standard Panther even though the chassis remains the same.
|Thanks to EasyArmy.com as always!|
The Wiking Panther is rated at Fearless Trained, and comes in at an average cost of 163 points per tank. This is compared to the Confident Veteran Panther at an average of 187 points per tank.
However, the main reason to run Wiking Panthers is the Panzer Kanonne, and including him bumps up your average cost/tank to:
3 Panthers = 555/3 = 185 points per tank
4 Panthers = 720/4 = 180 points per tank
5 Panthers = 880/5 = 176 points per tank
Looking only at your average cost per tank, we can see an "Economy of Scale" (Woot-Woot-Economics) as we increase in platoon size. In layman's terms, you get more bang for your buck the larger your platoon gets.
At the same time, we can also see that there is not a great deal of points savings going from CV to FT - so those FT tanks better be worth it!
In terms of fighting capabilities, we have 4 shots of standard MG fire and 2 shots of AT 14, FP3+ per tank. Let's take a look at how effective those weapon systems are against a variety of targets.
|To-Kill Values are Calculated at Short Range|
As you can see from the table (and probably your own experience), a stationary Panther platoon of 4 tanks - say, one sprung from ambush, can easily rip a medium tank platoon to shreds. While those confirmed kills start to fall off against heavier targets, you can usually count on killing one heavy per turn with a platoon of 4.
Assaults are where the Wiking boys really shine. The ability to re-roll skill checks makes them better than Veterans in close combat, and Wide Tracks makes them the King of Very Difficult Terrain.
Additionally, all of these numbers could be slightly higher, depending on the Panzer Kanonne skill roll.
|Survival Values are Calculated at Short Range|
That being said, it pays to look out for anything that can take side shots, as your Trained status and SA 5 will not protect you from anything bigger than a Stuart in LW. Assaults against high AT infantry will be bloody and should be avoided if possible (as you can buy an entire infantry platoon for the price of one Panther).
It should also be mentioned that the re-roll to skill checks and Wide Tracks also increases your survivability from a maneuver perspective, although that is obviously difficult to replicate in a statistical manner. Having a more reliable Stormtrooper roll will keep your opponents from finding those stationary salvo numbers. The Fearless motivation stat will also keep your platoon on the board more regularly and successfully remount in case of bailed results.
Are They Worth It?
In my honest opinion, the Wiking Panther does not acheive the same cost-effectiveness as other versions of the Panther tank - mainly the standard CV Panther.
The main reason - specialization.
The Wiking Panther dillutes its points into things that make the tank more versatile overall, but reduces its survivability against its main strength: other Armoured Fighting Vehicles.
In a long-range, concealed fight versus other direct fire vehicles, a CV Panther will recieve 50% less hits than a FT Wiking Panther - and 100% less hits from a RoF 1 weapon system (ie. IS-2). This can be a major factor when that Stormtrooper roll is missed, or when looking to set up firing lanes.
If you were to build an entire force (or at least the bulk of it) with Panther tanks, than the Wiking Panther is likely a better option. It provides increased versatility vs. Infantry at the cost of decreased survivability vs. Tanks/AT. If being used as a supporting (mainly AT) element, then the CV Panther should be considered superior.
The cost savings and increase in effectiveness against infantry of the Wiking Panther vs. Heer CV Panther is just not great enough to overcome the decrease in survivability. The main job of the Panther tank is to engage other Armoured Fighting Vehicles and defeat them. The Wiking Panther trades away that ability for too few points, making it a less cost-efficient option for your army.