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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bolt Action - Cold Wars Army List: Cbax's Tank Platoon

by Craig Baxter

This year I will be traveling to Cold Wars to play in both of the Bolt Action tournaments.  I was able to get down to the States last year for Historicon 2013, and had a blast playing in the armored and regular tournaments. Playing in those tournaments was definitely a learning experience, and I like to think I have matured in the last several months, upping my game.  I have put together my lists for the events, and would like to share them, and the thought I put into each list - with the community's help.  My goal for Cold Wars is to improve upon my lists from H'con, and to incorporate the lessons I learned in the last few months.

First, I want to talk about my Armored Platoon.  So far this is what I plan on running:
German Armored Platoon
1 x Panzer III J Command (Regular) 220 pts
2 x Panzer III J (Regular) 390 pts

German Armored Platoon
1 x Panzer III N Command (Regular) 200 pts
1 x Panzer III L (Regular)  195 pts
1 x Sdkfz 231 8-Rad (Regular) 100 pts

Pioneers (6 men) (2 SMGs) (Flamethrower) (Veterans) 104 pts
Truck (Regular) 39 pts

Total 1248 pt

The main part of my Panzer force is a strong, medium tank core, made up of Panzer III J's.  I like the J's because they have reinforced rear armor, and Panzer III's are damn good looking tanks.  Four of them will give me plenty of activations to respond to enemy tanks or assault guns, as well. Alternatively, I could take three Panzer IV H's, which are medium tanks, but with a heavy gun instead of a medium gun.  Having the extra point of penetration is good, but I ended up settling on the Panzer III J's because I would rather have more tanks than more penetration.  Plus, the armor is the same on the IV, meaning a IV dies just as quickly as a III.  If people bring hordes of light tanks, or assault guns, it will be better to have more guns. (Note: I know these are Panzer III L/M models, but I was not going to go out and buy four J's just for one event.)

My force has two support elements.  First is armored support, and second is infantry support.  For armored support, I decided to go with a Panzer III N with a light howitzer, and an 8 rad with a light auto cannon.  I will use them to engage enemy infantry or guns, and light armor or transports.  This will free up my medium tanks to take on enemy armor.  Additionally, the 8-Rad is wheeled and has recce, meaning he can get into position and out of danger.  Alternatively, I could run a Panzer IV model mounting the short, 75mm, light howitzer for the same number of points at the Panzer III N, as Panzer IVs with the short 75 were often found supporting Panzer III's.

Last in the list is my infantry support.  For infantry, I chose a unit of Veteran Pioneers with anti-tank grenades and a flame thrower.  The squad will be transported in a truck.  Their mission will be to assault enemy infantry or guns, take objectives and hold them, and assault enemy tanks.  I could have taken more armor, but I like the idea of supporting my armored force with pioneers.  Not only do I think it is effective, but also it feels historical. If I run into a strong point, the pioneers will be sent in to take care of business.

Strengths and Weaknesses

My force has a good number of activation dice, with decent firepower for a tank list.  I think it will do well against similar sized forces of medium and light tanks.  I also think it will do fairly well if someone brings infantry and guns teams.  The combination of medium tanks with support weapons feels right.  The supporting units can engage the enemy’s support, while the tanks take care of business.

I think my list will struggle against heavy armor (Panthers, Tigers, King Tigers, IS-2s) because of only having medium guns.  If I had the models, I would have liked to try to fit a Marder or two into my list, but couldn’t.  The upside is, if I play a list that has lots of heavy tanks, my numbers will hopefully help me survive the initial alpha strike, until I can get on their side armor and take them out. 

The other type of list I am afraid of fighting is an assault gun heavy list.  A list with lots of weakly-armored, but heavily-gunned (like Marders, or SU-76's). My fear is that those types of lists will have large numbers of vehicles with high firepower.  Even though I will be able to dispatch the tanks, if I hit them, their numbers and high AT will get the best of me.  That is one reason I like the 8-Rad.  I will have to be very wily when playing either of these lists. 

I thought about running air support, but don’t want to risk knocking out my own tanks.  I also looked at running an armored Sdkfz 7/2 with a Quad 2cm, but the model I ordered came with a 3.7cm instead of the quad, and the quad won’t arrive on time. I like the 7/2 because it has a high rate of fire to deal with enemy infantry or light vehicles (like those aforementioned Marders and SU-76's) and can be helpful if the enemy brings air, which for some reason scares me a bit.

I also considered running a Grille, because the heavy howitzer would crush enemy infantry or guns, and can dish out a decent attack against light and medium tanks. I ended up not going with the Grille because it is open-topped (meaning MG's and small arms can inflict pins upon it), has a fixed gun, (meaning it can be easily outflanked) and when I placed my order for one I got a fully armored SiG 33 instead of the Grille.  Also, if I ran the Grille and 7/2, I would not be able to field the Pioneers, which I think are a great option for an armored force.

Lastly, I considered taking a forward air observer.  I would use air support to take out enemy heavy tanks, but I am too scared of the mighty "one".  No, not my deity - the one on a six-sided dice. The last thing I need is my own plane taking my Panzers out.

So there you have it.  This will be my armored force for Cold Wars.  Could it be better? Sure. One thing that is limiting me (likely most of us) for tank battles is that my armored collection is relatively small when compared to my infantry forces.  There just aren’t a lot of tank forces games played, and this is only the second tournament.  It will be interesting to see what people bring this time.   I expect to see a wide range of forces, and can’t wait for the action.

Stay tuned, because later I will spoil my infantry list for Cold Wars.

If you know what you’re running for any upcoming armored tournaments, share with the rest of us on the forum!

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