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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bolt Action - My Early War German Army

Recently I was finishing up with my early war, Battle of France, French army and was looking at another project - something complimentary to my French - and as such I could hardly look past Blitzkrieg Germans. I decided to keep in-theme and loosely base them off the order of units used in the Battle of France and so I reached out and ordered some early war, jackboot wearing Heer and waited for them to arrive.

The team all assembled ready for the invasion.

Whilst waiting (and finishing off my French) I started to wonder how I would play them. That is to say that just about every German force I had encountered were late war, assault rifle wielding, SS or FJ and the occasional Grenadier force. I had seen nothing in the early war range on the table and had listened to the various moans and groans from German players about how they got shafted in special rules. I decided that sometimes history may be the best teacher, so I aimed my force at being a highly mobile, lightly armed, recon/mounted infantry unit. My thoughts were something like, "look how effective a single transport with a squad inside is when flanking! Imagine an entire army like this!"

The Pioneer squads

With an elite core of Veteran Assault Pioneers it allows me to field tough and heavily armed small squads capable of delivering strategic strikes against important enemy positions or units. Heavy with SMG's, they are also able to take a flamethrower and MG34's, depending on if I want some stand off power or just want to get in and mix it up close-in with the enemy. The regular Heer soldiers offer the stable, general troops that can serve in all combat roles and make up the bulk of any army, and with the Hitler's Buzz-saw rule the LMG's offer a real boost to the range and firepower of these troops. The Kradshutzen provide speed and a mobile reaction force to plug a gap or exploit a weakness. When they can move on the table on a run at 24", and second turn advance 12" and have 8 shots (squad of 6) at another 12", you know you are putting an enemy on the back foot.

Kradshutzen Squad
For the armoured units I have chosen primarily to run the Panzer II. It is light but very small and can surprise some people with it's auto cannon. I also have the STUG A for the occasional jaunt, however its points (160R) are hard to justify for the single light howitzer (no MMG). I have some 8RAD's to scout and provide close fire support for the troops and motorbikes, however the real punch in this army comes from the artillery. A medium, heavy and an 88 give me options to lay down some pretty big HE and make up some ground from the weakened firepower available to the armored units.

The core of the armoured might (don't laugh!)

This is the make up of the army so far:
  • Infantry:
    • 40 (or so) Regular Heer;
    • 20 Pioneers;
    • 1 ATR team;
    • 1 command team; and
    • 8 motorbikes with 3 sidecars (1 x LMG, 2 x SMG).
  • Artillery:
    • Medium howitzer;
    • Heavy howitzer; and
    • 88.
  • Armour:
    • Stug A;
    • Panzer II;
    • 8 RAD 231; and
    • 8 RAD 233.
  • Transport:
    • Opel Blitz;
    • Horsh heavy field car;
    • Honamag; and
    • Sdkfz

    The armoured support.
    I have used the following Manufacturers in building this army:
    • Warlord - Pioneer plastic and metal set, Medium howitzer, Sdkfz.7, Halftrack, Horsh, Opel Blitz, 8 RAD and 233;
    • JTFM - SIG33B Heavy artillery;
    • Black Tree Designs - Kradshutzen, 88, some Pioneers;
    • Army Group North - Panzer II and Stug A; and
    • Crusader Miniatures - Heer infantry and MMG.

    Transport section

    Artillery Battery
    I have now had about six games with this army with an above average success rate. I shall put that down to luck, but the tactics I have spelled out above must have played at least a small part!. Overall fielding an early war German army in a form of self-imposed hard comp is not ideal. They lack much of the tools late war armies have that make Germans tough, but there is something about them I could not resist. It may be that to me this is the iconic Commando Comic look; maybe it is that these guys have not been tainted by the ruthless campaigns in Russia; or maybe they just look cool! Whatever it is, I really love playing them and they provide a challenge that makes me use the most out of the equipment I have available, which in the end I am sure will make me a better gamer and maybe one day beat Old Man Morin! (Aim high, Patch! - J)

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