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Thursday, August 21, 2014

SS-Westfalen vs. US ARP in a Remagen Free-for-All

By Luke Melia and Dirty Jon Baber

Jon and I got together for a Remagen themed Flames of War game. I played Confident Veteran Armored Rifles and Jon played an FT SS Panzerbrigade Westfalen company. The mission we rolled was Free-for-all.  I rolled to be the attacker and took the side with the church on it to attack from. 

The ARP was dismounted. I needed every point I could get. I am still having difficulty building Remagen lists because of the cost of the US support. In many lists you can have your core units at veterans and support as trained. That cost savings has been with the American forces for most of late war however in Remagen that changes dramatically.  Everyone keeps talking about reluctant veteran as being the way to go. I am just not so sure about that with infantry. With the tanks, you get protected ammo so it is not that bad. I have just never had good experiences with reluctant anything (except my wife) so I would rather be able to somewhat count on the core of my army. Before anyone says "with your commander to re-roll its better than confident" I would like to say that your commander can't be everywhere all the time. Also reluctant with a re-roll is not better than confident with a re-roll. Lastly, I'm sorry to break it to everyone who has a love affair with math, but the game is not just about math. I truly believe there is a feeling you have to go with. Math is a major consideration and it would be ignorant to say you do not have to look at the odds, but it is a game and sometimes you need to be in tune with the ebb and flow of the battle.

You have to "trust your feelings" and for lack of a better phrase "use the force". Reluctant infantry does not do it for me unless I am definitely going to be the defender. If we had the option for a higher command team warrior I would say reluctant is a great choice. I am going to experiment with some RV lists and play a few more games to see if I can make things work and change my mind.

The Board - US takes the bottom, Germans at the top.

Now taking a break from my reluctant rant here is my army:
Command w/bazooka
2x ARP full ( dismounted)
3xPriests - OP upgraded to M4A3
4x155mm Towed Artillery
Cavalry Recon with Stuart
4xHellcat TD

Jon's List was:
HQ - CiC, 2iC + 4x Panzerfaust Trap Teams + 3x Panzershrek Teams
C1 - Ersatz SS-Aufklaerungs Platoon - Full Strength
C2 - Ersatz SS-Aufklaerungs Platoon - Full Strength
W1 - Ersatz SS-Machinegun Platoon - 2x HMG's (attached out)
S1 - Ersatz SS-Panzer Platoon - 4x Panzer III L/Ms
S2 - 507. Schwere Panzer Platoon - 2x King Tigers
S3 - Panzer Anti-Aircraft Gun Platoon - 2x Ostwinds
S4 - Volks Rocket Launcher Battery - 3x 15cm NW41

You may recognize this as Eric Riha's power play list at 1650. 
We tried to combine open areas and some areas of dense terrain. Wheat fields are good for making open areas not completely deadly to long range guns and artillery while not totally blocking line of sight.

King Tigers hold the center with Ostwinds backing them up.

Tank Destroyers and Recon in the center to react to where the main attack comes from.

The priests back up the ARP on the left flank

Jon advances the Panzer III's on the right flank as I move up my recon and OP Sherman.

Fearing an artillery bombardment Jon blazes ahead with the KT's and Ostwinds.

Nothing an Allied Player loves more than the German Player to have every shot counts on King Tigers.

I range in with the Artilleryand kill an infantry stand in the open.

Originally I wanted to use the recon to take down the Nebs.  Jon reacts with Panzer III's which end that plan.

(ed: Is winter coming? Will someone pay the iron price?)

Infantry advances on the left.

The KT's got way to close and the TD ambush is sprung.

Smoking the Ostwinds with the Priests the Hellcats score three hits and two kills on the KT's.

The OP Sherman kills a Panzer III.  The 155mm Artillery hits are bounced.

Jon puts out every thing he can to kill the TD's.  Ostwinds, Trap Teams and Panzer III;s all fire. Two dead and a bail, but I can not make the motivation check to keep them in the game.

The ARP moves up with support of the OP Sherman and recon.

The Priests score on a trained Panzer III in the open. The 155mm guns forcing a bail on the other Panzer III in the open. Hey they have to test Yeah!  Oh enjoy the war on a 2+ and the platoon is fine. Booooo!

Slowly the infantry on the left advances. Can't score any hits.

Shooting against the ARP only kills a couple of stands. Jon assaults and forces them out of the forward building. I choose not to counter assault since I only have a couple of guys.

Pay close attention to the bazooka team on the top left.

The  American Artillery with TWO separate bombardments kills A stand of infantry. A bazooka shots bails the Panzer III in the open. To make my day that bazooka team is too close and under the template and I hit him and pin the platoon. STUPID!

I do manage to machine gun the German infantry down to only a few stands.

Jon kills only a couple of ARP stands but forces a check and I fail. Then forces a check on the recon and they run.  This is not how this was supposed to go down for me. Remind me not to pin my own troops with artillery.

That's the roll to keep the ARP in the game. The CO went with them.

The Ostwind advances and I am able to kill it with the Priests. I also killed another Panzer III in the open with the 155mm guns. Its a good turn for the artillery.

This is where I am dumb again. I saw him moving and recognize the danger the arty is in. I start to move the infantry then stop and move my priests. I forget to go back and move the ARP to be in a better position to repel the coming assault.

Trap teams advance. The funny part is the observer team kills TWO trap teams in subsequent assault in defensive fire. He just kept backing up.

Jon gets the assault off on the guns and they fail to motivate so they are all captured. The platoon fails its motivation check.

The start of my next turn I fail my Company morale check and the game goes to Jon 4-3.

Luke's Final Thoughts
Well I do not usually play a lot of artillery and compared to a lot of lists out there I do not think two batteries is a great deal. It was not incredibly effective due to Jon bouncing a lot of the rounds off the top of his tanks.  I spend 550 points on both units and the AOP. I believe it is absolutely necessary in Remagen. The average German player, who often times auto-defend, will be more than happy to sit their big tanks on a hill somewhere with front armor 15 or 16 and kill everything that passes into view surround by infantry and AA so you are going to need something to get them out of their holes. Fortunately, in free for all, everyone has to move to grab an objective and with artillery you make them either move or hide.

I could have played a bit more conservatively on the left flank. I took a chance moving up for the assault where I pinned myself. I killed a total of two tanks and two Ostwinds along with a small spattering of infantry in about ten turns. The artillery did what I wanted it to do. He was forced to move and spread out. Tank options with the ARP are almost non existent if you want to get to six platoons and keep the ARP at what I would call a good fighting strength. In talking to Bill Wilcox and Allen Smith, I am really seeing the benefit of the Priest battery. In retrospect I would have preferred to have separate Priest batteries than the 155mm guns. Two OP M4A3 Shermans would have been great. I made a couple of major mistakes this game. First I pinned myself with my own artillery and secondly I forgot to go back and move my ARP near the end to thwart Jon's infantry assault on my right flank. I saw it coming and got distracted by the action on my left flank. It was a really good fight in the center and was a real nail biter for most of the game.

Jon's Final Thoughts
Luke could have won this easily. I got very lucky on saves, Luke failed a lot of rolls and forgot some moves to give me the win. I did make some questionable moves as well - I moved the King Tigers up a little aggressively. I had to make a company morale check on the last round, and Luke failed his. This fight was very close.

I think that every German list should seriously consider air power in the current meta.  The ability to shoot down an AOP and to pin or kill artillery is of top priority.

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