In one of the previous articles by Sexy Sixes I noted down my thoughts on how are the defensive battle scenarios balanced. I identified several characteristic features of such scenarios and added my opinion who benefits from them the most: the attacker of the defender. The summary of these can be found on this picture:
I also promised I would do an article on how to build lists (and play them) so that these features are taken into account. What I will do is concentrate on the weaknesses and ways to cover them up instead of trying to advise how to capitalize on the strenghts (which is maybe an idea for another article :P ). This first article of this series covers my idea on how to build succesful attacking lists. To help with the concept description, I will use examples of the two lists that I used recently: Tankovy that I run during the ETC (4xKV85, 10x Matildas CS, 11x T-60s, 4x BA64, Sporadic Chaika - 4 platoons) & my HG Assault Gun Battery (11x Assault Guns, 2x PakPuma patrols - 4 platoons).
So how to cancel Defender Advantages I identified in my table?
Scenario contains the Defensive Battle rule (several Defensive Battle scenarios) - in this type of scenario the attacker needs to work against the clock. The way I normally mitigate the risk of running out of time is I design lists that are very simple to command and do not combine too many different unit types. For example, when I run a tank list, I try to avoid getting infantry in, if possible (especially if they have additional, armed transports with funky rules, like the Germans have it).
What I noticed about my games when I am attacking is that I want to spend as little time managing the rules related to my guys as possible. I know that in some situations infantry might come in handy, but it is the tempo factor that mostly prevents me from getting them. It takes several minutes to drive them up, dismount & fire (which is most of the time ineffective anyway so if I do take them, I just skip shooting their rifles completely unless I need to pin or there is enemy infantry in the open). Assaults are an art of their own and can take another several minutes just to execute them. And on top of anything else, there will always be rules questions.
In Flames of War, I believe in firepower. If I have enough, I just take maybe 30-60 seconds per turn to move into positions and then another minute to shoot. This enables me to get enough turns in to win by just firing the guns. But you know, list design has to support it. The perfect example for this kind of list was both my ETC Tankovy and HG Assault Gun Battery. They both had huge amounts of firepower in a flexible, little package of uniform team types. Also, the fact that there were not too many guys in total to manage helped a lot.
Scenario contains the Strategic Withdrawal rule (Fighting Withdrawal) - now this one, in combination with the Defensive Battle rule gives me headaches all day long. The really bad thing about it is that you realistically have 7 turns to win the game. It does not let lists like the 10+ assault guns too many chances to grab a solid victory (as they need to soften their targets a bit, before they can go in for the kill). My way of handling this handicap is to try and build at least one strong, resilient platoon that can succesfuly budge an infantry platoon parked on an objective. I even thought that 4x StuGs + 3x StuG Warrior teams in my HG StuG Battery fit under this category, but my game against Finnish Pioneers has convinced me that they do not. :)
Another option could be that your list is structured in such a way, that you would be able to push two objectives at once. I believe the ETC Tankovy would be able to do just that. I even tested it against a typical Mixed Tankovy which was defending, with success. In that game, the KVs rushed the left flank, while the Matildas and T-60 concentrated on the other (covering the middle objective too). The result was that I failed with the KVs, but there was not enough forces to stop me from taking the middle on the final turn. So to summarize it, with 3-4 cheap, numerous and strong platoons, I believe it is possible to hit several objectives at once. In the end, you only need to capture one. :)
Scenario contains the Ambush rule (several Defensive battle scenarios) - this is now kind of an ABC for Flames of War. But is it? Many people believe that only recon can protect you against Ambushes. But I believe that only part of this statement is correct. Recon is one of the possible options, that is for sure. In all honesty, now that I think about my ETC Tankovy, I am almost 100% sure that it could do without the recon unit while it could use some heavy mortars/katyushas. The thing is, if you have enough bodies on the table, especially if they are fearless, you can sacrifice parts of units to make the other guy pop his ambush. Things are getting a bit more complicated when Tank Destroyers are in the mix - then you normally have to sacrifice more than one, but this is a different story. Still, recon in force is in my opinion a valid tactic and lists can be built to incorporate this concept lowering the need for a proper recon unit.
Separated attacker's reserves (Breakthrough) - this one means that some of your units suddenly find themselves trapped behind enemy lines. I do not have the feeling this could be in any way addressed by list building in any other way as by inclusion of a cheap, throwaway unit. Sometimes it will be a recce platoon, sometimes an anti-air unit. Most of the cases however, when I play Breakthrough I try to have as many models on the table as possible, when the game starts. It would maybe be different, if the separated reserve would not be delayed. In that case, a sudden assault from the rear would be a possibility. In the current form however, I normally sacrifice somebody so that everyone else can avenge their death. :)
So these are my ideas how to build offensive lists that can work against the obvious advantages of the defender. I would love to read yours. :)