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Monday, February 20, 2017

Afrika Korps for V4 Previewed and Spoiled

Welcome to V4! With the first two mid-war books now upon us (or nearly so) it’s time for some good ole’ spoilers and thoughts from your WWPD team.

First up, we’re taking a look at Afrika Corps, the German V4 book covering the fight in North Africa.

This book, and it’s counter part Desert Rats, are supposed to show us how the implementation for V4 will work. Unlike Early and Late-War Battlefront is waving a magic version wand and changing everything all at once.

The books also give us great insight into what future books built entirely for V4 may look like. We already know that US and Italian forces are coming by the early summer with the Eastern front due to arrive before the fall. We also heard rumors that the Pacific and the Far East will be added in late 2017 or early next year.

Let me make one thing clear, I am not writing this article on the core V4 rules, which I really like, but on the one of the two books that are supposed to replace the old North Africa book. Afrika Korps covers the German forces from the 1942-1943 campaign against the British 8th Army. When I first glanced at Afrika Korps I was struck by how light it was on lists, and those lists were even lighter as far as options.

To get some perspective, let’s look at the Africa Company infantry list from the older V3 North Africa book; it has a lot of neat options at the company level:



Drilling down to the platoon level, once again you have so many options, which fits in with the Kampfgruppe style organization this unit found itself having to cobble together during the Western Desert campaign.


Now let’s look at how the 90th is portrayed in the Afrika Korps book.





Not a lot of options for a player. Even the size of the infantry platoon is slimmed down by 3 stands, sure you can take an HMG and an 8cm mortar team in the unit, but that is about it. I also cannot recall to many times (if at all) guns were a mandatory purchase on a list.


For support all these guys get is up to 3 platoons of 5cm PaK 38 guns, which is a change from the ability to take either these or the deadlier 7.5cm PaK 40 guns.


Besides the lack of options, for those who like infantry, this is it for the new book. No Fallschirmjager or pioneer lists, no lists for other German formations from the desert war, and gone is the ability to have your command stands armed with Panzerknackers - which we all enjoyed. In fact, at the platoon level, the command stands are identical in capability to the rest of your infantry stands, except for the fact they are on smaller bases.


So where did all the support choices go?  Well above you can see the type and amount of supporting platoons you can get for your formations. Looking at the support, it is easy to see that options are now extremely limited compared to the previous book/version. Artillery comes in two forms, 10.5cm towed guns or 15.0cm guns mounted on the Lorraine Schlepper and... that is it. So you went from 4-5 (no towed 15cm, captured 25-pdrs, Nebs) choices in artillery to only two.


Maybe this is part of the direction on where this game is supposed to go. In other words, why do we need infantry killing artillery, when the infantry plays such a small role in the game now?


The good news here is that all the folks who never wanted to know the difference in the types of a certain tank are in luck. Gone are having to know the difference between the Panzer III G, H, and J or early or late model. Panzer III’s now come in 4 types, “7.5cm”, “short 5cm” “long 5cm” or “up armored”.



In a way, it signals another departure from the game being historically based and it also means that someone thought the previous (correct) nomenclature was too hard for gamers to learn.
I can’t wait for the Churchill series in Mid-War; we will have the “One with fenders”, “No fenders ”, “Gun sounds British” and the “Gun sounds American” versions.



Afrika Korps gives you two types of Panzer companies to take: either a Panzer III or a Panzer IV company. The Panzer III Company gives you the option to take a mix of PzIII’s, PzIV’s, and PzII’s.


While the PzIV only has the PzIV and the PzII. The PzII is given the spearhead rule so they can expand your deployment zone when you set up.


The mix of tanks you can get here are pretty much the same from North Africa. Let’s talk about the Tiger Tank for a bit.  At 29 points per tank, it will eat up a third of your points on a 100 point force. However they are worth it because in a blue on red fight the only thing that can kill it from the front in the game is the British 17pdr gun. You will need side shots or hope for a bail and a failed “Last Stand” roll for any other gun, or artillery piece, or aircraft in the British arsenal.


As you can see above the Tiger is pricey and you can only get two of them. The escort tanks do not count against the platoon having to take a check and with “Mistaken Target” you can keep them alive a bit longer (as if the tigers needed the help).


Another thing about the Tiger - those of you who know what a Panzer III J (Late) will likely also notice that the British forces in Desert Rats seem to be a mix from around the time just before and during the battle of El Alamein, whereas the Tiger made its appearance in Tunisia in January 1943. So either these two books have a limited (and a-historical) scope, or the devs went for recognizable tank porn to fill up the game.


So finishing off the panzer lists, all you get are the two types of companies, with 4-5 tank platoons each, with all the support being taken from the division. So what do those support options look like?


Above are the light and heavy scout troops. The armored cars and the PzII’s from the panzer companies give you all the spearhead forces you get for your German force. Gone are interesting recce units like motorcycles.



Above are your only two artillery options, and the only observer available is the PzII OP.


Anti-tank gun options, only two, one mobile (above), the other fixed (5cm previously shown)


The only mobile AAA option, which also can be taken on the infantry list.


At least the Dual Purpose 88 is available!


Finishing off the list is the Stuka.

Folks, this is it, above you have all of the unit diagrams, and most of the weapon stats. I know a lot is missing, and what is included above may only cover a portion of the figures you have painted up as DAK forces. I assume that these other German forces may be used in the upcoming MW books, but for Germans in the western desert this is all you have available to you as of now.


The point system
As for the switch to the new point system, the costs for the forces are roughly the same as you pay under V3 with a 1500 points total. Light tanks cost less because they can do less, however a unit such as the Tiger is just as expensive for a 100 point list as it was for a 1500 list in V3. The graphic below is from the older North Africa book and going by percentage of points (1500 vs. 100) they change very little and may be even more balanced in V4.


List Building vice Formation Grouping
So with the lack of diversity in what you can select for your force we go from “List Building” in V3 (and EW/LW V4) to Formation Grouping.  The book states that you must have one formation in your force and can take as many formations as you like. This is a change from how the multiple formations work in Team Yankee, where you can only take as many companies as the parent unit had available of that type.This opens up a lot of crazy options for players. Let’s look at a possible pure infantry players list.

Afrika Infantry Company
Hq 2 x SMG teams (2 Points)
Infantry Platoon (4 x MG 34, 1 x 2.8 cm) with 1 x HMG (9 points)
Infantry Platoon (4 x MG 34, 1 x 2.8 cm) with 1 x HMG (9 points)
Infantry Platoon (4 x MG 34, 1 x 2.8 cm) with 1 x HMG (9 points)
5cm ATG Platoon, 3 x 5cm ATGs (12 points)
5cm ATG Platoon, 3 x 5cm ATGs (12 points)
5cm ATG Platoon, 3 x 5cm ATGs (12 points)
Light AAA Platoon, 3 x 10/4 (2cm) (6 points)

Above are all the options from a single formation. You can that into 2 separate formations if you choose, but why would you? Keep it as one to ensure they will never break. So far you have spent 71 points and we know we need tanks, or just one tank!

You have to add the un-killable Tiger for 29 points, and you are now at 100 points.
You can also add a platoon from support or a single compulsory platoon from any formation, so instead of the Tiger you can take a nice sized Panzer III or IV unit.

Since formation grouping has no limitations (other than in support), will players try to find a formation grouping to break the game? The 9 AT guns backed up by the hard to kill Tiger would be a major challenge in some of the missions, especially ones on a very open desert table.

Now switching our focus to a player who likes tanks, the Panzer III platoon will be the one folks pick more often since you have the ability to take all 3 of the tanks available to the German player.

Panzer III Company
HQ Panzer III 2 x (short 5cm) (5 points)
PZIII Platoon 5 x (up armored) (40 points)
PZIV Platoon 3 x (Short 7.5) (18 Points)
PZII Platoon 5 x 2cm (10 points)
--Divisional Support
Marder Platoon 4 x 7.62 (16 points)
Light AAA Platoon, 2 x 10/4 (2cm) (4 points)
Lorraine Schleper  2 x 15cm (6 points)
PzII 1 x OP (1 point)
So it comes out to about 24 vehicles and can fit in one jeweler’s box.


I think this 100 point list will be similar to many of the German lists you will see. The infantry in AK is an afterthought. This lists gives me a bit of everything I’ll need, plus it has the ability to Spearhead, and with the PzIV tanks, I have a separate template weapon who can also direct fire smoke. Without dedicated platoon spotters and a staff team in the game now, the OP tank can even spot for the PZ IV platoon. I also can dig out infantry and kill tanks with this list. In fact this list looks like an EW list I have run before.


So after looking over the force selections available in Afrika Korps, we have nothing new and a lot less to pick from.

State of Mid-War in Version 4
I have loved playing mid-war. Many say it was the most balanced, which is hard to dispute. It also was period of the war where the tools designed before the war were slowly replaced by more modern and mass produced weapons. It was also a period where experimental weapons were field tested in combat to see if they were any good. The previous Mid-War lists had these things in them, a mix of new and old, and some odd weapons, which is what makes them so much fun to play. Afrika Korps has none of these options, and we have the possibility lists will all become similar shades of tan.
I know these two new books are the first in a wave of books that will cover the mid war period. I worry that the minimalist approach to product code will lead to a push away from the diversity and history I have enjoyed about the game. My MW collection is more focused on the British in Sicily (and Tunisia which this book covers) or the Germans on the East Front; and I hope the new books will not make more of my models extinct like my 2-pdr portee guns?


I would seek the advice of a wise sage on what forces I would field for V4 MW, like the Desert Fox, Erwin Rommel, but that iconic figure of the desert is no longer in the mid war game.

@MitchWWPD         
MitchWWPD@gmail.com
"Why We Fight" and "On the Road" Podcasts http://wwpd.libsyn.com/podcast

14 comments:

Panther-Fan said...

Why should someone take Panzer IV long? Panzer III 7.5 as nearly as good and are 2 points cheaper.
Loraine Schlepper Cheaper then 10.5 artillery? Due to one smoke bombardment?
Your Panzer Company has a mistake in the HQ section- two tanks for 5 points? Should be one, or? So 23 vehicles when your oppenent can take 60 Stuarts or Crusaders....

Froggars said...

Didn't they said Eastern Front in 2018?

Unknown said...

Mitch,

Thanks for spoiling this but I have to say I'm disappointed that you hadn't noticed or called out the changes between the way these forces worked in V2/V3 and in V4. By the way, the German commanders themselves didn't care which "Ausfurung" their tanks were, they referred to them as either being "Panzer III (5cm kurz), Panzer IV (7.5cm lang), etc.

1) The Panzer IV (Short 7.5cm) is relatively cheaper but now has AP 7 instead of AP 9. The bombardment capability has received a significant upgrade in line with all artillery to be FP 4+.

2) The Panzer III (short 7.5cm) retains its AP of 9, loses 1 point of front armour, and gains the "HEAT" attribute for its shells, which is to say that the AP doesn't degrade for long range shooting. And as before, it has no bombardment capability.

Basisically BF is pointing out that they don't believe the Panzer IV (short 7.5cm) was ever issued the HEAT ammunition for North Africa.

The Panzer IV (long 7.5cm) has its AP downgraded from 11 to 10. Is this because the early Ausfuhrung G models had the L/43 gun instead of the L/48? Or does this portend a general downgrading of All long-barrelled Panzer IV even in late war??

3) In line with Team Yankee, all .50 cal through 2cm weapons get a range of 20" instead of 16", which allows units such as the SdKfz 10/4 to stand off a ground target and blast them.

4) German armoured cars are noticeably cheaper than they used to be, and the 8-rad got an extra point of front armour, from 2 to 3. They are also Reluctant in motivation, and have counter-attack 6

5) 5cm Anti-tank guns now have a range of 28" instead of 24", and only get ROF 2 (just like the Panzer III tanks now have) instead of 3. They are also much more expensive relative to other units than they used to be. A 5cm gun costs 4 points, same as a Marder.

6) Speaking of Marders, the AT gets bumped up to 12 from 11, making these now much more deadly than even a Panzer IV (long 7.5cm).

Unknown said...

cont..

7) The 88mm on both the Tiger and the AA gun get AP 14, but neither have any possibility of getting ROF3. Note that even without transports, there is now the ability to move immobile guns but having the crew limber them up and push. The cross number in terrain is 6, so this is only really practical in open ground.

8) The flight of Stukas gets bombs with AT 4, FP 2+, which is DIFFEFRENT than that which both Early War and Late War Stukas get using the conversion book. All bombs from aircraft are limited to AT 3 for both Early War and Late War. Another change is that for either 1 or 2 aircraft (doesn't matter which) the Stuka has to re-roll hits, but there is no further penalty. Basically the extra aircraft is just along for the ride as "buffer".

There is a another difference I've noted between the Conversion rules and those for Mid-War that's relevant for aircraft: in the conversion book there are no re-rolls for aircraft bombardment, so 1, 2 or 3 planes are equally effective.

9) The single 8cm mortar that the new Schutzen platoons can add is incredibly effective compared to what it used to be. Gone is its ability to direct fire, but the bombardment is now at 4+ FP and there is no penalty for bombarding with 1 mortar compared to 2.

FWIW, your sample lists gets the points wrong: a full platoon with just a heavy machine gun costs 8 points, not 9, and it would be 10 points if the mortar is added in.

By the way, Phil has commented extensively on the BF forum in response to criticism of the historicity of the Schutzen list that it is now MORE historically correct than before, and fixes mistakes that he had made in the earlier versions.

My impression is that the adjustments are meant in general to improve the historicity of the forces, even granted that all of the old options aren't present. The information in the books allows a discerning player to distinguish which chosen weapons are valid for which particular "phase" of the North African campaign, by and large. And Phil has promised that more lists and options are on the way.

zsavk said...

hopefully this is just the tip of the spear for list options. Otherwise Im going to have alot of models I can only use in a version 3 game.

Mitch Reed said...

Unknown

The article was done at a high level and I focused on options rather than raw stats. You will see the same treatment with the next article on Desert Rats and to some extent with the Rules book article. I kept it as spoiler and will handle analysis later on much like my comparison of the tanks in Team Yankee article I did after Iron Maiden came out.
We got all 5 of the new books last week and wanted to get the info out sooner rather than later.

Christian Sorensen said...

Mitch Reed

Not too sure why I'm showing up as "Unknown" as my name is Christian Sorensen and I show up as QuietGargoyle on these forums. No matter.

I appreciate that your focus was "high level" but I believe that BF does not intend these lists as a wholesale replacement of the North Africa book but rather as their first presentation of V4 intended to introduce new and veteran players alike to the game.

Consequently to harp on the lack of choices is to miss the point.

Phil has made it clear that other options and lists for even the Germans in this theatre are coming. Perhaps it was a bad decision for them to present the V4 rules in this way as 90% of the commentary I read misses this point, too.

I wonder whether their decision to introduce a "Conversion Book" for EW/LW was in fact forced on Phil when the rest of the staff realized how long everything was going to take? The fact is the conversion rules would work just as well in MW as they are meant to in EW and LW, but BF chose not to advertise that fact.

However, when one actually DOES pay attention to the nuances of the changes to the arsenal, lists, and relative points costs it is clear (to me) that V4 Mid-War and V4 "Conversion" are two different games.

Abraham said...

Lesser options, poor game...

Garth Beck said...

Typo jumped out from the first image: "on support platoon..." (instead of "one" support platoon).

Richard said...

The almost-but-not-quite dual purpose 88: I see it's only rated as Self-defence AA.

jack torrance said...

Nice article, but for me, i don't have mid-war army and love TY, this V4 sound good for me.

Lothlann said...

What scares me is things like the panzer IV 7.5cm, it doesn't have heat yet it was the first tank in the world to have heat rounds followed with the stug III. They had heat rounds in guns before they made them in things like fausts ect. Yet only the panzer III 7.5cm has heat (at least they got the barrel size right)

How much history did they throw out just to give units rules...

jonathan bowman said...

I sense much crybaby-ness......it will be okay

zap123 said...

Whoa....FLAK 88 gets self-defense AA???? Probably least of my concerns given the rather anaemic set of units we get, but what the?

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