Monday, April 22, 2013

Battle Report: US Tanks vs. German Grenadiers

My friend, who I have been teaching Flames of War for several weeks now, recently found out that he was going to be moving away for his residency program (Emergency Room doctor). Up until this point we had been playing small games and tutorials, but given that he'd be moving away soon the time had come to remove the training wheels and get a proper game in. At the same time I wanted to test out a US Tank list (if I win a tournament with the BG&G US Tanks I will have won tournaments with each US list from the book - then I'll have to try and win with the German list!).

We decided to just do a simple, Late War 1780 point Free-for-All, and we each learned some valuable lessons along the way.

The table, all direction references will be as if described from the near table edge here

The army list that I came up with was built with Bill Wilcox's list in mind. Patton would be included (although since my friend is still learning I didn't use Patton as I normally would), but there would be no Tank Destroyers to support the trained tanks. This list relies upon equipment and trickery; here's what I took:

HQ - 1iC Easy-8 Sherman (no 2iC)
4 Shermans - Jumbo, 2 Easy-8's, M4A3 Late
4 Shermans - Jumbo, 2 Easy-8's, M4A3 Late
Armored Mortars
Recon - 2 rifle teams, jeep, M20
5 Stuarts
Engineers - 4 bazookas and trucks
Cav Recon - one patrol, rated Confident Veteran

Seven platoons isn't ideal, and I think I will be looking for a change, but the basics of the list are there and this would be good practice. His list was basic German grenadiers out of Grey Wolf:

HQ - panzerfaust upgrades
Platoon - panzerfaust upgrade
Platoon - panzerfaust upgrade
Platoon - panzerfaust upgrade
3 Panthers
3 StuGs
3 7.5cm Pak40's
4 10.5cm Artillery guns

For some reason he was really pumped about the 10.5's 

We deployed pretty conventionally, and I walked him through some general deployment and objective placement strategy. I deployed everything as if I were to Spearhead with Patton, but again I did not because I was concerned about throwing too much out there. Plus, this simulates a smart opponent using Recce to stifle my Spearhead, so it's all good.

StuGs, Panthers, and some infantry in top-right, Arty behind the hill

Tanks that were off to the bottom-right of the prior picture

I deployed with every vehicle in the army able to Spearhead, but I did not

Engineers hold down this flank

Panthers on the prowl

A very strong Stutzpunkt! The 3" guns are actually German Pak40's *wink-wink*

He won the roll-off to go first. He began by moving his Panthers into the woods to give them a defensible terrain feature that would provide concealment, promptly bogging with one (even wide tracks couldn't save him). His StuGs also swung forward into a wheat field. He tried to dig-in with his guns and infantry, but only succeeded in getting the Pak40's safe behind some dirt. In his shooting step he opted not to try engage the Shermans (because of the Jumbo) and instead tried to shoot the small, trained Recce platoon - he bailed the armored car. He then either failed to stormtrooper or opted not to with his other platoons.

Licking their chops, the Shermans move out. The Sherman platoon in the extreme bottom-right of my deployment zone started toward the woods occupied by the Panthers, while the other one moved to engage the StuGs. I double-timed my Stuarts to the woods in front of the Pak40's (obviously not in Line of Sight of them), and set up my Cav Recon to lift Gone-to-Ground on the Pak40's during my next turn.

Stuarts love double-timing 32"; it's one of their favorite hobbies

But now it was time for the StuGs to die. 6 AT-13 shots with smooth ride, 4 AT-10 shots with normal stabilizers! Oh the carnage that ensued! The Germans were routed! Not one destroyed or bailed StuG. The Easy-8's completely whiffed, and he saved any hits from the Jumbo and M4A3 Late. I even tried to direct-fire smoke the StuGs with my armored mortars to minimize their return fire, and nothing! least now we'd get a test of their resiliency under fire.

He didn't do much moving in his turn, nor was the shooting from his Panthers effective (thanks to the Jumbo). The real action came in the center, where the fire from his StuGs and artillery knocked out an Easy-8 and the trained recce platoon's armored car and passenger.

On my next turn the remaining trained recce team fled (being subject to Sole Survivor tests). On the extreme right flank I moved the Easy-8's and M4A3 Late Sherman around the Panthers to get side armor shots. In the center everyone stayed put to unload their shells into the StuGs. On the far left flank I went to attempt a manuever that I would never do in a serious game, but we were here to roll dice and still teach my buddy some assault rules. The Stuarts thus swung around to the extreme top left and prepared to assault the infantry platoon, but I'd need to destroy/pin the Pak40's. Luckily my Recon was there to lift Gone-to-Ground.

My dice for the center Sherman platoon evened-out, and two StuGs were destroyed. The Panthers however escaped with nary a scratch!

Luckily, one Pak40 gun fell to my Stuarts (MG fire, not from the main gun despite needing the 6 on a firepower roll). Then I went in for the assault, which was repulsed in predictable fashion by defensive fire (like I said, not something I'd attempt in a tournament).

On his turn the Pak40's and infantry wiped out what was left of the Stuarts, while his big cats set themselves up to deliver some pain on the Shermans. The remaining StuG (who had passed his platoon morale) moved behind a hill for cover (knowing that even if it succeeded in hitting me the shot would be deflected by the Jumbo). It was really an excellent delaying move on his part. He knows the StuG platoon is doomed, but by lingering around he holds up my advance - typical late war German behavior!

Oh and the Panthers hit with all three of their shots and wreck two Shermans, while his artillery bags an M4A3 Late Sherman.

Ouch. He would then Stormtrooper two of the tanks back into the woods.

I'm starting to run out of tanks, and the battle is slipping away from me. I destroy the remaining StuG, but I need to clear out the threat from the Panthers. I move to get as many side-shots as possible, and get rather lucky destroying two of the big cats. Unfortunately these tank commanders are pros, and the remaining tank passes its platoon morale test. 

On his next turn he began to advance his infantry on the other flank toward the objective across the table. Although it really had no bearing on the game at hand, in a serious game this is what he would want to do to really start pouring on the pressure. His Pak40's remove the Cav Recon platoon, and his remaining Panther hits twice with its shots, destroying an Easy-8 Sherman and forcing a platoon morale check (which I pass).

Lots of dead tanks, just the way we like our games!

The game is clearly lost at this point, as he will soon be forcing company morale checks on me. But in a last ditch effort to force a miracle and teach the assault rules I eventually launch an assault against the platoon guarding the top-right objective. Wide tracks save my Easy-8's as they crash into the buildings, but a Jumbo isn't so lucky. His defensive fire bags an Easy-8, and I fail to hit in assault. At that, we decide to call the game. 5-2 to him, action packed!

End game.

I definitely learned some lessons about how to use this force. I was skeptical of it at the beginning, and couldn't really understand how Wilcox had such success with it. After playing it though I can see how it can be effective. It is very fast, even with the Jumbos. Plus the special rules are just ridiculous. "Every other unit in the game has to do X, but my entire army ignores that and plays by its own rules." I can see how this annoys people.

I really need to remove or avoid any and all threats to my tanks. They are still trained and will eventually wilt under concerted fire. The armored mortars and the direct fire smoke from the Shermans themselves need to be employed to their fullest extent. Trickery is the name of the game with this list.

Jumbos rock though. I see why they piss people off.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed this one, and be sure to follow me on Twitter @piflamesofwar

No comments:

Post a Comment