Wednesday, April 3, 2013

List Discussion: 150 Panzerbrigade (aka - the Skorzeny guys)

First, sorry for the sporadic blogging as of late, but I have found Twitter to be a much more economical way to engage with other gamers via the intertubes. That said, blogging still has a role to play for longer discussions, which has brought me back to the keyboard today.

Since the three Battle of the Bulge books were released (BG&G, Devil's Charge, and Nuts!) I have been thrilled with the allied lists but less than enthused with the German lists...with one exception. For some reason  I find the 150 Panzerbrigade to be just cool as ice, with great models and a competent tabletop potential (they aren't a powergamer's dream, but neither are they under-powered).

One of the actual disguised Panthers

Let's get a few things out of the way. First, the Ersatz Panther model is probably my favorite model that Battlefront has ever produced. It looks cool, and feels great in your hand (it is a very heavy model). The magnet holes were perfectly sized and my models had very little flash on them. Again, for some reason I just love getting these tanks on the table.

Second, man did I hate the plastic StuGs in the box set. I immediately decided that they would be chopped converted into Ersatz StuGs. So now I had the meat of my list, with enough American and German models already in my collection to fill out my army list.

Third, I get poetic when I think of commando raids. Skorzeny's plan to attack Malmedy was really doomed from the start, but while his commandos had been sent to every corner of the Bulge theater he still engaged the Americans with what meager supplies and equipment he had. He didn't have heavy artillery. He didn't have the armor that he requested. All he and his men had was the experience they brought with them. In the end it wasn't enough.

Otto Skorzeny - who could have guessed that he'd be a villain?

These are the main reasons I keep coming back to the 150 Panzerbrigade when I think of lists I want to use when I play LW Germans. Let's look at some of the list's in-game strengths:

1. Enemy Disguises - forces enemy platoons to pass a skill check before engaging me, so long as I haven't engaged them yet in the game. This isn't something to rely on by any means, but can be a nice little trick.

2. Motivation/Skill Ratings - almost every other German list in the Bulge series of books is rated Trained, but the 150 Panzerbrigade is made up of elite, veteran troops.

3. Speed - the company commanders are mounted in Jeeps (more on that later) and many of the other units are either mounted or armored. Like many German lists, when combined with stormtrooper, speed can be the key to victory.

Drive fast, but make sure your brakes are functioning

I'll admit, they don't have a lot of unique advantages. And there are some definite drawbacks:

1. Lack of variety - the list only has a couple of different units to take. Sometimes you can get multiples of these units, but the lack of variety can lead to a very predictable force (which is why unpredictable tactics become important! See below)

2. Lack of smoke - a huge loss. There are no units in this list with smoke, nothing more to say except that it's a huge tactical loss.

3. Skorzeny Commando teams are over-priced - I'm not paying 50 points for a team that'll go away on a failed skill check.

I have no idea why the M20 is there

Here are two lists that I like to run with these guys:

First, the less competitive one:

HQ w/ panzerfausts - 75
3 Ersatz Panthers - 550
4 Ersatz StuGs - 380
Panzergenadiers with US halftracks - 220
3 Pak40's - 155
4 Heavy Mortars - 160
3 Captured Greyhounds - 135
Sporadic Air (Sturmvogel) - 105

Total: 1780, 6 platoons

And the other:

HQ w/ panzerfausts - 75
3 Ersatz Panthers - 550
4 Ersatz StuGs - 380
Panzergenadiers with US halftracks - 220
3 Pak40's - 155
Pioneers w/ supply truck - 260
3 Captured Greyhounds - 135

Total: 1775, 6 platoons

Generally I go with the first list. Not necessarily because it's better, but because I get to use more diversified equipment, including the very nice-looking Sturmvogel airplane model. 

So, my tactics for running these guys are pretty simple: be unconventional without getting stupid. These were commando troops attacking in unexpected ways in real life, and you can bring that to the tabletop. I had one game where I sent my 2iC in his jeep around an entire flank in Fighting Withdrawal. I kept an opponent's infantry platoon rooted to the spot just to make sure that 2iC didn't end up claiming an objective.

Try a mounted assault if you see enemy infantry without a ton of integral AT assets (fat chance, I know). Wield this army like a scalpel, not an ax. Try to engage your enemy with as much of your army as possible against the fewest of his troops. Pick on his weaker units to create openings. This is general knowledge really, but the 150 Panzerbrigade has some real potential to pull it off and come out victorious (largely thanks to their veteran status).

Be unconventional...that's my best advice really. Playfully trash talk with your opponent to simulate the psychological aspect of the Skorzeny Commandos. You will need to take calculated risks to win with this force, but it is very rewarding when you do.

Don't forget, please follow me on Twitter @piflamesofwar

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