We rolled randomly for mission and got No Retreat. With Crocs gaining popularity among British players in the store I am starting to get used to being on the defensive, despite being a tank company. But let's be honest, this fits in with history a little bit since the Germans were almost continually on the defensive in the Late War period. The game was fun and came down to the wire, and I learned several lessons that will serve me well in the future.
I was trying a slightly different list compared to my recent tournament list. After the success I had in the final game of the tournament with my recce patrols, I wanted to see if beefing them up would help my force without detracting too much from other units. My 1650-point list, from Grey Wolf:
HQ - 2 Panzers, recovery vehicle
3 Mobelwagens (love these guys! just FYI the models are for wirbelwinds, but we are counting them as mobelwagens)
Is this theme too subtle?
My opponent was trying out a Veteran British list from Overlord/Market Garden. He had two infantry platoons, HMGs, 4 Achilles, 2 Crocs (which may have been trained - which would determine whether the list was from Overlord/MG), 2 carrier patrols, and limited air. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of his force.
The table after his recce moves
I decided to deploy two panzer platoons and the AA (having been traumatized by British Air Support at the Nanuet tournament), holding one of those panzer platoons in ambush. I deployed everything such that all units were concealed and thus Gone to Ground.
Yes, I realize one mobelwagen is missing a turret
For the first couple of turns I did literally nothing. I roll for reserves before passing it back to my opponent. He takes a couple of shots here and there, but can't even hit me until he is within 16" (veteran, concealed, GtG).
My first reserves arrive Turn 3, chose the Pumas b/c his infantry was creeping up
On his Turn 4 he finally kills a tank after his recce patrols lifted GtG. Thus I decide it's time to spring my ambush. Although he shut me down pretty well, the Line-of-Sight rules allowed me to place my tanks behind a building that would allow me to move and get off some shots on two of the Achilles vehicles. My commanders and the other Panzer platoon would focus on the other visible Achilles (there is a picture coming up from my opponent's next turn that explains the situation a little better). I even moved my Pumas out to shoot the rear of an Achilles, thinking that carrier MGs aren't much of a threat (foreshadowing).
Despite his Achilles vehicles being veteran, hitting the tank hunters wasn't the problem. However, things went downhill with my firepower checks. I hit a total of 4 times and managed....four bails (one double-bail whose motivation save was passed).
On his next turn he swung his Achilles platoon around to lay into my Panzers, while the Crocs focused their energy against the tanks covering the other side of the table, and one carrier patrol set themselves up to MG the flanks of my Pumas.
Six return shots against the Achilles net two killed and one bailed, but they stick around.
They then stormtroopered back so they couldn't be assaulted
StuGs from reserve move up to lend support, MG the the infantry.
He finally gets air support and targets my last reserve platoon
The tank hunters knock the platoon below half; I had to roll with my 1iC to keep the last tank around
In a bright spot, my mobelwagens perform like champs, love those guys!
In the above picture you can see that he moved his carrier patrol up to attack my AA. My 1iC and 2iC Panzers would subsequently kill them next turn.
I have to inch-up to keep the objective hot
Revenge is mine, as I see off the Achilles
On his next turn the Crocs finish off the other Panzer platoons, leaving the StuGs and Pumas to defend that flank
In a tournament environment I'd be able to play for time at this point, but with no time limit in this friendly game I need to go for the company break. The remaining puma patrol moves up to attack the HMGs, but are counter-attacked by his carriers, which again wreak havoc on my pumas! I couldn't roll saves with those guys (granted, I was also very aggressive with them).
StuGs launch a mini-assault against the infantry...
...and consolidate into cover
After some back-and-forth between the carriers and the Pumas I was able to bring the Pumas' strength up enough to assault the HMGs, which wiped them out. Meanwhile, the three Panzers and 3 mobelwagens sit tight on the other objective.
Now, granted, he probably moved his HMGs in such a way as to encourage me to bring them closer to his Crocs, who turned around and immolated the Pumas, but that was a fair trade.
Since he got planes on this turn he also used them to target my StuGs, which had moved back toward the woods a little. His infantry contesting the objective were too close to the plane, so he got them out of their foxholes to move them away. It wasn't a good move. The plane failed to range-in.
The absence of the Crocs lets me assault the infantry, running them off
He was now below half, but passed his first company morale roll. In his last turn he launched a desperate assault against the center objective, but failed tank terror.
Lesson 1: This really applies to every game, but you should never give up. When I whiffed on the Achilles and subsequently lost a couple of Panzers on both flanks and the Puma-platoon-of-failure on the other flank, I knew I was in dire straights. However, I consciously told myself "the game isn't over - play smart, stick to the plan." The "plan" with German panzers is, as always, focus on removing direct threats to the tanks. That is why I kept pounding away at the Achilles, and also why I didn't do anything with my AA (so they could stay focused on the planes).
Lesson 2: Prioritize your units. When the Achilles platoon knocked my Panzers down to one tank I failed the first platoon morale roll. My 1iC was close enough to re-roll, and I had to make the decision on whether to risk it or not. The fact of the matter was that I felt I would lose the game without that tank, and so I took the chance. That unit, that one tank, was a priority to me.
Late in the game my opponent had an understrength infantry platoon with his 1iC contesting the objective. He got his two planes in, and tried to knockout some of the StuGs. But to do this he moved his infantry out of their foxholes and away from the objective, even though his plane would have had to range in on the StuGs, then rolled to hit them. The end result might be one dead tank, right? Which does nothing to help him with the game. It was a poor prioritization of units.
Lesson 3: Stop being so aggressive with the Pumas. This one is all on me. Granted, how many times are 9 MG shots, needing 5+ to hit, going to result in 3 dead Pumas? Still, I need to learn to husband my Puma patrols, as my army can't afford to give up battle points so easily.
Lesson 4: StuGs still have value. FA 7, modified to 8 at long range, is what kept them in the fight against the Crocs, compared to the panzer platoon that was lost to the Crocs.
Lesson 5: where have mobelwagens been all my life! <3 those guys, haha
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