Friday, October 18, 2013

Battle Report: LW US Tanks vs. SS-Panzergrens

Earlier this year I used the winnings from a tournament to get Easy-8's and Jumbo's, because the models and the lists for LW American tanks are simply awesome. The models were a blast to put together and paint up, and remain some of the finest examples of my airbrush weathering technique. Unfortunately, in the entire time since I have had them I have been able to get in all of one game with them. Well, I wanted to change that, and so decided to go full-cheese and run a 1650-point variation on Wilcox's crotch-stomping American Armor list.

My opponent, who is participating in the current league at Brothers Grim Games and Hobbies, wanted to try out some Fearless Veteran Germans. With armies in tow we rolled for mission and got Breakthrough, which is becoming one of my favorite missions.

The board, before deployment

My list, from BG&G:

(Confident Trained)
HQ - 1 jumbo
4 Shermans - Jumbo, 2 Easy-8's
4 Shermans - Jumbo, 2 Easy-8's
Armored Rifles
Tank Recon
Priest Battery
Priest Battery

I had wanted to run Stuarts instead of Armored Rifles, but like an idiot I had left the Stuarts at home. I am not a fan of trained units in general, but especially trained infantry. Oh well, this will teach me to double-check my army bag before leaving the apartment.

My opponent was running Totenkopf-SS from Grey Wolf:

(Fearless Veteran)
HQ - 1iC, 2iC, and 'schreck
Panzergrenadiers (with 3 panzerfausts)
Panzergrenadiers (with 3 panzerfausts)
3 StuGs
Armored Mortars
Heavy Platoon with four AT 9, FP 4+ guns in halftracks
3 7.5cm Pak40's (which would be modeled by my M5 3" guns in-game)
Sporadic Stukas (with the AT 11 cannons, and which looked suspiciously like a P-38 Lightning)

He was forced to defend and chose to deploy in the table quarter with the most buildings, leaving the other table quarter unoccupied. He chose to put down a panzergrenadier platoon and his Pak40's. I chose to put the armored rifles into the flank march (duh...).

My plan was to make for the center, and use the cover from the woods as my base of operations. His plan was to try and stay alive until relief came onto the board.

We move out, not wanting to give our flanks to any early reserves 

Jumbo takes a shot, killing a halftrack and its occupants

I don't think my opponent realized how quickly he would be brought into the fight by Spearhead. 

He moved one Pak40 onto the hill, and turned the others around to try and knock out the OP Sherman which was sneaking up behind, but all they can do is bail him.

His planes arrived, but would be blown out of the sky by the .50cal fire from the targeted platoon

His infantry weigh their odds for assault...

They charge, but are repulsed by defensive fire! Losing a team in the process

In my turn I kill a Pak40 with my smooth-riding E8's, but artillery can't get the job done and finish them off. Meanwhile he rolled a slew of infantry saves against his weakened infantry.

On his turn he gets planes again, and they manage to take out a Jumbo!

Once again he lines up his infantry for an assault, doing whatever he can to minimize defensive fire. He works it out such that I will only get nine shots, but once again he is repulsed, and the casualties caused by defensive fire drop the platoon below half, and they subsequently flee.

On my turn three my reserves arrive, and everything that has a gun on it moves up to shoot the Pak40's.

Every Pak40 gun is destroyed, but the commander makes his platoon morale check and will go on to make his sole-survivor check! I could have company-moraled him at this point, but being Fearless kept him in the game. On his turn three he received two reserves, and brought on his StuGs and the Heavy Platoon. Fire from the Heavy Platoon was ineffective, but the StuGs managed to nail a regular Sherman.

As an aside, this guy is one of my regular opponents, and I can't tell you how many games we have played where his StuGs have been the bane of my existence, and today was no different.

My ARP fails to dig-in at the top of my turn 4, which worries me. The artillery and all of the tanks turn their attention on the StuGs, but can only kill one. Patton moves over to support the infantry, and I thought I put him in a pretty safe spot (hint: this is called foreshadowing).

The last of his reserves come on this turn, the only bright spot being that his Pak40 commander finally failed a sole-survivor check.

Here they come...

The StuGs take out another Sherman

His Panzergrenadiers coming in from reserve stormtroopered ever closer to the objectives, and suddenly the ARP was a little exposed.

And here we reached probably the pivotal moment of the game, and the moment where I made my biggest tactical error. My tanks could continue their duel with the StuGs, and probably knock them out; or they could turn around and beat up the halftracks that were threatening the objectives, while the artillery dropped smoke on the StuGs. Ultimately, in my tunnel vision, I kept fighting the StuGs.

A bad turn of shooting saw the StuGs stick around, and now his troops were assaulting the ARP off of one objective!

Just before the assault... 

Down goes Patton! Down goes Patton! 

I had realized my error too late. One Sherman platoon is able to finish off the StuGs, but now I can't devote their firepower to driving away the armored infantry that is contesting the objective. Even at this stage if I had been able to break the panzergrenadier platoon I would have won the game, but because I was so focused on the StuGs I was left with few troops to counter them.

Too little, too late...

His last turn was a disaster for me. My ARP had once again failed to dig-in, and between his MG fire and follow-up assaults he dropped the once mighty platoon to all of two teams. He even got his aircraft, which killed two E8's and bailed my 1iC Jumbo!

At this point we called it. There was no way I'd be able to contest both objectives next turn.

Lessons: Obviously the tunnel vision on the StuGs was the key tactical error in this game. If I had focused on killing the panzergrenadiers as soon as they arrived I would have won, plain and simple. I also think I should have kept the ARP's halftracks on the table, as their MG fire can stymie a mounted assault better than pinned LMG's can.

Then again, the big strategic error on my part was forgetting my Stuarts at home, which necessitated bringing the ARP in the first place! Tell me they wouldn't have been better suited for this fight!

Thanks for reading, as always please check me out on Twitter @piflamesofwar 

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