Friday, November 22, 2013

BatRep: German Panzers vs. Brits in Counterattack

Hi everyone, I know it has been a while since my last post but work and vacation have left little time for our great hobby. Luckily I was able to get in a game the other night against my previous opponent, who was looking for a rematch after having me on the ropes in our last battle. We played a 1650 Late-War game, and I wanted to really try and challenge my army. Since my opponent has Crocs he becomes auto-attack, which can really knock my army off balance in missions with Mobile Reserves, or missions with screwy deployment zones. So, we decided to limit our options to Surrounded, Cauldron, or Counterattack (a highlight reel of most players' least favorite missions).

We rolled for Counterattack, which was fine by me since a similar list really struggled for me in this mission at a recent tournament. Just FYI, my iPhone camera ended up taking a slew of blurry pictures so there may be times in this report where words have to take the place of pictures (never ideal for batreps), so I apologize in advance.

I arrived at my FLGS to find the table set-up already. I would consider this terrain to be pretty dense, but leave a comment and let me know what you think. Personally I'd be fine with this terrain density at a long as other tables were a little lighter to add some variety.

You can see the table quarters marked by the tan dice. I chose to deploy in the bottom-right quarter.

My army list is the same Panzer list I've been using for a while at the 1650 level. Although it tends to bleed points I am yet to lose a battle with it. This list doesn't do anything spectacular, but the units work well together and are deadly to most opponents. From Grey Wolf:

HQ - 2 Panzers + Bergepanther Recovery Vehicle (not shown in pic below, just a Panther hull in-game)
4 Panzers
4 Panzers
3 StuGs
3 Mobelwagens (my new favorite support unit)
3 Pumas
3 Pumas

For some reason the lighting makes it seem like my Pumas and AA have a completely different basecoat

The Pumas are a bit pricey at a combined 300 points, but they're so good and three veteran vehicles can really do a good job at shutting down ambushes.

My opponent deployed his army straight from his bag so I couldn't get a picture, but it was CV Canadian Infantry:

Infantry Platoon
Infantry Platoon
2 Crocs
4 Achilles
4 6-pounders
3 Uni. Carriers
3 Uni. Carriers
Limited Air - Typhoons

He is still struggling to find an optimal British list at 1650. He really loves his Crocs but, personally, I don't know if they're a great investment.

If we are judging from the previous picture of the table my opponent deployed in the top-right quarter. Everyone should take notice that in Counterattack you do not have to deploy exactly as the diagram in the rulebook shows; you need only deploy in a table quarter adjacent to your opponent (so of the three remaining quarters the only one the attacker can't use is the one diagonally opposite the defender's). Also, fun fact, Warriors that are independent teams can't be held in ambush. I'd been playing that wrong for a while.

I chose to deploy both of my Panzer IV platoons, holding one of them in ambush. So I'd be starting with just my 1iC, 2iC, and a single Panzer platoon on-table (Mobile Reserves can be rough).

The other objective is between two buildings in the top-right of this picture 

Crocs prepare to rumble

My opponent opens by moving his recce patrols up along the roads toward the objective in my table quarter, so they will be able to lift Gone-to-Ground (GtG) on my tanks next turn. His Achilles platoon moves into the quarter diagonally opposite mine, ready to push on either objective. Otherwise there is no action since my teams are Veteran, Concealed, GtG, and over 16" away.

In my first turn I decline to reveal my ambush. I get a little lucky by rolling for reserves and getting my first platoon, which I choose to make the StuGs in order to give the Achilles something to worry about.

I also move my 1iC and 2iC to engage a carrier patrol since they're going to lift GtG on me anyway. Needing high numbers to hit I only manage to bail 1.

On his next turn he rolls for planes and gets three (!) bearing down on my 1iC and Bergepanther. He also successfully lifts GtG on my Panzers.

Here they come...

Even having lifted GtG my teams are still outside of 16" for the most part, so between needing 6's to hit me and getting the armor bonus I bounced all but one of his shots, which resulted in a bailed Panzer IV. Most importantly his planes failed to range in, a problem that would plague him all game. 

On my next turn I again hold my ambush, but get some reserves, this time in the form of Pumas. I move all of the Panzer IV's (except my commanders) back into the woods so they become invisible to his tanks and AT guns. The goal was also to draw his Crocs in closer which would make my planned ambush more effective. One tank bogged but the Bergepanther took care of it in the shooting phase. The StuGs double-timed to cover the other objective.

Sorry for the blurry picture 

We have the makings of a pincer movement here against the Achilles

For my only shooting this turn my commanders once again unload into a recce patrol, this time wiping them off the board.

"We warned you to not lift GtG on us!" 

On my opponent's turn he fires the Crocs at my 2iC, but once again only manages a bail. His "blue" infantry also move up.

The situation at the bottom of 3; one Croc next to a woods got cut out of the frame

The time had come to spring my ambush. My opponent had left a little too much space available for me in the woods next to his Crocs. I left two tanks completely in the woods to blaze away with full RoF, and swung the other two out into the thick of things to provide a better defensive fire zone in case his infantry tried an assault. On the other side of the table my two Puma patrols and the StuGs were angling to spring a trap on the now vulnerable Achilles platoon.

This is what the ambush looked like

But then my Panzers completely whiffed! I didn't even land a hit on the Crocs! My other shooting was more successful. My original Panzer platoon dropped two stands of "blue" infantry, and my StuGs took a long-range shot at the Achilles platoon and destroyed one.

I broke the commander's head off the left StuG. Also, I have to give those guys an ink wash

My Panzers from the ambushing platoon stormtroopered into whatever cover was available to them in order to reduce the effectiveness of return fire. Luckily for me the futility of my Panzers was equaled by the futility of my opponent's return shooting, and my headlong dive into cover spared me the worst effects of his fire.

On my turn 5 I tried to retreat the ambushing Panzers but bailed one of them. My shooting was incredibly ineffective this turn, but my Pumas, StuGs, and even my AA were now in position to spring a trap on the Achilles platoon.

The situation at this point

On his next turn he moved his "green" infantry into the woods to prepare an assault against my Panzers. His Crocs moved up and unleashed their flamethrowers, and the only tank to emerge un-bailed was the one that was out of range (at the bottom of the above picture). The Achilles platoon also finally answers the StuGs and scores a kill.

The battle of bad statistics: everyone needs 6's to hit 

Well this isn't good...

The only hope for my ambushing Panzer platoon is that the infantry fail their tank terror test...which they promptly do.

On my turn the Pumas, AA, and StuGs complete their envelopment of the Achilles through a good use of road-movement.

StuGs are below this pic, out of frame

My bailed Panzers all re-mount (thank you, protected ammo) and they, along with the 2iC, get as many side-armor shots as possible.

One Croc crew goes to heaven 

And the Achilles are finished off

With that, my opponent calls the game, 6-1 to me, but would have likely been a 5-2 had he passed his tank terror check. I think my opponent's biggest mistake was isolating his Achilles platoon, but then again he couldn't have just let my StuGs maneuver into position unchecked. Had he moved his Achilles up with the rest of his force they may have contributed more, but my StuGs could have then tore into my opponent's backfield.

My army continues to perform well, although this is the first time that I haven't given up a point. Other Panzer lists, such as the Atlantik Wall and Meuse lists, have a lot to offer, but I really love the capabilities that 3-team Puma patrols can offer. An alternate version of this list drops the Pumas to two patrols of two 8-rads each, trades the 3 StuGs for 4 Panzers, and gets me Von Sauken....but I love the Puma patrols too much to be rid of them. The 8-rads would not have been much of a threat to the Achilles. 

Next up for this list: I have to get a game against either German or Soviet heavies (tournaments here are open and we often don't have enough players to stay to a strict Red vs Blue arrangement). Preferably I'd like to try and attack those lists to really see how my army fares when I can't simply let heavy armor come to me.

As always, please follow me on Twitter @piflamesofwar

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