Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Battle Report: US 7th Armored vs. Panzers to the Meuse

I was finally able to play a game! For about three weeks the weather and other scheduling problems have wreaked havoc with my ability to get in some table time. For the next couple of months one of my gaming goals is to play more games with Trained units. Searching around on the intertubes I see a lot of the top players doing very well with Trained armies, and I have never been able to find success with them. My theory is that if I learn how to use them well then I'll eventually have more tools to work with because of the points savings.

And so I set out to try my luck with what is considered one of the top Trained lists in the game: US 7th Armored led by the big man himself, General Patton. Squaring off against me would be a tough opponent in the form of another auto-attack list: Panzers to the Meuse. We rolled randomly for mission and got Hasty Attack. then we had to roll-off for attacker, and I suddenly found myself on the defensive (gulp!). I was in for a tough fight.

The table. I would be defending the nearest long table edge

So already things were not going as planned. But hey, there are a lot of auto-attack lists out there right now, and I'm up for a challenge!

Let's look at the armies. My list was all Confident Trained (except Patton who is Fearless Veteran) - 

HQ - Jumbo
4 Shermans - Jumbo, 2 x E8's, M4A3
4 Shermans - Jumbo, 3 x M4A3 (late)
4 Stuarts
Tank Destroyers - 4 M10's
Cav Recon
Armored Mortars

FYI the difference between this list and Bill Wilcox's famous list is that he has two Sherman platoons with E8's, no TD's, and two Priest batteries. I'm skeptical of Trained artillery and I suspect that in my local meta the TD's will be more useful.

My opponent's list was from Panzers to the Meuse, and he had to proxy some things so bear with me - 

HQ - Panzer IV
3 Panzer IV's
3 Panthers
Aufklarungs with extra halftracks (5 Infantry teams not shown)
3 Wespes with OP Panzer IV (below the Aufklaurngs in the above picture)
3 Wirbelwinds (the turretless Panzer IV chassis in the picture)
2 Pumas (played by the black Marders)

After the game I convinced him that his Wirbelwinds should become Mobelwagens. Any readers of this blog or followers of my Twitter know that I think Mobelwagens are awesome!

As I said we were playing Hasty Attack, and he won the die-roll to attack. I decided to deploy the two Sherman platoons and the M10's, and placed the objective in my table zone right in the middle so I wouldn't have too much ground to cover. He deployed his Panthers, Panzer IV's, and Wespes, and he would get a Spearhead move with the Panthers.

 TD's on the road, ready to make full use of Jeep mobility

 Held the E8 platoon in immediate ambush, sprung them behind the woods in the center

 The Wespes take up position

 German armor weights one flank

And the Panthers roll out

I didn't take a picture of it, but he got his Aufklarungs on reserve on Turn 1 and double-timed them past his Wespes on my left flank.

 Shermans move to counter, risking arty fire

 TD's move out to try and flank the enemy armor


So, I moved the security section where there were no enemy troops, completely forgetting that he is still getting his reserves in. This was probably my stupidest mistake of the game, and I was punished when he got BOTH of his remaining reserves to arrive. Now he has his entire army pressing against my overmatched troops.

Aufklarungs keep up the pressure on the left flank

 Arty commander spies tanks in the open. They range in but fail to harm anyone

 The Security section evaporates, and the M10's pop out

The Panthers bag a Sherman despite needing 6's to hit, and they even bail a Jumbo despite me needing to roll a 1 on my save! (long range modifier bumps Jumbo armor to 13)

M10's decide that discretion is the better part of valor and back off, but one bogs

 Jumbo fires smoke at the encroaching Panthers

E8's gamble by remaining under ranged-in mark for artillery to shoot at the Panzers. They score 3 hits, but only kill one (the other was double-bailed and passed motivation)

 Situation at top of 3

 Another disaster - 1 E8 falls to artillery, another falls to a long-range Panzer IV shot

 Aufklarungs move up to threaten the bogged M10, but can't do anything this turn

I didn't get any reserves on Turn three, despite Patton's re-roll. Had I gotten my Stuarts in on this turn they could have done a lot of damage to the Aufklarungs

On my turn I make sure that he doesn't get any ideas about assaulting, and pack the area with defensive firing MG's. I also kill one infantry stand during that turn's shooting

 At the bottom of 3

 He lines up most of his force to take out the bogged M10, and yet they all fail!

 Stuarts finally arrive on Turn 4, but fail two firepower checks and can only double-bail one Wespe, which sticks around

On a more successful note my M10 in the woods un-bogs and nails a Panzer IV, but once again he passes a motivation check and the remaining tank from that platoon stays around

 Two hits on the Jumbo from the E8 platoon, I need 2's to bail, I roll two 1's...goodbye Jumbo!

 The M10 in the woods predictably dies, but somewhat unpredictably its killer is the OP Panzer IV

 Stuarts begin to ravage the Wespes, but only bail all three vehicles. Luckily that's enough to finally send the double-bailed one away. They followed up with an assault on the staff team, killing it. The platoon passed its morale check though

Also, this Sherman from the E8 platoon stuck around thanks to Patton, and had to move up to contest the objective. My recon arrived from reserve in the middle of the table, and so moved behind the woods in this picture, ready to feed teams onto the objective.

 Situation at the contested objective at top of 6

 His forces move over to press the Stuarts

 OP Panzer IV bags another M10 despite the penalty for moving at RoF 1

The other two M10's get revenge!

 Recce being fed into the meat grinder

 Once again the jumbo can't bounce a Panther hit (that's my 1iC)

 The Stuarts had moved behind a hill to shoot at the Pumas, but now were taking flank shots from the Wirbelwinds. Had these been Mobelwagens my Stuarts and M10's would have died long ago

 M10's bag a Wirbelwind

The Jumbo in the distance had moved out to shoot the Wirbelwinds, and my opponent swings away from the objective to get a platoon kill

 Stuarts and M10's finish off the Wirbelwinds

Again, while all of this is going on, I am just feeding recce teams into the meat grinder of the contested objective. The Aufklarungs had moved back to defend the attacker's objective.

 Targeting the Stuarts

 Pumas and the Panzer IV bail the other two living Stuarts, but they passed platoon morale

 All three Stuarts remount, and they join the M10's in a final push

M10's line up their shots through the wreckage

 The M10's hit the Panzer IV, but only bail and he passes platoon morale. The Stuarts don't fare any better against the Pumas, failing to kill one and failing to bail the other. Over the course of the game the Stuarts failed 7/8 firepower checks

The Pumas split their fire on the next turn, but the strategy works. Two Stuarts are killed and the platoon runs; one M10 is killed and the platoon runs. With that, we finally call it. 3-4 loss for the Americans.

There were a few things are learned from this game that will definitely help going forward:

1. Specifically with regard to this list: bunch up those Jumbos! It's much easier than one would assume for a good player to negate the Jumbo rules, mainly by careful movement and pre-measuring with his troops.

2. For Trained units in general: leaving trained units isolated will spell their doom. You simply cannot rely on Trained units, even ones with good weapons and rules, to come out ahead in a gunfight against veteran units. Rather, you need to pair units together to create deadly combos. Usually this is hard to do with Veteran lists because you don't have enough units to pull-off multiple combos at once, but with Trained armies you have more units at your disposal.

3. Related to point #2: Allocate the appropriate resources to the job at hand. Let's look at what my M10's killed in this game - 1 Panzer IV, 2 Wirbelwinds...hardly the most pressing targets for a 310 point AT 13 super-unit. The Stuarts were used as intended, and despite my myriad errors in the game if they made even half of their firepower checks I still had a good chance at pulling out a win.

The only consolation from this game was that in a tournament setting, with a time limit, I would have won. But the fact is that I was out-played and made a couple of stupid mistakes that cost me. Luckily, I know I won't be making those mistakes again.

I'm going to play a few more games with this list, including a tournament this weekend (assuming we aren't snowed out) because I think this list has a lot of potential over the Priest batteries version. I may switch out the M10's for Hellcats, but probably not since the front armor 4 saved them several times. Really it all comes down to the general, and last night my mistakes really cost me.

As always, please follow me on Twitter @piflamesofwar 

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