Sunday, June 15, 2014

Battle Report: US Tank Destroyers vs. Panzers

Recently I got in a 1750 LW game with a very tough, probably cheesy list that I have been toying with. Although I like 1650 as the new official LW points level, there is a big tournament coming up in July that will be using 1750. The last time I attended a tournament in this area the locals were heavy on both German forces with big cats and on allied lists with Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS) [Editor's Note: Battlefront has now released changes to NGFS]. Although I'd like to see NGFS banned there hasn't been any indication that it will at this tournament.

Therefore I have been fine-tuning a Tank Destroyer (TD) list. TD's are good for many reasons and can take down a variety of opponents, but are particularly effective against slow-moving heavies. Their security sections can also keep them safe from NGFS, since killing the security section doesn't automatically result in the death of the unit. My opponent regularly plays German panzers, and despite my warnings about what list I'd be playing with he brought a tank-heavy force. We rolled Dust-Up for the mission, which would be a good test for my list, as I'll explain below.

My List:

HQ - 2 M20 Scout Cars
4 Hellcats
2 Hellcats
Fully-upgraded Towed TD's (vet) aka the Toads
Cav Recon
3 Priests (trained)
4 155's (vet)

Total: 1745 (or 1750 with trucks for the 155's); 6 Platoons

This list excels when it gets everything on the table, and it should for most missions because of Patton's Always Attack special rule. However, this list can be overwhelmed in missions where I need to keep platoons off-table, which is why Dust-Up is a great practice mission. I'd never run Towed TD's before, but think they'd be great fun. Also I went with Hellcats over M10's for the simple reason that they're my favorite vehicle of WW2, even though in real life their crews hated  them.

My opponent's panzer list, from Fortress Italy:

HQ - 2 Panzer IV's
3 Panthers
4 Panzer IV's
4 Flammpanzers
4 Mobelwagens (my favorite support option in the game!)
2 8-rads
3 Nebelwerfers

Total: 1750; 6 Platoons

A fairly standard German force, although those Flammpanzers could ruin my day in a hurry with all of my Top Armor 0 vehicles.

Because I had to split my force I decided to deploy my larger Hellcat platoon, the Toads, and the 155's. My opponent deployed the Panthers, Flammpanzers, and Nebelwerfers. I chose to deploy such that his reserves would have to cross open ground to get to the objectives (I deployed in the "bottom-right" of this picture):

If I were my opponent I would have left the Nebs off the board and put the 8-rads on, to try and block some TD ambushes. I ended up rolling to get the first turn, and I decided that I would play the long game with this one if possible. I held my Toads back in my deployment zone, and moved the security section for the Hellcats up to the tree-line to the left of my deployment zone.

My opponent then made what I think was his next critical mistake. Instead of advancing all of his armor away from my Hellcats, he sent his Flammpanzers off with his 1iC and 2iC toward the Hellcats (bogging one in the woods), and sent the Panthers in the other direction (if he had his 8-rads on the table, this might have been a good move because he could have screened the Flammpanzers).

On my next turn I popped the Hellcats, sooner than I wanted to but I really had no choice. My artillery strike on the Flammpanzers was ineffective, so I placed all hope in my TD's. I scored 3 hits, bailing 2 and killing 1 despite going straight to firepower checks. However, because the platoon had one dead tank and none operable he was forced to take a morale check, which he failed (Editor's Note: we should have re-rolled those bailed results because they were flame tanks, no fuel trailers for these guys!).

His 1iC and 2iC tried to exact revenge on the Hellcats, but would only kill one over the course of their short lifespan. The rest of the game saw me pummeling his Panthers with artillery, even though the Panthers bagged two 155's.

Panthers bag a 155... 

...but the others get revenge

Hellcats nab the 2iC 

1iC gets a little revenge for his fallen comrades

Panthers whittle away at the 155's, but can they make enough of an impact? 

1iC dies in a hail of gunfire

The fast reserves arrive 

The undoing of the Panthers

We eventually called it when it was clear that he was never going to break through, nor could he prevent my fast-moving reserves from claiming the objectives. 6-1 to me.

In my opinion, my opponent made a big mistake in deploying the Nebelwerfers at the start of the game. He should have gone with the 8-rads so he could shut down my TD ambushes. That said, he ran a list that my TD's are specifically designed to beat. Next time he and I are going to run a game of Fighting Withdrawal against elite infantry, which I could see the TD's having a problem with.

For more Flames of War goodness be sure to follow me on Twitter @piflamesofwar

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