Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Tales of Woe!

Many moons ago when I first started collecting a force for FoW, I picked a British Commando force - firstly through loyalty to my British roots, and secondly the Commandos were a small elite force that I thought would be good to get to learn the game with and not need to invest too much time and money in, buying and painting... but few games eventuated at that time.

Much later I decided that I might as well get some Germans to fight against the commandos, so I can learn the game myself at home, and with young son who was just getting interested in WWII. So I picked up a Festung infantry company boxed set as a starting point.

Since then I have added massively to my German forces! For starters it's always fun to play 'the bad guys', so I guess that was part of the appeal for me. Plus the Wehrmacht had so many iconic pieces of equipment and machinery of war, that I just about couldn't help myself.

When the Plastic Soldier Company released their excellent boxed set of 251 half tracks I was in seventh heaven as this was one of those iconic vehicles that had great appeal to me, little did I know what I was letting myself into...

So a Gepanzerte Panzergrenadier (GPg), armoured mechanised infantry, force was planned collected and painted up.

Now it must be said, that many FoW veterans would state, that a mechanised force is quite a difficult one to play right and get the best from. Its not an easy army to use! Yet that is the main army I have chosen to learn this game with.

They also come in various 'flavours' - Panzer Lehr with all their extra panzershreck tank hunter teams, and Waffen SS varieties. Each with slightly differing support platoon options.

I have played a great many games now with this force, with some success and a lot of defeat.

Like any force they have their pro's and con's.

PRO's They are a very mobile force and pack a lot of anti-infantry firepower. And with the German special rule (Mounted assault), they can fight directly from the half tracks in the assault phase, and if they dismount, the half tracks can stick around spitting out MG fire.

CON's The problem is, though they are 'armoured' that armour is pretty thin. Plus the fact that they are open topped means plunging artillery fire and aircraft can also make quite a mess of them, if caught in the open.

So, I spend a great deal of time mulling over how best to use my GPg force.

There are so many platoon support options it gives a dazzling and confusing array of ways to field them and fight with them. These options have lead to a constant state of collecting and painting up all these support options to try them out, hence my large Wehrmacht collection!

Some of the problems, and possible solutions I have are...

a) getting caught advancing mounted up, by artillery, and aircraft - Solution: advance quickly (ATD / storm trooper) to get past the 'kill zone'...

b) but it you ATD, you can run into a storm of fire from AT guns especially from ambush - Solution: push recce elements ahead to push back Ambushing forces and try and end move in cover...

c) trying to get mounted assault to work - needing to pin enemy and smoke them to ensure I don't suffer the 5 hits or two bailed that force back assault... not easy to pull off, and enemy can always get lucky with their dice roll; 5 hits on 8 dice needing 5+ can really get you down... and even infantry weapons can hurt through side armour 0, if you roll 1's for armour saves...

d) if mounted assault successful, try and make it unstoppable on first assault, as with confident troops there's only a 50/50 chance of fighting on in each subsequent turn (no British bulldog), so need the CO or attached Warrior Higher command character team near for re-roll to motivate, and use attached HQ elements and combat attachments from 'Heavy platoon' to bulk up size of platoon.

Things to think about

1) advancing infantry alongside/in front of half tracks, not in them... infantry saves of a 3+ are better odds of staying alive than a 5+ passenger save in a burning vehicle...

2) keeping half tracks off table and hiding infantry GTG, until main threats to halftracks have been eliminated... using Heavy tanks / Heavy AT guns ('88' Flak 36) and Heavy artillery to knock out threats - protect all with AA until ready to advance, pushing recce forward to remove GTG on any target platoons...

Its this last option I am working on at the moment... in a recent game against Paul, I got to try out Tigers for the first time and though I lost the game, it could have gone quite differently. It was also very interesting to see just two Tigers virtually dominating one flank of the table... so a pair of Tigers seem a likely future support choice for my GPgs.

The other thing I want to do is pound the enemy into submission, with some decent artillery... 
From some of the reports and tips I have read, if you are going to use artillery, then do it well!... I am considering a platoon of 4-6 Hummels, should be able to give me a fair bit of umph! With a bombardment range of 80" they can hit anywhere on board, with AT 5 and FP 2+ even tanks will get scared , and will dig out infantry and guns with ease, and with 6 elements firing that's a double wide template, or re-rolling misses... . Plus with a 24" direct fire range, they get AT 13, FP 1+ and 'bunker-buster' too  - not many things will want to get in front of that! Send some recce forward to find hiding targets, protect this battery and the dismounted GPgs and Tigers with decent SPAA, and hopefully once everything on other side of board is a squishy mesh, THEN mount up GPg's and roll forward....

So that's the 'next' plan, at least for LateWar. We'll see how it goes (I may have to proxy some of the stuff to try this out in the mean time, until I can get it ordered and painted up)... but of course it will always be tempered by the mission rolled for to play and the opposing force !

No plan survives contact with the enemy!


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