Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Hollow Wombat's Tales of Woe... Colonel Klink and the PanzerGrenadiers

After I enjoyed reading through Paul's great intro article on the main Nations involved in WWII, here , Paul and I got into a little emailed banter about me and my Germans... considering my past performances...

The 'shell of a man' picture of the German uniform put me in mind of the movie "Hollow Man". This, combined with Paul's ending comment in the article on the Germans requiring a player to be a "Cunning Weasel", made me comment to the effect that I was more like a "Confused Wombat"...

Paul clearly gave this some sage-like thought as his retort was to the affect that my Indian name would from now on be "Hollow Wombat".

So I will present to you the continuing saga of 'Hollow Wombat's Tales of Woe'...

In my last game, against Brett the other week (Commando Kelly), where I bemoaned my inability to unpin my Nebelwerfers, I decided to re-play the scenario, afterwards as a solo game, and put my Commandos in place of the Yanks.

The smoke from the Nebs, had it arrived could have given my Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers the cover of smoke through which to launch their assault against the dug in Yank infantry. I must admit I felt like Colonel Klink must have been in command of my forces that game!

Colonel Klink, pondering how best to attack dug in Americans

I wanted to test out what would have happened, if the Nebs had managed to unpin, giving me some smoke, and what would happen through the ensuing mounted assault.

Schultz the Nebelwerfer commander - " I know nothing"
The game was set up as before, with the GPgs poised within striking distance of the dug in commandos, just waiting for the smoke...

Sergeant Schultz final got his thumb out of his ass, spotted the commando green berets poking out the top of their foxholes, and sent over a salvo of smoke rockets... and in rolled the GPgs...

The GPgs can spit out a shit load of MG fire went mounted up, and this with additional fire from other nearby units ensured the commandos were pinned, and smoked too. All sounds good and peachy eh?

Well this was a frontal assault, against the widest point of the commandos deployment who were at full strength, and backed up by an HMG at the rear, which wasn't pinned. Plus the smoke was angled a bit so some teams could avoid firing through it... the result was predictable... despite needing 4's or 5's to hit, and with a relatively reduced number of shots from pinning, the commandos spat out enough fire to cause at least five hits, and/or with the PIATS joining in, some of the half-tracks brewed up nicely, invariable killing the occupants, who only get a 5+ passenger save.

Once the assault has been stopped, its then the commandos following turn, who typically unpin, and let loose, wrecking the remnants of the GPg platoon with Rifle/MG and PIAT fire.

I ran the dice a couple of times more but the result was much the same, and even when the PIAT missed, enough rifle fire hit, which hits half-track side armour 0, during defensive fire, and if you roll a 1 save against rifle AT2, that's a bailed half-track, unless the fire power comes up a 6, which it predictably did, and that's now a destroyed half track and my grenadiers dead...

It makes you think, a 1 followed by a 6 , is a 1 in 36 chance... long odds you'd think, but when things aren't working for you, it can all go to Hell in a handcart pretty quick. Plus I am sure the renowned author Terry Pratchett wrote in one of his Diskworld novels, "million to one chances, come up nine times out of ten!" - work that one out!

GPg Mounted assault against full strength dug in platoon, with a little 'back up'... this will not end well for the Germans!

OK so the frontal assault failed miserably...

So what are GPgs good at? Maneuver!

So I played through the scenario, again only this time mounting my GPgs up and heading off towards the end on the commando line, dodging 3" mortar fire as I went. Finally got into a better position, and wanting to get this action going before armoured reserves turned up for the commandos, pressed on again with the assault.

So same as before, pinned and smoked the commandos and hit from the end of the line. This time things went better initially, sure enough not enough effective hits to pin down the assault. So in went the assault.

The problem this time was that despite maneuvering, I could only get a couple of half-tracks into assault range this quickly, so they killed a couple of commando teams. The commandos then roll to counterattack, and being fearless pass easily needing a 3+. In they run, and being commandos, hit on 2+ in the assault, with PIATs and rifle/MG teams against half-track top armour 0, during the assault. Again it wasn't pretty, this time during the assault, a 1 rolled for armour save against rifle/MG AT2 is a destroyed half-track and all occupants auto killed. A save of a 2 means a bailed half-track, not so disastrous. Against the PIAT, yeah well...

I had expected in the second round to motivate, and counterattack out of the half-tracks to finish off the commandos. Well there wasn't much left of the GPgs, and a 50/50 chance to motivate being confident and it could either way. Even if I managed it, there was not going to be much of the GPg platoon left to actually hold onto the objective anyway...

So, a despairing realization dawned. My much vaunted, self-hyped GPg's were actually a bit of a damp squib! I had expected them to rock and roll over infantry, after all in a 'defensive mission', Mechanised attacks Infantry...

This idea in my mind I had fostered myself, from my early days of getting this force ready and seeing what they could do in combination with reading and understanding the rules... I would set myself up a simple test scenario... one platoon of commandos defending against one platoon of GPg's. Nothing else on the board. The GPgs would roll forward over a couple of turns, getting into optimal position firing as they went, while the commandos kept their heads down staying GTG. Sure enough I could roll in, and the majority of the time survive the defensive fire, and hit with the majority of attacking teams, and sweep the commandos in one go. It looked good and convinced me that this was the way to play them.

The last year of 'real games', has been a hard lesson to the fact that this rarely works out. Dodging enemy AT and Arty fire on the way, trying to co-ordinate smoke and getting enough hits to pin the defender IF I get near enough unmolested  to launch an assault, has been nigh on impossible.

I think I have only managed it a couple of times and then against either small (artillery) or weakened platoons, or platoons spread too thinly with buildings interspersed blocking the defenders lines of fire.

A much better proposition for a mounted assault - a weakened platoon.

Another good choice - a mortar platoon.

A week or so of reflection and pondering  has led me to the conclusion that the GPg's are not some 'Uber Force'. In reality, they are glorified foot sloggers, with a mobile bunch of MGs that half the time are a liability!

So what to do?

Well the answer is in part self evident; use them as infantry, not some 'pseudo-panzer' force... and if going in mounted up, then only do it against small, or weakened or poorly positioned forces.

So how do I handle the previously played scenario. Simply, I just sit tight with my infantry, hunkered down in their own foxholes, and pound the defenders with whatever I can throw at them; artillery with high FP, and any Tank fire or even high FP SPAA. It may take a few turns, but with enough high firepower weaponry deployed you will begin to knock off defending teams, and once the defending platoon has shrunk to manageable size, then and only then, mount up and roll in. At this point you will be facing less defensive fire, there will be fewer teams to have to kill in the assault and subsequently fewer still to counter attack against you.

So this is what I tried out, again, playing through the scenario solo. And I am pleased to say it worked. The reserves I was concerned about coming on, ended up mixing it up with my own reserves, and the main point of issue was left to get on with themselves.

It brought a wry little smile back to my face.

Now I am not saying I know it all and can win every game I play from now on, far from it, but I hope I wont be throwing away so many games, and will at least give my opponents a decent work out if nothing else!

Stay tuned for continued adventures of Colonel Klink and his Panzergrenadiers, brought to you by the Hollow Wombat!


  1. Some interesting self-analysis there Scott! Lots of subjects that we will touch on in upcoming tactics posts. Maybe Kenny Rodgers could be your new GPG commander? He knows when to hold 'em, know's when to fold 'em, knows when to walk away and when to run ;)

    1. LOL, yeah me and Kenny are mates! He's the man! ;-)

    2. A photo of Colonel Klink on a couch is needed for this post:-)

      I like the run through of your scenario analysis and yes the results ring true.

      Of course I rely on good dice to solve my tactical dilemmas

    3. LOL, yeah, I know what you mean ;-)

      Cheers, hoped its of some use perhaps to other fledgling GPg players too.

      Swine, that last game was so damn close! ;-) I'll have to make sure I know where your CO is properly next time - I was conviced the guy you had at the back was the CO from what you had said earlier, not the 2iC... never mind, he died well ;-) Anyway I'll look forward to your unbiased report before I comment further ;-)