Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The howl of the Wolf...

It's a year later, and 'Call to Arms' will shortly be upon us again... another two days of frantic wargaming fun in Wellington, courtesy of the Warlords.

I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make it this year as my boss is away that weekend and I would have had to work, but a bit of sweet talking the missus, and she'll cover for me, though no doubt I'll owe her big time!

So, what force to take...

Last year I ran Lehr Gepanzerte PanzerGrenadiers (GPGs)  from Earth and Steel. I didn't do too bad for a first proper go at a tournament; won a couple, lost a couple...

I like running the Mechanised half track force... it's always... 'interesting'!


I don't think I am patient enough to be an Infantry commander, frequently being stuck defending, and if having to attack, then  having to footslog your way across the board...


Nor am I sure I am bold enough to be a Tank commander, and when I do run them I am frequently either a little too rash, or conversely, scared to get the paint scratched...


No, I think I am indecisive enough to be a Mechanised force commander!

A mechanised force is a little bit of a jack of all trades (yet master of none?!), and its this versatility, which seems to mean you are always in with a chance regardless of mission or foes. Note I did say 'chance', and not certainty!

The thing with a mechanised force is that in a defensive battle, you will be defending against Tanks, and attacking against Infantry, and its a toss up against other mobile infantry forces... So you have to tailor your force to handle all these possibilities, and factor in how you will handle such a force when required to split it for reserves; whether these are rushing on to save the day in a defensive situation, or they've been tasked with the flank attack route...

So there's an awful lot to think about to get this force balance just right. There is also the risk that if you tailor the force to specifically work through a combination of these elements, and one of those elements fails or is destroyed, then your plan might have just gone out the window..., so factoring in a little redundancy can help, in other words platoons that can achieve more than one thing...

So there are a great many pros and cons to running these forces...

Having tried the Lehr list from E&S last year, I thought I would try a variant from the Eastern Front this time, and opened up Grey Wolf...

Running GPGs from Grey wolf, comes in two flavours; Heer or SS. Whilst I love the Fearless morale rating of the SS troops, they do come at a points premium, and so I will put my faith in regular Heer of the Wehrmacht, which should hopefully give me some extra points availability for useful supporting platoon options.

Some folks seem to deride Grey Wolf for its flavourless forces, but I do like the variety of support platoons available to your core force. You really get the feeling you could take on anything... if only you knew beforehand what the 'anything' was!

So here is what I have come up with, and why...

HQ (Confident Veteran)
2 x Cmd SMG / Panzerfaust & 2 x SdKfz 251/1   
Add in the optional Panzershrek team and its SdKfz 251/1                                                            

The HQ is clearly a must have, and upgrading to Panzerfausts and adding in the Panzershrek team
gives you a big deterrent to a tank force assaulting your dismounted  grenadiers in a defensive position.

Von Sauken; Higher Cmd SMG team with SdKfz 250/1                                                                  

Von Sauken

Having an extra Higher Command team along rated Fearless Veteran, will no doubt be useful, especially with allowing a re-roll of storm trooper tests and to receive reserves. No doubt he will always be where needed most. He's no "Remer", but is the best I can add to my force.
Being Higher Command and Fearless gives me a 3+ Company Morale check too.

Combat Platoons
Cmd SMG / Panzerfaust, 6 MG teams & 4 SdKfz 251/1                                                              

Cmd SMG / Panzerfaust, 6 MG teams & 4 SdKfz 251/1                                                                

The core of the force, doing the 'heavy lifting'...  they'll be dismounted defending against tanks, 
or mounted up attacking against infantry, and if  able to operate against enemy infantry
 caught moving in the open they'll have a wonderful time machine gunning them.
Also able to perform a Mounted Assault, making them a potentially fast and hard hitting  force.

Mortar Platoon
Cmd SMG with SdKfz 251/1, Observor Rifle team with Kubelwagon, 2 x SdKfz 251/2 (8cm)          

The intention for this small platoon, is manifold;  to support the assault of the GPGs, 
typically with a either a smoke bombardment, or direct fire smoke. Or direct fire against gun teams. 
There is also the option of a pinning strike, but I would hope the GPGs can achieve a pin with their massed MG fire. Hopefully combined with the recce, who will have lifted Gone to Ground.
There is also the defensive ability of direct fire smoke against enemy armour.
The  half track mounts still have their mobile MG utility against infantry, and can dismount the mortars, being portee, if they need digging in, sending half tracks to rear.

Half Tracked PanzerSpah; 1 x SdKfz 250/1 & 2 x SdKfz 250/9 (2cm)                                          

This is my main cheap choice for recce. Used in the typical recce role, both for pushing back enemy ambushes, and using Eyes&Ears for lifting Gone to Ground on enemy defenders. 
Other abilities are harassment of infantry and gun teams, especially if a break into the 'backfield' is possible against artillery parks.

Luftwaffe Heavy Anti-Aircraft Gun Platoon (allied platoon Reluctant Trained)
Cmd SMG team with Kfz15 field car, 2 x 8.8cm Flak36 gun (8 crew), 2 x SdKfz 7                        

This is an extremely cheap way to achieve 6, high AT, long range shots per turn against attacking enemy armour, which may dominate the battle field if well positioned, or deny approach to part of the field.
If attacking, can be deployed , constantly shelling the enemy, and acting as a deterrant  to approaching enemy armoured reserves.
It could of course, also be used in the AAA role, though against fast ground attack aircraft, 
this is not its best ability, only getting one shot per gun, but at a range of 48" and with a FP of 3+.

Panzer Support
3 x Panther A                                                                                                                                

A  'medium' tank, in the long range tank killer role, which if supported by the  88's should make  most enemy armour wary. My only concern for the Panther will be its new susceptibility to  upgunned  fireflies, and 'teleporting' US Tank destroyers.  It may be a case of live and die by the 'storm trooper', if you can't see me, you can't shoot me, so good use of terrain will be vital.

Rocket Artillery
Cmd SMG team, Observor rifle team with kubelwagon, 3 x 15cm NW41 Rocket Launchers          

Cheap artillery, to smoke bombard and pin, either way aiding the assault of the GPGs. Or hit assaulting infantry if defending, or smoke blinding enemy armour.

Armoured Flame-thrower platoon
2 x SdKfz 251/16 (Flamm)                                                                                                            

Another platoon to aid the main assault of the GPGs, able to instantly pin and kill defending infantry and gun teams,  and even blind enemy armour aiding an infantry assault against them.

TOTAL   1740pts

Some things I did not take for this force:

Air support - In Late War the Germans only get Sporadic air support, which to me seems to rely too much on luck to show up and be effective. 100pts for sporadic stukas? Hmmm, sounds a bargain but they may only get one decent chance of showing up and then could whiff it!

AAA defence. I thought about adding some mobile AAA to defend the tanks, but I have found in the past that a cany opponent will just motor up his tanks, blow apart your AAA guns then his air is effective, and the loss of the AAA is an easy point for your opponent.

This force is however, massively adjustable.

Some variables I came up with;

1) Drop the Nebs to 2, and increase Recce to Pumas. It would mean re-rolling hits with the nebs, but that would always be on 3's, and the Pumas are more of a threat to medium armour.

2) Drop the Nebs to 2, drop the flamm half tracks, and change out the 3 Panthers, for 2 King Tigers. Flamm half tracks are a nice extra if you can afford to add them to the force but I don't think they are essential. In the face of up gunned fireflies, the King Tigers may offer more resiliance..., and have Tiger Ace skills.

King Tiger

3) Drop the Panthers, and Flamm half tracks, increase recce to Pumas, and add 4 Panzer IVs, and 3 StuG Gs. This is the 'panzer horde' approach. If you can kill my panthers anyway, why not just go for more return fire...

Well that's a few variables to mull over...I wouldn't mind some time to trial these lists, but most likely wont have much opportunity before the event. The King Tigers, whilst desirable, are also not present in my armoury, though have been ordered. It would depend if they arrive in time and are painted in time...

Comments and discussion are welcome...


  1. Ahhh, a year on and the same old conundrum with the GPGs! I think the difference now is you have a lot more experience playing them. They are a good tournament list as they have potential against a wide range of opposing forces. It's really all on the skill of the commander, no pressure!
    I like your list, maybe a few too many small platoons, but it gives you more versatility. I'm sure we can get a practice game in between Panzerschreck and Call To Arms. I will debut my secret project ;-)

    1. Indeed! Pressure? What pressure ? - pass the Prozac! ;-)

      I know, I know, I keep on thinking of differing ways to use this force, and against differing opponents, and end up wanting a bit of this, that and the other to add to the force... its great when it all comes together, but can fall apart piecemeal...

      I wanted to try out the full Heavy Platoon, but kept finding other ways to spend the points... theres already a ton of MG fire with the half tracks so the HMG carriers seemed unnecessary... I've got a fair amount of direct AT with the Flak and panthers so the Stummels were less attractive, but I could see the mortars being useful in many positions...

      I also had a few force options built around the humble Tiger 1E instead of the panthers, but they're a further lower front armour point less than the panthers - this breaks into the the usual dilemma of choice; Panther or Tiger..

  2. I will withhold judgment. Having read this blog and your own one for a while, I have read through your frustrations with the GPGs. It seems that you have now mastered how to get the best out of them,so ill sit back and enjoy the battle reports as they come through.

    1. I've got a few decent ideas now about how to play them, and have a reasonable handle on all their special rules. I think my 'theory' is sound... its remembering to put it all into practice correctly on the day that often eludes my grasp!

      The main thing, especailly on the attack, is timing... as you need to spend a turn getting recce into position, so the following turn it can lift gone to ground. Thats a turn of trying to get your GPGs safely into position, to attack next turn and survive the attentions of the enemy unmolested, this turn... If I can manage that, then get recce to lift GTG, mortars and nebs range in with a pinning strike and smoke, the GPGs can roar in do their thing... all being well of course!

    2. ... but of course... no plan survives contact with the enemy!

  3. Its a very solid list Scott. You also need to consider that most games will use the reserves and delayed reserves rule. With that in mind check how effective the list is with half of it off the table ie what abilty can u live without for 1-3 turns. 88's are great but remember they cant fire as AT after firing as AA so youll need to choose wisely. The Panthers are a great inclusion.

    1. Thanks. I've got 8 platoons, so 4 on and 4 off, if reserves. Von Sauken is included partly to mitigate the Reserve issue with his special rule (fingers crossed!)

      I have an idea what will be doing what and when...

      The 'killer' though could be getting to defend in Breakthrough, due to the mobile reserves rule...

      The 88's really are there for their AT role, I doubt I'd waste them trying to shoot down aircraft... but its another option with them...

  4. Look fwd to seeing you at the event
    Ru coming to panzershrek?

    1. Yep, teamed with Paul, we're running Brits...

    2. Nice - going to be another fun event as it always is. Jerry and I are running Eastern Front & Fuhrer Brigade Panzers.

  5. In V3 the 88s can fire AA in your opponents turn and then AT in your own turn. At least that is my understanding! In your shoes I'd take the King Tigers. A big two figers up to those running AT 13 and AT 15 tanks, as long as you can guard the flanks. You might want Pumas or Pak 40s in there for that role.

    1. Ah interesting, I'll need to double check that, thanks Bede. Yeah, I like the King Tiger idea - it came from my experience running 2 Tigers in Midwar the other day vs Paul at KWCs open day game. Having two tanks that Paul struggled to deal with, made me think of trying a similar thing in Latewar, hence the King Tiger..., especially in the face of new Fireflies...
      It will depend on whether they show up in time, as I have ordered from the UK - hence this couldnt be my 'go to' list for the tournie...

  6. Just checked that firing issue... top of p181... if you fire at Aircraft, you CANNOT shoot in your next turn... bummer!

  7. My God, these GPG's are complicated! No wonder you can't sleep at night!
    Two King Tigers would certainly spice things up, especially when defending against armour. You can pick some nicely covered positions, laugh off 99% of attempts to shoot you, and an attacker would probably have very limited options to assault with. Expensive but nasty. Plus, I've never played against KT's. I've had more experience with armoured trains!

    1. LOL, yes indeed... When I got home from work today, the King Tigers (boxed set of 3) were waiting for me (thanks Caliverbooks)... I know what I am doing this weekend! ;-)

  8. Interesting what you wrote about the difference between tank, mechanised and infantry companies, good to know. It is helpful to look over some lists to get some ideas of where to go as a beginner with my Open Fire Germans. Looks like Call to Arms will be a good weekend! I don't think Dan and I will be quite ready to enter this year. Maybe next.

    1. You'll be surprised how quickly you come up to speed with it... then comes the endless dilemma of which support platoons to choose for your main chosen force... if you havenot discovered it already, you'll find EasyArmy a wonderful time sink ;-)

  9. Oh dear... still ruminating over what list to take... have been perusing over options in Fortress Europe for the GPGs... there are several support platoon possibilities, that differ to the Grey Wolf lists... but there's no Warrior Characters... so no Von Sauken...