Breaching the line: Practical


Tanks being deployed far forward is an indication of offensive action; tanks in depth is an indication of defensive action.


Norman Schwarzkopf

Following on from my recent article on the British Breaching Group, I decided to take one of the lists and field it in a game against my friend’s Germans.  Paul had just finished up painting his new army in a winter theme so my winter table got a run out.  Not so much June ’44 but, maybe December ’44, but it was great to try some different scenery and mix it up a bit.

We were using the expanded mission matrix (available on our menu page) and we rolled up ‘contact’ with myself attacking.

FORCES

Here is my list

HQ 2 x Shermans
3 x Shermans
3x Shermans
2 x AVRE
2 x AVRE
3 x Churchill Crocodiles

Force Support
Carrier Patrol, Desert Rat
Carrier Patrol, Regular (Used wasp models)
Typhoons
4 x M10C Achilles

Facing me was:
HQ – 2 x Panzer IVs
3 x Panzer IVs
4 x Panzer IVs

HQ Panzergrenadiers
5 x Panzergrenadiers with Panzerfaust
5 x Panzergrenadiers with Panzerfaust
2 x 7.5cm Inf guns
4 x Pak40s
2 x Mortars

Force Support
3 x Stugs

SET-UP AND DEPLOYMENT

Here is the board and deployment.


I deployed all the AVREs, and Crocodiless using the universal carriers to get them a bit closer.  I concentrated on the right flank, with the idea of overwhelming it while the Achilles picked of the Panzer IVs as they relocated.  Paul deployed 5 Panzer IVs to hold the left flank and ready to push forward, with infantry on both objectives with the infantry guns and the PaK40s in ambush.

Turn 1

I started with a fast push on the right flank, using ‘follow me’ to get the tanks close yet, however, staying out of 4 inches to not get a faust in the face during Paul’s turn!  The recce went forward shutting down a lot of ambush areas.  I managed to get a cheeky AVRE bombardment off, clipping a pair of teams and killing one (casualties in red markers).  3 Shermans arrived from reserve and raced up to support the AVREs.  The Achilles nailed a Panzer IV and then ‘Shooted & Scooted’ mainly out of sight. 

Paul ambushed his PAK40s and bailed a pair of AVREs.  The Panzer IVs blitzed and moved to support the centre but missed the other AVRE platoon.

Turn 2

At the start of the turn, one of the two bailed AVRE remounted and the unit held, whilst  the Sherman HQ arrived and dashed forward to provide some morale to the men.  The remounted AVRE and the Crocodiles went forward while the other AVREs closed on the PaK40s.  Meanwhile my flank recce moved up the right flank ready to assault the PaK40s next turn, whilst the Achilles dashed onto the hill to provide overwatch. 
In the shooting phase the AVREs kills another infantry team while the Crocodiles score a lucky shot on a PaK40 knocking one out.  One Crocodile used its flame thrower but missed (6s to hit!).  The second AVREs opened fire on two PaK40s with their bombardment but only pin them.   

Paul continued to engage the AVREs. However, with FA9 and at long range to the PaK40s they fail to hurt them.  The Panzer IVs bailed one of the AVREs which had engaged the PaK40s.

Turn 3

The Typhoons arrive and, with a hail of rockets, bail a Panzer IV whilst the Achilles take another one too.   The harassment of the poor infantry continues with another stand being lost to plastic explosive filled dustbins and a PAK40 exploded in a massive crater as the remounted AVREs pounded them. 
An assault by the carriers killed a PAK40 and made another break off, whilst the German infantry tried to hold the Shermans’ assault; the faust missed and a single stand is killed.  The infantry breaks off.

Paul doesn’t get any reserves, so he dug in on the objective with his HQ while the last stand of the accompanying infantry ran.  His remounted Panzer IV failed to hurt the AVREs; even SA8 is respectable vs AT11. 
The pinned Pak40s bailed a Sherman.
A couple of stands valiantly approach the AVREs rear but miss with the Panzerfaust.  They assault, but miss again, losing a stand to the counter attack before being driven back.  

Turn 4

As the song goes it was now all over but the crying.   The final turn sees the two remaining German infantry stands get the full attention of three crocodiles, four AVREs and five Shermans!  They are wiped out in a literal blaze of glory as the carriers steam roll across another PAK40 in assault.

Conclusons

This wasn’t a very tough army for the Breaching group to face, although Paul suffered from some very dodgy ammo with its tendency to roll bails rather than kills!  We were talking after the game and his normal lists will need a lot of upgrade in the world of allied FA9 and 11.  Pak40s just don’t cut it any more, you need 88s (or PAK43s). 

What I also found was that you can’t bunch up your crocodiles and AVREs.  The danger close of the AVRE ends up really limiting you getting your Crocodiles close enough for effect.  That said AVREs were fantastic, they cruised around dropping flying dustbins everywhere, perfect for dealing with dug in, gone to ground, cautious infantry that my flamethrowers struggled to hit.

My Typhoon only arrived once, however had I bought it on turn 1 it could have been deadly.  AT5 vs TA1 and FP3+ can be devastating, however I always find air underwhelms in my games.

Overall good fun.  I now want to try it with eight Achilles….

Category: AARBattle ReportBattlefrontBritishD-DayFlames of WarGermansLate WarList DiscussionNormandy

12 comments

  1. Do AVRE ignore danger close just for them, not for the entire force? Just wondering… playing vs churchills with paks is so lol . And pz 4’s are also history. Imagine, vs us infantry…

  2. Agree with your conclusion.
    That German list didn’t stand a chance. It needed to drop half of the PIVs and StuGs and invest in 88s in PaK front (or even PaK 43s) and infantry, 2 platoons of 5 bases is simply not enough. The Brits have more or less neutralised German medium armour.

    That said, lovely models and tables and good to see a unique approach to Brits. Thanks for the BR

  3. I wrote the list more as a theme (and its what i had painted). I don’t play competitively, so it was more infantry trying to hold a gap in the line with the Panzers coming to support.

    And a few changes in tactics (me not changing my mind to my original plan) and not firing rubber bullets, AND the rest of the army turning up, I may have stood a better chance.

    But it was a great game as always.

    1. I really love the theme and the paint job of your army but the army desperately needs AT14 assets as PIVs effectively fire rubber bullets against Churchills.

  4. Great to see battle reports guys! The basic problem is that the Brit book is so over competitive that ruins all the other old books (D-Day).
    I came up with the following list as a response to the new brit lists:
    Panzergrenadier Company HQ
    2x MP40 SMG team
    1x Sd Kfz 251 (MG) half-track (LG112)
    Equip MP40 SMG teams with Panzerfaust anti-tank for +2 points.
    Panzergrenadier Platoon
    7x MG34 team
    Equip MG34 teams with Panzerfaust anti-tank for +2 points.
    Panzergrenadier Platoon
    7x MG34 team
    1x Sd Kfz 251 (3.7cm) half-track
    3x Sd Kfz 251 (MG) half-track
    Equip MG34 teams with Panzerfaust anti-tank for +2 points.
    Armoured 8cm Mortar Section 4x Sd Kfz 251 (8cm)
    Armoured 7.5cm Gun Platoon 6x Sd Kfz 251 (7.5cm)
    Armoured Flame-thrower Platoon 2x Sd Kfz 251 (Flame)

    Support
    8.8cm (Early) Tank-hunter Platoon 3x 8.8cm gun
    Ferdinand Tank-hunter Platoon 2x Ferdinand (8.8cm)
    8.8cm Heavy AA Platoon 4x 8.8cm AA gun

    Hold in reserves the armored pz gren and the Ferdies, and hope for a good dice roll. Now with a 17 at on the table, the game would look different. I don’t consider the D-Day German book being something to par with the brits as Germans don’t have any true monsters on the table to battle the brits. The Achilles are such a power unit against any tiger unit or panther.

    Ofc, the two armies wouldn’t have met in real life, but hey… this is how it is 🙂

  5. Great battle report – models and table all look amazing.

    This just confirms though that the new British D-Day book has completely nullified Panzer IV and Stug lists. Bringing one of those to a tournament is basically asking to get tabled by effectively unkillable and numerous Churchill variants backed by a wide range of cheap AT14 options for generating points-efficient trades against your Tigers (or PanthersLOL), with nearly everything landing in-formation to prevent morale break. If Brits choose the right HQ option, they can even bring formation-integral artillery, smoke bombardment and direct smoke to counter your PaKs.

    Just about the only semi-viable choice will be something like the list Teodor posted above, where you dig in infantry and pray the other player exposes their tanks to your 88s and Ferdis. The battle report basically says as much at the end – German lists now have far fewer options if they want to avoid being tabled by D-Day Brits at tournaments.

    1. Totally agree. I’m surprised BF dropped the Jadgpanthers from the D-day sector (fingers crossed they may feature in the upcoming SS book) as they did counter-attack Churchills. But as you say cheap AT 14 assets and even the 6pdrs have nullified German armour.

      1. Tom –

        Just my two cents, but what the Germans need is a points-efficient means of destroying all these relatively cheap high-armor tanks other than relying solely on dug-in guns. Dug-in guns are a pretty good counter to expensive tanks like the Tiger and (presumably) IS-2, since such tanks are few in number and represent such a potentially big loss that the dug-in guns act as a strong deterrent against aggressive movement towards objectives protected by such guns. These expensive tanks also tend to crimp points available to invest in ample artillery to quickly blast out those dug-in guns. But with Cautious FA9/SA8/TA2 tanks with 3+ counterattack ratings at 6 points each, there is a bit less hesitance to risk moving them out across fields of fire of entrenched guns that can’t really re-position themselves to present a continuous threat to the tanks, and there is more points overhead to get some kind of template and smoke to neutralize (perhaps temporarily) the dug-in guns. Churchill has a cross rating of 2+ – it’s quite common that your PaK43 is going to need 6s to hit those Churchills which are rolling through tall terrain (or behind other concealment) at long range. And then they may move out of LOS next turn.

        What’s needed instead is something mobile that can get fairly reliable frontal kills against FA9 or FA11 Churchills (plus soon to come IS-2s) AND at least trade evenly against Fireflies and Achilles, while not in turn getting killed frontally by the ubiquitous 50 caliber machine gun and auto-pen’d at long range by stuff like Sherman 75s and T-34/76s.

        Current German arsenal simply doesn’t have anything like this. Marder is both far too fragile and inconsistent with “just” AT12 (also lacks 36 inch range). The Hornisse is again extraordinarily fragile, though I do wonder if we will see a bit more action from this post-D-Day British book. Ferdinand is fine for what it is, but it has its own set of limitations and needs to kill quite a lot to pay for itself. – at 13 points you’ll need to kill two Cautious 6-point Churchills plus something else to pay back. Also, pray something doesn’t bail you through SA6, because your remount is abysmal. But all of these have the inescapable problem that they are from FE, which means you are severely limited in terms of command card options.

        At just under 9 points, the upcoming SS Panther may be a sort of answer, though getting hit on 3s is rather nerve racking for a still-costly Team that can be bailed or killed by an awful lot of stuff. I won’t rule it out, though – could end up being a fun counter.

        Possibly the JadgpanzerIV/70 in Bagration, though I’m dubious about the final points cost of that one…

        1. I’m coming back with another reply to this new D-Day book. I will try to maybe pt it in another perspective, because until now I’ve been thinking only about how and what I will play at this year’s ETC, where we should bring armies from this D-Day + FE books. But the idea is that this D-Day book drops in, in the Late-War period where it will have to match King Tigers and JagTigers. It just doesn’t get any more better than this until the end of the war for the Brits. Ofc they get the Comet later on, and the tanks become veteran but in terms of hard stats, FA 9 is as good as any Brit will have to settle with playing against AT 17. I started playing FOW when V3 was mature enough and balanced enough from that perspective. The only problem I see is the braking of skill stat into – skill and hit on stat. Because of this, lists are very unbalanced. I still can’t find a good reason why the Typhoon is cheaper than the Thunderbolt 🙂 and I will have to do what everyone will do for this year’s ETC and play an alfa list 🙂

  6. I used your list at Wolfkrieg this month in Elizabethtown, KY. There were a multitude of good players there, several sporting green polos. I did pretty well, placing 12 of 48 overall. Allow me to share some observations.
    It’s a good, competitive formation. The Crocs are legit and coupled with the AVREs put fear into any infantry list/Pz IV list. The M10c’s are threats to Tigers, the Typhoons a potential threat.

    What it lacks is artillery for smoke and PAKFRONT. Also with only 4 M10s they are really vulnerable to German Air. My last game they were taken out in two turns with Hs 129s. After that I had nothing to counter the 5 Tigers my opponent had except the Typhoons and side shots by AT10.

    Speaking of Typhoons, they were totally ineffective. To kill a tank takes 5-7 dice roll wins. If you get them skill 4 makes it tough to range in with rockets. Use guns on HTs? FP 5+ bails them more often than killing them. Germans remount and rally on 3s so that’s not effective either.

    Dropping the Typhoons and one Sherman troop gives you enough points for 4 more M10s and three Bofors. I’ll try this list next. Overall the Breaching Group is a solid core formation. It’s support that takes some thought.

    1. Interesting list change. No list is good at everything though. A tiger company will always be a bane of heavy armour.

      You could drop 8pts and take the card for the big Mortors they have smoke. The rest of British arty is way to overcosted.

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Article by: Mark Goddard