Better too much spade work than too little! This work saves blood.Erwin Rommel
Today we continue out coverage of the New D-Day German Book. It’s released on 7 Sep and it’s worth keeping an eye on Battlefront’s launch page which will have loads of stuff on the day.
Traditionally players of FOW German armies have to accept that they will have small but elite forces, with constant hard choices as to what to include and what to risk leaving out. So many times I’ve built my armoured grenadiers and added some tanks and then realized I cant afford that other shiny thing I want. Such is the curse of Cautious Confident Veteran troops.
Well the new D-Day book changes this dynamic with the Beach Defense Formation. These beach defenders represent the reserve troops called up to bolster the regular forces as manpower shortages started to pinch. They are not as well trained, experienced or motivated as their main line Panzer Grenadier colleagues but the difference makes them much more affordable. The book goes into detail about the history and formation of these units therefore this article will look at them on the table.
These troops have an aggressive, green, confident rating. What this means is that they come in cheap, and I mean really cheap, especially the rifle/MG versions. The extra shreks and HMGs for them cost half that of their cautious vet colleagues, meaning the shreks suddenly become great value. With 2 of these and a faust you can really worry a tank assault. Defensive fire is a must, because once the enemy get into an assault you are not in a great place. While they may counterattack on a 4+ don’t expect them to hit much in return thanks to their green rating.
You can easily make a 11 stand platoon for almost the same costs as seven Grenadiers and, even whilst aggressive, are hard to shift. The 5+ last stand doesn’t worry me greatly; by the time I get down to the last two stands the platoon has generally done its job and is so small its not a great loss to me.
The formation itself comes with a lot of options, with three of these cheap platoons, HMGs, two lots of Infantry guns, double mortars and the AT Guns. In fact even maxed out it all comes to 73pts which would get you:
HQ with faust
3 x Platoons of 7 MG stands with Faust, 2 x HMGs and 2 x Shreks (Ouch!)
3 x HMGs
6 x 8cm mortars
3 x 12 cm Mortars
4 x PAK40s
2 x 15cm Guns
4 x 7.5 cm guns
That is a scary amount of stuff and even allows a nice amoured platoon of four Panzer IVs or a pair of Tigers as well.
For me the formation is all about defense, with the stats on these guys I don’t want to be charging around the table. My plan to mitigate movement, especially if my opponent picks maneuve, is the SD Kfz 250 Scout Troop. This is a cheap but useful spearhead unit. While spearhead is situational, players will notice most of the new missions (five new ones released last month and another presented in this book) allow the use of spearhead. As you will see in our upcoming batrep, it proved vital in my latest game. Spearhead can allow the defender (who gets to spearhead first) to completely change some deployment area, fundamentally changing the shape of your defense and limiting the attackers advance.
My next top tip for these guys is the pakfront card. For 6pts you can switch a gun platoon to act as independent teams, which is always concealed and the enemy has to re-roll firepower against. At first I looked at the Pak40s for this, however I realized this would mean they are no longer a platoon (as they become independent teams) and therefore wont count as core. Then inspiration struck me. Foue FlaK 36 88s is only 12 pts. Add the card and now I can spread those out as four different points of fire (also allowing one to cover each platoon for defensive fire), and preventing nasty artillery from splatting more than one under a template. Yes please!
Due to the defensive nature of the force, armour is the other support I want. My go to unit s 2 x Tigers, due to them being assault beasts. Panthers are discounted as the Tiger does everything better for a point more and well, its a Tiger. I also rate the StuG for a mobile gun platform which is also surprisingly survivable due to cautious with FA7.
With that in mind here is my current 100pt list
Hq – 2 x SMGs
7 x rifle/MGs with, faust, HMG and Skrek
7 x rifle/MGs with, faust, HMG and Skrek
7 x rifle MGs with faust and 1 x shreks
3 x Pak40s
3 x 8cm mortars
2 x Tigers
3 x Stugs
4 x Flak 88s with Pakfront
SD Kfz 250 recce patrol
I did consider downgrading the 88s to 3rd Flak Corps which makes them aggressive, trained but saves 1 pt a gun. If I did this and dropped 1 x HMG I could get 3 x HMG and the MG nest card (which works in the same way as Pak Front). However I do like the sound of 4 x cautious 88s which have to have fire power tests re-rolled against them.
Another interesting card for the force is the ‘old minefields’ shown here:
I am a bit on the fence but certainly want to give it a go. While its highly useful for a defensive force (I get to place 7 minefields in some missions) I cant help thinking that the two old minefields the enemy place could really screw you up. They are likely to go down behind (or on) your objective or limit where you reserves can go to reinforce. However, remember that you can deploy in minefields and therefore if your opponent places them in your deployment zone all you need is a single infantry team deployed in it and you can auto clear it first turn (assuming you haven’t been pinned).
I think this list will be a massive headache for an armoured force. They want to avoid my 88s but with the independent team rules, its going to be hard to avoid them completely. My Pak40s make a good ambush that will also whittle those tanks down, and its all of high enough AT to worry Churchills which are quite in vogue at the moment.
The key thing is that the force can delay the enemy and that there are two strong reinforcement platoons waiting in the wings, plus its nice that after two reserve rolls you are all on table.
Well there you have it, a true defense force, hopefully welcome in a meta of attack. Late War is really starting to throw up some interesting lists with more variety than the earlier MW books. In actual fact with the correct cards and defend stance this is almost a fortified auto defend list such as you saw in early versions. However in this version you can make for more adaptions to your style with cards.
What I like about the list is that its pretty large by German standards and has some cool features such as Pak Front and Old Minefields. We have a Batrep coming shortly with these guys, and we can see how they get on.