Now, you all know me… I’m not one to drink from the mainstream (which is probably why my performances have been so stellar at recent tournaments!) but I do love an underdog. Having played a couple of games with the Brummbars I am completely in love with this Leicester City in 2015-16 unit – I mean if you think Soren was going to have a tough time bringing back the Panther he’s really got nothing on the Sd.Kfz. 166.
A Little Bit of Background…
Production started on the Sd.Kfz. 166 in April 1943 and over the next few years 368 Sturmpanzers were rolled off the production line and into 4 independent Sturmpanzer battalions – Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 216, 217, 218, and 219. It was a development of the Panzer IV tank designed to provide direct infantry fire support, especially in urban areas – it was a StuH gone wild!
Armed with a 15cm gun it used the same rounds as the sIG 33 heavy infantry gun it provided some serious punch whilst its sloped 100 mm armour plate gives an effective thickness of ~125 mm and could stop the main gun of most medium tanks.
After debuting at the Battle of Kursk in Operation Citadel, assigned to the Panzerjäger Regiment 656 in the 9th Army of Army Group Center, Sturmpanzers then served in almost all theatres for the remainder of the war.
A Little Bit in Flames of War…
So why this the Grizzly so rare a sight in Flames of War? Well, unfortunately, it suffers from being a bit of an oddball when it comes to stats and points.
- It has decent Front Armour, but it’s not stellar
- It is an assault vehicle but has a pretty low Side Armour
- It has a decent barrage but is near twice the points value of a comparable 15cm armour artillery piece.
- It has a decent direct fire but is only AT7 and Rate of Fire 1 which is lacking in Late War.
The Brummbar also suffers slightly from the current state of Late War where the German forces feel like they are paying points for being really good stats-wise but some of those stats don’t feel 100% relevant. A Last Stand of 3+ is nice but only comes into play if you get to take a Last Stand etc.
So, where can we include the Brummbar? Where are the lists and what can we do to get the Grizzly back on the baize.
A Little Bit More in Flames of War…
Firstly let’s address the elephant in the room (but not in the list – that is to come!) in that the Brummbar is not bad. That’s right it is not bad at all, it is just pointed inefficiently. Let me expand on this…
The Brummbar is an excellent
That is right, going back to the old skool here, back to when Late War was just Mid War… with some other bits and bats.
Ok, so the first things to note here are:
- The Brummbar is not in its own formation so will always be a support choice.
- It would seem to work better as an infantry support weapon, but that is my own perspective and may not be correct.
- You don’t get many Brummbars for your buck so you need to be careful with the other options you include.
So, in my first force, I think you have all the major beats included. You have two templates, one with smoke and the other with a real punch to dig out opposing infantry and gun teams. We have truly high end AT in the form of the short AA gun battery and the Ferdinand and some mid-range AT with the PAK40 AT guns and the stummels. The flamethrowers add some nice spice and the bulk of the Panzergrenadiers gives you a good toe in the game.
Reserves are going to be a pain – there is not really an easy way around it. You are likely going to have three platoons in reserve, which is less than ideal.
Next up is the slightly more rounded entry from Bagration German. Weirdly Brummbars cost a point more in this incarnation (really not sure why that is!) but we can still create quite a nice list…
As you can see this is in a similar vein to the Fortress Europe list that preceded it; the main difference here is that with the Storm Grenadier company you have access to some other neat little support options.
Again we have the two pie-plates, with the 8cm mortars also being able to drop smoke, and the PaK40, FlaK36 and Elephant giving us some nice options when it comes to anti-tank. The Elephant is a little more self-sufficient than the Ferdinand as it actually has an MG!
The Grenadier Scout Platoon is a bit of a gamble – it gives you that much-coveted Spearhead move, and on paper with all those SMG teams, a decent third assault platoon. The issue is that they are true reconnaissance teams and suffer from their Assualt value – even with the SMG bonus – so you will have to utilise them judiciously to avoid them being easily dispatched.
The 2cm AA guns are essentially HMGs in this force, but they add another platoon to the formation and can be used to protect the flank of the Elephant from infantry teams or the mortars from… well anything as they are pretty defenceless.
Like the first list, Reserves are a thorn in the side. The best advice I think I can offer here is, that unless you really need them on the table, hold the Brummbars in reserve, with the SMG Scout Platoon and fill out the rest with whatever you can to make up the difference. The Brummbars and Scout Platoon make a nice mutually supporting group to arrive on the board at a later date.
A Little Bit on In-Game Tactics…
I think with either of these forces and with any force with the Brummbars in, you must be aggressive and take the fight to your opponent. You have the decent opportunity with the Brummbars to Blitz, Range In for at bombardment, and then Shoot and Scoot afterwards. This gives you tremendous bombardment and 8″ of movement. If you zero in on a juicy target and aren’t threatened then you may choose to forgo the Shoot and Scoot in preference to battering your target with a repeat bombardment.
You have options. I think that is the real joy of the Brummbar – it gives you options. It might not be the best tank for assaults, but it can and is no worse than most tanks. It might not have the best direct fire AT on its main gun but if your opponent has regular medium tanks they can still be vulnerable on the top and sides. It might not be as cheap as a Hummel but it doesn’t have to hide as much or get bullied by armoured cars as often.
This might feel like polishing the proverbial but I think that there is a lot to be said for flexibility in a competitive environment. The Brummbar might be a jack-of-all-trades but that means it is actually good in a variety of circumstances – or at least average! With a list that has hard counters – rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock – then there is the chance of turning up at a table and just looking at it and going…
A Little Bit on Painting and Modelling
There are some fantastic modelling opportunities that the Brummbar can afford that make them just a bit more interesting than your standard tank or artillery unit. Their unique shape and profile mean that you can play around with something as simple as their schurtzen and get a variety of effects in a unit.
So, with four tanks in a platoon, you can have full schutzen, damaged schutzen, just rails and none at all. Each variant, because of the squat shape and prominence of the schutzen on the model changes the aesthetic of the finished result. As the Brummbar served from 1943 right up till the end of the war you can play to your heart’s content with camouflage schemes and even the bare red or grey primer for replacement parts as the fighting became increasingly bitter and replacement parts scarcer and scarcer.
Whitewash, dirt, grime and dust all look ace on their blocky form and I wish that there were some German tank riders when I did mine as the flat surfaces would’ve made it much easier to model than on some German tanks.
So I for one will be #BringBackTheBrummbar and I’ll be back soon with a cup of single-origin, cold brew flat white artisan coffee with more thoughts from the hipster’s beard.