AAR – v4 Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps

Today, Duncan looks at the putting his v4 MW theorising to practical application against the unrelenting force of Monty’s 7th Armoured Division.

Hi Duncan here and today I’m going to be looking at my first real game of MW v4 with my Afrika Korps since the release of the new book. I’ll be running them against their nemesis from North Africa the rightly feared Desert Rats commanded by my nemesis Luke.


Afrika Korps

With 100pts to play with I decided to go with my theoretical force that I had dreamt up when I first saw the Afrika Korps book; two formations – one from the 90th Light and one from the Panzer III Tank Company.

90th Light Infantry Company AKA the Pak 38 Wall (49pts)

  • Africa Rifle Company HQ – 2pts
    • 2 x MP40 SMG Teams
  • Africa Rifle Platoon – 8pts
    • 4 x MG34 Teams
    • 1 x 2.8cm AT Rifle
    • sMG34
  • Africa Rifle Platoon – 7pts
    • 4 x MG34 Teams
    • 1 x 2.8cm AT Rifle
  • 5cm Tank Hunter Platoon – 12pts
    • 3 x 5cm AT Guns
  • 5cm Tank Hunter Platoon – 12pts
    • 3 x 5cm AT Guns
  • 8cm Heavy AA Platoon – 6pts
    • 1 x 8.8cm AA Gun
  • Sd Kfz 221 & 222 Light Scout Troop – 2pts
    • 2 x Sd Kfz 222 (2cm)
    • 1 x Sd Kfz 221 (MG)

Panzer III Tank Company – 51pts

  • Panzer III Tank Company HQ – 7pts
    • 1 x Panzer III (long 5cm)
  • Panzer III Tank Platoon – 20pts
    • 4 x Panzer III (short 5cm)
  • Panzer II Tank Platoon – 6pts
    • 3 x Panzer II
  • Panzer IV Platoon – 18pts
    • 3 x Panzer IV (7.5cm short)

Desert Rats

Luke went full potato and decided to also go for two formations – two armoured formations… *gulp*

Honey Squadron – 40pts

  • Honey Squadron HQ – 7pts
    • 4 x Honey
  • Honey Armoured Troop – 5pts
    • 3 x Honey
  • Honey Armoured Troop – 5pts
    • 3 x Honey
  • Honey Armoured Troop – 5pts
    • 3 x Honey
  • Grant Armoured Troop – 18pts
    • 3 x Grant (37mm & 75mm)

Crusader Armoured Squadron – 59pts

  • Crusader Armoured Squadron HQ – 7pts
    • 2 x Crusader II (2pdr)
    • 2 x Crusader CS (3 inch)
  • Crusader II & III Armoured Troop – 7pts
    • 1 x Crusader II (2pdr)
    • 2 x Crusader III (6pdr)
  • Crusader II & III Armoured Troop – 7pts
    • 1 x Crusader II (2pdr)
    • 2 x Crusader III (6pdr)
  • Crusader II Troop – 5pts
    • 3 x Crusader II (2pdr)
  • Crusader II Troop – 5pts
    • 3 x Crusader II (2pdr)
  • Grant Armoured Troop – 18pts
    • 3 x Grant (37mm & 75mm)
  • 25pdr Field Troop – 7pts
    • 2 x 25pdr gun
  • Humber Armoured Car Troop – 3pts
    • 3 x Humber

That is a TONNE of tanks… I just hope I have enough 5cm rounds to cope with it all!

The Game – Rearguard

Luke got to the club first and set up a table, we usually go quite terrain heavy to restrict firing lanes and to give, at least the potential for, covered movement.

– The barren featureless desert… wait… what?

We decided to roll 2d6 for scenario – no matter what anyone says Annihilation is not a scenario – and Luke rolled 7. Oooh a new scenario from a new rule set for new army list… how appropo.

As I had more infantry formations I was deemed the defender and had the special rule Ambush and Strategic Withdrawal. An ambush is always welcome but Withdrawal against that mass of tanks, yeah not really liking the look of that at all!  

I choose the right hand side of the table (looking at the photo below) and Luke placed his objectives. Unsurprisingly one on each side of the table with the aim to stretch my forces. I had 4 minefield markers (one for each 25pts of the game) and I used those to restrict the avenues of advance on Luke’s side of the table, hopefully creating some traffic jam delays in his advance.

And with that I began to deploy my forces. Keeping one platoon of 5cm Pak 38 guns in ambush I placed an infantry platoon holding each of the objectives and then kept the majority of my AT assets in the centre anchored on a platoon of 5cm Pak 38 guns and with the 88 overlooking the battlefield from the heights just left of the centre of my lines. I sneakily used my Panzer II recce move to creep up behind a palm grove on my extreme left and my 222 platoon did the same behind the village on the far right of my lines.

Luke chose to mass his Honeys on his right (my left) and kept his Crusader formation to the left of his centre with the 25pdrs tucked away in some scrub and his armoured cars on the left of his lines nearest the village.

My plan was simple. Pop my ambush on the Honey formation and shred a platoon or two before I get taken out. Use the 88 to pick off Grants and rush the Panzer platoons as a fire brigade to help out where ever is push hardest by the British armour.

Having spoken to Luke afterwards his plan was to use the Crusaders to pin my right flank and as many Panzers as possible while the Honeys took my left objective.

– That is sooooooo many tanks! 

Turn 1 – Desert Rats… Ready! Afrika Korps… Ready!

As the attacker Luke got the first turn and bombed forwards with the Honey formation moving 24” across the board. This was going to get ugly quickly. His Grants supporting the Honeys took up firing positions on a hill overlooking the Honey advance. Meanwhile on his left the Crusaders moved up cautiously behind a large hill in the centre keeping out of line of sight while the Grants supporting them moved up to dual the 88 on the hill. Great – I thought something juicy for the 88 to shoot at… and then the smoke fell.

– Quick? You bet! They’re certainly not running in Honey.

Luke opened up with the 25pdrs with their sole smoke barrage and totally obscured the 88. The changes in the smoke rules now meant that unless something stupid was going to come within 6” of me that was the 88 out of commission on Turn 1.

That aside the British firing was sparse and it was the Afrika Korps turn to exact some revenge on the British armour.

With a gleeful flourish I popped my 5cm Pak 38 platoon behind the hill crest on the left hand side ready to Blitz on to the hilltop and hammer the Honeys. I rolled and they did indeed Blitz on to the hilltop. My Panzer III HQ also Blitzed into a position to fire whilst the infantry all prepared to go to ground.

I fired the 5cm Pak platoon at the nearest Honey platoon at a range less than 16” I needed 3+ to hit with 6 dice – I had high hopes! I hate dice. I rolled one 3. One. Which then rolled a 2 for my firepower check when Luke failed his armour save. This was not going well already.

The Panzer II platoon bailed out another two Honeys, while the Panzer III HQ could not find a way past the Grants thick armour at long range. That 4+ to hit the Grant combined with a front armour of 5+1 was to be a constant thorn in my side for the entire game.

Turn 2 – A Breaking British Wave

The turn began with the Honey bailed out by the 5cm Pak 38 platoon jump merrily back into his tank while the ones near the Panzer II platoon was not so keen at all and remained bailed out. Luke rolled for a unit Last Stand and the heroic Honeys stayed in the fight.

Luke moved up the Honeys into a position where they could, if they chose, assault the 5cm Pak 38 platoon and the extended line of the infantry platoon guarding the left hand objective.

On his right the Crusader formation barreled over the hill en masse ready to engage the 5cm Pak 38 platoon, Panzer III platoon and Panzer IV platoon with the Humbers covering their rear.

The firing phase began with a volley from the Grants opposite the 88 on the hill, scoring two hits. I managed a single 4+ save and Luke smashed the heavy gun with a successful 3+ firepower check. Well that was not nice – 6pts gone without firing a shot – but expertly done by Luke.

The Crusaders pinned the infantry on my right and bailed out a Panzer IV but that was all. The Honeys poured MG fire into the infantry platoon by the left hand objective pinning it but failed to pin the Pak 38 platoon on the hill. The Grants on his right whiffed their firing at the 5cm platoon but destroyed a Panzer II with their 37mm guns and bailed out another. The 25pdrs failed to range in on anything.

In the assault phase Luke chose not to take an additional round of shooting from the 5cm Pak 38 platoon and only assaulted the infantry. With no AT asset able to draw a bead on the Honeys coming along the road through the town the assault went in unchecked. Luke rolled on hits though and I managed to counter attack hitting and bailing one Honey at which point the other turned tail and ran leaving his mate to be incarcerated by the infantrymen of the 90th Light.

The German turn saw me remounting with the bailed out Panzer II and Panzer IV and rallying the infantry around my left hand objective. However the infantry platoon pinned on the right hand objective failed to rally even with their CO shouting at them right in the ear.

I choose to remain largely stationary this turn with the exception of the 222 platoon who were removed as part of the Strategic Withdrawal and the Panzer III platoon Blitzing to bring themselves into short range of some Crusaders on the hill.

In the shooting the 5cm Platoon finally scored hits on the Honeys in front of them killing a platoon of Honeys. The Panzer II platoon decided that they couldn’t hit the backside of a barn door and missed the Honeys in front of them completely.

On the right the Crusaders felt the full force of the Wermacht. The Panzer IV platoon had better luck this turn killing two Crusaders and the 5cm Pak 38 Platoon scoring another on the platoon to their right. The 5cm (long) on the Panzer III HQ continued to pop away ineffectually on the Grants in the centre and the four Panzer IIIs hit the Crusader Company Command Platoon killing the 2iC and bailing out a Crusader III (3 inch).

– Crusaders begin to suffer under the concentrated 5cm fire 

The Panzer III Company HQ failed to Shoot & Scoot but the Panzer III and Panzer IV platoons managed to redeploy further away from the Crusader guns in the centre and on my right.

Turn 3 – Holding on by my Finger Nails

The British began by attempting to get back into their tanks. The Crusaders managed to make a fairly good fist of getting back in but the Crusader platoon that took two casualties from the Panzer IV platoon failed their Last Stand roll and exited the battlefield.

Luke stayed stationary predominantly this turn to maximise hit firepower apart from 3 Honeys that out flanked the 5cm Pak 38 platoon on the hill. Luke’s firing this turn was disgusting with one notable exception – the Panzer III Company HQ. Three Grants, two Crusader III (6pdr) and one Crusader II (2pdr) all fired at him with no effect – he was living an extremely charmed existence unlike the 88.

– 8th Hussars… CHARRRRRGGEEE!!!

The Honey Command Platoon opposite my left hand objective opened up with 20 MG shots pinning the poor infantry down and killing a single stand of infantry and the Honey platoon outflanking the 5cm Pak 38 platoon also pinned down the platoon killing a single Pak. The 25pdrs ranged in on the infantry on the right and pinned them down too and a Pak 38 was lost in the centre to a 3 inch howitzer shot.

In the assault phase Luke push the Honey HQ on to the pinned infantry around my objective, losing a Honey on the way in to an accurate AT Rifle shot to the flank. In the assault itself Luke killed the HMG stand and I failed my motivation to counter attack and was pushed back 6” from the Honeys who were now parked on the objective barely contested by the stoic infantrymen of the 90th Light.

The Pak 38s on the hill were killed by the Honeys assaulting them but again took a Honey with them in the defensive fire leaving a single Honey on the hill.

This turn the Panzer II platoon was withdrawn leaving me very thin on the ground. In my Turn 3 the infantry around the left hand objective rallied and so did their comrades defending the right hand objective. The left hand infantry successfully rolled to dig in again preparing to contest their objective to the limits of their strength. I began to redeploy the Panzer III platoon towards the left hand side with the rest of what was left of my forces remaining stationary.

In the firing phase the Command Panzer III HQ fired again at the Grants scoring a single hit which bounced harmlessly off their thick armour. The Panzer IIIs had no target but the remaining Pak 38s killed the Crusader HQ Commander and one of the Crusader CS (3 inch) and the Panzer IV platoon finish off the Crusader II platoon threatening the infantry on the right.

I tried to Shoot & Scoot with the Panzer III HQ again to no avail… again… and the Panzer IVs move to try and get as far left as they could. The Panzer III remaining out of sight for the time being.

A depressingly short German turn came to a close with the British well on top.

Turn 4 – The End of the Beginning

The Crusaders had taken a beating and the two remaining platoons both took Last Stand rolls. The HQ platoon past but the final 6pdr Crusader III left leaving the Grants and the armoured cars on the right with a single Crusader CS.

Meanwhile on the right the final operational Honey Squadron swung round to support the HQ unit on the objective. The Grants on Luke’s right also moved up to reinforce his success. On his left his armoured cars continued to skulk behind the hill and his Grants remained stationary as they still had a very viable target in the Panzer III HQ.

In the shooting phase the Panzer III HQ finally succumbed to the weight of 75mm fire from the Grants – fortunately he was able to jump into one of the now nearby Panzer IIIs and remount in that vehicle. The 25pdrs continued to barrage the infantry on the right this time killing an infantry stand as well as pinning the platoon.

The Honey HQ was able to rake the infantry on the left but failed to either kill or pinned the unit with 15 MG shots. Time for the cold steel (tracks) again in the assault phase.

The Honey HQ barreled into the infantry around the left hand objective losing a tank to another well aimed AT Rifle shot but the remaining two Honeys killed the AT Rifle and another infantry stand. The 90th Light courageously counter attacked more in hope than expectation and their improvised attacks bounced off the Honeys before they too fell to the Honeys assault. Luke now had the left hand objective.

– The 90th Light finally gives!

In the German turn I had less than the six units (I had four) and therefore was not required to remove one and gained a delay counter instead and moved straight on to movement. The infantry on my right hand objective rallied.

The Panzer III platoon failed their Blitz move to get up on to the hill and had to move instead reducing both their rate of fire and making it harder to hit the Honeys. Great start. The Panzer IV platoon move up to engage the armoured recce Humber platoon to get me some breathing space and put extra pressure on the Crusader formation. I finished by moving the 5cm Pak 38 platoon slowly towards the left hand side.

– Blazing Crusaders! But is it all in vain? Yes. Yes it is.

In the firing phase the paltry 3 shots I could bring to bear on the Honeys scored only only hit which was bounced by Luke on the roll of a 6. The Panzer IVs shot up a single Humber and with that it was the end of the German firing phase.

I again tried to Shoot & Scoot with the Panzer III platoon but they decided that sitting on the exposed hill top was preferable. Idiots. The Panzer IVs decided to stay where they were and give Luke’s Grants in the centre a choice of target in the hope that they could return fire next turn.

Turn 5 – The Beginning of the End. And the End.

Luke moved his remaining Honey platoon up and through his HQ creating a perimeter around the taken objective and supported them with the Grants moving up too. The centre Grants remained in place again ready to engage what was needed.

– The Panzers arrive too late to save the Afrika Korps objective from falling

The shooting phase was succinct this turn. The 25pdrs again pinned the infantry on the right but without causing a casualty and the combined fire of the Grants and Honey HQ killed a Panzer III and bailed two others.

With no assaults this turn it was quickly over to the Germans. I remounted with one of the Panzer IIIs only and at that point called the game as with only four AT8 shots available to me this turn and no real way to get within 4” of the captured objective ready for the next British turn the game was realistically, if not completely within the bounds of the rules, over.

Post-Game Wash-Up

Other that some crummy luck which can happen to anyone at any time it felt like two things severely hurt me in that game:

  1. Not being able to kill Grants and therefore wasting resources trying
  2. Splitting my infantry formation

With regards to point 1 I think that in the grade scheme of things the Panzer IV platoon was a waste of time. Their short 7.5cm gun was not up to taking on Grants and was only having the opportunity of killing a Crusader or Honey 50% of the time with AT7. I think I would be better served scrapping the Panzer IV platoon and the 222 Armoured Car platoon and instead having a second four tank Panzer III (5cm Short) platoon. With AT8 they are much more reliably making damage stick to the lighter armour and at least have a 1/3 chance of penetrating a Grant at close range. I think finding a way of getting a couple of Panzer III (5cm Long) tanks in there somehow would make a big difference.

Looking back now splitting the 90th Light Formation was a mistake. I knew Luke would only attack one objective and that meant that the infantry on my right was destined not to do a lot. I think I would have been better deploying all the infantry and the 5cm Pak 38 platoons on my left and leaving the Panzer formations on the right. They showed in the game that, when concentrated, they can deal with the lighter British armour by themselves and have the mobility to respond if Luke was to concentrate on the infantry. If the opposite occurred the range of the 88 and the Long 5cm would mean that I could set have so mutually supporting firing positions and push the British assaults or attempts to outflank the armour.

So a bloody, costly yet ultimately successful 6-3 win to the British – those small tank platoons do leak VP at least. Oh well back to the drawing board again I guess… much more Napoleon Dynamite this time but the Afrika Korps will be back!

4 thoughts on “AAR – v4 Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps

  1. Great AAR, good reading.
    Just one comment, you wrote you blitzed your Pak 38 in turn one, but Gun teams can’t blitz, they can only issue Dig in and Cross Here orders.

    1. Thanks Sebastian – I completely skipped over that part of the Orders rules on p46! That’s something to learn from definitely 🙂

  2. Above you said that the Pak 38’s blitzed onto the crest of a hill and fired… in v4 gun teams cannot do a blitz movement order. Top of page 46 says, “Gun teams can only be issued dig in and cross here movement orders.”

    1. Well colour me wrong! I missed that part of the rules hidden in plain sight at the top of p46. Thanks Walter! We are still learning the rules with everyone else and I think (hope) that bloopers like this will become fewer and fewer as we play more…

      Mind you given that i whiffed totally with my dice rolls I don’t feel that bad 🙂

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