Lee takes a look at moving his West German force from “Leopard” to “WW3: West Germans”
Way back in the mists of time, Ben invited Mark and I to join the Breakthrough team, notionally to cover Team Yankee. Part of that plan (as much as we ever have a plan) was a feature called a “Tale of 2 Leopards” where we built up a pair of West German forces, ably assisted by a generous care package from Battlefront, plus some of our own purchases.
The article was pretty effective at getting me to paint something for Team Yankee, whereas my US from launch days are still largely untouched! By the end of the project, I had amassed a fairly well rounded West German force which I then built up further over time to this:
On top of that, my hobby to do list hosted three M113 set aside to be built as West German Panzermörsers, plus a couple boxes of PSC Leopard (this being before BF released their own kit with the cast turret that I actually wanted). Over the years, the force served me well as my main NATO force until the Brits (and Covid) reached the gaming table.
But “Leopard” has now been superseded by “WWIII: West Germans” so how will the force adapt?
The easiest adaptation is to do the minimum amount of wholesale changes but embrace the small tweaks. Let’s take a look at the 100pt force I ran in the last game I played.
The force took advantage of the official recognition of the four-strong Leopard 2 units to give a “one-roll” 40+pt reserve in the form of the Leopard 2 whilst the helicopter units exploited the change to morale rules in WWIII:TY by fielding as two, two-ship flights to split the enemy fire and better set up a crossfire opportunity. The real weakness of the force was the infantry though. The small unit size of the West Germans has always been its Achilles heel; the lacklustre firepower of the Marder 1 not compensating for the small unit count.
Happily, the new book does offer some relief to the infantry issue as it introduces a couple of changes. Firstly, the HQ platoon gains the option of an additional Marder and a G3/PanzerFaust44 team. Secondly, the infantry platoons gain an optional Carl Gustav team. This not only boosts the infantry count but also gives additional firepower should the enemy try rushing to get in the Milan’s minimum fire range.
One easy to miss change is the Luchs, which has doubled in cost. So we need to drop that to a single platoon.
Another boost is the formal adoption of formation support units. The PAH and LARS are fine, but the helicopters still suffered for being on a small table with too much red anti-air to face and the LARS usually ended up getting beat up by BRDM. Instead, I’ll make use of both my hobby stash and the new formation support to add a platoon of four Leopard 1. This boosts my anti-tank options, albeit needing side armour shots to be fully effective. I used the last of the points saved to boost the Jaguar 2 to HOT armed Jaguar 1, add some Panzermörsers to replace the lost artillery and add some additional anti-air protection with some Redeye teams.
Of course, this only partly addresses the problem of the infantry platoon size. An extra Carl Gustav is better than nothing, but still a long way from providing longevity in the face of enemy fire! happily the Carl Gustav team is a “Direct only” purchase to add it in too.
Looking at the core formation, it doesn’t lack for units to keep it in the fight so we can afford to drop Marder platoon, the Leopard 2 platoon and other Marder platoon meeting the “core” requirement.
Along with downsizing the Fliegerfaust gruppe by a stand, we can instead use the points to buy a Gebirgsjäger platoon. This gives a unit of equivalent stats to the Marder platoon but with some extra mass to keep them in the fight longer. I can stick these guys on the front most objective and trust them to hold it until the Leopard 2 arrive. In the meantime, the Marder mounted platoon can act as a mobile reserve, sitting back and taking pot shots with the Marder posts before moving up to reinforce if required.
This did get me thinking though, could I get the Leopard 1 and
Gebirgsjäger into a formation and improve the resilience of the army further? A couple plays with dropping a Leopard 2 or the Gepards suggested it was possible but I didn’t like the compromises to a one-dice reserve or anti-air firepower.
Then it struck me that there was another option in the form of the humble reservist. The Jäger platoons still have respectable stats, save a slightly unnerving “hit on 3s” but are also cheap as…pomme frittes mit mayo.
I took a HQ and two platoons for only a couple points more than the Gebirg platoon cost! To give the formation some extra resilience I moved the M113 Panzermörser to the new formation. At this point I paused. Moving the Leopard 1 over also made sense, to a degree, but the “hit on 3s”, combined with their low armour, made me nervous.
I decided to trim a Gepard, a Luchs platoon and one of the Leopard 1 to keep the Leopard 1 as “regulars” in support but add a Kanonenjagdpanzer platoon to the formation. The 90mm gun isn’t going to worry much but it can help thin out enemy IFV.
That left the force looking like this:
In terms of new bits to invest in, that’s two boxes of infantry plus some 90mm flat panzers.
Of course, the reason Marder platoons are small is because the IFV component was meant to compensate with its firepower. Of course, the 20mm pop gun on the Marder 1 barely constitutes as firepower. If only it had a bigger gun!
The Marder 2 is something of a Paper Panzer, being a victim of the peace dividend. But the Team Yankee universe see’s these beasts get a production run and gives the infantry platoon an IFV that can outshoot a Sherman 76 and stop a light HEAT round!
I decided to look at a direct swap of the Marders from the “Incremental Changes” section, dropping the Leopard 1 to fund the upgrade. I opted for 50mm guns for the majority of the IFV as there is little reason not to so long as the points are spare! The boost in range and AT are both handy.
This left a few points spare. I also noted that it left two Marder 2s spare (if we buy two boxes, so ten IFV) so I decided to swap out the four Luchs in formation for a pair of Marder 2 Scout, with 50mm, as force support. Again, Luchs don’t do much but Spearhead and harass artillery whilst the Marder 2 Scouts provide a few more offensive options (though I can’t help but think that I may have just bought myself a WW2 Puma unit…)
I think its clear that the new book provides some new options to breathe some excitement into an existing force. From the simple addition of Carl Gustav teams and force support armour to wholesale re-equipping with the latest in alt. history kit, WW3 West Germans throws some interesting options to Leopard armies.