You’ve only yourselves to blame!
I’ve done a few articles for Breakthrough Assault now that discuss the merits and flaws of the armoured options for various nations; TY USA Tanks, (well that was more an argument with Lee, but it’s basically the same thing,) Soviet Bagration Assault Guns, and most recently TY Soviet Tanks. I have rather enjoyed writing them, and more surprisingly you lot appear to enjoy reading them. I thought I would turn it into a semi-regular series called Tank Rank. So, prepare yourself for more opinionated ramblings.
When is a Tank not a Tank?
So, the big question on everyone’s lips, (or as this is the internet, at the end of their fingers,) is will this series only cover tanks? No, I will include assault guns, self-propelled guns, tank destroyers and other things that are heavy armoured and carry a big gun. I won’t include everything, however, I will only include things that can be taken as an actual formation, so if it only comes as support, I’m ignoring it. Also, I won’t cover transports or scouts, otherwise, I will be here all week. Unless of course, I decided to give them an honourable mention. Basically, I’m going to include what I want to and ignore the rest, and chances are that this won’t be consistent between articles.
The subject for today’s Tank Rank, (for those of you who didn’t bother to read the title,) is the tanks/assault guns/tank hunters/armoured-things-that-make-big-booms in the new German Bagration book.
So without any further ado:
Panzer IV – Old Reliable
The Panzer IV is the German all-rounder in the late war, so the best thing to compare everything else to. With an AT 11 main gun powerful enough to deal with all the opposing Allied and Soviet medium tanks, and can even tackle some of the weaker heavy tanks. Also, at 32”, it slightly outranges the opposing tanks of a similar role. However, its armour isn’t fantastic-the front armour of 6 is about average, but side armour 3 is on the weaker side. Any light tanks that get round the side could give you a bit of grief.
At just over 5 points a tank and with strong soft stats, the Panzer IV is a great workhorse for your army.
StuG – Real tankers don’t need turrets
Yes, for the purposes of this article this counts, see the “When is a Tank not a Tank section above”.
The StuG is very similar to the Panzer IV, but it trades its turret for an extra point of front armour. Having front armour 7 means that you have a good chance of bouncing the AT 9 and 10 shots off the basic T-34 and Sherman’s, especially if they are at long range. Losing the turret is very situational: most of the time you’ll be fine, but it’s now harder to deal with any light tanks that do get around the sides. The StuGs are also fearless compared to the Panzer IVs confident, but you do have a worse counter-attack and assault due to being a self-propelled gun (officially).
If you take the dedicated StuG formation, then you do get the option of swapping 1 StuG per unit for a Stuh. This isn’t a great choice, however, as you lose range, AT and RoF for improved firepower. If you could take a separate full unit of StuH, it might be useful but you can’t, so all it does is water down your firepower.
A unit of StuGs is only 1 point more then a unit of Panzer IVs at any size, so it mostly all comes down to if you would rather have more front armour or a turret.
Hetzer – Murder Turtles
Take a Stug, put it in the washing machine on a long high cycle and when it’s dry you’ll have a Hetzer. Well, don’t actually do that, that’s not how Battlefront makes the model, you’ll be much better off just buying the plastic Hetzer kit. I’m fairly certain putting StuGs in the washing machine will just end up with a lot of broken StuGs and possibly a broken washing machine.
Anyway, the Hetzer is like a baby StuG; it has the same armour and gun but in a smaller hull and worse skill and motivation. I say worse, but it’s still Confident and Trained, so not that bad. The big issue is that due to the smaller hull, the gun is overworked, meaning you’ll have a penalty if you move and fire.
The Hetzer is also the same speed as a StuG or Panzer 4, but with a 5+ cross-check, so going through rough terrain is a bit of a risk.
Cost-wise, the Hetzer is a decent discount on the cost of the StuG – you can get 4 Hetzer for less than the price of 3 StuGs, and most importantly, it’s quite cute, (as armoured fighting vehicles go).
Tiger – I like big cats and I cannot lie
Ah, the Tiger, now we are talking-the first of the German big cats.
The main talking point of the Tiger is surely the 88mm main gun – this thing can knock out any of the tanks that your opponents might have, and with a 40” range it can do it from across the table. Whilst its armour isn’t that exceptional when compared to the likes of the Late War Churchill or IS-2, it will still require some dedicated AT weaponry to deal with it, or perhaps massed T-34/85 or Sherman 76 fire.
They don’t come cheap: its double-figure points cost per tank means that massed fire from an up-gunned medium is a strong possibility. At least with a last stand and remount, if 2+ the enemy will really need to kill every last one-being bailed out or running away isn’t something you really need to worry about.
The Tiger also has a cross-check of 2+ and an average speed, so you can use that in conjunction with your superior range to dictate the battle and fight it on your terms.
Panther – Poor tankers Tiger
Now I know a lot of people out there like the Panther just in general, but I’ll tell you now, I’m not one of those people.
Yes, it’s got the same gun as the Tiger, but that’s its only redeeming feature. Well, yes, it is 1 point cheaper as well, so it has two redeeming features.
Okay, okay, it’s also slightly faster. So amongst its redeeming features are; its gun, its speed and the fact it’s marginally cheaper than a Tiger. Happy now? Can I get onto slagging it off yet?
If I’m paying very nearly the points cost of a Tiger, I want something that’s very nearly as good as a Tiger, and the Panther isn’t. It might have the same gun, front armour and be slightly faster, but its side armour is very thin for the points cost. It’s just begging to get swarmed. It also loses the Tigers 2+ last stand and remount. Even if it was just one or the other, I still think it would be too expensive.
I also think its hideous, and I know that’s my personal preference, but hey its my article. So, it matters to me.
Oh, and for all, you gun pedants out there, yes, I know the gun in the Tiger and the Panther are actually different models, but game-wise they have exactly the same stats.
Panzer IV/70 – The flat Panzer
The Panzer IV/70 is to the Panther what the StuG is to the Panzer. I want to like the Panzer IV/70, I really do, but it still seems flawed. It’s not as bad as the Panther which you may have noticed I despise, (hey, I never claimed this article was unbiased,) but it’s still not great. It’s got the same gun stats as the Panther and Tiger, but it’s now fixed forward. Its tactical movement is average, but its dash speeds are a bit slower than the others, and a 5+ cross-check means it needs to avoid terrain.
It has got fairly decent front armour, but its side armour isn’t much better than a Panzer IVs. Its soft stats are fairly standard for Germans, but as it’s an SP gun, it has worse assault and counter-attack ratings. So don’t go charging it into any infantry blobs, especially now that lots of infantry can have some high strength anti-tank weaponry that will go right through that side armour-like Rommel through France.
It is 2 points cheaper than a Panther which helps, but ultimately, I think I’d still rather have Tigers. It does look cool though.
So how do I rank the German tanks in Bagration……..
- Panzer IV/StuG – whichever you would prefer, good all-rounders
- Tiger – for the heavy lifting
- Hetzers – cheap little balls of murder
- Panzer IV/70 – at least it’s cheaper than a Panther
- Panther – I just hate them
Panzer IVs and StuG are about the same, so just take whichever you would personally prefer. The Tiger is great for heavy lifting, and as its remount and last stand are so good, you can get away with taking them in small numbers. The Hetzers are a cheap alternative to the Panzer IV or StuG, so 1 unit in support of an army will always have a use. Panzer IV/70 is flawed, but the cheapest way to get an armoured AT 14 gun. Panthers – just say no.
My own personal German army is mostly Panzer IVs with a couple of Tigers for the heavy lifting. I’m also planning on adding some Hetzers in support, just because I like the model.
Now if you analyse this article carefully, you may notice that I’m slightly biased against the Panther. I freely admit that I hate them and it may be bordering on irrational. So if you’re a big fan of the Panther let me know why, see if you can convert me.
Also, let me know if you do actually like the idea of a Tank Rank series, and if you would like more of them, although I’ve already started planning the next one so you might not get much say in the matter.