Bagration German: Tank Rank

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.

From left to right: Tank, Tank Destroyer, Tank, IFV

Achtung Panzer

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.

It’s come a long way since Poland 1939

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”.

Lean and mean

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.

Looks like someone was trying to make Hetzers

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 cutest of all the German AFVs

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.

Who’s the daddy?

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?

At least the Panther doesn’t have a snazzy red outfit

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.

Why, Why would you?

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.

I cant think of a witty comment

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.

The Rankings

So how do I rank the German tanks in Bagration……..

Drdrdrdrdrdrdrdrdrdrdr
  1. Panzer IV/StuG – whichever you would prefer, good all-rounders
  2. Tiger – for the heavy lifting
  3. Hetzers – cheap little balls of murder
  4. Panzer IV/70 – at least it’s cheaper than a Panther
  5. 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.

Irrational Hatred

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.

Category: Flames of WarGermansLate WarRambling

8 comments

  1. Don’t think your hatred of the panther is completely irrational at all. I love the Panther aesthetically, but I often feel sadness as in game terms its not just worth points – The comparison you make with the Tiger perfectly illustrates this. When you also consider how easy it is for Brits/Soviets to get high AT it can be a points sink. Imo Panthers need to be a point cheaper per tank and another point or two cheaper across the platoon.

    I would also say the PIV is a little over costed too and is frequently outclassed my allied armour (pts efficiency) and imo can seem quite redundant (jack of all trades but not strong enough in one area to be decisive). – Not to the same extent as the Panther mind you.

  2. Thanks Andy, loved the article. Stuh’s are irritating in the Bagration book, as in the D-Day version they have the option of using their gun as an artillery template, not sure why Battlefront have removed this from the Bagration version.
    Are the points right for the Panther? I remember a comment from Battlefront saying that when they decreased the cost in play tests the Panthers ran amok, but they don’t seem to have got them quite right, they are trapped in purgatory the poor dears. Finally, I have gone off Hetzers after watching the video about them by Lindybeige, little death traps, plus they look ridiculously small when a tank crew is placed in the hatch, more like a tankette than a tank. Anyways, thanks again, looking forward to the next one!

    1. It looks like battlefront just copy/pasted the stug formation right out from Fortress Europe, which also had the StuH’s lacking a bombardment statline. Considering how shoddily edited the boots have been so far, e.g mispointed 6-pounders in the british book, and several glaring oversights in the soviet book, I wholly expect a LFTF soft ‘clarification’ that there is supposed to be a bombardment statline and they just forgot to print it.

    2. Yeh I remember that post too, they stated a point cheaper and Panthers ruled the world. I struggle to see that but a point cheaper would just make it easier to fit support units rather than more panthers per se.

  3. My favorite “D-Day German” formation is the armoured Panzergrenadier with the 116. Panzerdivision and Assault Flak Command Cards.

    The formation support of three Panthers fits perfect with the armoured 7/1 Flak to get the 40 points for the reserve.

    The Panther doesn’t perform like a Tiger but it gives me three extra points for a recce-unit or to beef up the meat-shield around the Panthers.

    In combo with the point-discount of the 116. and the Assault Flak i have enough numbers on the table to compensate the shortcomes of the Panthers and enjoy is Tiger-like performance.

    Stay safe!

    jb

  4. A good, fun read with my morning coffee, so thanks for that! And yes, please do more of these in the future.

    I always find it interesting to see the Tiger being lauded as this powerhouse, and being used to compare other tanks to. On the “material” side of things, yes, the Tiger is amazing. A high threat range, very high armor, great! But then we come to its Achilles’ heel: a 4+ motivation. Yes, its remount is 2+, but when faced with a counterattack roll, you have a 50% chance to stay in the fight. I’ve lost more Tigers in close combat than by enemy long range fire.

  5. I Think you forgot one immensly important thing about the hetzer (one that came as a nasty suprice when I was assulted by enemy infantry)
    The Remote controlled machinegun Of the Hetzer only have a Rof 2 !!!
    This means the World in defensive fire, and the hetzer needs Its defensive fire as it is rather weak in assult

    None the less.. they are amongst my favorites…
    11 tank team at 44 points is a bargain with front 7 AT 11

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Article by: Andy Thompson