Flames of War – D-Day – Panzer Lehr Box Set

Hello there Readers,

Today I’m going to step a bit away from the competitive posting I’ve accustomed you to (warmongering wargamers that you are…). I will copycat Mark G. by proposing something more casual for D-Day. Celebrating 80 years of the Normandy landings, Battlefront has given back to players old Version 2 exclusive battle sets, re-released for Version 4. With Mark taking out of the scrapyard the intriguing 21st Panzer Division, I’m going for the best out of German factories: the Panzer Lehr!

Let’s never forget those who delivered us from tyranny

D-Day release

Focusing on June 06th 1944 landing in France, D-Day Compilation Book (available in your Local Gaming Stores on June 08th) is good for new comers: having, in one place, everything you need to play the June-August 1944 Normandy Campaign (and a bit of Britanny and race to Paris), plus access to the material online (via Forces), is nice. Of course, the veterans would have like to have more gaming options and maybe even some revamped points, but this is not an article where I would brag against BF.
Let’s be positive and have a look at those old school box sets which are exactly matching the ones we had 15 years ago! Is it a good thing? For nostalgia, surely it is. For gaming purpose… let’s see if we can make it work.

Getting my hands on the Panzer Lehr set, I have been wondering what to do with it, focusing first on casual play, then being a bit cheeky and exploring how to use it for semi-competitive.

Panzer Lehr Box Set – Unboxed

As a bit of history, the Panzer Lehr was designed as “demonstration” division, and was the best equipped of the war for the German. Good equipment and solid soldiers, high number and good morale, this is also what you will find in the set re-released in June 2024 by BF. The company transcript successfully the personality of this force for the game!

The set provides you the following Force out of the box :

2x SMG + Sdkfz 251 HQ – 3 points

7x MG/Faust + 3x Panzershrek + 4x Sdkfz 251 – 20 points

7x MG/Faust + 3x Panzershrek + 4x Sdkfz 251 – 20 points

2x Sdkfz 10/4 20mm AA – 3 points

3x Nebelwerfer 41 – 9 points

4x Jagdpanzer 7.5cm – 23 points

2 destroyed tanks objective – 0 point (free AND cool, what’s not to like?!)

Total = 78 points


That would be what we used to call a “Mechanized Infantry” Force. It’s an OK army with the minimum required for the Formation (Armored Panzer Grenadier: 2 core Units + HQ) with extra (AAA), supported by artillery (NW41) and tank hunters (Jagdpanzer). The only thing missing is reconnaissance. Otherwise, you have pretty much all you need to play FoW. Not bad for a veteran starter!

As a side note here, I would encourage players, for their first games, not to bother too much about list building, points balance and large tables: pairing out-of-the-box armies/starters against each other on a 120x120cm board (4’x4’) on simple missions like Free For All or No Retreat is lovely to discover the game. That’s true for those D-Day exclusive sets but also every Starter army set produced by BF (which are pretty decent).

In the Pros, it has mobility, large Units, quite impactful, decent AP and AT, backed up by a solid anti-infantry/gun template (that can also fire smoke bombardment). Hard to break for Morale and good for Reserves. Good all-rounders.
On the Cons, the Units are expensive (a bad move/roll will put them in a difficult spot), the army doesn’t offer much depth in deployment/tactics, and the AAA is really squichy.

Making it better – the Casual way

You can use this box and have fun with it. No problem with that.
Here is my take on using this box as a larger army base, and trying to minimize your toy soldiers budget (more money for wife/husband/kids’ presents – good).
The Panzer Lehr exclusive set will cost you 135€, and the D-Day compilation 50€.
That’s 185€ already spent – surely a bit less in any good Local Gaming Store.

Next, I would pick a box of 3 Sdkfz 250 Scout troop for 27€. This will give you the Recce you were missing – Spearhead is a great rule you should learn about quickly in this game, useful in both Offense and Defense. Also, learning “how to ride your tanks when your Sdkfz is not available” is in the Panzer Grenadiers 1.0.1 manual… Eventually, the Scout troop is a unit you can reuse abundantly in pretty much every German build of Mid War and Late War. Solid.

Then, I would go with something absolutely fluffy for the Panzer Lehr, and fortunately very decent for the Germans in both Mid and Late War V4: more Sdkfz 251! This army box set revolves around Armored Panzer Grenadiers, their Formation is a safe haven for those vehicles which, by 1944/FoW V4, where carrying a lot of the supporting tasks for the Panzer Grenadiers. I would suggest adding 2 boxes of Gun platoon – Mortar section, granting you 8 Sdkfz 251 which you can equip with 7.5cm Guns (Stummels) or 8.1cm Mortars (Mortars). That’s a solid 2 x 36€ investment you will not regret as the game stands! This will make your Panzer Grenadier Formation both tough and able to play every mission, in Offense and in Defense.

Eventually, what you may lack (or simply want to add) is more Anti-tank. Fully armored Tanks are tempting, but already having the JadgPanzer, I picked another option. The Panzer Grenadiers of the Lehr are able to carry on pretty much every role on the battlefield, but they surely appreciate if they can advance covered by big shells or hold a choke point with blazing guns. I would go for another iconic Unit of WW2, the 8.8cm Flak36, that matches very well with the rest of the Lehr, and can also be used in all German lists. That would be a final 36€ in the shopping bag.

Those 4 more boxes bring the total budget to 320€ and give the following Build :

Armored Panzer Grenadiers Formation (Lehr)

2x SMG + Sdkfz 251 HQ – 3 points

7x MG/Faust + 3x Panzershrek + 4x Sdkfz 251 – 20 points

7x MG/Faust + 3x Panzershrek + 4x Sdkfz 251 – 20 points

4x Sdkfz 251 7.5cm (Stummels) – 6 points

4x Sdkfz 251 8.1cm (Mortars) – 6 points

2x Sdkfz 10/4 20mm AA – 3 points

Support

3x Sdkfz 250/250-9 Recon – 3 points

3x Nebelwerfer 41 – 9 points

4x Jagdpanzer 7.5cm – 23 points

4x Flak36 8.8cm – 12 points

Total = 105 points


This is a good all-rounders list, decent to Attack and to Defend. It has everything in it. With a single Frontal Armor 4+ Unit and big Units (20/20/23), it can play any Missions, including the ones with Reserves (Deep Reserves as well). A solid Build to get in the game and learn it well, with pretty much everything you can reuse in other MW/LW Lists.

Making it better – the semi-Competitive upgrade

One of the common mistake of non-competitive players is believing going to competition needs a far bigger budget than casual (damn you Games Workshop!). It’s not. True you will spend a couple more coins, but it’s surely not that much on your toy soldiers (did you see the fares of airplanes/trains recently?!).
Here is my take to prove it to you.

Remember the Build right in the previous paragraph, you can definitely show up in an event and win the crown with it. FoW is a game of players above all else, remember?
Now, if you want to make it a little bit more cunning, the first thing I would add is the Command Card Deck for German D-Day. Those Cards will give you a couple extra tricks you can use. For this Force, I’ve picked the 16th Panzer Division – Rebuild, which downgrades Tactics to 4+ (bad for Stormtrooping Germans) with a -1 point discount per Unit of the Formation (saving key points in the process), and the mighty Lucky to re-roll a critical die.

That being said, my extra-buys are going to be very limited: I will simply add another box of Scout Troop (27€) and a box of Sdkfz 250 Transports (45€), so I have enough small half tracks to Build a Scout Formation. The rest I will manage with what I already own from the casual Build.

For a grand total of 392€ budget (I’m sure it can be negotiated for 350€ with your friendly retailer!), now I have quite a solid collection of Infantry, Armored Fighting Vehicles, Tanks and Artillery. Here is what I can do with them :

Armored Panzer Grenadiers Formation (16th PanzerDivision)

2x SMG + Sdkfz 251 HQ + 16th – 2 points

7x MG/Faust + 3x Panzershrek + 4x Sdkfz 251 + 16th – 19 points

7x MG/Faust + 2x Panzershrek + 16th – 14 points

6x Sdkfz 251 7.5cm (Stummels) + 16th – 8 points

4x Sdkfz 251 8.1cm (Mortars) + 16th – 5 points

2x Sdkfz 10/4 20mm AA + 16th – 2 points

Half Tracks Scout Formation (Command Card)

1x Sdkfz 250 HQ – 1 point

3x Sdkfz 250/250-9 Recon – 3 points

3x Sdkfz 250/250-9 Recon – 3 points

3x Sdkfz 250/250-9 Recon – 3 points

Support

3x Nebelwerfer 41 – 9 points

4x Jagdpanzer 7.5cm – 23 points

4x Flak36 8.8cm – 12 points

Lucky – 1 point

Total = 105 points

This is almost the same as the casual one, just with a bit of optimization: 2nd Formation for better Morale and Command reroll bubbles, tailor-made Reserves (with toolbox option), better AP and AT, more field presence. Otherwise: a very similar pattern.

Also, this is a great core army for any “Mechanized Infantry” from Germany, Mid War or Late War. You can easily toy around it by changing it’s ratings (like Super Soap – Fearless Aggressive) or adding specific Units (like Tiger or StuG) for different gaming experiences.
And that is not going to cost you a fortune… unless you really like to collect toys and try all the combos!

Old school V3 PanzerLehr!

Wrapping up the unwrapped

The Panzer Lehr Division D-Day 80th Anniversary Army Deal is a good buy for veteran collectors or new comers wanting to follow the “Mecha” way of the German. It’s an interesting alternative to the other Starter sets, which are mainly “Tanks” focused (I find those better to learn the game mechanics of moving and shooting and, of course, if you prefer Tanks over AFV – as a Mecha player, I like this Lehr deal better!).

I find it cool that BF re-release an old school product ; it seems not much changed in 15 years, which is both reassuring (everything changes so fast nowadays) and sad (game actually didn’t move a lot since).
I think they could have go even further by playing the “V2-nostalgia” music and throw a free briefing in the box (something like Star Wars Legion Battle Forces – you have limited Units, but you get special rules – deal!). Maybe an idea for the future?

Knowledge is power: share it widely !

Fred

Lee and his “Time of Day” co-host, Mike, have had a look at the new starters and added them to their late war tier list.

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