Flames of War – Flower Power – Late War Competitive Germans – Part 1

Hello Readers, Fred here, back for some Competitive goodness. After Scary Diving (UK), Healthy Eating (US), how about Flower Power? Today, I give you the edelweiss lovers of Late War, let’s talk about Germany (GER) !

This article is built slightly differently than the previous ones on UK and US . I’m going to start by painting a fair picture of where the Germans (GER) stand, including why they may struggle in the current LW meta, after a solid start, Part 1. Then, let’s try to focus on tools they have to perform in the competitive scene, including how they can constitute both a rewarding force and even play the bogey men… again! In Part 2.

Can you watch any Amazon Prime Video program without having this edelweiss song in mind when the jingle rings ? I can’t…

Competitive Late War Germany – the world before Summer

Close your eyes, play soft music … The time is Spring, birds are singing, flowers are reborn, couples are making love and … OK, stop the music ! Pretty much like in 1944, in FoW, by Spring (2022), German were having an “OK” time; sure things weren’t great in East and West, but their fronts were large and well defended, lines were holding since inception of this Version, with good equipment and quality troops to make the difference. The Allies (most notably those pesky British) were sometimes giving them a hard time, but they had good tools to make them run for their money.

First to rattle the cage, Bulge Germany arrived with big noises and sounds in May-June.
A massive book for the GER, a game changer for them (in positive … but also negative, unless you play only Red vs Blue). Massive Tanks, twin Faust, more Artillery, and a wagon of Aggressive troops. Quite a change of perspectives for GER but hey, they had a first warning shot a couple of months ago with Bulge US arrival, right?

Second was the LFTF from July 2022 : three major changes impacted the competitive meta GER lists :
1. How to Build Forces, and the preventing of mixing freely Books within themselves. Say goodbye to your superb cocktail mixology.
2. One of GER players most favourite toy was simply erased from the surface of table tops : 116th being now only -1 point per Unit, with double minuses (Last Stand 5+ and Tactic 4+), while you can only have one of them (and not the other) – for the same price, either Last Stand 5+ or Tactics 4+. No more reason to take them. Bye bye mighty Hound.
3. PakFront being pricier (2 points per gun) and forced to be always on table (so no Reserves shenanigan). Say farewell to your four Flak 36 8.8 PakFront, a cornerstone Unit in many LW GER defensive builds.

Third was UK Bulge : not a meta changer, but still a significant new threat. Higher AT, more Artillery, more Recce, more aggressive assaulting troops.

[Reject 17pdr mediocrity and embrace 12″ tactical 77mm HV superiority – Lee]

This can’t be ignored, especially by the GER, notably by the new ones introduced in Bulge (Aggressive troops really don’t like this UK Bulge book).

“Let’s Chase the Chasing Hound” – a Summer 2022 Hit, by Battle Front, top of the charts, worldwide

The Wounded Wolf

Let’s be fair, we all love it when the big bad wolf takes blows, don’t we?
What would be an antagonist if he wasn’t despicable? Wolfie and co’ may not have reach the tough spot of the Bear Factory (USSR) or the Pisa-Tower-Crown Flagship (HUN), but it’s not that complex to understand why they are having a bad time compared to Mc Wonderbra (US) & Marry Poppins Ltd (UK), or even the Lidl Boys (FIN/ROM). Let’s have a look on what is gripping their mechanics.

The SMS : Space Marine Syndrome

As a principle, stats-wise GER are good. Like, a lot. The reliable, yet not so classic anymore, Confident Veteran Careful trio, backed up by very decent equipment, and topped by some spicy rules like Third Reich and StormTroopers. They can even be better than better (Fearless, more equipment, Heroes boosting…). Comparing to the US for instance, who can also be great all-rounders but with significant lower flaws, the Germans are solid, reliable, and can do a lot of things.
First consequence: points do add up. Like, fast. And it’s not even when bettering them. Basics, GER are expensive. In a game with a limited budget, more often than not, GER struggle to get all the tools to do the job, and when they do, they don’t have much steam left in the engine.
Second consequence : the actual efficiency. Being good everywhere most of the time means they aren’t great nowhere. In pretty much all sectors, the GER are bested. Artillery and Tanks, US have the upper hand. AT and Recce, the UK do. Heck, even the good old forgotten USSR are besting them in Assault. Plus you will seldom use all their options in the game.

In modern wargaming, this is called the Space Marine Syndrome. As a good transcription of this; their most (in)famous units, the Panzers.

So-called Super Humans, overly equipped, highly devoted, using eagle and skull sigils, serving a despotic dictatorship regime … doesn’t it remind you of something ?

Berlin ? We have a Panzer problem

Paradox : the most iconic troops of Germans in WW2 are the hardest to field in FoW.
The Panzers are not necessary bad, they just sit in the worst position of wargaming, the one where you can’t say they suck, but you are still reluctant to bring them.
They are decent in many aspects, from the most humble Tank Destroyer to the proudest Heavy Tank, the wide range of Panzers available allows to field low armour + powerful gun, or good armour + less efficient gun, or even superb armour + deadly gun. All that sported by the great stats mentioned above (before you ask, don’t worry, I will get on the downgraded ratings in a sec.).

Because company level wargaming doesn’t need to take into account a massive logistics footprint – Lee

But their cost is quite high and they do pay highly for their redundancy and capacities.
The cheapest Careful GER Fully Armored Tank actually costs 3 points; the venerable FlammHetzer! This one is decent, but don’t expect much out of it but to burn a few stands. Also one Flammhetzer cost as much as three UK Wasp IIC who are way more efficient, just saying.
Otherwise, any Careful Panzer will cost you at least 4 points. But for the decent Marder, GER in that pricing region are not even close to causing your grandma a heart attack, either because it is a Panzer III (with a how-so-sad Pak38 outdated gun) or because it is a Hetzer that can’t move & shoot properly, can only do Tactics on a 4+ (too bad considering the first condition) and can hardly go in terrain with its 5+ cross.

Upgrading, the standard Panzer IV are 5.5 points a tank, still suffering from the comparison with the humble Sherman from the UK or US (consider the Sherman 76mm for the same price or Firefly for even less), their Armor is still vulnerable to Medium to Heavy AT (StuG are slightly better here, but cost more (6) and cross worse (4+)), their gun is good but starting to struggle with the increase in front armour of allied tanks, and they aren’t still great anywhere.

Continuing to the big cats such as the Panther, JagdPanther and Tiger, these sport decent armor, a good gun, and mostly good mobility. Raid your kids college fundif you want to afford them though. That could be a fair trade (well, not for your kids…), if only they have means to compensate for their low model count with more damage output, or the big points spent in their protection were worth it. Truth be told? Not really.

Reaching the biggest;Elefant, Tigers II, JadgTigers. All cost a fortune (min. 13 points/each), but have two main advantages; a gun that can pierce almost anything, and enough armour making them close to invulnerable on Front and Top facings

Regarding the non-Careful, let’s be clear : Aggressive do die fast. A lot faster than Careful. There is a world of survivability between Aggressive and Careful in this game. That is sometimes acceptable when you are hoarding half-tracks (Triple & 2cm AA Flak, Stummels, Flames Tracks…) or Recce (GER Scouts are not the greatest, but you can definitely live with them), or even fielding Infantry en-masse. Not that so when we are talking about actual Panzers. Aggressive means taking a lot more hits than Careful. Can the pricy and vulnerable Panzers endure it ? Not quite in my books.

All in all, the Panzers are a very concrete example of what difficulties await the GER in competitive LW. They are not bad, they are simply fairly disappointing when you consider the sacrifices you had to make to field them, and how they repay you.

The look on your Panther face when you are telling it you won’t take it for the battle

The temptation of luxury and why you must resist

GER issues on the competitive scene don’t stop at the Panzers, which are merely a catalyst. After all, you can play without them, right?
I remember my very first game of FoW V2 a looong time ago; I was using the British and was amazed by my opponent doing tricks with their GER. He did so many things I wasn’t able to do! Surely, some of the readers here may have felt the same while jumping into V4, and this is why they pick the GER. How deceptive …

Truth to be told, GER suffer a lot from their superior capacities or the abilities they have on top of the other Nations. Even for the best veteran players, it’s supremely hard to walk away from a game and state : “I use all the capacities of my army”. Most of the time, you will use a portion of your GER capacities, but all the time you will pay for them. Something the other Nations don’t really have to worry about.

Being able to issue two movement orders, having infantry loaded with AP/AT, troops staying on the field despite the odds… that is cool on paper. But factually, FoW is a game of risks management and probabilities. GER advantages can simply be negated by the gruesome reality of the game. You may have the biggest, badest, meanest tank around, but if it can’t drive into a defensive position without being stopped by Defensive Fire or Counter Attack, you won’t win the game. You may have troops that will succeed each and every Motivation test they have to make, if they are purely erased by the enemy firepower, what good does it bring you?
In essence; playing GER, you will, before the battle even begins, be dragged into a strategic disadvantage compared to your opponent. (rather like it was in the historical Late War period – Martin)

By playing GER, it’s fairly easy to get carried away by the “shiny-ness” of your toys. Especially when you have options to make them even better (either by Units options or Command Cards). It’s so cool to be able to do everything, you can forget you are tight on budget… the sky is not the limit here, and the better your already good troops are, the less you will have on the table, and the more complex it will be to actually perform.

The Cards changed by LFTF 2022 are a good example of how GER players tried to mitigate these inherent issues … but got nerfed batted by BF . “how dare you?” We were used to see quite a lot of GER competitive builds using 116th Command Card and/or PakFront :

116th essentially removes Third Reich and worsens it (from 3+ to 5+ on Last Stand) and Stormtroopers (I mean you can, but with Tactics 4+, it’s a 50% chances of failure from the start 75% overall). On the principle, trading off a pair of expensive abilities you can use, for a lesser price tag on the models becoming less efficient without them.

PakFront essentially reduce vulnerabilities of ATG (natural candidate : the Flak36) to direct and indirect fire, as well as reducing its lack of battlefield flexibility (= large immobile guns deployed somewhere on the line with limited range threat). On the principle, paying even more for an already costly Unit but making it lives truly by its points (= making it a real investment).

The first one was hit too harsh, but it’s the consequence of how GER were designed early V4 (Fortress Europe’s original sins), coupled with the 100 points system (where 1 is too low and 2 is too high) and the fact the Card was awkwardly designed (-2 points on things like Infantry Platoons and SPG make sense, not really on HQ or small Units of HMG/Mortars). (Later decks have better design for this sort of optioneering – Martin).

The second one is plainly not a great move nor understanding the game mechanics. Not rewriting history, let’s just say what those Cards (and similar) show is, in competition :
a) you can happily live with units with exploitable flaws if it means more toys and having to be better in combining them on the battlefield (e.g : UK)
b) you can happily pay more to have certain troops better and more efficient (e.g : US)
Remove those options (or similar) away from the GER, and yes, they will keep on struggling with their inherent flaws.

GER players succumbing to the charms of their precious toys … yes, we all know how the story ends

Building a list : Nightmare on Elm Street

Focusing on the drivers to get a balanced and suited for competition list (= a Build that doesn’t let its player afoot) :
yes, GER have access to many equipment and troop options to play every battlefield positions
no, it is not an easy task to gather them to perform, and clearly there are very little room for mistakes.

You can and still should get inter-arms cooperation and assets balance, but with a budget stretched to its limit. When its come to the GER, really have in mind redundancy comes with a price, and you will hardly use all of what you paid for in the game.Considering the Rules of 4 it’s possible, yet difficult, for the GER to reach any :

Artillery : UK or US are not crippling their budget for a very decent Rule of 4-Artilleries;  they can pay more then the 1/5th budget usual, but they do get even better Dual-Purposes Artilleries (US M12 155mm) or even Triple-Purpose Artilleries (UK Sexton)) ; GER on the other hand can hardly achieve that, or in fairly worse conditions (such as numerous on-foot batteries, vulnerable to counter firing and Assault).
Anti-Tank : UK or US can easily achieve a solid Core with fairly decent Medium to Heavy AT capabilities, complementing it with just the Utilities to cover up the board with the AT they need to do the job (multi-purpose Sherman, Tank Destroyer, medium ATG … you named them) ; contrary to GER who both face the difficulty to actually add those 4 Units and struggle to field them due to high price tag AT Units, or having to take highly vulnerable ones, or Forces struggling with the Reserves system.

As a side note, those issues most of the time transcripts into GER being more secure in Defense than in Offense : if you don’t have the tools to do the job or if a single blow in your line will impair completely your plan, perhaps it’s safer to let the opponent dictate the tempo of the battle and react to it.
Hint : in V4, that is NOT a great spot (remember : Attacker wins 50% of its game, and Defender only 25%).

Take a look at the GER lists of ETC 2022. Needless to say several of these players are amongst the best around the globe, yet all their lists have/had (remember LFTF 2022) important flaws. Looking at a selection :

Team USA Chris Jackson’s (Bulge VolskGrenadier + KG Schnell) may have the nastiest Infantry (you just don’t want these Grenadiers to lock you up in Assault, like … never), but it is going to be murdered by Artillery and strong offensive gunline, against which this Build has limited answers (Mortars, HS129 and a pair of vulnerable Tanks).

Team Poland Adam Tyczynski’s (Brigade Sturm (Bulge) + HT Scouts (Bagration)) have a very nice Reserves System (1 Reserve with the Elefant or 2 with the Flames & Assault Platoon), solid hand-to-hand contact tools, but have very few projective AT (4 x 8.8 PakFront + 1 Elefant + 4 Aggressive Stummels) meaning it will be reacting to the path of battle almost always, and be pretty much certain to get stalled in end-game.

Team Serbia Bojan Smidling’s (Von Saucken Hetzer (Bagration) + KG Schnell (Bulge)) have a very impressive firepower (Direct & Indirect) but has a serious issue with Reserves. And very few troops that can go in Assault when the shelling is not enough.

All of the 116th of the Tournament lists (19), nice with their variances, are not possible anymore due to the increase in prices. Back to drawing board gentlemen !
(Explains why the card got modified more than anything else – Martin)

It’s easier for this guy to take bogeys out his nose without scratching himself than for GER players to actually balance their list

Now you’ve reached this point of this article, you may wonder what stops you from selling your Dunkelgelb plastic men on the Bay. Let me spell it (again) loud for you : FoW is a game of players.
In the 2nd part of this article, we will focus on navigating with the GER in the current meta and yes, they can still bite hard !

Happy to hear your thoughts, feedback and experiences in Comments.

Knowledge is power : share it widely !


4 thoughts on “Flames of War – Flower Power – Late War Competitive Germans – Part 1

    1. Thanks Mikolaj.
      In the 2nd part of the article, and in the article dedicated to the Soviets (incoming publishing) I’m detailing a bit the Minor Axis (and Allies) nations.
      Let me know when you read those if you need more !

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