Welcome back to another heavily opinionated view about what is “Hot & Cold” in the new Bulge German book. I will apply the same caveat I did with the US book; this article looks at units through the lens of competitive play or, as I like to put it, ‘bang for your points’. Put another way, what units are going to be seen on the table and which will be left off?
However, as always there is a rule of cool, whatever anyone thinks, if you like it, go for it!
I did not think I would be saying this…. but Panthers are back on the table. Now in the shiny ‘late’ variety they come equipped with FA10. I wrote a lot on it here and I stand by the opinion that the Brigade version, at a mere 20pts for three, is just wonderful. Yes they are aggressive and, sure, they are reluctant, but they are a 6.6pt FA10 tank with AT14!
The SS version is also worth a shout out, still more affordable than the Heer version, and the FA10 mitigates their aggressive rating whilst fearless keeps them going.
Unfortunately, the Heer version is still a no from me; cautious is great but it is just too many points for a tank that isn’t good at getting stuck into assaults and is vulnerable to side shots.
In summation, 67pts for 10 FA10 tanks with AT14 gets my vote all day long.
Brigade Armoured Triple AA Flak Platoon
It does feel a bit odd that the Germans now seem to be able to pump out more tanks and vehicles (and infantry) than the Soviets within 100pts. This is of cause due to their dreadful aggressive, reluctant ratings. That said, you sure do get a lot for small points and the Triple AA is a perfect example.
5pts will nab you six halftracks pushing out up to 30 AT5 Fp5+ shots! It is FA1, so doesn’t have to worry about infantry small-arms generally and, with six hulls in a platoon, they take more shifting then you might expect. The kicker is that you can take 24 of them within three platoons in the Brigade formations. That’s up to 120 (yes, 120!) shots for 20pts. Even 30 shots will result in five dead infantry teams if they dare to move in the open. As many experienced players know, FP5+ shots really add up and work well for digging out guns teams or HMGs; what isn’t dead is very pinned. They are also going to shift the game’s meta and, along with FA10 Panthers, are a nice counter to the ‘in vogue’ Brit recce lists.
SS King Tigers
The King is back in the building (well the table top). Basically a Tiger on steroids. If you play against Germans you need to be ready for them. 31pts will get you a pair of SS Tigers with 2+ motivation. This is the key reason you can run them in pairs, where as you rarely see other units wanting this number of hulls due to platoon morale issues [Looking at you, Pumas – Lee]. The SS aggressive rating is mitigated by the front armour, however you do need to be a bit more careful in assault.
I don’t view the Heer version as ‘hot’; the lack of a 2+ counter and follow me along with cautious (don’t need it with that armour) just doesn’t make it worth the points for me. Yes I need to be more careful about being flanked but I rarely see it happen (if they are handled correctly).
The KT can do everything, move, shoot and assault. It has an answer for everything and it is also a great reserve unit, meeting the general intent to get most points on with your 1st reserve roll is met. I reckon this will routinely replace three SS Tiger 1s in the cookie cutter Greyhound 116th lists.
12th VolksGrenadier Division Rifle Platoon
This is a very specific one so lets walk through it. The Volksgrenadier Rifle platoon is 7pts for seven stands, including limited (2) panzerfausts. They are aggressive, reluctant & trained. For 3pts you can add the 12th Volksgrenadier Division Card and make them 10pts. The card basically gives them the same stats as Heer troops – cautious, veteran and confident (3+ last stand). This is a huge capability jump for so few points. What is key though is that the HMGs and Panzershreks remain 1pt each, where as the Heer troops pay 2pts. This means you can get two Panzershreks and a HMG for a total of 10 stands for 13pts. That is a seriously meaty unit for that cost and is terrifyingly good at hunting down tanks that dare to get near. four AT11-12 shots and then an assault is very nasty against small tank units and especially effective if you bail 1-2 first with some armour (eg 20pt Panthers).
I will add that I am not a fan of a whole 12th Volksgrenadier formation. As far as I can tell the rest of the units don’t really save any points over Heer but this is a great choice as formation support.
Volks Hetzer Formation
Another example of the German’s new ability to put a massive volume of tanks on the table. 33pts will buy you 13 Hetzers. Thats 13 x FA7, AT11 tanks with the standard aggressive, reluctant stats. Worth noting, no protected ammo so bailing is problematic, the CiC will be key.
A lot of people will discount these guys, they are overworked so suffer +1 to hit on the move, but 33pts is not a lot for that much FA7. In context I can get these, 7 Brigade Panthers, 4 x mobelwagons and 3 x PZIV/70s for 100pts, or these, 2 SS Tigers, 2 x batteries of 10.5cm guns (double smoke and FP3) AND a Volks Grenadier formation with mortars. There are so many possibilites.
AT11 may feel a little low in Late Late War but, when massed, it will eat up medium armour, including the FA7 Shermans (Jumbos only do so much) and is deadly to the Brits FA6.
It slightly pains me to place this in the ‘cold’ bracket. Rewind to V3 and Jagtigers were all the rage. They were ‘auto defend’ and, without the deep reserve rule, you could get 3-4 on table along with lots of other goodies. Their guns auto killed infantry and gun teams if they hit; they were great, although still a challenge to play. Fast forward to 2022, and I just don’t think they have found their place. They have a great gun, but have slow firing (tougher when not defending), they are similar to King Tigers but are poor at assault. They should dig out infantry and guns but the ‘brutal’ rule isn’t that great, you now get a save. I just struggle to see what I really need them for. At 31pts for a pair, I just think you are better off with King Tigers. Unless you are fighting IS2s then the Allies don’t have that much armour to need the higher AT and if you are fishing for 5s/6s to hit infantry then you won’t get far. Worst still they don’t get the 2+ last stand and remount that their King Tiger brothers get meaning they are more venerable.
Personally I think the option for a single Jagtiger in a platoon would have made them an interesting choice. If my aim is to kill tanks and dig out guns I can get six 8.8 tank hunters which bombard, four 10.5cm guns and nebs for only 2pts more than two Jagtigers!
Sorry I really want to love them (and I will still paint 3) but they are there for rule of cool not their killing power.
These are basically armoured nebs. Same stats but FA1 with TA and SA0. The key point is that being fully armoured they can’t be pinned down ensuring death and destruction of the enemy. The problem is that to get a ‘normal’ bombardment (ie more than 2 guns firing) you spend 16pts vice 9 for 3 Nebs. That’s a big jump in points for the same template.
While they can’t be pinned I actually find them as venerable. Recce with any type of gun will soon bail or destroy them, where as, statistically it is much harder to dig out the Nebs. Additionally, I can mitigate my Nebs being pinned with an observer tank for 1pt and still save 6pts over the Panzerwerfer. So it is a no from me I am afraid.
Side bar: Who on earth is going to field a Sdkfz 250 OP when you can have a FA5 PZIII Op for the same points?
Another new model for the Bulge release, but a one trick expensive pony. The key thing is a AT17 gun. I am always dubious about very high AT, you pay through the nose for it but I find beyond AT14 you get diminished returns except vs very specific targets (IS2, Super Pershing). The Jagpanther comes in at a whopping 37pts for 3 hulls, thats 4pts more than the early Heer Panthers. So for 4pts you gain 3AT but lose the around stats (ie poor assault) and gain forward firing. Perhaps in itself not a terrible trade off but the Heer Panther is/was woefully overcosted for its utility. Perhaps better to compare to 3 x SS Tiger 1s. You can 3 AT over the Tiger but at a cost of 3 less SA, 1 less TA, a turret (ie no forward firing), 2+ motivation and a 3+ assault. When you look at it in that light, +3AT just isn’t a great investment.
Another tragic addition to this list. The Sturmtiger’s stats are fantastic with a AT4, FP2+ and a brutal bombardment. At first glance you are thinking it is a bargain. Unfortunately it has a special rule that means you only get a single dice to range in per hull in the platoon (so max 2). At 14pts per hull that means you will only get 1 attempt (unless you really want to lose with a 28pt investment in a bombardment). With skill 3+ the odds are with you, however you will normally fall into the ‘Hobson’s choice’ of accepting a less juicy target that isn’t in cover or accepting a 4+ to range in. 50/50 isn’t so great especially in a game that often goes 6 turns.
What gets me is that the second hull is the same price as the first but doesn’t give double the value. Even at 7pts for the extra hull I would think twice, that is a huge investment for a two-dice range in FP2+ bombardment even if it is brutal. For comparison a pair of 4-gun 10.5cm batteries are 14pts. That is FP3+ but two templates and two smoke bombardments. The downside is that you can get pinned and they are reluctant. Still a lot of FOW is board control and 8 guns give you that.
I’ll end as I started by saying this is all opinion. What is great is that the Germans have so many good builds now, hopefully that will crush the 116th Greyhound meta once and for all. There is loads I want to experiment with and I can’t wait to see how the Brigade AA spam, 10 x Panthers or 13 Hetzers get on at events; after all it is all mathhammer until the dice start rolling!