Let’s Talk Deployment…

Following on from my blogs on Force building, today I’m going to talk a bit about what happens next in game terms the Deployment phase. For me, it’s one of the most critical decision points in a game.

Getting it right can really help but getting it wrong can really hinder you for the whole game. Reading the tabletop and understanding how you can use it to complement your force is a bit of an art; it requires practice and some degree of experience and an understanding of the opponent’s force. But, we don’t all have that – yet, at least – so hopefully what I’ve written here will give those of you who are new to the hobby some tips on what to look at.

To aid me in this I’m going to use a recent example from Warfare 2021 where I faced an SS Panther Company. I created this series of diagrams to illustrate the thoughts and things I looked at when choosing where and how to deploy.

In the game, I was the Defender in the  Counter Attack scenario, the outcome was an 8-1 win for the Defender. Before looking at the table let’s take a quick look at the Scenario and lists.

My list can be found here and the SS- Panther list was:

  • HQ platoon of 2 SS Panthers,
  • 2 x platoons of 3 SS Panthers
  • 1 x platoon of 3 SS Panzer IV
  • 1 x Sd Kfz 7/1 SS Quad AA Platoon
  • 1 x Sd Kfx 221 & 222 SS Scout Troop
  • 1 x Armoured Panzer Grenadier Platoon

From this you can see that I will have to move to secure one objective, I will have Immediate Reserves and an Ambush, my opponent will be able to utilise the Spearhead rule but SS being Aggressive will make it easier for me to hit them.

Knowing all these things will influence my choice of table quarter in which I deploy. I am looking to force my opponent to place the undefended objective (Objective 2 in Figure 3 below) into an area where I can move troops to, utilise concealing terrain whilst getting there and where they will be able to establish a solid defensible position.

Also, as my reserves are both tank units and my opponent only really has tanks, I want to ensure when my reserves arrive on to the table I can bring them on in such a way as to screen them from as much of my opponent’s positions as possible and to be able to concentrate my fire against any unit my opponent has placed near to the objective.

So what did the table look like?

Figure 1: The terrain of the table

Along side the constraints on my force and deployment options, I have one further constraint; I want at least two locations where I can ambush from to avoid enemy Spearhead movements being able to block off my options. So, my first thought process was where do I want the undefended open objective put? Now I don’t have complete control of this process in this scenario, but I can influence my opponents choice of table quarter through mine.

The top left table quarter is an option for placement of the open objective if my opponent deploys on the bottom right but the presence of the river made this an unlikely option for them to choose. For me, the drawbacks with this area are there was little cover for my troops to use to screen their movement in to it, only one useful ambush position thanks to the large wood and the opposing deployment area would allow my opponent to advance rapidly along the road after a spearhead from the bottom right quarter.
Looking at the top right corner this is another possible option the walled fields would give me some concealment but the Panthers have an excellent cross rating and can outmanoeuvre me so this might not slow them down much.
So I started to look at the bottom two quarters, the bottom left met most of my criteria but would result in my reserves entering into an open area. Even if I got off an effective opening shot off, they would be exposed to return fire in the open and, with no defence against an AT 14 gun, they would be easy to eliminate even with just a couple of the eight Panthers. As such, I discarded this area.

This left the bottom right corner. Now, this has some interesting options, the rocky ground provides cover for units moving behind it and bulletproof cover for infantry moving through it. The narrow hill on the right-hand side also provides a covering position for reserves to move into on their arrival, I can safely ambush from behind the river in the wooded area and finally, the objective would have to be placed into the crop field to avoid me being able to sneak up on tanks from the two central building if I got troops into them.

So this settled it I would deploy on the bottom left and hopefully, the open objective would be on the bottom right. Correctly assessing that my opponet didn’t fancy trying to assault me across the river, my opponent placed the objective as I had desired.

Figure 2: Table Quarters Chosen

The Figure 2 above shows what the table ready for the deployment looked like, my objective would be placed in the wood making it hard to get at and easier for my infantry to defend and I would have several options of where to place my ambush if my opponent chose to attack this position. My opponent didn’t want the objective anywhere near the buildings, a death trap for armour vs infantry. This forced them into either putting it near to my deployment zone or near the crop field which would allow me to conceal and dig in my infantry if I could get there quickly enough.

Figure 3: Objectives Placed

So I had achieved what I wanted:

  • I had an objective position (1) I could defend against an armoured assault with poor lines of fire for the Panthers and with a number of ambush options,
  • The open objective (2) was placed so I could move my troops across and keep them relatively hard to hit and, possibly, also in bulletproof cover giving positions,
  • and my reserves had some cover they could use to screen their entry with.

The final diagram (Figure 4) shows my deployment and what I expected my opponent to do in Turn 1.

Figure 4. What I thought was most likely to happen during Turn 1

As you can see I deployed my Pioneers to screen my front, they could then move forward, aligning to the river if this objective wasn’t threatened. My mortars were at the back of the table, holding objective 1, ranged in on positions I didn’t want my opponent’s infantry to move into from a spearhead move. My SMG and T-26 units were palced to be able to move across the table towards objective 2 as quickly as possible. It will take the infantry a couple of turns but the rocky ground will make good cover for the first hop, then the cornfield for the second. The Panthers will have to engage the T-26’s initially but range and concealment will hopefully keep the attrition on them to a sustainable rate to get my reserves into play.

So there you have it, this was what I thought about before the game started and hopefully this will help you in understanding some of the planning needed when making deployment choices and maximising your in game chances.

– Martin

4 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Deployment…

  1. Great article on a very very interesting topic. I would love to see more similar articles and also more on thoughts on initial approaces and adaptations to opposing strategies.

  2. Another fantastic article Martin and I remember this Finnish list from a previous article. I do hope some newbies read this as it’s valuable advice. I remember when I started in the hobby (end of V2/beginning of V3), I didn’t comprehend the total importance of deployment. I tend to play heavy infantry/anti-tank (FJ and SS) with armor support. With the arrival of Bagration German, I’ve started including the command card “Von Sauchen Speerverband” in many of my lists. Choosing “defend” with infantry, the speerverband (7 mg w/panzerfaust for 11 pts) allows me to reduce reserves to 29 pts, rather than 40 pts. I use the speerverband to hold one objective. 3 D-Day SS Panthers are 26 pts, leaving just 3 more points needed for reserves. This article gave me great food for thought to go along with my force building. Nice Job!

  3. While I love the idea of the article, I think the importance of “know your Mission” and placement cannot be overestimated, tbh I am sorry to say I am not sure whether this is a good example.
    Just looking at the lists in comparison I don’t see any real win chance for the aggressive panthers without arty anyway. Yours is a tournament list and his, well…
    And then with a river map severely impeding the only slight advantage he might have, mobility…
    Panthers suck, even more so in the “diagonal” missions where you are guaranteed to get side shots. There is no real assaulting platoon in his list, there is no arty, no smoke.. going in against 100s, 85s double mortars with aggressive.. enjoy..

    Counterattack however is a delicate mission, imo difficult to play as attacker even with a proper list.. race across the board and defend a couple turns in all directions.. would have been interesting to see inverted roles.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. Firstly this was a tournament game I simply turned up and found the table and opponent waiting form me, we don’t always get to pick annd choose where and what we are facing.

      It is a big ask of the Panther list to win the game with its configuration but not impossible. They can actually get onto the open objective in their turn 2 if they are aggressive enough, given the only weapons the Finns really had on the table until turn 3 were 2x Pak40’s there is a good opportunity once they are there they will be hard to shift.

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