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?
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.
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.
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.
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.