The Bulge German book has provided the largest and most comprehensive book that FOW V4 has seen this far. Therefore, it is of little surprise that it includes the iconic Volksgrenadier forces. These ‘people’s’ forces represented a desperate attempt by the Third Reich to mobilise the remaining German forces to form new Divisions for their final gamble, the Ardennes offence. The Volks Divisions consisted of veterans from the Eastern front mixed with personnel from the Air Force and Navy who were surplus to requirements (not many German aircraft or ships left!). This led to a mixed Division that varied in experience and ethos depending on the weight of each service and number of veterans.
The German Volksgrenadier stats are as follows:
Certainly a large difference from the current Heer and SS offerings! They retain their SS cousins aggressive and trained rating but gain reluctant, representing the fact that they have come from a non frontline background. This is partially mitigated by the fairly standard ‘Third Reich’ 4+ last stand rating.
The Volksgrenadiers are the backbone of the Division and represent a really interesting force on the table. Each infantry platoon packs a ‘limited 2’ panzerfaust, perfect for countering armoured assaults and picking of stray tanks. The assault platoon has assault rifles (think longer range SMGS) with two stands firing as MG teams (should you wish). You can also add a HMG and up to two two-man Panzershreks for 1pt each (great value).
The rifle platoon is slightly cheaper with Rifle/MG teams and the same additional options.
The HMGs, Mortar and Pak40 options follow the standard make up we have seen in previous forces but with a significant saving due to their reduced stats.
For a measly 49pts you can field the HQ, three infantry platoons (two storm and one rifle) with Panzershrek and HMG, four 8cm mortars, four 12cm mortars and four pak40s. That’s a really solid base line to add your lovely King Tigers and Panthers to. For me three infantry platoons is a must as this mitigates the reluctant status, especially when the HQ is nearby.
One of the great things about the book is that the extensive support section includes options for all flavours of German forces, and can be intermixed. The Volks have their own section with some excellent value options which will breath new life into some old favourites.
The humble Hetzer is a really interesting assault gun and a firm favourite of mine. Here you get the option to field them in platoons of 3-4 for a rock bottom price. Sure they can’t assault very well and, yes, getting flanked is horrible and, I know, aggressive makes them more venerable and, of course, reluctant isn’t what you want…. However, using the Volks Hetzer Company Command card, I can field 13 of them for 33pts.
Yes, that’s right. 13 FA7 tanks with AT11 for 33pts!
Let that sink in.
Luckily I have 13 ready to rock and I am looking forward to backing them up with a pair of SS King Tigers, and a Volksgrenadier formation. That sounds super fun! (Unless you play allies).
The StuG is the natural big brother to the Hetzer and gains a confident rating due to its protected ammo. Its a point more expensive than a Volks Hetzer so an interesting trade off but if I am going Volks then I want the iconic Hetzer.
The final option is the humble 10.5cm gun. No surprises here and they come in 2,4 and 6 gun options. They are good value but the reluctant rating means counter battery fire is going to really limit their effectiveness.
Besides the almost obligatory Pioneer command card there are a few Volks options that really stand out. Remember the ‘humble’ 10.5cm gun? Well, what would you say if you could swap each one for a Pak40 that can bombard!
If there was ever a reason to paint up six PaK40s, this is it. The key thing is that, even when pinned, you still get a really good gun at ROF1. With an option to take six of them in one battery, you can kick out the same firepower as most normal Pak40 platoons. Plus six of them is only 1 pt more than four traditional Volks Pak40s. Just remember that you have a 4+ save and suffer the large gun rule, therefore no easy ambush.
If that wasn’t enough, you can spend some points and take a battery of up to six Pak43 88s! Yup, 12 x AT17 shots with an option to bombard for less points than four Heer Pak43s. Yes please, I’ll take 6 of them. With two Volks 105mm boxes on the force diagram, you can certainly take both options.
The Volksgrenadiers can also be improved to cautious veterans and we will look at that in future articles.
Bringing it together
My favourite thing about this book is that everytime I read it there are new ideas that I not only want to play, but that are also going to be genuinely good on the table. If I was to theme my army around a defensive Volks list I could get:
7 strong Assault platoon with attached HMG
7 strong Assault platoon with atttached Panzerskrek
7 strong Rifle platoon with attached double Panzerskrek
4 x 8cm mortars
4 x 12cm mortars
4 x Pak40s
6 x Volks 7.5cm Artillery
4 x Volks 8.8cm Artillery
2 x SS King Tigers
3 x SS SD Kfz 250s scouts
Thats a scary amount of firepower with up to 20 AT12 shots and 8 x AT17 shots on table along with seven Panzerfauts, and three panzershreks. The King Tigers provide an expensive unit in reserve, riding to the rescue on the first successful reserve dice. There is a lot to like there.
I shall leave you with my three platoons of Volksgrenadiers ready to hit the table.