Guest Writer Lexi Valkria takes a look at the new Berlin German book’s Panzer formations.
Berlin German is finally upon us and with its release marks the end* of the Late War books. There are 8 new formations, as well as 5 via the command cards. The book formations are split into 3 sections. Panzer Formations, Tank Training Formations and Infantry Formations. Before we dive in I will start with this disclaimer.
I hold my degree in history, and while I do enjoy learning and teaching about the past I tend to align more in the competitive community for both this game and Team Yankee. I am a stats cruncher and look at the game through a black and white lens. If something is good, I will run it to maximum efficiency. (With a single exception, that will be covered in my article on the Infantry Formations) This mindset is what these formations are being viewed through. I’ll be rating each formation on a scale of 1-10.** Without further ado, let’s get into the Panzer formations!
Clausewitz Panther (IR) Tank Company
First up is the first printed formation in the book, the Clausewitz Panther (IR) Tank Company.
Infrared! We have our Nachtjager’s back. Besides the (IR) inclusion, this is a standard late war German Panzer formation. A HQ, 3 combat platoons with options in the 2nd and 3rd platoons and an additional slot for an AA element. With the page turn we get into the sausage and sauerkraut that sets the standard for these Panzer Formations.
Woooweeee! Careful 4+ hit on rating, 3+ Veteran for skill but a 5+ reluctant rating for motivation! I guess having the might of the world kicking your teeth in makes it so you’re more likely to try and make it through the war rather than sacrifice yourself for the fatherland.
Everybody plays this game differently in terms of the importance placed on one of the three soft stats present in the game. Personally, the most important one in my eyes is motivation. Motivation keeps your units in the fight, rally’s them when they’re pinned, shakes the crews off when bailed and steels their nerves for counterattacks. Most importantly, motivation keeps them from fleeing from the battlefield when enough casualties are taken. That last point is the most important for tanks, due to their tendency to have less teams per unit than say infantry. (Tiger II’s I’m looking at you) as well as the Bailed Out mechanic.
In Flames of War, dedicated AT guns tend to have a firepower of 3+, which means 2 out of 6 failed saves result in a stunned but not knocked out tank. Having reluctant tanks just adds insult to injury when you’re getting back in only ⅓ of the time. Mortars need to unpin, infantry need to pass counterattacks. In my eyes, this is how games are won. Not by the skill of the forces fighting, but by who’s left when the dust settles. My force in Team Yankee epitomizes this, as I play Soviets. Flames of War has entered an awkward stage for me as I’ve been playing American’s (and Germans) who with the Bulge books have access to discounted reluctant troops. I’m hoping to learn how to play low motivation troops with these books but I’m not entirely confident that my opinion on soft stats will change. Now with that rant over let’s dive into these (IR) Panthers.
The (IR) formations have access to Night Fighting rules. If a force with Night Fighters is the Attacker in a mission without the meeting engagement rule this player may attack at night. If you do, Dawn in is play for the duration of the game. Units from formations with Night Fighters may move freely from the start of the game. If a unit has (IR) rules, they too can move freely at the start of the game. If a unit doesn’t have the (IR) rules, they must stay inside the deployment area until dawn breaks.
Night fighting is brutal in Flames of War. Everybody is an additional +1 to hit, so a concealed careful team at range is getting hit on a 6+. Go to ground and you’re now at a 7+. In addition, cross checks are worsened by 1 and you must determine if you can see your opponent before you shoot. Standard units fighting at night can see a maximum of 24” To determine this range, you roll a dice and multiply it by 4. The end result is how many inches you can see. Any enemy units outside this range are not visible to your attacking unit. If a team fires, no roll needs to be made as muzzle flash can be seen from hundreds of meters away at night. Units equipped with (IR) tech roll 2 dice and pick the highest, making them able to see the max range 41% of the time!
There’s 2 additional rules for night fighting that (IR) formations get access to, both revolving around the UHU halftrack.
Firstly, an UHU is sent to the rear at the beginning of the first movement step in daylight, if it’s removed like this it doesn’t count as destroyed and if it’s bailed, automatically remounts then flees. An UHU is brought forward at the beginning of their first movement step. (It doesn’t say they have to start off the table, but I don’t see a reason not too). Before moving the (IR) unit, the UHU is placed within 4” of a team in the unit, but has to be outside of 16” of any enemy team unless concealed by terrain or outside of 4” of any enemy team. The UHU must move at Dash Speed but can still use its IR searchlight.
Secondly, The IR searchlight may be used to illuminate a target in line of sight within 32”. You don’t need to roll for visibility for this and can automatically see out 32”. Other units equipped with the (IR) rule may fire on this illuminated enemy unit without rolling for night visibility. Hits on this unit can only be allocated to teams from the same unit within 6”.
This makes a potent combo with the (IR) units, the UHU is able to paint a target, then the IR units can open up without having to roll! A neat little combo available to the Night Fighters forces.
In the Panther IR company, the following units have access to the (IR) rules. Panther (IR) Tank Platoon, Jagdpanther (IR) Platoon, and the Clausewitz Panzersturm Platoon. The required choices for this formation is the Panther (IR) HQ which is a single (IR) equipped Panther for 10 points. These Panthers are all (LATE) Panthers with FA10. For mandatory Platoons, one has to be a Clausewitz Panther (IR) Tank Platoon, which has the options of 3x Panther (IR) for 29 points or 2x Panther (IR) for 19 points. The have the capability to add an UHU halftrack for 1 point.
The second required choice opens up and you can take another Panther (IR) Tank Platoon, but you also have access to one of the following. Clausewitz Jagdpanther (IR) Tank-Hunter Platoon,
You also have the option of:
- Clausewitz Panzer IV/70 platoon
- Clausewitz Panzer IV platoon
- A Clausewitz Tiger platoon
- Clausewitz StuG (or StuH) Assault Gun Platoon
With the 3rd and 4th choices you enter the grey box area when the choices are no long required. There’s another option for a Clausewitz Panther (IR) Tank Platoon, a Armoured Panzergrenadier Platoon, or a Clausewitz Panzersturm platoon (Stay tuned for the infantry breakdown) in one box, the other gives you aa options between the Ostwind, a triple 15mm flak platoon and a 2cm flak platoon. All the options are discounted due to their Reluctant motivation rating.
So how do the IR Panthers stand up to criticism? I’m not massively impressed by it but I’m also not incredibly disappointed. The Panthers are 29 points, put up to 30 with an UHU halftrack which isn’t bad for 3 FA10 AT14 tanks. The biggest issue is the Reluctant rating. One gets destroyed, another gets bailed and if you fail that remount you’re already onto last stands which will not last. All that being said, if you have the capability to force as many night fights as possible the darkness could cover you as you take advantage of the UHU and IR combo. The capability to swap out the second required platoon with a discounted unit can really help keep the total points down as well as cheap options in AA and some infantry built into the formation give it staying power that just isn’t present on the other standard layout German formations.
All in all, I’ll rate this a solid 7/10. Solid options and capability to abuse the Night Fighting rules which is really neat as it plays similar to how the actual units would have operated.
Clausewitz Stug Assault Gun Company
Organization wise it follows the Panther (IR) Company in terms of options. Required HQ and platoon of the “named” Tank. Allows other tank options for the second required box, then a 3rd box of either the “named” Tank or infantry. Lastly an AA element.
While you do have the option to take IR equipped units, the formation commander does not have the Night Fighters rule, so if you’re wanting to take advantage of that you’ll need to run either the IR Panthers or the Clausewitz Panzersturm formation with it. However IR units in this formation aren’t entirely worthless as they’ll still be able to move outside the deployment area in a night fight thanks to their (IR). In a similar style to the IR Panthers, you can take a max of 3 Stug’s per base platoon, but they have the option to take a platoon of 3 10.5cm Stugs. An interesting choice, but the AT10 will struggle in Late War as armor values continue to rise. They have the worsened SP Gun assault and counterattack stats, but have a 4+ remount thanks to protected ammo.
I’ll give this formation a 5/10 rating. The lack of Night Fighters holds back the IR options this formation can take. In addition, Stugs tend to struggle in Late War to begin with, with the only option of note being the capability to take 3 10.5cm Stugs for 8 points. They do offer an intriguing choice for formation support but you won’t find me running a Clausewitz Stug Assault Gun Company anytime soon.
Clausewitz Panzersturm Company
This is the Infantry (IR) formation with a whole bundle of goodies. Your humble author let out an audible “ope” when first laying eyes on this.
Following suit with the prior Clausewitz the standard soft stats of this formation are Careful 4+ hit on. Veteran 3+ skill and Reluctant 5+ Motivation. Mandatory options are the HQ, the option between a Panzersturm or Panzergrenadier platoon and the option between triple 15mm flak or 2cm flak. If this seems familiar it’s because that’s the same format the Brigade Companies out of Bulge German are! The optional slots are another infantry slot, another flak slot, a mortar slot, an anti-tank slot and an Armor slot. Lets dive in shall we?
The HQ is two stands of the StG44 with a limited 1 panzerfaust and Sd Kfz 251 halftrack for 5 points. You have the optional (dare I say mandatory) FREE swap out for the Sd Kfz 251, making it the 2cm flak version. Absolutely zero reason to not do this. They have (IR) equipment as well as the Night Fighters keyword so you can trigger the dawn engagement. All in all for 5 points, this isn’t too bad for a HQ unit.
Up for our first mandatory option, the Clausewitz Panzersturm Platoon. This unit is equipped with IR StG44*** and can be purchased with or without the half tracks. A handy option in place when trying to cut back on points. If purchased with the halftracks, you have the option to upgrade one to a 2cm flak for free (again, zero point not too) and they have the option to take an UHU halftrack for +1 point.
Their points split is 13, 10, 10, 7. 13 points for max 7x StG44 teams with Panzerfaust (limited 2) and 4x Sd Kfz 251s. 10 points for 5x StG44 teams with Panzerfaust (limited 2) and 3x Sd Kfz 251s. 10 points for 7x StG44 with Panzerfaust (limited 2) and 7 points for 5x StG44 with Panzerfaust (limited 2). A fantastic spread of options available for the (IR) infantry!
Sharing the Panzersturm platoon’s slot in the formation is the Clausewitz Panzergrenadier Platoon. Organization wise it follows the same pattern as the Panzersturm platoon but this time the more traditional MG42 with Panzerfaust (limited 2) and no (IR) equipment. A point cheaper than their IR Assault Rifle armed brethren at, for 12, 9, 9 and 6 points for the same number of teams and halftracks, also including the free 2cm flak upgrade for a single 251. This unit has my eye.
The halftrack is a standard 251, but includes (IR) equipment. This is extra important for the Panzergrenadier Platoon because if they start the game mounted, the halftracks can move them out of the deployment area before dawn breaks. Important thing to note is the Reluctant motivation makes the Transport remount go to a 6. Ouch, bail one of these and it’s staying bailed for a while.
Our AA options are partially shared with the other Clausewitz units, but limited to the 2cm and triple 15mm flak halftracks. Those familiar with Bulge German will recognize these instantly. The biggest difference between them and their bulge cousins is the soft stats of Careful, Veteran and Reluctant. They have the SP gun stat line for assault and counterattack (5+ and 6 respectively) so they won’t be crunching any commies anytime soon. The Triple 15mm is 1 point team available in options of 3x or 6x and the 2cm is a point cheaper for the bunches of 3 and 6 at 2 and 5 points respectively.
For mortar options, you have armored and unarmored. The Armored option is the tried and true Sd Kfz 251 armed with an 8cm mortar. You can take max 2 of these for 2 points. The other option is man ported 12cm mortars, with 4 of them coming in at 5 points and 2 coming in at 2 points. Important to note that you can only choose one of these, not both. Interesting..
Wow, oh wow. We finally got the Pak40 armed Sd Kfz 251’s and they’re juicy. 6 of the buggers come in at the same cost as 4 of the D-Day British 17lbr M10’s. Rocking the 251’s good mobility stats, a careful hit on rating and a veteran skill these monsters will be cropping up on tables soon. Can’t fit 6? Don’t worry, they come in a 4 pack for 12 points and a 2 pack for 6 points. At 3 points apiece these are a massive deal, and sorely needed upgrade to the ever present Stummel ambush most German Players have grown to rely on.
The Stummels themselves are even pretty appetizing coming in at 1 point apiece. However seeing as they’re competing with the Pak40 251 for their slot, I’m not sure how many of these we’ll see run, unless somebody focuses on them min/maxing.
The final optional slot for this formation is an Armor slot. You can take the (IR) Panthers, (IR) Jagdpanther Tank-Hunters, a Stug Assault Gun Battery or non IR equipped Battle Group Panther (LATE) Tank Platoon.
In my eyes this is one of the strongest formations from the new book. The heavy lifting is being done by the Pak40 251’s. German players will struggle to find a better ambush unit. 12 AT12 shots will make mincemeat of all but the toughest enemies. The capability to take such large units mitigates some of the problems the Reluctant motivation rating causes. I’ll rate this Formation at a very strong 9/10.
This functions the same as every other German Armor formation, following the same pattern. HQ, 3 platoons of Armor, then optional infantry and AA but this time an added option of a Hetzer Platoon. The big difference here is that you literally have every option outside of superheavies and light vehicles. You have a box of IV-70s, a box of Hetzers and a box of Panthers? Awesome, this formation will allow that. Got some Tigers and Stugs? Gotcha covered. This really is a mix and match for German armor players and something that’s been a long time coming.
Take your pick. You want Panthers? All yours. How about Stugs? Sure. Only thing you cannot do is mix and match your HQ tanks (that comes later *wink*) Follows the Clausewitz style for the soft stats of Careful 4+ hit on, Veteran 3+ skill and Reluctant 5+ Motivation. Panthers come in at 9 points apiece, Panzer IV (Late) comes in at 4 points apiece. The IV/70s sitting solid at 6 points apiece and Stugs mirror the Panzer IVs at 4 points apiece.
The only “new” platoons present here are the Battle Group Panthers (Late). These lack (IR) equipment but more importantly can be taken in a platoon of 4. Sitting at 9 points apiece, that isn’t bad for a Careful rated FA10 tank. The other option is a Battle Group Hetzer Tank Hunter Platoon. 4 of these lil guys come in at 14 points with an option to take 3 for 11. They mirror the Clausewitz soft stats with the downgrades to Assault and Counterattack for SP guns.
The lone infantry slot is taken up by the Escort Platoon. Clausewitz rated StG Panzergrenadiers with a 2+ Assault rating! That’s not too shabby. However, the 5+ motivation makes it so you better clean wipe the unit they’re assaulting because they won’t stay around. A whopping 10 teams with limited 2 panzerfaust comes in at 14 points. Take 7 teams and it drops to 10 points. A solid choice if you’re locked to a single formation or not wanting to take Black Box support units.
The only new AA option for this company is the Wirbelwind. It’s an armored quad 2cm cannon, with the same weapon line as the Sd Kfz 251 triple 15mm. Slightly armored with decent cross checks paired with the fact that 4 of them cost 5 points is fairly appetizing. The only thing holding them back is that for 1 more point you can get 6x Sd Kfz 251 Triple 15mm (which have the same weapon stats for some reason) Soft stat it follows (say it with me now) the Clausewitz soft stats of Careful 4+, Veteran 3+, Reluctant 5+ with worse Assault and counterattack ratings for it being a SP gun.
This is a solid formation, but Reluctant armor is very skittish. Being able to take 4 of most tanks helps, but those remounts and last stands are really going to hit hard when the rolls start. The options are nice and since you can fill out grey box units cheaply I’ll give this formation a 7/10.
That wraps up the look at the new Panzer Formations available to German players from Berlin Germans. When all is said and done, there’s some pretty strong options being added to the formation pool. To summarize the standings,
Clausewitz Stug Assault Gun Company – 5/10
Clausewitz Panther (IR) Tank Company – 7/10
Panzer Battle Group – 7/10
Clausewitz Panzersturm Company – 9/10
Can’t wait to get to more playtesting to see how it goes! My next article will cover the other 4 formations, the Tank Training Companies and the Infantry Companies. As always if you like my work, please feel free to check out my social media using the link below. I’m mostly available on tiktok where you can catch up on my hobby streak! My youtube channel is going to be getting some videos covering the new Berlin German book as well as some Battle Reports and unit discussions. My Podcast is also going to get some new episodes specifically covering Berlin Germans! See y’all then.
*There’s rumors abound of various Late War “Expansions” to add to what’s currently available. **important to note when I break down new formations like this I am doing so via the view of the meta. Keep this in mind as you’re reading through this article and let me know what you think down below!
***Battlefront has GE848 – Panzersturm Platoon posted, so it appears the IR scope StG44’s will be available for purchase!
**** Hailing from Eau Claire Wisconsin, Menards is a Midwestern American hardware, appliance, and construction store that has pretty much everything you could need. My last visit saw me purchase a 6×4 foot piece of plywood, a light fixture, a gallon of milk, some smoked sausage, tickets to my local renaissance faire and a pool noodle. “Save big money at Menards” If you know the jingle you just sang it to yourself. You’re welcome.