With the Mid War GT just a week away, I’ve only had this weekend to finalise my list and get some practice in. Luckily, Justin was in the same boat so we organised a quick practice game at mine this afternoon. Justin was in two minds regarding what he should take – seven (or was that nine?) Panthers or 4 Tiger 1Es. He decided to run a Schwere Panzerkompanie, consisting of one HQ Tiger, three platoons of one Tiger and some AA half tracks (one armoured, the other not) to be 1625 on the nose. The GT won’t have a provision to avoid blue on blue games, so this was a good opportunity to deal with someone else’s pesky veteran Germans… This was a good practice list for me as it would hopefully prove how resilient my Panthers were and justify the inclusion of the Pak40s. It would also make my air, artillery and anti-air halftracks somewhat redundant – an interesting dynamic to start the battle!
Our European village to destroy for the day
With the GT having six games it was a simple roll of the dice – Encounter! – and we were set. I’d struggled with this the day before against Sean, trying to determine what to leave on or off the board. This time I opted for all infantry; both Grenadier platoons would start, as well as the Nebs and the Pak40s, meaning the infantry guns would come on from reserve, along with my Panthers, 8rads and AAA. Air support would be useless (as I found out in turn one) as the Tiger’s side armour was too thick.
Justin’s left flank – hidden tiger crouching near the objective
Justin kept the AA off the board, realising my air wouldn’t hurt him, and left a tiger in reserve too. He certainly had very few tanks! He deployed in thirds – one tiger in each section. The CO rolled for the Fatherland and Rapid Fire, the central tiger getting Rapid Fire and the one on the right getting Every Shot Counts! a handy combination of tiger ace skills. Justin was relieved to get such ‘good’ ace skills – as it would turn out Schnell! would have been more useful!
Right Flank Defence
I deployed strong on the right flank – Pak40s in the woods sticking their barrels out like bayonets. I planted a grenadier platoon behind them on my objective. On the left I was very light on – just the Nebs holding the left objective in the field, with my other grenadier platoon centrally placed behind a forest – waiting to see where the tigers would assault.
Tiger spotted sir!
Justin won the roll off (naturally we both rolled 1s, with the +1 going to Justin who only had the two platoons to deploy!) and got the game on its way. With slow tanks, the first turn was a slog – all three tigers moved up, with the right and central tigers keen to stay out of sight of the Pak40s. Stormtrooper phase was uneventful – only one tank would pass and enjoy the extra movement, in what would be a fatally recurring theme!
CO Tiger on the move
I started turn one by calling in my air support – I was aware of the HS 129’s limitations against heavy tanks, however it was worth a shot, and soon enough the Tigers would be too close to my lines for a successful air attack. Everything except one platoon dig-in. I was keen to keep gone to ground, so the Nebs didn’t fire. I managed to get a flight of three flying tanks, easily hitting the CO tiger – but as expected the thick hide shrugged off the attack.
Tigers swarm the battlefield
Justin starts his second turn with the tigers continuing their advance towards my lines. The CO tiger takes aim at my central grenadines (who hadn’t dug in) but doesn’t get a hit. The central tiger opens up and kills one stand, first blood to Justin!
Not wanting to face the CO tiger’s ROF 3 main gun, I smoke him with the nebs and manage to dig in my central grenadier platoon.
CO Tiger sneaking past my defenders
Turn three and naturally Justin scores reserves – another tiger rocks up! It arrives on my right flank and moves forward to join his fellow tiger. The rest of the tigers move forward to get more shots on my infantry, failing to hit.
I too get reserves at the start of my third, bringing the Panthers on the right flank – just in time to engage Justin’s reserves! Needing 5’s to score hits, the Panthers whiff rolling snake eyes. I fail their stormtrooper roll and brace for the ’88’ return fire – I’m now faced with prospect of having no tanks for the game! With the CO tiger manoeuvring around to contest my left objective, I send the grenadiers out of their foxholes towards the game changing threat. I was preparing for this eventuality – I just hope I can be in a position to feed one team a turn onto the objective to keep me in the game!
The big cat situation
Justin scores reserves in the fourth as well, bringing on the AA halftracks who can support their CO. Justin’s entire army is now on the table and I’m stranded with just less than half of my force waiting in reserve. The AA halftracks pose a significant threat with their high rate of fire. Naturally they line up the approaching infantry, but can only kill one team. The CO opens up with five shots on the nebs, but fails to score a single hit! Got lucky there!
AA ready to decimate my infantry
With two tigers able to engage my ridiculously expensive Panthers, I wait nervously for Justin to gather his dice and punish me for wasting my prized tanks. The first tiger opens up, scoring two hits, I equal both rolls and Justin fails to bail the tanks! The other tiger gets one hit but I bounce it easily – what a relief! To make matters worse for Justin, all tanks bar the CO fail their stormtrooper tests. Justin now has two tigers in plain sight of my Panthers and one of my Pak40s.
I open my fourth by failing to get reserves – back to normal! The Pak with an open shot at the tiger fires away and misses. My Panthers sit still and miss most of their shots, getting one bailed result (I’m looking at you failed firepower rolls!). I’m pretty sure my luck can’t hold another turn, and expect my Panthers to be wrecks by the start of my fifth.
Critically, Justin fails to remount the tiger, even with a protected ammo re-roll; not a great start to his turn. The CO tiger continues to pour fire into the Nebs, where the platoon commander fails his armour save, only for Justin to roll a 2 on fire power! The AA halftracks have more luck however, bagging two more grenadiers, pinning the platoon and forcing a morale check – which I pass confidently. In the battle of nerf-guns, the tiger cracks off two shots, missing both with re-rolls – the right flank isn’t a dice friendly place!
Grenadiers in the open…
Justin’s central tiger has been sitting happily machine gunning away my infantry, but is somewhat exposed to a potential charge through the forest from my Panzerknacker platoon command team and 2IC. To combat this undesirable occurrence, Justin passes a stormtrooper check and moves the four inches away… into a river! The tiger then bogs, again with re-rolls – becoming a sitting duck!
Just like this, only less ducks… and more tiger
Turn five and I get my 8rads on in the middle of the board, I move them up to the road and keep them out of sight of the hunting cats. Desperate to change my luck, I clump the Panthers together, moving one up close to put shots on the bailed tiger. On the left the infantry unpin…
8rads in action
The Panthers fire and open their account – 3 hits, one dead tiger! They then stormtrooper out of harm’s way.
River tiger – my favourite variety
With two separate panzerknacker teams, I move the 2IC into position and assault the bogged tiger (passing motivation – which it turns out, I didn’t need to do) and capturing the beast, bagging my second platoon! The 2IC consolidated back into the safety of the woods.
How I like my tigers – in flames!
Justin retreats the right flank tiger into the woods, this time not bogging on his way through, and parking firmly on the objective. The CO continues his rotten luck shooting the nebs – still no results. The AA fire at the remaining grenadier stands but do no hits.
Panthers close in for the win
I get automatic reserves and choose the infantry guns, hoping for a left flank deployment where they can snipe the AA halftracks and force a morale check. Unfortunately the chance cube gods send them into the middle where they’ll do noting for the rest of the game. I go ballsy and range the nebs in on the halftracks, but with two guns firing, I fail to hit. The Panthers, having gotten a taste of tiger, fail to hit the wooded big cat. Turn seven and Justin fires back at the Panthers, getting a hit but again failing firepower to bail me. The AA continue to do nothing, but the CO tiger steps up to the plate and kills the neb platoon command! I now have a fingernail on that objective with no relief units in sight, a well timed assault and it’s game over..
8rads on the objective
I begin my seventh by failing to range in with the infantry guns – great. The Panthers kill the last tiger and swarm the right objective – the 8rads speed down the road to contest the other objective.
With me holding both objectives and his company under half strength, Justin is keen to end it here – but I point out that the game won’t end until my next turn (assuming he passes company) – meaning he had a whole turn to force a platoon kill or two and go from a 6-1 thrashing to a 4-3… We forget about company morale and go hell for leather – the tiger CO moves to engage the nebs – bogging on the fence but wide-track-ing his way through it.
The AA halftracks move right up to the water edge waiting for their chance… The CO launches an assault, crushing a neb and forcing them to break off. One platoon down. The AA half tracks cross the river successfully and crush the grenadier platoon command, forcing a platoon check (which they fail) and bringing me down to six platoons.
Turn 8 ends the game, with me holding both objectives.
I was happy with this practice game – I was lucky however, for a couple of reasons:
* Junior’s CO should have assaulted a lot earlier – this was the biggest saving grace for me – my Paks and Panthers were on the wrong end of the board and with his AA halftracks in place, any attempted move by my grenadiers to secure the left flank would have been shot to pieces. It should have been an easy 6-1 to Justin, had the CO moved to assault.
* My lucky Panthers – whiffing their shots but shrugging off the 88 rounds. Justin really should have nailed these when he had the chance, and that would have freed up the right flank, allowing the tigers to combine and dominate the battlefield. The Pak40s… worth the points? Justin kept his distance and hugged terrain, limiting the usefulness and impact the right flank tigers had on the game. Disrupting the use of half a tiger company – I’d take that any game! All up, it was a fun, quick game.
Encounter (and any game that requires reserves) will be a challenge – I might have to keep the Panthers on the board from the start for future matches. Being on the defensive with this list is enjoyable, however, and I look forward to getting more out of my units at the GT!