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Countering German half-tracks

As per the request of one of the readers, I was forced (only joking) to write an article about dealing with those pesky German armored half-tracks. I have to admit that this is a very difficult topic but I accept the challenge :)

The reason I mentioned that this topic is so difficult is that there are not many ways to effectively deal with this type of unit. Part of the problem comes from the fact that in most cases you have to spend valuable resources to get rid of a 10 point guy. But then, the question is - do I really need to get rid of the half-track?

The answer can only be formulated by understanding what is the main purpose of these vehicles. There are several cases that I can see them used in:

1. The most obvious is transports - they are not so dangerous while carrying infantry, since the other guy is probably trying to get them safe to their destination anyway. Easily ignored.

2. Mounted assault - I have played this game for a long time now, and I have never seen anybody actually use this rule. The obvious reason for this is that they are not real tanks, so 5 defensive fire hits still stop them and any portable anti-tank weapons turn them into minced meat.

3. Harassment tool - they will move about the table and try to shoot your infantry in the open or pin/kill your guns. This is probably the most effective use of the German half-tracks. It takes a lot of time for them to do their job, but if you let them shoot you forever, they will kill or pin your guys. The most annoying thing about this tactic is the fact that in V3 of the Flames of War rules, you can still make congo lines of troops. This means that an infantry platoon can be hidden in a safe place, while the half-tracks are all around the table with their 6" (normally) of command distance.

4. Blocking movement - in some rare cases, the opponent can sacrifice some of his half-tracks to limit your infantry's/guns' movement. This is achieved by simply parking 2-3 half-tracks just outside your 2" zone of control. This not only blocks your units but also can force you to assault against a torrent of defensive fire if your shooting cannot get you rid of them.

5. Pushing back ambushes - is especially effective for companies that lack recon support. This tactic is similar to blocking movement routes but is done to cover possible ambush positions as the player needs to place his ambushing teams at least 4" away from any enemy models (even if they went at the double!).

Now with the main purpose of half-tracks highlighted it is a bit easier to make an intelligent decision about what kind of resources need to be used to get rid of them. Are they really hindering my plans or is the enemy just trying to distract me?

If you decide you have had enough of them already, I can see 2 main ways to deal with them:

1. If you have a lot of time - use only limited resources to get at least 1 kill or bail on the vehicles - this will force a morale check on the platoon. If failed, they will need to be sent to the rear and only come back next turn under specific deployment conditions and unable to shoot on the turn they arrive in. In this case, any anti-tank gun or a RPG will do. In most cases, you just need to make sure you can get one hit as the projectile will penetrate automatically which is enough to force the 'dismount under fire' test.

2. If you need to completely get rid of them, you will probably need a lot of shots to complete the task as more often then not the SdKfz vehicles will be hard to hit - normally requiring 4s,5s or 6s to hit. There is nothing that can help you better with this than proper list design. In my opinion, all lists should have at least one unit that can dish out enough low to mid-tier anti-tank shots to fend off hordes of light armored vehicles. These can be any kind of light guns: pak36/pak38 in German lists, US 37mm or 57mm, Soviet Zis-3 or 45mm. Also, light tank units can prove useful - think stuarts, pumas, Soviet medium tanks.

I think that the points above are the key to countering German half-tracks effectively. Target priority and proper planning is the name of the game ;)

But what are your ways to get rid of German half-tracks wondering about the table? Maybe I missed something? :)

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