Hello, I just figured that it would be great to create a template manual for the new players to help them with their initial steps into FoW. As I understand it, with the fail that GW systems currently are, there are a lot of gamers looking for new excitements and hopefully a base for competitve gaming. Having this in mind, I will not go as far as to guide complete newbies to the world of miniature wargaming but rather try to assist people who at least played one or two other systems.
Also, some of the aspects of starting the hobby are similar for all nations so please bear with me if they are repeated in the follow-up articles.
So how to start a German force? When thinking about FoW, this question has several layers of meaning to me:
1. What period should I start with?
In all cases go for Late War first. There are two main reasons for this: it has the greatest number of available books that can be used to build your army on and a lot of players flock to this period because of all the shiny toys that come with it, like King Tigers, IS-2, Sturmtigers, etc. What has to be kept in mind is that all books of the period have already been released, so I would expect no real novelties in LW apart from some cosmetic changes every now and again. This might be considered both a good and a bad thing at the same time. In any case, if for some weird reason LW is not for you, my next pick would be Early War and last and least Mid War (which is famous for just 2 books covering the whole period).
2. What company type should I go for?
I would always go with an infantry company. This choice is mainly based on the fact that it will give you most opportunities to observe how the game is played and react to what is happening on the table. You will be forced to attack and be active once in a while but in these cases, use them as a chance to test the theories you should have developed by then in practice :)
Also, infantry companies normally offer the widest selection of troops available to the German commander. You will be able to lead infantry platoons, anti-tank guns, infantry cannons, mortars, rocket launchers, tank hunters, recon forces, artillery and/or air support. In an infantry list, you can truly try out the combined arms approach.
3. Which book should I use?
Good news is: for Late War, there are so many books available to the German player. Bad news is: oh my god, so many books :) My favourites are described below - top is best all round book (considering Digital content), but please consider that the rating does not focus on infantry companies but rather the nation's forces as a whole:
Grey Wolf (Revised) - you can never go wrong with this one, it has it all
Atlantik Wall - good for just one front but has all types of units, including a lot of fortified troops
Nachtjager - night attacking panzers, decent Fallschirmjagers
Bridge By Bridge - good all-rounder but has some really bad lists
Fortress Italy - clever Herman Goring forces
Berlin - just one company in the book itself, but it is a big one :)
Desperate Measures - mainly training tank or mechanized companies
Bridge at Remagen - if you love heavy tanks, this one is for you
Nuts! - Jagdtigers, Sturmtigers and Skorzeny make their first appearance but are not that great
Blood Guts & Glory - poorly trained, low morale Panthers on their way to counter American spearheads
Devil's Charge - Joachim Peiper's armored thrust - a one-trick pony list
4. What models do I need to learn the game and not get beaten all the time?
For your infantry company (1500-1800 list), I would go for:
- 3 platoons of 7 stands infantry including command panzerfausts and 3 additional panzerschreck teams. One of the platoons could and should be swapped with one platoon of 10 stands of pioneers)
- 2 platoons of 3 Pak 40 anti-tank guns (mainstay of your anti-tank defence)
- 1 platoon of 4 Marder III tank hunters
- 1 platoon of 3 15cm 41 Nebelwerfers
- 1 platoon of foot scouts or 2 8-rad recce vehicles
- 1 flight of one Ju 87 Stuka
This list can then be expanded to include some panzers instead of Marders, heavy 15cm artillery instead of Nebelwerfers, field fortifications, hmgs, 8.8cm anti-aircraft guns, light infantry guns, mortars and so on. But the platoons I listed above will let you learn most rules of the game quickly and be a solid base for expansion.