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How to start collecting a German force - hints for newbies :)

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.


Snipers in FoW - the ultimate harrassment tool?

A single shot rings out during the advance aimed to recapture a small village. The feldwebel goes down and the whole squad hits the dirt, desperately seeking cover. Nobody is now interested in what their initial objective was. They are fighting for their life against an unseen enemy.

This is a regular scene from a computer game I played a long time ago - close combat. This unseen enemy was obviously a well placed sniper that could break up an assault in a matter of seconds, especially when he was supported. But are snipers in FoW able to do the same?

First of all let us have a look at the rules:

- they are independent teams that cannot join other platoons and are always rated confident veteran.
- they are always equipped with a 16" ROF 1, FP 4+ weapon.
- you do not deploy them at the beggining of the game. Instead, you can choose to reveal them at the start of any turn in your deployment area or the no-man's land.
- once on the table, they can attempt to switch positions on a 4+. If they succeed, they go back to the sniper pool, ready to be placed somewhere else in the following turns.
- they are gtg and concealed when they shoot but cannot shoot if there is a friendly team within 4".
- they re-roll to hit.
- when they take a hit that would kill them, they still get a 4+ roll. If they succeed, they go back to your pool of snipers.
- when somebody tries to assault them, they roll a 4+. If they fail, the sniper goes back to the sniper pool.
- they cost 50 points per team.

They even get 3 warrior sniper teams I know of: Vasiliy Zaytsev, Simo Hayah and Bruno Koenig (a fictional character as far as I understand).


- costs 90 pts and is F/V
- teams hit by Vasiliy re-roll successful saves


- costs 80 pts and is F/V
- has range of 24".
- can re-roll to hit (legacy of 2nd edition - BF forgot to update).
- if for some weird reason there is an enemy sniper team in his range that fired on their turn they do not count as gtg.

Simo Hayah

- costs 65 pts and is F/V
- 3+ to switch positions instead of 4+
- when assaulted, shoots 3 dice and then the enemy rolls to capture him

With the switch from 2nd to 3rd edition, it seemed that the snipers would get substantially better. They are so great, because now they are so hard to kill.... and .... this is about it. Annoying might be the right word actually.
They would pop out to harrass advancing infantry platoons, pin artillery batteries. But all of these come with a big 'if'. Sure they have the re-roll, but first of all: the enemy still assigns the hits (so in most cases a regular guy will get hit), teams still get their saves and if dug in, the sniper still has to pass the firepower check. A lot has to go according to plan to kill just one, single team. Good thing is that no matter what happens, you get the pin with just a single hit.  And there are those cases where they would do absolutely nothing - for instance, when the enemy's company is fully made up of armored units or when you have to attack a veteran infantry company and you never roll your 6 to hit.
As they are now, snipers are a purely defensive tool with very limited capabilities. In fact, the only possible use I can see for them is to target artillery so that you can eliminate guns in a scenario where one casaulty reduces the size of the template or the AT/FP rating of a combined bombardment. If they get very lucky, they might even take out a staff team or pin an infantry platoon in a crucial moment. But this is about it.

So how would I fix them then?
There could be 2 ways actually: update their rules or reduce their cost.

Cost reduction:

As far as I am concerned I might consider actually fielding a sniper team if it would cost 20-25 points. As for the warrior teams, 30 points is the maximum.

Rules update:

There could be tons of possible updates so I will just give one example:
- increase their range to 24" (32" for Koenig)
- let them choose which teams are hit
- teams shot at by snipers never count as gtg
- teams shot at by snipers re-roll their saves (Vasiliy would ignore saves like BTG)

Whatever happens to FoW snipers in the future, I hope we will see more of them as they are the iconic weapon of war and it is a reall pity that currently, they are so useless :(

Do you have any other ideas on how to fix snipers?


1420 GT LoL lists!!

Hey, I am back with another article.

This one is maybe a bit late. I think that the most suitable date to publish it would have been the 1st of April but hey, no crying over spilt milk, right?
The article today is about some fun lists you can build for the upcoming UK GT. There have been a lot of 1420 point lists thrown around on various blogs and on Facebook. Hell, even I will post my favorites. But not today. Today I thought it would be fun to play around with ideas for lists that maybe are not so competitive (although might hold their own when some good luck shines on you) but would be exciting and fun to play. In all honesty, I have been thinking of using them so many times now but they always lost to some more tournament suited builds. Hopefully however, maybe somebody else can use my article as an inspiration and share his experiences some day :)

Ok, the first one coming up is Perimeter Outpost from Devil's Charge - a US fortified R/V infantry company. What I really love about this briefing is that it has so many cheap platoon options that even at 1420 points it lets you max out your fortifications. This is one of the few companies that can actually win a game without having a game at all :) This is mainly because of access to 6 sections of anti-tank obstacles (48" !). With such a congo line of dragon's teeth, czech hedgehogs or whatever can stop a tank, you can effectively block the ability of enemy armor to cross the table and reach your positions. For companies based on tank teams only, this means game over at deployment!
At 1420 getting all 6 sections is maybe not so feasible, so this is why in the list I prepared, I only go for 4 :) Plus 2 mandatory minefields! :) These obstacles should not be left unattended, however because enemy infantry will be able to dismantle it given some time. This is why we also need some good anti-infantry firepower and still some anti-tank to be able to handle armor in scenarios where the minefield/anti-tank obstacle screen will not work.
Did I also mention that regardless of mission choice, this company always starts the game in prepared positions? No? Well, it does :)
In the end, this is my preferred setup:

HQ 2x rifle + trenches
CP: full rifle platoon + a-t obstacle
CP: full rifle platoon + a-t obstacle
SP: I&R platoon (4 jeeps, one armed with a 0,5")
SP: Anti-tank platoon of 3x57mm (late) guns
SP: Towed Tank Destroyer platoon (4xM5 gun - C/T)
SP: Cavalry Recon platoon (C/V)
SP: Calliope Platoon (2x Calliope Shermans - C/T)
SP: 105 Battery (4x105mm - C/T)

My second choice is also a defending company. It is Kampfgruppe Swoboda, a R/T, always defend, infantry company from Bridge to Bridge. This company is so fun because it fields 8.8cm anti-aircraft guns as combat platoons! :) Boom, right off the bat, the briefing lets you build a decent anti-tank ability and avoid investing into R/T foot troops to bring 8.8 onto the table. What is more interesting is that it is supported by the trained Tigers of Kampfgruppe Hummel and either SS platoons or security (sicherheits) companies/platoons. Since you will be almost guaranteed to defend, you can build your list so that when you have to move some units into reserves, you will still have a very tough force on the table at the start of the game. Just do not forget to bring transports for your guns, because a lot of them are immobile :)

HQ: 2x SMG
CP: 4x 8.8 Flak 36 (static) + 4x extra crew + transport
CP: 4x 8.8 Flak 39 (r) + 4x extra crew + transport
CP: 4x 2cm Flak 38 + transport
SP: 4x Tiger I (C/T)
SP: full SS panzergrenadier platoon + faust (F/V)
SP: 3x SS 15cm Nebs + transport (F/V)

Ok, so I did a list presentation on a couple of defending companies. Now this one is an Always Attack Mechanized company! Kampfgruppe Graebner F/V (again from Bridge to Bridge book) can be a fun to play choice. To be honest, I even know a guy in our local tournament scene who plays it and had some limited success with it.
Anyway, let us talk some more detail about how this force can be constructed and played.
KG Graebner is built around 2 platoons of mechanized/motorized SS panzergrenadiers. The rest of supporting platoons are mostly armored cars with a lot of anti-infantry capability but virtually no anti-tank. There are 2 ways to mitigate these weaknesses: use Graebner himself and bring heavy artillery.
As for Graebner, for around 50 points he is a very good warrior team. He is riding in a decent armored vehicle but what is more important, he gives his guys tons of special rules:
- makes the company Always Attack
- gives spearhead moves to his combat platoons
- lets you do your recon moves before defender does his (and blocks your recce as a result)
- platoon he joins hits on a 2+ in assaults
- platoon he joins while making a stormtrooper move can go 6" instead of the normal 4
With this guy in your force, you will be able to dominate the no-man's land and possibly launch assaults with your infantry starting on turn 2. Such furious assaults can even catch tanks off-guard or at least make sure that you get stuck in early on, before enemy reserves start trickling in. If this quick pressure application fails, you can always rely on your 2 batteries of 3x15cm SS artillery :)
Anyway, here is the list:

HQ: 2x SMG + transport + Graebner in Humber IV (AT 7 gun)
CP: full gepanzerte SS platoon + faust
CP: full aufklarungs SS platoon + faust
WP: 2x 8-rad
WP: 3x SdKfz 251/9 (7.5cm)
SP: 3x 15cm sFH18
SP: 3x 15cm sFH18

Ok, so this is it - hope you liked the ideas and if you feel something is definately missing (has to be fun and at least a little, tiny bit competitive), let me know in the comments! :)


Reworking the Mid War Soviet Tankovy.... Still using KV 85s :)

OK, so during my tournament tests I found out that trying to build an all-rounder list with Soviet Tanks (wether this using Tankovy or Mixed Tankovy - does not matter) is pretty much an automatic failure. There is absolutely nothing that the Soviets can do against heavily armored tanks that pack a lot of punch with their guns. Well, you can try and flank them, but once their side armor is protected by some infantry and/or anti-tank guns, the Soviet tank force is practically helpless.

If the list was being prepared to compete in singles tournaments, then I would say: unless you get a lucky paring you cannot win too many games. But hey, this army is meant to go to ETC in the end and in the ETC environment, the pairing procedure can help you avoid at least some difficult matchups.

So now that I know what is the perfect counter to KV 85 based Tankovy, I also more or less understand what is this army fit enough to beat. Following up on this, I am now able to upgrade my list to version 2 :)

To start with the pros, I think that the way it is constructed, Soviet Tankovy can beat a lot of infantry companies (minus AT11+ spam) and other tank companies that were built to crush infantry. It has a lot of options to get anti-infantry focused units and also some possibilities to reinforce it's anti-tank capabilities.

For anti-infantry, I can get one of the best Mid War assault tank units: Matildas II CS. It is funny, that 10 of them only cost 430 points (after the 'downgrade' to CS) because with armor of 7/6/2 and a 3+ firepower, rof 2 gun they are the bane of <AT 10 guns as well as non-pioneer infantry units. Of course, the obvious disadvantage of these tanks is that without a tank escort to help during close combat, you will not be inflicting too many hits with average rolls. Other than that and the 'slow tank' rating, they are your perfect infantry mincing machine.

As a secondary assault unit that is also helpful in wearing down anti-tank defences before real action begins, I would pick T-60s. For what they do I think they are pretty damn cheap. With 10 tanks only costing 180 points, with a decent front armor of 3, a machine gun and a 20mm AT5 gun, they are the perfect throwaway unit I can use to kill a couple of those Pak40 guns before my unit explodes (and hopefully I can keep one out of enemy LoS so that I avoid yielding small points).

Now that I have my main and backup anti-infantry force, I need to think about how I intend to kill tanks. For this one, my choice is still KV 85s. But 3 is not enough! :) I will go for four of them. In the games I played so far (maybe apart from the one against Remer), they had a lot of influence on the outcome of the battle. Their AT12 gun is enough to beat most of the tanks out there and their armor of 9/7/2 allows them to move about and stay in action for a long time. The two main reasons to increase their number from three to four was that I really like what they did in the battles so far and on the other hand I am afraid that a few lucky shots/aircraft runs can inflict early kills and a morale check on my big guys. The last thing I want when I play this company against a tank-heavy force is to quickly loose all my KVs and continue with AT5 through the rest of the game.

But what about recon? The tests that I did were not so positive in terms of BA 10M employment. For my taste, this unit has too many roles to fulfill on the battlefield: recon and secondary anti-tank/anti-gun with their AT of 7, 4+ FP and no H&C. When playing them I always was faced with a situation where I could only use one of their abilities at a time and I paid for all of them. Somebody might say that it is good to have such a toolbox type of unit, but to me: recon is recon - I will not risk it because I have a small chance to punch through the armor of an enemy tank, even if it is a Panther. This is why I decided to go with BA 64s.It is true that they will not be able to handle any real armored units, but on the other hand, they have the advantages of being tiny, easy to hide armored cars with jeep mobility. For anti-ambush screening and lifting gone to ground they are at least enough.

In the games I played there was also one factor missing all the time: even if Tankovy units cannot handle tanks like Panthers or Tigers, I really need a way to at least try to get rid of them. My first thoughts were that I should maybe include 120mm mortars. But these cannot take out a top armor 2 tank and also boost the number of my platoons to 5... In this case, I decided to go for a sporadic I-153 plane support. In all honesty, for 90 points the I-153, which is equipped with 4+ to hit, AT 6, FP 3+ rockets is a brilliant little attack aircraft.

With these modifications my list is now full. Oh, also my commander had to skip his T-34 and take over a T-60 :)

So here it is - my new approach to 1650 Mid War Soviet Tankovy.

HQ: T-60
CP: 10x T-60
CP: 10x Matilda II CS
SP: 4x KV 85
SP: 4x BA 64
Sporadic I-153

Will test it in 2 weeks' time with my gaming buddy and maybe write a few words on how it went :)


Soviet Tankovy is on the frontline - battle report part 3

Ok, last game report of the tournament. This time, my opponent was US infantry in No Retreat mission. His setup of forces was quite interesting:

Barebones HQ
2x minimal infantry platoons
1x anti-tank platoon (3x 57mm)
1x cannon platoon (2x 105mm HMC)
1x tank platoon (4x Sherman)
1x M10 platoon (4x M10)
1x armored recon platon (4x recce vehicles)
1x full 105 battery
1x half 105 battery

A very interesting setup and with some optimization, could be turned into quite a competitive force imo.

Anyway, the table we played was not perfectly suited for tanks as there was very little cover and los blockers that the vehicles could hug to minimize incoming fire. Also, it meant that no matter where I went, I would be under the ToT fire of the 105mm batteries. Time was working against my forces so I had push forward as hard as I possibly could.

I started off deploying my KVs and T-34s to counter the Shermans hidden behind a cluster of houses in the middle of the US deployment area. To push back the ambush of TDs (I think it was a mistake not to use both the ambush AND the TD rules), I used scout redeployment and the initial move of my BA 10s which went deep into his defended zone. On the other flank, my T-60s spread out and moved towards his edge, trying to dodge templates of doom and the anti-tank platoon. I also got lucky with my only shot of the turn and managed to take out a Sherman with an 85mm round of a Gvardievski KV.

His response was obvious - reveal TDs and pound my tanks with artillery. The surprising bit was that the Shermans, after loosing one of their guys, decided to stay put behind the houses. The volley of TD fire hit my KVs taking one out but artillery did not manage to do any damage.

My response was quite punishing. I pulled up every single tank unit I had in the immediate vicinity of the Tank Destroyer platoon and returned the salvo. As a result of this return of fire, two M10s were dead and another one was bailed. Fortunately for the Americans, they did not fail their platoon morale check.

This was not much of good news for the US player as his M10 did not unbail at the beggining step of his turn. With a grim look on his face, he decided to commit all his tank reserves to the ongoing battle. Shermans abandoned their safe hiding place and rushed to take on the T-34s with all guns blazing (stabiliser style). The armour of the Soviet tanks was hard enough however to bounce away all the shots but one, which destroyed a T-34/76. On the opposite side of the village, the lonely M10 was fighting a lost battle against the KVs and failed to score a penetrating hit on the steel monsters.

My turn was what can be best described as a coup de grace. With all meaningful enemy forces now revealed, I concentrated my fire mostly on the Shermans, while the KVs took out the remaining M10s. Although I got a bit nervous after a salvo to the flank from 5 of my BA 10s which caused only a bail, my T-34s were a lot more lucky and managed to wipe out his tanks completely. After a few weeks (yesterday actually) I found out that I rolled too many dice for my T-34/57s thinking they are the mobile counterpart of a Zis-2 gun (rof 3, AT 11, fp 4+) which could have made at least some difference but do not think would change the outcome of the battle. In any case, I feel bad for this and I am sorry Ink!!!

Back to the battle report, however: with the last remaining US tanks gone, it was wipeout time. BA 10s, T-34s and KVs destroyed the only arriving reserves - armored cars and mechanized 105s, after which the armored cars assaulted the rear of the 57mm guns along with T-60, taking over the objective.

Again, I feel sorry for this big mistake that I made during the game - hope I will be more careful next time :(

In any case, it was a fun, although a bit one-sided game. I would recommend to my opponent to use the terrain in a more efficient way next time (I think the TDs could have been deployed behind a hill in a hull-down position to fire on the KVs) and most of all, concentrate his forces more to kill single platoons - instead of coming in isolated units making it easy to focus them down with 2-3 platoons at a time.