Panthers and Half-tracks, HEAT and Flamers, These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things!

With Adam Brooker

This time I’m going to be looking at a fun list for me. Ever since I’ve seen the D-Day: German books came out, I have been really tempted to start an Armoured Panzergrenadier list. I just really like the models, an almost entirely mechanised force, and its fast aggressive play style.  Because it is essentially light armour, you will need to find a weak spot in opponents’ line to exploit. You do this by using your excellent mobility to manoeuvre around defences or focus your firepower to blast through it. To do this you will need tanks.  Now Tigers may be ideal for this, but Tigers are easy and everyone takes them, I like a challenge, and I’ve never been one for doing what everyone else is doing!!

I really enjoy playing fast maneuverable lists with, good attacking power (glass cannons), using the terrain and movement orders to get the best from your forces. But it is a hard list to play, you may lose a few battles until you really perfect your list and the play style, but it is ALWAYS FUN!! Which is why most of us play right!!??

So I’ve gone with Panthers, they are a bit faster and a bit cheaper compared to Tigers, and you just have to watch their flanks, but they do have great frontal armour and excellent guns!! But they are vulnerable to getting shot in the side in defensive fire when assaulting, and against anything with high AT weapons in assault, so they have their limitations. But they are not there to do the assaulting, they are there mostly for blowing shit up and looking awesome!!

Assaulting is what the HQ, Armoured Panzergrenadiers, and Flame Thrower Halftracks are for!! But you will need to soften the enemy up first, as you don’t have the numbers to have a slog-fest of attrition. This list is very much about picking a target, focusing it, destroying it (or making it combat ineffective) and then moving onto the next target. You will need to have a plan here for your target selection, both for what units you want to attack and what enemy attacking units you want to take out first.

The idea here is that your aggressive unit placement and movement will put your opponent off balance. He will probably have a plan against the objective you are going to defend, but will need to pull more and more forces away to deal with your attacking units.

Also, an easy option for Reserves is the Panthers and Jagdpanzer IV, a quick 40 points if you do have to put forces in Reserve. Although you are lacking the normal Lucky card I take to try to make sure your Reserves turn up when you need them to.

So let’s talk about the units….

One different unit here I don’t normally take is the Flame Halftracks. The Armoured SS Flame-Thrower platoon is very cheap for the amount of devastation they can cause. Normally flame tanks cost almost as much as normal tanks, but don’t have the large main gun, but a very short ranged flamethrower. But at 6 points for 4 Half-tracks, capable of spitting out 16 shots a turn (at 4” range), that require the enemy infantry to re-roll any saves they make, and auto destroys any dug in infantry or gun teams, I’m prepared to see how it works out! Now admittedly they cannot charge into combat, but they can shoot in defensive fire if an infantry unit is dumb enough to charge you.

But what they can do is roll up to the defended position and unleash hellfire all over it, pinning the unit automatically and hopefully significantly reducing the defenders. These are the perfect unit to soften up the enemy before your main assault, the auto pin is especially useful. The only thing to be careful of is protecting them as they advance as they have very little armour.

The defending units for you will be the Panzergrenadier platoon, the mortars and Wespes, the 7.5cm anti-tank guns. You should have a solid base with those units to defend one objective. Units like the Jagdpanzer IV and 7.5cm Armoured Gun Platoon can be used as either in an offensive or defensive way, and once the enemy attacking units are blunted, can be quickly repositioned in attack.

Also the great thing about your artillery units, the mortars and Wespe, is that they are mobile, so if they do try to counter battery you, you can easily move once they have ranged in on you. If you are lucky you can even attempt a blitz to move, and still fire or bombard in the same phase.

I do have to let you know how much I really like the 7.5cm Armoured Gun Platoon, and that it’s one of my favourite units of this list. It pretty much exemplifies the ‘Glass Cannon’ unit type. They have almost no armour, reasonable manoeuvrability, and a good cross check. Strapped to the half-track is an AT9 HEAT cannon with 24” range and 3+ Firepower check, and 6 of them can SPAM 12 shots a round with a good Blitz roll. Put them behind a hill, and a quick Blitz, a salvo and a Scoot and Shoot will give a lot of tank lists headaches. Also as they are part of your formation, they can be affected by the Old Hand rule, so a 3+ Tactics check instead of 4+ as long as your HQ is within 6”.

I also want to add how much I like the Old Hand rule for the SS in Late War. The improved 3+ Tactics roll, as long as the Formation HQ is within 6” of the Formation Unit Leader, is a great mechanic. It has a lot of character, with the core veteran SS officers having to pass on years of hard won combat experience, not in the practice fields with time and patience, but having to pass it on to barely trained replacements in the crucible of battle. It really represents how many veteran SS Divisions from the Eastern Front had been bled dry or had troops re-assigned from veteran units to form new ones (eg. 17th SS or 10th SS Divisions, and 1st SS replacements). It also shows how the Germans were really struggling for both man-power and experienced troops at this point of the war. They were reaching their limits, and it was starting to show, and this simple rule illustrates it well,

So your Formation HQ unit is very important in SS Formations, and to me it suggests using them aggressively, to keep them moving around the battlefield, so your formation units can get the best out of their movement orders and tactics rolls, as well as the normal HQ benefits of re-rolls.

I will say this list will not be easy for a beginner to use, it requires you to know not only the strengths and weaknesses of your own list, but your opponents as well. But…. once you get the hang of it, I find these kinds of lists immensely fun to play.

So if you want to play a different sort of list, with a bit of a challenge, I suggest you give it a go. But most importantly always have fun!