Following the release of Bagration Soviets' heavy armour, it is time for their direct opponents to reveal their wonder weapons against the Red Tide! Featuring some familiar faces from Fortress Europe and the Wehrmacht's composition in D-Day, this first part of three of the Bagration German reveals peak German engineering enough to go toe to toe with their communist adversaries!
It was the beginning of June, 1944. To the West, American, British and Commonwealth forces participated in the largest ever airborne and amphibious assault in history to date. In the East, the Karelian Offensive was underway against Army Group North, and the recently ended Crimean Offensive against Army Group South a culmination of defeats suffered by the Germans.
The Feste Plätze (Fortified Towns) strategy drawn up by Adolf Hitler created a rigid defensive line of communications and supply around several strongholds to face the incoming assault. While the OKW were aware of a new offensive, they believed it to be aimed towards Field Marshal Model's Army Group North Ukraine, and thus divided majority of AG Center's strength northwards and southwards, leaving an estimated 580 tanks, tank destroyers and assault guns against more than 4,000 of their opposing number.
What happened next between 23 June till 19 August were a series of Soviet offensives, the armoured and mechanized forces sweeping between the fortified towns just like how hordes of Mongol cavalry bypassed castles during their devastation of Eastern Europe. Encircling German divisions who tried to keep supply lines open for their entrenched defenders to retreat through, AG Center's only hope was for reinforcements called by Field Marshall Walter Model to arrive in time to stabilize the front, as well as for inidividual heroics as the Schwere Panzerabteilung and Sturmdivisions to stem the tide.
Eventually the Red Army prevailed, liberating Minsk and severing communications between AG North and AG North Ukraine, and forcing the Heer to retreat at a much quicker rate. However this victory came at a cost, as every one German killed the Soviets suffered two, to a count of around 180,000 killed or missing.
Bagration Germans takes us back to the Fortress Europe and D-Day books, combining the iconic Tigers and Panthers with some new Tank Destroyers meant to take on the IS-series of vehicles. World of Tanks players would find the ‘Hetzer gonna Hetz’ meme coming to life, the little Jagdpanzer finally making it’s debut on the Eastern Front. Here we also see a little more emphasis on the StuG/H and a Panzer IV conversion in the Panzer IV/70, perhaps the result of some German ingenuity…
Hitler’s favour towards Tank Destroyers after the Battle of Kursk late war due to their performance, lower cost and ease of production meant that many existing tank hulls were not attached with rotating turrets but rather fitted with a casemate. This meant that there was more space along the length of the vehicle to fit a larger gun and their ammunition, and there was no need to install the intricacies of a turret but rather a simple top covering the vehicle from front to back.
While the theory behind this conversion made sense in the defensive nature of the Wehrmacht during Operation Bagration, the overall image of the Army was forced to shift away from the mobility offered by turreted tanks towards that of forward-firing tank destroyers. Heinz Guderian could only object as precious resources were diverted from Panzer IV tank production to fuel those of the Jagdpanzer IV and the Panzer IV/70.
‘Stuggy & Hetz’
Our favorite Tank Destroyer the StuG appears in the Eastern Front. While the formation during Kursk lacked any organic infantry support, later developments reflected in both D-Day and Bagration where the assault guns received a platoon of Fallschirmjagers and Escorts respectively.
We have here the first ever German units in V4 to receive an assault value of 2+. Equipped with StG44s, these men excel on the move, closing the distance with other dug in infantry and pouring a volley of fire before moving in for the kill. Priced at 9 and 13 points for the small and large platoons respectively, these troops are perfect in moving 16 inches at a time, either by Blitzing-Tactical-Follow Me, or by dashing with a Follow Me order right after. Never a unit for defence with that pinned ROF and lack of panzershreks, and with 4+ not the best for the counterattack, these troops work best in delivering a heavy first strike across as many contact points as possible, or intercepting enemy infantry in the open with anti-tank support from the StuGs.
Players familiar with the StuG may also be familiar with its cost, going at 23points for 4 of such vehicles. Perhaps there might be a request for a vehicle with similar hardware at a lower price?
There’s where little Hetz comes in! While looking similar on paper, the smaller Hetzer possesses the ‘Overloaded’ (Overworked?) trait with the 7.5cm gun. Its lower cost enables players to bring additional support to Hetzer’s Formation, and people wanting to bring it on as a support option won’t feel so hard pressed to slim their main formation!
One can bring 4 for a price of 16 points, and while their terrain crossing capabilities aren’t one to envy, one should leave the forest to the Panzers while these little stingers play peekaboo behind buildings or forest edges. A skill of 4+ means that they might be tricky to use for the Blitz+Shoot&Scoot Stormtrooper Combination, but… there isn’t really a reason for them to scoot if 8 AT11 shots find their target no?
Bringing the hurt to the table
The PanzerIV/70 and the Jagdpanzer IV are similar vehicles, with the main difference being the gun they mount. While the JgPzIV carries the L/48 gun, the Panzer IV/70 carries the L/70 gun which boasts a respectable AT14, similar to the weapons mounted on the Tiger and Panther tanks.
What are Panthers, which cost 11 points apiece, when theres the PanzerIV/70? Now this is a formation designed to be the core of your force. Being able to bring two platoons of PanzerIV/70s, an an Armoured Panzergrenadier Platoon, and AA for some air cover and anti-infantry work.
Players who often make full use of German AT 14 would be pleased that there is a closer compromise between the Panzer IV and Panther Tanks. With the armor and penetrating capabilities of a Panther, one can field a full formation of these beasts with infantry or armored options in their core, enabling them a formidable unit in defense.
Advancing enemies would find it both hard to hit when concealed in a static position in the forests while Gone to Ground, and in a straight up gunfight few possess the capability to lay down concentrated AT14 shots while being nearly as protected as the heaviest tanks in the game.
Players could use them on the move as well, and once you overcome them being ‘awkward Panthers’ due to their bad cross checks and Forward Firing rule the Panzer IV/70 will soon be reaping dividends in Soviet steel. The PanzerIV/70 with a Skill of 3+ could Blitz and Fire all day, and even if they fail to move back to cover, their FA of 9 would mean that they can shrug off all but the most devastating of shots to the front.
"Oh Marder of God"
The Marder reappears in Bagration Germans after a brief showing in Fortress Eur-… wait, they do look different, and they are different! The Marder III, Sd.Kfz. 139 in Fortress Europe is no more, making space for the Marder III Ausf. M, Sd.Kfz. 138 in this new book.
Sporting a thinner front armour for a discount of 1 point throughout all unit options, the Marder carries a gun capable of murdering medium tanks at will. A skill of 3+ means that they can abuse the Stormtrooper Rule all day, getting the jump on advancing T-34s and greeting them with a salvo of AT12 shots.
Among the three tank destroyers featured with medium guns, the Marder possesses nearly no armor. While the Hetzer and PanzerIV/70 can take hits, the Marder swaps survivability for cheap mobile AT12 options. That said, no Marder should ever find itself caught in the open, or stay under the template of heavy artillery for long.
And now for the big guns…
The Brummbar, or Boom-bar, reappears with a machinegun attached on the left side of it’s hull. The last word for armoured artillery in the German arsenal, these monsters are the bane of all anti-tank guns, and if you’re one of those poor bloody infantry it doesn’t really matter whether or not you are dug in when caught under this template, and you’d better be moving if you’re still alive after being hit.
"She looks like a flower but she stings like a bee"
The Hornisse is the same as those present at Kursk. What makes it so valuable now is that the AT17 is no longer overkill as compared to using it during it’s Fortress Europe days. Where the strongest FA back then was the German Tiger, that murderous AT of 17 would now make it’s buck against Soviet IS tanks and British Crocodiles, teaching heavy armour into twisted husks. As what all German players should know, these guns are precious glass cannons, and should never be left in a static position to be fired upon.
Posh guns of the Heer
The Ferdinand from Kursk has undergone quite an update. Sporting an (MG) which would prove somewhat useful against the Soviet Horde, the main focus would not be on it’s already disgusting hard stats, but the improvement in Motivation and Skill values, not to mention it being 4+, a significant upgrade considering that your opponent now has to hope to hit you after going all the trouble of reaching your flanks.
While it costs almost twice of a Hornisse while sporting the same gun… There is nothing, no gun in the whole of Flames of War V4 so far that has the capability to punch through the front hull of this vehicle. When you pick up the resin-metal mini that is the Elefant, you are picking up pure, undefeatable armour as you look towards the enemy, 8.8cm gun ready to dish out the hammer of the German Reich.
Opponents facing this beast cannot stay still. They cannot afford to! So expect them to attempt a rush should you be placing the Elefant in a strategic position, or get smoked. While the Fortress Europe Ferdinand would often be smoked out of the game, the Elefant’s improvements means it would be harder to take out of the game, making it a much more feasible choice should a player decide to bring one into the list.
I mean, look at that. Base 4+ to hit and unpenetratable from the front? Play this option while defending on a short table edge and witness Deutschmination of all armoured units upon a hit. Of course they require support, but once you get the hang of how to use them, they’ll be a gem in your fun lists. Unlike the Hornisse, the Elefant is forgiving albeit at a great cost.
We will be looking at the infantry companies brought forth into Bagration, as well as the support pieces to complement the already formidable Heer. The Scout Platoon, Storm Grenadiers, and Panzerwerfer42 will make their appearance!
Prices and shop links will be up later this week!
By Jing Hao