Wednesday, July 25, 2012
The CV Panther in Version 3
Update 7/26: Ack - I fixed the formatting and converted the monstrous blob of a paragraph into its intended component parts. Sorry about the huge wall of unformatted text.
It's been a busy month. Unfortunately, none of the recent busy schedule translated to doing anything hobby wise other than picking up Devil's Charge and thinking about lists. What follows is a rather long post containing my rambling musings.
I've also been reviewing my inventory of German vehicles. The plan is to get a "core" of vehicles that can be used in several different lists. My Saved Companies list in Easy Army gets bigger by the day. If I can't get on the tabletop, or do much modelling, at the very least I can enjoy this hobby by adding to my collection and making army lists.
While dreaming up and creating dozens of lists, and then deleting most of them, I keep looking at one number - 560. Most of you will immediately recognize that the number corresponds to the cost of 3 Confident Veteran Panthers. The Panther is a staple in most German armies, whether they are armored, mechanized or infantry types. When I design a list, you'll find a platoon of Panthers in it. And why not? It has great mobility, great armor, and high AT and it's my favorite tank of WW2. You'll find the Panther in the Top 3 of any historians list of best tanks of WW2.
I want to point out to the reader that when I'm looking at lists, I am considering the tournament environment. Most of my FOW games are either at tournaments, or versus players who play in the local tournaments.
So what's the problem, you might ask? Version 3 and BGG. Version 3 bumped mobility for several vehicles - cough, wheeled, cough - and changed the TD rules. BGG produced Shermans with AT 13, greater mobility due to new special rules and TD lists. The result of a synergy that makes a Panther stand up and take notice when facing a US list.
The "game" has changed. German players can expect to see a US TD platoon in most lists. Rare will be a MW or LW US list without a TD platoon. Dare I say, the TD platoon(s) have become the US Panther - don't leave home without them. The Version 3 rules changes benefited infantry and mechanized armies. WWPD posted a sneak peak of the 2012 MW National results. The print is small, but I estimate there are 3 German armored companies that finished in the Top 50 (one 4th out of 86 entrants!). The majority of lists were Infantry or Mech. It's a direct result of tank assaults getting stopped by only two negative results (bailed or destroyed).
When designing list, I am now looking at those 560 pts (almost 1/3rd points investment in a 1,750 point list) and wondering how good an investment it is going to be in the world of Version 3. How survivable is a platoon of 3 Panthers to an Alpha Strike from US TD's who decloak? What about assaulting US Armored Rifles (don't do it!!). Plus, there's still artillery (top armor 1) and airstrikes to worry about.
The loss of a 560 point Panther platoon is potentially crippling. The obvious answer is to mitigate any damage inflicted by getting more hulls on the table that can still carry on the fight. Or better yet, getting multiple platoons of the same unit, so the loss of one doesn't devastate an army (the MSU concept from 40K).
How? Trained Panthers. Grey Wolf (Wiking - Confident Trained), Blood, Gory (yes I said Gory, it's not a typo!) and Guts (Panzer Brigades - Reluctant Trained) and Devil's Charge (Peiper - Fearless Trained) offer intriguing possibilities around a core of Trained Panthers. The runner-up to the 2012 LW Nationals was a Wiking list of Panthers. Is the new German "meta" for tournaments using Trained Panthers and surrounding them with meat shields (supporting units)? Rather than dumping a 1/3rd of your points into one platoon, is it better to spread the wealth around?
Episode 39 of WWPD had a brief talk about Germans in a Version 3 environment. I wish it would have been longer, but those guys at WWPD are on time constraints and run a tight ship. In short, no pun intended, they focused on using recce. I hope to someday write a post on the subject with my own thoughts.
This post was rather long and I didn't include any pretty pictures. Those of you who stuck to the end of this, I thank you. I am not a FOW expert. I'm not a skilled FOW player. I doubt I'll play in a Nationals event. What I am is someone who likes the look of a good looking tank, on a good looking table, standing / sitting across from a similarly minded bloke while we send our steel chariots across the table to blow one another up. I'm also the sort to do these mental-exercises in written form to help me design and think about lists I'd like to see on my tabletop.
Version 3 has only been out a few months. There are still kinks and rules getting ironed out and better defined (or exploited). However, by looking at recent Nationals result, a trend is developing. The tournament players are going to be the first to adapt to the new dynamic. I don't know if Trained Panthers are going to be the new "Black" for FOW Germans. Maybe the CV Panther becomes a key supporting unit for a mech list. I don't know. I hope that maybe this post will spark some good discussion.
Thanks again for reading.