Late War Grenadier Tactics

Fortress Europe German Grenadier Tactics
By Mike Allen

Why would you want to have a Late War German Grenadier Company?

The German forces in Flames of War are varied and colourful, with no less than eight types of companies plus the option to upgrade to Waffen SS for some. When you can choose from Panzers, PanzerGrenadiers, Fallschirmjager etc why would you bother with the gritty footsloggers of the Grenadiers. Basically there are two reasons: gaming and historical. The “gaming” reason is based around the idea that with the Grenadiers you can add in units from just about every other combat company. This allows you to tailor the force to your preferences and field some of the “coolest” units in FoW. The historical reason is that Grenadiers fought on every front and in every major action in WW2. From the early days in Poland and France, in the desert, Russia, Italy in fact everywhere they could march the Grenadiers were there.

Once things turned bad late in the war the Grenadiers were in their element, digging in, holding the line against the onslaught of the Allies from the steppes of Russia, the mountains of Italy and the beaches and bocage of Normandy. Without any doubt these tough, cynical veterans were the backbone of the Wehrmacht and make a competitive, flexible and interesting force to deploy in Flames Of War, especially in late war.
Grenadiers move forward

Organising your 1500pt Grenadier Company (Festung Europa)

In working out what units to take, the first thing is to consider the core of the force: the Grenadiers themselves. In late war the Grenadiers only have 7 teams in a platoon and no options, making it one of the smallest platoons in FoW. Fortunately the teams are veteran and therefore resilient to fire and good at attacking when their time comes. However the small platoon size means they need to choose their assaults carefully.

So start your Grenadier Company with a HQ and the Panzerschreck team and two full strength platoons of Grenadiers. Upgrade the HQ in the Company and Platoons to Panzerfaust teams. 

Grenadiers Company HQ with Panzerfaust upgrade and Panzerschreck team = 85pts

2 Grenadier Platoons with HQ Panzerfaust upgrade = 330pts

The good news is you now have the core of your force and have only used 420pts, leaving 1080pts for weapon and support options.

This is the big advantage of the Grenadier Company, as the forces of most other nations use many more points to establish their core, before they can choose weapons and support options.

So what to choose?  Basically you need to boost the infantry component of the force, provide additional firepower, anti-tank capability, artillery and some mobility. First look to strengthen your infantry by adding a platoon of Pioneers. The Pioneers have a number of options including flamethrowers, the Goliath Demolition carrier and the supply truck. In addition they are AT4 in combat with armour. The only downside is they are rifle teams so don’t expect too much from their shooting. Due to the number of teams in the platoon, the Pioneers are your best infantry assault option so take them at full strength.

Pioneer Platoon with command Panzerknacker and Goliath demolition carrier = 265pts.

Next pick some HMGs to help pin down any assaults and take 2 full sections  = 135pts.

To provide anti aircraft support take the very useful option of 3 SdKfz 7/2 (3.7cm) armoured half-tracks.  This is a very versatile vehicle with its armament having a Range 24”, ROF4, AT 6 and FP 4+ as well as 0 armour all round. It can be used in an anti-infantry role and can even threaten the flanks of enemy tanks as well. If you think that is a bit fanciful bear in mind the side armour of a Stuart is 2, Cromwell 4 and Sherman 4. Only Churchills are completely safe! So this support option is a bargain! = 180pts.

Armoured Sd Kfz 7/2
Though mortars are a good cheap artillery option, the 105s provide serious fire support for the Grenadiers with the ability to even threaten armour with AT4 and 4+ firepower. A full battery of 4 10.5cm guns = 220pts. Direct fire may only be at ROF 1 but no one can ignore its AT10 with a 2+ firepower (except Churchill VIIs!).

The force is now “hard” and able to lay down some serious firepower but is lacking in mobility. To address this you have 285pts to buy either 3 Panzer IVs or 3 StuGs. The Panzers have turrets and one more MG, the StuGs have 1 pt better front armour and Schurzen: just pick the one you like best.

So our 1500pt Late War Grenadier Company looks like:

Grenadierkompanie
 
Company HQ with Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck team
85 points
Combat Platoons  
1st Grenadier Platoon with HQ Panzerfaust upgrade
165 points
2nd Grenadier Platoon with HQ Panzerfaust upgrade
165 points
Weapons Platoons
 
Machine Gun Platoon 2 squads 140 points
Support Platoons
 
Pioneer Platoon with 3 squads, Goliath and HQ Panzerknacker upgrade
255 points
Artillery Battery 10.5cm 2 sections
220 points
Panzer or Assault Gun Platoon 3 Panzer IV/StuG G or IV
285 points
Antiaircraft Gun Platoon 3 SdKfz 7/2 (3.7cm) armoured half tracks
180 points
Total
1495 points

This is but one of many, many variations that can be achieved with this list. There are literally dozens of workable combinations you can come up with based on the same core force of Grenadiers and picking different support options.

Grenadier Company in Hold the Line

Any scenario that features the ability to be dug in at the beginning is the preferred option for the Grenadier Company. Any chance you get to dig in your infantry and artillery take it!

First step is to assign the HMGs to the infantry platoons to boost their defensive capability. This will leave you with 6 platoons, 3 of which must come on from reserve. Ideally you don’t want to be towing your guns onto the table so the artillery will need to be setup on the board with one of the Grenadier platoons and the Pioneers. If the terrain allows put the Pioneers in ambush to maximise the use of the Goliath. Remember the Pioneers are rifle teams with ROF 1 so place the HMGs in the best possible position to give support. The artillery should be dug in and spaced out to make it harder to attack them with artillery or air support. It’s often a good idea to stagger the guns rather than putting them in a straight line. That way if they have to turn to cover their flank from attacking armour all the guns will be able to fire. The deployment of the HQ is a decision based on how good your nerves are. You don’t want the Pioneers to be messed up by failed morale checks, so one option is to put the C.O. within command distance of the Pioneers so he can attach to them when needed.  The risk is if the Pioneers are overrun you’ve lost your C.O. This is a call you need to make based on your assessment of the risks. Put the 2iC with the dug in Grenadiers to give them some additional AT capability and firepower. Be patient with your infantry until either the enemy gets close or the reinforcements arrive. As veterans, gone to ground and concealed the enemy cannot shoot you until they get within 16” and ranging in by enemy artillery is very difficult. Just tell your boys to eat dirt until the cavalry arrives!

Hold The Line
This leaves the 2nd Grenadier Platoon, the armour and armoured AA to come on as reserves.

Depending on the opponent bring on the mobile forces before the second grenadier platoon. The tanks are the obvious first choice as the reserve as the on table forces lack any ranged AT capability until they arrive. If you are relying on the 105s for AT support you have either deployed badly or are in a lot of trouble! The SdKfz 7/2 is a great AA weapon and if there are no planes its armour and 24” range means it is deadly to infantry and any light vehicles that stray in range. It is capable of harassing the enemy and if necessary contesting an objective until infantry reserves arrive. However if there are no air support problems and the tanks have covered any immediate mobile threat bring on the reserve Grenadier unit as it takes them longer to get into position than the half-tracks.

Grenadier Company in Breakthrough

Breakthrough is an interesting scenario for the Grenadiers as they usually will be defending.

Map Key

When defending the strategy is fairly simple: place your Grenadiers dug in to block and slow the attackers, the HMGs, if possible, placed to shoot into both attackers zones and your mobile forces centrally placed and within a move of  the objectives.

The Pioneers will move immediately to dig in and hold both objectives backed up by the 2IC and Panzerschrek with the HQ within a move of being able to attach to the Pioneers. That’s all fairly basic and obvious, but what if you are the attacker!

In a normal game you will only be the attacker if your opponent is infantry and you lose the roll off. A smart opponent will realise that your core is infantry so he’ll tend to dig in as close to the deployment zone as possible. If he has troops up against the zone boundary you cannot deploy within 12” of his troops so your 3’x 2’ deployment zone suddenly got reduced to 2’X1’: that’s a very small space to deploy. I’ve seen this used to devastating effect with games often lasting only 2 or 3 turns as the attacker is slaughtered trying to attack the dug in enemy force. So the solution is simple, just because you are the attacker doesn’t mean you actually have to attack! At least not from turn 1. So what is the plan? First you get to choose the quarter that you will deploy in. Pick one with plenty of cover both to hide your troops and to interrupt line of sight. Put the 2IC and Panzerschrek plus the HMGs with the Grenadiers and also deploy the artillery out of sight of the enemy. Have as many bases of troops over 16” away from the enemy as you can manage. Your reserves will be the armour, Pioneers and mobile AA. As you decide on your reserves after the defender is deployed you may want to bolster the on table forces with one of these units, probably the mobile AA.

The tactics are simple, take cover, go to ground and wait for the reserves to arrive. Use the 105s to pound the dug in enemy troops or visible light armour. Remember to use smoke bombardment to interfere with the enemies firing. If the enemy platoons move from their foxholes to either to attack or relocate, that’s when you start harassing them. Otherwise hit the dirt and hang on. Once the reserves arrive pick one objective and concentrate on that. The trick is to hit hard and fast before the enemy can redeploy. If you can’t place an observer in a position to direct the artillery in support of the reserves you may have to send the CO with them so he can do it!

Break Through

In the diagram above you can see how to surprise the enemy with the strength of your flanking attack forcing them to relocate their troops to cover the threat. Most defenders in this scenario will commit up to 75% of their forces to smash your onboard attack, so don’t oblige them by running into their guns.  When no attack comes from your onboard troops they will have to relocate their forces or face being overrun from the rear. Once that relocation starts, move your Grenadiers to harass them, open up with the HMGs and pin them down while the 105s concentrate on hitting troops in the open. If you’ve kept the armoured AA with the onboard troops this is when they can start to manoeuvre for flank shots on the relocating enemy armour. Let’s not kid ourselves that attacking is a preferred option for a Grenadier Company but with cunning, good timing and courage it can be done. A bit of luck comes in handy too!

Summary

The Grenadier Company is probably the most flexible force combination in FoW. It can access just about every type of weaponry available to the German Army. It may not have the dash and flash of other types of German companies but it is a tough, gritty and flexible force that will suit the player that likes a strong defensive infantry based force that can also attack when needed to. It also has so many options and access to all the “cool” vehicles of the late war German army that you will never become bored with them.