The Rocky Volksgrenadier

The Rocky Volksgrenadier

The Rocky Volksgrenadier
with Livio Tonazzo

The Bulge: German book finally brings one of the players' most loved formations, the Volksgrenadiers, back to the Flames of War game tables! These new Volksgrenadier (People's Grenadier) divisions were designed to economise on personnel and to be primarily focused on defense.

In terms of play, it is a really good formation, which can be built for both attacking and defending depending on the role you want to play. It is excellent both as a single formation and as a second formation. Let's take a look at it in detail!

The Formation
The Volksgrenadiers formation is particularly large, even for the standard of infantry formations. Compulsory platoons include a Volkgrenadier Company HQ, a Volksgrenadier Assault Platoon and a Volksgrenadier Rifle Platoon. With this you will be able to compose your minimum size formation. There is a wide choice of platoons that are not compulsory and therefore can be added or not to the formation. First, a second Volksgrenadier Assault Platoon useful for adding another infantry to the formation. Then follows the classic HMG platoon, the Volksgreandier sMG34 Machine-Gun Platoon, useful for stopping (or making really bloody) the advance of the opposing infantry. Then there are two platoons of mortars, the Volksgrenadier 8cm Mortar Platoon and the Volksgrandier 12cm Mortar Platoon. The formation also has three-gun platoons: two Volksgreandier 7.5cm Gun Platoon platoons and a 7.5cm Tank-Hunter Platoon. Finally, it also has a reconnaissance platoon at its disposal (which is not at all obvious!) Even if on foot in the form of the Volksgrenadier Scout Platoon. As you have seen, there is everything you need to be able to field a very convincing team!

The Rocky Volksgrenadier

Training and Morale
The book Bulge: German presents Germans in a new light. Compared to the previous books D-Day German and Bagration: German which more mirrored the archetype of the German (Is Hit On 4+, Confident, Veteran), the new book shows Germans exhausted by 5 years of war and now almost resigned to a defeat. This of course does not apply to all formations or units shown in this book, but certainly to some. The Volksgrenadier Company is undoubtedly one of these, and is indeed the most representative. The value of Is Hit On is Aggressive 3+. A value for which the Germans had only the possibility via the Waffen SS which means that compared to harder to hit formations, you will be much cheaper, easier to hit and therefore kill but the cheaper points mean you can compensate by bringing bigger units or more support than their counterparts.

The Rocky Volksgrenadier

The training of the Volksgrenadier units is also less brilliant than the atypical German formations seen in the rest of the books. It is Trained 4+ that, from many points of view, brings the Germans back down to earth. Usually, the Germans could count on a value of Veteran 3+ which allowed them to pass many of the Skill tests with relative ease. This is also particularly important as the Stormtroopers rule allows for two orders to be used in the same turn (as long as the first is successful). The Blitz + Shoot & Scott combination has certainly paid off since the early days of the V4, any German knows what I'm talking about. With a value of Trained 4+ orders are no longer as reliable and often it will no longer be worth risking a Blitz. Fortunately, since Volksgrenadiers are an infantry formation they therefore suffer less than mechanized or armored formations. This rating does however keep the point cost of the units down so you can bring more stuff to the table.

Last, but not the least: the morale. Volksgrenadier's units formed rather quickly in late 1944 were anything but enthusiastic. As for fighting spirit, they had nothing to do with the bold units of previous years. On the battlefield of Flames of War i.e. represented with a value of Reluctant 5+. This is less than mediocre value that makes the units of a Volksgrenadier formation unreliable on the battlefield. At Counterattack, units can really struggle to hit back with only a 1 in 3 chance. It is necessary to take this into account and try to make the best use of the formation commander and possibly deploy large units, to delay the Last Stand Test as much as possible and in any case increase the fire as much as possible even if a unit is Pinned Down. As for the Last Stand the Third Reich rule still gives a little help, bringing the value to 4+, which isn't too bad. You may have already understood, however, that this value also helps units maintain a rather low point cost.

The Rocky Volksgrenadier

The Core
The Core units of a Volksgrenadier formation are the Volksgrenadier Assault Platoon and the Volksgrenadier Rifle Platoon. As already mentioned, in a formation it is possible to have two platoons from the first and one from the second (among other things mandatory). But how are these units composed?

Both can be made up of 5 or 7 stands depending on what you prefer. Given what has been said about morale and hit value, I always recommend choosing as many elements as possible as aggressive troops tend to die quickly. Both units may then choose additional teams. An SMG34 HMG, for the modest cost of 1 point, can provide convenient anti-infantry fire. On the other hand, up to two Panzerschreck Teams can be added against the opposing tanks at the cost of 1 point each. Taking one or two of these teams is often a good idea, for two reasons: firstly it increases the number of teams in the unit postponing the time when you will have to test for the Last Stand and secondly because that way the unit becomes a really hard stumbling block for the opposing tanks. Two Panzerschrecks with an Anti-Tank value of 11 can already act as bollards in their own right. But the core platoons have one more weapon. In fact, they have powerful Panzerfausts with Limited 2. This means that two teams can use this deadly weapon. Basically, a platoon of assaulted tanks must face a reaction fire of two Panzerfaust and two Panzerchreck and, in the event of a hit (at 5+), receive four hits (at 5+) with an anti-tank value of 12 or 11 that will hit their sides.

The Volksgrenadier Rifle Platoon is equipped with a mix of MG42 and K98 which gives it a ROF of 2 when stationary and 1 in motion. In short, a classic Rifle / MG team. Each team of Volksgrenadier Assault Platoon is equipped with two different weapons. The first is the StG44 Assault Rifle. This gives a ROF of 3 both stationary and moving (not pinned down though) within 8 ”. The second is the MG42. This grants 3 stationary and 2 moving hits with a range of 16 ”. This is a terrific combination! Ultimately the core units of a Volksgrenadier Company formation are very well equipped, but lack morale and training. These are excellent defensive units, as they are cheap and numerous.

Guns, more Guns and Artillery
A Volkgreandier Company is a formidable defensive formation and you always need cannons to defend! A total of three slots are available within the formation: one for Volksgrenadier 7.5cm Tank Hunter Platoon and two for Volksgrenadier 7.5cm Gun Platoon. The tank-hunter platoon is armed with the always excellent Pak40, which with its anti-tank value of 12 is always excellent. Morale and training from Volksgrenadier guarantee a very low cost, about 2.5 points per gun. The new entry is the 7.5cm (late) infantry gun that equips the two platoons of Volkgrenadier 7.5cm Gun Platoon. I'll say it right away, it's an EXCELLENT gun team. Positioned on a small base (which helps) it allows you to fire two shots from stationary with a range of 28 ", with an anti-tank of 9 and a firepower of 3+ (if you remember the pak38 had 4+ so this is a nice advantage ). Your opponent will certainly not overwhelm you with a horde of cheap tanks like Stuart or T-70. Without considering that an anti-tank value of 9 is still effective against medium tanks with armor value of 5 or 6, by the way the M10s fit perfectly into this category. Already these values ​​make the 7.5cm (late) Infantry Gun an excellent gun team, but it gets better. This gun can also bombard with an anti-tank heat of 2 and a firepower of 4+. Awesome! And now the cost: will Volksgrenadier's training and morale be able to offset these excellent values ​​and contain the cost in points? The answer is absolutely yes. One such gun team costs around 1.5 points, so the 4 team unit costs not much more than 5 points. Deploying two Volksgrenadier 7.5cm Gun Platoon will also deploy two artillery, but you can play up to 4 in this formation. The Volksgrenadier in fact have at their disposal both the Volksgrenadier 8cm Mortar Platoon (can deploy up to six mortars!) And the Volksgrenadier 12cm Mortar. Both platoons pay mortars less than one point per team, so artillery is really cheap.

As we have seen a Volksgrenadier Company has everything it takes to be a complete and effective training. All that remains is to try it on the battlefield!
~Livio Tonazzo