Bulge: German Recon Formations

Recon Formations

Bulge: German Recon Formations
By John Lee

For those who have read any of my previous articles, you will know that I have an affinity for reconnaissance formations. Today we will look at the Bulge: German book, where we have some interesting choices to choose from, that have a variety of units to create a list that suits your playstyle. They are command card-based formations, and they are the Reconnaissance Kampfgruppe, Kampfgruppe Grabner and SS Schnellgruppe Knittel.

We will be looking at each of these and how to field them at 100pts. There are also a couple of upgrade command cards available as well, to create some additional flavour such as the “Kampgruppe Grabner Armoured Trucks”, “Kubelwagon Scout Cars”, and “Schwimmwagen Scout Cars”.

Starting with the only Heer option, we have the Reconnaissance Kampfgruppe, which is comprised of the following units:

Reconnaisance Kampfgruppe

  • 1 Reconnaisance Company HQ
  • 1-2 Ardennes Reconnaissance Platoon
  • 1 Ardennes Reconnaissance Platoon or Panther (late) Tank Platoon or Panzer IV Platoon or StuG Tank Platoon or Panzer IV/70 Tank-Hunter Platoon
  • 0-1 Reconnaissance 8cm Mortar Section
  • 0-1 Reconnaissance 7.5cm Gun Platoon
  • 0-1 7.5cm Tank-Hunter Platoon
  • 0-2 Puma Scout Troop or Sd Kfz 250 Scout Troop
  • 0-1 Sd Kfz 234 (7.5cm) Gun Platoon

It has a good mix of recon elements, infantry, tanks, and support including integral mortars and guns. To maximise this unit and give it some oomph, this is how it could look:

Bulge: German Recon Formations

Nine units for the formation break and only one support unit outside the formation. Two infantry platoons – one mounted in half-tracks for extra firepower and mobility. The other on foot to defend if required and or support the Flak unit (which also doubles as artillery). Two templates and lots of AT14. Two units for reserves if needed. Multiple spearhead options.

You could also apply a couple of command cards upgrades to this formation if you want to add some more flavour. There are two that options that apply to the Reconnaissance Infantry Platoons. You can either mount them in half-tracks or have no transport and walk. Another option instead of walking is to ride in either Kubelwagen or Schwimmwagen Scout Cars.

Kubelwagen Scout Cars command card is +2pts per unit. It reads– “Infantry Teams from this Unit become Unarmoured Tank Teams with a Save of 4+ and the movement and special rules below. Discard this card at the start of any Movement Step to revert them to Infantry Teams”. The movement stats are: No tactical, 10” Terrain Dash, 16” Cross Country Dash, 40” Road Dash with a 4+ Cross Check. NB: For unarmoured teams, they cannot Charge into Contact and must Break Off if Assaulted. Schwimmwagen Scout Cars command card is +3pts per unit and is the same as the Kubelwagen except they are also have the Amphibious rule – “This vehicle treats Impassable Water as Difficult Terrain”. By using one of these options for either platoon, it gives you the option to get them up the table faster and then dismount to get that assault in or grab an objective. 

Up next is the first SS one - Kampfgruppe Grabner. This formation is comprised of:

Kampfgruppe Grabner

  • 1 SS Reconnaissance Company HQ
  • 2-3 Ardennes SS Reconnaissance Platoon (only one allowed in half-tracks)
  • 0-1 Sd Kfz 221 & 222 SS Scout Troop
  • 0-2 Sd Kfz 250 SS Scout Troop
  • 0-1 Sd Kfz 231 SS Heavy Scout Troop
  • 0-1 Sd Kfz 231 SS Heavy Scout Troop
  • 0-1 Armoured 7.5cm SS Gun Platoon (only three teams in this unit)

Bulge: German Recon Formations

What I like about this formation is the variety of recon units and vehicles you can take in this formation. You can also apply the Kampgruppe Grabner Armoured Trucks Command Card to the Ardennes SS Reconnaisance Platoons here as well. For a cost of +2pts per unit, you can take these armoured transports which have FA0 SA0 TA0 and a MG. Not very fast with tactical and terrain dash of 8”, cross country dash of 10” and road dash of 28” with a 5+ cross check but they are armoured and add some flavour to your force and a cheaper option than half tracks if you need the spare points for something else.

Seven units for the formation break. HQ and one platoon in half tracks and the other in armoured trucks – so can attack and or defend with integral firepower. Multiple units of spearhead in the force to get your units into attack position. Four Panther (lates) with AT14 to take on enemy medium and heavy armour. Lots of AT9 to take on everything else. Six Grilles to provide a deadly artillery template with rerolling misses.

Bulge: German Recon Formations

Finally, to round out the recon options is SS Schnellgruppe Knittel. This formation is comprised of:

SS Schnellgruppe Knittel

  • HQ Unit with 1 x Puma or Sd Kfz 250
  • 2-8 Sd Kfz 234 SS Scout Troop or Sd Kfz 250 SS Scout Troop
  • 0-4 Sd Kfz 250 SS Scout Troop
  • 0-2 Ardennes SS Reconnaissance Platoon
  • 0-1 Armoured 8cm SS Mortar Section

This is where you can really go to town with your recon units. You can have up to twelve recon units in this formation as well as infantry and support. You can also apply the Kampgruppe Grabner Armoured Trucks Command Card to the Ardennes SS Reconnaisance Platoons here as well if you wish, although for me, I will run them in the half tracks due to almost everything else being half-tracked to create a themed force.

Bulge: German Recon Formations

Ten units for the formation break! I could get this to twelve if I replaced both the Puma Scout Troops with Sd Kfz 250 Scout Troops instead! There is only one infantry platoon here, as I really wanted to get the big cats in the list. I could squeeze a second one in if I removed the half tracks and change out a couple of the recon platoons. Still, I like to take at least one platoon if I can, to tackle those tasks such as holding objectives or clearing out a village or assaulting into terrain. I find the maxed-out Sd Kfz 251 (7.5cm) half tracks very useful in fire support role. Two artillery templates with the Grilles and Armoured Mortars to pin down the enemy before the assaults go in.

Finally, the King Tigers. I am taking three here as this is my heavy AT17 to deal with the enemy armoured units. They are aggressive so hit on 3s but with FA16 SA8 TA2 – I am not worried too much by that. They also have a 2+ motivation meaning I could take two instead to get 16pts back to use somewhere else. With that 2+ motivation, you can take a fragile platoon of two and will still hang around if they must start testing.

There you have it. These command card formations can provide some interesting options and provide some headaches for your opponent. I hope this has given you some food for thought. Happy list building!