Angriff! Or, Getting started with ‘Steiners Stosstruppen’ in Great War

Angriff! Or, Getting started with ‘Steiners Stosstruppen’ in Great War

Angriff! Or, Getting started with ‘Steiners Stosstruppen’ in Great War
With Matt Yakimoff

With Great War making a long-awaited and well-deserved comeback, I thought it would be a good opportunity to examine how new and returning players alike can make the most of the ‘Steiners Stosstruppen’ box set.

The Stosstruppen (Assault troops) and their ‘Stosstakik’ were born out of the fighting experiences of the First World War. Mass-scale industrial trench warfare presented unique challenges for the combatants on the Western front. In an effort to break this bloody stalemate, Germany organised, trained, and armed elite infantry assault units. These used a combination of stealth, infiltration, aggression, initiative and a strong esprit de corps to punch through and paralyse Allied defensive lines.

Bypassing pockets of resistance and attacking the vulnerable rear areas of the enemy, their actions would facilitate a broader breakthrough along the frontline. These troops needed to be agile and adaptive, and as such were equipped with early submachine guns, carbines, light machine-guns, pistols, flame-throwers and hand grenades. Not to mention a fearsome array of assorted melee weapons for close-quarters fighting.

These forces had considerable successes on the Western Front, including at Cambrai in 1917 and during the great Spring Offensive of 1918, although their innovations and efforts were ultimately unable to turn the tide for Imperial Germany. There are plenty of additional details about Stosstruppen and other forces within the Great War book for those who are interested in learning more.

You will find that Steiners Stosstruppen is a very handy box set that Battlefront has thoughtfully cooked up for aspiring German commanders. It contains the following:

GGEAB02 Steiner's Stosstruppen
  • Stosskompanie HQ (2 teams)
  • 2x Stoss Platoon (each Platoon with 7 Pistol teams, 1 MG 08/15 team, 1 Flame-thrower team)
  • 2x Stoss Machine-Gun Platoon (4 teams total, 2 teams per Stoss Machine-Gun Platoon)
  • Stoss 7.6cm Minenwefer (1 team)
  • 7.62cm Infantry Guns (2 teams)
  • 7.7cm Artillery Battery (2 teams)
  • A7V tanks (2 teams)
  • Sniper (1 team)

For your money, you will get a veritable horde of veteran truppe that should prove very potent on the tabletop. Let’s now examine building a Stosskompanie formation for Great War from this boxset.

Angriff! Or, Getting started with ‘Steiners Stosstruppen’ in Great War

Your Stosstruppen HQ is a straightforward and mandatory selection within your force. You can increase their potency with the optional SMG upgrade. The HQ will surely accompany your Stoss units into the thick of combat. This is important as they will play a pivotal role in keeping the momentum of the attack going forward. You will need their morale reroll abilities to help achieve this, unpinning your units from enemy fire and making sure they succeed in their counterattack rolls during the assault phase.

Before moving on, it is important to consider the ‘Night attack’ rule associated with the formation HQ. In certain missions, as the attacker, you may choose to fight under the ‘Dawn’ fighting rules. This can be very useful in reducing your casualties as you make your way across the table during the opening stages of the game, due to the reduced visibility and penalties for shooting at night. Do remember that only units from the Stoss formation itself may move freely while the night fighting rules are in effect. Your other assets must sit back and wait for daybreak before joining the fray. Those inclined to attack at night might want to maximise on formation units to make the most of this rule, or otherwise accept that the rest of their force will need to take on a supporting or counterattack role later in the battle.

Angriff! Or, Getting started with ‘Steiners Stosstruppen’ in Great War

Now for the vaunted Stosstruppe themselves. There is much to say about these units, and rightfully so as they will form the core of your force. You get two Stoss Platoon’s within the box set. Considering their hefty points cost you may not have room for many more, although we’ll speak more on list-building considerations later. These units are by any measure excellent assault troops in Great War. Very high motivation and skill attributes. 2+ assault will at the very least keep you toe to toe with the best troops that the Allies can muster. Hopefully, it will be you who is swinging first as you come over the parapets, keeping return attacks in an assault to a minimum. Using the ‘Infantry Vor!’ attribute, you also have an excellent 2+ Biltz capability. Stoss Platoon’s also have the ‘Spearhead’ attribute. Combining Spearhead with a reliable Blitz move gives you exceptional tactical flexibility in many missions and situations. This includes getting forward and clearing the obstructing barbed wire quickly in missions such as ‘The Big Push’. You can also still utilize ‘Follow Me’ on a respectable 3+, which may be just the tool you need to close the distance on a turn in which you wish to launch your actual assault.

Remember that you are primarily equipped for close-quarters fighting. Most of your teams are armed with Mauser pistols, although you can get up to two MG 08/15 teams in a full-sized platoon for ranged supporting fire. You may feel a little deflated on first hearing this, but it is important to consider that pistol teams have a rate of fire of two which they retain on the move. Considering the intended role of these units the armament seems appropriate. That added weight of fire at close range is what is needed to pin down the enemy before launching an assault. The flame-thrower team upgrade may seem an expensive addition, but their ability to automatically pin down a unit on scoring a successful hit is their key attribute. Reducing the defensive fire of the enemy as you cross the final kill zone and get into the assault is critical, any additional casualties they may score is a welcome bonus. Do your best to keep them screened as you cross the table though, as they are only a single team that you can ill afford to lose carelessly. A single pistol team per Platoon can also be upgraded to the SMG attribute, perhaps worthwhile if you have a point spare at the end of list building.

The pistol teams of the Stoss Platoon also retain an assault anti-tank rating of ‘3’, something of a rarity in the latest version of the rules. You will need to muster your courage and intestinal fortitude, but a Stoss team may just yet knock out a British or French tank in a close fight.

Angriff! Or, Getting started with ‘Steiners Stosstruppen’ in Great War

The Stoss Machine-Gun Platoon: a delicate unit, although it can play an important role within the force. The box set contains four teams which will allow you to build two Stoss Machine-Gun Platoons if desired.

You have precious little long-range firepower within your Stosskompanie. These Maxim MG 08 teams can provide you with that ranged fire support. These weapons can assist in pinning down the target of your core combat units prior to their assault, or otherwise direct their fire into counterattacking enemy forces that may spoil the plans of your Stosstruppen.

Don’t discount the fact that heavy machine-gun units in Great War have the bombardment attribute. Although only two strong this is a relatively predictable artillery template that you can reliably range in (Skill 3+) onto exposed Allied troop concentrations. While they may not kill much, they can certainly pin predictably which may complicate your opponent's plans. 40”/100cm is quite an impressive range within the Great War ruleset as well. MG 08 teams also have an anti-tank rating of 3, which may assist against some of the lighter Allied armoured assets in a pinch, although you seem to pay for this luxury within the points pricing of the unit appropriately.

These are undeniably very fragile at a maximum of two teams strong per unit. They will quickly disappear under direct and sustained fire and will begin testing for morale if a single team should fall. Don’t expose them unnecessarily. They also don’t have enough firepower to repel a concerted Allied counterattack and will need additional support.

Angriff! Or, Getting started with ‘Steiners Stosstruppen’ in Great War

The Stoss 7.6cm Minenwerfer is another fearsome addition to the Stoss commander’s arsenal. Its maximum range of 32”/80cm outranges the British competition, although is matched by the French 58mm Mortar. 2+ firepower and two halted shots means that it is a good candidate for attempting to silence enemy machine-gun, infantry and field gun teams that may hold up your attacking forces. It has a reasonable anti-tank ability at anti-tank 3 that may catch an unwary opponent if the opportunity arises, particularly as its excellent firepower will make short work of anything it successfully penetrates.

Much like the Machine-gun platoon, however, it is a costly asset. Purchased as a single team, it should probably engage enemies at its maximum range and make use of its superior reach to stay out of harm’s way.

Angriff! Or, Getting started with ‘Steiners Stosstruppen’ in Great War

The 7.62cm Infantry Gun is a versatile, jack-of-all-trades weapon at a reasonable price point. These can be purchased as ‘regular’ or ‘veteran’ depending on0 your budget. You will get two of these teams within the box set. A Gun Shield, ‘Trench Gun’ attribute, good firepower, and an Anti-tank rating of 5 make it something of an all-rounder. Just remember that you have the same weapon range as the ubiquitous Great War rifle team and thus will likely be taking return fire when making your own contribution to the fight. No bombardment attribute either, this is a direct-fire support weapon only. 

Angriff! Or, Getting started with ‘Steiners Stosstruppen’ in Great War

The 7.7cm Field Gun is an important component within your Stoss force. Once again these come in ‘regular’ or ‘veteran’ varieties when fielded individually. You could also elect to field them as a half-strength battery. While it is heavy and cumbersome compared to your other choices, you will need the support of some heavy fire support to complete your mission. Its 24”/60cm range and Anti-tank rating of 8 also make it a premier anti-tank choice for your force. Well positioned it may prove vital to keeping an Allied armoured counterattack off your hard-earned gains. Long-range bombardment can also harass exposed Allied reserves or suppress troublesome enemy teams. Do keep in mind its poor cross rating of 5+, however, if attempting to move it up in support the attack over difficult ground.

Angriff! Or, Getting started with ‘Steiners Stosstruppen’ in Great War

Now for a certain crowd-pleaser, the vaunted A7V! You will secure two of these rare and valuable behemoths in the box set. ‘Landship’ and ‘Mobile Fortress’ are two very aptly named unit attributes. These lumbering panzers are positively bristling with weapons. Beyond the 5.7cm Maxim-Nordenfelt main armament, they also sport six(!) heavy machine guns. These will bring very impressive firepower across no-mans-land and directly into the belly of the Allied lines in support of your Stoss. They can do so at a respectable 8”/20cm tactical speed as well which compares favourably with most Allied armoured offerings. Front armour 2 is also the best offering in the period amongst all the combatants. At long range and with the ‘Landship’ rule attribute, it can be surprisingly difficult to bring one of these beasts to heel. You retain Anti-tank 3 on the MG’s as well, something to keep in mind, particularly as you are seemingly paying for it. You may be able to bully an unsuspecting Whippet or Renault light tank with your sheer weight of armour-piercing machine-gun fire.

As for the potential downsides, remember you are a ‘hit on 3+’ target as perhaps befitting this ungainly monster. Your Skill is average at a 4+ and Tactics frankly abysmal at a 5+, so crafty manoeuvring isn’t to be relied upon. Cross 3+ can also sometimes be a frustration, often when least desired. It certainly isn’t a cheap addition to your force either costing almost the same price as a full-strength Stoss Platoon without upgrades.

Angriff! Or, Getting started with ‘Steiners Stosstruppen’ in Great War

The force contents are rounded out with the final addition of a Sniper team. Whilst not cheap, the special rules and attributes for snipers mean that they can make a very impactful contribution to your Stoss battle plan. Eliminate high-value targets with the benefit of their favourable deployment rules and from the (relatively) safety of the sniper’s hide. Given its price, I do think it is a potential candidate for trimming the fat off your force if you are looking to make point-savings, but they have their place and are certainly flavourful.

You get a great start in your German Great War collecting with this box set. In fact, you can build a whopping 162-point force with its contents alone!

HQ with SMG upgrade

3
Stoss Platoon, with Flamethrower and SMG upgrade 20
Stoss Platoon, with Flamethrower and SMG upgrade 20
Stoss Machine-Gun Platoon, full-strength 12
Stoss Machine-Gun Platoon, full-strength 12
Stoss 7.6cm Minenwerfer 12
Veteran 7.62cm Infantry Gun 9
Veteran 7.62cm Infantry Gun 9
7.7cm Field Guns (two teams taken as a single ‘half-strength’ Veteran 7.7cm Artillery Battery) 23
A7V 19
A7V 19
Sniper 4

For a more typically sized game, you will need to make some tougher decisions. Given the expensive points costs of your core units, I think the veteran gun teams are a luxury that perhaps cannot always be afforded. For 100 points, perhaps something more along the lines of the following:

HQ with SMG upgrade

3
Stoss Platoon, with Flamethrower and SMG upgrade 20
Stoss Platoon, with Flamethrower and SMG upgrade 20
Stoss 7.6cm Minenwerfer 12
7.62cm Infantry Gun 7
7.62cm Infantry Gun 7
7.7cm Field Gun 9
A7V 19

Angriff! Or, Getting started with ‘Steiners Stosstruppen’ in Great War

As you can see, some difficult decisions need to be made by a Stoss commander. You will want to tailor your force with an eye to the opposition and the mission at hand. I would caution against depleting your combat platoons at the expense of your fire support. However, you will equally need enough fire support to allow them to achieve their mission! During the fighting of 1918, the Stosstruppe often suffered their worst reversals as they extended past their initial successes and beyond the reach of their slower and heavier supporting arms. You will need to balance the requirements of your forces carefully in your own coming battles.

Perhaps you will consider the A7V’s to be too great for your list building budget. While regrettable, this will free up a considerable number of points to purchase an additional Stoss Platoon with other support. Or perhaps acquiring an Infanterie Platoon or Jäger Platoon from the other German forces within the book as a supporting option might just give you the manpower that you desire at a more affordable price? Securing some 3.7cm Anti-tank Gun teams would be a wise purchase for a prudent Stoss commander. These provide relatively effective anti-tank support within the formation itself. You might synergize this with the ‘Night Attack’ attribute that the Stoss formation has, and thus craft a force that will punch across the mud and wire quickly and decisively under the growing light of an early morning. Be careful that with the coming break of the day, you have other elements close at hand to support your attackers. Particularly if dreaded Allied tanks should make their way onto the battlefield…

 Alternatively, you may put aside your wheeled teams and instead go all in on mobility, with hard-hitting Stoss supported by German armour. Perhaps better still, why not augment your force with some cheaper but still very effective Beute Mark IV Male or Female Panzers? Style points as well for doing so, as far as I am concerned! A quirky little addition that will have any British opponent smarting from the very outset of the game.

Hopefully, with this newfound knowledge and appreciation for the formidable array of forces at your disposal, you are now well prepared to push back the Allies in the coming Kaiserschlacht!

~ Matt


Last Updated On Thursday, November 30, 2023 by Ryan Smith