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Stalin's Europe

Building a Feldherrnhalle Panzergrenadierkompanie
Nicolò Da Lio

We recently asked some of our playtesters to give us their thoughts on building armies from Stalin's Europe. In the first installment we bring you Nicolò's thoughts - Editor

With the new Stalin's Europe book on the shelves, one might have a hard time trying to decide what to try next in its Flames of War games. An easy way to cut the Gordian knot may be to choose a relatively ordinary company as a way to try the new big toys in the German arsenal, while practicing their strengths and their limits in a force that is already known, and from there deciding what to do next. Expanding or changing one's projects depending on the results obtained on the battlefields is the wargamer's job, after all!

Learn how Nicolò builds a Hungarian Assualt Gun Battery here...

At a first glance, a Feldherrnhalle Panzergrenadier company may look identical to an ordinary motorized infantry company at the disposal of the Herr, but that's not the case. To cite Vincent Vega, is all about “the little differences”.

First of all, a German commander willing to take these men on the battlefield will quickly notice that he's got plenty of Hungarian allies, more or less happy to crush Stalin's hopes for Hungary. Not to mention the fact that a new tool in the German arsenal makes it's first appearance in this book: the Jagdpanzer IV/70!

Feldherrnhalle men also have a nice special rule that makes them a vicious opponent in a close quarters battle, when is all about guts and hand-grenades. And if one of the two is lacking, what more than a barricade or two coupled with some barbed wire will ruin a commy's day?

So there are quite enough little differences to make this list stand out among the other similar infantry companies in the FoW universe. But let's see how one could muster all these new toys in a 1500 point list!

You've gotta do what you've gotta do!
There's not too much to say here. In order to compose a Panzergrenadier company, one must first of all buy its headquarters and two Panzergrenadier platoons as its combat platoons, with the option of fielding a third Panzergrenadier platoon and an Heavy Platoon.

Felderrnhalle Cuff Title 

Apart from their characteristic special rule, these platoons are made of the ordinary MG-equipped infantry teams that we're used to see in similar German companies. The HQ is also pretty straightforward, and has the useful option of taking a Panzershrek team: an option that I usually choose happily!

The ubiquitous combination of Kar 98k rifles and MG42 Machine-guns is the center of the German defensive and offensive land war machine, and the Panzergrenadier platoon here is no exception.

The wise commander will soon recognize that as many men as possible are needed to man the machine guns that will stop dead any soviet assault. Also the Romanian traitors will get their share of lead if they dare to come too close to these MG teams!

Panzergrendiers advancing

Personally, I think that given the cost of these platoons, two of them are more than enough for building up a decent defensive line. Anyway, a good way to compensate the relative lack of manpower is to give these men help in the form of an Heavy Platoon. A couple of MG42 HMG teams and 81mm mortars attached to your platoons is what is needed to crush any hope of a quick infantry assault!

Now that the core of the company is done, let's take a look at the other options

 Panzer IV/70 (V)

Tyranny of choice
Weapons and Support platoons is what makes really unique our forces, and are the expression of what we feel useful, colorful or funny to take on the tabletop: a gamer's style is shown by what miniatures he's choosing to deploy!

As I said before, this company adds some new tool at the player's box.

Ordinary German support is available with its plethora of tanks, artillery and pioneers, but a very useful addition is the new Panzer IV/70.

This nice tool has at its disposal a wonderful AT 14, as much as a Panther (the gun's the same!), while 9 extremely useful points of frontal armour are there to fend off even the heavier soviet rounds that might fly over the battlefield.
On the other hand, to have these nice features, the Panzer IV/70 had to trade off some of the best features of its littler brother, the Jagdpanzer IV. In the real world the heavier armour and longer gun weren't compensated by an improvement of the engine, so this tank was both slower and harder to move on the battlefield.

These limits anyway can be easily overcome if the platoon is used in coordination with the other elements of the company: one hand washes the other after all. And these beauties can really give a hand when facing the Soviet tank hordes! T-34/85s are no match for the Panzer IV/70s, and both ISU-152s and IS-2s will have a hard day against them. Just make sure that your tank hunters have a good firing position while being protected from enemy infantry, and everyone in your Panzergrenadier company will be happier!

Panzer IV L/70 (V) advance through a village
At this point I think that most of the work has been done, and now we can discuss how to complete the company.
Hungarian support is one of the best ways to find some platoons that can act together with your force at a cheap price. And the Magyars bring a lot of colour with them too!
If one's hampered by the cost of German artillery, the trained Hungarian guns can come useful and fill the role decently. Hungarian infantry platoons can have their share of glory too, as their big size can compensate their lower skill and can help a German commander in controlling the ground with some more men. Last but not least, Hungarian Zrinyi II assault guns are a good and cheap way of getting some veteran armoured support for the Panzergrenadiers.
Zrínyi II assault howitzer
These vehicles are relatively vulnerable to attacking enemy infantry, but they have a decent armour and sport a good gun that can help fending off medium tanks: they'll be a well liked help for your infantry. Just remember that all these allied platoons follow the “Allies” special rule, thus they can't be motivated by your company commander!
I think that Zrinyi are to beautiful to be left on the shelves, so that's what I want to complete my company.
Zrínyi II assault howitzers support German Infantry This leaves me with some spare points to spend on some fortifications. I like to mix out barbed wire and trenches. 
In this way can build a small but strong forward defensive line with the infantry platoons and the barbed wire obstacles, while, in order to slow down the enemy advance, the trenches behind the main line allow me to redeploy the infantry after an assault.

Remember that if you take at least 50 points of fortifications, you'll always be the defender in a defensive battle! 

To battle!
Now that I've built up my force, I'm ready to take on anything the enemy can throw at me. I've got some very good infantry to control the ground from a strong defensive position that can be supported directly by mortars, anti-tank guns and machine-guns. The heavier assault guns are ready to ambush any advancing tank, slow down an infantry advance or race to rescue the Panzergrenadiers. Most of all, I've got a very compact and colorful company that presents some nice challenges on the tabletop.

If the Soviets want to build Stalin's Europe, they've got to handle these guys first!

The list: 

This is my starting point for a 1500 point force which gives me some good all round options, but leaves me plenty of choices on how to upgrade it to 1750 points or more.

Company HQ
Panzergrenadier Platoon (3 squads with Command Panzerfaust SMG team)
Panzergrenadier Platoon (3 squads with Command Panzerfaust SMG team)
Heavy Platoon (1 Mortar Section and 1 Machine-gun Section)
Panzergrenadier Anti-tank Gun Platoon (3 PaK40s)
Panzer Platoon (3 Panzer IV/70)
Hungarian Assault Gun Platoon (3 Zrinyi II)
3x Barbed Wire entanglements
4x Trench lines
45 points
210 points
210 points
145 points
165 points
450 points
225 points
30 points
20 points

Last Updated On Thursday, December 16, 2010 by Blake at Battlefront