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Versatility of the Beach Defenders Formation

Versatility of the Beach Defenders Formation
with John Lee
WIn one of my previous articles, I had used a Beach Defence Grenadier Formation to augment the Scout Company Formation. 

I wanted to explore this formation in more depth as I believe this is one of the best infantry formations for the Germans, allowing you to take more cool toys (read Panthers, Tigers, Elephants, Panzer IV/70s) in your list. Like gun lines and Pak Fronts, take this formation to protect them.  Want cheap artillery – take this formation.  Want to personalise an infantry company – 10 command cards to help with that. You could take two or even three formations with bigger point games! There is a lot to like in this formation and is quite versatile as you will see as we explore it in further depth.  

 We will explore the basic formation first – what units it comprises of, then look at the different command cards that you shape it with, and finally, the different types of forces you could use it for, depending on your play style.

So, the formation is comprised of the following:

  • 1 Beach Defender Grenadier HQ
  • 2-3 Beach Defender Grenadier Platoon
  • 0-1 sMG34 Machine-Gun Platoon
  • 0-1 7.5cm Gun Platoon
  • 0-1 15cm Gun Platoon
  • 0-1 8cm Mortar Platoon
  • 0-1 8cm Mortar Platoon or 12cm Mortar Platoon
  • 0-1 5cm Tank-Hunter Platoon or 7.5cm Tank-Hunter Platoon

 If you took just the mandatory platoons with no upgrades or options, you could put this on the table for 8pts! That is, right you heard correct – 8pts. To get them this cheap, their ratings are not as good as the rest of the formations in the book – Confident, Aggressive, Green (Trained for artillery units) with a Last Stand of 5+. Now you would probably want to add some of the other platoons to round the formation out, as with only three platoons its fragile, but let us examine each platoon first in detail.

The HQ platoon comprises of 2 SMG team for 2pts with an option to upgrade to Panzerfausts for +2pts.  Depending on what I want to do with this formation and how many points I am playing determines whether I spend the extra 2pts for the HQ adding Panzerfausts. For grenadier platoons though, they are an auto take in my book.

With the grenadier platoons, you have several options to optimise how you want the makeup of these platoons to look. There are two core options – you choose whether to take MG42 and K98 rifle teams (3pts for five or 4pts for seven) or MG42 teams (4pts for five or 6pts for seven).  This comes down to personal choice and for me the decision also might rest on what optional extras I might take. You can add Panzerfausts for +2pts to the platoon and is a no brainer for me here regardless of team type or size. You can also beef up the platoons with taking 0-2 sMG34 HMG teams for +1pt each and 0-2 Panzerschreck teams, also for +1pt each.

So, if we look at the difference between the team types now, I will take the MG42 and K98 rifle team over the MG42 team if I am taking one or two sMG34 HMG team.  If the platoon is pinned, then you need that extra dice defending in assaults.  Taking the MG42 option I feel you do not need to take the sMG34 HMG team unless you want more extra bodies to beef up the platoon, as pinned ROF is 2 vs 1, so still OK.  The Panzerschreck teams are 50/50 with me. I like to take at least one – for 1pt each, in my mind totally worth it if you have the points.  Adds a second and/or third AT option for defending assaults or jumping out and having a go at a tank that wanders too close.  Makes most tanks think twice about assaulting facing two or three AT11/12 teams.

Versatility of the Beach Defenders Formation

I also consider whether to take the third platoon or not.  Depends on your preference – they are not the best trained troops and are best suited to defence but depending on what command cards you might use, having a third platoon to soak up casualties if attacking could be useful if you do not have other options.

The next platoon to look at is the sMG34 Machine-Gun platoon where you can have four of these teams for 3pts.  This is quite a bargain – cheaper than taking two per grenadier platoon and adds another platoon for the formation count.  I do not always take these but can be useful to bolster defending an objective.

Onto the artillery platoons next starting with 7.5cm Gun Platoon, you get two for 4pts or four for 8pts.  This is a dual-purpose platoon for me.  Has a reach of 48” with AT2 FP4+ as artillery and a handy AT8 FP3+ 16” direct fire option to ward off light armour or pesky recon units.  Handy to have positioned behind your infantry to help stop armoured assaults from medium tanks.

The 15cm Gun Platoon only has an option to field two for 4pts. With a range of 56” and AT3 FP2+ is great at putting down enemy infantry and gun teams – just means you are rerolling hits with only two teams.  A handy AT7 FP1+ Brutal direct for out to 16” for those pesky recon and light armour units.

Up next are the mortar platoons, starting with the 8cm Mortar Platoon – I think one of the best buys in the formation with two for 2pts, four for 4pts or six for 6pts.  This is an absolute no brainer – take six if you can, so you can reroll misses with a range of 48” and can fire a smoke bombardment. This is one of my core units for this formation.

Versatility of the Beach Defenders Formation

The 12cm Mortar Platoon is also one of the bargains – two for 2pts or four for 4pts. Another no brainer for me with a range of 56”, AT2 and FP3+. Another core one for me.

Now with the artillery units in the formation, they have a Trained rating meaning you are ranging in on a 4+ (5+ in terrain) – not ideal but not bad either. There is a command card to make them better which is discussed later in the article.

The final units to round out the formation are the Tank-Hunter Platoons. The 5cm Tank-Hunter Platoon has two guns for 3pts or three for 5pts.  Useful AT9 FP4+ with a range out to 28”.  Great little unit to provide some AT support for defending assaults or keep your opponent’s recon elements honest. Take these if you cannot afford the 7.5cm Tank-Hunters.

The 7.5cm Tank Hunter Platoon is a bargain – two for 5pts or three for 8pts.  That AT12 goodness with FP3+ and 32” range.  Will put a stop to even heavy tanks trying to assault your infantry if placed behind them.

OK – now my minimum I will take is the following if I am taking another formation:

Versatility of the Beach Defenders Formation

Versatility of the Beach Defenders Formation

This takes advantage of the two cheap mortar platoons and provides security for two objectives and allows me to look at what else I could. I normally add the 7.5cm anti-tank guns as well but make that decision if I have the points for them. More on that later.

Apart from the two warrior cards, the rest are “Title” cards. This means you can only have one of these in your force.  If you wish to take more than one formation, all formations must take that title.

30th Fast Brigade Bicycles Command Card: Allows you to reroll your reserves. If you want to reroll for your reserves, discard the card and reroll. All reserves for this turn must come from this formation. Card costs 1pt per card.

Wilhelm Bäder Warrior Command Card: The Formation Commander Successfully Ranges In any Artillery Unit from his Formation on a 3+. Whenever he successfully Ranges in an Artillery Unit from his Formation, he may immediately roll to Range In another Artillery Unit from his Formation. If successful, the additional Artillery Unit is treated as Ranging In on the same attempt. Take this card for 4pts if you have two or more artillery units in your formation – makes ranging in a breeze.

Hermann Dropmann Warrior Command Card: In Assaults, the Formation Commander Hits on a roll of 3+. Tanks that he Hits will Save using their Top Armour against his Anti-tank rating of 4. The Formation HQ and any Unit that is making a combined Assault with it Counterattack on a roll of 3+. This is a great card at 4pts combined with the Seventh Army Assault Battalion card (in the table below) makes your troops versatile giving options to get an assault in or repel assaults.

The remaining seven cards affect stats for grenadiers and gun teams, so how do they work, what do they affect and how much do they cost:

Card

Affects

Old Stats

New Stats

Cost

275th Infantry Division 10.5cm Howitzer

All 10.5cm Artillery Batteries in your force

Careful 4+

Last Stand 3+

Veteran 3+

Assault 4+

Aggressive

Last Stand 5+

Trained 4+

Assault 6

 

-1pt per gun team

77th Infantry Division 8.8cm Tank-hunter

All 8.8cm Tank-hunter Platoons in your force

Careful 4+

Last Stand 3+

Veteran 3+

Assault 4+

Aggressive

Last Stand 5+

Trained 4+

Assault 6

 

-1pt per gun team

265th Infantry Division Russian Guns

This Force must field 76mm Artillery or 122mm Artillery Batteries in place of 10.5cm Artillery Batteries

Careful 4+

Last Stand 3+

Veteran 3+

Assault 4+

Aggressive

Last Stand 5+

Trained 4+

Assault 6

 

Depending on combination of gun teams (two, four, six or eight) its essentially 2pts per gun team

16th Luftwaffe Field Division Air Force Soldiers

HQ Unit and all Grenadier units

Counterattack 4+

Tactics 5+

Counterattack 3+

Tactics 4+

+1pt per unit

352nd Infantry Division Eastern Front

HQ Unit and all Grenadier units

Rally 4+

Rally 3+

+1pt per unit

Seventh Army Assault Battalion

HQ Unit and all Grenadier units

Last Stand 5+

Green 5+

Assault 5+

Last Stand 4+

Trained 4+

Assault 3+

+2pts per unit

716th Infantry Division Ost Battalion

All grenadier units

Confident 4+

Reluctant 5+

-1pt per unit

As you can see, quite a bit of flavour you can add to your humble force. You can take one of the title cards and pair with one of the warriors. Depends on what your preferences are.

Armed with this knowledge now, we can start to make some informed decisions on how the formation is made up once we know what else we want to take in our force, depending on the points. They can fit in at any points level.  For this exercise, we shall look at 80pts, 105pts and 160pts. That is right – 160pts!  Why you ask – well for those players who live in New Zealand, we have one of our oldest tournaments in mid-July, which is a doubles LW 160pt tournament.

Firstly, looking at 80pts, we can look at taking this formation as our core and then adding in some support options to flesh it out – love the Pak Front!

Versatility of the Beach Defenders Formation

OK, you have plenty of AT14 punch with some mobility of the Panthers and 8.8cm Heavy AA combined with Pak Front, giving you some flexibility covering the board.  If you have reserves, you could have the Panthers off and either the 8cm mortars, Pak 40s, one of the Grenadier platoons or the HQ plus 12cm mortars.  This is more of a defensive force, but you can shock your opponent by attacking with it – even choosing the Attacker or Manoeuvre stances!  I would consider tweaking it a bit more – remove Pak Front and use it for adding some recon and using a command card or two.

Versatility of the Beach Defenders Formation

For 105pts, we can add more to the formation and change out our support options as well as looking at using the formation as a secondary formation for other formations using other books:

Versatility of the Beach Defenders Formation

Versatility of the Beach Defenders Formation

Changing out the SS Panthers to SS Tigers gives the force more teeth – better to assault with and better side armour, 2+ motivation and remount etc.  Add a Puma scout troop to provide some recon if necessary.  Upgraded troops to have better stats plus the warrior card to allow better assaulting. 

Another option to use it as a secondary formation for one of the new formations out of the Bagration book – The Hetzer:

Versatility of the Beach Defenders Formation

The infantry will be able to support your Tank-Hunters protecting their flanks and providing indirect fires support with their 12cm mortars.  Panzer IV/70s are there, keeping with the theme of tank destroyers and providing AT14 support.

 Now, onto the 160pt lists.  As it is a doubles tournament, there is to be a minimum of two formations with the no minimum points split per player and all support from one book.  The advantage that the Beach Defence Grenadier formation provides here, is that one player could field a full-sized SS Tiger Company or the 653rd Elephant Tank Hunter Company or similar:

Versatility of the Beach Defenders Formation

A full SS Tiger Company with armoured Flak Half-Tracks, the Beach Defence Grenadier Company providing security and to protect the objectives, or support the Tigers in attack and two artillery templates to pin/destroy enemy infantry and gun teams.

Versatility of the Beach Defenders Formation

This is one those moments to take something cool – seven Elephants!  Protect their flanks with the infantry and use the Pumas with the T-34 Security Tank Platoon to sneak around to take an unguarded objective whilst the enemy is focussed on trying to deal with the Elephants!

As you can see, the Beach Defence Grenadier Company is a versatile formation that can be used as a main force, well supported, or as a supporting formation of infantry and artillery support for those armoured formations that cost a lot of points.  I hope this gives you some new ideas and provide some food for thought, especially with the release of the German Bagration book.  Happy list building!
~John


Last Updated On Thursday, April 15, 2021 by Luke at Battlefront