Wehrmacht Rain

Russland-Mitte/Süd, Panzerhaubitze "Hummel"Bring on the Wehrmacht! As we go into our final nation specific look into artillery I knew I had to picture the Hummel for our Germans. I personally love the Hummel and they make it into almost all of my lists that can take them. I do have to admit that I am biased though since I play Wiking SS and they have the best Hummels in the game! Who doesn’t love artillery that cannot be pinned, fires as if it were Veteran and has protected ammo and AA MGs to help protect itself. These guys have provided more kills for me than nearly any other single platoon.  However, this isn’t about my Wiking SS tactics (though I am already thinking that might be a future post now) so lets look at German artillery as a whole.

If we look at the rules for German artillery they look a little weaker than other nations, however I find that German artillery can be just as powerful due to the fact that it gets a lot of bang for its buck most of the time! However, the rules themselves are below:

  1. (Armoured) Rocket Launchers
  2. Stuka ZU Fuss
  3. Kampfgruppe

I know that Kampfgruppe isn’t an artillery rule in and of itself but I have found that it can be used with German mortars to provide some great support!

(Armoured) Rocket Launchers:

I put the “armoured” in brackets because while the rule itself only specifically helps the Panzerwerfer rocket launchers it is the German Rockets that are amazing. But we will talk more about them specifically when we break down German artillery pieces. This rule is pretty straight forward. It allows you to perform a stormtrooper move, which removes the main negative to rockets that exists, smoke  trails. There isn’t much to discuss here other than remember to do it if you are using Panzerwerfers and perhaps a note to playing against rockets, don’t forget that you can range in concealed on rocket launchers that do not remove their smoke trails. I am amazed at how often people forget this.

Stuka ZU Fuss:

This is a rather obscure rule for the Germans. If I play pioneers then I always take some of these. My aim with them it to pick targets that are easy to range in on and then let them go. The biggest reason for this is that if I can get lucky and range in on that first attempt then I count as a 6 gun battery and get a double wide template! I have never seen this fizzle entirely either since they get six attempts to range in. You can count with relative ease getting a 3-5 gun bombardment. The beauty of this is that they are also rockets so they will not take any penalties for extra ranging in attempts. However, these are not a fire and forget type of weapon, with only a single bombardment chance they need to be used where they will have the maximum effect or impact on your game. The other factor is that when they haven’t been used yet your opponent is often going to be a little more cautious while moving which is a huge added benefit of these rockets! Having a 1+ firepower on AT 3 is nothing to sneeze at either.

Do not forget that since they are part of your bigger pioneer platoon anyone in the platoon can also act as your spotting team! This makes them easier to get the exact target point you need, when you need it! All in all I say take these when you have the option as they are fantastic!

Kampfgruppe:

As I mentioned, I know this isn’t an artillery rule specifically but if it is not being utilized in some other way then it can be a very useful tool for artillery! The way that it most often comes in handy is with mortars and specifically mortar optimization. What I mean by this is one of the two following situations:

  1. Having a platoon of 4 8cm mortars with 2 HQ 8cm mortars so that you can kampfgruppe to make two platoons of 3 mortars. Not to mention this has the added benefit that you can steal an observer from the regular platoon meaning that both new platoons of three have a spotter now.  This can also be used if you want to take a platoon of 6 mortars and create two platoons of 3 instead in order to spread the bombardments (and smoke) around.
  2. Creating a kampfgruppe that steals 2 8cm mortars and a single 12cm mortar to create a more optimized bombardment and stable platoon of four. This gives you a bombardment that can still lay a single template of smoke from the medium mortars or do a combined bombardment that provides AT3 FP5+, a hefty upgrade from the usual medium mortar bombardment. The best part is that it doesn’t make your 12cm mortars any worse either. While it does make them less resilient I warned you from the beginning that the kampfgruppe rule is used for mortar optimization, not resiliency!

I will mention that there are rare cases where this rule can be used with something other than mortars but it is far less common. However, if you aren’t using your Kampfgruppe rule to make some specialized or super platoon then please consider using it for artillery optimization as it works great!

Lets examine how to best use your different artillery weapons Now!

Medium Mortars:

The best part about German artillery is that they get access (both in numbers and platoon counts) to a lot of medium mortars and rockets. More on rockets later, but the medium mortars are gold! I have found that taking small pockets of 8cm mortars can prove invaluable for a German company! First of all they provide the usual pinning when really needed and smoke etc like any medium mortar. Where they start to shine is that it is easy and cheap for Germans to get 2-3 platoons of medium mortars which becomes powerful. Laying that much smoke onto key targets can keep your troops alive as the enemy has to constantly move their teams and therefore use moving rate of fire. It can also completely block lines of sight. I still remember a game I played against a Always Defend King Tiger list that had 15cm guns backing them up. My Grenadiers were in for a scary proposition, even if they were fortified! However, he never got a chance to fire his artillery and always had to shoot on the move with the King Tigers since I had 4 artillery bombardments that smoked him every single time. His entire approach was always smoked! In the end he had to come so close to get shots that my ambushing PAK’s showed up behind his King Tigers and blew away 2 while the infantry came pouring out of their trenches to deal with the remaining 2 under cover of smoke. It was a a glorious victory and a testament to how powerful medium mortars and use of smoke (on any battery as it wasn’t just my mortars firing smoke) can be!

Heavy Mortars:

These are fantastic! A must have in a lot of ways for the Germans if you can. I love the FP 3+ and being able to kampfgruppe them with some medium mortars optimizes my cheap mortar artillery immensely.

Nebelwerfer:

This have to be some of my favourite artillery in the game! Super cheap AT3 FP4+ or 1+, smoke capable, no penalties to range in with the option to take a PAK gun! Honestly if you haven’t used these yet then you need to! Not being forced to pay for a direct fire capability keeps these guns cheap! I have used them to take our medium tanks and enemy artillery often!

Panzerwerfer:

Do you know what is better than the Nebelwerfer? The Panzerwerfer! I love the Panzerwerfers, they cost very little and have all the same benefits of the Nebelwerfers with some built in defenses too! Being able to add a PAK38 or Pak40 helps defend against enemy armour and the fact that they are armoured with MGs means that they can throw back infantry as well! Having the cheap extra crew also means that for less than a couple hundred points you get a double wide armoured bombardment that will always make you feel like the points were well invested. I had so many kills with these guys before I started playing armies that couldn’t take them! The number of T-34s alone that they had killed! Having a double wide AT3 FP4+ with no range in penalties means that you can catch a LOT of medium tanks under your templates and those ones do happen! Not that you shouldn’t rely on it but it is a definite threat and if you are able to land bombardments for a few consecutive turns you will begin to see some pay off.

7.5cm leIG18:

These are probably my least favourite artillery gun. They never come with a staff team and come in two or maybe three if you are lucky. No staff team, paying for direct fire that you hardly use and I find these just not worth it. You might be able to make an argument for them in MW but even then I find that captured 25 pounders are far better! I would say use these if you really need a little extra direct fire AT that is low calibre.

15.5cm sIG33:

These are marginally better than the 75mm but without a staff team or numbers (again usually only 2) they just leave you wishing those points had been better spent. At least in my opinion. I will however say that they are marginally better because the better AT and firepower can make them more useful for the kampfgruppe  mechanic I mentioned earlier. But even then I would say you should usually leave these at home.

10.5cm leFH18:

I wont bother going through all the different forms of these that are out there. We will assume they are as listed, the most widely used version of the 10.5cm with AT 10 and a FP2+ in direct fire and a AT 4 FP 4+ bombardment with smoke capabilities.

In other words, nothing to write home about. I find that these are the least useful guns that are actually dedicated artillery (not those infantry support ones I just mentioned that don’t have a staff team). The biggest reason they are not useful has nothing to do with themselves at all but rather that there are better options in my opinion. I think the only time I have seen these hit the table is when there is no other option for some heavier artillery or in special scenarios.

12.8cm K81:

I think these are cool in concept, but really who wants to pay so much for a direct fire AT of 17 with a RoF of 1? It makes more sense to just buy some Pak 43s instead! While you do gain some versatility in the sense that it can now direct fire and also bombard (with a better firepower of 3+) you lose smoke! I find that smoke is often so useful that I hardly ever take artillery that cannot use smoke ammunition! The only exception to this is the 12cm mortar I mentioned before. In short, these are kind of neat but that is about it. Very niche oriented and not worth it most of the time.

15cm sFH18:

These guns are great! One of the biggest advantages of German artillery is that you do not need to pay for the smaller caliber 10.5cm artillery before using the larger 15cm guns! I say take them and take them often! Your opponents will be psychologically affected if nothing else, even if you fail all your rolls! The only reason I do not use these more often is because I like to use Hummels instead!

Wespe:

These are again great little armoured artillery guns but when you do not need to pay for them first I say go for some Hummels! However, if you need a second platoon of artillery or you simply want to save a few points then grab some of these instead. They share many of the same benefits of the Hummels and simply have a weaker gun, hence why I take Hummels first when I can. Though I really cannot explain how much better it is to utilize the special ability you have to buying the bigger guns first!

Hummel:

This has to be my absolute favourite artillery piece out there! I love them and take them in as many lists as I can! I will first and foremost admit that I am biased because I play Wiking SS and so I get to get the fantastic upgrade of having my artillery fire as though it was veteran! Regardless of this I have still taken them in many other lists. The reason is quite simple really. There are a few key points that I will outline:

  • You cannot be pinned
  • You are armoured (1s all around even!) and so have more survivability against everything except medium or heavy armour.
  • You have an AA MG to protect against planes and infantry.
  • You have protected ammo! This is huge as suddenly your confident or fearless artillery is almost always firing unless dead!
  • You can even use your direct fire sometimes by setting up in an advantageous position from the beginning to guard a flank if needed (rare and do not try this without ample experience or you will lose your Hummels quickly)

All in all I love my Hummels and often find any way I can to get them into my lists!

General Ideas and Conclusions!

Now I know that there are many other strange and obscure artillery pieces that the Germans get to use. However I tried to stick to the main ones that you are capable of taking in almost all lists.

The main things I have found for myself can be summed up into a couple main paints to think about when using German artillery:

  • Use medium mortars for smoke and extra pins because they are so available and cheap.
  • Use heavy 15cm guns as often as you can since this is about your only artillery advantage against Allied nations.
  • Use rockets when you cannot afford both previously mentioned options or when you want another artillery template that does it all! Rockets are your main go to artillery that will keep on giving!
  • Use Kampfgruppe to optimize your artillery fire when you can and don’t need the Kampfgruppe for other things.

I truly hope that this helps and convinces more people to bring those Hummels and 15cm guns. We already see lots of rockets (in Western Canada anyway) but I am hoping to see more massed 8cm mortars and more large calibre guns!

As always discuss things in our tactics forum here.

 

2 thoughts on “Wehrmacht Rain”

  1. I thought the 12cm mortars didn’t get smoke bombardment. Is there a specific list where they are available?

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