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"Panzer I in spearhead" Topic

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smolders21 Jul 2017 6:46 p.m. PST

I have just started playing Spearhead rules..first game yesterday..we played an early war scenario, I am struggling with how to use the Panzer, what are useful tactics for the panzer I?

maciek72 Inactive Member21 Jul 2017 10:34 p.m. PST

In well designed rules you should use them as they were used in reality.

The Wargames Room21 Jul 2017 10:49 p.m. PST

A very good question. I use Spearhead and over the years I've mostly played late war scenarios. The early war Panzers are very different.

Currently my experience indicates pursuit and exploitation provide greater opportunities for success. That is infantry formations pin enemy positions while the Panzers flank, overrun and exploit the situation. Both being heavily supported by artillery fires. Anti-tank guns being used against enemy armour.

Here is a link to one game. You will find others dealing with 1941 games where the German armour is still often outclassed.


79thPA Supporting Member of TMP22 Jul 2017 5:20 a.m. PST

What are you trying to do with them? They were obsolete when they rolled into France and sustained over 30% losses. Their strength is speed, mobility, and radio communication. They are good for recon and supporting infantry attacks.

Don Manser22 Jul 2017 6:12 a.m. PST

Finding / spotting units in cover.

smolders22 Jul 2017 7:20 a.m. PST

Thanks you for you comments,

@ The Wargames Room- Very informative, I shall give this tactic a go when I play ext week..Thank you.

@Maciek72- Yes I agree. At the time of my first game I had no idea how out classes I would be and didn't do any research on Panzer I tactics, conciquently I got my fillings rattled!

@79thPA- I didn't realize how outclasses the PI would be, originally I tried to use them as shook elements. Iam now doing the research I so desperately lacked during battle one.

@Don Manser- I think you're spot on with that. Thank you.

On ward and up wards. Thank you all

The Wargames Room23 Jul 2017 4:13 p.m. PST

I'm pleased you found my reply useful. In Spearhead the real advantage of the Germans are their ability to manoeuvre and change orders. It is important to use this.

Good luck with your games.

codiver24 Jul 2017 4:29 a.m. PST

Remember that MG-armed tanks (e.g. PzKw I, Matilda I, etc.) do not use the normal Tank, TD, SPG fire priority, so they're better used against infantry.

smolders24 Jul 2017 11:10 a.m. PST

@ Codiver..where do I find that in the rules please?

christot Inactive Member24 Jul 2017 11:59 a.m. PST

Don't even try to fight tanks with them, against infantry they are moderately effective, if they overrun infantry they count +3 as a turreted afv- not super easy to achieve, but if they get in amongst infantry they can be quite deadly in the right circumstances , particularly if the infantry are already suppressed.

christot Inactive Member24 Jul 2017 2:45 p.m. PST

My mistake- they get +2 for close combat in SH played straight out of the box.
The +3 is in a D10 version I've played, not played the D6 version for well over 10 years, so +2 on a D6 is actually more effective.

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP24 Jul 2017 6:24 p.m. PST

… if they get in amongst infantry they can be quite deadly in the right circumstances …

Can't say as I've ever played Spearhead, so I offer no insight into those particular rules. And I don't play Germans, so I have no experience with Pz I's. But …

If the rules are any good for combined arms combat (which I hear they are), you might well find that they are surprisingly effective in "the right circumstances".

This is what I have found with my Italian L3 tankettes using the Mein Panzer rules (my preferred ruleset).

Whether you are in pursuit or not, whether the enemy infantry is suppressed or not, in my experience the key questions are whether your opponent's infantry has effective ranged AT weapons, and whether you can spot them (the infantry). If no (ATGs) and yes (spottable), your ability to concentrate a platoon or two worth of dual-MGs-under-armor should allow you to shred enemy infantry squads one after the next.

The key is staying just outside of close-assault range, and spotting. If you are supporting friendly infantry in an assault, or if you are buttressing infantry in defense, the spotting is pretty much taken care of for you, and you get to shred away.

Which is how it should be. There was a reason so many armies adopted inexpensive MG armed tankettes in the inter-war period. And also why 25 37mm AT guns became so important. If your opponent didn't have ATGs in his front lines, a platoon of two of MG-armed tankettes was plenty enough to silence the opposition from most foot-bound infantry battalions (generally 90%+ of all armies).

Of course if your rules (or game buddies) require a balanced scenario, where your Pz I's (or L3's) must face off against an equivalent point-value in R35s, A-9's or T-26s, then you're just skrood. Unless you can use some Pz III's or 38t's to occupy his tanks while your Pz I's (or L3's) use their speed to bypass the armored clash and make a go at the enemy infantry.

Your mileage may vary.

(aka: Mk 1)

christot Inactive Member24 Jul 2017 9:54 p.m. PST

Spearhead is indeed nothing like MP, it's 1 stand = 1platoon, 1" = about 100 yards and is more concerned with command decisions rather than how many millimetres of armour plate.

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2017 11:27 a.m. PST

Spearhead is indeed nothing like MP, it's … more concerned with command decisions rather than how many millimetres of armour plate.

I understand this.

This is one of the reasons I prefaced my comments with the caveat that I could offer no insight into how to implement my particular approach within the rules. I might not have been clear in my posting, but I tried to focus on the issues that might define a commander's tactical approach, leaving it to those who know the rules to figure out how they might implement their intent on the gametable.

Perhaps the Spearhead rules pay no regard for MG fire on infantry. If so, I expect I'd read a lot of gamers suggesting the rules were a waste of time. But I don't. So I infer (perhaps incorrectly) that MG fire has some effect on infantry.

And perhaps the Spearhead rules pay no regard to armored protection from small arms fire. Again, I expect I'd read more objections to the rules than I do.

Now please note, I am not discussing or describing millimeters of armor, or millimeters of penetration, or any such thing. Whatever the rules provide as mechanics, does armor provide some protection from small arms fire? If it does, we have lift-off.

The key to success of tanks like the Pz I, in MY observation, derives from the ability to use their mobility and protection levels to concentrate overwhelming MG fire against infantry formations that don't have ranged AT weapons. I observe this in my readings of early war history, and in my own gaming (with different rules, as I freely admit). In actual fact the infantry's morale often failed. But there was a reason for that -- they could not withstand the MG fire, and they could not dissuade the tanks with small arms.

The OP was framed in terms of early war. As an example, a French infantry regiment in 1940 would have had, at the battalion level 12 platoons of infantry, and one platoon of 2 25mm AT guns. At the regiment level there were another 6 25mm AT guns, which operated as two 3 gun platoons.

We are speaking of a distributed density of no more than 1 gun per 6 infantry platoons at the battalion level. Given the paltry effective range of the French 25mm gun (about 600m IIRC) and even with ATG reinforcements from Regiment (not highly likely), the likelyhood should be that no more than 1 out of 3 or 4 infantry platoons have ANY ATGs within range to provide support.

In this case the challenge for productive use of Pz Is is easily met. Bring 2 platoons of Pz Is into position to concentrate their fire into one platoon of infantry. If there are AT guns in range, move off and find a different infantry platoon to pick on. Don't close with the infantry until you've reduced them to ineffectiveness. Whether that ineffectiveness is due to casualties, accumulated shock value, disorganization, reduced morale level, suppression, or any other rule mechanism doesn't matter to the case at hand.

If the Spearhead rules are structured such that that a platoon of ~35 men can withstand the concentrated fire of 20 MGs, or that small arms fire alone can dissuade armored vehicles from firing their guns, then find a different set of rules, because either of those failings makes the rules useless for gaming combined arms combat.

And please note I am NOT criticizing the Spearhead rules. I presume this tactic will work, as I have read so many positive reviews of these rules. I can't tell you how to move or play your pieces to effect this tactic, but if you can figure that out, I expect you will find it works.

Again, your mileage may vary.

(aka: Mk 1)

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