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VG Fusiliers in CM

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VG Fusiliers in CM

Most CM players are well aware of the potential of German Volksgrenadier infantry, with their high numbers of SMGs. Less common may be use of the VG Fusiliers (VGF for short), the foot "recon" battalions of the VG infantry divisions. This post is about a sample VGF force and some of its deployment possibilities. The emphasis is on the flexibility of the force and its CM play. It is designed for 1000 point scenarios as regulars, either defending as an "infantry" force type, or in a meeting engagement or attack as a combined arms unit. The core of the force is the same in either case, but a few added weapons are different, and so are the deployments.

First the force in a meeting engagement -

1 VGF Company w/

1 75mm FO

6 Sharpshooter


2 81mm Mortar

+1 VGF Platoon

3 Panzerschreck

1 81mm FO

2 StuG III (late)

In a 700/1050 point attack, you can add another 75mm FO, or upgrade the 81mm to a heavier module to deal with dug in positions better (105mm or 120mm mortar).

In an infantry defense, drop the StuGs and one schreck, and add -

a 3rd HMG team

1 75mm PAK

2 20mm FLAK

3 AT Minefield

3 TRPs

1 AT mine and 1 TRP can be traded for a 3rd schreck, if desired.

The VGF platoons come in two varieties, SMG and rifle. The SMG platoons have two types of squads, two each with pure 9xSMG, and one Fusilier squad with 1 LMG, 5 SMG, and 3 K98 rifles. The rifle platoons have one Fusilier squad and two standard rifle 44 squads. So the whole force listed has 4 SMG squads, 4 Fusilier squads, and 4 rifle 44 squads - equal numbers of each. By organizing these squads properly, the force can coordinate the roles of its different platoons to meet any sort of task. The means of "tasking" is the use of the company HQ, used to command a "fifth platoon".

On the attack, a basic deployment would be a "W" formation, with three SMG-heavy platoons forward and two "overwatch" platoons trailing somewhat, between them. The flank platoons should be full strength VGF-SMG platoons with a schreck added to each. The forward center platoon is the company HQ leading the 2 Fusilier squads from the rifle platoons, plus the 3rd schreck, and 2 sharpshooters to scout ahead. The rifle platoons are in the trailing points of the W, each with an HMG, 2 sharpshooters, and a StuG. The weapons platoon HQ spots for the 2 81mm mortars. FOs can be with the rifle platoons or the mortars.

This deployment puts 63 SMGs in the forward positions. The company HQ can pick up squads from the flanking SMG platoons when needed, to shift the sectors under each platoon's command. Good infantry AT capability is also up front. The overwatch platoons have the range and variety of weapons to suppress at a distance, and the StuGs can help move their slower MGs into good firing positions. There is enough ordinary infantry with the StuGs to deal with AT teams. Naturally, the deployment must conform to terrain, the enemy, and the plan. This tasking is a good point to begin that from.

On the defense, use an "M" formation instead of a "W". The company HQ is still in the center, but back this time instead of up. Each of the three "back" platoons has an HMG and 2 sharpshooters attached for ranged fire. The company HQ "platoon" draws 2 rifle 44 squads this time, one from each of the 2 "back" platoons. This leaves the flank platoons with HMG, 2 LMG, 9 SMG, 10 rifles plus 2 sharpshooters; the company HQ "platoon" has 7 SMGs and 13 rifles instead. The 2 forward parts of the "M" are again full strength SMG platoons with a schreck attached. The company HQ can again draw squads from its neighbors or send those already taken back, to reinforce whatever part of the line needs it.

In addition, the three rear platoons can now act as the close protection for one of the guns, though you should be careful how much you put under a potential barrage footprint. The PAK in the center and the 2 FLAK on the flanks would be typical. TRPs can be located ahead of these, more or less "on line" with the SMG platoons farther forward. Ideally, the SMG platoons would be just behind a slope, with the "overwatch" and weapons back 100-200 meters or so on the front of the next ridge farther back. The idea is to sweep "your" side of the defensive position, hitting anyone crossing the ridge (or treeline, etc) not only with SMGs nearby (front or flank), but with about 2/3rds of your ranged weapons, from farther away.

In all cases, the overwatch formations try to pin a target formation, then mortar fire or light artillery lands on it, deepening the suppression and breaking some of the men. Before they have time to recover, ideally you want to run into them with the nearest SMG formation, to finish them off. The light artillery types in this force mix will not kill decent infantry in decent cover, but can suppress. And the SMGs can kill suppressed formations rapidly, if they can get at them. The SMGs should stay in tactically "hidden" deployments - reverse slope, rear lower floor of buildings, away from a treeline - until needed or until an enemy gets close. The rifle infantry, support weapons, teams, and FOs provide ranged fire before then.

The VGF company force comes with 6 sharpshooters, which may be more than most are used to buying. That comes to a platoon's worth of the critters. In raw firepower, even 6 sharpshooters are not going to equal the firepower of a platoon, but they do have their uses. Some pointers are in order about using so many sharpshooters as part of an infantry defense - what they can and can't do.

Sharpshooters cannot hold ground or stop attackers intent on charging them, regardless of how clear the ground is ahead of them. They are relatively easy to suppress once spotted, and obviously can't take causalties. And they have limited ammo - 10 shots each. But properly used, even regular quality sharpshooters will KO somewhere between their own number and twice their number, and pin or break far more than their number, sometimes for significant periods. And they can do that without all getting killed if played right. In addition, they can provide valuable spotting intel about the enemy force, its movements, etc. They can also provide confusion, because the enemy sees more "infantry?" markers than you have full squads, in a given area.

Avoid the temptation to sacrifice sharpshooters as "expendable" because they are only one guy. After taking any kind of incoming fire, change their position, and come back for another shot a few minutes later. Do not try to force them to accomplish some overall plan for you, or charge them too close to the enemy. Instead, keep them alive, distant and hidden when possible, and take shots when you ID important or vunerable targets. Work them to get their shots and stay alive, not to help the plan. You will get more intel out of them; you are more likely to get off all of their 10 shots, and thus get hits; and you aren't as likely to lose them and thus give the enemy VPs.

Note that crew served weapons moving across open ground are particularly vunerable to sharpshooters. This is because (1) their morale is lowered for inability to fire back while moving, and (2) they can't just go to ground in the open, (3) they are exposed for longer than other units because of their slower speed, and (4), because much of the effect of sharpshooters is the pinning effect of being sniped at - the morale - not men hit directly. Other types vunerable to sharpshooters are teams with high value and few men. FOs are the best target, flamethrower or AT teams aren't bad, and shooting HQs can help considerably if they break. Exposed crew of vehicles are also a useful target. The worst target is an ordinary squad in cover. Those shots are not worth taking, because the reply is much more likely to be effective than your own shot.

The VGF are a fun force type to play. They are not any sort of gamey optimum (they don't have more LMGs than Rambo, yada yada), but they have an assortment of specialized tools to handle each sort of job you may face. For those who know what wrench will work for each battlefield situation, getting them to coordinate well can be quite satisfying. Learning to use them can teach you a lot about the variety of infantry types and tactics in CM.

I hope this is interesting.

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This is a great primer! One of the reasons I like reading Jason's works is that you get a quick summary on a particular TOE, a ready deck in other gaming parlance that you can spring on others.

Much like a chess player learns by standard gambits, a standard force loadout is a great boon for beginning players. It may make them predictable, but they do learn enough to get familiar and confident, until they get thrown an adhoc kampfgruppe to handle...

I'd personally advocate dropping the minefields for more TRPs. AT minefields, even in a block of 3, tend not to be sufficiently deadly for area denial. That's a job that can be reasonably handled by the PaK, schreck and faustpatrone.

I agree with Jason's comments on sharpshooters; they are especially potent at VC (as in vehicle commander) killing. I once had a regular sharpshooter kill a tank commander at 400m -- that tank was effectively blind for the rest of the game (incidentally, playing Israeli-style really makes a huge difference in playing -- hopefully in CMBB, the AI can be persuaded to unbutton by itself.)

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> On the attack, a basic deployment would be a "W" formation, <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

It looks very nice when written, but i wonder how do you, guys, manage to attack in "W" formation on a typical CM map (less than half is covered by woods). I can see this working in a heavily wooded area, where you just walk through the forest...

...but then again i do not understand much of the real world tactics... :(

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by ciks:

It looks very nice when written, but i wonder how do you, guys, manage to attack in "W" formation on a typical CM map (less than half is covered by woods). I can see this working in a heavily wooded area, where you just walk through the forest...

...but then again i do not understand much of the real world tactics... :(<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I think the "W" designation is just a basic guidline for the relative locations of each unit to the others. In practice it wont look like a game of connect the dots, especially since he's talking about putting a whole company's worth of squads into this formation.

Whenever I do something like this, I try to imaging a sort of "zone of responsibility" for each platoon, which would look sort of like 3 imaginary box shaped deployment areas side by side, on top of 2 more right behind, and centered on the first 3. If that makes any sense. Then each platoon can use whatever terrain is best, as long as they stay within their designated area.

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Right. "W" means that five platoon positions are layed out in a checkboard formation, 3 up and 2 back in the "slots" behind them - nothing more. The men are not lined up in the "lines" of the W, any more than an "I" formation in football means three linemen holding hands across the front and back, with the other five men front to back between them, turned sideways and holding hands LOL. If it helps, you might also call it the "olympic rings symbol" formation.

You position the platoons on bits of cover in about that 3 up, 2 back formation. Typically one of the two SMG platoons on the front flank positions will curl in on a flank of a target fixed by the other two front platoons, while the overwatch platoons hang back and blast from two different angles at the same target. Always, the movements react to enemy deployments, terrain, your plan, etc.

The general idea of such a deployment is its flexibility and the orientation of its firepower. To see this, consider how it ought to react to various battlefield situations.

Imagine a threat to one of the two flanks, coming in at right angles to the original route of advance - say on the right side. The forward SMG platoon on that side does a right face and blocks the attack directly with close range FP (preferably just behind some obstacle). The rightward overwatch group does a half-right and hits the attackers from 45 left front, while also trying to prevent a deeper move around the flank with its ranged fire (preferably from some sort of hill or two-story building). The center CO position moves to its right front, ahead of the right-front SMG platoon, creating a new right-facing line. The left overwatch group moves right front and turns right, now positioned behind and between these two right-facing SMG platoons. The left front SMG platoon can block the forward direction, continue an advance that way if the counterattack is light, or be held out as a reserve. The formation thus "refuses" its right.

The overall formation has many of the characteristics of three platoons in the standard "V", in the sense of being able to turn either way or hold with one forward "hand" while turning a flank with the other. But it is broader in the center, and more "articulated". And the center "platoon", being led by the company HQ, can pick up additional squads from any of its less-pressed neighbors, or return squads to them, according to the situation.

[ 07-31-2001: Message edited by: JasonC ]

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