AT units pros and cons

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ThorHa
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AT units pros and cons

Post by ThorHa » Sun May 04, 2014 9:06 pm

Following a path originated from captainjack I experimented with some AT units (now 4) in my core starting with the 3,7 from 39 and coupled with some PzJg I as soon as these were available instead of tanks.

Some observations:

Cheap firepower, cheap to overstrenth, horrible upgrade paths (always sidegrading for full price), but even the path PzJg I to Marder II to Stug III G is still cheaper than the conversion of a Pz III to Panther. Later if you stick to the III H or M they can be used to counter the soft cap effect while still fielding adequate fighting power.

With the 1.20 rules these guys are deadlier than the available best tanks pre Tiger. +2 per star in Hard Attack means the Marder IIA with 3 stars gains a hard attack of 20! As a consequence these units sometimes take less losses than a Pz IV when attacking e.g. KV 1B despite a much lower ground defense. Furthermore the AI refuses to attack these with tanks.

They DO get attacked by enemy infantry but normally take minimal losses due to the bad HA values of infatry, especially pre 43 infantry. Their real bane is enemy artillery as the ratio between 12 or 15 cm hard attack and AT ground defense is always close. They should be vulnerable to enemy planes but it is either pure luck or an AI algorithm - they rarely get attacked.

Preferred heroes are defensive ones, as these bolster the biggest vulnerability. With good defensive heroes e.g. the "Nashorn" is at least as good as a Panther against hard targets, but much cheaper. Which reflects reality - the "Nashorn" was liked by the Wehrmacht if properly deployed (open terrain, where it could take advantage of its higher range and accuracy).

Best usages: Finishers of weakened armour, blockers against enemy armour. Worst usage - close terrain, the close defense is much worse than the one of tanks.

All mentioned valid for SP AT - the scenarios for defensive usage, which would make towed viable, start late 43.

I like them, deploy rarely less than 3 and use them heavily. Pre Yakovlevo in dlc 43 all 4 are 4 star units now.

Whatever it's worth,
Thorsten

Bonesoul
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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by Bonesoul » Mon May 05, 2014 2:22 am

My big problem with AT units is they just don't have a comfortable version progression, that and the towed variants are so damn hard to get experience on. It's hard to properly comment as I am yet to attempt the later DLC/GC's but sticking with the little 35mm from the starter units at Poznan, it worked its way up to a 75mm and finally at the start of the last scenario (Buzinovka Depot) got converted to a Stug SPAT, mainly because it gets so darn frustrating working it into a position where there is likely to be an AFV for it to hit next turn, only for the AI to chose the other side of the two possible attack points and be yet again out of range (oh for a +1 move hero rather than the +2 Att it got). As time passes and the risk of forced surrender with more pesky Russian artillery, its getting harder and harder to get the towed AT variants into a suitable position, hence the upgrade to the Stug, maybe in more defensive later scenarios towed would become more viable again but I don't know.

I have a Marder II as my other SPAT which came along nicely once it was a Marder, but to be honest the PzJgI was pretty hopeless in comparison to the Panzers available at the same time and the Marder seemed to take ages to come.

Its kind of hard to judge until I see how effective the Elephant and Jagdpanther are and how much using them rather than Tiger/Panther tanks helps with soft cap issues, though one thing I can already say is that the absolute rigidity of unit classes is going to be frustrating. The Tank killer was basically developed as a cheaper open field alternative to full panzers, heavier frontal armour but no rotating turret making them cheaper and better protected while mobile or dug in on a specific facing, but with the trade off being any track or similar mobility limiting damage making them virtual sitting ducks. But an experienced tank crew would find much if not all of their experience fully transferable to a SPAT, probably more so than a towed AT crew being put into a SPAT. Cross type upgrade from a Pzr III to a SPAT anyone?

My other issue and with the importance of air protection becoming more rather than less important as the years go by is the 88mm AA gun switchable to AT mode is available even before the first upgrade of the little 35mm to the 50mm AT, I bought a 2nd 88mm AA at the start of 1942 to start get it some stars and unless something changes dramatically would on another full play through I would have had two of them in 1940. With the lower number of deployment slots available before late 41/42, finding space for more AT and two 88's would be tough and as experience is so important it hard to see where I would be able to find spaces for 4 At to eventually become SPAT, without to Pzr III to SPAT option. I might even with current knowledge even consider a third 88 before adding more early AT units

I suppose if you do want 4 or 5 SPAT for late 1943 onwards, about the optimum time to add them would be as Green units when the Marder IIA becomes available and that's hardly the ideal time if my notes are correct, Marder IIA at start of GC41-11-Denyansk Pocket (interestingly the 75mm towed AT becomes available turn 17 of the same scenario). Which kind of illustrates the problem with AT unit progression SPAT nothing better until last scenario of 41 and the towed variant of the 88mm pure AT still not available though the 88mm AA has been available since Norway.

Sorry, not being much help am I :P
Bone

rezaf
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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by rezaf » Mon May 05, 2014 6:34 am

I dunno. When working my way through the eastern DLCs, I tried several times to make use of AT units, but in the bottom line, I never felt they're worth the hassle.
Those units are just not versatile enough - yes, they might be better at killing that one particular tank, but often are already worse at defending against those other three on the AI turn, let alone at taking on those infantry units.
The AT units that can be actually useful are usually also not that much of a bargain, and especially the SP ones come with the additional flaw of having low ammo reserves.

When in doubt, I always felt an actual tank was a better choice, even if it was just a PzIV. Note that I finished the DLCs prior to the 1.2x rules, though - but I most likely won't ever play with the soft cap as I dislike the concept in principle.
_____
rezaf

captainjack
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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by captainjack » Mon May 05, 2014 7:01 am

I no longer use prestige soft cap but I still like having one or two AT. I'm in early 43 east at the moment and the Stug 3G with 16 HA plus 8 for experience is very effective. It helps that I got +3 defence hero, but the armour is quite good as well and it has passive anti-air which reduced the number of air attacks. The low initiative means it pays to suppress the KV1B and C and t34/43s, but it often takes no damage from anything less than these even without suppression.

Towed AT is very hard to use - for a defensive weapon it can be best on offence - roll up behind a screen of tanks or a line of infantry, which then pull back when the counter attack comes. A move hero would help out a lot to make it more useful - I've had them on 88 AA/AT which makes them very good AA units but not on any other AT.

BiteNibbleChomp
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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by BiteNibbleChomp » Mon May 05, 2014 7:11 am

I use 1 Elefant and 4+ 8,8 PaK 43/41s in the later half of the game. Before this, I just have 2 8,8 Flaks made AT, the rest tanks.

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ThorHa
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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by ThorHa » Mon May 05, 2014 9:58 am

Rezaf:

Basically correct, unfortunately. Without the soft cap there is a very small time slot where AT are slightly better than the available tanks - in 1940 as PzJg I against Somuas and Char B1 and in late 1943 as Elephants against JS I. Early the 88 or the Ju 87 already fill that gap, and better. Combined with the captured units there is abolutely no reason to buy AT instead of tanks other than flavour. It was already the same in PG, so the devs just continued there.

My feedback on extensive deployment was just to show that they can be viable, not that they are preferable to tanks. They are not. From a pure efficiency point of view AT are useless. The main reason is that it is simply impossible to model economy (the main reason for German and Soviet AT, US AT actually were integral part of an army doctrine) in a tactical wargame.

Regards,
Thorsten

rezaf
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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by rezaf » Mon May 05, 2014 11:40 am

ThorHa wrote:The main reason is that it is simply impossible to model economy (the main reason for German and Soviet AT, US AT actually were integral part of an army doctrine) in a tactical wargame.
I don't agree completely with this.
PzC makes only a lackluster attempt at modeling this via prestige, but that value basically approximates a number of things into a single value - yet simplified, we can say it's supposed to model the economic aspect, at least partially.
The later Panzer General games had a different approach, where you had access to three Tigers (for example), and no prestige in the world could buy you access to more, since they were just not available. I think that's a totally viable approach that could make these units much more viable choices than they are now.

So a lot is possible in a tactical wargame, or even a beer & prezels wargame like PzC, but Rudankort decided to stick with a now twenty year old rule system, and it shows. I hope if there's a PzC2, there'll be some effort to make those other types of units more viable choices - but for 1994, I think for a game having Panzer in the name, it was an acceptable compromise to have a core consisting of mostly tanks. Looooong campaigns like the DLCs are great for many players (I like 'em too), but the system was obviously never intended for them - the last game in the original 5 Star General series, Pacific General, even limited campaign length to 10 missions max.
Yeah, Rudankort wanted to basically remake PG, and mission accomplished - but I hope he'll get a bit more ambitious in future endeavours.
_____
rezaf

ThorHa
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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by ThorHa » Mon May 05, 2014 12:21 pm

In whichever way you would try to remodel economy, Germany would no longer be playable from 43 forward. Because you would have to model shortages in spare parts, in fuel, in ammunition, in other fighting equipment, in manpower etc. as well, the solution to limit certain units is just an artificial restriction, no more.

And let´s face it - nearly nobody plays a game like PC to feel the same as German commanders in late WW 2. The war economically lost latest December 41, when Germany without any good reason declared war on the US. There was absolutely no conceivable way to win the war later.

Regards,
Thorsten

BiteNibbleChomp
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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by BiteNibbleChomp » Mon May 05, 2014 12:37 pm

I will be attempting to model economics, as well as many other things into The Path to Rearmament. Let me surprise you!

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rezaf
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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by rezaf » Mon May 05, 2014 2:37 pm

BiteNibbleChomp wrote:I will be attempting to model economics, as well as many other things into The Path to Rearmament. Let me surprise you!
Awww ... you almost had me excited there, but then I realized it's one of those (pardon me) stupid one-map scenarios.
Sorry 'bout that, but I really feel that it'd be kinda hard to find a scope the PzC engine is less suitable for. :cry:
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rezaf

sn0wball
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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by sn0wball » Mon May 05, 2014 3:03 pm

The last time I played GC east, I came to love the StuG III. Until the arrival of the Tiger, I found them to be the best, if not only way to knock out the latest Soviet tanks, a job that even experienced Panzer III or IVs were not up to. Sure, 88 could do that, too, but simply lacked the mobility.

MartyWard
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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by MartyWard » Mon May 05, 2014 3:07 pm

It seems to me that some AT units do much better against specific Russian units than tank do. The Jadgpanther for example does more damage to SU and KV than my Panthers do.

Resolute
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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by Resolute » Mon May 05, 2014 5:01 pm

I always use at least 4 AT units in my core force though I am staying away from PAKs. Panzerjäger do fairly well in the early game with some artillery support which is crucial. In maps like Tatsinskaya it's actually my Stugs which hold the line. However the number of useful AT units is really limited, I would only name Stugs and Elephants which you can use throughout the Eastern DLC right to the end. Most just lack a decent armour rating to make them viable against those overstrengthed Soviet units.

MartyWard
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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by MartyWard » Mon May 05, 2014 5:07 pm

Resolute wrote:I always use at least 4 AT units in my core force though I am staying away from PAKs. Panzerjäger do fairly well in the early game with some artillery support which is crucial. In maps like Tatsinskaya it's actually my Stugs which hold the line. However the number of useful AT units is really limited, I would only name Stugs and Elephants which you can use throughout the Eastern DLC right to the end. Most just lack a decent armour rating to make them viable against those overstrengthed Soviet units.
JP's are pretty good too. Much better than the StuG.

Bonesoul
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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by Bonesoul » Mon May 05, 2014 5:29 pm

SPAT were very much an economic/capacity based decision which I agree is almost impossible to model when the game is fundamentally a series of tactical scenarios, very much compounded by a deployment system which is unit number capped rather than unit cost capped. The other issue for the real Germany in the late war was quality, many of the components were being made by forced labour from occupied countries and deliberate production errors were a big issue. With the limited NDT (non destructive testing) methods of the day it would be almost impossible to check if a batch of steel components had for example been correctly tempered (the first time the problem would be know was when the gear sprocket failed and a tank turret would no longer rotate, often on the battlefield.

As to the game mechanics don't all AT varieties get a key bonus when being attacked by tanks, which makes them ideal to block things like bridge choke points as the AI will decline to attack them against the bonus and hence stall?

Cheers
Bone

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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by Loki1942 » Mon May 05, 2014 5:32 pm

Always use a good amount of AT units, roughly around 2/3 of my current tank strength. For no other reason than that i WANT to :D and that some of the late war variants look damn cool 8) (Jagdpanther im looking at you)

Resolute
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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by Resolute » Mon May 05, 2014 6:47 pm

MartyWard wrote:
Resolute wrote:I always use at least 4 AT units in my core force though I am staying away from PAKs. Panzerjäger do fairly well in the early game with some artillery support which is crucial. In maps like Tatsinskaya it's actually my Stugs which hold the line. However the number of useful AT units is really limited, I would only name Stugs and Elephants which you can use throughout the Eastern DLC right to the end. Most just lack a decent armour rating to make them viable against those overstrengthed Soviet units.
JP's are pretty good too. Much better than the StuG.
They're good but really lack armour which makes them not very viable from 44 onwards. I used them a lot in the Western DLC since there are not so many hard hitting US units.

captainjack
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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by captainjack » Tue May 06, 2014 8:16 am

SPAT is much better than towed AT as it can't be jumped while in the truck, and you can drive it straight up to the front line where it's needed. But whether SP or not, AT needs artillery back up - essential when attacking, helpful when defending.

I don't use the soft cap, but happily use AT because I think it's useful and because it's an interesting challenge learning how to use and develop it, and I like that it's cheap so I can either accumulate prestige or afford in-game elite reinforcement when needed. However, a 12 strength Elefant costs 750 prestige with the overstrength, so while it might be more cost effective than a tiger against armour it will still count against soft cap.

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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by BiteNibbleChomp » Tue May 06, 2014 11:28 am

Loki1942 wrote: (Jagdpanther im looking at you)
Jagdtiger!

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MartyWard
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Re: AT units pros and cons

Post by MartyWard » Tue May 06, 2014 2:13 pm

Resolute wrote:They're good but really lack armour which makes them not very viable from 44 onwards. I used them a lot in the Western DLC since there are not so many hard hitting US units.
I use them to the end, I have 5 near the end of 44 in my current campaign. The pack a lot of punch for a lot less prestige than a tank.

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