Tuesday 7 November 2023

Exploring WWII with an Old Friend: Panzer Leader

Back in 2019, yes pre-Covid, and a memory dredged up from the "Draft" folder. I was looking at Panzer Leader with a friend (see below, I think this is the first Panzer Leader scenario, US Paras dropping behind the lines in Normandy 1944 to grab a vital road junction - but which one?):

The set-up suggests a "gang up" action by teh Allied Player of one of three defended villages (see below, the German player has to hedge his bets and guess "where" the US Paras will drop in on him - teh German seems to have thirded his forces, with his mobile element in the middle [sensible as he can easily go East - West to teh rescue or stand and fight with his "best"]):   

In this case it was the central town teh Allied player opted for (see below, teh Germans are being hit North and South, in a concerted concentric attack): 

It is one of those games where it is advisable always to roll high (see below, rolling a six is a precious commodity in this game): 

A five is not bad either (see below, grinding attrition is a key element of the game, where patience is a learnt skill, as the old axiom says - "fools rush in where angels fear to tread"): 

One feature of Panzer Blitz is the continual flipping over of counters to mark that they have been hit, and/or are ineligible for a move on the Phasing Players turn (see below, a counter face up means the unit can spend an action, blank side means either disruption through combat or an action has been performed - it is a neat way of ensuring "units don't go twice" [by sneaky purpose or by accident mistake] - Oh for gentlemanly gamers!):

Many rounds of combat and not a lot seems to be happening (see below, however in reality the Germans are being ground down - just a case of can they hold on to the\key town terrain to see the German reinforcements arrive in time?):

The wider scenario picture (see below, relief columns have been sent East and West from the Towns the Germans now know are safe): 

However the German relief columns are a mixture or horse drawn, motorised and light wheeled armour (see below, so even with road movement bonuses it will take time and arrive disjointed - meanwhile the US Paras need to keep rolling sixes): 

The "German Dead Pile" is mounting (see below,  a mortar, a Security Infantry and quite a valuable unit - an armoured car squadron; each Panzer Leader counter is approximately a platoon strength):

The US Paras are hammering away at the town [rolling sixes] and the Germans are down to the last of defenders (see below, the Germans are also finding out how hard it is in generating the 3:1 odds needed for attacks with a half decent chance of success): 

A major moment in the conflict, a town sector devoid of Germans and US Paras who simply won't budge (see below, you know it is significant as there are two Generals pointing fingers at it):  

Negotiating your way round the Panzer Leader CRT was a vital but a dark art in itself - especially as Avalon Hill games designers did not necessarily go for historical orders of battle [and overwhelming 3:1 odds for one side] but rather hinged the scenarios around delicately nuanced "Maths-like Operation Research" equations (see below, or was that merely my imagination[?] or excuse for losing[?])

I would like to say "hours of fun" - but sometimes it was a glorious "At last it is THE END, we can all go home now". I think this one was an Allied victory! Panzer Leader was a (classic Avalon Hill) game, but very much a game of its time and getting to the end of a scenario in one night (without proceedings breaking down into a mild [understatement] argument over the "interpretation of rules" (and their correct context) could be quite an achievement in itself IIRC. Avalon Hill did produce a game called Diplomacy [which was renown for rupturing long lasting friendships]


pancerni said...

Diplomacy was a much nastier game than Panzerblitz/Panzerleader.
Yes the game was fun and frustrating at the same time.

Martin Rapier said...

I've played that scenario a few times, and the optimum (German) strategy was outlined in the AHGC General. Typically I can't remember what it was! The treatment of towns in both PB and PL is distinctly odd, and the source of many rules misinterpretations.

It is one the scenarios which made it into One Hour Wargames though, so well worth a replay.

It is just a shame that the PL countermix is so messed up, as the actual German armour used was the captured French tanks of Panzer battalion 100, not Pumas! Counters for H39s are of course available in the 1940 expansion.

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Totally agree gents
The PL/BL scenarios beg for a table top conversion.