Waffen SS Companies – The German Elite

The Germans in FoW are not alloted many oportunities to modify their morale.  They do not get special rules to reroll motivation tests or units like commisars.  The solution to this problem for German players is the ability to field Waffen-SS companies.  The Waffen-SS from 1943 to 1945 were some of the best equiped and motivated formations available to the Wehrmacht and they were present at nearly every decisive engagement.  As the war ground on, the size of the Waffen SS increased until the organization fielded some 600,000 men at its height.  In Flames of War, Waffen SS companies represent a potent weapon for German players.

The great strength of the Germans in FoW is that nearly all their lists are Veteran.  Veterans are harder to hit and more capable in their tasks.  They pass their skill tests on a 3+ making them much easier to dig in, get through difficult terrain and much more deadly in assaults.  Where most German lists are average howerver, is their Confident rating.  Veteran platoons might be more effective on the battlefield but there is no guarantee that when the going gets tough they will fight it out till the end.  Once losses start piling up (and they will!), the average German platoon has only a 50% chance of sticking around.  In FoW SS-companies are rated Fearless.  This means that all motivation test are passed on a 3+, ensuring a 66% success rate if the dice are kind.  I have played games with both regular Wehrmacht lists and SS-companies and I have to say that the number of times the SS have let me down in a game are few are far between.  Many a turn either a platoon or my company had to take a critical motivation test and a 3 came up, meaning the fight would continue.  A standard German company or platoon would have fled, leaving the field to my opponent.

It is in the assault phase that SS units really shine.  Too many times have critical assaults of mine failed to push an enemy off an objective simply because I couldnt roll (or even re-roll) a 4+ for my counterattack.  Assaults in FoW are more about determination than skill.  Both sides are going to take heavy losses so the platoon that can reliably pass its counterattack roll is usually going to prevail.  Being Fearless is a godsend for this as even with only a couple of bases left, SS troops have a fighting chance of winning an assault.  If the SS troops happen to be Veteran as well, then so much the better!  Fearless Vet SS platoons are some of the most devastating units in the assault phase of FoW.  The three main Veteran SS-Panzerdivisions (2nd SS, 3rd SS, and 12th SS) that can be fielded in FoW have special rules to further their lethality and effectivness in assaults.

  • 12th SS infantry platoons can auto-pass a failed counterattack roll
  • 2nd SS infantry platoons can attempt to unpin themselves from damage incured during the Assault step
  • 3rd SS infantry platoons can sacrifice teams to reroll motivation or skill test during assaults.

The biggest disadvantage to taking SS companies is cost.  Im not going to harp on this topic too much because I covered it in my Panther and German overview articles.  Needless to say SS units are quite pricey.  Combined with their Fearless status is the fact that they are all from Panzergrenedier divisions.  Mechanized and MG infantry Platoons were never cheap in Confident Veteran lists and SS equivalents push this point total even higher.  Thankfully in the new Earth and Steel book, most of the Veteran SS mechanized and infantry platoons get significant point reductions, allowing more units to be fit it.  None the less, making an SS company requires some hard choices.  Any superfluous units must be taken out; only the most essential platoons that are required for victory can be afforded.  One alternative that can be taken is by fielding a Fearless Trained SS companie.  Being Trained obviously has its disadvantages, but the point reduction from Veteran allows for a more normal amount of platoons to be fielded.  These Fearless Trained lists can afford to be aggressive with their large amounts of heavily armed and well motivated platoons.  Concurrently, only lists from the 5th SS panzergrenadier division (FT) have access to Trained Panthers.  These Panthers run around 50pts cheaper a tank meaning that 8 or even 9 Panthers can be taken along with some infantry support.

SS units are the best fighting companies available to a German player and can be used in any situation.  They are relentless in the attack and stubborn in defense.  Lavishly equiped they can meet any enemy force and be confident of victory.  The main SS divisions allow German players to field a bewildering array of companies such as SS-panzergrenedier kompanies, Gepanzerte SS-panzergrenedier kompanies, SS-panzerpionier kompanies, SS-aufklarungsschwadron, SS-panzerspah kompanies and SS-Panzer kompanies.  These appear in Earth and Steel, River of Heroes, and several PDFs that can be found on the Flames of War website.  http://www.flamesofwar.com/Default.aspx?tabid=108

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About chimera1715

College Grad who loves military history, sci-fi, tabletop gaming and football.
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