How To Leopard! The Importance of Movement!

How to Leopard! The Importance of Movement!

How To Leopard!
The Importance of Movement!
with Adam Brooker

I recently played in the Team Yankee: Firestorm Red Thunder Campaign, and I was lucky enough (or crazy enough) to volunteer as the West German Liaison.

I served as a go between with the West German players, the other NATO commanders, and Battlefront Miniatures. The whole campaign was a blast, and there was a lot of good-natured banter on the Team Yankee Facebook Group between the WARSAW Pact and NATO commanders with generally a lot of guys just having fun. If you did not get involved this time I urge you to give it a try in a few months time when they run the next one to coincide with the release of Stripes.

Apart from the campaign being a really good excuse to get a heap of gaming in and making friends with other players worldwide on the Firestorm forum, it also got a lot of new players involved with some Team Yankee Cold War awesomeness! These new players were generally either coming across from Flames of War or starting their plastic crack addiction with Team Yankee.  Many of them simply bought their starter sets and got gaming as the starter sets are great value and a good force to start with. The West German starter set is focused on the Leopard 2, which is a great tank, but to get the best out of it requires playing to its strengths - otherwise a numerically superior force can simply overwhelm it. 

How to Leopard! The Importance of Movement!

When I reviewed the early battle reports in the campaign and read the feedback in the forums, I noticed that many Warsaw Pact players were fielding armies with a clear numerical advantage over the West German players, and the West German forces were being overwhelmed.  Also many players were treating the Leopard 2 as a kind of pillbox trusting in their armour and guns to try and get them out of a tight spot, but this tactic failed and there were a lot of losses and hard lessons learned.

To try to make the learning curve a little less steep I've tried to put some of my experience onto digital paper and help my fellow commanders. In this guide, I will primarily be talking about the West German Leopard 2 and Leopard 1 tanks, but you could easily relate this to the American M1 Abrams as it has similar movement values, qualities, and skill values as the West German tanks. This guide can also apply to a lesser degree to the British Chieftain, but consideration should be given to its slower movement speed and reduced rate of fire when moving.

How to Leopard! The Importance of Movement!

Another benefit of the Leopard 2 is its superior mobility with Advanced Stabilizers. A player can take advantage of a 14” tactical move and, with a successful Blitz order, you can very often achieve a fantastic rate of 18” a turn while retaining full ROF on the main gun! The West Germans have an excellent skill rating of 3+ (your HQ has a 2+), as compared to the Soviet 5+ or East German 4+, so you will often pass any movement order roll.

How to Leopard! The Importance of Movement!

So how do you take advantage of these aspects of the Leopard 2? With a fantastic gun and superior protection, should you just sit still and blast away, secure in your armoured behemoth? Well you could do that, and it may work, as long as you roll well and pass all your saves. And that always happens right!? Nope! At some point your dice will fail you, your opponent will make his saves, and then you are in deep trouble!

Playing against Warsaw Pact players you will generally be outnumbered. While you will have a plethora of targets, this numerical advantage allows the Red Horde to envelop and flank your force. Warsaw Pact players will lose some tanks, but ultimately enough will get up close and be firing into your side/rear armour which is only 7, not 18. At this point you are likely backed into a corner, and realizing “It was at this moment Dave knew he stuffed up!!”

So how do you avoid dying to Pact forces and their dirt cheap tank rounds? First, don’t stop moving and try to get into concealment. If you keep moving you can position your tank so terrain can block line of sight, and it may reduce the number of tanks that can shoot at you (or at the very least force your opponent to shoot at your stronger frontal armour). Even better, if you can move into concealing terrain (or get it between you and the enemy) they will now need at minimum 5+ to hit you, not the basic 4+, and suddenly you don’t need your armour so much if your opponent is not even hitting you. The Leopard 2 has a terrain cross check of 2+, so you will rarely fail when moving into concealing terrain like forests. Furthermore, by moving constantly and using the terrain/concealment, you have also taken the initiative. Now your opponent is reacting to you!

How to Leopard! The Importance of Movement!

Another key tactic is to remember your Movement Orders, eg. Blitz and Scoot and Shoot for all of your units - not just your tanks! Blitz allows you an extra 4” movement before the movement phase, while Scoot and Shoot allow you to move 4” after shooting as long as you have not moved in the movement phase. With Blitz that extra movement allows you to get shots that your opponent didn’t think you could. Most tanks have a tactical move of 10”, and newer players often forget that with stabilizers you can move up to 14” (with a +1 to hit penalty). But with the Advanced Stabilizers on the Leopard 2 you can move 14” without penalty, so they don’t expect 18” of movement with a successful blitz. Suddenly you are in range or have got round that piece of terrain they thought would block your line of sight.

Shoot and Scoot is great for backing into terrain that blocks line of sight, or that gives you concealment including forests, hills, and other terrain. If a successful Scoot and Shoot moves you behind terrain that blocks line of sight, they then have to move to get a shot off. This means that missile armed units (BMPs) can’t shoot at you, unless they move or Blitz (which requires a 5+ for Soviets and generally a 4+ for East Germans), and if they move or fail their blitz, they cannot shoot their missiles!

How to Leopard! The Importance of Movement!

This thinking can also be applied to the much cheaper but more fragile Leopard 1. When I first saw the Battlefront resin models I fell in love and I personally field 10 of these minimum, in all of my lists. These tanks are much less heavily armoured with a FA of 9 and SA of 5 (Bazooka Skirts gives a SA of 10 from HEAT weapons), and TA of 1. This is still adequate from a BMP main gun shot, but will crumble before a main battle tank gun or an anti-tank missile. This tank was primarily used in the Panzeraufklärungs Kompanie (Reconnaissance Company) to flank and ambush the enemy, it was not meant to be trading fire with other tanks by 1985. The gun is still pretty good, with a ROF of 2 when either moving or stationary (so keep moving!), and a very decent AT 19 and a 2+ firepower. They also have a laser rangefinder (so no long range to hit penalty), a stabilizer, and the ability to direct fire smoke. So while they have a low chance of frontally killing a T-72, you could choose to blind it with smoke instead.

The Leopard 1 mobility is good, with a 10” tactical move as standard, but you can choose to move 14” and shoot at a +1 penalty with stabilizers. If you use a Blitz movement order, that total move increases to 14" and 18" respectively. They also have an excellent 2+ cross check, so moving through terrain is not something you should be scared of doing. This makes the Leopard 1 hard to hit, and Warsaw Pact players can't kill what they can't hit. Used in the flanking role, the AT 19 with 2+ firepower is more than adequate to deal with any tank in the game!

How to Leopard! The Importance of Movement!

However, the best thing about these lovely kitties is the cost! Three points for one or nine points for three in a full platoon! For the price of 3 Leopard 2s, you can get 11 Leopard 1s. Suddenly you are the commander wielding the hordes of tanks. Instead of 6 shots a round usually hitting on 3+ or 4+, you have 22 shots a round, now hitting on 3+ or 4+. That is a literal storm of fire making your force the bane of all BMP platoons, artillery, and anti-aircraft units. Their low cost also means you have plenty of points to spend on awesome support units like Gepards, Marders and Jaguars.

How to Leopard! The Importance of Movement!

Like the Leopard 2, by staying in cover (gaining concealment) and using your mobility (limiting return fire), you can force the engagements in your favour. You will often get the first shots off before your opponent reducing return fire. To me that is the most important thing for a West German Commander, you will often be out numbered, so you need to dictate the engagements and limit the amount of fire that the enemy can bring to bear on you. If you do that successfully their numbers don’t matter, as they can only use their teams/tanks that have line of sight, and their own teams/tanks will block their line of sight.

Finally, remember your Leopard HQ tanks have a skill rating of 2+, so even better chance of making your Blitz and Shoot and Scoot rolls. The same principles apply to most other West German units eg. Gepards, Jaguars, Luch, etc

I hope these tips and tricks help you in your battles, and allow you to get the best out of your units. Use your superior movement values, terrain, and high skill rating coupled with Movement Orders to give Warsaw Pact armies nightmares! Also please get involved in the next campaign when Stripes is released! The last campaign was a blast and NATO needs all the help it can get to push back the Red Hordes!

Have fun and destroy your enemies!! Viel Glück!


How to Leopard! The Importance of Movement!