Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Two Books for those who think Germany won the war

Hi Kids,  "Panther vs. Sherman" Required Reading!!!!

 It's come to my attention that many, many, wargamers are under the impression that Germany could not have lost World War Two.  Far too many in fact.  This bizarre belief might be (in my humble opinion) due to the nifty stuff Germany built.  Everything from the Panther and Tiger tanks, Mauser rifles, MG34's & 42's, Bf109's and FW190's,  battleships Bismark and Tirpitz; it all seems to be just so high tech and nifty.  With stuff that nifty how can you lose?  The only advantage the Allies possess seems to be reliability and vast numbers.  Wargames tend to reinforce this notion; after all, how many tactical games feature possible break downs?  The only one I can think of is Squad Leader.  How many of us have taken our Allied tanks to battle only to have them all blown apart (one shot one kill) by the Tiger boys*? I dream of the scenario where the German player pays the points for 4 Tigers and only gets one due to reliability, while the USA player gets 9 out of 10 Shermans.  I once was dragooned into playing an Eastern Front mini game where the Russians were absolutely helpless while the Germans destroyed everything this side of the horizon without breaking a sweat.  When I asked how the British and US tanks did in this game I was told that the rule author left them out cause they were so bad it won't be any fun to play.  (Doesn't that mean the rules are rather inaccurate?)  But on to the book review:
 This first book, "Panther vs. Sherman" by none other than Steve Zaloga, points out that the early Panthers at Kursk had teething problems.  ("Everybody knows that" I hear you mutter.)  The Panther serviceability rate at that battle was 17%!  That's one out of six!!!  By year end it had risen to 33%!!! This book should be required reading for all the Tiger Boys out there.  I showed this book to a Tiger Boy and he said, "It must have been written by some Brit or American who doesn't know crap about tanks."  He's never heard of Steve Zaloga?  Seriously? Possibly the most prolific author regarding tanks for the past 25 years?  Zaloga examines the specific details of both tanks in the specific time period in a very engaging way; including units, intended purpose, and crew quality.  At any rate everyone who plays WW2 ground combat needs to read this book.  It's an Osprey so its easy to find and cheap to buy.  Do yourself a favor and pick it up soon.  I got a real kick out of it, and picked up some real useful knowledge.  Nah, I won't tell ya how it ends. 

Well, I hate to be the one to break it to ya, ( Brace Yourselves!!) but Germany lost World War Two. 

I picked up this second book as a lark.  Although it includes some info about prior wars (Napoleonic, Franco-Prussian, WW1), this book is mostly about the WW2 German High Command; the various generals and field marshals and how they interacted with Hitler. It points out some mistakes made, even early in WW2.  Macksey evaluates them and comes to some startling conclusions.  I was hoping it would have more information about production. And I wish he had gone into more detail regarding the political maneuvering amongst the commanders.  I can tell Macksey was done a lot of research, including interviews with some of the principle characters, but it just doesn't make it into the volume.  I got the impression it could have been 100+ pages longer. It is more of a brief overview of the subject rather than an end-all be-all explosion of the myth.

*Tiger Boy is a derogatory term used to describe a player who always has Tigers and Panthers in his forces.  Always.  Mid War FOW is a great example.  There were what, a dozen or so Tigers in North Africa at the very end of the conflict, so I have to face them 99% of the time?  Of the 1800 examples of Tiger and King Tiger actually built, I have faced each one about 100 times.


eriochrome said...

Two ideas come to mind in the difference between games and reality:

You fight wars with the army you have not the army you want.

If you are fighting in a war that is fair someone probably chose the wrong war to fight.

tim said...

I feel your pain, Chuckaroobob. This is why I largely do not play WW2 games anymore.

I really enjoyed your reviews - and the sentiment that these should be required reading for the "Tiger Boys"... but I can't help feeling "you can lead a horse to water..."

sonsoftaurus said...

Sgt. Rock also blew up each of those Tigers five times each!

Don M said...

No less a man than Patton said if the tank forces were exchanged he could not have maintained his advance or conducted any breakout
because of the disparity in reliability.

Pat G said...

Panther vs Sherman was a good read and covers most of the salient points. Nothing the matter with WWII games as long as you have an opponent with the right attitude.