Cross posting this "review" from BGG (Scott Roberts - @scottandkimr).
I have played the Tiger Hunt scenario around 10 times and with different people and have also spent some time thinking about it. This is my all-time favorite scenario so far. It is short but there are a lot of strategic options for both sides. I wanted to put those thoughts and experiences into this rather lengthy strategy guide. I very much welcome other thoughts and strategies. I am curious about what people have tried and what has worked or failed.
The Tiger Hunt Scenario involves the Americans seeking to destroy an already heavily damaged Tiger in 4 rounds. If they can they win. If they can’t, they lose. The Americans have 6 squads and two Sherman Tanks. The Germans have 6 squads, including two engineer specializations and 2 machine guns, and a heavily damaged Tiger. Anyway, let’s get to the analysis starting with the Americans
General Considerations For Americans
The first consideration involves determining how to best use the mix of infantry and vehicles. Because the infantry will have limited use against the final victory objective (destroying the Tiger), it is best to use them to support the Sherman tanks. The general focus of the Shermans should be getting to and shooting the Tiger. The general goal of the infantry is to protect the Sherman by destroying or pinning German infantry units that would seek to destroy the Sherman. Let me explain.
Both regular and elite figures have a range and firepower of only 1 against vehicles. The Massive Confusion card prevents combining fire. Further, given the short duration of the game, it is likely that the only shot an infantry will get will be during a move and fire activation, which halves the already small firepower. That gives a moving and firing full power squad only two dice against Tiger armor of 5 and then they have to deal with the thick armor special ability as well. That means the squad would have to roll two hits and the Tiger would have to roll no 5s or 6s on the red defense dice. If you could manage to get a full power squad adjacent to the Tiger by the end of round 3, then you have a reasonable roll in round 4 (4 dice hitting on 4-6 against 5 armor / thick armor special ability). It is hard to get full power squads (most of them take damage) up that close in the short amount of time in my experience.
The Shermans have by far the best chance of destroying the Tiger. They have a range of 6 and firepower of 8 against vehicles. So they can move fast and get where they need to be. They can even get right next to the Tiger in some circumstances.
Another general consideration (apart from the infantry/vehicle mix) is that the Shermans must be exposed to German infantry at some point because of the terrain. The Americans know with certainty that if the Shermans are going to attack the Tiger, they are going to have to pass through the two hex corridor in the center of the board, which can bring them in range of German infantry, and Germans can combine fire.
American Tank Considerations
As should be evident from above, placement and management of the Shermans are key to American victory. They are about as important as use of the Queen in Chess. Placement in the center seems pretty obvious (although I would certainly be interested in others’ views). This essentially allows them to control the center area of the American side of the board as well as part of the German side, gives them an excellent field of attack, and they have very little exposure to enemy attacks. This all still sounds very like traditional strategies for playing the Queen in Chess.
An important strength of the Shermans in this game is their range. All of the German units except the heavily damaged (and immobile) Tiger are infantry. With the exception of the machine gunners, all infantry have a normal range of only 1 against tanks and a long range of only 2. Also with the exception of the machine gunners, if the American are going to keep their cover, then any Germans holding the front line of buildings will be out of range for attacking the Shermans. They would have to be pretty bold to advance over open ground to get a shot at a tank.
Further, the Machine gunners have only a normal range of 3 (long range of 6) against the Shermans. They also only have two attack dice verse the tanks. That means they are attacking with few dice (2 or possibly 3 if they can arrange a combined op fire attack) and will hit only on a 6.
If the Germans have the machine gun squads in the front buildings, the Americans’ first two activations should be to move the Shermans into middle forest hexes with LOS to the MGs. Because the range of squads against vehicles is shorter than the range of tanks vs squads, you can position your tanks at what is normal range (hit on 5 or 6) for attacks from the tank and long range (hit on 6) for attacks by MGs against the tanks. Your tanks will also have 2 cover from the forest in addition to your armor (that will total 6 red dice). Further, your tanks have concussive power special ability, which gives them plus 3 dice against squads in buildings. Whether you use normal or suppressive fire will depend on whether the Germans combined elites with the MGs and/or put an officer in the hex, as those figures provide extra cover against suppressive attacks. If they don’t have the extra cover, I would go with suppressive.
It is also important to remember that the tanks have only one path to the Tiger, up the middle. The other sides are blocked by buildings, which the tanks cannot pass through. With those general considerations out of the way, let’s move to American strategies for victory. I will offer observations about three, the Left Flank Offense, the Right Flank Offense, and the Fanned Out Offense.
The Left Flank Offense
The Left Flank Strategy has as its goals to (1) capture the 2 point neutral control marker in the building on 11A, (2) use the forest behind the two front buildings on 11A to make attacks that clear infantry from the middle for the tanks and (3) use surviving infantry to get in close combat with the Tiger.
This strategy requires concentrating American infantry forces on the left flank. Hopefully the Shermans will have been able to dispose of the relevant MG(s) before the infantry have to move. At some point, the American forces are going to have to move through open ground to get to German territory. Moving through the two open hexes on the far left on 9B/11A (the two hexes between the forest and building) can give the Americans some advantage in avoiding op fire depending on German placement. If a German machine gun has been placed in the building hex with the 2 point neutral marker, then moving squads through the far left hexes will allow the Americans to avoid op fire from that unit altogether. Further, if a German machine gun is placed on the far right (from American perspective) building on 11A/9B, then any op fire shot would be at long range (range of 6 and German MG has normal range of 5), hitting only on a six. So, movement through those hexes can minimize exposure to unpinned German machine guns, depending on German placement, of course.
So, move the infantry there, take the building with the neutral hex if vulnerable or take the forest if not. Then start destroying or pinning the Germans and then move the tanks through no later than round 3. Optimally, you want to be able to use concentrated fire from each tank against the Tiger on round 4 (that means the tanks cannot move on round 4). If you can get a move and fire attack from the Sherman on round 3, all the better.
Capturing the neutral marker will give a 50 percent command point advantage to the Americans, which is very important for both initiative, especially on the crucial turn 4, and strategy cards, which can be decisive.
The Right Flank Offense
The right flank strategy has the primary objective of getting squads as quickly as possible across the open ground and in a position to take some close range shots at the Tiger. The goal is to (1) use the threat of close range infantry to distract German forces away from the Shermans which can then move in mostly unmolested to shoot at the Tiger, (2) possibly get a lucky hit by the infantry on the Tiger, and (3) depending on placement of the Germans, taking the German 2 point command marker. The Americans use the buildings and then the hills to block line of site from German units in 11A and the Tiger. If you are in the valley behind the hills, then in one more move you will be in close range to the Tiger.
By placing your infantry adjacent to the Tiger you may be able to distract attract the attention of German squads to those infantry. Some people will see your infantry being in close combat with the Tiger, the victory objective as a significant threat. You will be rolling dice that will hit on a 4-6. They might therefore move units to deal with those so close. Move your Shermans last, after the most German activations. Again, move them into range of the Tiger.
When this happens to me when I am playing the Germans, I usually just let the Americans come on and take their 1 and two dice shots. I keep my focus on the Shermans, if still mobile. But a lot of people don’t. Having enemy units adjacent to the victory condition can be jarring, although I think the probabilities of success are small, given enough rolls anything can happen.
The Fan Out Offense
The purpose of this strategy is flexibility. You are not committing all your units to any particular gamble. Perhaps the Germans will leave an opening somewhere that you can exploit. There is not much more to say. I don’t see any focused goals in this.
Going back to the Chess comparison, if the Shermans are the American Queens, the MG units are the German Queens. Their placement is crucial. A lot of people when they first play this scenario put the MG crews in the centermost front buildings in each of the left and right flanks. Putting them in buildings has a tremendous advantage of being able to catch American troops in open ground as they make an inevitable advance from their forests to the buildings on the German side. There is an incredible downside to this placement, though. Placing the gunners in the buildings makes them sitting ducks to the American Sherman tanks with their long range and concussive fire power special ability. The German machine gunners have only a range of 3 and 2 attack dice against the tanks and the Shermans have a range of 5 and 6 attack dice against infantry (plus 3 more taking it to 9 for squads in buildings). So, the tanks can sit back in the forest and take normal range shots at the machine gunners. The Shermans moving into the forest only exposes the tanks to a single 2 dice (or 3 with supporting op fire from the other gunner) long range (hit only on a 6, instead of 5 or 6) op fire attack from a machine gunner. The Sherman will have 4 armor and 2 cover from the forest, for a total of 6 red dice. Further, the Sherman’s concussive power gives it 3 extra attack dice in attacks against infantry in buildings. So, the machine gunners are facing a 5 dice fire and move attack in the first round followed by a 9 dice concentrated attack in the second round if the MGs are put in the buildings choose the buildings.
Other options are to place one or more MG in the forest hex on 11A, in a trench dug by an engineer, or the house adjacent to the Tiger.
The MGs have to be combined with other figures. A good move is to combine them with elites, to give you squad extra cover against suppressive fire. Suppressive fire is very likely to be coming at the MGs. Also, putting the German officer in an MG squad or in the hex with an MG can help with that extra die against suppression.
Ok, here are a few thoughts on set-up for German defense.
Up Front Defense
This is a defense that puts most German forces on the front line. The primary advantage of this is that the Germans can attack the Americans as they cross the open ground. It also keep the American forces away from being in LOS of the Tiger. All first-time players I have played with (including me) used this on their first game of Tiger Hunt. The major downside is that the Shermans have good odds at being able to do some serious damage against key German units, opening the way for the other American forces. This is described above in the discussion on German machine gun placement.
Secure the Center Defense
The primary goal of the secure the center defense is to make the center pathway for the Shermans very dangerous for them. The basic idea is to use the engineer squads in the first round to build trenches in key hexes that delay (by blocking and causing the use of extra move points in an overrun attack) allow close range attacks for any passing Shermans. They will have to go through at least one close range attack in the open without cover (only the 4 armor , unless already lightly damaged). The enigineers can be both in the same hex, such as the picture below. Doing this make it harder for the Shermans to use their overrun ability early in the game. That can make them hesitate (which is valuable in a 4 round game) and devote quite a bit of infantry energy to eliminating those center squads.
- Have one engineer squad in each of the two center hexes immediately behind the razor wire.
- Have them start on two centermost hills. This gives an advantage of extra range as well. At least one attack, though, will likely be at only normal range rather than close range (hitting only on a 5-6 instead of 4-6).
- Have both start on the centermost hill adjacent to the Tiger. The downside here is that the Americans will have some good options for moving across open ground.
Also, one option is to make your MG squads engineers. That way they can get the benefit of 2 cover from trenches without the downside of being in a building that expose them to the concussive blasts of the tanks.
Placing one MG in the forest on 11A can be helpful too. It can help repel an American infantry advance on that side and will give the MG a normal range attack on any passing Shermans, while being completely out of Sherman LOS until the chance to take the shot. If needed, the MG can use the entire squad’s firepower against the Sherman in hopes of wounding.
Anyway, let me know thought, additional strategies and the like!