German Blitzkrieg Campaign: Significantly Different Than the Alternatives
As a real-time tactics game including elements of strategy and real world equipment performing more or less faithfully to the historic record, Blitzkrieg is at its best during the German campaign. The early scenarios are true to life in that the equipment available to the player is actually inferior to that fielded by the Allied and Soviet opponents, and more than simply rushing a fortified town is required in order to achieve victory with the limited forces available to the player.
This stands in stark contrast to the Soviet or Allied campaigns. Allied tanks are, largely, slow and weakly armed, and Allied artillery tends to be either long ranged with a long reload time or short ranged with little power. But the Allies have two major advantages: First, their supply of infantry is virtually limitless; second, their heavy bombers can carpet entire towns with explosives in a single pass. The Soviets have the T-34 tank available from the first operation played, which is impervious to all German weaponry save for the 88mm anti-aircraft gun which while potent can be assaulted by infantry or smashed by artillery. For both the Allies and the Soviets strategy can be boiled down to simple rushes with superior tanks or massed artillery/air strikes.
Handling the Early Game German Equipment
The German Blitzkrieg campaign truly begins in France during the events of 1940 - the initial tutorial mission against Poland is simply not representative of the challenges faced during later scenarios. In France, the primary opposition faced in most random missions will be the Humber armored car - a simple design that is not particularly durable, but that possesses a cannon capable of tearing through the armor of all contemporary German tanks. It is fortunate that this vehicle comprises the major opposition, for the Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks that become available in 1940 are simply not capable of reliably engaging the French and British tanks of the time.
This flaw will become apparent to an even greater extent in the Desert campaign and the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, where the Panzer III and Panzer IV models are still the best tanks available, and which are just not capable of taking out either the British Matilda or the Soviet T-34. So creativity is of the essence in the first three or four campaign missions in the German Blitzkrieg campaign. First off, every mission should begin by the German player digging in deep - get some trenches up in front of your panzer’s starting position and send infantry into them. Right after, redeploy any 88mm anti-aircraft guns you start with just behind this trench line. Dig your tanks in behind the 88’s and facing the flanks, and deploy your artillery close behind this bastion.
Late Game German Blitzkrieg Strategy: Utilize Local Superiority to Dominate
Blitzkrieg maps are full of rises and natural barriers, and by the mid to late game the German forces will need to take full advantage of them in order to emerge victorious. Around 1942, long barreled Panzer IV models and better armored self-propelled guns begin to give the German forces a qualitative edge over their opponents. German players will soon realize, however, that both the Allied and Soviet opponents make up for their deteriorating edge qualitative superiority with sheer numbers. German Blitzkrieg campaign missions past 1942 are dominated by veritable swarms of equipment being thrown against the German player in both offensive and defensive missions.
The key becomes a smart use of the terrain to minimize the directions your opponent can attack from and to maximize the time your tanks and guns have to fire on them before they can return the favor. By the mid to late game, artillery is less important to the German player than the 88mm and later 128mm anti-aircraft cannons - these incredible weapons can destroy any tank with ease as well as protect against even the highest flying bombers.
A German Blitzkrieg Game: What Enemy Units to Look For
As the German player, caution and the application of overwhelming force on a narrow front are the keys to victory. This is especially true in the early game, where Panzer III and Panzer IV units are vulnerable to most every opposing unit, and many players will be wise to invest in Stug III self propelled guns when engaging tanks on the move. Knowledge of what enemy units will give you the greatest headaches will make surviving the early campaigns much easier.
On many Blitzkrieg maps, the German player will be faced with an opponent that has the capacity to counterattack using four or so armored units or artillery pieces. Now these can be lethal counterattacks - they are often launched just after you’ve sustained damage to your core units during an assault on an objective. Early scouting and removal of the threat is key. There are several units that may be fielded against you that are of particular concern.
First, on the tank front, beware Matilda IIs, T-34s, and KV-1s. Until late 1941 German players are simply unable to stop attacks by these vehicles save by luring them into range of 88’s. Scout any possible assembly areas (usually slight rises off roads near a supply dump) and plaster them with artillery and air attacks to reduce the threat. Later on your Tiger and Panther models will be far superior to anything the Soviets or Allies can throw at you, but beware their anti-tank guns! They get some big ones later on.
Artillery Units in Blitzkrieg
Artillery can be devastating. Keep an eye out for 122mm Soviet field guns, and big Allied field guns as well. They have long ranges and pack a punch. And by all means, once the Soviets get Katyusha rocket launchers, take them out fast!
German guns generally get bigger and more accurate as the campaigns wear on. The initial 105mm howitzers and guns can fairly quickly be traded up for
150mm field guns and howitzers, and this is well worth your time. 88mm anti-aircraft guns should not be neglected, because they are essential in stopping enemy aircraft. And Blitzkrieg games often benefit from a liberal use of mobile artillery such as the Wespe or Hummel to draw enemy artillery into launching counter-battery fire far from your own artillery, thus revealing its position.
Units to Write Home About During the German Campaign
As far as your upgrade pathways are concerned, having six Panzer IIIs won’t do you that much good, but a core of several Panzer IIIs backed by a Panzer IV for punch and a StuG III to attract fire is vital. In the real world, Germany was always short on Panzers. The Sturmgeschutz assault gun was a stopgap measure that dispensed with the turret of a true panzer and encased a tank gun in heavy armor. Similar to the self propelled guns of other nations, that StuG was a heavily armored infantry support gun that incidentally is better at surviving enemy tank attacks than any Panzers until the introduction of the Tiger in 1942.
Needless to say, the Tiger is the best tank bar none in the Blitzkrieg game, as it arguably was in real life. It incorporates the 88mm anti-aircraft gun into a heavily armored and mobile package capable of taking out any opposing tank without being destroyed itself. The Tiger is slow though, and its turret rotates sluggishly, so it is wise to back it up with some lighter but still potent Panther tanks or the long barreled, tank slaying variants of the StuG family - or even an Elefant tank hunter.