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Posted on Jun 8, 2007 in Electronic Games

Theatre of War (pt.2) – Assault Tactics Primer

Jim H. Moreno

Tanks move into close combat range as well. Normally a rather dangerous thing to do because even during the early war years a well placed anti-tank grenade can take out the best tank or at least immobilize it, but with enemy resistance broken, it’s a low risk, and enables the tanks to either spray the trench with MG fire or even overrun cowering enemy soldiers.

In the trenches! Squad one completes its goal!

Squad two still meets a little more resistance…

But with the help of tanks and…

…a little extra persuasion, it finally clears the right trench. Objective completed!

The second line

One down, two more to go, and the second trench line already will prove a much more formidable task. This time there is not only more open ground to cover, the German defenders additionally have a couple of anti-tank guns at their disposal.


They need to be dealt with first before the tanks can gain freedom to maneuver, which will be needed because the ground to cover is simply too wide and too open for the same frontal approach that worked with the first trench.

Simply advancing infantry and tanks side by side and duelling with the anti-tank guns on the move does not yield the amount of suppressive fire needed for this approach, and rifles are not effective at this distance against an entrenched enemy.

Therefore we order the infantry squads to cautiously and slowly advance in line, moving in short bursts, and firing back, while the tanks target the anti-tank guns from a fairly safe distance.

With success! The three tanks with experienced crews take out the two German light anti-tank guns one by one. Keeping their front armor towards the enemy guns and usng the distance to their advantage as the guns were not able to more than scratch the armor at this range (this changes dramatically later in the war as heavy anti-tank guns such as the dreaded 88mm enter the scene on more frequently), the tanks win this brief duel. This teaches an important lesson – knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing armies for a given battle allows to make sound tactical decisions about the proper course of action. (Which is why TOW comes with an exhaustive interactive in-game encyclopedia, containing countless historical and technical facts about the equipment you will find in the game!)

Resistance remains – although without the support of their guns, it will be much simpler to crush. The secret to clearing out a fortified position like this is to not fall into the trap of thinking of one’s own tanks as immobile pillboxes only. Tanks have tracks – use them for menuever!

Using their newly gained freedom to maneuver after the two German guns are silenced, we order two of the tanks forward and keep one back for infantry support and overwatch.

The attacking tanks will attempt to close the distance and flank the trench line from the left, while the infantry and one remaining tank will keep up the pressure from the front.

Flanking is only useful when you continue applying frontal pressure, otherwise the enemy can easily shift his defenses and morph his flank into a new front.

The infantry alone would not have the firepower at this distance to keep up enough frontal pressure, which is why the remaining tank plays an important role in this concept.

[continued on next page]

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