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Sherman v Pz IV, is there a rating problem?
#1
On CSW there have been several recent postings concerning the relative merits of the Sherman and the Pz IV, with complaints about DF, armor factors, etc.  I did not participate in the original rating for the weapons in the series and have taken the previously printed ratings for all units as a starting point for any reconsideration, and have only changed a rating if there was overwhelming evidence that such a change is warranted.

This dissatisfaction with the Sherman's ratings has been a low level constant drumbeat for quite some time.  I would like it if people would actually put all their comments together here.  If it makes sense we could possibly get a Gold Club reissue of some armor counters to reflect the changes.  I should note, however, that changes of the sort suggested could well result in substantial changes in the balance of scenarios as all to date have been developed using the standard ratings for the Sherman variants.

Remember in your discussion that it ain't just the armor or the gun, it has to include how the weapon was used at the platoon level and the relative performance of tank crews. Posts that read as a technical specification printout will be noted but be insufficient to warrant a change.  If technical capability was the sole determinant of vehicle platoon ratings we would have to have several additional subsystems which would weigh down PG significantly and affect playability.  For players looking for that level of specificity I believe there are other game systems which work with individual vehicles as units that provide a good platform for that.

One person made a comment that towards the end of the war we should see some fall off in the German tank units (that cannot be captured by lower morale levels) and I think that position has a great deal of validity.  As I have been fussing around through Spearhead I feel that the German tanks are surprisingly strong for that period (as opposed to the writings of eye witnesses).  So I do have an open mind.

While there are tons of reasons other than tank to tank combat that this was the case, I include for your enjoyment the tank losses in Normandy from D-Day through 7/31.

Allied

707 Shermans
111 Stuarts
  70 Cromwells
  33 Churchills

921 Total

German

274 Pz IV
197 Panther
  95 StuG (III and IV)
  30 Tiger
  17 Assorted

613 Total
No "minor" country left behind...
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#2
I know this conversation stems from the one over on CSW.

So I'll cross-post from there:


Interesting conversations for sure! But remember this is a platoon level game, not ASL or GMTs Panzer games with individual tanks. I also feel it would be hard to go back and change every game in the series from 1999, to fix a few vehicle ratings. I do remember when Battle of the Bulge was coming out, with the first American Sherman tanks and thinking why weren't the defensive armor values a 4 instead of a 3. Also this conversation came up before. One thing however, if they were raised to a 4 value, it would really be even harder on the Japanese in the Pacific battles, which was probably right but for gaming, maybe too strong to overcome. But I have always enjoyed these debates.

I guess if you want stronger defense rated Sherman tanks, there is always the Jumbo Shermans for now. Personally I don't feel AP should go back and change all the ratings on a platoon level games however.
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#3
Rating problem, no.

Crew fix: remove German armor efficiency by scenario special rule if appropriate. German armor performance in the Lorraine might possibly fit as an example.
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#4
Matt,

Have those loss figures been "corrected" for loss due to actual tank vs. tank combat? My recollection from reading https://www.amazon.com/Panzer-Truppen-1943-1945-Employment-10-Jan-1998/dp/B011T8EC0K/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1487273021&sr=8-2&keywords=panzer+truppen is that many such "tank loss" figure sources fail adequately to account for such distinctions.
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#5
Back in 2015 there was quite a bit of discussion about the Sherman and its ratings in the thread titled "Spearhead Division", so if anyone hasn't seen that thread you should check it out.

Somewhere in there it was pointed out that perhaps the best way to judge the merits of a rating is whether or not it encourages/compels you to use tactics that correspond to those used in actual events. I would say that the Sherman armor rating compels a "hide in the bushes, let the infantry root out the German tanks first" plan of action that I doubt was as prevalent in real life as it is on the PzG maps. I'm sure it happened, but in PzG there aren't many other good options (swarm?). But I'm not an expert by any means, so I'm looking forward to getting some education here.
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#6
PY:

My understanding is that the figures represent losses from all sources.
No "minor" country left behind...
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#7
(02-17-2017, 01:58 AM)Matt W Wrote: On CSW there have been several recent postings concerning the relative merits of the Sherman and the Pz IV, with complaints about DF, armor factors, etc.

Generally, I use the following algorithm to calculate the armor :
Take average armor in mm. Subtract 1. And then adjust for big or small size (height) of the vehicle and/or armor quality and round the fraction up or down.

Examples
Pz V : armor between 120/100 and 40mm. Gives a 6 or 7 armor factor.
Pz IVH : armor between 80 and 30/20 mm. Gives a 4 or 5 armor factor.
Pz VI : armor between 110 and 60 mm. Gives a 7 or 8 armor factor.

Sherman: between 80 and 30mm. Gives a 4, I would say (large target = rounded down).
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#8
My perception is that if you rate 4 the armor defence value of the Sherman you should downgrade to 4 its AT fire value. After all the Grant has only 4 (same gun, Am'I wrong?).
In terms of "duels" against PZIV 3 - 5 is more or less equal to 4 - 4.
However this feeds also on the comparison between Churchill tanks armed with the 6pdr and Shermans. To my knowledge these tanks performed quite poorly in terms of infantry support but were considered better than (or at least equal to) 75mm Shermans in terms of AT capabilities.
So overall I think that 4 - 4 would be better. BUT not really worth changing the values of thousands of already printed counters!
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#9
Perhaps it would be better to consider how the system deals with the values. The probability improvement as the AT to armor differential increases is not linear. The progression is 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21 out of 36. The Sherman firing at the PzKw IV comes in at the 6, as in 5-5 before other modifiers. Where as the PZKwIVf2 and g come in at 15, and the PzKwIVh with 21 (as in a 7 or more scores a hit).

I don't much like Otto's suggestion of a 4-4. It halves the Sherman's probability at 3 in 36. The PzKw guns would kill at 10 or 15 out of 36, 33% and 27% reduction. It would have the fight take a little linger, but leave the Shermans deader.

Oh and Otto, the guns are not the same. The M3 Lee/Grant uses the 75mm M2 gun, which is 32 calibers long. The Sherman has 75mm M3 gun, which is 38 calibers long. Both are on the lower end of capabilities for the time, but the M3 is clearly the better gun with high muzzle velocity and slightly heaver shot. The M2 was used in the Lee/Grant tanks because of recoil and space considerations.
... actually you Americans are probably the most dangerous people in the world. This is because you treat war as a job, and your culture has an excellent work ethic.
-- paraphrased from John Keegan's Fields of Battle

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#10
Nothing is linear in this question. Nor the kinetic energy versus armor thickness nor the die differential to kill the armor nor the two 6-sided dice probability effect.
For coherence, the Sherman versions used in 1944/45 might be updated to 4 armor factor because of better armor and ammo wet storage. But it won't change the world anyway: +/- 1 on the result will not make a big difference.
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