I've faced hoards of infantry, hoards of tanks, elite infantry, elite tanks - and whilst they are not always star performers they offer something to the list most other tanks can't.
So what is so good? Well the stats for a start! FA10 is still powerful even in the time of jumbos and cat killer - you always have the chance to survive a shot - especially at long range. Side of 5 also is effective against fast tanks from Tetrachs to Chaffee's. Top armour one is still vulnerable - but so are most tanks...
The firepower is also still powerful, AT14 really is powerful - against anything lower than FA9 I feel fairly confident when opening up - even at range. Add to that two MG's in defensive fire the extra dice helps.
Lastly the mobility, wide tracks and standard tank movement is a great combo, I don't mind woods (still not going there out of choice!) but it's a perfect pairing to keep you on the move.
What about weakness's? Well firstly your Panther should not act in isolation - there are limits to its effectiveness - specifically assaults - you're expensive (even RT panthers are not cheap) and you don't have schurzen - know your limits - that's not to say never assault - but just consider alternatives first.
The other big vulnerability is air/artillery - as mentioned TA1 is not bad/not great so having some help with keeping the skies clear is a big bonus.
So how does this play out in game terms? Well it depends on the opposition firstly - if you're facing your elite enemy tank lists, such as US or brits, I have a tendency to play one of two ways, either sniper - you crest a hill fire and then Stormtrooper away, or alternatively area denial - hold a dominating place on the field, wait for the enemy to roll into range to shoot you (hi Mr Easy 8) shoot you, then you return fire. Conversely against tank hoards (like soviet 30+ tank lists) I focus these guys on the cheap light tanks, smoke the SU's so you only have a couple of shots incoming, and just keep firing full RoF as much as you can - in both these case being at long range is your friend, being hit on a 5+ with effective FA11 means you can take the hits.
Against infantry it's a different mix, I end up playing them in two ways, one is hunting artillery - they can direct fire you, and you can laugh, you can also get quite close as bazookas and PIAT's fall off your front armour. Or very strangely as a mobile reserve - against an infantry player who has a fast unit to hate as your rear, I'd rather have my panzer 4's up front ready to assault, whilst the panthers stop stuarts, universal carriers etc.
So can a primarily Panther list work - I think so... Not easy but potentially this.
|PANZER KAMPFGRUPPE (TRAINED)TANK BATTLEGROUP|
So firstly I've gone trained - always a risk because of arty, but gives you a ridiculous volume of firepower. So 7 panthers with riders - I'm tempted to drop one platoon to 2, and get the 2IC, as it gives you more tanks for an assault - speaking of which tank riders - just to help you hit really hard in assault - and avoid assaulting woods/buildings!
Add onto that some choice support, nebs (smoke as always) AA to take out AOP's and enemy gun teams, 2 recce platoons, and of course Rudel - if the enemy has no staff team he can not ToT you....
I like this list might need a run out - now who has a spare Panther!