Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
It is a bit of a long one, but bear with me as I think it has some good stuff in it, even if I am biased! hah!
Hopefully I don’t get in any trouble for referring to my father figuratively as an old dog. But I thought it was a great way to start this next post and to also branch into a small discussion about Armoured Tactics. Especially the ones my father used against me this past weekend!
Over the past several weeks my Dad has been honing his skills with US Armour. He has been using a 7th armoured list with Patton at the helm of his 3 Jumbo, 5 Easyeights, 2 M4A1 late, 5 Stuart, Mortar and AA half track force. It is a tough list but certainly needs time to be able to pound the enemy and outflank positions since it does not have any infantry or breakthrough guns to dislodge stubborn defenders.
One piece of advice I gave was that the best way to get a higher rate of fire out of your guns is to just play faster. Something I know he has been working on as we all know that being the attacker can be hard in Flames of War. He and I have also taken to always playing with a chess clock as we are finding that the game is more fair and fun. I am sure you have all been on the attacking end of things when you feel that your defending opponent has used significantly more of the clock than yourself. I know that technically you have to make it to turn 6 or both sides lose, but even then I find that the defender has a steep advantage. I personally try to get all my games to double digit turns unless someone wins on a company break or objective seizing before that. They seem to always make for better games!
It is safe to say that my troops ended up being thoroughly surrounded in the breakthrough mission. I ended up bring surrounded by a good portion of my Dads armoured force with only a single Panzergrenadier bolstered by the 1iC faust and 2 pioneer teams to fight back a companies worth of armour. He was trained and I was veteran, in fox holes and dug in with AT weaponry. But I still didn’t like those odds.
Our games have been getting closer as my Dad’s armoured tactics have improved and our speed has increased. In the end it was just too much for my poor Panzergrenadiers to handle and the game was lost for my Germans.
What was most interesting though was our de-brief of the game, as we have all experienced, because we were able to talk about how my Dad used his armoured company to wait and strike at the right time. First of all he deployed his two combat platoons each with a M4A1 late, Jumbo and 2 Easy Eights in reserve with some recce, opting to have the majority of his force come from behind my army. The Mortars, Commanding tanks, Stuarts and AA then took the long way around my defenses (I was playing a fortified Grenadier Company) and went through a very difficult river and forests in order to eliminate any chance for shooting I might have had. This meant that his troops took 5 turns to get around my first fortified platoon dug in on the other side of the bridge and ford that would have been the easier crossings. However they also arrived unscathed and our turns were super fast because he was just moving.
Then when his first platoon arrived from reserve he elected to have them hide in a wood rather than striking at the single platoon of infantry dug in on the objectives. This way he avoided fire from the 3 Pak40s and artillery bombardments from my two platoons of 105s. Finally on turn 7 when the rest of his reserves showed up and his starting force (Stuarts etc) had outflanked my entrenchments everything came to bear. This obliterated much of the artillery I had and pinned the Infantry. He then proceeded with three consecutive assaults to clear out my infantry and leave only a crippled 2 stands and the CO. He passed his moral checks (only two since the third platoon was still fine) and I failed. Since I lost without the platoon I joined the CO who proceeded to run with the remainder of the Grenadiers who had had enough of the tank assaults. Truthfully, failing the platoon moral had been moot as he still had more tanks than I had infantry teams. I had however managed to inflict casualties of roughly 1 to 1 which when you are trading infantry for Tanks is great! However, it just wasn’t enough and the game went to the US.
To speak again to the timing, we also had just over 50 minutes left on the clock, definitely a great game!
I think that a few key points can be pointed out as key to ensure the American Victory.
- Putting a stronger force into the delayed “flanking” reserve. I believe that this is something that more players need to explore.
- Circumventing my forces and defenses to arrive to the key objective unscathed.
- Holding back the first set of reserves to be able to completely overwhelm my forces when the rest showed up. This is what I like to call, Target denial and then followed up by Target Saturation. I was forced to have very little to shoot at for most of the game, and then had far too many targets to possible kill enough in time.
- Quicker (and what I like to call fairer) play
I often took some flak from the boys in the REGIMENT for not “letting” my Dad win when we played, but in truth I find that our games are close, hard fought and competitive now since I didn’t let up but rather would debrief and talk tactics. I think it is safe to say that we both enjoy playing together even more after only 1.5 years since my Dad first played a game of Flames of War. It has made me excited for the days when my own son can take command of his first Flames of War company and challenge me to throw down on our miniature battlefields.