Stay tuned for a post about my list with more pictures.
The tournament in Edmonton was a 5 round two day event with blind missions. We got to find out the missions right before we played them, about the same time we found out what table and opponent we had. They also used the ETC “Big points, Small points” way of scoring which was a nice break from the usual. They provided T-shirts commemorating the event (which I forgot at the venue oops) as well as lunch on the first day and some continental food throughout the entire event.
Saturday, 1 British Para companies, an Airlanding company, a Polish para company and a company from the 82nd airbourne dropped behind enemy lines in Holland in order to attempt to loosen Germany’s grip on the low countries in Northwestern Europe. The defenders consisted of two FJ companies, a fortified company and a plethora of ersatz panzergrenadiers trying to hold back the airbourne forces of the allies. It was set up to be a long and bloody day. The Paratroop forces would land at night, then attempt to seize the bridges at dawn, clearing the way for the British 30th corps moving up the road.
The event itself was broken into three phases, requiring players to all have three lists. One for each mission or phase. Players were not competing against one another in single combat in the tradition sense (they were still playing one on one) but competing as a team. The axis and allies players would win or lose together as a team. This helped to promote theme and entertainment over intense competition, our goal was to be more light hearted as we tend to have a fair number of competitive tournaments already in Western Canada. The event itself was meant to simulate very loosely Operation Market Garden.
The phases were the paradrop (Death From Above Mission), followed by the assault on the bridges (Seize and Hold mission) and lastly a fighting withdrawal by the German forces as the British 30th corps came up Hells Highway. Allies had to pick paratroop lists from Market Garden for mission 1, This was opened to other parachute and Glider lists for mission 2 and finally a mechanized or armoured list from Market Garden for the fighting withdrawal mission. Germans need to have a fortified or infantry list for the paradrop, they could also include mechanized lists for mission 2 and for the final Fighting Withdrawal they were able to include armoured lists but could no longer take fortified companies.
Now on with the event itself!
Death From Above
It was going to be a long night for both the Airbourne forces and the German defenders. Even if the German defenders didn’t know it yet as the Horsa gliders silently floated towards their destinations, full of eager and nervous Airbourne forces. Soon both sides would be locked into combat that would last the night. The first mission was a literal para drop with a modified version of Death From Above being used for LW.
The British para forces landed over the most heavily fortified German defenders of all the drop zones. This resulted in one platoon landing literally inside one of the German defensive positions, of course this mean that they were wiped out. They had, afterall, landed in between the fortified companies 2cm Flak guns and MG nests. However, the rest of the troops, including the airlanding Coup de Main support landed closely packed around one of the objectives.
The British Airlanding force with a dual coup de main assault took up positions on the east end of town (over one of their objectives) which meant the Germans were now on the counter attack. Unfortunately one of the Gliders crash landed with only a single survivor, (the commander, Lucky Charles), there will be more on Lucky Charles later. Even the parachute mortars and Parachute platoon ended up landing just to the east of the village that they have been ordered to seize. This meant that majority of the British force had landed on target and was now securely holding 2 streets to the German defenders 1 street. Things had been looking good for the British, until Hummels trained Tigers with an ersatz panzergrenadier platoon showed up on the east side of the village, threatening to encircle the British airlanding and para forces. Luckily the British 6 pounder AT showed up just in time and Hummels Tigers got caught up in the mess of Horsa Gliders to the east of the village. This lead to Lucky Charles killing the first of the 3 Tiger tanks (spiked after the Tigers retreated from an assault) Later in a move of desperation the remaining two tigers would assault the British forces along the street securing the objective, bogging one on the way in, Lucky Charles then bailed the remaining Tiger and in turn spiked the remaining two. Lucky Charles not only survived the crashed glider as the lone survivor, passed his moral checks, but also took out three separate Tiger tanks! (now he has support from the other airlanding platoon, 6 pounders, mortars and parachute troops but you will never hear about that from him, after all Lucky Charles was the one standing on top of the Tigers at the end of the battle!
The Polish forces landed with their containers on the other side of the entire German defensive FJ army. Their machine guns landed among the German positions losing half their number before their feet even touched the ground. The Polish were certainly having a rough landing in mission 1.
The US forces met a similar fate, landing many of their troops onto the river and two platoons missing the landing zone. As a result the FJ defending these positions was able to attack the US airbourne a single platoon at a time and take them apart. The final parachute platoon did show up just in time to turn tail and run to fight another day. It would seem that the FJ defenders were the tough nuts to crack on the initial landings, we would have to see if they continued their defensive dominance as the paratroopers organized themselves for the assault on the bridges.
Seize and Hold
The night had been tough and both the Germans and Airbourne forces had been bloodied. As Dawn began to break the two sides would clash again over the all important bridges that the 30th corps required in order to continue their advance.
In this mission, the British forces continued to grab their objectives, especially with the help of the coup de main airlanding assaults. The British para’s managed to take the bridge from the FJ that had given the US paratroops so much trouble during the landings.
The airlanding forces pulled off an incredibly daring landing with the gliders landing right down main-street and behind main-street. Managing to clear out the Ersatz FJ that had fought off the Polish paras. With two platoons of airlanding troops landing their gliders on top of the objective the FJ would be on the counter attack against the dug in British. The FJ had a moment of respite as their Stug support showed up behind the British forces. Luckily the British 4, 6 pounders showed up behind the Stug and managed to bail all three. The command teams then ran in to desperately and heroically spike two of the bailed vehicles, the third realizing the situation fled the field, leaving Oberstleutnant von der Heydte to finish the counter attack alone. Von der Heydt ordered the retreat soon after.
The Polish paratroops managed to force the Ersatz panzer grenadiers to continue to be bruised and battered by the Allied parachute forces. They were able to destroy yet another of the Tiger tanks that the panzergrenadiers had been using as an armoured reserve. In the end the Polish forces were able to defend the guardhouse holding one of the bridges from the German counter-attacks, securing their victory.
Lastly the US forces were pitted against the stern fortified commander Euling. Euling had fortified his bridge positions with 6 minefields barb wire and continued to use his armoured cars and armoured infantry to counter attack the airbourne troops. In the end the mines slowed down the US forces too much, Being the only commander to hold he Bridges, Euling (aka Ryan) was given Tiger II tanks with which to cover his retreat as the British 30th corp rolled through Hells Highway.
Since the allies had managed to secure three of the four bridges they were given two extra reconnaissance moves for any forces in their companies. This represented the fact that little to no repairs were needed to bridges as the 30th corps just rolled on down the highway towards the German positions. However, the Germans had also had time to bring in their armoured reserves. StugGs, StuHs, Panzer IVs, Panthers and even Tiger IIs had been called in to help cover the German retreat.
The British para forces (Dave) had been reinforced by an armoured company complete with armoured infantry, universal carriers, Shermans and Sherman Fireflies not to mention the heavy 5.5 guns that had been supporting his para’s pack howitzers all through the night. He would now be battling against the Ersatz FJ (Howard) who had been supported by a StuG company. In the end the British would cause the StugGs to break just before they were able to retreat (remove their objective) allowing the British to narrowly defeat the German defenders, but not before the StuHs had completely wiped out their heavy artillery support.
The Airlanding forces (Me, Bradford) had been supported by a Guards lorried rifle company equipped with a company of 25 pounders (10) and some universal carriers to lead the charge against Eulings (Ryan) Tiger IIs and StuHs. Even though they managed to drop countless 25 pounder shells on the Tiger IIs, (bailing one almost every turn) they never manged to kill them until the assault pioneer platoon and three Rifle platoons were able to close and spike three Tiger IIs right after the fourth KT had been withdrawn. However, this was not before the StuHs cleaned out half of two rifle companies and the universal carriers. Again the British were able to just clutch victory in the final hour (again right before the objective was pulled)
The Polish para forces (Alex) had been supported by a Guards armoured car regiment. The fought hard against the stubborn FJ (Rob) defenders. They manged to clean out the right flank and seize the objective. Unfortunately before they could seize the victory the German counter fire managed to rattle the armoured car defenders, forcing a platoon moral check which then caused even the unflappable guardsmen to flee. Leaving the victory just barely in the German hands. Definitely a nail biter in this one!
Lastly we had the continually beaten down Ersatz panzergrenadiers (Curtis) who had been supported by Panzer IIIs, IVs, and Panthers against the bloodied US paratroopers (James) who had been supported by the British armoured forces with plenty of Shermans, Fireflies and the bulk of the Typhoon close air support. It was a bloody battle and both commanders had been feeling the combat loses sustained in the night and morning fighting that had already happened. The Panther ambush managed to clear out a Sherman armoured platoon, but then having given up their positions were annihilated by the Typhoons. In the end the Shermans just couldn’t quite get the job done fast enough and the Ersatz panzergrens were able to retreat fully without receiving further punishment from the allied forces.
The event was a huge success and I believe everyone enjoyed it a ton. It was great to play with themes and not placing emphasis on the results but rather on the results of the entire team. We didn’t keep track of points other than victories, not the degree of victory. In the end the Allies managed to just barely wrestle a victory by a single battle in round 2 when they were capturing the bridges.
I have decided that we will flip things next time and give the FJ a chance to invade Crete by means of air-power. It should be a fun role reversal for everyone. From there maybe an Italy themed event. Although first things first, the Massive DDay battle (Juno beach of course!). Dave has built a 16 foot scaled recreation of Juno beach that we partake in every year. It is a massive 10-12 player, ~15000 points a side battle that we do on whatever weekend works that is closest to June 6th. So for now, be sure to watch for our write up of that event!
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.
After five grueling rounds and an amazing weekend the dust settled to see a fairly even spread of things across the West. Since everyone’s experience will undoubtedly be unique I thought I would give a bit of a report on my (Bradford’s) experience.
So I had the opportunity to field my mostly painted American Armored Rifle Company for the Kelowna Flames of War Tournament coming up on April 20th.
I’ve been playing with target denial and number superiority tactics lately, both Brad and I have been going on a Trained kick which tends to lend itself well to that tactic.
It’s a pretty intimidating force to face, just because of the sheer numbers involved. That being said, it’s no “Fire and Forget” army by any stretch of the imagination. Troops die and quickly!
Howard met me on our Monday nights at the Sentry Box and we did some exercises with my Americans and his new Canadians. We figured we’d justify it that it was a training exercise before getting stationed across the channel.
We played No Retreat which is one of the scenarios that the Kelowna boys have chosen for the tournament. It is an unusual event because the Defensive Mission falls under the Armoured Reserves condition which means the defender will be limited with the number of fully armoured units that they can put down on the board initially and the other two missions are Mobile Battles. This means mechanized forces will definitely be challenged at this tournament. Because of this I’ve put together and am painting up the dismounted guns options for my Armored Rifle Platoons. If I do end up defending I want those .50 cals available in prepared positions!
Anyhow, so the list is definitely playing in a manner that I’m not used to yet! I’m used to playing Confident Veteran Germans, which means you are almost always outnumbered but your
troops are hard as nails and tough to dig out. NOT SO WITH TRAINED! Wow!
I’ve got 9 priests that tend to sit in backfield that can lay down a pizza box of fire or a double wide with rerolls. If I get lucky and get Time on Target that can be pretty nasty with rerolls to hit and my opponent rerolls armour saves. The other purpose is to move up and use their Heavy Breakthrough guns to dig out enemy troops. It’s also the reason I took 2 Cavalry Recon; so that I can help the priests get in and kill dug in troops.
That being said I didn’t really do that in this game. Mid game, I should have started leap-frogging the Priests to get into position to either bombard OR direct fire at buildings. It’s amazing that for a good portion of the middle game a single Sherman and 3 infantry were holding the centre line until reserves arrived. I should have pushed my advantage but didn’t manage to and by the time I’d managed to unpin my two ARPs on that side to push through the centre and help take the objective, Howard had a nice firing line set up with his M10s, Wasps and Rams.
I still have a lot to paint with no less than 17 more stands of infantry and 18 more vehicles. That’s not including the 9 Priests I finished last week! Ugh!
One of the things that I’ve really noticed about this size of army is that your off-table board is almost as important as what is happening on the game table. Keeping track of who was killed and what halftracks are available is a constant resource management and it’s definitely a wide departure from a more relaxed pace
found with Confident Veteran troops. Though my opponent might be taking his time with a higher trained force, I am constantly pushing minis around whether it’s in my turn or reorganizing dead pools and transports in his! That will take some getting used to and I have a definite worry about timing out during my rounds.
The one advantage that I see with this though is I tend to be a slower player. I attribute that to often times not committing or fully thinking out a strategy at the beginning of the game and then spend the rest trying to implement tactics for a strategy I don’t really know or understand. This leads to a lot of mental deliberation.
With this force there simply isn’t time for deliberation. You have to commit to a plan and move decisively with it if you have any hope of getting a full game in within the 2.5 hour limit. So I think this is going to make me sharper in the end. It’s a bit of a bitch to manage right now, but as I start to get familiarity with unit stats to the same degree as I have with Germans, I think that it’ll definitely speed up my game. I’m looking forward to the challenge!