Tuesday, 25 September 2012

'Tanks a Bunch'

Over the weekend I played my fourth game of Flames of War in three weeks. To say that it has not been going well would be putting it mildly. Two weeks ago, my Mid War Grenadierkompanie got isolated and picked off by Matt's machine-gun-happy US Tanks. Last week, my Late War Schwere Panzerkompanie Bake got swamped by Pete's Tankovy and then later in the same night swamped again by Bill's Peredovoye Otryad. Needless to say, I wasn't expecting much when JP rearranged our game so that I wouldn't be finding out how to play Empire of the Dead, instead I'd be up against his Mid War British Light Armoured Squadron. At least, I thought, it would be an opportunity to complete the set and be beaten by all major allies in quick succession...the full German experience, as it were!

So I set about planning my list:

HQ with Panzerknackers
Grenadier Platoon (8 stands & Panzerknacker)
White Pioneer Platoon (6 stands and Pioneer Supply Truck)
Mortar Platoon (4 x 12cm Mortar Stands - these were proxied with 8cm Mortars)
Anti-Tank Platoon (2 x Pak40)
Tank Hunter Platoon (3 x Marder IIIM)
Looted Tank Platoon (KV1e with cupola)
Priority Air Support (Stuka D)

When I got to the club, things had changed again. I'd still be playing against JP's army, but it would be commanded by Stu, who'd never really played FoW before. I sensed an opportunity...

The army he was using was as follows (I should note that it was built using 'Afrika' not 'North Africa', I'm also not sure of the spread of Crusader II tanks and Crusader II CS tanks):

HQ (3 Crusader Tanks)
Light Armoured Platoon (3 Crusader II Tanks)
Light Armoured Platoon (3 Crusader II Tanks)
Light Armoured Platoon (3 Crusader II Tanks)
Light Armoured Platoon (3 Crusader II Tanks)
Heavy Armoured Platoon (3 Grant Tanks)
Heavy Armoured Platoon (3 Grant Tanks)

In short, whatever the scenario, new to the game or not, he'd be all over me like a rash within three turns. I sensed a walloping. I'd just have to sit there, soak up the pressure and hope that my planes, mortars and tank-hunters could lessen the blow enough for me to hold...

...this was not to be...

We rolled for scenario and got encounter and I as I wasn't auto defending, I had to deploy first. We both spread our objectives wide and hoped to split the enemy. I positioned my Mortars in the buildings by the objective on my right.



Stu cunningly ignored the objective opposite them (assuming that he could redeploy fast enough to counter a rush from me) and chose to mass his tanks opposite the objective in the ruins on my right where I placed my Pioneers and Pak40's to await his arrival. He got the first turn and unsurprisingly rushed forwards and his barrage of shots took out one of my Pak40's before it even had a chance to try to 'anti' his tanks.



Despite this, I felt fairly confident. He'd made a bit of a rookie mistake (listen to me...it's like I know stuff and everything, seriously you should have seen my debacle against the Soviets...) and left his tanks grouped in the face of air and artillery. I smiled and evil grin as the Mortars took aim at the Grants...and missed. It was a little comforting that the remaining Pak40 took out one of Crusaders and the Luftwaffe arrived to despatch another two (despite hitting five!). However, the remaining tank in his platoon passed its morale check and the tin horde rumbled on and I was now, officially worried.



TURN 1 SUMMARY
CASUALTIES
GERMAN
Anti-Tank Platoon: 1 x Pak40
BRITISH
Light Armoured Platoon: 3 x Crusader II
UNITS IN RESERVE
GERMAN
 Grenadier Platoon
 Tank Hunter Platoon
 Looted Tank Platoon
BRITISH
 Light Armoured Platoon
 Light Armoured Platoon
Heavy Armoured Platoon

Stu began turn 2 as he had left off. he pushed the Crusader platoons even closer and brought up the Grants in support. He clearly intended to strike the double blow of overwhelming my dug in Pioneers and get his tanks out of reach of my planes. Two full tank platoons opened up on the Pioneers and not only failed to kill any, but also failed to pin them. However, the lone remaining tank from the platoon hit by the air strike did managed to remove the second Pak40.

Despite the lack of casualties, the Crusaders were close enough to assault and did so. Three stands of Pioneers fell but their nerve held and the Germans struck back and one of the tanks went up in smoke. It seems that contrary to Corporal Jones' assertions, its actually the British that "don't like it up 'em" and they broke off, ready to strike again next turn, confident that the Germans were unable to inflict significant damage.



With the British too close to call in the Luftwaffe, the Pioneers simply had to dig in (which the failed to do) and hope that the Mortars could help out. However, one again, despite three Grants being under the template, they only managed to bail one of the British tanks. With another turn before reserves arrived, I considered whether I should begin to pack up now.

TURN 2 SUMMARY
CASUALTIES
GERMAN
Anti-Tank Platoon: 2 x Pak40
White Pioneer Platoon: 3 Stands
BRITISH
Light Armoured Platoon: 3 x Crusader II
Light Armoured Platoon: 1 x Crusader II
UNITS IN RESERVE
GERMAN
Grenadier Platoon
Tank Hunter Platoon
 Looted Tank Platoon
BRITISH
Light Armoured Platoon
Light Armoured Platoon
Heavy Armoured Platoon

With things looking grim on my right, I was naturally delighted when Stuart rolled up some reserves. However, surprisingly he chose to back up his assault through the ruins rather than send them through the town on my left to threaten the other objective. However. I considered it would all be rather academic as his tanks lined up in front of my beleaguered Pioneers.



The machine guns once again opened up, but despite succeeding in pinning the Pioneers, a series of successful infantry saves meant that, once again, no casualties were caused. Nevertheless, the Grants assaulted and despite inflicting a casualty or two, were soundly thrashed by the tank-knobbling antics of the CiC and Command team. Not to be outdone, the Crusaders also assaulted and were also given a good seeing too and were once again forced to break off with only two tanks remaining, however only three stands of infantry miraculously stood against them.

On my turn, I was also successful in getting reserves and the Marder IIIM's arrived to really ruin the tanks' day. On my left, I finally got cocky and doubled the Mortars in a mad gambit to get to the unguarded objective (not sure if Mortars can do this). The Stukas failed to materialise to threaten the reserve Grants but the Marders opened up on the Crusaders, destroying one and bailing the other. With only a single tanks to deal with, the remaining infantry assaulted to wipe out the platoon and consolidated back to the objective, safe within their castle of burning hulls. Of Stu's starting force, only a single tanks remained operational.


TURN 3 SUMMARY
CASUALTIES
GERMAN
Anti-Tank Platoon: DESTROYED
White Pioneer Platoon: 5 Stands
BRITISH
HQ: DESTROYED
Light Armoured Platoon: 3 x Crusader II
Light Armoured Platoon: DESTROYED
Heavy Armoured Platoon: DESTROYED
UNITS IN RESERVE
GERMAN
Grenadier Platoon
 Looted Tank Platoon
BRITISH
Light Armoured Platoon
Light Armoured Platoon


At the top of turn 3, not only was the lion's share of the enemy tanks now a heap of scrap metal, but also, I was seriously threatening an unguarded objective. However, my Mortar's foolhardy gambit was about to come unstuck as more British reserves arrived to mercilessly butcher them as they ran across open ground. Only the 2iC and Command team were left to break of and run for cover.


Having had every thing looking so good, I was now in trouble as my objective was unguarded and the Crusaders would be on it next turn. I prayed for reinforcements and was relieved when the KV-1 (which had been somehow shipped from the Eastern Front to the desert) arrived in the right position to protect the objective. However, I was slightly miffed that once again my planes failed to arrive.


However, it was at this point that I remembered the platoon count. If I could kill the remaining Crusader from the starting force, the game would be over. The Marders turned their guns on the lone tank and blew it to pieces, ending the conflict.


TURN 4 SUMMARY
CASUALTIES
GERMAN
Anti-Tank Platoon: DESTROYED
White Pioneer Platoon: 5 Stands
Mortar Platoon: 4 Stands
BRITISH
HQ: DESTROYED
Light Armoured Platoon: DESTROYED
Light Armoured Platoon: DESTROYED
Heavy Armoured Platoon: DESTROYED
UNITS IN RESERVE
GERMAN
Grenadier Platoon
BRITISH
Light Armoured Platoon

Thus ended a bit of a breakneck game. I'm sure it could have gone either way and we both experienced some extremes of luck. My planes and artillery should have cause much more havoc against unprotected tanks, but equally, the Pioneers withstanding three separate tank assaults was a sight to behold. I think Stu got to grips with the game well, although perhaps his first reserves should have been Crusaders to threaten the Mortars and the left hand objective and he certainly ran me close.

I think I deployed incorrectly, and should probably have had the Grenadiers on the other objective as more security. I also am still tweaking the list. The big Mortars will be downgraded to their rightful size, the air support will be dropped to Limited to enable me to add 3 Nebelwerfers to provide proper artillery support as Mortars really can't cut it. This will give me seven platoons, and so my 2iC will be able to Kampfgruppe to bring this total to eight for missions with reserves.

All in all, I think that I'm beginning to get to grips with infantry, but I'm still making tactical blunders (the run across open ground?) which are presenting my opponents too much of an opportunity to do me harm.

Still, it's been a while since I've won, so I'll take what I can get.

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