18 August 2013

Flames of War (and I enjoyed it)

Saturday, Morningstar Games here in Savannah hosted a FoW Tournament. The tournament was Kursk-themed since that was 70 years ago and this was an anniversary bash. Having sold off my Soviets some time ago, I threw a few lists together and ended up using one that was simply "fun." I've made plain my general dislike of FoW and Battlefront Book Sales, Inc. but since the organizers are gaming buddies, I didn't mind terribly. My list:
1ic    Panzer 3N
2ic    Panzer 4f2
Platoon    4 Panzer 3 J(late)
Platoon    4 Panzer 4 F1
Platoon    Panzergrenadiers w/ Halftracks
Platoon    3 Luchs (recon)
Platoon    4 105mm artillery
Limited FW190 Air Support

1855 points

The scenarios were set up in a dawn-till-dusk format. First game would use the "Dawn" rules, second game was normal daylight, third game would use "Dusk" rules. Believe me, nightfall in that third game was a game-changer for lots of folks.

My first game was with a fellow who drove down from Augusta, GA named Kelly. He was using a Guards Strelkovy battalion with two large infantry blobs, 3 SU122s, 3 SU85s, 6 120mm mortars, 4 152mm howitzers, and maybe something else. The mission was "Dust Up," a 3rd edition newer mission which am notoriously bad at. I just never know what to do, so I just went super-aggressive which tends to be my fall-back mode when I don't know what to do in a game. I hate sitting back and waiting for something to happen.
Our deployments. I started with artillery, Panzer IVs and the Luchs on the table with Panzer IIIs, mechanized infantry and the Kampfgruppe of my 2IC and a Panzer IV in reserve. I had to take one of the grey objectives and Kelly was trying to capture a red-marked one.

After turn 4 I think. I've run off the SU-85s - a wreck is noted in red. One of my Panzer IVs got hulled out by one of the 85s before they went away. I also shot up his heavy mortars which was quite beneficial. My objective was wide open, now to go get it!

Kelly's reinforcements eventually turned up So had to start playing some defense. My halftracks appeared and double-timed it towards my rear-area. My Panzer IVs turned their attention to the SU-122s.

The Panzer IIIs, tired of the heavy mortars, assaulted them and ran them off. The shooting match with the SU-122s went well for me and my half-tracks made mincemeat of the Strelk horde on my right. My infantry was now contesting both objectives on my side of the board.

During turn 8, I finally caused enough casualties to the giant infantry blob on my left to run them off, sealing the victory for me as Kelly had nothing to contest the objective with.

Game 2
The next game was a "Fighting Withdrawal" against Jamey, one of our locals. He was also pushing a Strelk horde so I'd be the attacker. Jamey placed the one objective he couldn't remove far off to my right, so I piled everything I had strong on my right. In an FW mission, objectives placed by the attacker can be removed from the board later in the game. The one I'd concentrate on wasn't going to just vaporize.

 I wasn't kidding. My artillery was off to my left, but the killy stuff was lumped together. The ol' overwhelm a flank tactic is a favorite of mine.

Jamey had a shitload of 57mm and 45mm ATGs amongst his horde which dealt with my Panzer III platoon easily enough. The Panzer IVs did considerable damage to the smaller infantry company and when time cam for Jamey to withdraw a unit, he removed them before I had a chance to wipe them out.

For whatever reason I didn't take many pictures of this game. The scenario times out on turn 8. I did get troops to the objective but he had at least one stand close enough to contest, so it was a bad loss for me. I think I did rather well and Jamey went into momentary panic mode when he realized that objective couldn't be pulled off, but there were just too many stands. Since shooting casualties are selected by the player being shot at, he was just pulling bodies from the back while leaving stands close to the objective.

Game 3
The final game of the day was to be a "Breakthrough" game at dusk. I was playing against Keith, another of the crew who traveled down from Augusta. He was using the same Strelkovy list Kelly used earlier. The table we ended up on was brutal.
The "Dragon's Spine" bisected the table from corner to corner, with a small gap in the center. This ridge kept my troops safe as they traveled from my near-right to the far-left corner. There was a paucity of cover. Keith made a major error in not putting troops in my near-left quarter. He was allowed to deploy in both quarters and I'm not sure why he didn't.

Our deployments. I kept my Panzer IVs off as my reserve who would show up on the far-left edge later in the game. I figured their better HE rounds would be of more value prying dug-in Untermenschen off the objectives.

By turn 3, my speedy Luchs platoon had nabbed the objective. Unfortunately for me, the game was a minimum of 5 full turns. Halftracks and infantry were close behind. I'm not afraid to move at the double in FoW - if your enemy can't see you, there is nothing to fear. The Panzer IIIs machinegun the Strelk company advancing towards the objectives.

When in doubt, smoke the observers. His mortars and heavy artillery were blinded. The smaller infantry group advanced towards my artillery.

An airstrike took out two of my Luchs but the third held fast. The panzergrenadiers disembarked near the objective. An amazing barrage from Keith's small 76mm guns kills one of my Panzer IIIs and bails another! I landed a barrage of my own on his two observers (live rounds this time) and killed both!

Bottom of turn 5. Darkness had fallen which saved my bacon. His planes were now useless and artillery equally useless - with the observers gone, they couldn't see shit in the darkness. His infantry advanced to the objective but couldn't get close enough to contest it. At the start of turn 6 I got the win. Neither of us ever received our reserve platoons.

I ended up getting third place out of ten players! Not bad for a game I haven't played in a while and for an army list I threw together at the last minute primarily because it featured tanks, artillery and planes. I actually really enjoyed the tournament although I was dreading it going in. Game tournaments tend to bring out the worst in gamers and there were a couple of tense moments in my game with Kelly, but by the end we were all good buddies.

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