Saturday, March 16, 2013

Flames of War Doubles @ Cold Wars

The main event for me at Cold Wars was a 2000 pt Mid-War Doubles tournament.  My friend, Aaron, and I decided to join forces for this event.  Our main goal was to have fun, and if we managed not to strangle each other (i.e. actually work as a team), even better.  NOTE: there are no photos, just words.  Sorry.

Aaron plays mainly Germans and I was happy to run veterans, so that was our first decision made.  From there, we experimented with a few different list constructions, from dual pioneer lists, to pioneers and fallschirmpioneers.  Finally, we decided upon dual gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers from Eastern Front.

With the 2,000 pts between us (2x 1,000 pt armies w/ up to 200 pts swinging), we set out to build a balanced list that had elements we liked.  Aaron's primary goal was to bring 8 Panzerwerfers with extra crew, giving us a massive artillery bombardment.  I wanted to take Marders.  We ended up with the following lists:

HQ + 1 Knacker
Full Gep. PzGrens + Knacker
Min Gep. PzGrens
3 Marder IIIHs
2 8-Rads
Limited HS-129 Air Support

HQ+1 Knacker

Full Gep. PzGrens + Knacker
Min Gep. PzGrens
8 Panzerwerfer + Extra Crew
2 sdkfz 10/5 half-tracks with 2cm AA guns

These lists had mobile elements, some decent AT and a whole lot of template action.  Lists created, we had to paint the damn things, with me painting all of the infantry and Marders in about 2 weeks and Aaron getting all of the halftracks and werfers, along with the HS-129s in a similar amount of time.  I painted the infantry in Winter themes, and since Aaron wasn't too pleased with the halftracks and intended to strip them, I gave them a nice whitewash to match.

The tournament itself was three rounds, with (almost guaranteed) red-vs-blue matchups.  There were something like 27 or 28 teams.

The Domination scenarios are a series of scenarios created by the I-95 Gamers that scatter a series of objective points around the board worth varying VP levels.  You want to have 8+ under your control at the top of turn 6 (you don't have to keep sitting on them; once you've started your turn controlling one, you can move on until the opponent takes it back).  The Blind Domination scenario adds the additional fun of your forces entering the board in waves: turn 1 brings Recce and Observers on, turn 2 is an advanced guard of 2 platoons and a warrior and turn 3 is everything else.

Our opponents had US Rifles and Armored Rifles, with core platoons + some Stuarts, M10s and cannon half-tracks.

The board, from our left was as follows:  Our third had a forest, the outskirts of a village with accompanying roads, and a hill with forest beyond it.  Two 1-point objectives were close to our side in the village outskirts.
The middle third had a road skirting from one short edge to the other, with the left side flanked by two long and deep forests, the rest of the village and a hill, and some open space on the right.  There was a 2-point objective on the road to the left between the 2 forests, a three on the edge of the forest along the road, and a 3 all the way on the other side on the far edge of the forest.  Their side had some open space, a forest, a hill, a road, some open space, and a forest (we won the deployment roll and got a far better board edge).

Anyways, we advanced across a broad front, trying to put at least one platoon on each of the three big objectives, but that's not where the action was.  That was all on their side: there, they moved their leg infantry up on our left flank (the snow preventing their truscott trott), the M10s and Shermans behind the hill, and the Armored Rifles advancing up the road in their tracks.  On turn four, our Rockets promptly ranged in on their lead ARP, blowing up a couple of tracks and killing their passengers.  The platoon failed their platoon check,  kicking out all the passengers and sending their rides to the rear.  Meanwhile, our planes arrived, bailing two Shermans and (critically) killing the platoon leader, keeping them from advancing any further.  From there, they made the odd decision to advance the ARPs on foot, leading to another barrage that wiped the first platoon.  Meanwhile, the rest of their advance stalled and they couldn't get through the forest in time.  At the top of 6, we had 8 objective points and won with nary a casualty.  Great opponents, just not their day.  These scenarios are great, as they create a much more dynamic battle than the Fair Fights, in my opinion.  They feel like the Close Combat video game series and create a nice mix with the defensive and mobile battles.

We faced Americans again, this time in the desert.They had Armored Rifles and Armored Recon.  Highlights were two platoons of Grants and 3 or 4 Recce patrols.  We won the roll to defend and took the end of the board with the majority of a town in the center.  The main feature of the board was a Y road that went straight down the middle of the board from their end to ours, with the prongs at our end.  The village clustered around the intersection with a trail of buildings leading back to their deployment zone.  Either side of the village had a nice hill that blocked LoS, saving us from long range Grant fire.

Our Panzerwerfers went in our back right corner behind a forest and a big PzGren platoon deployed on our left objective.  CiCs went on the objective in the middle of a big Mosque with 8-Rad support.  Our ambushes were the Marders and the other big PzGren platoon (a mistake, we should've kept the Werfers in reserve).

After recce moving their patrols, they proceeded to advance, with one patrol rushing our Werfers, another clearing the forest in front of them and a third moving up to remove GzG on the PzGrens.  Everything else moved up, with a Grant popping an 8-Rad at long range.  The patrol attacking the Werfers bailed one and destroyed one.  They expressed overt worry about the Marders and thought they'd done a decent job of preventing a decent ambush.  Or did they...

Starting our turn one, the Marder crews threw off the tarps covering their vehicles, revealing their positions almost smack in the middle of the board in a four-walled courtyard that the American Recce ignored in their rush forward.  After remounting the panzerwerfer and deploying our other ambush in the Mosque, we got down to business.  The Marders earned their keep, 2 of them combining to wipe out a Grant platoon (the third missed 2 shots at a Recce patrol).  The 8-Rad combined with a CiC's 1/2 track and the Werfer command team to destroy and bail the 2 cars in front of them (and captured the bailed one in assault).  The Werfers ranged in on a 2iC in a forest towards the center of their advance, killing a number of teams and pinning pretty much every pinnable US platoon.  The HS-129 screamed in, bailed a Grant and took out a halftrack.

On their turn, their advance continued with their primary objective being eliminating the Marders.  2 Recce patrols and the forward ARP clustered around the courtyard, dumping .50 cal after .50 cal into the tank destroyers.  In the end, all 3 were killed.  However, this left us with a juicy clustering of vehicles for the rockets.

Our turn 2 basically saw us lobbing a ton of rockets into the outskirts of the village, reaping a heavy toll on the ARP, including sending their rides to the rear, and wiping at least one Recce patrol.  The HS-129 was much more helpful this time, killing a Grant and bailing another.

Their next turn saw an assault into the edge of my PzGren platoon, which I missed rebuffing by just 1 hit.  Their M10s also deployed hull down and lobbed some shots at the same platoon.

On our turn, we prepared to launch a counterassault and the Rockets and HS-129 combined to blow 2 M10s to pieces and kill a third Grant.  At this point, we were somehow at full time (there might've been a 4th uneventful turn in there), but it was really taking them a lot of time to move their forces up and then roll all the saves from the rockets.  Anyways, we ended up winning 6-1.  A fun game, but a bit contentious at times.  They let the Marders dictate their play throughout, focusing solely on foiling their ambush and, failing that, bunching up to ensure their destruction.  We took full advantage.  I think if they'd instead rushed the Werfers with all of their patrols, they had a really good shot at minimizing their impact, freeing their ARPs to actually get into a decent assault on an objective. Instead, the Werfers mucked up their assault and the Air support neutralized their other armored elements.

The recap on this one will be much shorter on the details side, as we were pretty much wiped out.  Our round three opponents were Steve M of WWPD Fame and Bill with the Soviet Mixed Tankovy horde.  70 or so armored vehicles mixed across T-26s, T-70s, T-34s with Escorts and BA-10s.  To top it off was a Night Witch-piloted biplane that our HS-129 dueled a couple of times.  Aaron and I knew this list was in the mix and had figured that we'd have to hope for a decent scenario and luck with the Werfers to stand a chance.

You can find some photos of their horde here, as well as a shot of the end of our game:

The board had a huge desert fort in the middle that forced them to maneuver around the edges to get to the opposite corner and our objectives.  We had to abandon all of our halftracks to have the Werfers on the board.  We could've done a better job of hemming them in to their deployment zone, but our brains were off at this point.  They pretty much rolled to the objectives, with the Werfers hitting but not killing.  The HS-129 also didn't show up until turn 2, but did so in fine fashion, killing 6 of the 7 T70s it hit. That didn't really impact the outcome, since the platoon passed it's morale, but it at least made it entertaining.  Fun game overall, but we definitely were slaughtered to a man.

Overall, it was a very fun event.  Having a second person to discuss tactics and generally shoot the breeze with helps lighten the mood, and our list worked pretty well against other non-armored lists.  The Soviet Armored Horde was the one thing we didn't have sufficient AT assets for, and the additional burden of losing our half-tracks really hurt us.  I don't see how one can really justify other artillery over rockets when points allow, whether panzerwerfers or katyushas.  The huge template and rerolls mean you're getting max efficiency in terms of teams hit and with that many targets, they're bound to fail some saves.  US-style boards with tons of terrain also enable you to hide them well.  The lack of opposing air support helped us as well.  Speaking of Air Support, the HS-129 is another value buy, as it's very unlikely to be driven off by allied AA (flying tank) and it hits on 2+.  Against almost any allied armor, they're saving on 5s or 6s and then you just need a 4+ to kill.

Looking forward to the next event!

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