Farmpunk and I have been playing Flames of War pretty consistently since last November. But we'd never been to a Flames tourney until this weekend. Our cherry-popper was a 2-day, 5-round event over at Games 2 Die For on the west side of town. There were only 10 players (8 didn't show due to storm damage in the midwest), but 4 of those are in the top-100 for the national rankings. Tough crowd! In fact Able Company, the local club, is the top-ranked American FOW club on Rankings HQ. Seems like we're a hotbed of expert talent around here. :)
Here's the army I took:
I didn't get all of the painting on the infantry and the kübelwagons (jeeps) done, thanks to GW releasing 6th Edition 40K this week. But I got a lot of complements on the painting from both the Flames crowd and a number of 40K players who drifted in and out. The white spots on the infantry bases are where I patched the texturing after pulling off some figures. Since Panzer Scouts should only have 4 men per base.
List-wise, I was VERY happy with how the army performed. I didn't always play it the best due to my inexperience, but I don't think that I would change a thing if there was another 1625 tourney next week. I felt like I always had the tools I needed. If there's one thing that I learned in this tourney, it's that I don't need artillery to kill or pin infantry.
Day 1 - Game 1: Jason's American Tank Company
Let's see... Two units of Stuart light tanks, some M8 Scotts (light tanks with howitzers for indirect fire), a unit of Shermans, and some Pioneer infantry (they kill tanks in assault). Plus a recon platoon of some kind in jeeps and a half-track.
That's similar enough to Farmpunk's list, which I've beaten consistently in our test games, that I'm not too worried. Stuarts are bastards though, and he's got 2 platoons of them.
This was a straight-up Free For All with 2 objectives per side. I won the roll to go first, though I really didn't want to. So I dug in and said: "Your turn". Jason's reply was "Huh...", as he obviously expected me to advance (hint: Always treat American Tank companies like Orks. DO NOT go to them!). He then moved up and the dance began.
This was an intense game. For FOUR turns we danced around like Chess players, hardly shooting at anything. His Stuarts (both platoons) were ready to pounce on my left objective, but he held back. Because he would have to assault my infantry to get there and my 88's were right there along with my Panzer IV's to kill him with defensive fire if he tried it.
On the right, my Panzer III's threatened to shoot up his Shermans if he advanced along the board edge. While the 88's were positioned to tear him up if he tried to advance anywhere else.
The only thing Jason could do to force me out of the stalemate was to move up his infantry platoons. If he got to the left objective with them, he'd have enough strength to take it. So I had to stop them. I moved the AA Half-Tracks up, along with my 1iC and 2iC. The Panzer III's shifted left a bit to contribute some shots. His infantry started dying.
That forced him to commit a platoon of Stuarts, which I destroyed. He also move up his Shermans to get my 2iC, losing 2 of them to an 88. A lucky bombardment from his Scotts behind the hill killed both AA trucks and stopped me from pushing past the infantry to his objective.
His Shermans continued forward on the right, but I was able to get him down to 1 tank. While I had 2 left. Jason retreated on that side.
I had to pull the rest of my PzIV's from Guard duty to kill those Shermans though, so that left the objective weak enough for him to make a play. He got through my infantry and ran down my 88's, but since we ran out of time he didn't get the capture because you have to hold the objective at the start of your next turn, which he wouldn't get.
So it was a draw. He got a point on me for killing more platoons than I did.
Day 1 - Game 2: Dave's Soviet Infantry Battalion
Two Strekovy Companies of almost 40 bases each, a LOT of anti-tank rifles, three Churchill heavy tanks, and a big company of artillery. Plus some planes. Dave is ranked #32 on Rankings HQ for North America, so he's a tough cookie.
The mission was Counterattack, and since he was infantry, Dave was automatically the defender. So he deployed in the far quarter and I deployed in the quarter directly across the table from him.
Now, here is where my lack of tournament experience bit me. If you look at the book diagram for this mission, it seems like I can only deploy in the opposite quarter. But if I had read the text properly, I'd have realized that I can pick either of the two quarters that touch his. So I stupidly deployed across from him where I had no good positions for my 88's. Once he mined the bridge, I also had no good way to cross the river to the diagonal quarter where the 'easy' objective was.
Dave's reserves would come on in the quarter to my right, and Churchills have wide tracks. So they'll play peek-a-boo in the woods all day with their Tiger-class armor and 3-shot AP10 guns. Screw that!
So instead I lined up my Panzers and pushed straight in across the river. Dave wasn't expecting that move. It also would mean that the Churchills would have nothing left in my quarter to shoot at but the 88's. But they don't have HE ammo, so who cares? :)
It helped that 2/3rds of his anti-tank rifles were positioned on the right side of his quarter, where they couldn't get LOS on me. Dave wasn't expecting that. After a few turns of firing the 88's and tanks at his infantry, I'd taken out all of his anti-tank rifles and was ready to assault. I charged in and killed almost half of the unit before the Russians broke off and fell back.
Once he got his next turn, Dave sprung his ambush. Another infantry company in the trees to the left of my river crossing. Damn! I should have moved up a stand of recon to cover that wood. It would have pushed him back 8" in and given me room to move. The AT rifles killed a couple of Panzers.
Now, I'd wanted to zoom around the hill and assault Dave's remaining guns/infantry. But now the easy way was blocked. So I had to go over the hill and let his guns shoot me up as I assaulted. Not good, but I couldn't stay put with all of those AT rifles in the trees. So over the top I went.
I came very close to winning. If Dave had whiffed just one roll, I'd have plowed into his remaining infantry, run them off, and consolidated towards his artillery. Pushing them off the table and clearing the entire quarter apart from the ambush unit. Which would have to assault me and face my machine guns in defensive fire.
But Dave got 2 bails on me and my assault was stopped. The 2 bailed tanks were lost when he consolidated into them and my advance was over. He then mopped up and got a victory on me. Bummer. Especially when I found out that I could have deployed in a much more favorable quarter.
Day 1 - Game 3: Farmpunk's American Tank Company
Farmpunk and I were both 0-1-1 at this point. So we got to play each other. :)
I'd beaten him 4-0 in our test games. Well, 3 for certain, and 1 more that I probably would have won if we'd had time to play it out. How hard could it be?
Pretty hard, as it turned out. The mission was Surrounded. Farmpunk won the roll-off, and I had to defend the center of the table. Problem is, there was ZERO cover in the middle of the table and not only would he get to deploy after I did, but he would get first turn too.
He pants-ed me hard. I ran off the table on turn 2. The 88's never even got to fire. I think I killed 2 Shermans, but that's it.
Afterwards, we figured that whoever won the roll to go first would have won no matter what. But the club vets got in there and showed me how they would have deployed in order to shave some points off of the margin. Possibly turning the 6-1 into a 5-2 or even a 4-3.
I just don't think in those terms yet. But I'll get there. Sometimes you just have to limit the damage, I guess. Especially in a 5-round match where everyone can take some losses and still have a chance to do well overall.
Day 2 - Game 1: Gary's German Infantry Company
Another day, and 2 more rounds. At this point I just want to win a game!
This time I would get to fight some Germans. Never done that before. Oh crap! Panthers!
Gary was using an Eastern Front list with 2 Shützen Platoons, A Pak40 platoon, 2 Panthers, and 2 units of 8-Rad wheeled scout cars.
The mission was Pincer, and I was the attacker. So he had to hold his objectives with half of his force, while I got to deploy my entire army. He chose to put me on the river side.
His delayed reserves would come in from the long sides of the table. Which meant that I would have to move quickly. I put the 1iC, the 2iC, and the Panzer III's on the far flank. Supported by the Panzer Scouts and the AA Half-Tracks. While the 88's got good firing lines in the center and I deployed my Panzer IV's to the left. If he didn't shoot the Panzer IV's, I would get side shots on him next turn. So that would make the big cats ignore the Panzer III's that were going for his near objective.
Everything went pretty much according to plan. The Panthers took the PzIV bait and killed 2. The third ran away. My 88's hit the Panthers 5 times, but only managed 2 bail-outs all game long.
Gary's infantry platoon had Panzerknackers and a character that made them close-combat monsters, so they killed all but one PzIII when I reached them. The last one ran away, leaving my Panzer Scouts and the AA trucks to continue the advance. Oh boy! AA trucks against Panthers!
Well, I got lucky. He didn't get any reserves, the Panthers couldn't kill either AA Half-Track, and his infantry decided to assault my scouts after pinning them. Between the machine guns on the scouts and an AA half-track's flak gun, I got 5 hits and stopped the assault. Gary then rolled 2 ones for his morale check and his infantry ran off the table!
Since that happened on his turn, I was left holding the objective on my turn. So I won! His Panthers had backed up from the objective to avoid my 88's, but that left them too far away to stormtrooper into range when he lost his only contesting unit. Wow! That's a nice victory!
Day 2 - Game 2: Jerry's Soviet Infantry Battalion
One of the guys who played on day 1 had to drop out because his wife got seriously sick. So Jerry the TO took over his spot for the 2nd day's games.
I usually win against Jerry's Russians, but he did (narrowly) beat me last week with this list. It was 2 giant companies of Strekovy, with a couple of AT guns and pioneers mixed in, 4 SU-152's (if they hit, you're dead), a company of heavy mortars, and some I-153 Biplanes as air support.
The mission was Encounter, so we each started with half of our forces. I only have 5 platoons in my list, so I Kampf-grouped my 2iC's Panzer III and one scout stand to make 6 platoons. I then deployed the rest of the PzIII's, all of the PzIV's, and my 88's. I then ran the tanks forward, parked behind a hedge, and shot away at the Strekovy for 3-4 turns with my tanks until the Russians' guns were dead and they only had 1 pioneer stand left to worry about.
My Panzer Scouts came on and ran to the front, where they were killed by enemy rifle fire (too aggressive of me). My AA Half-Tracks came on and took up a position to pepper Jerry's reserve platoon, which came on to the table from the wrong side to do much of anything. On the right, my 2iC and the 88's stopped the SU's cold and made them hide in the woods for the rest of the game.
Once it was safe to assault, I sent in my PzIII's and wiped out half of Jerry's Strekovy Company. Killing the 1iC, 2iC, and Company Commissar in combat. Eventually, he rolled 2 ones on his Battalion Commissar and his men fragged him. The 10 or so stands that Jerry had left then couldn't move. I then consolidated towards his mortars, pushing a stand off the table. Which meant that the rest of the mortar company had to be removed too. Assaults are NASTY in this game. :)
So when it was all over, I had his objective free and clear. 5-2 win for me, the best of the tourney!
And I Could Hardly Believe It But...
My record was now 2-2-1. While Farmpunk's was (I think), 1-2-2. I figured that we would end up somewhere in the middle of the pack, with me a level or two higher than him. Something like 5th and 6th.
But no, Farmpunk was 9th, while I took 3rd! I had tied in Generalship with #4, but I had gotten more painting votes, so that edged me ahead. Not only that, but I got the prize for best Axis General and was the highest performing tank company player as well.
Dave, who beat me in game 2, won best General.
So... not a bad start!