Friday, 5 September 2014

CALL TO ARMS ... THE AFTERMATH


Well back from another good Early War Flames of War tournament held at Call to Arms in Wellington, I was using my brothers Polish Piechoty force and I must say I really enjoyed playing them.


Playing Early War has to be my favorite period for Flames of War, as it is a time for many of the nationalities of WW2 to try out their experimental weapons/tanks and tactics, often with disastrous results and some with devastating results (the tank charge through the Ardennes springs to mind) You also have some very interesting looking and also the weird and wacky tank designs such as the Russian T-35 and my personnel favorite the KV-2, the twin MG turret Polish 7TP-dw tanks - of which was a joy to use in this Polish force. Having only rifles fending off a main battle tank charge is what its all about in early war, so much fun.

The tournament pitted me against some great opponents and I had some great close games which was good, there was one game that was just plain horrible but against a nice chap (just the army was horrible). All my troops were fearless trained which was nice and I had used my bypass unit and night attack rules during some of the games, and countless times of using my Fate of a Nation special rule.

So, onto the games in detail then, well that is from what I can recall from 2 weeks ago that is.

DAY ONE
Game One: Fighting Withdrawal
Was against young Alex Martin who was using a nice but rather small German Kradschutchen force which had some fairly later stages of early war tanks in his force with one Panzer III G and two being the mighty Panzer III H .. with its heavy front armour 4 and ROF 3 AT7 guns !
He had two large motorcycle platoons and some nasty Pak 38 guns and 2 HMG guns. The table was in my favour as it had a large church in the middle to spring ambushes from which was to be my 7TP-dw tanks. I deployed as one would expect with artillery guns and infantry in middle with AT platoon and infantry platoon on each flank.
Alex pushed up with his motorcycles with the recon move but then decided to dismount in his first turn, which I must admit surprised me as their was an opportunity to rush one flank with their superior movement if mounted. He deployed his AT guns behind a hedge on the extreme left with HMG guns mingled within and used these to lend fire support for his attack there. I sprang my ambush behind church and moved within sight of the infantry blob but outside view of his tanks and AT guns, and managed to mow down 5 stands of infantry - love these tanks already - the look on Alex's face when I picked up 30 MG dice in my hands, priceless !
My infantry on the left was involved in several melee actions during the course of the game, but I was able to push Alex's troops off, as Alex was rolling some awful motivation dice. I eventually lost my tanks to Alex's Panzers but they did there job and as I had 9 platoons I could afford to loose them. So in the end it was a 6- 1 win to me, a good start for sure

Game Two: Dust Up
Up against Bede Bailey who was using a German Gebirsjager Infantry force


Bedes lovely painted force of Mountaineering troops


Deployment done with me on close left side with 
Bede is a very good tournament player so this game was going to be tough. I had decided to not use my Bypass rule as I wanted to defend my quarter with max units being two infantry platoons, a AT and my Artillery platoon, but with not using the Bypass in this game was in hindsight I think a big mistake, as Bede has a tendency to be a somewhat defensive type player, so I should of guessed he would of pulled his reserve units over to help the defense of his own objective rather than press onto my own, so I wasted a possible good opportunity there. I opted to use the night fight rule the EW poles have, but as the first 3 turns was uneventful and dawn arrived on my turn 3 ! it was wasted somewhat, my cavalry reserve arrived and saw a chance to exploit the somewhat weak extreme right side (the wood in the middle of the photo) If I could assault the 3 inf teams in that and then rush his artillery that would be good, so my cavalry rush on launch a daring assault with Bede rolling 5 defensive fire dice, of which all 5 hit (poo) and then to cap it off I fail all my saves (double poo) - so much for that idea then !
Bede's reserves started to flow on in the form of his Panzer II tanks which slowly made their way across to his side of the quarter to help out his defense, His pak guns and pioneer unit stayed their to keep my infantry busy. Meanwhile despite my cavalry dying to MG fire, my 7TP-dw tanks and infantry platoon come on and took up residence in the small wood pushing aside the infantry platoon there, but alas try as I might I just couldn't shift the guns and Panzer II tanks, and in doing so Bede begun taking out my units, effectively breaking my army. So a good result for Bede winning 5-2, a good game - just wish I placed the bypass unit in reserve in the start !!

Game Three: Breakthrough
A Breakthrough mission played against Warren Hart who was running a large German SS Infantry force. Warren is a good player who I really enjoy playing against, as Warren always has some very amusing banter to be had while playing, which makes the game a very relaxed atmosphere which is always good especially to the end of a long tournament day.

Warren was running a Blitzkrieg SS force so was all fearless trained troops, had 2 units of Infantry, 2 units of 4 HMG's, 2 units of Pak 36 guns, 6 mortar tubes and a couple of 88 guns.
He also had priority air support with the bonus bit (forgot its name) where you roll two aircraft dice and pick the best one.

I was defending on a nice desert table with lots of buildings and small walls and a nice looking mosque , I placed 2 platoons of my infantry on the flanks of my quarter so they would advance onto the objectives, also placed some AT guns to help them out. My Artillery was nicely protected by the numerous buildings in my quarter, My tanks and cavalry unit also hid among the buildings as they didn't want to be caught out by the German air-power. Warren places his 6 mortar tubes and 2 units of HMG on a central hill and one unit of infantry ready to advance on the town. Everything else was put in the flank delayed reserve. The first couple of turns saw Warrens air support wreck havoc on my infantry blobs moving to the objective, but my tanks were having a jolly time machine gunning Warrens infantry platoon, and then the cavalry moved up and killed them all. His planes then took revenge and killed a couple of cavalry stands and a few tanks.
Warrens first reserve turned up, a infantry platoon which quickly took up residence next to my platoon that stubbornly refused to dig in, needless to say they got assaulted and then they obviously thought they had enough so I had to withdraw them to a nearby tree line. I move my next unit up to contest the objective, then realized that the objective isn't live till turn 6, panic over !
Meanwhile Warrens planes are still giving my some headaches, but I manage to get my tanks and cav unit into his mortars and a HMG unit, so lots of action in this game so far.
Warren jumps up a gear and starts to clear me off and around the objective so he can claim victory as its now turn 6. I move my 2IC up to contest the objective through a narrow corridor of his troops and is just within 4". We eventually get told time is up, we both look at each other and ask where has 2.5 hours gone - I end up with a solid 5-2 win



Saturday nights entertainment
Spent the Saturday night playing board games with young Issac inviting himself over - as  Issac was staying around the corner from us in Upper Hutt (he was visiting family in the area, being a Hamiltonian lad) So had a couple games of playing Castles of Burgundy - great game !  Issac was a quick learner - although starting off slowly to earn points by the time he finished he was miles in the lead leaving myself and Andy behind fighting for second place. So much for going easy on the beginner (well that's what I tell myself at any rate).

DAY TWO
Game Four: Free for All
Game was against John Fletcher, a good player who is also a fellow blogger and a good mate. I have known John for 15-20 years at a guess, going way back to when I belonged to the Waniuomata Grey Knights club, where I headed over the hill once a week on Friday nights to play 40k and Warhammer and when Flames of War was in its infancy with its version 1 days, good times.
A busy but good table, lots of cover to be had.
Needless to say I was in for another great game against his new horde of Russian Strelkovy backed up by two companies of 45mm guns, 76mm Artillery and 2 T-35 monsters.
John has done a smashing job and written up a nice report already for this game on his blog, so press the link here to found out what happens.
There was many assaults and blood shed on both sides so was a very exciting game, I managed to bring my bypass unit in turn 5 or 6, coming on right where I needed them to, so was fairly lucky as they allowed me to grab the objective to get the win.
I won 6-1 only having lost one platoon, but having said that the score doesn't reflect how close this game was, as I passed more than a few platoon motivation tests to stay on the table, so the game could of easily gone the other way.

Game Five: No Retreat
I now found myself playing for first place in the final game !!
(I know right - who would of thought it) ..... So I was up against Issac who was a few points ahead of me, so I had to win with a big margin to get the top prize.

I have known Issac for many years now, as I have spent many years going to the Hamilton annual Early War Rallypoint event in the past, with Issac travelling down to Wellington for this event so was good to get to play him.  Issac was running a Jap tank force, I had been involved in play testing the Japanese force, but I was mostly playing the Jap infantry force as others were concentrating on the tanks, so I knew they were are hard bunch to crack with some neat night fighting abilities, but OH MY GOD !!! the tanks ... are quite a horrible bunch if I am honest as the Jap tank special rules allows the tank while bailed of bogged to still get to hit in close combat, now that might not sound that bad with one platoon but when Issac runs 6 platoons of the buggers that's quite nasty.
Issac's force (for some unknown reason the photo refuses to rotate for me- sorry)
The deployment with me in the shattered town
I deployed two infantry platoons within the ruined town buildings spanning between the two objectives which are deployed with one back at central building at rear and forward building next to the dice in the photo, I also place the Artillery along the 3 main buildings in middle with AT guns in ambush. Predictably Issac forms up his tanks on one side - there's so many and its also night time. The Japs push forward with the two AT guns and infantry doubling at night forward. My turn and I place my ambush within the front buildings - I roll to see how far my guns can see - I roll nothing over a 3 - so only 12" not very far so no shooting ..... not a good start then. The following few turns saw the Jap tanks effectively and efficiently destroying my gun teams for minimum return fire. my reserves arrive in the form of more AT guns but being night time they can only slowly move forward. Issac then starts to launch a relentless series of assaults into the buildings to kill my infantry, some bog on the way but this is no way a hindrance, and when I hit back I bail some, but my motivation tests let me down and I have to fall back, I bring up my tanks but being only armed with MG I can only contest the objective, and hope I double bail his tanks, a long shot I think. Eventually the Japs move into the town pushing back infantry and guns and killing my tanks leaving the objective in the nasty Japanese hands.

I think I had in hindsight stuffed up my choices for the units to be kept on the table and the ones for my reserves  in this game! I thought if I had two units of Infantry I could keep out the tanks out of the town and then push the guns into firing positions to keep them at bay. What I should of done is place all my AT guns on the table and place my infantry and tanks in reserve. Would of been a lot better, but that's hindsight for you, and you can always learn more the hard way in my view so with this I now know better for the next time. A good solid win for Issac ... 6-1 win


I ended up placing 4th in the end out of 20 players, so a very good finish for myself using my brothers Early War Poles , Andy has since told me that's probably the last time I get to borrow them if I do that well with them .. haha he finished in 13th place. So until next time - hopefully we might see more early war at Call to Arms next year, especially with the long waited Barbarossa book coming out soon .

3 comments:

  1. Excellent write up Mark, and a great placing for you too. I must say, I really enjoyed playing Early War. Hopefully Barbarossa will push the period into the limelight for a few more tournaments next year.

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  2. Great write up and performance! You were in the running for first place, well done.

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  3. Cheers guys, yep with Barbarossa out soon it should prove more intersetsing, and I get to run my Russians for a change.

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