Monday, 25 November 2013

British vs Germans in Late War Cauldron

And so the day began - in the Brand new wargames room, oops did I say that? The family multipurpose room (It's alright wifey won't be reading this.....) 1750 points Late war FOW

Scott arrived with his Panzer Lehr Infantry Company (from Atlantik Wall) and against them - Bryan's Welsh Guards (AKA: Hells Highway) - We also used the Games Workshop Battle board. I had intended using US Para's but alas - finishing the room was more important than painting the toys!

We rolled Caludron - Scott defending with his Infantry Company against the Mechanised British Force.

Choosing which side of the battlefield was a conundrum but finally the woody side of the hill was chosen and two objectives were placed as far away from the German reinforcement arrival point as possible. (Was this the wisest ploy? I'm sure the experienced FOW gamers will know!) The Germans attached their HMG platoon to their two rifle platoons and started on table with 2 Rifle Platoons, a Heavy Artillery Battery (proxied by 105's) and some PAK 40's on Immediate Ambush, all firmly dug in covering the objectives .

German Deployment

Jammy is the word I think we would describe the British deployment as - rolling and being able to deploy 2 Infantry Platoons, and an HMG Platoon all together and able to advance through the woods to the hilltop objective. The 25pdrs deployed with their backs to a hedge line in the lee of the hill.

British Deployment
Turn 1, the Germans tried to range their artillery in on the Brits on the hill but failed and everywhere else they held fast in their dugouts. The RAF arrived with two Typhoons pinning the rifle platoon on the hill and the PAK 40's and destroying an HMG team all after ranging in (4+ required).

The Brits quickly advanced into the woods but decided against assaulting the pinned Germans instead opting for a little whittling before leaping to the assault. Although there was a hail of gunfire from the advancing troops the Germans were too well dug in and took no casualties.

Rolling a 6, yes another piece of Jam on turn one, allowed the The Welsh Guards Recce Tanks to arrive on the other flank (The idea was to keep Jerry honest, so he couldn't switch all his troops to the hill) and destroyed 2 dug in guns with 2 shots (again the jam factor - two 6 sixes, 2 failed saving throws and 2 successful firepower tests).

Turn two began with the German commander vacillating! Do I attack and potentially expose myself or hold fast but let the Brits dictate the attack and potentially swamp me? Opting for valour the Germans commander decide to open fire on the Brits advancing through the trees in an effort to break up the attack - the well prepared Germans accurate gunfire taking out two British Squads.

Of concern on the other flank is the appearance of the British Recce Tanks, SO the Germans turn their PAK's on the British Tanks, although they have less time and are able to put out less rounds they manage to score a hit on the the Big British Gun tank (Challenger) and brew it up. Meanwhile the infantry and German Heavy artillery stay dug in and decide not to expose themselves to the British tanks gunfire.

British Turn two, and more reinforcements for the British in the guise of the 2nd Household Cavalry! The two Damilers and Dingo advance up the road and put down a withering barrage of machine gun fire, but again fail to do a lot!!!

Meanwhile on the Hill objective the British, gather themselves for the assault, again scoring no kills in the advancing fire. However the 25pdrs do manage to pin the German platoon and anti-tank guns making an the prospect of an assault more promising.

The Brits decide to throw caution to the wind, and launch themselves at the defending Germans, however the defensive fire is to accurate and their first assault is thrown off, the Germans scoring 6 hits and the Jammy Englander saving every one!!!

The Second British Platoon follows the first to the attack, through the slackening defensive fire and clear the Germans from their initial positions - however casualties are high and only one squad and the 2 inch mortar remain!

Again the British roll well on their reserves roll and their mortar team arrives, increasing the pressure on the field objective. And Mrs Brit appears with some home baking! (Bickies off the the right)

German turn 3, And The German platoon on the hill is reduced to below half strength. Unfortunately they fail their platoon Morale, will the their CO step in and try and save the day? Well sort of, he tries but they are only encouraged by their unwillingness to stick around so he decides to off it with them (Failed CO roll). The PAK 40's are left solis to hold the objective.

British turn 3. On the hill, the depleted British platoon fail their morale and retreat from the fight, while the 25pdrs keep the Germans pinned.

The remaining Brits launch an attack on the recently vacated German positions - will they take it or will they be repulsed???? The manage to push the PAK 40's back and destroy one of the guns but are unable to take the objective - this turn!!

German turn 4 and The German Armour arrives behind the 25pdrs, hoping to take them out, they manage to destroy one 25pdr, pin them and move to assault. However discussion ensued about the 25pdrs being on turntables and a look at the rules suggested they were able to defensive fire (which we later checked on the FOW forums and discovered we played correctly), However the accurate British gunners halt the German PzIV attack taking out 2 tanks

Biritsh turn 4 and the The RAF put in another appearance and destroy another HMG team, this time on the field objective and then Jammy as ever, while the German gunners cower in their holes it is not enough to save them as the 2 remaining British tanks take out another Gun.

On the hilltop objective The Welsh Guards assault again, the Germans score 4 hits but are just 1 shy of repulsing the attack, with a hearty Hoo-Rah the Welsh capture or destroy the remaining PAK 40's and capture the objective. More British reserves arrive - this time the 17pdrs and immediately go into action behind the German tanks - but fail to score any hits.

German turn 5 and the German recce arrives behind the British 17 pdrs and in a hail of well placed gunfire completely decimate them. The British play rues his reserve deployment looking to play the edges better next time.

At the Start of British turn 5 the Brits hold an uncontested objective and snatch the win. The Brits starting with 9 platoons reduce the Germans points by one, the Final score a 5-2 victory to the Brits. 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Begleit Tank Escorts

At the weekend I finished off my first of two packs of German Begleit Tank Escorts, or Tank-riders to go with my StuGs;

The pack comes with sufficient foot figures to represent a short squad of dismounted troops.

 Even if not used as the 'Begleit' troops, they would be perfect as Assault rifle armed scouts..

And then obviously the tank rider models themselves... 12 single figures in the packs give me enough for 4 groups of three figures, sufficient to go on 4 tanks. I didn't want to glue them to the tanks permanently as the StuGs wouldn't always get used with tank riders... so I decided to base up the figures on a small piece of plasticard which was painted to match the colour of the StuGs camo 'dunkelgelb'

 This little 'base', easily sits on the rear deck of the StuG, or StuH... blu-tac can hold in place temporarily.

And both together, foot troops and Begliet Escorts working together...

I believe the Germans learned this tactic from the Soviets who became renowned for having their infantry clinging frantically to the backs of their tanks as they roared towards to German lines...

I'll have to try them out in a game sometime. I hope they will fair better than their halftrack bourne counterparts.. a StuG is a far bigger piece of metal, than the thin armoured hulls of the SdKfz halftracks...!

Will this be the new wonder weapon of my forces, ... or will my 'tactical finesse' doom them to obscurity after their first outing... time will tell ;-)

Monday, 21 October 2013

'Oktoberfest' Mini-Get-Together...

On Sunday 20th Oct, I hosted a mini Flames of War Get-Together.

Over the last couple of years the 'Kapiti Coasting' FoW players of our little group, have got to know many of the regular Flames players, by attending several of the tournaments in and around our region. Recently, one of whom; Damien (Damo) Tyson, offered to drive up to the coast, to have some games with us, so with a modicum of planning a small event was put on...

The theme of the friendly 'Tournament' was Late War 1350pts, with myself, Brett and Paul, entertaining Damo... 1350pts was chosen as we have often found 1750pt games either drag on too long, and/or cannot be brought to a satisfactory conclusion, in a couple of hours of game time. No-one likes a game to time out...

There is also something more visually appealing about the smaller games as they seem to better represent the company level game that FOW is, without drawing in huge amounts Divisional support like artillery parks and such like...

I set up two tables; one fairly dense terrain Western Europe theme, the other a more open steppe Eastern Front theme.

We had planned to have a simple round robin of games; each player playing the other players once, for a total of three games each, but we ran out of time over the afternoon, and the last game turned in to a general chin-wag instead...

For myself, after some pondering over a suitable force I decided to keep things simple and go with a Tank Company - not too much stuff to worry about or move around, and relatively simple tactics - attack!

I had a Panzerkompanie from Grey Wolf:

HQ: 2 x StuG G, + Bergepanzer III
5 x StuG G
5 x Panzer IV H
2 x SdKfz 7/1 3.7cm Armoured AA guns
1 x 250/1 + 2 x 250/9

Brett had brought along his FJs - mostly Fearless Trained, led by Von der Hydte and his trap teams

Paul had decided to rock the Shtraf again! His massed penal forces led by flame throwers and supported by breakthrough guns...

Damo, had brought 3 different armies, and randomised each game which one he would play, by a dice roll by his opponent.
He had a very colourful Polish infantry force, a US mechanised cavalry recon force featuring lots of tanks, and a Finnish fortified company.

On to the games!

First game was Free for All. I was drawn against Bretts FJ, and Pauls Shtraf went up against Damos Poles...

Game 1 - Brett vs Scott (Free for All)

Deployment, as pumpkin head 'trophy' looks on... with Tidy the cat in his customary place

Reverse angle - Scotts panzers hope to swamp the exposed objective.
Our game became a typical see-saw, with Brett choosing to attack my weaker side with his recce force supported by mortars and trap teams who had eventually partly revealed their hand, whilst he mostly stayed put in the face of my tanks. He did start a cheeky advance through the centre with three infantry scout teams...

I managed to hold off his recce on my right flank, losing my own in the process... My tank approach was slightly hindered by terrain due to my worries about the trap teams materialising. By the end of the game, I had held my right and was beating Brett off my target left objective, having lost a StuG platoon tangling with trap teams, shrecks and fausts in the wood, when I should have just broken off... but the battle was decided when Bretts scouts reach my left side objective, which was only defended by my Bergepanzer!

We'd given each other a bloody nose in the process and the game went 4-3 to Brett with his cheeky scouts! Had I got stuck in with my Panzers a turn earlier it might have gone my way...

Game 1 - Paul and Damo (Free for All)

Pauls Shtraf Soviets, rolled up at the other end of the table, and a dice roll later revealed they were up against the Polish home army... As per first caption below, I believe this is an army Damo borrowed from Andrew - superbly presented!

Pictorial commentary from Paul:

Andrew Stanton's Polish Home Army

The "mini-Shtraf". Even at 1350 points there's still a lot of stuff.

Starting positions in Free For All against Damo.

The blob pushes forward.

Very lucky defensive fire pushes back the Shtraf assault, but they still do enough damage for a 3-2 draw in the Soviets favour.

Game 2 - Damo vs Scott (No Retreat)

Game two and I was up against Damo, and having rolled a dice found I was playing his US Mechanised Recce Force - which had a Sherman platoon, two platoons of Chaffees and two recon patrols...

Since Damo was Mech and I was Tank, I would be attacking, even though Damo had about as many tanks as I did!

I put an objective down on my front left, which Damo covered with his Shermans and held a Chaffee platoon in ambush. My plan being to hold/deal with the Shermans with my Stugs, whilst the Panzers, recce and AA went on a thrust for the rear objective.

I advanced and let fly with the StuGs at the Shermans hoping to start knocking some out, only to find out what a Jumbo was, and the 'Jumbos lead the way!' rule, not having played against one before. FA12 on a Sherman! WTF!? ;-)

My recce thrust had not been the cleverest either... allowing Damo to ambush with his chaffees against my Panzers, though I only lost one, with 2 bailed, which thankfully, both subsequently remounted.

I swung everything I had at the Chaffees and they went down in hail of fire, the last failing morale...

The Chaffees behind the corn on the right  have all just died, as Damo starts his 2nd turn...
The game dissolved into a slug fest between my StuGs and the Shermans, where I just couldn't seem to get enough hits to get past the Jumbo, and if I did Damo passed his armour saves or I failed FPs... curses. Consequently I was steadily bleeding StuGs to the Shermans attentions... More Chaffees arrived with good covering fire, from a hill, over the centre, stopping me sending my Panzers over to help the StuGs... So instead I sent the Panzers and CO after this 2nd Chaffee platoon, and over two turns destroyed those too, again the last failing morale.

By this point it was just my 2iC StuG holding up against the Shermans, but everything else I had was now chasing Damos Recon patrols in the backfield... eventually I got enough hits from the Panzers and AA, and bergepanzer to destroy a recon patrol, though the 2iC Stug had finally succumbed! Again Damo failed his third morale check in a row, this time his Company Morale, giving me the game 4-3! Woot! :-)

I really thought I was going to lose this as I just couldn't knock out the Shermans, thankfully the Chaffees were a much easier proposition. Damo thought I would win from the start, and said I should have just rushed both tank platoons at the Shermans and dealt to them... probably a very good point! I think I got a bit twitchy though, once I realised the resiliance of the Jumbo...

Game 2 - Paul vs Brett (No Retreat)

Initial deployment against Brett's FJ in No Retreat. 

Shtraf shaping up for assault formation as volley-fire and breakthrough guns take their toll.

Turn 4. German lines after the flame-throwers. The FJ on the right failed morale, taking von der  Heydte with them. Brett called it before the mass Shtraf assault. 6-1 to Mother Russia. The Shtraf in FOW are essentially like a shot gun - not much to worry about at a distance, but up close it will take big lumps out of you. Missions like No Retreat are really it's party piece, with only half the defending platoons on to try and thin out the "blob" before impact. 


After two games a clear winner had emerged. With the Shtraf bullying the FJ, for the 6-1 win for Paul, this had shot him to the front with a total of 9 points over two games.

I managed to come second with 7 points, with Damo and Brett tying for third place on 5 points.

Well done to Paul, a clear winner on the day, and he wins the Oktoberfest trophy I knocked up over the preceding couple of days, when I wasn't converting my Bergepanzer!

Paul - Mr PumpkinHead - The Winner!
Big thanks to the guys for coming and making the day, and especially to Damo for taking the time to drive up to see us. We are not too far from his place as the crow flies but there's a darn big bunch of hills/mountains between us, meaning a lengthy drive around them. So again, thanks for the effort Damo, hope to see you this way again! (BTW - when does a hill become a mountain? I never figured that one out!)

And thanks to my dearest Darling for putting on some drinks and nibbles for the troops - an army marches on its belly as they say!

Hopefully this can become another regular event for us... and I hope to rejig my playing area...

I have a permanently set up 12' x 6' table, as when I designed and built the room I had had grandiose visions of massive armies clashing over it, but these games never materialised... and we haven't even managed to organise a big FoW Total War game... most of our games are standard size, mostly due to time constraints in playing time, or are skirmish games... and these can cause problems having to stretch and lean over the table to reach stuff in the middle.

To demonstrate the point, Paul presents his derrière, to all as he micro manages his Shtraf blob forward to crush the FJ, as Brett looks on in amusement...

Paul's Shtraf advance, sustained by macaroons!
So if I break the table down into three 6'x4' tables, I'll be able to host more games at once and thus slightly bigger mini-tournaments - I could even squeeze a table or two into the adjacent garage...

When I next get some leave I'll have a go at organising this, as the table also conceals a host of material underneath, which I'll have to find storage space for!

So keep your eyes peeled for the burgeoning Kapiti Tournament scene! ;-)

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Bergepanzer III

This last weekend I hosted a mini Flames of War Get-Together; a LateWar 1350pts singles.

 After a little umming and arring, about what force to take, I decided to keep it simple and run a Tank Company. More about the 'tournament' in a following blogpost...

After sorting my force, I had a spare 10pts to use up, and just about the only thing I could add was a Bergepanzer III recovery vehicle to the HQ... but I didn't have a suitable model...

A quick look on the BF website, and I couldnt find one there either? So I decided to try and knock one up myself...

A quick bit of googling later I had found that the Bergepanzer III, was based on a Panzer III chassis/hull, with the turret removed and an open topped compartment mounted on the superstructure. Several images from the web gave me enough to work with...


I took one of my existing Panzer III's ( from Plastic Soldier Company), and lifted off the turret and set to work, with plasticard, plastic rod, left over stowage bits and bobs, spare wheels etc from other plastic PSC kits, and some fuse wire, and matchsticks...

Panzer III H, Plastic Soldier Company

Lift off turret...

Add recovery vehicle superstructure...

And paint it up... voila!

A blob of blu-tac holds structure in place...

The recovery structure lifts off so the turret can be replaced if I still need to use the tank properly, though with a total of 15 Panzer IIIs in my collection I am not sure I will ever need that many...

So the Bergepanzer gives me a useful tool, if I get other tanks bogged down... and its also a medium tank hull with a machine gun.  It is classed as an independent team, and cannot assault and must break off if assaulted. Nor can it take or contest an objective...

Still, not a bad little addition to my force...