Friday, November 22, 2013

Last Round with Reno?

Got a chance to play Reno the other night, possibly for the last time.  Reno quickly became one of my favorite opponents and it's been awesome gaming with him.  He's also a wild and crazy guy and a great friend.  I was supposed to be packing in preperation for my move to New Mexico, but when Reno called me and asked if I was up for a game, I decided to put off the work for a few hours.  Thanks mucho for the desperately needed diversion!
Both of us used the armies we want to bring to Shifting Sands in January.  I ran the custom Stugbatterie and Reno had a SP Artillery Regiment.  We decided to play a Fighting Withdrawl since that is one of the missions being played at Shifting Sands.  The board is pretty standard with trees, buildings, a river, etc.
My deployment: StuHs on the far side, StuGs on the close one.  Scouts holding the center with the CiC, Marders in Ambush.  Reno lurks in the background.
Reno's side: Su-122s on both flanks, 45mm ATGs on the left, 57mm guns in the center.  Rota platoon and Recon supporting the right side Su-122s.
Pre-game Recon moves from us both.
Reno's Turn One:  Armored cars try to MG my Scouts but miss.  Other stuff advances.
My Turn One:  The CiC (not a Panzer III, it's a StuG D!) moves through the trees to support the Scouts, destroying one.
StuHs roll out from behind the trees and shoot at some Su-122s, but miss.
A StuG fires at a single 122 through the buildings, but also miss.  
Another fires on the Rota and gets a transport, killing one of it's passengers.  
Rota gets dumped out!  Weird blue tint can be blamed on my aquarium light...
Reno's Turn Two:  57mm guns fire at the StuGs but miss.
Armored cars push onwards, firing at the Scouts, but they've Dug In.
Rota unpins and charges towards the center objective supported by Su-122s.
More Su-122s attempt to engage the StuGs in the trees, but miss.
My Turn Two:  Marders appear from Ambush!  
StuHs fire on the Rota, killing two stands.
Marders destroy two Su-122s.
StuGs fire on and destroy 3 of 4 Su-122s.
Scouts withdraw from the Rota threat, CiC moves to counter the armored cars.
Reno's Turn Three:  Lone Su-122 Bails Out a StuG.
Armored cars get crazy and kill a Scout stand.  Rota keeps charging forward.
My Turn Three:  StuGs finish one of the Su-122 companies.
CiC gets another armored car.
Marders Bog Down... (what else is new?)
StuHs continue to fire on the Rota, killing two more.
Reno's Turn Four:  Su-122s get a little revenge, knocking out a StuH!
Rota keeps advancing, bringing the CiC with them.
They Assault after hitting two stands with their flamethrower.  
The Rota quickly finish the Scouts and consolidate towards the objective.
My Turn Four:  StuGs move to assist the CiC, killing another armored car.
CiC MGs a Rota stand.  Both platoons make their check.
Marders unbog, then re-bog...  StuHs Bail an Su-122.
Reno's Turn Five:  122 gets back in and Bails a StuH.
Rota Digs In, CiC and armored car fire on the StuG D, but miss.
Unfortunately for me, I forgot about the 57mm guns across the board...  They quickly made me pay for my mistake, killing a StuG and Bailing the other.
Reno's CiC then Double Bails the remaining StuG which then fails it's platoon Morale...
Allowing his 45mm guns (!?) to capture my objective.  Seriously, has this ever happened before?  5-2 for Reno!!
Reno, I love you man.  You have made the NorCal circuit an awesome place to roll dice.  You travel more than any of the other regulars and paint some beautiful communists.  I really hope you get down to the desert in January.  Some hotel down there must have a bathrobe that needs flung out a window.

I'm digging the Stugbatterie!  Even though they lost, it was looking good until Reno made all of his Morale checks and I failed the important one.  Also, Marders why can't you ever drive?!, lol.   I've never seen an anti-tank gun capture an objective, so this game immediately makes the list of awesome.  

Project Begin!

Here's what I have so far.  I'm going to use my Stug III Gs from my Italian front army as these are early models without Shurzen and will fit right in with the Kursk stuff.  That's three less tanks to paint!  I still need to find a StuG III D and convert it into an ausf E model for my Company Commander.  I'd also like to get some objectives built if I have time.
These old StuG III Fs will be rebuilt as early production StuH 42s.  68 of these saw action at Kursk, many of them built on ausf F chassis.   I've tried to build these forever for my Lufwaffe army, but never could get them completed.
Marder III Hs fresh from the blisters!  The M is less points, but weren't introduced until after the battle.
Grenadier Scout platoon.  These are a mix of Sperrverband dudes and misc. stuff from who-knows-where.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shifting Sands 2014 Project

With the move to the southwest imminent I started looking for a new group to game with and some tournaments to attend.  Apparently, Las Cruces, New Mexico is a bit of a Flames of War black hole and the closest tournaments I could find were in Arizona or Texas. (Though I just found a small comic shop that is beginning to carry a few FOW minis) After reading about the excellent Shifting Sands event held last year in Mesa, AZ I began planning for a trip there in January for their 2014 tournament.  This will be my first chance at a themed event and it sounds like a lot of fun!  Since it is a Kursk, 1943 theme I need to build a new army.  Snow infantry and Fallschirmjäger not allowed!  Here's a link to their website:

The guys who are running this drew up several custom lists and I've decided to run a Stugbatterie:
    HQ- (1) StuG D
    Assault Gun- (3) StuG III F/8
    Assault Gun- (3) StuH 42
    Grenadier Scouts- (5) Rifle teams
    Tank Hunter- (3) Marder III H

The Front Armor of 7 will be tough in this event as the T-34 only has a AT 9 gun and the best the Soviets can get in this restricted tournament is a 13 from the heavy assault guns.  The cheaper Marders will give me some extra shots against large amounts of Soviet armor and the StuHs will hopefully do some major damage vs. infantry.  The only Recon this list gets are the foot Scouts, so they're the best I can get.  

Next post I'll gether up my models and get working!  Due date: January 18th!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Goodbye NorCal!

Just a shout out to my friends and sometimes opponents in the circuit.  The November tournament  was my last event before the big move to New Mexico in a few weeks.  I hope to find a new group of guys to play Flames of War with, but I know that the NorCal group is special and cannot be replaced. I hope to see some of you at the Shifting Sands event down in Arizona this January.  Other than that, maybe KublaCon?

November NorCal Tournament

Back on the 2nd we held our final circuit event of the year at the fabulous Gamescape North in sunny San Rafael, CA.  We drew 22 players and were at maximum capacity, even with a few of our regulars MIA.  It was a four-round 1225 MidWar event with two hour games.  I brought a DAK Panzerkompanie with four platoons-

In theory, the Panzer IV F2 would engage opponent's armored assets, the mixed Panzer III N, IV E platoon would tackle guns and infantry, and the HQ tanks would provide direct fire smoke assets.  The obvious 'cheap platoon the get me to even count' would be the 2cm AA, plus recon.

Round One I got to play Ed Forbes and his Soviet Strelk in Free For All.  Ed and I have played each other for many years and he is always a tough opponent.  He had two minimim strength Strelk companies, a huge gun line of 76mm guns, SU-85s, a company of T-60s, some ATRs, plus rocket armed bi-planes.  Our table was a strange myriad of hills with a diagonal river.  Since there were no bridges, we decided it would only be a Bog Test to cross.  
Not much going on Turn One for me, HQ tanks stayed on the back side of the hill, waiting to see where Ed's SU-85s would go, mixed panzers advance into the trees across the river.
Panzer IV platoon moves towards the center, wary of the 76mm guns, while the AA holds the trees in the center.  Recon hugs the hill, keeping the Strelk blob on this side from getting too aggressive.
Ed's Turn One, his planes arrive, Bailing one of the Panzer IIIs.
My Turn Two:  Panzer IVs continue to adjust towards the SU-85s.
Panzers peek out and shoot at the SUs, but miss.  They Stormtrooper back into the trees.  Nothing really happens on Ed's turn, except his bi-planes kill a Panzer III in the trees.
My Turn Three:  The Panzer IVs engage the SU-85s at extreme range, and roll three sixes!  They kill one, Bail two.  
Panzers come back out, but they miss.  Again, nothing happens on Ed's turn.
My Turn Four: Panzers all miss the SU-85s.  HQ tanks Smoke the SUs.  Panzers fail the Stormtrooper roll.
Panzer IVs are drawn towards the T-60s which are about to ford the river.  My recon moves to guard my Objective, since the gun line has made them pretty irrelevant so far.
Ed's Turn Four:  Even shooting through smoke, the Volley Firing SU-85s kill a panzer.  He Double Times his T-60s back the opposite direction.  I also lose my CiC and 2iC.
My Turn Five:  Panzer IVs need to redeploy to defend a now weakly defended objective.  By Turn Six I have nothing left on the left flank as the mixed panzers lost another tank and broke.
By Ed's Turn Seven the rush is on.  He moves everything he has towards the Objectives.  My Panzer IVs will be able to contest soon.  Had he been moving his infantry up all along, he could have pretty easily won by now.
My Turn Eight: Panzer IVs move out and kill two more SU-85! Now I have a little room to breathe.  At this point I know I can't possibly win, but I can try and get a point or two out of Ed.  I get the final SU on Turn Nine.
Ed's Turn Nine:  He's pushing the T-60s across the river, but their Half-track movement costs him precious time.  Strelk are slowly making their way towards the objective as well.  76mm guns are increasing the pressure as well.
My Turn Ten: Ed's Strelk on the other flank has also made a move.  My recon counter and do some damage, scoring several kills.
Ed's Turn Ten: his T-60s begin to cross the river, closely followed by infantry.  His guns Bail one of my tanks.
My Turn Eleven:  I have one tank still contesting the Objective, with two more temporarily out of the fight.
AA and armored cars move up to fire on the Strelk, who aren't Dug In.
Ed's Turn Eleven:  He tires of my Flak trucks and kills them both with 76mm gunfire.  
My Turn Twelve:  Recon tries for a Morale Test on the Strelk, but they pass.
Time called after twelve full turns, a lone Panzer IV stands against the Soviet horde.  2-3 draw for us, I bagged the SU-85s, while Ed got the AA and the mixed panzers.
That was a pretty crazy first round, for sure.  With all of those guns I knew it was going to be very, very difficult to win this one, and once the bulk of my tanks were destroyed it became a points grab.  I also knew I couldn't just roll over, as a four round event can leave room for a turn around.  Ed totally could have had me if he had moved those Strelk earlier.  I just didn't have enough shots to engage the Su-85s AND them at the same time.  

Round Two I was paired against Richard Gagliasso in Surrounded.  He had an Italian Bersaglieri force with 75mm artillery, 88s and a platoon of German infantry in support.  This happened to be his first NorCal event; hopefully he had a good time and will return next season!  Crap photo but it gives you an idea of what our table looked like: desert buildings, patches of trees, and a few Impassable ponds.  On my Turn One my recon were a little too visible and got popped by the 88s on Richard's turn.
My Turn Two: Now that the 88s weren't Gone to Ground anymore, what was left of my army charged straight at them, and knocked them both out.  
The Panzer IVs were on the other side, and was engaged in a duel with the 75mm artillery.
My Turn Four: Knowing that my window to capture this objective would quickly close, I sent my mixed panzers and HQ tanks in to assault.  I eliminated the German infantry, but lost a pair of tanks in return before being forced to retreat.
By Turn Six I had lost the Panzer IVs and with nothing to hold back the swarm of angry Italians, they were now quickly advancing on the near objective.  After one more assault I had one tank left and knew I couldn't win.  3-4 loss to Richard.
If Round One was a marathon, Round Two was a sprint!  Richard's Italians were almost entirely Veteran, some Fearless.  The slim chance I had at a victory vaporized when the far side Paanzer IVs were killed by 75mm direct fire, allowing Richard's entire force to shift.  It would have been a tough fight either way, but a loss of some platoons was pretty enevitable, especially considering the death of the recon on Turn One.  Pretty happy with a 3-4, and a short round meant time for lunch!
Round Three was against Hal Lotman, someone I haven't played much at all over the years, maybe once?  He had a Hungarian infantry list with two infantry platoons, pioniers, 155mm artillery, infantry guns, 40mm AA, 75mm anti-tank guns, 37mm anti-tank guns, and Stukas.  This round was a Dust Up on a table with scattered hills, woods, crops, and a town in the center of the board.  I started with the Panzer IVs and AA on the board, the recon and mixed platton of panzer in Reserve.  Hal had his Pioniers, 155s, infantry guns, and 75mm ATGs on to start.  This is about Round Three, before any Reserves arrived or anything really happened.
My Turn Three:  I'm usually not as aggressive in Dust Up, even with armored forces, but I decided to go for it.  Panzer IVs pushed through the town, staying close to buildings.  AA move to cover.
Panzer IVs fire on the 155s, killing them.
My Turn Four: HQ tanks, hold the center, fire on the Pioniers to little effect.
Mixed panzers arrive, firing on the infantry guns, destroying them.
Panzer IVs kill two 155s.
CiC fires smoke to cover the mixed panzers.  Hal begins to get some reserves.
My Turn Six: I launch a limited assault on the two exposed pionier teams.  
Panzers fire on the 75mm ATGs, kiling one.  Recon has by now arrived and made it's way to the far side objectives.
Hal's Turn Six:  His reserves have all arrived, and his Stukas make a run on the recon, but their AA MGs and the 2cm Flak shoot them all down.
Hal's infantry are making a push for the lightly defended objectives, supported by 40mm AA and light ATGs.
His 75mm guns kill a panzer and Bail another, but they stay on the board.
My Turn Seven: The 2iC fires a bombardment on the 40mm AA, killing both.  The commander runs.
With time running short I launch assaults at the enemy held objectives.  Panzer IVs hit the Pioniers from the rear, killing several and forcing them back.
Mixed Panzers and the CiC hit the Pioniers hard from the front, killing a few before falling back.  The Pioniers break, leaving me the now undefended objective.  6-1 for me in a long battle.
This round was a lot of fun, Panzers were all over the board, some even going all the way across and then back again.  The AA plus defensive AA on the recon shot down about seven Stukas all said, and the 2iC bombardment was super-effective.  If Hal's 155s had rolled even a lillte bit better, there would have been some burning Panzer IVs, but every time he ranged in they either missed or rolled 1s for Firepower.  After three rounds, I had a total of 11 points, good enough for middle of the pack so far.
Round Four was against Mike Herlich, whom I had never played before.  Mike is a great guy and I'm glad I finally got a chance.  The mission was Breakthrough, and Mike was defending with a Gurka infantry army.  Two platoons of Fearless Veteran infantry with mortars, 6 lb Portee guns, Crusader tanks, Universal Carriers and air, the Portees and Carriers in Mobile Reserve.  I put my Panzer IVs in Reserve for the flank attack.  The board was dominated by a massive hill with some small (very round) palm tree patches, a few rocks, and a bunch of small desert buildings.
My Turn One: The Mixed Panzers and Flak trucks advance towards the town with the CiC climbing the hill.
My recon decide sto get aggressive on the lightly defended mortar platoon, assaulting it early, they break off after losing two guns.  The 2iC follows behind them for support.  On Mike's Turn One he Doubles his infantry towards the objectives.
My Turn Two:  With Mike Double moving I know I have a golden opportunity to do some real damage.  Unfortunately that huge hill restricts my movement and shots.  Only the CiC gets good hits, killing a few stands.  The Mixed Panzers kill a few with some short and long range fire.  The 2iC and recon kill the mortar platoon.
Mike's Turn Two: His troops continue to march towards the undefended objectives, the last few survivors of the gutted first platoon taking shelter in a house near one of them.  The Crusaders move to intercept the panzers.
His Portee guns also arrive, killing the 2iC and Bailing an armored car.
My Turn Three: The mixed platoon continue to advance.
My Reserve panzers arrive, firing on the Crusaders.  I Bail all three...
My recon moves around the gun shields of the Portee guns, firing MGs and killing two plus the commander in his jeep.
Mike's Turn Three: Two of his Crusaders get back in and kill two Panzer IVs, but they don't run.  Gurkas Unpin and contest both objectives.  On my Turn Four I kill the rest of the Portees and the Crusaders.  With the Universal Carriers still a no-show Mike is forced to roll a Fearless Company Morale, which he fails.  Surprising 6-1 victory for me.
Even though this was my quickest game, it was the most fun.  Mike is a blast to play even when his Fearless rolls were anything but.  And when was the last time I saw Crusaders and Portee guns on a battlefield?  

At the end of the day, Brad Feliz and his US Armored Rifles ran away with the victory, but somehow I climbed all the way back to take third place behind him and Andrew Haas.  I even managed to win Best Presentation since even though Andrew had more votes, second place was the better prize.  Had a great ime all around.  Some thoughts: Mike's Kittyhawks fell to the same fate as Hal's Stukas and Ed's I-153s.  The 65 point unarmored flak trucks did some real damage to my opponent's air forces that day.  I hadn't used these things since V1... I figured they would die horrible deaths, and only out of my desperation for a point in Round One did they even get shot at.  These little guys were much more useful than I imagined they would be.  Maybe because three of my opponents had Air Support? Probably, but even against Richard's Italians they got some kills vs. Dug In HMGs.  I will consider AA in more of my lists in the future though, I think.  Also, four round events are fun!  Even with a shorter time allowed there were few games that timed out.  Many of us planned accordingly and brought speedy lists and I think it went great.