Friday, January 23, 2015

Shifting Sands 2015

This year's Shifting Sands event was a theorhetical August, 1945 theme with Soviets and Western Allies fighting it out and a German remanant trying to hold on to as much of Germany as it could.  I had the privilege to attend for a second year and had a great time.  There were thirty attendees including five from NorCal who made the trip down to Mesa, AZ.  Brad Feliz took first place and Best American, Russ Moore earned third place and Best British, and I ended up around tenth.
German armies were restricted to 1000 points but were guaranteed a Kampfgruppe of bonus troops every match.  Everyone else had 1500 points and could be issued a bonus platoon.  Also, a number of experimental tanks from each side were made available for inclusion in your army.  This made constructing a German list very difficult, especially with the knowledge that some very heavy tanks would be on table for both sides.  1000 points restricts you to either a Trained force or a Veteran one with holes.  I went for the latter, running a Sturmkompanie from Grey Wolf plus a pair of CT   Panther Fs, one of the experimental units allowed in the event for 380 points.
In Round One I was matched up against Paul and his Polish Airborne in Encounter.  I was assigned SS Kampfgruppe Barkmann which included Barkmann in a Panther F (8.8cm), two more Panther Fs (7.5cm), a platoon of three Pumas, and an Armored Mortar Platoon, all Fearless Trained.
The table: The ruined buildings were super cool, not sure who the manufacturer is.
I deployed my large Sturm platoon and attached a panzerschreck.  Panzerwerfers also on board, as was Barkmann's Panthers.
Barkmann's Panthers holding this side vs. a pair of Black Princes.
Paul pushed his Para platoons and an Engineer platoon up hard, doubling.  On my turn the Panzerwerfers hit two platoon, causing a few casualties but pinning them both.
I moved up to the edge of the field to prepare for the coming assault.
Paul's reserves arrive, 25 Pounders on both corners.
Newly arrived 25 Pounders backing up the Black Princes.
Barkmann sniping some artillery.
Paras occupy the building, 25 Pounders rain shells on my position, killing a stand.
My Panther Fs finally get to this side of the board from the far corner where they arrived, but get hit by a 25 Pounder barrage, which kills both... Paul's artillery was painful.
Barkmann finally kills a Black Prince! Would it be in time to seize victory?
The other Black Prince made three morale tests, while I failed every firepower check for three turns.  Had I been able to get past this guy I would've had a great chance at a win.
Lost this one 1-6 after my company broke.  Had I been able to get past those Black Princes Paul only had three 25 Pounders defending that objective from a pair of Panthers.  Barkmann missed almost every shot he took, even with re-rolls and Front Armor 13 is no joke, even against AT 16.  The 25 Pounders killed three Pumas, three Panthers and several stands of dug-in infantry, the all-stars of the game.  Paul had some Shermans that took down the Panzerwerfers and my small infantry platoon as it came in from reserve.

Round Two was against another Polish force, this time Kevin's Polish Armoured in Pincer.  I was assigned Kampfgruppe Von Luck and he received... Black Princes!  KG Von Luck included Hans Von Luck, a Panzergrenadier Platoon, a platoon of three 7.5cm PaK 40s, three Panzer IV/70s and three Wirbelwinds.  We had the pleasure of playing on Mark Francis' amazing dockyard board.
Mark's board was awesome, even had lighting effects.  I chose the left side to defend with my reserves coming in on the closer edge.  Objective deployment would cut the board in half with only the bridges to cross.
I deployed my large Sturm platoon and attached three panzerschrecks to defend the reserve side.
The Panzergrenadiers from the KG deployed on the left side with my Panther Fs lurking behind the large warehouse.
Kevin deployed his entire force on the far left side, the narrower path to my objectives.  This helped me out greatly as it forced all of his tanks into a bottleneck of slow-going railroad tracks.
Time to re-deploy! Panthers make their way across the bridge.  Kevin's Shermans make thier way forward with Black Princes leading.
Once the Panthers are across, the Sturm platoon hauls it for the other objective.  My reserves will be able to hold the other one.
Panthers dodge the Black Princes and moveto hold the bridge crossing on the far side.
Once the tanks are far enough forward I spring the PaK ambush! They hit fivetimes, killing four tanks.
Sturm platoon helps hold the objective, Panthers hold the back side crossing.  
The Panzergrenadiers are down to two stands but hold on.  The PaKs die to a torrent of fire and my Panthers get hit taken out in one turn of fire from a single Black Prince.. Not looking good!  But a brave move by the panzerschrecks allows them to kill Kevins Carrier platoon by shooting and the battered Panzergrenadiers aggressively move to kill a lone 105 Sherman, while the Panzer IV/70s are ble to knock out the stragglers from two Sherman platoons, all in one turn, pushing Kevin's company under strength with no commander or 2iC.  4-3 victory for me.
This game looked like a sure 6-1 until the PaKs vaporized in one round of shooting.  Trained anti-tank guns don't last long!  The loss of the Panthers in the same round was major cause for concern, leaving the game in the hands of a few infantry stands.  With carriers lifting my G2G and a 105 Sherman blasting me turn after turn I knew I had to do something super aggressive.  Two panzershrecks move and both hit the carriers, killing one and bailing the other.  They broke and the Panzergrenadiers and Von Luck assaulted the 105, killing it as well.  I'll take a 4-3 win.  I've also realized that the Trained troops of the Firestorm unit can be a liability, bleeding points.

Round Three was Counterattack vs. Isaac and his Irish Guard Cromwells.  Issac had a platoon of Archers for his bonus platoon while I was assigned Kampfgruppe Beyerlein, with Beyerlein himself in a halftrack (Higher Command that helps with reserves), a platoon of four Panzer IV Js, a platoon of two Jagdpanthers, and a Panzergrenadier platoon, all Confident Trained.
This table had some crazy mountains but we were able to just call them hills with concealment.  I deployed the Panzergrenadiers in the center, my small Sturm to their rear, the large one with attached 'shrecks in position to move to the open objective, and Panther Fs in ambush.  Isaac had a ton of recon and a bunch of fast tanks too!
Issac's turn one saw him all over my infantry.  His recon was nearly to the open objective already!
Panthers could only ambush over on the far side with all that recon covering the board.  They only bag a single Cromwell.
After braving the MGs of all those Dingos my Sturm platoon was able to contest the objective from the nearby buildings.  Thankfully the Panzer IVs made a timely arrival and destroyed a platoon of Daimlers while threatening the rest.
Isaac's Dingos fell to more aggressive panzershrecks, they bailed three of five, MG fire bailed another, and my CiC assaulted the last one, bagging all five!  Panzer IVs were surprisingly able to destroy six Cromwells and Challengers, Jagdpanthers killed a few more plus some recon and I was able to win 6-1.
A crazy game of back-and-forth, so many little MG vehicles!  The Panzer IVs were amazing, fending off most of Isaac's tanks by themselves.  Jagdpanthers only got one or two but held the flank.  Aggressive play from the panzerschrecks pays off again, killing two platoons of Dingos and two more armored cars.

Day two began with me sitting at two wins and 11 points, not too bad.  Round Four matched me up against Justin and a Veteran US tank force.  He had Easy Eights, and a Super Pershing backed up by infantry and P-47s.  I was assigned Kampfgruppe Maus, with a Maus super-heavy panzer, a Volkssturm platoon, a platoon of four Panzer IV Js, and a platoon of four Wirbelwinds.  They were Reluctant Trained.  The mission was Fighting Withdrawl.
This board was perfect for the Maus, who could only avoid bog checks by staying on a road.
I deployed the Maus on the permanent objective and surrounded it with Wirbelwinds and my large Sturm platoon, backed up by the Panzerwerfers.
Justin deployed his tanks on the far side, away from the Maus, and backed by a rifle platoon.
The Maus abides.
Justin's Priority P-47s came in every turn, but the flak was too much.  They never made it through on the Maus.
Super tank duel! Maus bails the Super Pershing.
Panther Fs ambush the Easy Eights, killing the commander.
Justin tries to attack the Wirbelwinds directly, but still get shot down.
Maus is victorious!
Justin's infantry on the left flank finally make it across the board, but have taken casualties from Panzerwerfers.  The Panzer IVs sally forth and open up MG fire on them, assisted by my 2iC.
Panther Fs clean up the Easy Eights.
Panzers force the US infantry back across the river, sealing the 6-1 win.
I hated the idea of the Maus at first, basically unable to move, but I got lucky with the board I was given.  The road network and buildings gave it perfect cover from aircraft while still letting it move around a bit.  Justin just didn't have enough on the board to get the objective from that beast and the flak was able to cover most of my deployment zone.  His infantry was pinned early by the Panzerwerfers and just wouldn't unpin either, it cost him about three turns.

The last round saw me paired off vs Dan's US 7th Armored, lots of Trained tanks backed up by a pair of Veteran Pershings from the Firestorm troops.  I was assigned SS Kampfgruppe Barkmann again.  The mission was Cauldron.
Barkmann dies in the first round! Pershings hit him twice and he failed all saves.  This is gonna hurt.
My Panthers all converged on this little patch of trees, surrounded by American tanks.  The two destroyed ones got a litte too close to some panzerschrecks.
The other objective is covered by the large Sturm platoon.  Dan's Stuarts would roam my reserve zone, killing them as they arrived.
Pumas, right before the Stuarts gunned them down.
The game devolved into a crazy mess at the end, though I had chance.  Failed a tank terror against a single armored mortar, cost me the win.  3-4 in a game that I thought would be a 1-6.
More aggressive 'schrecks were able to kill about five Shermans and almost won the game for me.  I realize now I should've only had one of those platoons of Panthers to begin with and if they were in reserve maybe they could've chased off those Stuarts.  I still was able to hold out much longer than I thought I would and even had a chance to win at the end.  A great event and I even placed high enough to win a platoon of T-44/85s from the Firestorm pool.  All of my opponents were great and I had only ever played one of the before.  The Firestorm Campaign ended with the Western Allies victorious and the Germans holding out pretty well.  Next year will be a Blitzkreig event, could be fun!  

The beginning of the campaign saw the Soviets occupying all of eastern Europe, the balkans and Greece, with forces in Germany and Switzerland.  Germans hold on to central Germany, Denmark and parts of the Netherlands.
At the end of the Campaign the Soviets have been cut off in France after taking, then losing Paris.  The Allies have re-taken Warsaw, but the Germans have reclaimed most of Germany and the Netherlands, even making a push back into Poland.


  1. Awesome Report Richard, Sounds like you had some great games!

    1. Thanks! I had five outstanding games with great opponents, and even had a cance to win both games I lost right until the end. Can't ask for much more. Looking forward to next year already! Looking at a Dutch list, hehe.