Sunday, January 31, 2016

Shifting Sands Armies on Display- 2016

This event always brings out some great looking armies, but this year's Shifting Sands was the best I've been to so far.  I tried not to miss anyone, but a few games were still going on I think.  Enjoy!

Mark's Polish Polk Kawalerii
Mark would win Best Painted with these train-backed cavalrymen.  Very well deserved.
My German Motorisiert Infanteriekompanie
Tom's French Colonial Compagnie de Fusiliers-Voltigeurs
Brad's German SS Infanteriekompanie
Johnny's German Czech Panzerkompanie
Sam's British Rifle Company
Jacob's German Czech Panzerkompanie
Russ' British Guards Rifle Company
Robert's French Escadron de Combat
Ira's German Czech Panzerkompanie
Ziv's French Escadron de Reconnaissance
Tim's German Czech Panzerkompanie
TJ's Polish Kompania Czolgow
Sam's Polish Polk Kawalerii 
See everyone next year!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Shifting Sands 2016

My third Shifting Sands was very fun, and I didn't do too bad either.  This year it was a Blitzkreig theme, with only lists from that book allowed.  I brought an Motorisiert Infanterie list with StuG support and Stukas.  There were a total of 18 players, six from the NorCal group.  Brad Feliz took Best Overall with an SS Infanteriekompanie, Jacob Demenna won Best German with a Czech Panzerkompanie, and TJ Weller won Best Allied with a Polish Kompania Czolgow (armored company).  There were nine German players, three Polish, three British, and three French (one representing Poles in 1940).  This event would also include a table to roll on each round to add special rules to one or more of your platoons.  As usual, the event was impeccably run, and for the low entry fee of $30 we received two lunches and at least a blister plus several custom dice.  Thanks to Jon and Jake for running it this year!

My list.  The StuGs proved expensive, but very tough.  Everything else performed as expected.
In the first round I was matched up against Tom's French Colonial infantry, playing the part of Polish forces in France in 1940.  We played Encounter, and our Firestorm troops would be a single Char B1 and a platoon of four Panzer IIs.

I started with one infantry platoon (who would become Recon due to the event's special rules), my StuG batterie, and the Sd Kfz 221 armored cars.  Tom had an infantry platoon, the Char B1, 20mm AA guns, and a two-gun battery of 75mm artillery, plus a second infantry platoon in Ambush (special event rules).  My now Recon troops would get a big jump forward before the game started, as would the 221s.  On my Turn One, the infantry Double Moved up to the nearest hedge, while the 221s made their way by road to support them.  Tom would begin moving the Char to intercept.
On Tom's Turn One he was forced to spring his Ambush, moving up to the hedge and firing on my vulnerable troops, but I made all of my saves.  On my Turn Two the 221s scored a ton of hits on Tom's infantry, destroying several teams.  My infantry would score a few more kills before Assaulting into the French (Poles), routing them.  
By my Turn Three I was able to seize the Objective, accurate fire from the StuGs destroyed both 75mm guns before the
infantry mopped up the command teams.  Tom's 20mm guns were too far away and the Char still hadn't been able to get into the fight.  Tom failed his chance at Reserves and the ability to prolong the game.
A quick 6-1 victory due to the special event rules.  The Recon ability really payed off in that game.  A six inch pre-game move, plus a Double Move, then Assault plus Consolidation put me right in his deployment area by the end of Turn Two.  

Round Two I'd get to face one of Arizona's toughest competetors, Mark, and his Polish Cavalry list in Dust Up.  Mark would receive an extra Artillery Car for his armoured train, while I would get a platoon of Pioniers.  

I would deploy both of my infantry platoons, plus the 3.7cm PaK36s.  One of the infantry platoons would begin to push along the train tracks, towards the crop fields.  Mark would deploy one dismounted cavalry unit in and near the train station, his 37mm guns near the forward Objective, a battery of two 75mm guns, and a platoon of tankettes on the road.  The token along the tracks represented a supply drop that would give one platoon a bonus for a single round if it was captured.  
The first two Turns saw some maneuvering by both of us, and a minor firefight near the Supply Drop.  Reinforcements were had by both of us on Turn Three, Mark with his train, plus security tankettes, me with the StuGs.  
The Luftwaffe would take it's best shot at the armoured train, but only destroy one car of three under the template.  
By my Turn Five, the pioniers had arrived and put themselves in a great position to assault the Polish lines, but five hits out of a possible seven would doom them and my assault on the Objectives.  I lost four teams of ten, then on Mark's Turn lost sevearl more before they broke and ran.  The StuGs were now alone.
Mark's reserves would also find themselves in a great position to assault the Objective, but the buildings would prevent a mounted charge.
With the pioniers gone and the command Sd Kfz 253 destroyed by the train, Mark's cavalry, backed by 37mm guns, began to push the defenseless StuGs back.  
On Mark's Turn Seven the train rolled forward and knocked out my 221 platoon, but his tankettes were lost to the 3.7cm PaKs.  
His infantry managed to chase my StuGs down, destroying them after a bloody assault that lasted about six rounds.  
With nine minutes left the TO came over to see where we were at, and we stood at a 3-3 draw if we didn't try to squeeze in a full Turn.  We quick-played and both of our forces were close to breaking, but his train bounced five 3.7cm rounds before taking out the guns in return fire, causing my company to break.  3-4 loss to Mark's Cavalry in a very close game.  The special rules would give Mark's train extra armor, which may have been the difference here.  One of my infantry platoons would hit on 2+ in Assault, but didn't really get a chance to use it.

In Round Three I was matched up against a fellow NorCal guy, Russ, and his British infantry.  He would receive a battery of 18/25 Pounder artillery, and I would get a platoon of two Panzer III Es.  The mission was Breakthrough, with me attacking.

With a pair of Matildas sitting in the bombed-out city, I prepared to send only my infantry that direction, while my armor went the long way around...
But!  On Turn One the Luftwaffe managed to drop a string of bombs right between these buildings and made a direct hit on Russ' Matilda II!  This would open the city up for exploitation by my armor.
After spending Turn One preparing to take on Russ' front line, backed by 25mm guns, I decided to make a move into the city.
By my Turn Three my infantry had moved into position to Assault the artillery on the next turn.
Russ' Bren Carriers arrived on his Turn Three, chasing my infantry into the ruined church, before my StuGs chased them off through the city.
A staring match ensues, with the now-commanderless Matilda I stuck near the fountain in the city center.
On Turn Four I try to assault the guns, but it doesn't work out so well.
My troops have arrived from Reserve on Russ' flank, but his infantry have put themselves in position to contest.
The next three Turns sees a mad scramble for the Objective, but ultimately Russ' Carriers would hold out long enough for time to be called.
Another 3-4 loss would see me at 12 points after the first day, not terrible, but disappointing after having a good chance to win both of the games I lost.  Still, always fun to play a long-time opponent after having moved away.  Special rules didn't play a huge part in this one.

Day two I was matched up against another NorCal guy, Sam, and another Polish Cavalry backed by a train.  He got a platoon of 7TP tanks, while I received a pair of Panzer IVs.  The mission was Fighting Withdrawl, with me defending.

I would Kampfgruppe a few teams from one of my infantry platoons to get to eight total platoons for this one.  
My left side, with 221s in a position to move.  Sam would load this side for a push here.
My Stukas would arrive nearly every turn, but wouldn't kill much.  Fearless troops laugh off Pin markers too.
In what would initially prove a mis-match, StuGs face-off against tankettes.
We decided to pretend the rail bridge was still intact.  Sam's train and it's additional platoons would prove decisive.
After five Turns Sam would contest this Objective, having destroyed an infantry platoon and the 3.7cm guns, plus two 221s.  His Bypass platoon hit from the rear, while mounted cavalry and 7TPs hit the front.  He should have won the game here, but didn't consolidate the infantry forward.  This allowed my Panzer IVs to just contest long enough before I removed the Objective.
Unfortunately for me, his pesky tankettes had returned to challenge a now lightly defended Objective, causing me to split my now dwindling forces.
Even though these troops were Tank Assault 3 thanks to the special event rules, the tankettes decimated them.  They held out just long enough for me to remove this Objective.
The end of the game saw Sam's train infantry pushing back the StuGs, and right at the end of an extended time I failed a Company Morale check.
This game was very fun!  Sam's specialty is horse cavalry, and it proved apparent early.  His Bypass platoon showed up right when and where he wanted them too!  This game also saw a small bit of controversy, as when time was called we had only just reached Turn Six, even though both of us played at a good pace.  Sam just had so many troops on the board, plus had to swap the mounted and dismounted troops a few times, and much of our time was lost there.  I'm a strong believer in Fighting Withdrawl needing to go the full eight turns, and after time was called I could see that Sam was bothered that he was so close to the win, but wouldn't be allowed to finish.  Since the lunch break was up next, we both petitioned the TO to continue play, and I'm glad we did.  What would have been a  4-3 win for me became a 3-4 loss, but after the match Sam claimed it was one of the best games he ever played.  A much better result than what must have initially felt like a mistake-caused loss.

My final round would see me matched up against a different Sam, one of the local Mesa guys.  He would be defending in Hold the Line with British infantry.  He would get a Matilda II as his Firestorm troop, while I would get a platoon of Infanterie.  He would also get a platoon of Polish tankettes led by Roman Orlik since he was the Allied player with the lowest points total to not receive a bonus troop yet.  

Turn One my troops move out, crossing the railway and using crop fields as cover.  Another platoon of mine would receive the Recon abilities thanks to the event special rules.
Orlik's tankettes appear from Ambush, causing my infantry to halt their advance until the StuGs could deal with the Poles. My Turn Two would see them forced to Dig In while the rest of my troops advance behind them.  
I send my other infantry to clear out the farm complex, covered by the 221s and PaK36s.
All prepped for an Assault, but Pinned by accurate British defensive fire!
After the failed Assault on Turn Three, they go in again the next turn, this time clearing the complex.
Once the StuGs and PaKs had taken out the Polish tankettes, my infantry surge forward on Turn Five, clearing the Objective of opposition.  Sam's Matilda IIs had tried to Double Move onto the board on his previous Turn, but broke down before becoming targets for the Stulkas.
My final game would end with a 5-2 victory, the Polish tankettes and British artillery taking out my Sd Kfz 221s.  

I would end the event with 20 points, good enough for sixth place and good enough to win a box of French 75mm artillery!  They should look nice with Luftwaffe crew in Mid War.  At the end of the campaign, the French are forced to surrender, and the British are thrown into the sea, but the Poles hold their borders intact!  The Polish players had a very strong showing overall, ending at fourth, fifth, and ninth places.  I'll be back next year!

Final map.  Western Europe belongs to the Germans, but Poland stays intact.