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7/07/2016

This is not an end but rather the end of the beginning


Hello Everyone,

A short one today. Like some of you might already know from the Why We Fight podcast, I will be closing down this blog and merging it with WWPD. To be honest, boosting my own ego running my own thing might seem alluring but I think it would be more beneficial for the readers - present and future, if the Flames of War content could be found under one, common banner. With the organization skills of WWPD guys and their total dedication to spreading the news about this great game, I am sure that WWPD can raise this common banner.

What it will mean for Sexy Sixes is that:

1. I will keep on running the Sexy Sixes FB page. There is much more that I want to share related to FoW than just articles and a separate FB page seems more fitting.
2. I will run a weekly article schedule on WWPD called Sexy Sixes Friday.
3. I will gradually migrate content from Sexy Sixes over to WWPD.

Hope that is enough explanation. Take care and see you soon! :)

6/24/2016

List building 101 continued - briefing selection




Hello everyone, in another article by Sexy Sixes I thought I would jump back to the list building 101. I already shared some of my thoughts on how I understand the general process of building a tournament list but today, I would describe it in some more detail, how do I select a proper briefing.

So without further ado, I will just get on with it :)

I start off just like everybody else does: by looking at my collection and thinking "oh, I have not used these for quite a long time now" :) Once I get an overall idea what I want to play and figure out what my risk apetite is (i.e. do I want to play a "brick" or a "toolbox") I start searching for a suitable briefing.
Now the thing with Flames of War is that the resources for list building are scattered all over the place. There are paper books, unofficial/official army builders and Digital Briefings. With no single point of reference, it takes quite a while to compile a list of possible companies that I might use (this is somehow alleviated by the fact that on Forces and Easy Army you can search for briefings containing a given arsenal item - e.g. list those that include StuH42).
But assuming that I managed this somehow - what are the key features I would be looking for in a briefing to consider it somewhat suitable for tournament play? I would say that it depends on a mix of 2 factors: company type mixed with the "brick"/"toolbox" attribute.

For "bricks" it is a general rule that there needs to be a focus on a spam of dual-purpose (anti-tank & anti-infantry) units that are either very tough to kill or quite the opposite - glass cannon type - able to dish out tons of damage but easy to hurt. So what I normally look for is: artillery parks, Always Attack medium/light tanks, Always Defend heavy tanks from B@R or BbB (KG Swoboda), night attacking parachute infantry, etc.
An example of a "brick" list built to survive is a B@R heavy tank company whereas a Task Force A is a fast moving and hard hitting, but also very vulnerable list based around lightly armored Tank Destroyers.

"Toolboxes" are more demanding, at least for me. And here is what I normally look for:





Infantry (including any fortified)

Has to have good anti-tank support first of all. I want at least one big AT 10+ gun unit (4+ guns), one top armour 0 tank destroyer unit or tanks if there is no option for tank destroyers and a platoon of low end infantry/anti-tank guns (perfect example is a platoon of 9 Schneider 47mm guns for my Romanians). You probably ask - why the low end guns? For me, it is the perfect answer to harassment from any pesky recon that tries to target my vital assets or go around the flanks as well as a counter to enemy guns. When attacking, they help tremendously to dig out any entrenched infantry.

Moving on, I try to look for briefings that have the option of at least C/T infantry with some AT capability. In the perfect world, these would be units that can dish out 2+ anti-tank shots while being charged and can cause AT4+ hits in close combat.

The next thing I would want my list to have is a template for harassment. It does not have to be high AT but I like at least 4+ firepower to avoid frustration when I get plenty of penetrations but only bailed out results. Overall, heavy mortars are the perfect tool for this. They make the enemy think twice before bunching up but only cost so little.

The last option I am interested in is a recon unit for those times when I have to attack. My personal preference is in order of appearance: cavalry recce, armored cars, foot units. I also try to find cheap options as most of the time I would be defending and there would be no need for any recce rules.



Mechanized

First thing that needs to be mentioned is that Mechanized forces for me, are divided into 2 main types and several subtypes:
- Always Attack/Always Defend Mechanized which in most cases fall under the "brick" type of list - e.g. Peredovoye Otryad or Task Force A
- Regular Mechanized with subtypes: True Armored Cars (all wheeled/tracked), Mechanized Infantry, Semi-tank.

Now for Regular Mechanized, the thing is that True Armored Cars are not a selection I would make for a tournament list. The sole reason for this is: Mobile Reserves rule. With this rule affecting my force while also defending, I normally get to deploy only two platoons on the table which pretty much means I am dead. The way around it is to build one of the two remaining sub-types.
For Mechanized Infantry, I do exactly the same selections as I would do for an Infantry company but also keep in mind that I will be attacking more often and this is why recon and templates go up the priority ladder. The perfect example of such a list is US Armored Rifles.
For Semi-tank, since there are so many different lists to choose from, there is no single recipe. If I would have to use a 1420 example, say for a Soviet Light Assault Gun Battalion, I would mini-max the SU76 units (take 2x3), get some heavy Guards tanks as the backbone (4x IS85), Zis-2 platoon, 122mm and 152mm howitzers to deal with heavy tanks, 6x 37mm AA and 5x foot recon. This way, if I am defending in a mission with Mobile Reserves, I can put everything but the SU76s down on the table and be quite confident I can hold on. I think the general rule is: in each case I would be aiming for as many platoons on the table as possible while defending. Otherwise, it would be almost a standard tank list of its type.



Tank

I think it is the most difficult one to build. If I want a toolbox type with tanks then I am most probably aiming for some heavies or briefings with big tank platoons.

When it comes to heavies, here is how I do it: I look for lists in which the basic platoons can fulfill an anti-infantry role and are able to fend off a medium tank horde. After that, I add some heavy artillery preferably (to deal with other heavies) and finally buy a recon unit. Sometimes, if I only select one artillery battery, I have the option to go for anti-tank guns. This way, while defending, I would normally have 2 gun batteries and one heavy tank unit on the table + any HQ tanks. Such setup should give me enough time for the reinforcements to arrive and save the day.

With medium tanks it is different. I look for briefings including big tank platoons and preferably a double HQ unit. German Panzers are a perfect example where you can get 2 HQ guys and 2 platoons of 5 panzers/StuGs in case you need to defend with just two platoons on the table. I aim to spend as many points as I can fit into these units to upgrade them to full strength and only go for another 2 as support. Now I have two options - go double recon or recon + artillery (preferably mobile). Such composition is a counter to what seems to be a valid tactic while in combat against a 6 platoon "toolbox" tank list: ignore the main body and wipe out reserves. What I end up with is a list like my Digital Briefing HG Stug Battery that can attack easily and also defend with two strong units on the table.



Phew, that was a long one. Hope you enjoyed it anyway. I would like to read your comments on your recipies regarding briefing selections and how do you identify the ones that are worth using. Over the few upcoming weeks I will share with you some AARs of a tournament I am attending on Sat-Sun where I will play the HG Stug Battery I built using one of the recipies listed above. Hopefully, It will not be just a big bunch of lost games in the end :)

6/17/2016

1420 points tournament preps - opponent lists review




Hey,
A quick one today. I will be attending a LW 1420 tournament in Poznan next weekend playing my HG Assault Gun Battery and figured out that it would be good to see what the opponents are fielding. So here is a summary and also some of my thoughts on the meta and how does it relate to the list I built.



 
With this table I can clearly say that in Poland, German tank companies are certainly experiencing a new Golden Age :) Also, a thing to note is that LLW books are the most often used ones - especially Bridge at Remagen and Devil's Charge. I think why Berlin (another LLW publication) is missing is that it features Soviets, who are not so popular in the area (I hope to tip the balance in the forseeable future) and Germans but without access to any outstanding tank lists.
I really do not fully understand the dominance of tank lists in this tournament. One might think that for this pretty slim, 1420 points format the majority of the forces would be infantry/fortified companies as only these guys can have all the toys they want anyway. When I compare my Stug list with the other alternative I was thinking about:


Romanian Puscasi (1/6 RT, 1/6 RV, 3/6 CT, 1/6 CV)
HQ: 2x Rifle + 2x Panzershreck
CP: 9x Rifle/MG
CP: 9x Rifle/MG
WP: 9x Schneider 47mm
WP: 2x 120mm mortars
SP: 6x Pak40
SP: 4x PzIV
SP: 4x KF 75mm
SP: 4x Cav Scouts


It turns out that my Assault Guns have so many elements missing (of which I am completely aware but still excited to test the StuGs) :) The infantry are the "toolbox" while the StuGs are the "brick". Fortunately, I have some sort of an answer to pretty much any list in the tournament. The ones that worry me the most are KG Benningsen Panther lists (2-3) and B@R heavy tanks (also 2-3). I can see myself struggling against these, unless I can get some stealth maneuvering (thanks to Major Sandrock and the PakPumas) done to get sideshots on the big cats.


On the other hand, I am quite happy that I should be pretty confident winning over infantry lists. But in any case, we will see how it goes.


And now, some of the more interesting lists built for this tournament:









6/10/2016

Soviet Tankovy for newbies - hints on collecting Soviet armor and list building!



Hey, I am back with another article dedicated to players new to the game. This time, inspired by some Facebook conversations, I decided to share my thoughts around starting a Soviet Tank force.

To be honest, normally I would not recommend a newbie to start their FoW adventures playing a tank company. The reason for this is that going on the offensive (which is typical for tanks) does not let you watch and learn so much. You will have to be active most of the game and the issue I always had with a new system - I was not so sure what to do :) This means that playing a Soviet Tankovy will be burdened with a lot of harsh lessons at the beginning but if after reading this intro, someone still loves the idea of fielding the Soviet armored fist, I can at least help with some difficult choices every Tankista has to make :)

1. What is the period I should concentrate on first?

As per usual, my answer is: Late War. This period has the biggest number of books and digital briefings to choose from and is probably the most frequently played one. Unfortunately, this also means that some iconinc Early War monsters, like the T-35 or the KV-2 will not be available but at least you will be able to use the IS tank series :)



2. Which Books/Digital briefings should I use?

There are 3 books and a  digital briefing that allow the player to field Soviet tank lists in Late War. The good thing about them is that almost all of them are feasible choices but the bad thing is that a lot of them are based around completely different types of tanks. The outcome is that almost anything you choose will be playable but to switch between the lists, you will need to buy new models.

In any case, here is my personal rating of LW books, containing Soviet tank lists in terms of diversity/playability.

- Red Bear (revised) - this book has it all when it comes to LW Soviet armor
- Desperate Measures - this one does not have the heavy tank lists but has access to some decent Late Late War equipment, like the 160mm mortars
- Berlin Digital - still some good lists here
- Berlin Book - only heavy tank lists (unlike Desperate Measures)

3. Hen&Chicks or not?

This is the typical dillema of a Soviet tank commander. Hen & Chicks is a rule that makes hitting your targets more difficult when your tanks move and to make it even more annoying, if one of the tanks in the platoon moves, all have to move :(

Keeping this in mind, you can either go for companies that have majority of their platoons subject to this rule or go in the opposite direction and play either a heavy tank lists or a hero list which does not use it.

In my opinion, if you are new to the game, forget playing tanks that have the H&C rule. Start with something simple. This will also allow you to build a smaller force as these types of companies normally require a smaller number of models to work.



4. What models should I buy?

Like I mentioned before, there are quite a few feasible lists out there but the models to be used are sometimes completely different. Because of this, I will give you a hint on what you will need to play a Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy from Red Bear as well as Hero Tankovy from Desperate Measures.

Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy from Red Bear (around 1500 points)
- 7x KV 85 or IS 85 tanks (do not get IS-2, they are worthless pieces of junk, trust me)
- 5x teams of foot scouts + possibly a BA64 car
- 4x 122mm howitzers
- 4x 152mm howitzers
- 4x Zis-2 or 85mm guns or 4x 37mm anti-aircraft to fend off the bombers

Hero Tankovy from Desperate Measures (around 1500 points)
- 9x T-34/85
- 4x T-34/76
- 4x BA64
- 6x 120mm mortars
- 6x 160mm mortars

Both these lists will be solid choices in my opinion and since they are pretty straightforward to run, helpful in learning quite a few rules and will bring you closer to understanding how to run H&C lists :)

P.S. I hope to do a test of the Hero Tankovy list pretty soon. Will share the experience.

6/03/2016

List building 101 for singles tournament games ;)



Hello Everybody,

Today I thought I would do a writeup in response to somebody else's blog post. It was actually Chris Fret's article on list building, published on WWPD. I read the article and I really liked it, but for me, it did not fit under the title "list building 101". What Chris wrote, was for me: "how I built my French infantry company".

With my twist on competitive gaming, when I considered the title: "list building 101" I understood it more like "list building 101 for singles tournaments". And it occured to me, that it is indeed a good mental challenge and fantastic material for sharing my thoughts on this subject:)

In any case, for an article called "list building 101 for singles tournament games" I decided to create a generic description that can be used for the majority of cases. Exceptions are there, but it is not my intention to cover them in this article.

So here it goes my take on "list building 101 for singles tournament games":

Hi, and welcome to another article on Sexy Sixes. Today, I wanted to share my thoughts on what are the basic topics I cover when I build lists for tournament play.

Considering new options on how to build a force normally starts with one of the following triggers: a new book comes out, a tournament that I intend to go to is announced or I was asked to write an article about a given briefing/group of briefings. But no matter which trigger is used, they all lead to one common mental process where I sit down, build a list and refine it to the point where I would use in tournament play. This process itself is the 101.
What is more, although today I focus on singles tournaments, I am sure that for team competitions, the process is roughly the same but considers some additional outside factors, like for instance: the pairings. It also leads to other processes like what models do I need to order to put my company down on the table :P But these are not the focus of this article!

As a note, all the lists I published on this blog follow these steps :)

Ok, so after these lenghty words of introdction, let me present you my receipe to build a decent competitive list :)



1. List selection vs managing pairing risks.

Before I do list building itself, I ask myself whether I want to go crazy with my guys or want to take it easy and be more reliable. When I have the answer, it always leads me to two main types of forces in Flames of War and maybe miniature wargames in general:

- "The brick", which normally means a specialized list, focused around one powerful aspect of the briefing that also has ample support to make it work and cover the weaknesses. It's highlight feature is that it is virtually unstoppable for specific types of opponents - no matter how many mistakes you make. One example could be a LW Soviet heavy tank list based on IS 85 tanks. It can deal with most infantry and medium tank opponents quite easily but is very vulnerable to enemy heavy tanks, since it cannot penetrate anything with FA 8-9+ reliably. IS 85s in the list are "The brick" and all other units, like heavy artillery, sappers, etc. work to cover the main weakness of it. Another one, would be the one I presented in the article about German Tanks.

- "The toolbox" is an army that has multiple units of low/medium strength that work well together when combined. The outstanding feature of this list type is that it has answers to virtually any type of threat. The downside is that it has no preffered enemy and you normally do not score any auto-wins. You will have to play to the best of your abilities each and every time. An example of "The toolbox" is my Romanian Infantry list, which has answers to virtually every unit in the game and can take a lot of punishment and go on at the same time.

Each of these selections is connected to what is called "risk apetite". If my "risk apetite" is high, i.e. I want to have a lot of fun but more or less gamble or make somebody cry, I go for "The brick".
If I accept the fact that wins will not be easy but I will not have any unfavourable pairings, I go for "The toolbox".

2. Build the list itself - this is what Chris described in his excellent article about French colonial infantry, and although I am sure he did all the other steps of this 101 process, he did not talk about them. This point is a topic for a separate "list building 101 for singles tournament games - continued" article. What I need to mention however, is that there is a defined template that I normally use to create my first draft so I do not really start from scratch. Once the draft is ready, I go to step 3.

3. Considering the metagame.

When I think about my list, I always do it in a context. I take my list and evaluate how well would it fare against other lists. The rivals I consider are:

- lists consider top choices for tournament play (e.g. US LW lists)
- obvious counters and how popular are they
- other popular lists (e.g. Schwere Panzers)
- other lists that I created

In the comparison, I look for obvious weaknesses that I have not covered so far and can still be addressed by shuffling some selections around. For example, I might have forgotten to equip my troops enough against dug in veteran infantry. In these cases, I go back to point 2, upgrade my force and try again. Unfortunately, sometimes I have to go as far as point 1 and start over.

Also, I take a mental note of my least favourite opponents to use it in point 4.

4. Considering scenarios.

Now, once my draft is complete and most glaring weaknesses are covered, I do the last step: take the list of possible hard counters created in point 3 and extend the context by throwing in unfavourable scenarios into the cauldron. An example could be my LW German HG Assault Gun Battery list playing an AA US Mechanized or Tank list in Counterattack or Surrounded.

With this step complete I now have three options:

- I figure out my plan on how to deal with the toughest opponents and mark the list ready for the upcoming tournament. Yay!
- I am not satisfied with the findings and go back to step 2
- I deem the risk connected with playing the list too big and have to start over in step 1


So what I really do each time is I go top to bottom - start with a generic concept and a feel to the list and start applying more and more context once the draft is complete. When this process is over, I am sure that the end product fits my needs 100% and will save me a lot of disappointments :)

But maybe somebody else has a different method to do this. I would love to see a description in the comments below! :)

5/26/2016

Mid War vs competitive gaming



Ok, now that I played enough tournaments to have my own, stable opinion about Mid War competitive gaming in general, I thought it would be good to put it on "paper" and share/look for other opinions. To be honest, I have no coherent structure for this article in mind so I will just go ahead and shoot with whatever seems to be relevant. Sorry for the mess :)

1. Mid War is arguably the period that is least suitable for singles tournament play.

I found out that Mid War is like paper/rock/scissors for a lot of armies. There are fewer possibilities to build a true all-rounder list. With only 2 books and a few PDFs flying around and just one or two notable exceptions, choices for some nations are very limited. I even built a matrix depicting which type of forces/which nations get the best opportunity to build a balanced list (top of the list is best flexibility - by combining the two you can figure out which combo is most feasible):


--------- NATION ------
1. Germans
2. Brits
3. Hungarians
4. Romanians
5. USA
6. Italians
7. Soviets
--------- TYPE ----------
1. Infantry
2. Mech
3. Tank
----------------------------

There are several exceptions from the matrix caused by Always Attack and Always Defend special rules. For the forces that have them: AD (Fucilieri) adds to the flexibility while AA (Cossacks) is more of a hindrance than help in my opinion.

However, if you go to a singles tournament and hope for a win, your best bet would be to build a German Infantry list ;)




2. When you play Mid War, be prepared to get anti-aircraft!

With heavy artillery being so expensive, a lot more aircraft hit the tables than in any other period. One other reason is the Soviet I-153. I mean it is really ridiculous not to get the sporadic version which only costs 90 points. Every Soviet player should use it. For mere 90 points you get an aircraft that has both a 3+ MG and a real heavy-hitter in the form of 4+ AT 6 FP 3+ rockets. Considering how playing Soviets against some heavier tanks is an uphill struggle, a cheap, killer aircraft strike option is something I would always buy (one exception might be AA Cossacks, who need to get into assault range as soon as possible, limiting aircraft placement).

So if you were considering getting anti-aircraft, consider no more - get it. Even a light unit should be more than enough to keep the little fokkers away. And there will be plenty coming your way :P



3. Do not ignore the possibility of meeting AT 12 spam! :)

When building your list, do not get deceived by the fact that many AT 12 guns cost quite a lot. Mixed Tankovy, you are not safe in a singles tournament :) Same for US and a few other tank briefings. In a recent singles tournament with 18 players, I have seen 6 armies that pack 12+ high AT shots, met 2 of them and 2 of them placed first and second.
You just cannot ignore the possibility of encountering high-end anti tank, and my understanding is that it is absolutely necessary to include at least a token answer in a list that aims to be competitive.



4. Do not be afraid of US forces.

Unlike in Late War, the US companies in Mid War do not seem to be dominating. This is mainly because:

- all of their main North Africa rosters are Confident/Trained
- tanks/tank destroyers are fairly expensive and relatively easy to destroy with Mid-High AT
- artillery is expensive
- infantry cannot field so many bazookas, leaving them vulnerable to tank assault
- their main anti-tank gun is No HE
- they have no option to field double tank destroyer units nor an AOP

In fact, the ratio of US to non-US forces in Mid War and Late War are two completely different things. So far, in 3 MW tournaments, with approximately 60 participants, I have seen around 5 US lists (2 tank, 2 mech and 1 infantry). Some would say: hooray for Mid War :)



5. There 2 really strong Warriors in Mid War that you need to be prepared to meet:

- Mariya Oktabrskaya - I described her in details in this article. She will be present in most Tankovy/Mixed Tankovy lists that field T-34 tanks as she only costs 25 points but is a huge overall boost.
- Otto Ernst Remer - this guy needs another article. But in short words, he is a Higher Command team that turns one Heer unit into assault monsters with 3+ morale and 2+ to hit in close combat. He will be appearing in Infantry and Mechanized German forces.

So if you are thinking of going competitive, it is advisable that you at least know the basic things about these two guys. There are some other decent Warriors out there, but they will certainly not be as prevalent as these two :)

Ok, enough is enough - these are my thoughts around Mid War competitive gaming - would love to read yours! :)

5/20/2016

How to start collecting a US force - hints for newbies :)



Soooo, following up on the last article on how to start Flames of War, today I will say a few words about creating a US force. I figured I will use the basic structure of the previous article, since the points to be considered remain pretty much the same.

So here we go:

1. What period should I start with?
Just like with the Germans, go for Late War. There are two main reasons for this: it has the greatest number of available books that can be used to build your army on and a lot of players flock to this period because of all the shiny toys that come with it, like E8 Shermans, Jumbo tanks, Calliope rocket launchers, etc.
What has to be kept in mind, is that all books of the period have already been released, so I would expect no real novelties in LW apart from some cosmetic changes every now and again (and maybe an Ardennes compilation that might counter what many players view as high overall power level of the US forces in these briefings, so beware :) ). This state of period freeze might be considered both a good and a bad thing at the same time - depending on how you look at it.
In any case, if for some weird reason LW is not for you, my next pick would be Mid War, as there are no US forces available for Early War (historical reasons of course!) :(



2. What company type should I go for?
With a US force I would go for an Armored Rifles company. The reason for this is that the US Armored Rifles are a very flexible and inherently balanced force. What is also a great learning opportunity is that you can get all kinds of support with it: infantry, tanks, tank destroyers, guns, artillery, recon, anti-air, aircraft, you name it, it is bound to be there :)
Playing US Armored Rifles might be a bit more challenging than leading an infantry company at first because you will be attacking more often (you will need to stay active instead of reacting to what your opponent does). Do not be afraid however, as with all the toys and big, tough platoons this force will also forgive more mistakes than some of the more subtle choices.


3. Which book should I use?
Good news is: for Late War, there are so many books available to the US player. Bad news is: oh my god, so many books :) My favourites are described below - top is best all round book (considering Digital content), but please consider that the rating does not focus on infantry companies but rather the nation's forces as a whole:

Blood Guts & Glory - a must have for any tread-head. Includes the dreaded Patton + 7th Armored combo
Devil's Charge - known for the deadly 2nd Infantry Division which can field 2 Tank Destroyer platoons and a ton of artillery
Bridge at Remagen - very good Reluctant Veteran troops (mostly tanks) with the ability to Auto Attack via Sherman Crocodile platoons
Overlord - perfect all-rounder. Has absolutely everything + a fast, hard hitting Task Force A company
Road to Rome - good all-rounder + the option to field your Americans as the Free French (which are arguably even more competitive than the US forces!)
Nuts! - a treat for the parachute infantry enthusiasts
Market Garden - same like in Nuts! but with different Warriors mostly
Nachtjager Digital Exclusive - parachutists again, with a mix of British troops (Churchill tanks most notably! :) )
Gung Ho - latest addition, Marines and their dog friends

4. What models do I need to learn the game and not get beaten all the time?
For your Armored Rifles company (1500-1800 list), I would go for:
- 2 platoons of Armored Rifle infantry
- 1 Tank Destroyer platoon
- 1 Armored Artillery Battery (3 priests, staff team, command + transports)
- 1 Cavalry Recon platoon
- 1 Sherman tank platoon (these can be either M4s or M4A3s with a mix of Jumbo/E8 tanks - you will probably need a mix of several types)

To extend it beyond this point level, I would keep adding more artillery and an Air Observation Post (Grashopper aircraft). Other possibilities are: another recce platoon, air support (P 47 for example), anti-tank gun platoon (57mm).

I can assure you - if you build your company like so, you will not be disappointed! :)

5/13/2016

German tanks for the win!




Hey, long time no see :)

Today I thought it would be nice to share with you my idea of a LW 1420 list that I would like to play during an upcoming tournament in PoznaƄ. Recently, there has been a lot of talk regarding how playing Germans is an uphill struggle and of course my spirit of perverseness kicked in whispering to me that I should demonstrate that not all is lost to the defenders of the Vaterland. And what is more, I should do it with tanks (no Always Defend Tigers)!

Following up on that idea, I started digging :)

There are 2 things that I discovered in the process:
1. An overall thing about German tournament tanks is that it is extremely difficult to build a true all-comers list. The reason for this is that every time I build a list I like, it turns out to be 6 platoons strong (normally, majority of platoons are tank teams). The problem is: what do I do if I get to defend in a battle with the Mobile Reserves rule? I can either put the nebs + maybe a Gepanzerte platoon with 1 platoon of tanks on the table or just 2 tank platoons. This means that my force is very vulnerable until my reserves arrive. No-go in my opinion. I can also try and mitigate that risk by using an always attacking list like tank companies from Devil's Charge, Panzers to the Meuse or Nachtjager. But then, I am faced with a force that is not so strong against infantry companies (not enough tanks in most cases).

2. Many other nationalities have it so much easier! :)

- US get quite a lot of briefings with Always Attack tank/mech companies with a very good selection of support options and helpful rules
- Hungarians get their assault gun battery, which is a good choice against pretty much everyone else, especially at low points
- Soviets cover up their weaknesses by either heavy tank choices or artillery support (think 120+160mm mortars in one list)
- British who are not attacking with their tank companies have it even better, because of their semi-indirect fire rules


All these things considered, I came to the conclusion that whatever I will build, the list will not fit to my high standards. But I had to decide anyway (still need some time to collect and paint the missing models).



While going through numerous briefings, one caught my special attention: HG Assault Gun Battery from FoW Digital. Normally, people tend to avoid playing HG tanks as they are almost exact copies of regular Panzer companies with the Guards tax added on top. At first, this seemed to be the case with HG Assault Guns. With further investigation though, it turned out that this list could have at least some potential.

There several reasons for this:

- StuH assault guns are one of the compulsory platoons
- all StuG and StuH platoons can be fitted with up to 4 tanks
- Company HQ can include up to 2 tanks, instead of the normal 1
- StuGs are late version models, equipped with an extra co-axial MG, which helps agains infantry in the open
- the company can employ very good recon units
- obviously Nebelwerfers are also an option

One extra strenght of the company is the Warrior who can join it: Hans Sandrock. This guy is just awesome! For 160 points he is a Cofident Veteran Higher Command team in a StuG (late) assault gun. His skillset is pretty impressive:

- he ignores +1 penalty to hit at long ranges
- when he closes in to under 16", he can hit side armor of tanks even though he is shooting them from the front (on a 4+ or automatically if there is a choice between turret/hull)
- and most notably, he makes one platoon he joins use cautious movement

Overall, he is something between a heavy hitter and a force multiplier. A must have, if you ask me :)


WIth all these options on the table, I decided to build my HG Assault Gun company version 1:

Confident/Veteran
HQ: Sandrock + 2 HQ StuG (late) assault guns + recovery vehicle
CP: 4x StuG (late)
CP: 4x StuH
SP: 1x SdKfz 234/1 + 1x Pakpuma
SP: 1x SdKfz 234/1 + 1x Pakpuma

A very straightforward and quick to play list when I think about it. When designing it, I knew it could take on pretty much anyone. The only obstacle I could see was defending in Counterattack. This is why I decided to defend without recce support (although the recovery transport can be of some limited use here) but to have the main force in the form of 11 assault guns, including the Warrior on the table.

I hope to be able to use this list to effect next month. We will see how my concept works :)

5/06/2016

Battlefront Miniatures vs Disruptive Innovations




3D printers, 3D models, cheap materials - this is the dawn of a new era for miniature wargaming. I bet Battlefront can already feel disruptive innovations slowly biting away at their market space. While this is happening, I wonder what will be their reactions and which way will they choose to go in the future. And this is not only true to Battlefront. They will be the first to feel it with full force as nobody can own copyrights to historical designs like tanks, guns, infantry and so on, which means me, you, anybody can print whatever units Battlefront uses in their Intelligence Briefings for around 1/4 of the retail price of their products.

Several months ago they announced that they will be moving their factory to a new location as the output of their former manufacturing center was not enough to satisfy the demand of their customers. I am puzzled as to whether this was the correct move. Do they really understand what Disruptive Innovations mean for their business? :)

 When I look up the definition of a disruptive innovation on the Wikipedia, it says:

"Disruptive innovations tend to be produced by outsiders. The business environment of market leaders does not allow them to pursue disruption when they first arise, because they are not profitable enough at first and because their development can take scarce resources away from sustaining innovations (which are needed to compete against current competition). A disruptive process can take longer to develop than by the conventional approach and the risk associated to it is higher than the other more incremental or evolutionary forms of innovations, but once it is deployed in the market, it achieves a much faster penetration and higher degree of impact on the established markets."



This is exactly the case that is happening now and the symptoms can be seen over the internet. When I visit Facebook daily, I see all kinds of posts by people (outsiders by Wiki's definition) who already purchased their 3D printer and started using non-commercial use files to manufacture their own 1:100 scale historical models for a few dollars/euros per piece. 3D printing is actually gaining its momentum as we speak. When I go back to the definition, I can notice that we are at the stage of its deployment to the market and thus the next step will be a big hit to the core business of Battlefront, which is production of toy soldiers.

For me, this means: soon demand for their minis will decrease. Like with going bankrupt, it will be slow at first, and suddenly, very quick. In the forseeable future they will cease being a manufacturer for their historical product line and become an IP management company unless they do something about it.

Now some questions: are BF actively seeking a sustainable business model that can enable them to take the incoming punch and still stay afloat? What are their possible options?

In my opinion, one of the key survival factors is to create unique IP that will enable them to own the copyrights to the designs they produce. This means - new games with new models. They have still not reached that point.



Also, a creation of a truly competitive gaming system with simple rules and official tournaments would help greatly. When I think about it - Magic the Gathering would be long dead if not for the competitions that they manage. Rankings, ladders, cash prizes is what would really get a robust gaming system going. Current system somehow feels incomplete without the official tournament scene - there is no endgame in FoW (apart from maybe ETC - but it is not an official Battlefront event). I myself started playing Flames of War because I liked the generalship aspect of it and honestly only know a few people who buy models just to own/paint them. On the other hand I know tons of gamers who own gigantic colletions of models. The current whine on the Battlefront forums related to how overpowered US is also relates to this - people want simple, balanced gameplay and fair tournament play. If they get this, they will buy the minis/rules :)
GW seems to have learned it the hard way :) Hope Battlefront does not.

On the positive note however, a clear sign that they are trying to find a new way around disruptive innovations is the release of their Tanks game. Tanks in essence is the perfect marketing move:
- like mentioned a few lines before, it brings in unique IP in the form of hero/equipment cards
- it creates new market space by attracting more customers (low entry cost, simple ruleset)
- opens the possibility for truly competitive gaming (seems to be easy to learn, hard to master)
- maintenance of this model essentially costs them nothing - they just need to repack models they already produce anyway + print the cards
- is a gateway to Flames of War (if I have a few StuGs, why not create a StuG battery and play FoW?)

Still with this game, they are stuck with historical models. But as far as I am concerned, the selling point of Tanks is a bit different than for regular wargames. They rely on high number of customers who will not bother to print their own minis just to reduce their cost by 5-6$ while they get no cards and are probably left with lower quality models. I really hope this game works for them.

As for Flames of War, I think their future is IP management of the game rules. We can already experience the switch towards this direction: FoW Digital. It requires minimal effort to maintain and if the game gets popular enough, it can be very beneficial per man hour spent to develop. And hopefully, with everybody and their moms able to produce their own models at home and TANKS feeding in new players, FoW will get more and more popular.

Overall, I am really keen to see how the situation develops.

P.S. And if for some weird reason they would decide to improve FoW to be even more fitting to tournament play I would be the first person to volunteer to help. They still have a lot of supporters (promoters if you use NPS). My advice to BF: use the help! :)

4/30/2016

How to start collecting a German force - hints for newbies :)



Hello, I just figured that it would be great to create a template manual for the new players to help them with their initial steps into FoW. As I understand it, with the fail that GW systems currently are, there are a lot of gamers looking for new excitements and hopefully a base for competitve gaming. Having this in mind, I will not go as far as to guide complete newbies to the world of miniature wargaming but rather try to assist people who at least played one or two other systems.

Also, some of the aspects of starting the hobby are similar for all nations so please bear with me if they are repeated in the follow-up articles.

So how to start a German force? When thinking about FoW, this question has several layers of meaning to me:




1. What period should I start with?
In all cases go for Late War first. There are two main reasons for this: it has the greatest number of available books that can be used to build your army on and a lot of players flock to this period because of all the shiny toys that come with it, like King Tigers, IS-2, Sturmtigers, etc. What has to be kept in mind is that all books of the period have already been released, so I would expect no real novelties in LW apart from some cosmetic changes every now and again. This might be considered both a good and a bad thing at the same time. In any case, if for some weird reason LW is not for you, my next pick would be Early War and last and least Mid War (which is famous for just 2 books covering the whole period).

2. What company type should I go for?
I would always go with an infantry company. This choice is mainly based on the fact that it will give you most opportunities to observe how the game is played and react to what is happening on the table. You will be forced to attack and be active once in a while but in these cases, use them as a chance to test the theories you should have developed by then in practice :)
Also, infantry companies normally offer the widest selection of troops available to the German commander. You will be able to lead infantry platoons, anti-tank guns, infantry cannons, mortars, rocket launchers, tank hunters, recon forces, artillery and/or air support. In an infantry list, you can truly try out the combined arms approach.


3. Which book should I use?
Good news is: for Late War, there are so many books available to the German player. Bad news is: oh my god, so many books :) My favourites are described below - top is best all round book (considering Digital content), but please consider that the rating does not focus on infantry companies but rather the nation's forces as a whole:

Grey Wolf (Revised) - you can never go wrong with this one, it has it all
Atlantik Wall - good for just one front but has all types of units, including a lot of fortified troops
Nachtjager - night attacking panzers, decent Fallschirmjagers
Bridge By Bridge - good all-rounder but has some really bad lists
Fortress Italy - clever Herman Goring forces
Berlin - just one company in the book itself, but it is a big one :)
Desperate Measures - mainly training tank or mechanized companies
Bridge at Remagen - if you love heavy tanks, this one is for you
Nuts! - Jagdtigers, Sturmtigers and Skorzeny make their first appearance but are not that great
Blood Guts & Glory - poorly trained, low morale Panthers on their way to counter American spearheads
Devil's Charge - Joachim Peiper's armored thrust - a one-trick pony list

4. What models do I need to learn the game and not get beaten all the time?
For your infantry company (1500-1800 list), I would go for:
- 3 platoons of 7 stands infantry including command panzerfausts and 3 additional panzerschreck teams. One of the platoons could and should be swapped with one platoon of 10 stands of pioneers)
- 2 platoons of 3 Pak 40 anti-tank guns (mainstay of your anti-tank defence)
- 1 platoon of 4 Marder III tank hunters
- 1 platoon of 3 15cm 41 Nebelwerfers
- 1 platoon of foot scouts or 2 8-rad recce vehicles
- 1 flight of one Ju 87 Stuka

This list can then be expanded to include some panzers instead of Marders, heavy 15cm artillery instead of Nebelwerfers, field fortifications, hmgs, 8.8cm anti-aircraft guns, light infantry guns, mortars and so on. But the platoons I listed above will let you learn most rules of the game quickly and be a solid base for expansion.

4/24/2016

Snipers in FoW - the ultimate harrassment tool?






A single shot rings out during the advance aimed to recapture a small village. The feldwebel goes down and the whole squad hits the dirt, desperately seeking cover. Nobody is now interested in what their initial objective was. They are fighting for their life against an unseen enemy.

This is a regular scene from a computer game I played a long time ago - close combat. This unseen enemy was obviously a well placed sniper that could break up an assault in a matter of seconds, especially when he was supported. But are snipers in FoW able to do the same?

First of all let us have a look at the rules:

- they are independent teams that cannot join other platoons and are always rated confident veteran.
- they are always equipped with a 16" ROF 1, FP 4+ weapon.
- you do not deploy them at the beggining of the game. Instead, you can choose to reveal them at the start of any turn in your deployment area or the no-man's land.
- once on the table, they can attempt to switch positions on a 4+. If they succeed, they go back to the sniper pool, ready to be placed somewhere else in the following turns.
- they are gtg and concealed when they shoot but cannot shoot if there is a friendly team within 4".
- they re-roll to hit.
- when they take a hit that would kill them, they still get a 4+ roll. If they succeed, they go back to your pool of snipers.
- when somebody tries to assault them, they roll a 4+. If they fail, the sniper goes back to the sniper pool.
- they cost 50 points per team.

They even get 3 warrior sniper teams I know of: Vasiliy Zaytsev, Simo Hayah and Bruno Koenig (a fictional character as far as I understand).



Vasiliy

- costs 90 pts and is F/V
- teams hit by Vasiliy re-roll successful saves



Bruno

- costs 80 pts and is F/V
- has range of 24".
- can re-roll to hit (legacy of 2nd edition - BF forgot to update).
- if for some weird reason there is an enemy sniper team in his range that fired on their turn they do not count as gtg.



Simo Hayah

- costs 65 pts and is F/V
- 3+ to switch positions instead of 4+
- when assaulted, shoots 3 dice and then the enemy rolls to capture him


With the switch from 2nd to 3rd edition, it seemed that the snipers would get substantially better. They are so great, because now they are so hard to kill.... and .... this is about it. Annoying might be the right word actually.
They would pop out to harrass advancing infantry platoons, pin artillery batteries. But all of these come with a big 'if'. Sure they have the re-roll, but first of all: the enemy still assigns the hits (so in most cases a regular guy will get hit), teams still get their saves and if dug in, the sniper still has to pass the firepower check. A lot has to go according to plan to kill just one, single team. Good thing is that no matter what happens, you get the pin with just a single hit.  And there are those cases where they would do absolutely nothing - for instance, when the enemy's company is fully made up of armored units or when you have to attack a veteran infantry company and you never roll your 6 to hit.
As they are now, snipers are a purely defensive tool with very limited capabilities. In fact, the only possible use I can see for them is to target artillery so that you can eliminate guns in a scenario where one casaulty reduces the size of the template or the AT/FP rating of a combined bombardment. If they get very lucky, they might even take out a staff team or pin an infantry platoon in a crucial moment. But this is about it.


So how would I fix them then?
There could be 2 ways actually: update their rules or reduce their cost.

Cost reduction:

As far as I am concerned I might consider actually fielding a sniper team if it would cost 20-25 points. As for the warrior teams, 30 points is the maximum.


Rules update:

There could be tons of possible updates so I will just give one example:
- increase their range to 24" (32" for Koenig)
- let them choose which teams are hit
- teams shot at by snipers never count as gtg
- teams shot at by snipers re-roll their saves (Vasiliy would ignore saves like BTG)

Whatever happens to FoW snipers in the future, I hope we will see more of them as they are the iconic weapon of war and it is a reall pity that currently, they are so useless :(

Do you have any other ideas on how to fix snipers?

4/16/2016

1420 GT LoL lists!!

Hey, I am back with another article.

This one is maybe a bit late. I think that the most suitable date to publish it would have been the 1st of April but hey, no crying over spilt milk, right?
The article today is about some fun lists you can build for the upcoming UK GT. There have been a lot of 1420 point lists thrown around on various blogs and on Facebook. Hell, even I will post my favorites. But not today. Today I thought it would be fun to play around with ideas for lists that maybe are not so competitive (although might hold their own when some good luck shines on you) but would be exciting and fun to play. In all honesty, I have been thinking of using them so many times now but they always lost to some more tournament suited builds. Hopefully however, maybe somebody else can use my article as an inspiration and share his experiences some day :)




Ok, the first one coming up is Perimeter Outpost from Devil's Charge - a US fortified R/V infantry company. What I really love about this briefing is that it has so many cheap platoon options that even at 1420 points it lets you max out your fortifications. This is one of the few companies that can actually win a game without having a game at all :) This is mainly because of access to 6 sections of anti-tank obstacles (48" !). With such a congo line of dragon's teeth, czech hedgehogs or whatever can stop a tank, you can effectively block the ability of enemy armor to cross the table and reach your positions. For companies based on tank teams only, this means game over at deployment!
At 1420 getting all 6 sections is maybe not so feasible, so this is why in the list I prepared, I only go for 4 :) Plus 2 mandatory minefields! :) These obstacles should not be left unattended, however because enemy infantry will be able to dismantle it given some time. This is why we also need some good anti-infantry firepower and still some anti-tank to be able to handle armor in scenarios where the minefield/anti-tank obstacle screen will not work.
Did I also mention that regardless of mission choice, this company always starts the game in prepared positions? No? Well, it does :)
In the end, this is my preferred setup:

HQ 2x rifle + trenches
CP: full rifle platoon + a-t obstacle
CP: full rifle platoon + a-t obstacle
SP: I&R platoon (4 jeeps, one armed with a 0,5")
SP: Anti-tank platoon of 3x57mm (late) guns
SP: Towed Tank Destroyer platoon (4xM5 gun - C/T)
SP: Cavalry Recon platoon (C/V)
SP: Calliope Platoon (2x Calliope Shermans - C/T)
SP: 105 Battery (4x105mm - C/T)



My second choice is also a defending company. It is Kampfgruppe Swoboda, a R/T, always defend, infantry company from Bridge to Bridge. This company is so fun because it fields 8.8cm anti-aircraft guns as combat platoons! :) Boom, right off the bat, the briefing lets you build a decent anti-tank ability and avoid investing into R/T foot troops to bring 8.8 onto the table. What is more interesting is that it is supported by the trained Tigers of Kampfgruppe Hummel and either SS platoons or security (sicherheits) companies/platoons. Since you will be almost guaranteed to defend, you can build your list so that when you have to move some units into reserves, you will still have a very tough force on the table at the start of the game. Just do not forget to bring transports for your guns, because a lot of them are immobile :)

HQ: 2x SMG
CP: 4x 8.8 Flak 36 (static) + 4x extra crew + transport
CP: 4x 8.8 Flak 39 (r) + 4x extra crew + transport
CP: 4x 2cm Flak 38 + transport
SP: 4x Tiger I (C/T)
SP: full SS panzergrenadier platoon + faust (F/V)
SP: 3x SS 15cm Nebs + transport (F/V)



Ok, so I did a list presentation on a couple of defending companies. Now this one is an Always Attack Mechanized company! Kampfgruppe Graebner F/V (again from Bridge to Bridge book) can be a fun to play choice. To be honest, I even know a guy in our local tournament scene who plays it and had some limited success with it.
Anyway, let us talk some more detail about how this force can be constructed and played.
KG Graebner is built around 2 platoons of mechanized/motorized SS panzergrenadiers. The rest of supporting platoons are mostly armored cars with a lot of anti-infantry capability but virtually no anti-tank. There are 2 ways to mitigate these weaknesses: use Graebner himself and bring heavy artillery.
As for Graebner, for around 50 points he is a very good warrior team. He is riding in a decent armored vehicle but what is more important, he gives his guys tons of special rules:
- makes the company Always Attack
- gives spearhead moves to his combat platoons
- lets you do your recon moves before defender does his (and blocks your recce as a result)
- platoon he joins hits on a 2+ in assaults
- platoon he joins while making a stormtrooper move can go 6" instead of the normal 4
With this guy in your force, you will be able to dominate the no-man's land and possibly launch assaults with your infantry starting on turn 2. Such furious assaults can even catch tanks off-guard or at least make sure that you get stuck in early on, before enemy reserves start trickling in. If this quick pressure application fails, you can always rely on your 2 batteries of 3x15cm SS artillery :)
Anyway, here is the list:

HQ: 2x SMG + transport + Graebner in Humber IV (AT 7 gun)
CP: full gepanzerte SS platoon + faust
CP: full aufklarungs SS platoon + faust
WP: 2x 8-rad
WP: 3x SdKfz 251/9 (7.5cm)
SP: 3x 15cm sFH18
SP: 3x 15cm sFH18


Ok, so this is it - hope you liked the ideas and if you feel something is definately missing (has to be fun and at least a little, tiny bit competitive), let me know in the comments! :)

4/09/2016

Reworking the Mid War Soviet Tankovy.... Still using KV 85s :)

OK, so during my tournament tests I found out that trying to build an all-rounder list with Soviet Tanks (wether this using Tankovy or Mixed Tankovy - does not matter) is pretty much an automatic failure. There is absolutely nothing that the Soviets can do against heavily armored tanks that pack a lot of punch with their guns. Well, you can try and flank them, but once their side armor is protected by some infantry and/or anti-tank guns, the Soviet tank force is practically helpless.

If the list was being prepared to compete in singles tournaments, then I would say: unless you get a lucky paring you cannot win too many games. But hey, this army is meant to go to ETC in the end and in the ETC environment, the pairing procedure can help you avoid at least some difficult matchups.

So now that I know what is the perfect counter to KV 85 based Tankovy, I also more or less understand what is this army fit enough to beat. Following up on this, I am now able to upgrade my list to version 2 :)


To start with the pros, I think that the way it is constructed, Soviet Tankovy can beat a lot of infantry companies (minus AT11+ spam) and other tank companies that were built to crush infantry. It has a lot of options to get anti-infantry focused units and also some possibilities to reinforce it's anti-tank capabilities.








For anti-infantry, I can get one of the best Mid War assault tank units: Matildas II CS. It is funny, that 10 of them only cost 430 points (after the 'downgrade' to CS) because with armor of 7/6/2 and a 3+ firepower, rof 2 gun they are the bane of <AT 10 guns as well as non-pioneer infantry units. Of course, the obvious disadvantage of these tanks is that without a tank escort to help during close combat, you will not be inflicting too many hits with average rolls. Other than that and the 'slow tank' rating, they are your perfect infantry mincing machine.



As a secondary assault unit that is also helpful in wearing down anti-tank defences before real action begins, I would pick T-60s. For what they do I think they are pretty damn cheap. With 10 tanks only costing 180 points, with a decent front armor of 3, a machine gun and a 20mm AT5 gun, they are the perfect throwaway unit I can use to kill a couple of those Pak40 guns before my unit explodes (and hopefully I can keep one out of enemy LoS so that I avoid yielding small points).



Now that I have my main and backup anti-infantry force, I need to think about how I intend to kill tanks. For this one, my choice is still KV 85s. But 3 is not enough! :) I will go for four of them. In the games I played so far (maybe apart from the one against Remer), they had a lot of influence on the outcome of the battle. Their AT12 gun is enough to beat most of the tanks out there and their armor of 9/7/2 allows them to move about and stay in action for a long time. The two main reasons to increase their number from three to four was that I really like what they did in the battles so far and on the other hand I am afraid that a few lucky shots/aircraft runs can inflict early kills and a morale check on my big guys. The last thing I want when I play this company against a tank-heavy force is to quickly loose all my KVs and continue with AT5 through the rest of the game.



But what about recon? The tests that I did were not so positive in terms of BA 10M employment. For my taste, this unit has too many roles to fulfill on the battlefield: recon and secondary anti-tank/anti-gun with their AT of 7, 4+ FP and no H&C. When playing them I always was faced with a situation where I could only use one of their abilities at a time and I paid for all of them. Somebody might say that it is good to have such a toolbox type of unit, but to me: recon is recon - I will not risk it because I have a small chance to punch through the armor of an enemy tank, even if it is a Panther. This is why I decided to go with BA 64s.It is true that they will not be able to handle any real armored units, but on the other hand, they have the advantages of being tiny, easy to hide armored cars with jeep mobility. For anti-ambush screening and lifting gone to ground they are at least enough.



In the games I played there was also one factor missing all the time: even if Tankovy units cannot handle tanks like Panthers or Tigers, I really need a way to at least try to get rid of them. My first thoughts were that I should maybe include 120mm mortars. But these cannot take out a top armor 2 tank and also boost the number of my platoons to 5... In this case, I decided to go for a sporadic I-153 plane support. In all honesty, for 90 points the I-153, which is equipped with 4+ to hit, AT 6, FP 3+ rockets is a brilliant little attack aircraft.

With these modifications my list is now full. Oh, also my commander had to skip his T-34 and take over a T-60 :)

So here it is - my new approach to 1650 Mid War Soviet Tankovy.

HQ: T-60
CP: 10x T-60
CP: 10x Matilda II CS
SP: 4x KV 85
SP: 4x BA 64
Sporadic I-153

Will test it in 2 weeks' time with my gaming buddy and maybe write a few words on how it went :)

4/03/2016

Soviet Tankovy is on the frontline - battle report part 3

Ok, last game report of the tournament. This time, my opponent was US infantry in No Retreat mission. His setup of forces was quite interesting:

Barebones HQ
2x minimal infantry platoons
1x anti-tank platoon (3x 57mm)
1x cannon platoon (2x 105mm HMC)
1x tank platoon (4x Sherman)
1x M10 platoon (4x M10)
1x armored recon platon (4x recce vehicles)
1x full 105 battery
1x half 105 battery

A very interesting setup and with some optimization, could be turned into quite a competitive force imo.

Anyway, the table we played was not perfectly suited for tanks as there was very little cover and los blockers that the vehicles could hug to minimize incoming fire. Also, it meant that no matter where I went, I would be under the ToT fire of the 105mm batteries. Time was working against my forces so I had push forward as hard as I possibly could.

I started off deploying my KVs and T-34s to counter the Shermans hidden behind a cluster of houses in the middle of the US deployment area. To push back the ambush of TDs (I think it was a mistake not to use both the ambush AND the TD rules), I used scout redeployment and the initial move of my BA 10s which went deep into his defended zone. On the other flank, my T-60s spread out and moved towards his edge, trying to dodge templates of doom and the anti-tank platoon. I also got lucky with my only shot of the turn and managed to take out a Sherman with an 85mm round of a Gvardievski KV.




His response was obvious - reveal TDs and pound my tanks with artillery. The surprising bit was that the Shermans, after loosing one of their guys, decided to stay put behind the houses. The volley of TD fire hit my KVs taking one out but artillery did not manage to do any damage.

My response was quite punishing. I pulled up every single tank unit I had in the immediate vicinity of the Tank Destroyer platoon and returned the salvo. As a result of this return of fire, two M10s were dead and another one was bailed. Fortunately for the Americans, they did not fail their platoon morale check.




This was not much of good news for the US player as his M10 did not unbail at the beggining step of his turn. With a grim look on his face, he decided to commit all his tank reserves to the ongoing battle. Shermans abandoned their safe hiding place and rushed to take on the T-34s with all guns blazing (stabiliser style). The armour of the Soviet tanks was hard enough however to bounce away all the shots but one, which destroyed a T-34/76. On the opposite side of the village, the lonely M10 was fighting a lost battle against the KVs and failed to score a penetrating hit on the steel monsters.

My turn was what can be best described as a coup de grace. With all meaningful enemy forces now revealed, I concentrated my fire mostly on the Shermans, while the KVs took out the remaining M10s. Although I got a bit nervous after a salvo to the flank from 5 of my BA 10s which caused only a bail, my T-34s were a lot more lucky and managed to wipe out his tanks completely. After a few weeks (yesterday actually) I found out that I rolled too many dice for my T-34/57s thinking they are the mobile counterpart of a Zis-2 gun (rof 3, AT 11, fp 4+) which could have made at least some difference but do not think would change the outcome of the battle. In any case, I feel bad for this and I am sorry Ink!!!



Back to the battle report, however: with the last remaining US tanks gone, it was wipeout time. BA 10s, T-34s and KVs destroyed the only arriving reserves - armored cars and mechanized 105s, after which the armored cars assaulted the rear of the 57mm guns along with T-60, taking over the objective.





Again, I feel sorry for this big mistake that I made during the game - hope I will be more careful next time :(

In any case, it was a fun, although a bit one-sided game. I would recommend to my opponent to use the terrain in a more efficient way next time (I think the TDs could have been deployed behind a hill in a hull-down position to fire on the KVs) and most of all, concentrate his forces more to kill single platoons - instead of coming in isolated units making it easy to focus them down with 2-3 platoons at a time.