Thursday 28 March 2013

Volksgrenadier Sturm Platoon

A Volksgrenadier Sturm platoon. These were done prior to the winter/greatcoat figures; an ad-hoc mix from Battlefront's Sperrverband box set and the Begleit blisters for the Assault Rifle-armed figures.


German MG42 HMG Platoon

Battlefront figures, from the Sperrverband box set.


Friday 15 March 2013

Panthers (in splinter camo)

Battlefront Panther Ausf A, painted in the "clean" style with a hard-edged splinter-like camouflage pattern.

An HQ of two vehicles and the first platoon of three. Modeled as the 2nd Company of a Panzerbrigade force.

These will probably be some of the last examples I will be painting with the "clean" style. Time to start experimenting with an airbrush and different techniques a little more I think.


Monday 11 March 2013

Adventures with Canadian Rifles - Day 2

Day 2 Action

Game 4: Cauldron vs. Rudy Joubert

Rudy was running a Dan-Larson-inspired Panzer list out of Grey Wolf:

HQ 2 Panzer IVs
4 Panzer IVs
4 Panzer IVs
3 Panthers
4 8-Rads (2 platoons of two vehicles each)
2 x Whirbelwind AA

As defender, Rudy chose to deploy his two Panzer IV platoons and his Panthers in Immediate Ambush.

I chose to deploy the mobile armoured assets in case of a bad deployment, leaving the infantry and Carriers to come on later depending on where my scattered deployment would make an attack most advantageous. So, CAR Shermans, Crocs and Achilles...I rolled 3 x 1s for random deployment and ended up with everything in the same corner.

All in the same corner. Immediate Ambush Panthers  being placed.

The other side of the table.

Knowing I would have to force the position, I advanced with the Crocs and Achilles, the latter hitting nothing, the Crocs firing smoke to reduce return fire wherever possible.

1st turn advance, hit nothing, Crocs fire smoke.
Return fire from the Panthers killed one Achilles and Bailed Out another which got back in (Assault Troops is a very handy rule). Fire from the Achilles and a single Firefly then managed to penetrate 3 Panthers...I still failed 2 Firepower rolls but passed the third roll which was enough to force a check which the Panthers failed.

Panther KO'd, the other 2 retired.
Rudy responded by moving and firing with Panzer IVs, several managed to bog over the course of the game. Good shooting on his part saw the Achilles destroyed for the loss of two Panzer IVs. The CAR Shermans engaged the far platoon with Semi-Indirect Fire but could only produce bail after bail result. Meanwhile a Rifle platoon arrived on the far side of the table (keep the Panzer IV platoon guarding that objective in check) while another Rifle platoon and the Carriers arrived behind the Crocs moving up towards the objective I was aiming for.

Achilles dead, Panzer IVs under pressure, Crocs lumber on.

Rifle platoon to keep the far side Panzers in place.

By this stage Rudy had brought on his AA and both 8-Rad platoons, though they would be of little help. The Whirbelwinds targeted the far side Rifle platoon which failed to dig-in for 4 turns. His far side Panzers then attempted to re-deploy but manage to keep 1-2 tanks bogged each turn.

Aerial shot, annoying 8-Rads revealing GtG on the CAR Shermans.

 As was inevitable, the last 2 Panzer IVs on the near objective were KO'd for the loss of a Sherman and the far platoon had to move to contest. This brought them into the open and the waiting Shermans and Crocs which proceeded to light them up. The following turn the 2iC arrived to contest for another turn before dying. The Rifle platoon was by this stage all around the objective with a Croc and a pair of Fireflies deployed to give Defensive Fire in case the last two Panzer IVs tried to assault.

Advancing Panzer IVs in the open into a Sherman gun-line. Results predictable.

The cauldron of war

"Come and take it"

Rudy did not bother attempting to assault the near objective. On the far side, the Rifle platoon had lost 3 teams to shooting and he assaulted them with the Whirbelwinds looking for a platoon kill. They killed one team before the Rifles cleaned them up and that was the game. 5-2 to me

During this game the choir of some sort of African Church stated up in the hall next to us, our table being the closest to the door. They were loud: REALLY LOUD, and that went on for about an hour. Then the actual meeting began and what I *thought* was loud before was in fact relative quite compared to the deafening noise that followed. By the middle of the game my opponent and I were quite literally shouting at each other to explain what we were doing, who was shooting where, etc. I had a severe headache by the time it was over, which still did not excuse the "n00b" mistake I was about to make in Game 5 though it didn't help.

Game 5: Breakthrough vs. Mike Williams

Mike was playing a Soviet Forward Detachment list from Red Bear, something like:

HQ w/Battalion Komissar
8 x T-34/76s (CT)
2 Platoon Tank-rider Company
4 KV-85s
4 SU100s
4 SU122s (CT)
3 BA64s

SU76i vehicles at the back supposed to be SU122s I take it.

The mission was Breakthrough, on this table.

I would have to defend, and I chose the quadrants with the river to deploy in, the objectives being in the corner with the buildings. I started with both Rifle platoons and the Achilles on-table. Unfortunately I only took one shot of this game during the first or second turn, walked around to take a few more of other games and then the camera battery died.

Mike put the Tank Riders and SU122s in Reserve. First turn he double the T-34s down the close edge of the table above, swinging up and pinning my Rifle Platoon in place on Turn 2. The KV-85s also doubled in the centre while the SU100s doubled wide to the far side of the table. This split attack should not have been a problem for me but for some reason I forgot my opponent should have been rolling Delayed Reserves, so only from Turn 3. By Turn 2 however he already had both reserve units on-table while I still had none, and at the time I did not think to question it until later. 

The Achilles moved and took shots at the doubling KV-85s, scored 5 hits, 4 penetrations...3 failed Firepower and one kill saw the Soviet heavies get back in and KO two Achilles. Another two were lost when the SU122s came on table (too early, but what is done is done). The Rifle platoon alongside them took 6 MG/SMG hits the following turn and I failed all six saves, they ran as well. No good. The far side Rifle platoon could not move with 8 x T-34/76s nearly on top of them and started taking casualties due to main gun fire with BA64s lifting GtG. I realised at this point there was little I could do to prevent Mike from taking an objective the following turn.

The CAR Shermans came on from reserve on Turn 3 and managed to kill the SU100s with flank shots over 2 turns, but apart from that I had nothing close enough to contest after the last Rifle platoon also died. With that conceded 2-5 as I would be failing company morale the following turn in any case with both CinC and 2iC dead.

Achilles engaging KV-85s, rather poorly

A very disappointing way to lose a game, but for some reason it never occurred to me that my opponent should have had Delayed Reserves. And if I don't remember, typically no one else does. Stupid n00b mistake really.

So, end of Day 2 I had another 5-2 win and a 2-5 loss. Here the Free-for-All win would factor in as most people played very cautiously in their first game and they were mostly "draws" with very low scores. With several new guys I think some of the more experienced players were cautious in their first game and did not want to risk starting off badly which ended up happening in any case. Overall VP totals scored was also surprisingly low with a lot of 4-3 games being recorded: going by previous results, this was quite unusual. With 4 wins this somehow allowed me to edged into 1st place, with Mike coming 2nd and Rudy 3rd. A bit unexpected to say the least, but I can't complain.

On the list: the MG Canadian Rifle Company list is very good: lots of elements I like though I could have done with some practice games before the competition. I need more practice to get the different elements working together better, though when facing armies with a lot of heavy armour the combination of AT15 Achilles and Fireflies combined with FA13 Crocodiles is a nice mix which presented some serious problems for my opponents. I probably did not get the most out of the Canadian Armoured Recce Shermans and their Cautious movement, too aggressive in some instances: too used to playing quick 7th Armoured Cromwells as Bullyboy alluded to on the FOW Forum. Still, the mix is a lot of fun and highly recommended.

Thanks for reading.


Thursday 7 March 2013

Adventures with Canadian Rifles - Day 1

The Tables:

Unfortunately the average standard of terrain declined from last year, something which I was not pleased to see. Too many open tables, not enough linear terrain and LOS blocks: no wonder heavy armour is so popular currently, the terrain encourages it. Much work to be done on that front by several players.

(Note: lighting in the halls was not particularly good, so the pictures were taken mostly with a flash with an already dogey camera. Also, I almost constantly have to walk around answering rules queries, so my picture taking is intermittent and there are gaps in the turn sequence.)

In no particular order (click for larger versions):

I somehow missed getting a shot of the best table, though you can see pictures of it in my Game 3 below.

Missions were random from several pre-selected, they ended up being (Day 1) Free-for-All, No Retreat, Hold the Line, (Day 2) Cauldron and Breakthrough.

Game 1 - Free-for-All vs Sean Barry

In the first game I was drawn again one of the guys from Mpumalunga I had not met before, Sean Barry. Sean was running German Grenadiers out of V3 Forces, something like:

HQ & 2 x Grenadiers
1 section HMGs (Combat attached)
2 Section 8cm Mortars
Black Pioneers
3 x StuGs
2 x Tigers Is
15cm Artillery Battery

No Army shot. The first mission was...Free-for-All, a mission I absolutely detest, and to make matters worse I was drawn on one of the crappy tables, this:

I deployed on the far edge, Crocs, Rifles, Achilles and Carriers to the left, Shermans in the centre behind the hill, Rifles to the right.  I aimed to attack up the left of the picture, hold in the centre and right.

Sean deployed his 15cm Battery to the right behind the wood, a Grenadier platoon in front of them. Stugs aimed to go down the middle of the table, the pair of Tigers were hull-down on the centre-left hill. Mortars somewhere at the back, then Grens and Pioneers on his left.
My right deployment
Advancing before disaster strikes

My attack started badly as, despite spreading out and killing several observers in the first turn, one observer from the 15cm battery survived and killed a Croc: the 2nd died in turn 2. Yay. This would be the beginning of me failing to pass even a single armour save the entire game. I pushed on with Rifles with RAMs and Carriers. Achilles and Fireflies hit both Tigers...bailed both. Carriers gunned-down nearly half the Pioneers who steadfastly refused to dig-in the entire game.

Crocs dead at the back, Rifles and Carriers have to do it.
In the next few turns I steadily lost troops and killed little: the Achilles continued to bail StuGs and Tigers before dying in return fire: AT15 is great but when I could only roll 2s for Firepower, it didn't help. The CAR Shermans also bailed a Tiger and a couple of StuGs...all got back in, I couldn't pass a single firepower test; it got old really fast. Shermans lost 2 bailed, thankfully Sean managed to fail the pair of Firepower test too, the only ones in the entire game he failed.

Going for broke, I used the Carriers to assault and kill the last 15cm Battery observer (far left of the table) and pin the Grenadiers. My right infantry platoon then managed to get up into assault with a mix of Grenadiers and (the now somewhat reduced) Pioneers. 7 veteran skill checks later and I hit with ONE, lost a few teams in the counterattack, came back with 4, again hit ONE...had to break off and then the platoon ran away. Not good. The Pioneers managed to fail morale but the Grenadiers were still in OK shape On my left an adventurous Grenadier platoon was stopped cold thanks to the Rifles and their RAMs, though the StuGs managed to kill 2 RAMs in the process

Sensing blood, Sean tries to finish off the Rifles.

Now just the Carriers remain, but they've done enough to hurt the Grenadiers.

In game like this I know the dice turn, eventually, it was just a question of would they turn while still had something left to fight with?

CAR to the rescue (no pics though). Re-rolls to mount up saw them all get back in, they found their gun sights (at last) and slotted 1 Tiger and KO'd the StuGs as I started rolling 3s for Fp. They then went Tiger hunting and killed the last one while the Carriers (one dead from an 8cm mortar shot...grrrr) shot back an assault by the Grenadiers on my left, killing a few in the process. The Grenadiers then ran away, taking the CinC with them and with that Sean failed Company Morale (4 dead platoons, 3 fighting).

So, 4-3 to me. Not a great start, I probably played to aggressively too early, but dice did not help. Most of the FFA games resulted in "draws" though, which would help me later in the scoring. Too many people playing too cautiously, so maybe just as well I attacked early even though I ended up taking very heavy losses.

Game 2: Hold the Line vs. David Holmer

David is a very young player with a sound grasp of the rules (better than most adults at the competition) and some skill at the game: in a few years and some more experience I think he will definitely be a force to be reckoned with.

David was fielding a SS-Wiking Panzerkompanie out of Grey Wolf, something like:

2 HQ Panthers
3 Panthers with Panzer Ace
4 Panzer IVs with Panzer Ace
Wheeled Panzerspah
Armoured Panzergranadier Platoon
2 x PaK 40s
2 x Armoured Quads

David's SS-Wiking Panzerkompanie

As an Always Attack force, I would be attacking in HtL on this table, from the far side towards the near. "My objective was placed in the second crop field on the right, his was on the centre hill at the back.

 I deployed heavily to my left, Crocs, Achilles, CAR Shermans and Carriers. Both infantry platoons were tasked with moving up the centre through the town to secure the flank of the advance. The plan was for one Rifle platoon to sweep left as needed to help clear the objective which would be hammered by the Crocs. The Achilles and CAR Shermans would provide overwatch and put fire onto any tanks attempting to interfere.

The near objective

David was not convinced I could attack a tank company and said as much: he deployed his Panzergrenadiers on the forward objective, then put his Panther platoon and the 2 PaK 40s in ambush.

My deployment
 Push up, form a gun-line on the tree line. Carriers looking for ambushes.

Infantry moving into the town.
Things went according to plan, mostly. The Carriers forced any ambush back, Crocs advanced and smoked Panthers after the Achilles had landed a couple of hits (one bounced, another failed Fp...). The Rifles advanced from building to building in the centre.

Panthers Ambushed on the right, moved for shots. Fireflies shots bounced, 2" mortar provided smoke.

David's Panthers ambushed on my right which suited me fine, though he lacked cover close enough on the other flank which was not shut down by the Carriers. The Panthers missed and my CAR Shermans were in a prime position to punish them.

Closing in; 2iC Panther bogged, this will only end one way.

In a poor position, David realised his mistake with the Panther ambush, but to his credit he tried to make it work and get a platoon kill. The 2iC Panther bogged and was captured by advancing Rifles, the Achilles finished off the CinC Panther and a Croc burnt a hole in the Panzergrenadiers' position making them run. My stationary CAR Fireflies then missed 4 out of 4 shots (joy) on a Trained Panther at close range and the platoon died at the hands of a moving Panther Platoon and Panzer Ace. I shouldn't have bothered engaging here, but sometimes the temptation is too great.

Dead CAR Shermans who could not hit anything.

Only PaK 40s to contest and a Croc with fuel = game over.

With just PaK 40s left to contest and one Croc still with Flame Fuel, David conceded. 5-2 to me. We had a good chat afterwards about army construction (didn't like the PaK 40s and AA in his list) and being put on the defensive as a tank company. A very bright kid who can only get better.

Game 3: No Retreat vs JC Winterbach

JC was fielding Armoured Panzergrenadiers out of Grey Wolf and was similarly not expecting to be placed on the defensive. He had something like:

HQ & von Sauken
2 x Gepanzerte Panzergrenadier Platoons
Weapons with 8cm Mortars and Stummels (1 Stummel to each Infantry Platoon)
Half-tracked Panzerspah
4 x Panthers
3 x Nebelwerfers

I got to play on one of "my" tables, probably the best at the event. Most of the combat would occur over the forward objective placed on a large hill in the centre-left.

My deployment and Recce move.

I deployed both Rifle Platoons to the left, then Crocs, Carriers, CAR Shermans and Achilles to the right flank. I pretty much aimed to use the two small patches of woods on the right and scrub on the left as cover for the Rifles while the Crocs reduced all those MGs teams to a point where I could take the objective.

JC deployed one Armoured Panzergrenadier Platoon on the forward objective, one on the rear and the Panthers in ambush.

The entire lot ground forward, the Carriers gunned-down some infantry JC tried to move to better positions and a single Croc flamed four teams to force a platoon morale test which they failed. The Panthers ambushed the behind a tree line at the back and hit nothing. I returned fire with the Achilles and a Firefly, managed a few penetrations but again rolled a couple of 2s leaving only one dead and two bailed. Return fire KO'd 2 Achilles, another was lost to a Nebelwerfer bombardment (came on first turn) and I pulled the survivor back behind the hill for cover. He later helped kill-off the Panzerspah.

JC moved his second Panzergrenadier platoon up to assault, laid down smoke, and came in. With 15 dice I only managed 2 hits and lost 2 Carriers before breaking off. MG fire whittled the infantry down in the succeeding turns, I kept the flame for the final push as in the consolidation he had spread out as much as possible.

Ballsy assault that almost paid off hugely.

Infantry protecting Croc flanks...I'm loving some FA13!

By now the CAR Shermans had come around the hill, the Fireflies continued to miss/bail Panthers, but a 75mm flank shot took care of one Panther and the following turn a flanking Croc (!) KO'd another while the Croc with flame destroyed the remaining infantry: the Platoon CO and attached Stummel broke. The Panthers also ran, even with a re-roll, which left just von Sauken to move to contest. 4 Platoons down meant company morale which was failed and that was pretty much the game, 6-1 to me.

Near the end: the Sherman Commander has just KO'd a Panther, in the next turn the right-most Croc will do the same.

So, I ended Day 1 with 3 wins, 4-3, 5-2 and 6-1. I lost a platoon or two needlessly over the course of the day but for an army I was playing for the first time, things were going surprisingly well even if I wasn't playing particularly well.


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