Thursday, October 27, 2011

Welcome

This blog will contain articles concerning World War Two, but mainly with references to gaming.  Current focus is with Flames of War.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Flames of War After Action Report: Leichte Panzerkompanie vs Escadron de Fusiliers Portés

Location:  Delaware Freezer Company
Players:    Phil Gardocki, Leichte Panzerkompanie (attacker)
                    Robert (no last name given), Escadron de Fusiliers Portés (defender)
Game:      Flames of War 1500 points

Round 2 of my first FOW Tourney placed me against a major infantry force backed by major artillery.  A battery of 105’s and a battery of 75’s.  The French also had an ability to trade out infantry support to suit, so his HMG teams were now 4.7cm teams.  (Gaak!) 

The Forces:
Leichte Panzerkompanie (attacker)  4 platoons containing 3 Panzerbefehlswagens, a recovery vehicle, 4 Pz I’s, 11 Pz II’s (late), 4 Pz III’s, with Limited Air Support. 

Escadron de Fusiliers Portés  (defender) 10 platoons containing 4 platoons of infantry (one all HMG’s), 4 Panhards, 3 25mm AT Guns, 3 47m AT Guns, 4 75mm towed guns, 4 105mm towed guns, and 3 AA teams.

The Board:
                4 by 6 feet.  A large town was centered on the 6 foot side of the board, but about one foot from the 6 foot “North”, edge.  There was a road running through along the 6 foot side, through the town, with a T intersection running to the “South” side of the board.  A deep river running along the 4 foot edge of the board North to South.  The rest of the board was a combination of woods, hills, and fields, with a few small enclosed fields in the town.  Two Large wheat fields were near the towns NE and NW quadrants.  
                Two objectives were placed in the town. 
               
Mission:  Breakout
                Game ends on turn 6.  Attacker wins if he holds either objective on turn 6.

Deployment
German:  Starts with only two platoons.  1 in the NW Quadrant, the other in the SE Quadrant.  Cognizant of my opponents massive artillery support, I lead with my two Leichte Platoons, holding my heavier Pz II’s and III’s in reserve. 

French:  The French deployment zone is in the NE Quadrant.  Having only 2 square feet to deploy he fills all the available space. 

Turn 1:
During the recon moves, the French move to secure the first objective in the town.  Air support is called in and some 12-15 teams are under the template, including all the artillery.  The Germans move 2 Pz II’s to the road on the edge of town, and line up a few shots on the Panhards, which escape, but are forced to reorganize.  The two Pz I’s of that platoon sweep wide and close in and secure the other objective.  The other Leichte Platoon, off in the other quadrant of the board, is making a multitude of bog checks while traversing the woods, which was the only space available that was not on the wrong side of the deep river.  With them is the 2IC and the recovery vehicle.  But its services were never required, as none of the tanks bogged down for the entire game.  It looked bad for his artillery as the Stukas dived, but they failed to “Range In”, and were unharmed.
The French pushed forward their infantry teams and some of the AT teams.  But even spread out, it looked like it was going to be bad when the Stukas return.  The French spotters were in action though, and put the German 1IC, and two other tanks under the template, but all the shells missed, but a left a convenient targeting reticule on top of my 1iC “for later.”

End of Turn 1.  German panzers by the dice and right arm.  The French are the horde in the upper left.
 
Turn 2:
                Failed the reserve roll.  Failed the Air Support roll.  I reassessed the SE Leichte Platoon in the woods, whom I originally intended to link up with the Leichte Platoon in the town.  Instead I moved them to the woods edge to Machinegun the infantry filling the wheat field there.  It was just too tempting a target.  The dice rolled predictably, and the infantry took many hits.  In the town, the Pz I’s took up defensive positions behind a wall defending the objective, and Machine-gunned the other approaching platoon. 
                The approaching French infantry, both pinned, failed to unpin, and failed to dig in.  It didn’t look good for them.  But the artillery, unlimbered and with spotters everywhere, targeted the woods line.  But either windage or bad angle tables, or old ammo, they failed to “range in” on my firing line, luck goes both ways.  Still, the French had to be aggressive.  With me holding an objective, they had to attack to win the game.  His AT Guns got into positions for some shots, but missed, while the Panhards rolled around the north edge of town and pinged the Pz II’s being used as a road block.

Turn 3:
            Rolled both reserves, but failed the Air Support roll. 
On the South East tree line, The Leichte Platoon, joined by the another tank from the command staff, destroyed the first infantry platoon, and started working on the one behind it. 
In town, the Pz I’s and Pz II’s picked up another infantry platoon.
The Panhards on the north edge of the board are suddenly facing 2 new platoons of tanks rolling in on them.  A Pz II bogged in the woods, but the Pz III’s were spread out and only one at a time could be targeted, should the artillery look their way.  My thinking was to kill the Panhards, and then the path would be clear to the 105 battery.  But the Panhard’s luck held, as they failed to make a forced reorganization, and only 1 was bailed. 
The French started sneaking another infantry platoon around the north edge of town, to both support the beleaguered Panhards, and run an assault on my woods bound Pz II Platoon.  But they were not well motivated, and were stopped short on their assault.
GOTT EN HIMMEL!  The 47mm’s have an AT value of 9!  I didn’t need to roll an armor save, rolling a 6 is still a “Fire Power check” for a kill.  I took the kill on a Pz I, and resolve to target those guns next.

German reserves arrive (upper right), Stuka orbits uselessly.
Turn 4:
            No reserves to roll, failed Air Support Roll.
The Leichte Platoon, in the SE woods abandoned their tree line concealment to advance on the 47mm guns.  I know they are going to get hammered by 105’s and 75’s in bombardment, but those 47’s are the real threat.  Besides, if the French focuses on them, he is not focusing on the objective.  They rolled 4 20mm shots and 15 MG shots, and manage to kill one 47mm gun.  Not optimal, if I managed a second, then it could have caused a platoon motivation check.
In town, a brace of Pz II’s advance to engage the 25mm AT guns, but the supporting Pz I, bogged climbing the intervening trellis.  So they only threw 2 main gun and 2 MG dice to no effect.  On the north edge of town, the French Panhards luck ran out, receiving 12 shots from AT7’s, 12 more AT5’s, and 16 MG’s.  3 Panhards brewed up, and the remaining crew bailed out and fled. 

It was at this time the 2 hour limit was reached, and the game was called.  The Defenders lost three platoons, to the Attackers zero.  Since the Attacker wins only if he holds either objective on turn 6, and we only reached turn 4, the defender won, 5-1.
End game, Panhards (left of town) about to get a full ROF from Pz III’s (lower) and Pz II’s (left)

Lessons Learned:
                I am beginning to question the value of Air Support.  Unopposed, they only came in once, and then failed to range in.
                This reinforces my view that infantry is just points hanging around waiting for the tanks to pick them up.

Flames of War After Action Report: Leichte Panzerkompanie vs Leichte Panzerkompanie

Location:  Delaware Freezer Company
Players:    Phil Gardocki, Leichte Panzerkompanie (attacker)
                 Jessie, Leichte Panzerkompanie (defender)
Game:      Flames of War 1500 points

This was a “Red on Red” German Kriegsspiel which Jessie and I decided was conducted to test out a new camouflage pattern.  My panzers were painted in a tri-color of a grey base, with green and brown striping.  My understanding is this is not a historic pattern, that the Wehrmacht painted their vehicles grey/brown till after the French campaign, then switched to grey/green afterwards.  I decided to go with both so to not be totally incorrect for the time period of 1939 -1941. 

This was my Leichte Panzerkompanie’s first outing, and my first FOW tournament. 

The Lists:
Leichte Panzerkompanie (attacker) 4 platoons containing 3 Panzerbefehlswagens, a recovery vehicle, 4 Pz I’s, 11 Pz II’s (late), 4 Pz III’s, with Limited Air Support. 

Leichte Panzerkompanie (defender) 6 platoons containing 3 Panzerbefehlswagens, 5 Pz I’s, 10 Pz II’s (Early), 3Pz III’s, 4  Sd Kfz 231’s with Priority Air Support Schwerpunkt.

The Board:
                4 by 6 feet.  A large town was almost dead center of the board, with a road running through it that bisected the large edge of the table, and effectively divided the board into two 4’ x 3’ sections.  The outskirts of the town was dominated by large wheat fields, with a few rises in terrain, and two small woods features.  The woods were both on the same side on the board, one astride the road in the center, the other near the short edge of the board.  A small pond was about 12 inches from the left of the town.  The wheat fields provided concealment for all vehicles except the Pz III’s and  Sd Kfz 231’s. 
                Two objectives were placed on the defenders side of the board.   Both about 10 inches in, one about 15 inches from the left side, the other about 18 inches from the right.  All in all, the board was fairly symmetrical.  The defender had advantage of vast wheat fields and a couple copses of trees, the attacker had fewer fields and more rises. 

 Attackers to the right.  Picture snapped after attackers first move, before shooting.

Mission:  Fighting Withdrawal
                Game ends when the attacker holds an objective.  Victory is determined by points at that time. 

Deployment
German: The defenders tried to cover both objectives evenly.   A Leichte platoon (1 Panzerbefehlswagen, 2 Pz I’s and 2 Pz II’s),and a Pz II platoon (5 Pz II’s) covered the right objective.  Another Leichte Platoon covered the left, supported by 2 Sd Kfz 231’s and the command teams.  2 Sd Kfz 231’s held a centerline position, while the 3 Pz III’s were in ambush.

German:  Knowing my opponent had a short platoon of Pz III’s in ambush, I tried to negate that advantage as much as possible.  There was a copse of trees only about 8” from the right objective, but the nearest trees were about 16 inches from the left hand objective.  I deployed 3 platoons on the left, and a single Leichte Platoon on the right.

Turn 1:
Learned something new, Air Support means Air Support, not necessarily bomber support.  I rolled my Stukas to come on, but my opponent opted to intercept, which was successful.  I thought about it and came to the conclusion, that if he wants to burn his 7 dice Schwerpunkt to nullify my 5 dice “Limited Air Support”, then I win in points.  Effectively he was spending 175 points to nullify my 115 point expenditure.  On my right, I moved as far forward as the concealing wheat would allow, and took couple of shots at a single Pz I, to no effect.  On my left, my Pz II platoon advanced and spread out to reduce the effects of his Stukas, but my Leichte Platoon had to bunch up if it was to get around the pond.  I should have been patient.  Why give your opponent more shots?  In addition, I made a noob mistake as that bunching masked the Pz III’s that were on Overwatch on the ridge, negating most of their shots on one of his forward deployed tanks.  As it was, the single shot I did get was enough, as the first bonfire lit up in the field. 

The defender managed to get his air support in, and caused two of my tanks so bail.  The tankers must have locked their keys in their vehicles, because they never unbailed for the rest of the game.  He did move some of his tanks to just within range and fired to no effect, while on my right, nothing moved.

Beginning of defenders turn 1.
Turn 2:
                Another Air Support roll intercepted.  No problem, as my 3 dice was now down to his 4.  My right flank took a full ROF against a stationary, but concealed, target causing a triple bail from which his crew abandoned the vehicle.  On my left, my Panzer II Platoon halted, and also dumped 15 main gun shots and 5 MG shots into his advanced armor, causing no direct kills but numerous “double bails”.  The bunched up Leichte Platoon around the pond advanced and spread out, and with the covering fire of 4 Pz III’s dumped 1 20mm shot, 12 37mm shots and 12 MG shots into the fray also causing no direct hits, but many “double bails.”  Several tanks and an armored car were abandoned as a result. 

                In again came his Stukas, and with the benefit of Schwerpunkt, he got all three, allowing him to reroll misses.  But the targets were spread out, and the “ranging in” rolls were poor, and they caused no harm.  Of his forces in the field, many of his tanks failed to unbail, and his return fire was much reduced, and also caused no harm.  On the right flank, he realized that my Leichte Platoon was not going to tangle with him, and he double-timed his Pz II Platoon from my right to left, while his Leichte Platoon shifted to take up positions behind the town but with firing lanes into the left side of the table.

Turn 3: 
                Right Flank.  Taking advantage of his pull out, I moved my tanks into the open, to just within range of one of his tanks but their firing was ineffective. 

                Left Flank.  The Pz II Platoon, still not moving, placed their full ROF into the single remaining armored car.  This was way overkill, but I wanted to make sure that the recon unit was destroyed.  My Pz III’s advanced to continue the work on his Leichte Platoon, which, as was the pattern for this game, received no direct kills, but lots of double bails.  The Recon unit was destroyed, and the Leichte Platoon failed morale, leaving only the 1IC with a burning wreck of a Pz II for company. 

                Once again I made a beginner mistake.  To spread out, I placed one of my advancing Pz III’s on knoll, a prime target of opportunity for an ambushing unit in the woods.  Which of course, Jessie took full advantage of.  Only lucky die rolls prevented the destruction of that tank, and half of my best unit was rendered “Combat Ineffective.”

Turn 3, note the “fool on the hill” by the hand, and the 3 Pz III’s in the woods looking at it.


More incoming bombs from defensive air support.

Turn 4:
My Stukas arrived, but failed to hit any targets.  With three of defending platoons gone, I only needed one more to force a company morale check.  I focused my efforts on his remaining Recon Section hiding behind a building.  My two unbailed Pz III’s along with some of parts of my two Leichte Platoons fired, but the main guns muffed their shots, and the MG’s shots, though numerous, (14), none hit anything vulnerable.  This was mainly a feint, as my Pz II’s started their engines, and moved to within 4” of the objective.  Firing at the 1IC on the way in, causing another double bail which he passed.

The defenders turn saw him race for the objective as well, but was an inch shy, he would get his shots in, but it was up to the Storm Trooper move to keep the game alive for him.  His Panzer III’s poured it on the perfectly outlined target on the hill, causing another double bail, which failed the motivation check, but passed on a reroll from my 1IC.  His Pz II’s rolled their Storm Trooper roll, and missed.  The objective was claimed by the attackers, ending the game for a 6-0 win.

End game, Panzers are about to secure the objective.

Lessons Learned:
                Patience is a virtue on the attack.  Stay spaced at all times.  A few extra shots now do not matter if you lose a tank or two in the process.
                Panzer I’s are the pawns.  The Leichte Platoon is actually pretty worthless having only two vehicles with any anti-tank capability.  When on the attack, lead with the pawns.  In the beginning of game is when your opponent is most able to destroy things.  Let it be something you don’t value.
                Always be cognizant of your opponents ambushes.  They will appear at your least convenience.  If I am going to play armor, then I will always be facing ambushes.
                This game reinforces my opinion that paying extra 10 points to up-armor the Pz II’s from a 1 to a 2 is well spent.  We were the same list, but I took the upgrade, and Jessie did not.  So my tanks were immune to his MG fire, while his was constantly being harassed by up to 13 extra dice per platoon.  And true, they only caused one extra bail every 36 die rolls.  But I rolled well over 100 MG dice in the game, and all but one tank of his was eliminated by failing motivation from “double bails.”

Friday, October 21, 2011

Flames of War After Action Report: Leichte Panzerkompanie vs Czech Panzerkompanie

Location:  Delaware Freezer Company
Players:    Phil Gardocki, Leichte Panzerkompanie (attacker)
                    Wen, Czech Panzerkompanie (defender)
Game:      Flames of War 1500 points

Round 3 of my first FOW Tourney was another Red on Red fight against a company of Czech 38t’s, supported by two platoons of Infantry.   This is going to be tough, as his 38t’s are basically the same as my Pz II’s, but with the same gun as my Pz III’s.   Despite the fact they cost almost twice as much as my Pz II’s  I won’t enjoy a numerical advantage,  due to my Pz III’s, which cost half again as much.

The Forces:
Leichte Panzerkompanie (attacker)  4 platoons containing 3 Panzerbefehlswagens, a recovery vehicle, 4 Pz I’s, 11 Pz II’s (late), 4 Pz III’s, with Limited Air Support. 

Czech Panzerkompanie (defender) 6 platoons containing 11 Pz 38t’s 5 Pz II’s, 2 platoons of Infantry, and 2 armored cars. 

A picture of the board, but not the actual fight.  Bridge, lower right, fordable are nearby. 
The Board:
                6 by 4 feet.  We are playing along the long edge.  The dominant feature is a large river, about 5 inches wide, that cuts the middle of this thin, 4’ board.  Two spots are “fordable” (bog check only), while the rest is a skill check.  A double wide road runs along the length of one of the 6’ sides.  Other terrain includes random buildings along the river, some trees.  One objective is placed way in the back of the board, the other just across the river, behind a manor, and close to the river and only bridge.
               
Mission:  ??
                Attacker wins if he holds either objective at the end of the time limit.

Deployment
German:  My strategy is to refuse left, attack right.  I deployed a single Leichte Platoon, supported by the 2ic and recovery vehicle.  In the center is the Pz III’s, while I am going to try to force the bridge with my Pz II Platoon supported by the other Leichte Platoon. 

Czech:  Wen went with a Kampfgroup option creating a 7th Platoon out of his Pz 38t’s.  With this scenario, at least half of his units were “in reserve”.  He defended the closer objective, with a 38t platoon supported by his 1iC, and placed the Pz II’s Platoon on the left.

Early Moves
On the Left.   Seeing only one enemy Platoon, I pushed to the ford to keep it in theater, maintaining a 3-1 advantage on the right.  But all in all, I think Wen had a better read on the board than I did, knowing I was going to be in a traffic jam to getting across the river.

He wouldn’t play my game and brought on his ambush on the left side, and now outgunned in both quantity and quality, my Leichte Platoon found itself fighting for its life, it tried to give ground, but the Czech tanks hammered them into near submission.  Two burning, two bailed but the Leichte Platoon passed motivation albeit with only 1 Pz I standing.  Then he withdrew his forces to deal with my pushes to center and right.

In the Center. My Panzer III’s took up firing positions on my side of the river and started harassing any and all targets.  Wen responded by going for cover, but there was just too much open area, and since I was in the center of the board, with a 24” range, I basically had a board edge to board edge zone of control.  The Czechs fought back, and obtaining an early kill on a Pz III, then “Storm Trooped” to long range, and a gun duel ensued.   The III’s picked off one, then two more, forcing a motivation check that the 38ts failed and that Platoon left the field.  After that, the Pz III’s started “Storm Trooping” towards the bridge, while maintaining their high ROF onto the field.

On the Right.  I had to force the bridge, and did it with the best force available, my Pz II Platoon.  Wen’s defending 38t’s made a mess of the operation, burning two vehicles on the bridge, causing bog checks to cross there as well.  Eventually some of the tanks crossed there and the nearby ford, and with some Pz III support , managed to wreck all defending tanks save the 1iC, causing them to fail motivation and flee as well.  But the price was high, losing 80% of the Pz II Platoon, but the single tank passed motivation and was trading shots with the Czech 1iC.


End Game
On the Left.  Having finally unbailed the Leichte Platoon, and facing no opposition, I forded the river to make a run for furthest objective.  A Pz I bogged on the crossing, and stayed bogged till games end. The other tanks pushed forward to the objective, either I would take it, or force Wen to redeploy, I regarded that as a win-win situation for me.   Wen responded by throwing is last reserves to defend the objective, 6 Infantry teams in the woods, and redeployed all available tanks from the middle of the board scoring 6 hits, leaving the Leichte’s with a single Pz I, and that was bogged in the river.

In the Center.  Wen’s reserves finally came in by getting 4 platoons in one turn.  I can’t complain about luck, though because he was beating me with half his force till then.  Now I would have to face fresh troops with two of my platoons down to 1 tank each.  A reserve infantry unit advanced and secured the furthest objective. While a Kampfgruppe of 2 38t’s came on board, but stayed out of range of my Pz III’s.

On the right.
Two reserve units came in on the right.  An infantry unit took up position in a nearby copse of trees, about a foot from the right side objective.  An armored car section raced up the road joining the 1iC.  My intact Leichte Platoon surrounded the cars, but failed to tag them.  Likewise the remaining Panzer II on the 1iC.  All of this fight was taking place in the shadow of the manor house, through which the Panzer III’s couldn’t see to shoot.  I was just working on getting them across when time ran out.  The objective still contested, it was a defensive win.  It was a hard fought, and well-earned 5-1 victory to Wen.

Lessons Learned:
                Even more so this fight brings into question the value of Air Support.  Once again, they caused no discomfort to my opponent.  To the point that I didn’t boor the reader with the details in this missive.  I also can’t say they caused any behavior changes by my enemy, as when they did come on, I had 4 under the template, but caused no damage.
               
                To repeat from the first AAR, the Panzer I’s are the pawns.  Lead with them.  If I had done that, the wrecks on the bridge would have been Pz I’s, and having two additional Pz II’s later in the game could have tipped the balance.


This game reinforces my opinion that paying extra 10 points to up-armor the Pz II’s from a 1 to a 2 is well spent.  In one exchange, two Pz II’s both made an armor save of ‘4’, which against the AT6, was a “Fire Power Check” to Bail.  If they were not up-armored, it would have been a kill.