Going into the final round somehow Poochie and I had burgled our way to top of the standings along with Bede and Russell but very, very good players. In fact Poochie and I were hoping that we might not have to face them but as it turns out we did and that as both teams had a really good shot at winning the entire comp (not that that was a goal when we started) so it made for the perfect way to finish the weekend. Pity a complete brain fade by me on turn 1 by me almost turned an exciting, crazy, fun final game into a non-event but more of that shortly.
Bede and Russell ran a French Recon and British (vet) infantry force.
Bede ran something like:
· 1x Hotchkiss
· 5x Hotchkiss
· 3x Somuas (?)
· 4x Panhard Armoured cars
· 3x Panhard armoured cars
· 4x laffey portees
It was well supported by a very solid infantry force of Russell’s:
· 2x Vet British infantry
· 4x Vet 25pdrs
· 4x Vet 25pdrs
For some reason at the start of the game I just couldn’t get my head around Dust Up and what we needed to do to win the game- a result of lack of playing- the objective placement really did my head in! In fact I had completely forgotten my standard tactics in that one till partway though the game and that really did almost cost us the game early on.
Turn 1: Poochie and I got the first turn so I advanced one panzer 3 out of the woods near the front objective to snipe a panhard armoured cars, then I planned to then stormtrooper the tank back into cover. However, at the last minute I also decided to add my commander to have a second crack- and so risk my only platoon on table unnecessarily! I had assumed the laffeys would have been out or range after moving but boy was I wrong! In fact I really hadn’t counted them in my plan at all and that was a HUGE mistake. Then I failed to Stormtrooper back into cover and so was left with both tanks hanging out in the open on the road!
Seeing the chance to win the game on turn 1 Bede and Russell pounced, suddenly my panzers were swarmed by panhards and laffeys which raced forward into range. Not only that but Russell man handled 2x 25 pdrs down the road towards the mk 3s which had no cover. As it turned out pure luck saved my bacon, I managed to bounce a 25 pdr hit (needing a 6) and the hit that did penetrate a panzer 3 only bailed it due to a poor firepower roll so I survived the shooting but I was absolutely gutted that I had almost cost Poochie a chance of a good game vs these guys by playing like a beginner and we really should have lost it then and there but am glad that we didn’t as the game grew into a really topsy-turvey pulsating nailbiter- but you can bet my tanks scurried back into the woods to lick their wounds after that debacle.
On turn 2 I decided to risk my company commander by popping him out too- I had foolishly double timed him on turn 1 to the second quarter, anticipating him helping Boris (the T34) to snipe the second 25 pdr gun line when Boris appeared from reserve, only to realise that was probably suicide (and finally remembering how I used to play Dust Up- win by intercepting/destroying the reserves as they come on table!) so moving back to support my other tanks made much more sense! However, Russell had moved his 25 pdrs forward along the road so my commander was behind their gunshield. I saw a great opportunity to snipe a 25pdrs then stormtrooper out of trouble. A good plan but the execution was a little off. I hit the 25 pdrs twice but Russell made both his gun saves then (again) I failed to stormtrooper out of trouble leaving my commander in direct LoS of 2x 25 pdrs. BOOM! There goes my commander, which meant no company morale check rolls for me! YIKES!
By the end of turn 2 the panhards were contesting the objective so for the second game in a row I was tethered to remaining within 4” of an objective and trading blows with enemy armour- or in this case Panhards.
Poochie sent his panzer threes through a woods and along the road to support my tanks and we managed to destroy two panhards but then just couldn’t finish off the last two. We either missed or they passed saves but luckily (for us) Bede failed to remount the bailed armoured cars, despite having a nearby company commander, and on turn 4 we finally destroyed the last armoured car. However, the French command tank had by now parked up in a wood within range of the objective so was also contesting the objective.
The laffeys and 25 pdrs work together to keep us under pressure and those sneaky opponents also made use of buildings and woods to mitigate vs our stukas. In fact in this game we got lots of stuka strikes but by sticking close to buildings and woods Bede and Russell were able to minimise this superiority and several flights failed to spot targets or were much less effective than we’d hoped.
By now the pressure was well and truly on for both teams. The amusing thing with this game as that for most of it both Bede and I, and Poochie too for that matter, were barely a dice roll or two away from losing a platoon and potentially the game too so all put ourselves under pressure. Both sides thought that had the other team pressed the advantage a wee bit more the game was theirs for the taking.
On about turn 4 Bede discussed going for the kill or pulling back to regroup and Russell counselled regrouping and waiting for reinforcements. I was relieved he did as I still felt I was pinned to the ropes and taking body blow after body blow- only 2x tanks at that stage and no company commander if they had broken my (only) platoon by killing one more tank! But maybe the fact that Poochie’s force was slightly healthier than mine and nearby to offer support was a factor that helped sway them. Poochie was adding his fire vs the panhards and slowly gaining an advantage there but I did not feel at all confident that we (I) would/could weather another turn. But I think that is why this game was so great, we both had opportunities to win it (or lose it) but each felt the other side had the upper hand/advantage!
I thought that decision to wait for reinforcements gave us a glimmer of hope- through I could see that rationale in trying to get more platoons on table to raise the platoon count/company morale test break point and reduce the risk of us breaking their French recon company.
On turn 5 we finally we managed to finish off the panahard company and so claim a point! that sneaky French command tank is contesting the objective so my panzer III couldn't move too far or we'd lose the game.
The laffeys continued working their way round using the roads for mobility and the buildings to hide from the stukas.
Turn 6. The 25 pdrs range in on the two panzer 3s. That 25pdr has been manhandled so far along the road it may claim an objective!
And then there was one. I think my panzer fell victim to a 25 pdr shot but the last panzer III stayed on table. the panzer III and Boris who was rushing to the rescue then destroyed the laffey platoon which meant that Bede needed to pass a company morale test which he calmly did.
Turn 7: My last panzer 3 is destroyed by a repeat bombardment meaning that the French company commander is contesting the objective and we have no hope of contesting. This meant that Poochie and I had one turn of shooting vs the GTG Hotchkiss platoon (with 2 bailed tanks already) to break them and force a company morale test BEFORE we checked victory conditions and they won. A half chance was better than none so we went for it! Boris rolled 2 dice and…both missed. Poochie’s panzer IIIs rolled 9 dice needing 5s and… all missed. GAME to Bede and Russell (5-2 as the first platoon didn't count).
Sorry no photos of the epic last shots at the panhards :(
Wow, another great game to finish on. Both sides had chances to win. As it was some outrageous dice rolling on my behalf kept us in it for a couple of turns when it should have been all over and we tried to ride this luck to victory, only to come up just short.
Poochie thought they had 10 good chances to win we had about 5- I don’t think it was quite that high but the ratio was about right. For two turns in a row my dice suddenly ran hot and kept my force alive only by me rolling lots of 5+s for armour saves, any one failure here and it was all over for my force and the game as if at any time my panzer IIIs broke it left the French Recon command tank holding an uncontested objective. To tell the truth I was more than happy to keep rolling high but knew it was a game of Russian roulette and sooner or later my luck would run out but while it lasted it gave Poochie a great chance to break Bede’s recon company which he did his absolute best to do so it really did go down to the wire!
What can I say? Bede and Russell thoroughly deserved the win. They had the upper hand for most of the game but we too had a couple of chances to snatch victory which almost came off so can’t complain about that.
I’m just glad that the game lasted more than one turn as it would have really been an anticlimactic end to the weekend if my stupid mistake had cost us the game on turn 1. As it was it instead built into a really epic game. Bede too made a critical error that gave Poochie a sniff of victory vs his Hotchkiss platoon but Poochie was just unable to pass firepower tests to finish off bailed Hotchkis. Bede must have felt alarmed as for two turns in a row he failed to remount any of the bailed out tanks and so was unable to escape from Poochie’s tanks. We should have been able to hammer that advantage home but didn’t manage to.
Bede and Russell’s win ensured that they won the entire competition and Poochie and I were pipped into third place by Rob Sadler and his partner. Had Bede failed his company morale check then it would have been a 6-1 to Poochie and me and we’d have come out on top so you can’t really be disappointed by that.
Well done Bede and Russell it was an epic game and I hope that his report does it a modicum of justice. It really was a great game, played in a great spirit and you guys thoroughly deserved the win. I think you made an awesome (and somewhat formidable) pairing! I look forward to meeting across the table at Panzershrek next year.
|Bede and Russell claim first place.|
|Me and Poochie accept prizes for 3rd.|
Part of the reason that I decided to go to Panzershrek was the unexpected death of Nick Garden last year. It really hit home how important the gaming friendships I'd fostered playing Flames over the past decade or so are so I decided to try and get up north one per year to game with the Wellington guys (somehow most of the guys I enjoy gaming with have been sucked up into living in Wellington over the past few years- it seems that Wellington is some sort of vortex for South Island gamers!). Having not been to any comps/events over the past 2 1/2 years also decided not to go but in the end decided to and am glad I did.
I was adopted by the Wellington Regiment for the weekend and really enjoyed hanging out with them.
|The Wellington Regiment muster|
Finally, thanks to the Palmerston North organisers for running such a great event. It is the world’s oldest FoW event and can see why people come back year after year. I was really impressed with the spirit that all games were played in and there really had a good, low key let’s just have fun kind of vibe to the whole weekend. I had an awesome weekend which really has reinvigorated my desire to play Flames again.
Thanks to all our opponents. I had 5 very enjoyable games. Cheers to the Wellington guys too for their hospitality over the weekend and finally big cheers to Poochie. For a number of years we’ve not paired up so as to ensure we had balanced teams at Day of Days but I thought our gaming styles complemented each other really well and made for a great team. Neither or us gave our force a snow balls chance in hell of doing very well beforehand but somehow it all came together quite nicely and though we did get more than our share of luck at times we had a blast all weekend and hope our opponents did too.