The rather scruffy collection of Chicago war gamers noticed that there would be a tournament in Madison, WI at The Last Square. Liking both the gamers up there, and the store, we decided we would come back from our break in FoW-ing by heading up and having a good time. 1500 points, midwar, what fun. And then, in my case, we forgot all about it.
I had not played FoW for 6 months. Not painted anything in that long, either. I had no idea what on earth I was going to do. I did manage to get a couple of games in before departure, but they were both 1750 points late war. Oh well, I suppose they would help me remember the rules.
As for a list, I dipped into my stuff and produced :
It does look marginally better in real life, than in my poor photo, and consisted of
HQ – T-34
Company – 10 x T-34 with Tankodesantniki
Company – 5 x T-60
Assault Gun Co – 4 x SU-122
Tank killer Co – 4 x SU-85
All Fearless Conscript
Local reaction to this was unmixed. While some were discreet enough to remain silent, the potential weakness of the t60 platoon was pointed out (“accident waiting for a place to happen”), the absence of recce, and the fact that the assault guns had no MGs all featured in the critiques I received.
Not that I didn’t believe them, but I had played 2 games in 6 months, had hardly set the world on fire before that and the chances of me painting something new in a couple of weeks was less than nil. So with it I was going. Besides, it was small and very little trouble to blow the dust off and pack. Here is the Battalion Co, doomed from the start.
It appeared that I was driving, so I scooped up Dan “Panzer Dan” and Simon “Hedgehog” at an ungodly hour on Saturday morning and headed north. Made all the more ungodly by me having to dump a child off for a school trip, requiring me to be up at 5. And then the dog wasn’t so terribly well during the night (I’ll spare you the details, but I hope the fertilizer quotient of dog droppings is fairly high, we can save on gardening stuff next year) so I was up at 4.
I drank a lot of coffee, but playing a tournament after 4 hours sleep when I was not entirely sure of the rules was not a prospect that filled me with the image of the glory I was going to gain. So I decided to sit back, relax, and get as many t34s blown up as humanly possible.
We actually arrived in good time, to find the store as nice as ever. If memory serves, there was 12 tables, 3 each of snow, City, Italy, and Desert. Joe “Keamma”, who was running the shindig, can correct me if I am wrong. Here is the place.
For my first sojourn I was drawn against a nice young bloke called Ben, who had German pioneers on a snow table in “Encounter”. The table was pretty broken up by belts of woods and a small village as well. The snow was slightly modified : everything was treated as having wide tracks, and if one did have wide tracks, one did not have to roll a test. Good news for the old t34s then, so off we went. Not so good for the pioneers who had brought their evil goliaths with them, as the entire board was bad going. I started the t34 platoon on, and the su122s, placing my objective against the back of the board. I cannot honestly remember where the rest of the objectives were, I decided to rumble across the board as fast as I could, before more of Ben’s stuff turned up. Ben took 2 pioneer platoons, and a couple of pak40s as his three platoons with endless goodies to appear later. And Stukas also, oh my. Here we are, trundling forward on turn two, I think
The Pak40s engaged the mass of tanks, killing one, I think. the su122s counter fired and killed them. The stukas caused much execution (3 tanks and an assault gun, maybe) on the approach march, making the route taken be littered by burnt out tanks and dead tankos. Ben had advanced both pioneer platoons into woods covering the objectives. Assaulting dug in pioneers with conscript t34s in woods, I could see this was going to go well. Then the marxist dialectic showed up big time (it could not be dumb luck, that would be a capitalist interpretation) , and not one, but both pioneer platoons looked blankly at their shovels, wondering what they were for as they failed to dig in. My tanks were close enough, so they rolled in, 5 of them with the battalion co. 39 machine gun/smg shots was enough to suppress the pioneers (they rather made up for the abject failure to dig in by their abject failure to fail many saves), and we rolled into the woods, also failing to bog any tanks. The pioneers were not hit very much, but immediately failed their tank terror and fell back into the snowy wastes on the other side of the wood near the objective. T34s rumbled to the edge of the wood, failing once more to bog anything (I guess I will take not bogging over not hitting anyone in melee). Next turn the pioneers fail to unpin and are left to burrow into the snow. The other pioneer platoon leaves its position,, but it is much too far away to get anywhere that matters. I am thinking, ok, I have a bunch of shots here, I can at least pin them, and fight without bogging rolls. I have 37 shots. Needing 6s. Marx smiles, and I hit 14 times. Bens “good save” mojo deserts him, the platoons fails a morale test, and My “shooting too successful” takes me onto the objective. Now all that matters is Bens re-enforcement roll, is something going to show up for him? Nope, he gets some, but they are over in the far corner. Game over, 6-1.
We were done fairly fast, so I had some to think about it while waiting for the next round. “Nothing special here”, I though “i had the advantage in Encounter, and had good luck, he had terrible luck” and came to the conclusion that I was still doomed. Dan
pictured here had managed to win his first game and avoid any sort of wardrobe malfunctions of the sort that has dogged him (or possibly the people looking at him) in previous events. Not sure right now how Simon did, but I am sure pretty well. The result of this was I ended up getting my second draw as fighting “Panzer Dan” with all his Afrika Korps tanks and some form of facist ubermensch guy in “No retreat” on a city table. With conscript tanks, and no recce. I could see that this was going to go well.
First roll was who was attacking, as we were both Tank companies. Fortunately, I won, because I would have been completely destroyed attacking. Ok, now I had to pick which 2 platoons to put on. The huge t34 platoon with the su85s in ambush seemed like a good choice. Or at least the best one available to me. I covered the front objective with the the t34 platoon, filling the buildings and ruins with smg-armed proletarians, and hiding the tanks as best I could behind the structures. I figured that to let him get shots without exposing a bunch of guys would just result in more burning hulks. This left me a bit off centre, and in fact the back objective was uncovered, but I figured that I would drop the su85s down there if (or when) it all went pear shaped. Dans panzers came on in a tight bunch on the other side of the boards, and his recce armored cars began to race ahead, followed by a clutch of sand colored panzers. And indeed, as he moved down, he sniped a couple of t34s he came into sight of, and then storm trooped out of sight again, driving happily through buildings. It appears that the german ubermensch hero allowed storm trooping on a die roll of -2. And his armored cars were rapidly making it so there was no place on my side of the board (or so it seemed) I could place my assault guns. It looked depressingly like I was going to have to plonk them down now, without any decent shots. Oh well.
Then Dans armored cars failed their stormtrooper roll, leaving one perched in the middle of the main Kiev – Smolensk toll road, and the other only half behind a building. I had 2 t34s that could shoot, one at long range in the open, and one at short. OK, I would stay hunkered down and hope I hit him and he failed his re-org roll or something. Or decided to disengage from my firing.
So I shot. He did not disengage, of course, having a better grasp of basic probability than I. However, he had not been indoctrinated properly in the Marxist dialectic, and the tanker that needed a 5 to hit generated 2 hits and the one that needed a 6 one.
Armored cars hit by 76mm shells do not generally fare well, no matter how many wheels they have, so we were treated to the Hollywood meme of the burning wheel rolling across the landscape in both cases.
So things were looking up. As opposed to the rear objective being in immediate danger, now I just had to contend to with 4 MkIVs and 7 or 8 MkIIIs that were shooting holes in the t34 platoon. I had lost at least 4 by the end of Dans next turn, and things were not looking good for the rest as the panzers storm trooped to reduce my shots on them. On the plus side he did not push any more toward the rear objective.
I decided I needed to drop the su85s out on the table, managing to get 3 where they could get decent shots at panzers, with the company commander stuck in cover minding the objective. And then I managed to roll a 5, and the su122s rolled on the back of the board, with a few more shots. The shooting was appallingly successful, with 4 MkIVs getting destroyed (including the facist ubermensch, after some consultation of the rules) and at couple (I think) of MkIIIs. here are the results of hot dice rolling.
(as you can see at the bottom of the picture, they gave us cookies)
The next turn Dan kept at it, baling most of the remaining t34s with his MkIIIs and killing off an su122. He then storm trooped out of sight, making me move to get shots.
In my turn, the t60s came on, took a brief look, and left. I moved the assault guns, remounted my tanks, and kept shooting. Though Dan kept eroding the t34 platoon, after a couple of turns I managed to force a check on his 4 tank MkIII platoon, which he failed, and I won because his company CO was dead.
This surprised the heck out of me, because now had 12 points, and I had really confidently expected to have 2 or maybe 3 by this stage.
In the last game I was going to be playing Simon and his pioneers (more bloody pioneers) complete with a Tiger AND a KV1e AND some marders. The scenario was either going to be “Fighting Withdrawal” or “Free-for-all” depending on a die roll. I was not enthused about attacking Tigers and flame throwing pioneers in “Fighting withdrawal”, so I was pleased when the NKVD had a quiet word with Joe (keamma) the tournament organizer (who did a wonderful job, great time was had by all, the check is in the mail) and it turned out to be “Free-for-all” on an italian table, woods, vineyards, a big village in the middle, and lots of contour lines.
I was tired by this stage, and my deployment and planning was.. limited. I decided to deploy the t34s and the su85s in the middle, so the ’85s could go either way to engage Tigers or KV1s, put the t60s in a wood near the right objective, and leave the su122s in the middle, with nothing near the left objective.
In so far as there was a plan, it was to push the t34s into the village in the middle, and hope that Simon (hedgehog) would not dig the pioneers in on his right, and rush them, and maybe some tanks, to the objective on the left. That would leave them in the open, where maybe I could clobber them, or get behind them to sit on his rightmost objective with the t34s.
And indeed, his left platoon, and the marders headed forward. But the marders headed back, and the t34s were getting shot up by the tiger, and the marauders doing the shuffle. On my right, the KV began to head toward the t60s, while the tigers was not obliging me by allowing the su85s to shoot it. I messed up here. I stopped the t34s and should have kept moving and tried to catch the pioneers in the open. Instead I got myself involved in a shootout with the marders and the tiger, and though I managed to kill 2 of the marders and they had to make a couple of tests nothing came of it. Except a mostly dead t34 company.
Now I had a bunch of burning hulks in the middle of the board, the su85s had to go to the right objective to help the cowering t60s against the oncoming KV, and at my left objective I had some assault guns without machine guns facing a platoon of pioneers with flame throwers.
This WAS working out well.
The KV finally rolled into the woods took a shot at the t60s, and missed. The german pioneers on my right hopped out their tenches (apparently these ones could find their shovels) on their side of the board and moved forward, flame throwers and all. The su85s were approaching shooting range of the KV, though, and the t60s managed to exit the wood without bogging anyone so all was not quite lost there. And the KV bogged itself, relieving the pressure somewhat. As opposed to the middle, where 2 marders, a smoke template, and a RoF 3 tiger were finishing off the t34 platoon. Or my left, where a su122 platoon had stuck one unfortunate of their number within 4 inches of the objective, and were waiting for the pioneer flame thrower assault. Which of course came, and, interestingly, mostly missed, or I saved the hits. In return, I missed. (love those conscripts). Simon blew up an su122 in the next round of assault. But I actually managed to kill a guy, and the pioneers failed tank terror and fell back.
The su85s, now completely intermingled with the t60s to dissuade the oncoming pioneers, conclusively failed to hit the bogged KV. For at least 2 turns, though I think we forgot it was trained. My battalion CO sprinted across the back of the board, passing the one remaining baled out t34, which lived merely because no german could see it currently. He managed to reach (just) the su122 platoon. Just in time, in the axis turn, for another assault. this time they flamed as they came in, and destroyed the su122 they baled, before failing tank terror again and falling back. This whole time, despite more or less constant shooting, I’m pretty sure they had not taken terrible casualties. The TO was now telling us to finish off, and we were looking a 1-1 draw in the face. So I took my last turn. Marxist-Leninist gun laying finally reached the su85 platoon, replacing the previous Trotskyist version, and they managed to perforate the KV-1, killing it. I assaulted the pioneers, managing to miss once more, but they failed tank terror and one died due to inability to get away from the tanks. They then took a morale roll (Simon pointed out later on that they shouldn’t have, he counted his flamer as dead when he should have been “absent” but oh well) and they went home too. Simon made a gallant attempt to kill off the t34 platoon, blowing up the last tank and then driving his tiger into a building to assault the last remaining tanko, but he missed and the tanko scurried off to safety, passing his morale roll.
And the game ended for time.
I had managed to lose 19 of 20 elements in one platoon, my plan had completely failed, I had assault guns playing games of chicken with flamethrower pioneers, but had made a 3-1 draw. There is something extremely Soviet about this….
It ended up that I had top score with Seans beautiful Alpini (winners by streets of the best painted prize). We decided to split the prize, but for some reason i was too tired to understand we still had to roll for honors, so I ended up as “Best General” (quietly snorts in derision before anyone else can do it).
So yes, there you go. A MW FoW tournament topped by conscript soviet tanks and Alpini from East Front. I’m sure Sean deserved the honor….