Despite appearances, I do actually play a game every so often. So when Mark decided he needed to try out his latest Late War Flames of War army, a horde of Russian Sherman 76mm tanks, I volunteered my services.
Then he told me I had to play something Axis, with panthers.
I do not own any Axis armies.
I do not usually play veteran troops (this may be why I do not usually win games). The only tank forces I am accustomed to playing are hordes of valiant communists who die in droves. I did not regard this as good practice for playing some form of Axis finesse army.
And, more or less, I was right.
Looking for something that fit his criteria, I came up with hungarian tanks from the same book he was taking his guys from. I ended up with :-
HQ- Hungarian hero guy (ain’t even trying to pronounce his name) in a Tiger
Plt 1 – 2 Tiger I
Plt 2 – 3 Panthers
Plt 3 – 2 Panthers
Plt 4 – 4 of some sort of hungarian recce tank, apparently armed with a ballon on a stick
It is possible that if I had actually owned the lead, I might have looked at the 12 vehicles (4 of them clown cars) and wondered if a better list might be constructed. On the other hand, I might not have noticed the possible issues. The problem was brought home to me when Mark showed up with my entire army in a tiny cardboard box and his requiring a tool box, and possibly a porter that he paid off at the front door.
Marks list was..
HQ – Sherman 76
Co 1 – About 275 Sherman 76s, led by some sort of proletarian superman
Co 2 – Only 150 Sherman 76s
Co 3 – 4 Su-100
Co 4 – 3 BA64
Honestly, I think the platoons were 8 and 6 Shermans respectively, but I am not terribly sure, There was certainly a lot of them.
In the interest of playing something new, and noticing that “Dust up” was starting to show its face in tournaments, replacing “Encounter” and “Free for all” we decided to give it a go. And I must admit it was a pleasant change of pace.
It did mean that I started with 6 tanks on the board. Mark had 13.
I shall be honest. I did not have a clue what I was doing. I put my tigers where they could shoot; I relied on the hero guy making his stormtrooper roll.
Of course, he did not; having missed everything in my turn, the return fire killed my hero guy, and the enemy tanks closed in on my objective (and few tanks).
After the second turn, we called it, because I was going to lose. Completely due to my inability to run my army; always a reassuring feeling.
Reinforcements had turned up, in the form of Dan, Allan, and Ed, so we went again. I decided to let Dan run my guys, as he runs german Panzers all the time, and we started a game of “Encounter”, something that at least I was comfortable with the dynamics of.
We started with the two panther platoons on this time, a better choice with all the AT12 guns facing us, the three vehicle one on our leftmost objective, and the two vehicle one on the rightmost objective.
The Soviet opposition placed 4 SU-100 on our right, and 8 or 9 Sherman 76 on our left.
The game developed slowly, with the Shermans moving into a central position, being ineffectually sniped at by the 3 tank Panther platoon which was shuffling back and forth behind the housed of the central village.
On our right I pushed the two panthers toward the SU-100s, who were minding an objective behind a wood. My thought was that maybe I could use the reduced visibility of the wood to isolate one SU, and force the others to move to return fire, making myself hard to hit.
This plan was carried out. I managed to bail a SU (Yeah, fearless, that was gonna work) and then the Russian hero thundered over, unaffected by Hen and Chicks (old version) and got a side shot on a platoon commander, as well as a frontal shot from the SUs. of course he died, followed promptly by the other tank in the platoon.
Due to my brainwave, we were now more or less stumped. the tiger platoon came on, taking up position around out right objective, dissuading the SU100s from anything dramatic. Marks second platoon of Shermans came on, on his right, but fire from the panthers in the village and bad bogging rolls reduced them to one tank, making it difficult for them to do anything. I pushed the recce tanks up the stream to Marks left objective, but there was a stay behind sherman which prevented us from achieving anything much.
With the game basically bogged down, as it looked as if whichever side moved from cover was going to be destroyed, and 2.5 hours elapsed, we called it as a 1-2 losing draw.
I must say the Russian Sherman 76 was impressive, just hard to deal with all those reasonably powerful tanks. I wonder how it will fare in the upcoming book?