In desperate need of some vacation, and deciding that we would take a shot at the Flames of War doubles competition, even though we were sadly out of practice, my friend Mark and I decided to take a trip out to the Cold Wars convention in Lancaster PA. Quite a hike for us Midwesterners but we had done it often enough before, so we had no particular reservations. And indeed the travel and the meals in Lancaster were very pleasant; the gaming was good fun also.
Deciding that two days of FoW tourney madness would be to much for our aged psyches, we decided to play the I95 doubles on Friday, and to indulge ourselves in in the Fields of Glory Renaissance games in 25mm on Saturday. Too much of a good thing is still too much, we felt.
Neither of us are particularly gifted list builders; we decided to build a Soviet list, with Mark running a bunch of lend-lease Sherman’s, and me running something else. The lists were limited to the Red Bear/Grey wolf combination, at least limiting the opposition ‘s options somewhat. Not enough, as it turned out, it we shall get to that.
The prototype list pair was Lend lease Shermans and a light self propelled gun company, but it did not work well in concert so it was promptly abandoned. The assault guns did not add anything to the whole. It was clear that some infantry was needed. Actual though showed that mobs of panzerfaust armed infantry was going to pose a large problem for the tanks, given that an assault would fail if two tanks were bailed. So we decided some mob of infantry needed to go with the Shermans. As Mark had glommed (not sure that is a word) 1200 points, it just left me with 800.
Looking at lists, there was a number of choices. Strelkovy, Motoostrelkovy, Rota and the rest. In my ignorance I could not make the Strelk or Moto strelk points work out; the Rota did not seem to add the infantry we needed (and we would have had to paint the rides) so we ended up with Stalin’s happy Penal battalion. This choice was also informed by the zinc bust of Comrade Lenin we were bringing with us. Mark’s list were always attack anyway, so that was not an issue. So the final list looked something like :
Immochiky Tank batalion
Battalion Co Sherman 75 Nevski
Company 1 7 x Sherman 76 & Loza
Company 2 5 x Sherman 75
Company 3 3 x BA64
Stalin’s happy Penal battalion Shraf battalion
Battalion HQ 2 SMG Kommisar, 2 x 45mm
Company 1 23 psychotic SMG guys, and Pyl’cyn
Company 2 7 equally psychotic SMG guys
Company 3 6 x 81mm mortars
The idea was to infiltrate the 76mm shermans, and my guys would trot across the board to whatever it was that needed to be assaulted. As ever with us, we didn’t seem to get to play a game before we went; this, for me at least was a problem as I underestimated quite how resilient a bunch of guys who pass morale on a “2” with a komissar was. I was too cautious in the first game, hiding behind things when I should have been charging across the board for mother Russia.
The scenario was Domination, one of our favourites. However, the board did not favour us at all, leaving Mark’s bunch of shermans with nowhere to hide in the face of 6 panthers. Sight lines were 30 inches long, and he did well to dispose of a platoon of 3 panthers before his armoured force became one with the socialist dialectic.
Me, on the left of the board, confronted with German Paznergrenadiers backed by their machine gunning halftracks failed even to hit an enemy element in the course of the game. How cheery. We ended up with a disappointing 2-5. Given the bareness of the terrain there was some muttering about “infantry friendly”, however our opponents were charming, and we enjoyed their company.
The second game was, I think “Hold the Line”. played longways on a village table. While at least here there was more terrain, there were still long sightlines, which once more caused Mark trouble with the oppositions obligatory Panthers (CV this time, as opposed to the Wiking ones). We were playing some form of a Hungarian infantry/ german armour combination, which was well managed by our amusing opponents.
I did manage to drive the shraf platoon into the enemy in this one, while Mark was playing ring-around-the village with the panthers.
I did learn that hiding in the village houses when there was a battery of 149mm howitzers in the open area nearby was a bad idea, though….
In the third game we played the new (to us, anyhow) “Dust up” scenario, which is posited as a replacement for Encounter, which was always a nightmare for infantry. I found this one much better for the leg guys; The placement of the original objectives in diagonally opposite quarters mean that it is much more feasible for infantry to get to an objective. The issue that the reinforcements come on in the “No-mans-land” quarters make protecting your flanks a must.
We played another great german armour/hungarian infantry combination, with the the Hungarians being Confident Trained, rather than Veteran as they were in the second game. This did mean that there was a LOT of them though, and their rather large amount of towed AT guns, along with more open areas around the village once more mean that Mark’s shermans were pinned in our deployment quarter, or behind the village. They 76s settled down behind some hills to wait for the arriving german stugs, and the 75mm shermans supported the Shraf as they ran through the village and assaulted the Hungarians out of it. Things were looking fairly good as my reinforcements worked away at his AT guns on the other side of the village. And then the stugs turned up.
With 7 sherman 76s Mark seemed well set for 7 stugs. It was not to be though, as a couple of disastrous turns of shooting found him struggling to hold our objective with a bunch of burning 76s for no visible losses in the stugs. He had to recall the 75mm shermans to stave off disaster, leaving the weakened shraf (4 assaults later) unable to make progress, in the face of, of all things, 3 police manned hungarian FIAT tankettes which had turned up as re-inforcements. We had a winning draw, when time was called, 3-1. Given the presence of another 149mm artillery battery, I managed to avoid entering any of the buildings this time. Good game though.
Very pleased the the caliber and nature of out opponents, less pleased with our list making skills, and a little down-heartened by our terrain struggles sums up the day, all in all.
We girded our loins for the FoGR stuff the next day by heading off to eat chinese food, and being amazed by the Pa. liquor laws…