Well, time to finish up the rest of the tournament report. I will go through my remaining three games and write down some opinions on the army list, the tournament and overall state of the Late War Meta.
Game 3 – American Tanks – Fighting Withdrawal
On with the third game. I’ve got two wins so far. This time I was looking to face Americans from Remagen. I was lucky to play a guy I haven’t faced before who turned out to be a great opponent. The list was:
Jumbo 76mm (1iC)
Sherman Platoon – 1 Jumbo 76mm + 3 Sherman 76mm
3 Armored Mortars
Armored Rifle Platoon (full strength)
Cavalry Recon – Stuart 2 Jeeps
M7 Priest Battery
I got to defend and picked the Combat Engineers. Defending in Fighting Withdrawal can be tough with tanks, so I put one objective to the side hoping that my engineers could spread out and cover both. Defending the third objective would be tough however. I put it near a forest and put my cavalry recon and armored mortars in the forest so they could contest. The trick with his army is that you cannot gun tank past the Jumbos. When in cover, they won’t get hit a lot and my AT13 hits won’t get past to open up the juicer 76mm Shermans. But with an ambush, I could use my tanks to outflank his and start firing in down his side armor. Overall I felt I should be able to win this game.
He decide to move his tanks through a wood and one of the Jumbos bogged down. I decided to ambush my tank platoon inside the forest to get shots off at the Sherman 76mm. My armored mortars rolled out to smoke the other Jumbo 76mm. If I got lucky here, I could take out the Shermans and dominate the rest of the game. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out like that while I bagged a sherman 76mm after maybe two rounds of shooting, but that was it. As his Jumbos sorted themselves out and went in close formation, I felt that there was no way I could produce enough hits on the concealed Sherman 76mms to win the firefight. He blew up some of my tanks but I made some lucky platoon morale checks. I had great luck pinning the armored rifle platoon, who stayed pinned for three or maybe for turns. Without them, any assault on my engineers would be risky.
I was very aggressive with the Sherman observer tank this game who worked on the far left flank by alone and managed to take out the Priest platoon. That made him the most successful vehicle hunter my army had during the game. My opponent did some last ditch charges on my engineers but they held.
This was the last game on day one and waking up early for the drive meant that I was pretty tired during this game. I just hope I didn’t piss off my opponent who was a overall a great guy. I felt he could have attacked stronger on the far right objective that didn’t have combat engineers guarding it. He could then have protected himself from outflanks by sending the infantry in the forest. He did a very good job with the Pershing, holding it far back and working the angles carefully to get good shots. A single tank platoon is a tasty target if one decides to go for company break. I had a great game and it was really fun to face the yanks.
Results: 6-1 to me
Game 4 – American Armored Rifle – Flank Attack (Home made mission)
The next day was another American Civil War game. By winning three games in a row I got to a chance play against “the usual suspects” which in Sweden means playing tough opponents from the Gothenburg area. I had played my opponent for this game once before and he runs infantry like a pro. Playing aggressively with infantry is a skill I don’t have. His army was:
Armored Rifle Company from Blood Guts and Glory
Full strength Armored Rifle Platoon
Reduced strength Armored Rifle Platoon
Recon platoon 4 infantry teams teams+ transports
4 M10 Tank Destroyers
Priest Battery (3 Priests)
Limited Air Support P47
Unfortunately for my opponent, this home made mission favored the maneuverability of my army and outside of his tank destroyers, he was critically weak in direct fire antitank. With 5 machine gun shots a tank, I could really tear the infantry to ribbons should they decide to leave their foxholes. If I took care of the M10s somehow, I could stand outside bazooka range and shoot until I win. My weak units would enter from the left flank and mop up the infantry once the Stuarts and M10s are gone. I figured that my easy eight 1iC together with the Sherman Assault Guns, could hold off the Stuarts and the smaller armored rifle platoon arriving from his flank to attack my home objectives.
I decided that there was no way he could kill my tanks in a straight up shoot out so I placed everything with higher armor than 1 on the table. The Sherman assault guns and my 1iC spread out around the objectives to handle incoming Stuarts and Infantry. He put the big armored rifle platoon, the Priests and the M10s in his corner. I slowly rumbled forward in the town, pushing aggressively with the Jumbos but keeping the Easy Eights behind the houses. As soon as my cavalry recon arrived from the flanks my opponent sprung his M10s to shoot at them. My patrol successfully disengaged and my Shermans claimed a M10 in return fire before they backed into a wood. I was keen on protecting my Easy Eights but at the same time trying to reduce the Priests. He rolled the TDs out for some long range shots at my units massing on his flank but was incredibly unlucky and failed to do any damage. I felt that the battle started to drag out a bit and was a bit too keen to get rid of this dangerous unit, so I did some rushed bombardment rolls. In hindsight, the sportsman thing to do would be to offer to reroll the entire sequence. He sent in the Stuarts first against a Sherman platoon and then against my armored mortars who became the only platoon I lost. Without the Stuarts gone, I could pick apart the infantry and win on a company break.
Well for some analysis, my opponent used his Sherman observer and 2iC in half track very aggressively. I lost my armored mortars hunting the 2iC down and the Sherman Observer was bailing my tanks. However, I am unsure if dropping the tank destroyers on my recce was a good trade. I would have aimed for a Sherman platoon, perhaps smoked a Jumbo in the hopes to do enough damage for a morale check. I also would not waste aircraft dice on trying to chase down my AOP because my artillery was too weak to have an real impact (it killed some infantry teams). I made some mistakes too. I didn’t properly measure angles and distances to his infantry leading to my Sherman Assault Guns being shot by bazookas and were almost assaulted. Luckily, I saved them all. The aircraft did at times get an entire Sherman assault gun platoon under the template, bombed my 1iC a couple of times but didn’t achieve anything. Some might consider this bad luck but I think most aircraft are just way to random. My opponent had really bad luck, his shooting was terrible during the entire game and I think he failed every single morale check. Even though I had a big advantage who only grew as the game went on, my opponent played very competitively, trying to exploit my mistakes but stayed calm and played correctly. Overall a tough but enjoyable game.
Result: 5-1 to me.
5th game (the last one) – Veteran Panzer Kampfgruppe – Dust Up
Last game set me against a German Tank company from Desperate Measures. It had:
HQ – 2 StuG
4 Panzer IV/70 (A)
Recce patrol 3 Luchs
I really like this list, it has a great mix between firepower, mobility and veteran ratings with good special rules to last in firefights. This is a very tough company to face in a mission like Dust Up. It can either stand back on long range and murder my arriving reservers (if I put weak platoons in reserve) or overwhelm my objectives with 14 veteran tanks (if I put weak platoons on the table). My opponent tried to convince me that he doesn’t play much Flames of War version 3 to lower my expectations but it didn’t work as we met in a Tournament last year, a game which I lost pretty hard.
My plan was basically to have my Assault guns, armored mortars and Cav Recon arrive from reserves. The assault guns could probably threaten StuGs and they aren’t easy to kill. I also wanted to put down the Priests and my tank platoons on the table. I put my home objective centrally and the away objective closer to the short side table edge. He put his Stugs, Panzer IV70s and Nebelwerfer on the table. There was a lot of testing the waters going on so the deployment and first turn took a lot of time.
He moved the StuGs in an arc towards me while the Panzer IV/70s took up a central position. I started losing tanks in firefights and the terrain in my quarter (which I didn’t get to pick) had a lot slow going and LOS block so could not bring all the firepower to bear. I started losing tanks and made absolutely no impression on the Panzer IV/70s while StuGs and Hetzers were about to overrun my objective. I had armored mortars and Sherman Assault Guns coming simultaneously and blew up the Nebelwerfers. The Panzer IV70s turned around and blew them both up in two shooting phases and my chance to win on objectives was gone. I finally got the entire StuG platoon and due to Enjoy the War, I had to destroy ever single one. One of the Sherman platoons was reduced to a single Jumbo from the firefight, and it luckily passed a morale test. I could not really utilize Smooth Ride properly in this game mainly because of my crowded deployment area. The Hetzers together withe StuGs forced my to bring both of my tank platoons to defend my objective and time got up.
I was a bit too careful against the two Nebelwerfers and should have closed ranks more to utilize the free area. I was also disappointed in my dice as I couldn’t produce enough hits and I spent many shooting phases trying to roll 5s or 6s with the 76mm guns against the StuGs and Hetzers to no avail. I got rid of the StuGs and had a chance for company break in the last round (his HQ section was dead) but it didn’t happen. On the other hand, had my last Jumbo and 1iC not passed their test and fled the field, my home objective would have been lost. Overall a hard fought game and one I could have much maneuvered and planned better.
Result: 3-3 Draw
Overall result: The top three players had the same amount of points after five games. Me and my last opponent being one of them. By some technicality, I got first place overall. The British paras player who placed himself fourth, won all his games and I really felt he should have been the overall winner.
They guys who ran the tournament were very experienced in running Flames of War events, this was their tenth anniversary of the Hammarfow tournament. There were no bottlenecks and everything ran smoothly. The tables were mission specific and the ones I played on were pretty balanced terrain wise. Perhaps there could have been few more linear obstacles on the tables, mainly for looks (and absolutely not because I want to Smooth Ride the Easy Eights while staying concealed). I was really happy that it was a singles tournament and not doubles, something my competitive side doesn’t like. Tables were spaced, there was plenty of room to handle miniatures, sound volume was low and the schedule allowed for plenty of time to finish games.
Army analysis and Cranky Rant
The 7th armored is a powerful army to take to tournaments. It is hits hard, soaks up damage and can take on most foes. But the other armies in the top were also strong. If I playtested this army, I would have probably switched Combat Engineers for some confident trained M10 Tank Destroyers. TDs can really catch hard to get platoons with their ambush and can put the pressure on tank companies with direct fire. Vehicles with front armor 4 and trained ratings need to be careful though, because return fire will crush them. While the combat engineers played a big part in my third game, I am too weak as an infantry player to run them successfully.
A big letdown were the Priests. I think their bombardments maybe bagged four or five teams during the entire tournament. They had some real chances to make a difference in game 5. I’ve ran veteran Priests before and the difference in killing power is huge. The observer Sherman on the other hand, is really powerful. It has decent armor, can wonder off on its own to annoy lightly armored vehicles and unsupported infantry.
I expected a lot from the Sherman Assault Guns as they look very strong on paper, but safe to say is that they delivered. Their bombardments could threaten medium tanks and they are very dangerous to infantry. This is important because I don’t want my trained Shermans in assaults.
The reason I didn’t playtest this army is because almost nobody wants to play against it. The combinations of special rules and under priced abilities across the board means only very competitive lists can give it a good game. This I feel is a problem with the current late war open meta, where Americans, especially from the Devils Charge and Battle of the Bulge, have access significantly more powerful army lists than almost everyone else. I hope Battlefront tones the Americans down in the Battle of the Bulge compilations they are rumored to be doing. They should at least remove the ability to mix and match different skill ratings as no other faction in the game can tailor their army like this. Meanwhile I believe good tournament practice is to restrict army selection from the 6 big compilations and skip the paperbacks for open Late War. Since the nerfing of the Naval Gun Fire Support, I never feel really dirty when playing yankees out of Overlord. Another big topic for discussion is the points system which I believe would be more competitive if only wins count and victory points were used for ties. But that is a topic to blabber about on another day.