Time to conclude the games played from the Flames of Cards event. My force was a simple German one that I borrowed from my good friend (the same guy who’s giving my Strelkovy a living hell). I really fancy the mobility of German infantry and their powerful weaponry but haven’t played them much in Late War. I took the opportunity to design a Grey Wolf German Grenadier company supported by 2 mobile units (Marders and StuGs). The Flames of Cards rule set emphasizes company level support, that is combat and weapons platoons, so I couldn’t load up on regimental and divisional support. I went with 3 combat platoons of Grenadiers and some mortars to form the core, they were supported by Nebelwerfers, vehicles and of course the very deadly PaK40s. Without restrictions, I would probably switch one Grenadier platoon for regimental Scouts.
Game 1 – British Armored Recce (11th Division) – Dust Up
First game was against British Armored Recce from Market Garden. It had:
2 Cromwell IV
3 Cromwell IV+ 1 Challenger A30
3 Cromwell IV
3 Cromwell IV
2 Cromwell IV+ 1 Challenger A30
1 Daimler + 2 Dingo Scout Cars
4 Cromwell IV CS with Walter Luttrell
I don’t remember which card my opponent’s had, but I think he chose to deny me drawing a card if I won. I got the Fortified Position Card which gave my 2 minefields and either 2 HMG nests or 2 booby traps. I forgot to bring nests so I had to go with booby traps. The minefields meant I could properly seal of my flank from his reserves.
In the battle my opponent didn’t defend his home objective properly. Any attempts on my objective were crushed by the PaK40s. As my reserves came in and moved towards his objective, he was too far away to save it. To my opponent’s defense he wasn’t really sure about the reserves rule. I messed up too by not reading my Battle Card properly (it said vehicle in reserves should come in last). This could have influenced the battle a lot because I probably would have put the StuGs on the table to support my reserves. Now that I think of it, a kind of scary card to play on this mission because of the “murder the reserves” tactic that people can do against you.
Result: Win for me. Victory points don’t count in Flames of Cards.
Game 2 – Tankovy Batalon (Red Army) – Surrounded
Arrayed against me was a real horde of older Soviet tanks. My opponent had borrowed his army too but unlike Grenadiers, Soviet tanks are not a user friendly company to run. Not a terrible effective army either but I think it can be powerful against infantry companies in surrounded. It had:
4 T-34/85 + 2 T-34/76
1 T-34/85 Comissar Dedov
I didn’t get any cards for this one as my team mates needed them more. This was going to a tough one because StuGs were my heaviest tanks, yet they come with shitty side armor that can be exploited by attacking from two directions. This tankovy had a lot of tanks and I couldn’t really mass all my guns against one platoon because everything was too spread out. The T-34/85s rolled forward and shot up all my StuGs by rolling a ton of 6s. I think the StuGs and Marders knocked out 2-3 tanks during the entire game because of my dice (and maybe weak positioning). While I had some great woods to put infantry in, both the T-34/76s and the T-70s come with wide tracks. He split his tanks into two groups, the T70s attacked one grenadier platoon and the T-34/76s in the other.
So while my direct fire and artillery consistently failed, the battle hardened German Grenadiers rose to the occasion. My opponent was a bit sloppy when assaulting, he usually got way too few teams in range to fight (I probably should have helped him out here). I usually backad away when possible without handing over objectives completely. My plan was to back away, yet not too far and hope for kills in defensive fire. He was also incredibly unlucky when rolling to hit and there were repeated assault rounds where the trained tanks just didn’t hit anything. I could gang up on lone vehicles, avoid a lot of defensive fire and take them out. The Grenadiers fought tenaciously, refusing to flee even when taking massive casualties. I was afraid my opponent would attack the south objective in the open, but he looked totally committed the northern flank, so I pulled troops towards the middle woods from the lower objective. Storm trooper was incredibly useful to redeploy quickly.
While my opponent was incredibly unlucky in assaults, I think after handling the StuGs, he could have just sat back and shot until my morale broke. My direct fire wasn’t as effective as infantry in woods. Either way, it was a very difficult battle from the beginning to the end and I enjoyed it very much.
Result: A victory on time out but you know what? That counts too.
Game 3 – Armored Rifle Company (4th Armored) – Cauldron
Third game was against Americans. From memory:
2 Full strength Armored Rifle Platoons (Confident/Veteran)
3 M1 57mm Anti tank guns (Confident/Veteran)
4 Shermans (Confident/Veteran)
3 Priests (Confident/Veteran)
2 M10 Tank Destroyers (confident/trained)
A good army but without scouts (probably because of the army restrictions- no more support than combat and weapons platoons), it could face disasters in ambushes. However it has the numbers for very powerful assaults.
My opponent basically went for reckless turn 1 assaults with practically everything. Armored rifles have so much integrated support that they can pin concealed veterans which was quite a nasty surprise. There was a really annoying wood close to an objective and he deployed this massive American Strelkovy Horde armed to teeth with LMGs and Bazookas within assault range of objectives.
I had some bad luck like a Sherman platoon coming in from reserves, reducing the StuG platoon to half strength with one round of long range stabilizer fire. In the the next turn the Shermans assaulted and destroyed an entire Grenadier platoon with the 2iC in close combat. On the bright side, there was a critical moment where I beat back a second infantry assault with just 6 or 7 dice in defensive fire. This really turned the battle around, because it left both Armored Rifles pinned. My PaK40s, StuGs destroyed two trained M10s coming in from reserves, I then assaulted the Armored Rifle platoon that had pulled back. We kind of grinded each other down, but the Americans broke quicker than the Grenadiers. My Marders came in from reserves and together with the StuGs, Pak40s shot at the Shermans until their morale failed. I just had to bag another platoon to force company morale and I unleashed everything on the Priests until they broke. If I had failed my opponent would have won by taking the objectives.
I don’t really know what to make of this game. It was over after my turn 6 but after losing both of my objective guarding infantry platoons, things looked dark. My opponent attacked so hard I almost got the impression that he wanted the game to end as quickly as possible. We talked a bit about it and he misread the victory conditions. In this missions, the attacker cannot claim objectives before game turn 6. My opponent gambled and overextended himself resulting in a very short game.
Result: Victory for the Grenadiers!
A couple of lessons could be drawn. First is, I really need to calmly go through missions together with my opponents before the battle begins. People play a lot of different games and can’t remember everything. I had too many “no dude, you can’t do that so now you’re fucked” moments happening.
Secondly, German infantry are great fun! The army I played is quite easy to build from the Open Fire set and it is a very flexible and effective force on the table. The Grenadiers themselves are a bit frail and each casualty is felt. Since they are Rifle/MG teams with few stands, opponents will get into assaults. I did not get a a chance to attack infantry with them but I feel that they have barely enough infantry teams to get the job done. Picking the right support in right quantity is key I think, because the support needs to clear areas infantry will advance in and thin the attacking enemy out. That should prevent the opponent from causing too much attrition the Grenadiers too quickly.
The Grenadiers were a big contrast to my American Rifle Company, which can usually face a couple of shooting rounds from 1750 point armies without much problem. I probably need more games with Grenadiers before I indulge into more mansplaining. So long!
Please check out MacDees Blog for more great pictures. Most of the good ones above are stolen from him.