August 21, 2012

CTA 2012 - reflecting on Fallschirmjager in Tournament play

Well I've had 24 hours to think about Call to Arms and my experiences playing FOW at a large singles event for the first time.

This was my 5th FOW Tournament in the last 18 months the others were FRACAS 2011 & 2012 and Panzershrek 2011 & 2012. FRACAS was played at 600pts and Panzershrek at 2200pts (split between 2 people) and consequently list building and army tactics were very different than at Call to Arms. FRACAS is very much about making the most of nothing much and creating lists with very limited options – although some players do extremely well in getting around this. Panzershrek as a team event generally sees each team member focus on different phases of the game e.g. at Panzershrek this year I took the armour and AA while my partner took the defensive AT and template weapons.

Thoughts on my army list 
As far as Fallschirmjager go 6.FJR in Hells Highway is a fantastic sourcebook with some solid options particularly when it comes to fielding AT firepower. But doing so can result in a list that is not suited to fighting infantry armies or attacking.
My Army on display in the parade Day 2
Von der Heydte & Panzerfaust Trap Teams 
VDH was pretty good the ability to motivate on a 2+ saved me several times and the necromancer ability also came in handy even resurrecting a Pak 40 on one occasion..
VDH & the Trap Teams
The trap teams also worked well in pretty much every game. But and this is the big but to use them effectively you need
  1. A board with suitable terrain features e.g. forests, crop fields, enclosed fields and buildings, 
  2. To deploy your other forces in such a way that you do not utilise those terrain features, 
  3. Don’t be afraid to use them early, and 
  4. Don’t think of them as only tank hunters. 
The requirement for Trap Teams to be deployed in terrain meant that in most games I was restricted in terms of where they could be deployed – lots of open terrain and hedges do not provide many places to deploy. I also scuppered myself in at least two games by deploying my core troops into the only terrain features capable of taking Trap Teams, or the only features that provided useful deployment positions. Example – Game 4 there was a forest 6” away from one objective that my opponents armour would have to funnel around or through perfect for Traps. But I deployed other units into it denying it to the Trap Teams. When deploying your company you have to think about where Trap Teams would go before you place the rest of your troops.

I also found that deploying them really early paid off big time, particularly in games with Turn limits. Example - in Game 5 – Strategic Withdrawal – I used all 4 of them to keep ½ of my opponents armour trapped in his half of the table till Turn 5 by which time they were in no position to help win the game for him. The other reason to use them early is that quite simply if you don’t you may never get to deploy them.

Finally do not think of Trap Teams as being nothing but tank-hunters, they’re not. In 3 games I used them to take out enemy artillery, AA guns, artillery observers and to advance ahead of my forces in order to limit my opponents ability to deploy their ambushes in useful positions. My win in game 3 I actually put down to the Trap Teams taking out 1 of 3 deployed enemy platoons, and helping force a morale check on a 2nd that eventually caused his army to break. Remember as FV your opponent hits them on 4’s so it is very possible for them to assault individual guns and not be pinned down, and for you to make the necessary saves caused by defensive fire.

Will I take them again – YES!!! Are they worth the points – YES!!! Will I take 4 of them again, NO next time I’ll drop one and add a single Sniper for a bit of variety.

Support Weapons – Pak 40s and Mortars 
I really love Mortars, don’t know why I just do, but honestly they don’t do crap. Yes against Soviet armour the ability to drop smoke on them forcing them to move thus reducing their ROF and adding +1 to their rolls to hit you is great. But other than that the 32” range of 6.FJR mortars is poor. Of 5 games over the weekend I only fired them in 2, and next time I will leave them behind and spend the 130pts on something else.
GW34 Mortars
Pak 40s proved great as usual but I hampered myself with poor deployment in a couple of games, and in the game I needed them the most vs. 20 T34s and 4 SU122s after scoring 20+ hits they destroyed a single T34. Four of them are great but perhaps two platoons of two (an option in 6.FJR) would be better – a mobile AT gun is better than a fixed one.
Pak 40s
Were pretty cool but I simply didn’t use them effectively enough to really judge how good they really are or how good they could be. In hindsight I used them to aggressively in a couple of games and they should really be viewed as defensive weapons – super Pak guns with longer range, more mobility and better protection but Pak guns nonetheless.

The rest of the army 
The 2cm AA paid off really well – I don’t think I shot down or stopped a single Air Attack and most opponents just ignored them when placing their aircraft anyway. But they did prove useful in shooting up enemy infantry and AT guns. Problem is in v3 AA is pretty much mandatory and the AA were always among the 3 of 6 Platoons I deployed in scenarios using the ‘reserves’ rule. But the question is did they have to be?
2cm AA
The standard FJ Platoons also worked as FV infantry normally work – but I either need to give them PF/Rifle/MG teams or stick a Pioneer Platoon in to add some AT capability and Fortifications to the list.

The Scenarios 
No Retreat – If defending put your objective down in the middle of your deployment zone so you don’t have to spread yourself out when the attacker places their objective. If attacking double time it straight for the easiest objective with everything you have and try to get it before your opponents reserves come on.

Strategic Withdrawal – I like this scenario particularly playing FJ as the defender but honestly winning this all comes down to your opponent. If they don’t play it right you will win, if they do then your about 50/50 to win it. As the attacker you cannot be subtle mass your company and go straight for an objective preferably the one that doesn’t disappear i.e. the one the defender places.

My opponent in Game 5 Sam made the mistake of splitting his forces. I held up one ½ and by the time it was able to move the two objectives it was initially aiming for were gone, while the other ½ didn’t move fast enough nor have sufficient strength to take an objective on its own. Mind you if he had had a T34 horde it wouldn’t have mattered.

Cauldron – first time I had played it and honestly this scenario is freaking horrible as a defender. But you can win it if your opponent doesn’t have a lot of Platoons. I would even suggest going on the attack and trying to break your opponent. I mean it could work it just depends on how many Platoons they have on the table.

Final Thoughts 
Two wins at 6-1, a losing draw at 2-3 and 2 big losses 1-6 and 2-5 respectively gave me a mixed weekend but a really good one. One win and a decent go in my other 4 games was also my initial aim, but to get 2 wins was just awesome. Had my Pak 40s and Jagdpanthers also be able to make their damn FP rolls in Game 4 maybe I could have won that one? I think I got 12th place overall or 14th not quite sure as there were 5 players on 17pts including me and it really depends on the other scoring. I will definitely play 6.FJR again but I also really want to take my LW Panzers as well.

1 comment:

Scott said...

Nice summary John, and good to meet you on the day.
Have to say I had to look twice... the sunglasses on your Avatar threw me off ;-)