July 31, 2013

Panzershrek AAR 5/5 or fun with Panzers

One of the most enjoyable games of FOW i've played and one that went right down to the wire.  Scenario was No Retreat which is my favourite scenario when playing as Fallschirmjager, but it would be my first time as the attacker.  In this case the terrain worked to our advantage - so we though - with a river between the enemy and the most forward objective.  It also provided a lot of cover for our advance.  With 1/2 the enemy off in reserve and all of our tanks on we had a golden opportunity to rush the first objective and grab victory early.  But things didnt work out that way and the game became one of those ones where it literally see-sawed back and forth from turn to turn.

Deployment our Panzers spread eveningly with the AA in the middle where it can provide cover for both groups.  The closest objective is on the left in an open field - a small enemy PF/Assault Rifle Platoon is dug in in a wood next to it. On the other side of the river is a large hill which would later prove a serious issue for us.  Behind that was bocage where a Platoon of enemy assault guns were deployed.
For both of our attack groups a key worry was the ambushing platoon of 5 enemy Panthers.  To this end both groups had to proceed cautiously - on the right both PzIV's and Panthers would stick to the buildings limiting any fire from the Panthers.  Air power would be another issue.
The left hand group would leave one Platoon on the hill to provide overwatch while the PzIVs would go for the objective.  A key problem was the fact that the dug-in enemy infantry were all back from the edge of the forest so were invisible to anyone more than 6" away.  Hence our Nebs had nothing to range in at present.
The initial moves PzIV's in the van as these were to be our infantry assault units - this group would also if able shift its attack to the rear most objective.
The enemy ambush is revealed at the beginning of their first turn.  The majority of our left flank attack group are in LOS of them but not the right flank group.  10 shots at AT15 are about to come our way.
The enemy Panthers aim for our tanks on the hill which dont have concealment and being Trained are easier to hit.  While the score several hits none of them punch through our armour.  But enemy airpower is more telling - it turned up every turn for 10 turns - with 2 PzIVs knocked out.
We get some quick revenge as the enemy ambush is destroyed in one devastating salvo.  The 2 surviving tanks break and flee the battlefield.
With the ambush gone and only enemy air power capable of hurting us the right flank group angles toward the nearest objective opting not to cross the river.  The loss of 2 x PzIVs on the left also a factor.
Everybody moves up and this is where we find that the terrain is going to be a problem.  The railway line is slow going and the bocage presents a horrible LOS and Bogging problem.  This slows our advance and pushes our tanks through a narrow gap on the left flank between the bocage, railway line and table edge.  A gap covered by enemy assault guns and under LOS to their artillery observer.
Simply not enough space to advance and we can't do so against airpower which we are being forced to shoot down every turn.  The PzIVs have stopped to fire at the enemy assault guns in a long range duel while the Panthers are slowly making their way over the railway line with the intent of getting all 5 within assault range of the enemy infantry.
At this stage our opponents are worried we have tanks approaching the objective on two sides, their heavy tanks are all dead and no reserves have come on.  The only thing standing in our way is the slow terrain.  To help in the interim our Neb observer has been double timing forward on the right flank to get in behind the bocage and within LOS of the dug in infantry.
TURNING POINT!!! - Enemy reserves come on, Nebs and Assault Guns.  They plus more airpower cause absolute havoc just as our forces are getting positioned to assault.  First 2 Panthers on the left are knocked out, then the remaining PzIV's.  On the right 3 more PzIVs are destroyed the surviving vehicle needing his Fuhrer save to stay on the board.  This forces him to withdrew behind the wood and the Panthers to rush up in their place.
THE FOREST GRAVEYARD!!! These trees are now covered in smoke and flames from burning tanks as enemy assault guns on the hill behind the river (which we know realise gives our opponents a great tactical edge) can hit the flanks of any of our tanks that try to assault the closest objective.  Airpower is such a problem that the AA risk bogging to cross the bocage and provide better coverage.
More problems - enemy tank and artillery fire is concentrating on the AA making it easier for their airpower to get through.  That airpower takes out another Panther on the left leaving just one.  But our observer is now in place to call in artillery on their infantry.  The Panthers though have at least started to take out some enemy asault guns - one is burning at the top of the picture.

From this point on I stopped taking pictures as the game was getting very exciting.  As we started to take out more enemy assault guns an opportunity arose for us to resume our assault on the enemy objective.  We couldnt auto lose as we had teams over half way but we had to take that objective to win.

So how did it end...

My partner Jeremy had to drop out for a minute...

So with time basically up...

I launched three single tank assaults on the enemy infantry contesting the objective...

First Nebs and AA pin the enemy down and kill 1-2 teams then...

A PzIV goes in but gets knocked out by defensive fire...

Then a Panther goes in, gets through the defensive fire, doesnt bog and takes out one enemy team before being knocked out.

Finally, another Panther goes in, gets through, doesn't bog, kills a team, survives, kills another, survives again, misses and then gets killed.

The result - the enemy Platoon is down to less than 1/2 strength but motivates to stay put while our army is basically wiped out as we are forced to take a company morale check without a CIC... hence we lose and fade away quietly into the night... well sort of...

A 1-6 loss to us but a hell of an enjoyable game that we came oh so close to snatching at the very end.

Have to give props to our opponents to who were very nice guys, looking forward to meeting them again (we're our choice for best sports).  Liked the way they shared all the dice rolling, no matter whose teams were involved they each threw 1/2 the dice so they were both constantly involved in the game.  I like that.

Next up Call to Arms in Wellington this weekend 1750pts of LW-FOW.

Ogre BSB & Airfix aircraft Ahoy

Picked up some black spray paint for undercoating at Mr Models yesterday - had to go with Tamiya as he doesnt stock GW stuff and our local GS has shut down, pity as Tamiya is nowhere near as good - and found myself perusing the shelves of model aeroplanes.  Now as a kid I built dozens of these things and had them hanging all over my ceiling (those my brother didnt break that is).  Sadly 25+ years later they are all gone.  So unable to help myself I treated myself to the following 1:72 scale kitset.

As I now have a dedicated hobby room I thought it about time I start redecorating the cieling with a few more model aircraft.  Hopefully my efforts at painting will be much better than they were when I was 10, but we'll see.  Couldn't help myself and started on it already.
While there are better manufacturers out there - Hasegawa has a great name for 1:72 scale aircraft - there is something iconic about Airfix that just makes their kits feel right.

In other news I had to put a lock on my hobby room door the other day after my son got in while I was at work as he REALLY REALLY wanted to play with my army men (as he calls them).  Result?  Every single model I had - and I do mean every single model FOW, WHFB & 40k - was spread across the floor and various table surfaces.  But he was pretty careful and only broke a couple of Ogres.  That at least gave me an excuse to pack everything up and reorganise them and to finally finish reattaching the banners to my various Ogre Standard Bearers - in this case with the helpful assistance of the GF9 pinning kit.

The model is the Avatars of War Ogre. He comes with 2 small banners that go into holders on a harness on his back. I opted to put two larger rods in their place.  One has the Great Maw icon on it the other a Lookout Gnoblar with a scratch built platform made out of various Dwarf & High Elf shields. The banner is from the High Elf Archer kit with bits cut off it to make it look rough.

Hasn't turned out too badly. Have also reundercoated all of my other Ogre Standards (after pinning them all) so I can redo the colours.

The aim is to get them all finished with a baseboard so I can take them to Skitterleap in October & Vermintide in November.  Would take High Elves but I honestly wont get the HE list I want to take painted in time. So Ogres it is.

July 30, 2013

Panzershrek AAR 4/5 vs. Kampfgruppe Swoboda + Pz Company

I enjoyed this game against a Father & Son team from Kapiti - always great to see kids getting involved in tournaments (got thrashed quite royally by a 12 year old at FRACAS 2 years ago as I recall).  It was also interesting in that they were using lists out of Bridge by Bridge KG Swoboda & the Pz Company both of which I considered using.  This gave them a HUGE amount of AA Artillery 2cm and a plethora of 88's plus Panthers and a few PzIVs.

The table top was pretty cool as well with a large village and a varied range of terrain types.  However, it did make our job of attacking extremely difficult as it gave us two choices (1) attack through a range of small hills towards dug-in 88s or (2) attack infantry and AA guns dug into buildings.

The terrain - one objective behind the building with the red roof with the window in it at the back of the village.  The other was off to the left of this picture in between two hills both of which had 88s on them.  The 4 buildings with the red roofs were garrisoned by 38mm and 20mm AA guns and Grenadiers.
 Unfortunately this was one of those games where we got freaked out by an opponents units in this case their 88s all of which had ROF3 due to extra crews.  In hindsight we should have massed our tanks and rushed them as we had more tanks than they had shots and with the average number of misses would have made it through.  But we got scared and went for the village instead... not a good idea.

The right flank which gave us a (slow) option for moving up another Platoon away from our opponents AA and AT artillery, while allowing us to make better us of our limited deployment zone.
How we deployed - everything except 1 Platoon of PzIV's (on the right flank) heading up the centre.  Main guns to dig people out, HMGs to pin them down and PzIVs to drive into the buildings and assault - Veterans facing a slightly better chance of making the requisite skill checks. 
Missing roofs indicate buildings with troops in them - helps you to remember where they are
The 2nd objective out in the open but surrounded by AT and AA artillery.  WE SHOULD HAVE gone for this one as all that terrain gave us concealment and in some respects blocked LOS for our approach.
There is only so much room on the bridge
The Assault begins - PzIVs take out the AA guns in the front buildings and move to assault them.  Goal to drive them out one at a time.  Panthers and Nebs fire at the buildings around the crossroads - aim to break that platoon (only RT) and have it flee leaving the village wide open.  Enemy PzIVs behind the village are a problem as is a platoon of 3 Panthers not yet deployed in ambush against us.
This is where things went peared shaped. 
In response to our plan our opponents did something that threw us completely -they moved to attack.  The 88ms loaded up and moved with infantry support to flank our attack on the village.  This required us to divert the AA and some of the Panthers to our left to counter them.  Meanwhile the 2nd PzIV Platoon had gotten in range of the building only to be ambushed by the enemys Panthers... result 3 dead PzIV's.  Meanwhile the enemy PzIV's have begun to move and snipe taking out a couple of our Panthers and making things difficult for our PzIVs.  The assault has bogged down, as we have not been aggressive enough, began to change our plan on a turn by turn basis, and were faced with an opponent who was planning a very clever game.

Panthers getting mauled and enemy PzIVs also causing problems.
Enemy Grenadiers begin to move through the village to outflank us on our left.  We dont have enough strength their to counter them particularly as the 88s have come with them.  Nebs fail to range in and we can't stop their advance.

The final picture is about where the game ended.  From here our tanks advanced into the village and engaged in a duel with the enemy armour but we simply couldnt press forward or do enough to push the enemy off the objective.  We deployed badly, had a bad plan and were not aggressive enough.  The plan could have worked had we directed all our fire and efforts on one target at a time.  But we diverted our efforts and got distracted.  More importantly our opponents outplayed us with some clever tactical moves and did a good job in stopping our troops getting through.

Result 1-6 loss.

July 29, 2013

Panzershrek AAR 3/5 vs. British Armoured Recce Company

I could alternatively label this game the "Watch while my PzIV gets stuck on a hedge for 6 turns".  This was a game that Jeremy and I could have won but me choose the wrong deployment area to attack from.  While it suited us it also suited our opponents as we only looked at the issue from our side of the table and didnt consider things from our opponents point of view.  Anyway we were up against a lot of Cromwells, some Stuarts, and a bunch of 6pdrs and 5.5inch British artillery.

Deployment & opening moves.  Both sides have delayed reserves in our case 1 Platoon of Panthers, 1 of PzIVs and our AA.  Our goal get the objectives in the opposite corner guarded by a plethora of dug-in Veteran 6pdrs and some 5.5inch artillery.
The defenders with Cromwells aimed out our reserves deployment zone - we didnt allow for the speed of these tanks and that really cost us during the game
First moves and this is where things go wrong.  PzIVs move past the railway while Panthers loop around through the fields to their right.  The PzIV commander is in the lead vehicle which then bogs down.

Cromwells move to engage the Panthers or at least force them to adjust their line of advance - the tanks belong to Bob Pearce whose miniatures as just beautiful to look at. 
The bogging starts as 1/2 the PzIVs get stuck as they shift left to counter some Cromwells that have looped around the large hill to our north.  At this point mis-reading the rules didnt help as I didnt realise that bogged down Platoon commanders can switch tanks - if I had the remaining PzIVs could have continued to chase the Cromwells.  Because I didnt they got stuck.
The PzIVs are stuck so the Panther and PzIV CICs move up to deal with them, the Panther gets bogged and stays that way for 3 turns.  We had 3 bogging checks to make this turn and all 3 failed.
Meanwhile British air power is mutilating those few tanks still able to move.
Bogged down and unable to move out of command (due to misread of rules) our tanks cant stop the Stuarts from racing around our flank.

Things have gone pear shaped now.  Our attack on the British objective has stalled - literally - on terrain and now British reinforcements have come on in a position to attack our weakly held objective.
We get some luck though when a platoon of Cromwells is trapped between buildings allowing Panthers coming on from reserve to take out 2 of them - in hindsight we should have aimed them straight for the objective and bulldozed our way through the British artillery park.
All the British reserves are on now and we have nothing except the Nebs to stop them as everything else is tied up elsewhere, bogged down or knocked out.  The only tank in range is the bogged down Panther CIC
READ THE RULES - We though the Cromwells were trapped, but rules dont allow for common sense sometimes, and the British tanks could drive over our tanks without penalty and get behind them... I know silly right, but thems the rules.
Result 2 dead Panthers including their 2IC.  We get payback though when my PzIVs are able to shoot into the flank of the Cromwells knocking both out.
Stupid terrain - this guy got stuck here for the entire game, but at least he survived the battle unlike everybody else
Finally we get more reserves and I opt to go for it - always the best option - so the PzIVs charge in to assault, careful to minimise defensive fire and the ability of British infantry to sneak up on them out of terrain.  But I miscalculate and assault an Observer who I thought was a PIAT team attached to the British infantry platoon.  He wasn't so I go nowhere.
6pdrs kill 2 PzIV's but now the AA has come on the board.  Once again I opt to go for it, especially as British tanks are nearly at our objective and the Panthers are out of action or unable to move due to terrain and British airpower.  The AA begins shooting up the 5.5 inch artillery hoping to clear it off the rear objective.  The PzIV's well... do very little...
WOOT!!! The Panther CIC unbogs just in time to get killed by a mass of Cromwells which have already overwhelmed the PzIVs stuck on the hill.
Game over the British have the objective and we are toast
A disappointing game in the end but a good one in that we learned a few things and picked up on a few rules that we hadn't read properly e.g. Tank commanders can jump out of bogged vehicles and take over unbogged ones in command range.  Also got a great tip from Bob Pearce about movement which seems so obvious now which was - move the Platoon commander first... because if he bogs that determines where everyone else goes and also when picking a deployment zone think about where you AND the enemy want and dont want to go not just you. 1-6 loss not the best way to end Day 1.