Thursday, September 22, 2011

FOW: A cold day in the Witch's Cauldron

As part of my weighty 'responsibilities' for Conquest, I tested out a possible table for that event. I like a table with some big pieces of terrain and a mix of elevations. I find the former stops units just racing around things; while the latter tends to break the field up into zones and offer a lot of concealment without always slowing movement down too much. What I did was lay out the above table with no particular mission in mind. The mission we used is 'Witch's Cauldron' (which is in the new Hellfire and Back book). The defender's deployment zone is a box in the middle of one table side (lower middle of picture), while the attacker randomly deploys in each of the four table quarters. Attacker reserves come in from either of the short table edges and defender reserves come in from the opposite long table edge to the one next to their deployment zone. Atacker places two objectives (which are black crosses on white backgrounds here.)
 Here we see the table at about turn three. Chris started out on either side of my deployment zone. The entire flat top of that large hill is forest, and the sides are V.DIFF going too. My list was:
(FE2 German Grenadiers CV) 
HQ CiC + 2iC Pk
Panzershrek (which I forgot to use in the game!)
2x8cm Mortars
3 Squad Grens with Panzerfaust
2 Squad Grens with Panzerknacker (Kampfgrupped and both in delayed reserve)
3 Pak40s
3 Squad Black Pioneers
4 StuGs or Pz IVs
4 Brummbars (in delayed reserve)
3 Panzerwerfers w Loaders (in delayed reserve)
Sporadic Gun Stukas

Chris had:
(FE2 German Strelkovy CT)
HQ + Sappers
2 Plt Strelk w Kommissar (deployed on right hand side with sappers and flamethrowers attached)
1 Plt Strelk (in reserve)
Spetsnaz (in reserve)
GOW with 4x ZIS-3 and 4x 122mm Howitzer + obs (deployed lefthand side)
5x KV-8s Flametank (deployed left hand side)
4x SU-100 (in reserve)
Limited Sturmoviks
This report is really more about the table, lists and mission so I am kicking it off at the fun part: Turn 3. Neither of us got any reserves all game, which means I am rethinking my list. Here Chris has finally eliminated the Pak 40s (should have put down the Brumms but did not realise reserves were delayed for me) for the loss of a couple of flametanks and some gun-teams. In return, I had managed to bog ALL my Stugs on the hill. In the meantime, a screen of Grenadiers I had deployed to guard the right-hand side of the big hill had gradually given ground in the face of the Strelkovy advance and had now reached the Pioneers sitting in reserve in the middle of the forest. I then formed a line last turn and this turn I shot the heck out of the strelk. However, QoQ being what it is, I failed to pin them though actually killed a fair few. So in went the pioneers with the flamethrower for the auto-pin and (big mistake, more FOW practice needed) they were led by the CiC at their head. The Pioneers killed many more and overall I was pretty happy with the combat trade - the Strelk were gutted and as a bonus actually broke and fled the table, I had expected to need to finish them off with the Grens. However, the CiC was in the frontline and died due to so many hits so I was in the position of auto-failing company morale if Chris could get the Stug plt to check morale and they failed. So 50/50 for me. On the other hand, if I surivived the turn, I would have likely (two dice now) reserves and may even get to kill another of Chris' platoons.

It was not to be though. Chris nailed the StuGs with combined artillery and flamethrower tanks. Air had been a nonentitiy all game due to our deployments preventing the Sturmoviks coming in and my Sporadic airbeing devoted to AA.  The StuGs broke and ran (I would too, in their situation.)
So here you see the army of Chris is posession of the field. I quite liked Witch's Cauldron. It is much better than the original and my real issues with it were due to some FOW 101 fail and not being familiar enough with the mission. Both of us intend to make changes to what go into our lists as well. It was a pretty fun game, at least Chris seemed to like it better than the last game we had :P

What do people reckon about the table layout?

 **Update** Chris has kindly provided this diagram outlining the ways in which a defender can cramp attacker deployment. He has drawn two bands on the diagram. The Yellow one is how far away they have to be (8") if out of LOS. The Red one is how far away (16") if in LOS.

In terms of the map I laid out, the left hand side could offer more deployment out of LOS by ensuing no gap between that small rise/hill (taller than a tank, just) and on the right hand side infantry could be out of LOS down in that Balka? In either case, he is right, an infantry ambush could have made attackers be careful about deployment even if they did get good spots, provided by LOS blockers.


  1. At the start of the game I accurately predicted that all of Jamie's stugs would bog but he said he wasn't worried as they were veterans. I don't think this decided the game. As detailed below I think the initial deployment was wrong both in composition and location (I made the same mistakes when I was defending).

    Planes - They should come in along the short axis rather than attackers long axis and defenders short axis. We just misinterpreted the mission rules.

    If defending the key things to remember are:
    You deploy first - use this to determine where the attackers can deploy.
    - 16" if in line of sight.
    - 8" if out of line of sight.
    Since you can deploy within 20" of the table edge, if you have line of sight you can force the attacker to deploy in a 4" ribbon along the board edge.

    This means both mobile units should have deployed along the limits of the deployment zone to push the attacker back. Holding the pioneers in immediate ambush is a good way of stopping the attacker hiding in a forest near the defender deployment zone.

  2. 'Accurately predicted' a staight string of 1s and 2s on d6s? - I should dock you the game if you knew the dice were loaded. That's as good as me saying I knew youd fail that coy (platoon) morale test and break off the table with the strelk. I mean, I absolutely DID know it was going to happen, but that's not the point. :P

    I agree it didn't decide the game though. I should have deployed a different mix and not lost my CiC. Those are some good ideas about what to do for future deployments and you are right - Immediate ambushing with armour rather than Pioneers is another FOW 101 mistake.

    Hopefully we make an actual FOW player out of me before Conquest or I am going to have to go back to Tankovy (since you stole my awesome Strelk!) so I can play in my sleep, if neccessary.

  3. Updated above in light of a diagram emailed to me by SOSPill

  4. The table looks fine Jamie- and getting a game or two of a new mission under the belt to iron out kinks is a good idea.

    Not sure pushing the attacker back will always work- me I prefer at least one mobile unit in reserve. You could even use a screen of 1-2 infantry stands to push back the attacker if it was an issue. Deploying 2x large MW strelk in the same zone could potentially be a big issue :)