After the great success of the 'FOW' day that locals / Craig organised last year, I am sort of back on the FOW bandwagon. Under very specific conditions: 1. one day is best and 2. everyone needs to be agreed that this is in fact toy soldiers that we are playing. Fortunately the local guys are a great bunch and Jeff L organised eight of us to play Warclouds (the Woolston Club's tournament) for the FOW section.I went into this totally disorganised. I said I'd play back when Jeff floated the idea last year, then started thinking about an army the day before. I wanted to raid Craig's FOW collection but he couldn't make it. So, you guessed it, when in doubt go Tankovy!
While consensus remains that mech/tank Soviets (and T-34 based Tankovy in particular) are now the V3 red-headed stepchild, I do actually own quite a lot of 15mm T-34s. In fact, as I discovered last night, over 31 of them - 31 being the maximum you can take in a list, so I stopped counting at that stage. Sadly, while I am well supplied with T-34/85s - the best tank of the war - I have only 15 76mm turrets. So to do the 31 tanks I need to take 16 T-34/85s and that wont, sadly, fit the 1500pt limit being used. So in the end I compromised and only had 20 T-34s and four SU-100s (a T-34 hull!) and the obligatory Spetsnaz unit, because they are always fun. CT tanks, especially without Dedov, can be a tad 'brittle' in Flames of War: The miniatures Wargame of two infantry platoons, a ton of special rules, a unit of arty and then lots of armour support. On the upside: Fun. Very fun. And win or lose, a quick game is a good game.
The first game was 'Classic FOW' on the one hand, it was a German infantry list (Josh, Lionel's son) with two infantry platoons, arty, panther support and some other stuff. In Josh's defense, his father had pinched his Halftracks to run as rota Razvedki. On the other hand, and I genuinely felt sorry for Josh here, it was also the old (and I had though exorcised) FOW table full of blobby woods, some buildings, and nary a road, hedge, or other linear terrain piece to be seen. The mission was Dust Up (all round one missions were mobile battles) and of course the blobby terrain meant my tanks could roam at will - with full moves - and avoid return fire from static defenders, while of course getting to pick where to focus fire. So the start of the game was a traditional set piece, where I started work on the static AT and then....
Reserves! Here all hell breaks loose. From this point there are units all over the place and T-34s have to rush to stamp out brush fires as they emerge. Josh has to attack to and chose the Panthers to do so with. Then more of my T-34s (the mixed unit with 85mms) cam on and had a crack at the Panthers, who didn't die like they should have. One got away and I had to chase it down with a lone T-34/76. the new H&C is sweet. Once the Panthers were gone, that was it. His Panthers killed the SU-100s and it should have then been a 5-2 but I found out today that getting troops in HTs hit by breakthrough guns is bad. So less on learned. That made it 4-3.
Next up was 12 year old Tom and his FSSF guys from Dogs and Devils. Amusingly, I think the list actually has a foldout to incorporate all the special rules. Tom told me before the game that he knows only one plan: dig in and defend. Dave had been grumping at him about it for the last part of their 3-3 draw. I thought his line 'well somebody has to come out of their holes and fight' lacked a certain sense of Irony. I told Tom there was no problem with his plan, he fit in fine locally, and I loved to attack. Lionel told me that his Rota got eviscerated by Tom's boys last Thursday so they had a fearsome reputation.This mission was perfect for us: defensive battles for round 2 and we rolled No Retreat. What we basically discovered is that 1. Tom's list can kill a couple of big tanks well (when the dice are not his enemy, replace those air support dice!) and 2. He can attack when he needs to. The Tank Amoeba swallowed his forward defense quickly but he threw what units he could into trying to push them back. Should have been a 5-2 but I got lucky and didn't lose the SU-100s to repeated air strikes, so 6-1 to me.
At this point, we noticed something curious. The top three players were: Andy (Strelkovy) and Lionel (Rota Razvedki) and then I was third (Tankovy). That's right, The three Soviet armies were dominating. So much for Red-Headed Stepchild. As this was a three game event, Jeff matched Andy vs Lionel at the battle for the top. Then I was a bit of the spare wheel - until I spotted the perfect opponent. Rodney had one of those Jagdpanzer IV companies with the FA 9 AT 14 tanks. Jeff thought that a fair challenge. So we faced off for round three. It was another mobile battle and we rolled Breakthrough.
On a snow table. Snow for us meant slow going in the open areas and the road is cross country. My army was going to be a lot slower, Rodney's army moved at the same speed it always did. The table featured large patches of bogging terrain. Lucky I had wide tracks. It was at this point, after I had written off my chances, that Rodney gave me a look in. For some reason, he split his defense - small infantry unit in one quarter and then the tank unit where it would have to cross hedge and a railroad to approach the objectives quickly. I asked him if he really wanted to split the defense. He said yes. Then I asked him if he was sure. He said he was. So I used the big forests to move my T-34/76s through (three bogging checks to make the infiltrate move!) and bagged the little infantry platoon quickly. He decided to cover the objectives with his independent JagdPanzer IVs - after realising the problem when he saw my deployment) and not risk over-watching fire of Su-100s unnecessarily. Then reserves were heaps of fun. His came on and nailed a few of my tanks in the wood. Then my flank march arrived and nailed his independent teams and threatened both objectives. Then there was a lot of shooting and thankfully I got to do a lot of it at his flanks. I did lose the Spetsnaz platoon again - in a sneaky assault that the odds should have allowed to succeed (honest). But managed to otherwise pass the necessary tests to keep the army trucking long enough to win by bagging an objective. My shooting was a little sub-par but I guess I can't complain about beating Jagdpanzer IVs with an army of T-34s, when 14 of them can't even penetrate enemy front armour.
Then it was all down to the 'title match' between Andy an Lionel. As I understand it, if either had a clear win, they would win the tournament. Fortunately for me, Lionel beat Andy 4-3 so I was *just* in the clear - by a single point. Soviets got 1. Tankovy 2. Rota Razvedki and 3. Strelkovy. good work, Red Team.
Some awesome games vs guys who were great fun to play. Thanks to my opponents and to Jeff for setting it all up.