Friday, December 23, 2011

Flames of War - First Game, Impressions

Ok, SO!

Flames of War.

I dig it.

Thanks for reading.

Oh, you want more?


I came into the shop and my buddy Dylan was in the midst of a demonstration game - small size, Late War units, Germans versus Americans, with the Germans in the D.

Well, he graciously let me take over the Germans, and I shot up some infantry and some Stuarts, and was feeling pretty good about myself. I started to push my infantry up into some forward buildings to give myself a nice defensive perimeter around what was helpfully pointed out to me are the "objectives." Cool. Rockin.

Suddenly... TANK DESTROYERS appeared behind my lines (remember I had opened up a big gap back there) and nuked my self-propelled artillery. Oh, there are Tank Destroyers in ambush. Oh, there's a thing called ambush. Oh. Oh.

Anyways, things went a bit downhill from there though I did try rather desparately to fend off a full Platoon of Tank Destroyers and a sizable platoon of Stuarts with nothing but Rifle squads and one Panzerfaust. Surprisingly, I was able to get most of the Tank Destroyers but ultimately couldn't keep the Stuarts off the objective (wait, you mean they just have to claim the objective ONCE to win!?).

So... that was fun. Let's try this again when I can start the game knowing what my opponent has in his army, at least! Fair's fair, right?

So I started another game with a very nice older gentleman with what I would term an "unhealthy" collection of Flames of War miniatures with him (and by "unhealthy," I mean, "so many miniatures that it made me intensely jealous of his disposable income so I have to say things like 'unhealthy' to make myself feel better"). So Dylan sets us up for a game with the ease of the matchmaker in Fiddler on the Roof. We agree to Mid-war, 1500 points. So I'm putting together a nice 1500 point list from the North Afrika book (which is cool, because that's what my dad and I will be starting with). Suddenly, Dylan comes over and whispers "grab the Late War book." The guy was putting together his Panzerkompanie with a Late War book. *Shrug* A little misunderstanding, no big deal. Gives me a chance to take the 76 mm Shermans for a spin, amirite?

So anyways, we roll up a mission, there are three objectives fairly well spread out across his side of the table. He placed the first, and I placed the second WAAAAYY across from it. I only need to grab one, so I might as well force him to spread out, right? I place the second a little closer to my left than the middle, because there are some Line of Sight blocking buildings on the left that, while not ideal, at least give me an approach and will give me a chance to zip up with my half-tracks and infest the buildings with my obnoxious bazooka teams. I figure I'm going to need them (wait till I tell you the armies).

So after he deploys his army, which consisted of (something like)

-One two Panzer IV HQ Team.
-One four Panzer IV Combat Platoon.
-One four tank Panther Combat Platoon.
-One two tank Tiger tank Platoon.
-One two tank Jagpanzer Tank Destroyer Platoon
-Two Mechanized Infantry Platoons
-One two gun, extra crew equipped 88 mm Gun Platoon (OOOHH the infamous "ack ack!"

Well... let's just say I was intimidated. Oh, yes, by the way, that is WAAYYY more than 1500 points, as I realized about half-way through the game. But even before I realized that, I was thinking "Jezuz Gawd he's going to blow my ass AWAY." I mean, I've seen enough war movies and have a firm enough grasp on the basics to know I am epically screwed.

So after he deployed, I did what any good American would do. I cheated.

Well, not really "cheating" in the sense that I broke the rules of the game. I just broke the rules of "fair fighting."

As I'm discussing my opponent's deployment with Dylan, he mentions that forests block line of sight.

Wai... wha... REALLY? No True Line of Sight, bitches. Abstraction for the win. WELL there happens to be two forests on my right side that are staggered nicely so as to form a little "pocket" which is completely obscured from his entire line. Alrighty. IT'S REFUSED FLANK TIME.

So, I move all five of my half-tracks (Armored Rifle Platoon), 7 Sherman 75's (one Platoon, plus the attached two tank HQ) and 5 Sherman 76's up into this little pocket. It was a total parking lot. Not at all cinematic, lol.

SO I did a decent job of squeezing every swinging dick into the back side of this forest, on the other side of which is an enemy objective being defended by two 88 guns, a Mechanized Infantry platoon (in their Half-Tracks) and 4 Panthers (which at this point I thought were PANZERS... more on this in a minute).

So my opponent looks a bit befuddled. This is a good point to mention that I'm quite certain that there was no hostile intent on my opponent's part in suddenly switching to Late War, nor in suddenly fielding a force which was (at least) a third bigger than mine. He wasn't really solid on the rules, his tactics were generally poor, but he had lots of models and talked about the background a lot. In other words, the dreaded FLUFF BUNNY! This was a great example of the kinds of hijinks and hilarity that ensue when you mix someone... like me... with someone like this. I guess I could have gotten irritated that he was being so sloppy, but hell, it was my FIRST GAME, and I really didn't care that much. I thought it was pretty funny actually. And I kept mentally saying to myself "Surrender, Nuts!"

Getting into the proper spirit of things.

Well, I was feeling pretty good. During his turn he realized he could see one of my 76's with his 88 and managed to promptly blow the bejeezus out of it... but that's all he could do. His Tigers, Panzers, HQ and JagPanzers began to race across their flank towards my half of the board, and then it was my turn again. My first REAL turn, actually, as my first had consisted solely of racing into position.

Now it was time.

Unleash the fury, Mitch.

So my Stuarts raced out ahead of the pack, and got right into the face of both the Mechanized Infantry and the 88 gun teams. Goddamn are Stuarts awesome fast.

Then my 75's popped around the left side of the forest, preparing to unleash hell into the unsuspecting Panzers (actually Panthers... more in a second).

My entire infantry platoon disembarked from their half-tracks and moved into the forest. I was trying to keep them all in the terrain while getting within 8" of the armored half-tracks for bazooka shots. I didn't realize at this time that I could PRE MEASURE everything... man this game is wierd/awesome, lol.

So now, my movements complete, I use my Stabilizers to have my 76's pop some shots into the 88 team from around the right side of the forest. They pop a transport team. Then my Stuarts unleash hell into the Armored Rifle Platoon, and destroy several half-tracks. Then I prepare to open fire with my 75's into the "Panzers." Ok, so now it is (kindly) explained to me by Dylan that those are not in fact "Panzers" and are instead "Panthers" which possess AT 14 guns and front armor 10.



Well then, I guess my Shermans are shooting at the half-tracks too!

So I blow up the rest of the half-tracks and most of the embarked infantry, and my Shermans are sitting in front of four Panthers with their asses hanging in the wind. Whoops.

Oh, and my infantry are not close enough to shoot at anything really. Really should have pre-measured, and with 3+ infantry saves, I should have just moved them out into the open to get a better position.

But wait, there's MORE! My Stuarts now got to assault into the remainder of his mechanized rifles, which unlike my (clearly superior) Armored Rifle Platoon did NOT come with oodles of man-packed anti-tank weapons. So my five Stuart Platoon assaulted into his Mech-infantry and slaughtered them (basically), and then performed a "breakthrough assault" into the 88 gun platoon behind them. Sweet!

So I did lose a tank or two and had a couple bailed, but at the end of the day the mech-platoon as well as the 88 platoon were completely wiped out. Neato. I love Stuarts.

Ok, so on his turn he proceeded to (predictably) wreck the majority of my 75 Platoon. It was nasty. He didn't have to move, he just popped off 8 shots of DOOM into me. It's like facing an army of Lascannons when you are whipping around in Land Speeders. Except going super speedy makes you EASIER to hit, instead of harder. Wierder and wierder (yes I understand the logic, it's just a change).

SO things are still looking good actually. I still have several 75s left. My 76s moved up the right, still out of LoS behind the forest. I was hoping to get some flank shots against the Panthers with them to clear off the objective, but flank shots are VERY difficult to get in FoW. Lesson learned: to defeat German armor you must FORCE them to maneuver into vulnerable positions, and maneuver in general. You can't afford to let them sit still and take double shots at you.

Anyways, I bum rushed the remnants of my 75 Shermans up right amongst his Panthers, did the same thing with the remnants of my Stuarts, and moved forward with my infantry into claiming range of the Objective. I succeeded in bailing one of his Panthers, and for the most part still was not in effective position for flank shots.

On his turn, he was forced to move in order to shoot at my because of how I had positioned myself. This reduced his firepower significantly. He rolled miserably, and only killed one Stuart IIRC. On my turn, we checked and he had moved too far from the objective to contest it, so... I won.

But I wanted to try and play out my Infantry Platoon assaulting his Panthers with their five Bazooka teams just to see what it was like, but then I rolled a 2 on my tank terror check. We thought about just pretending I had passed but at that point we were playing too many "what if" games and the shop staff were harassing us about wanting to lock up, lol. So we shook hands and packed up. Even if he had not moved away from the Objective, I am fairly certain I would have won that eventually. I would have needed to Bazooka teams to do the heavy lifting of clearing out the Panthers and establishing a Perimeter of "don't fucking go here" while my Sherman 76's moved up behind to lay down fire and claim the Objective.

Anyways, I learned a lot, and of course there are so many "basic" things that if you don't know can screw you in a game like this but I did find that the "basics" of tactics translate from 40k to FoW very well. I think I'm going to enjoy this game.

The moral of the story: Flames of War is fun and awesome. Thanks again Dylan for showing me the ropes. The plan is to put together a little "intro kit" from Dylan's collection of terrain and models, and after my dad opens up his Starter Kit and the North Africa book, we can pull out some assembled and painted models and terrain and fumble our way through a game or two on the lazy Christmas Day afternoon. That's the plan, anyways.

Stay tuned for more updates. I've been dreaming about Tank Destroyers and Crusader II's all day today...