Back home in Iceland, after a wonderful trip to Northern Ireland, it’s time to evaluate the list I presented in my previous article, if you haven’t seen it, take a look here.
First a little on the tournament setting. There was a good turnout of 18 players ranging from beginners to old grognards. It was arranged by Darren Burnside and held in a shop called Tactical Retreat that is stuffed with Flames of War, Team Yankee and much more.
We played 105pt and all the lists can be seen here. The local players all help bring terrain making for some good flames of war table with a good amount of terrain on the boards.
In my fists game, I played Ian. Ian was running a US Veteran Sherman list all upgraded to 76mm.
This looked like a good list that suited my list just fine. With 100% of the Shermans upgraded to 76mm meant that No HE would make all my guns and infantry hit on 4+ to start with making it near impossible for Ian to shoot my units off the objective. I picked Defend as planned and Ian picked Manoeuvre. This resulted in the mission Spearpoint.
This means we both got Objectives to defend and with Ian’s list not prepared for reserves he was reluctant to attack straight away, which was understandable as the close objective was well defended and the far one was within 4″/10cm of a building making it hard to take when I moved a platoon of Hero infantry close to the building.
Running Sherman’s even with Jumbo’s and a Super Pershing meant Ian didn’t want to assault my Hero Motor Rifle with RPG-6 and this showed the first flaw of my list. When faced with a tank force that does not want to push forward, my big infantry army simply hadn’t got the tools to push forward and go on attack themselves.
This meant we began a long firefight, where I stayed gone to ground and we both waited for reserves and our planes to come on and cause trouble. Making a long story short after 7-10 turns Ian had shot all my tanks, Tiger, 3xT34/85 and 5 Stuarts, but hardly scratched my infantry and I had reduced Ians forces to a Single HQ Jumbo and a Super Pershing and I had started to advance my Infantry to claim an Objective, but then time was called giving me a Draw and 3 points.
Things learned from game one.
Problems handling an enemy that does not want to come close. I can prevent a loss but will have problems forcing a win where I need to capture an objective against massed MG fire.
Game two saw me matched against my host and friend Scott Palmer. Scott was running and testing a Sapper list we have been Theocrafting on the search for a defensive soviet list.
We both picked Defend and got the mission Contact. I ended up being the attacker. Scott had 2 artillery units and since we both were fielding big infantry lists we both knew that the winner of the artillery duel have a massive advantage.
I placed my Partizans to the left across to Scott’s sappers and put my 2 Hero Motor Rifles on the right. Scott kept his second Sapper platoon in Ambush. My guns got deployed left and right supporting the infantry in case of a tank attack.
The last action of the deployment was Scott moving his 122mm Arty ranged in marker onto my 120mm Mortars using the Reconnaissance by Combat Command Card. This left me with the option of moving or taking the punishment. The 120mm mortars were already ranged in on Scott’s sappers, so I chose to stay and see what the heavy bombardment could do before they got crippled by counter-battery fire.
This turned out to be the right decision, as the mortars took a heavy toll on the Sappers and combined with 76mm arty guns and 5 Stuarts they massacred the Sappers on the left had an objective, leaving Scott no other option than to pop the Ambush with the 2nd Sapper company on the same objective.
This meant that the Objective on the right-hand side was only defended by Scott’s Partisans, 122mm guns and whatever units that would arrive there from Scattered Reserves. Having deployed my Tiger on the right I also deployed my 76mm AT guns as I figured that Scott would send his 5 OT34/85 to deal with the tiger.
In my original battleplan, I planned to hold the Tiger back to avoid it getting toasted right away, but somehow I forgot my plan and the Tiger ended up being my point unit and Scott took advantage of this when his OT34/85 arrived from Reserve. They used their speed and managed to get side shots on my Tiger in a wood, meaning 4+ to hit. 5 dice, 1 hit and BLING the shot bounced.
As you can see the return fire was devastating. The tiger and 4 Anti Tank guns bailed or destroyed 4 of the OT34/85 and an assault from the Hero Motor Rifles finished off the bailed out once, leaving one alive that failed its 5+ last stand the following turn. This was the turning point for the Sappers. From now on the game could only go one way. All my focus shifted to Scott’s Partisans, my T34/85’s, Tiger, artillery and 2 platoons of Heroes gave the partisans hell. Scotts T70 made a brave attack killing almost an entire Hero Platoon, but eventually, I finished off the last Partisans in an assault with the Heroes. 8-1 to the Hero Motor Rifles.
Things Learned from Game two:
Keep that Tiger back. The moment it goes forward, something nasty will attack it. Artillery is king. In order to keep my infantry alive, counter battery fire is priority number one.
For game three I got matched against Craig with his Panzer IV Company. Wonderful to see someone fielding the good old workhorse of the Wehrmacht.
Looking at Craigs list it should be easy to see what would cause my list the biggest problems. The Wespes and the HS 129 would be the biggest threat against my infantry and guns. Again I picked Defend and Craig picked Manoeuvre. That gave us No Retreat.
No Retreat is in my book one of the missions that gives the Defender a good chance of winning. You are defending the short edge. You get minefields and Deep Immediate Reserves. Not only that, the table was perfect for this mission seen from my point of view.
On one half there was a huge church right in the middle where I wanted to place my objective and on both sides, there was a couple of houses I could mix in with the minefields and my infantry making it near impossible for Craig to go that way through. That meant that Craig would have to attack the objective in the Church where I could have my 23 Stands of Partisans. If I could deal with the Wespes, there was no way Craig could shoot away 23 stands in bulletproof cover that keeps Gone to Ground.
As you can see from the photo above, I placed my objective and Craig placed his in the far right corner, most likely in an attempt to stretch my forces. I deployed all my units in or behind the church except the big Hero platoon, which I placed in front of the church to keep Craigs tanks more than 8″/20cm from the objective.
Craig pushed his forces forward but was kept at bay by the Heroes and Craig didn’t comfortable with assaulting the RPG6 armed Heroes. The PzIVs tried to shoot the Heroes, but killing Gone to Ground infantry with a 3+ save requires a lot of dice. On my first turn, I got my plane that swooped in and killed the Wirbelwinds, which could have been very useful in shooting infantry and my 120mm Mortar and 76mm Arty guns started focussing on the Wespes.
As the turn went by, the PzIV pushed closer and closer and by mistake, Craig left the Ferdinand on the flank. This was promptly exploited by some Heroes, that charged out of their cover in a house, Followed Me and assaulted and killed the Ferdinand.
On the downside, The PzIVs had swiftly dealt with the T34/85 that came from reserve. Being hit on 5+ for range and concealment wasn’t enough. Now the panzers felt confident enough to assault. They pushed in missed and the Heroes fell back. But the next turn I popped my ambush of 4x Zis3 Anti Tank guns, dug in the Heroes and prepared for the final assault from the PzIVs.
With Turn 6 arriving, the Panzers had no option but to assault the well-defended Motor Heroes with AT guns in support and to no surprise, they were laid to rest in the soft ground in front of the church. Another 8-1 to the Hero Motor Rifles.
Things Learned from Game three:
This was precisely the game the list had been built for. Defending with minefields against an attacking force consisting of tanks. In this game, everything clapped and I can’t see how ze Germans could have played this differently. Assaulting the Hero Motor’s without thinning their lines is suicide in a Pz4. The planes worked, the Zis guns worked and the Tiger stayed at long doing the job of acting like a threat that kept the PvIV from outflanking my forces in the church.
These three games left me with 19 points and an overall 2nd place, which wasn’t too bad considering it was the first 3 games I played with this list. So how can I evaluate this list? Based on the results it went well, but there are some things that should be pointed out.
The first thing to remember is that I avoided facing the Heavy tank lists that I had said would be the biggest problem and just as a reminder, the reason I got a Draw in the first game, was precisely that I couldn’t kill the HQ Jumbo and the Super Pershing. The Tiger and the T34/85 is also a potential weakness. With their numbers being so small and hit on 3+, it mean that in the games where there the opponent had massed tanks they were taken out of action almost instantly.
Perhaps it would be better to field 3x IS2s. It would be the same price more or less but they would almost be immune to medium tanks and they could act as a good assault unit in games where I need to push forward to take an objective. Otherwise, the Hero Motor Rifles proved just as strong as always. Except for the tanks all the units performed as planned. The Partisans was for me the unsung heroes. Again and again, they were the centre of enemy attention but as long as they stay GtG they are remarkably hard to shift. Also when sent forward in a mad dash it forces the opponent to focus fire at them drawing it away for the units that are needed to win the game, namely the Hero Motors and the Zis-3 AT guns.
What should always be remembered is that even though a list seems strong or weak on paper it is important to get some games in, cause it is always the best way to see how it handles.
Thank you for reading and happy hobbying.