ETC – Team France AAR

  1. Today Fred from Team France and all round nice guy gives is an AAR report on his Team at the recent FOW European Team Champs (ETC).

Hello friends,

So, ETC 2017 is over !
It was once again a great event, well run, and it’s time to debrief in details with you our experience of Team France 2017.

First of all, let’s say that our preparation this year was far from being the greatest ever : we weren’t there in 2016 (Athens), had 2 newcomers in the Team (Loic and Sebastian), didn’t do much preparation games or tournaments together, and each one of us got complicated real lifes this year !
I believe the term “underdogs” is more than appropriate to describe what we were in this competition …

However, we’ve been participated to the ETC event for years, so we are accustomed in what this tournament is, and how it is when you are “in it”.
We even managed to make a “qualification tournament” to compose our team amongst the French FoW Community volunteers.

Our Captain’s goals, set before the tournament, where quite smart and cautious to be honest :

  • don’t be ridiculous (…)
  • score at least 50% of Victories (18 points)
  • finish in a Top 10 position.

We knew we didn’t have the preparation, training, or even skill as other prestigious nations, yet we will do our best to appear respectable.
We came to Salamanca with the following :

Team France
Tank 1 – USSR Tankovy (CT) (Loic Soler)
Tank 2 – UK Armoured Squadron (CT) (Frederic Guardiola)
Mech 1 – US Armoured Rifle Company (CV) (Sebastian Pohl)
Mech 2 – USSR Light Artillery Regiment (CT) (Jean Michel Parant)
Infantry 1 – UK Motor Company (RV) (Frederic Osio)
Infantry 2 – US Perimeter Outpost (RV) (Laurent Lustiere)

We have worked seriously in thinking through the meta-game and the pairing process, very important things in ETC (which is a TEAM event, and not an individual one).  It may have been better for sure, but it functioned correctly during the event granting interesting match ups, and, on 36 games, none that were lost before they begun.

 

Day 1

Round 1 – Switzerland in “Pincer”

It was great to start the competition with the Swiss; we know them for years, we come to their events as well as them coming to ours. Good friends, we haven’t met in ETC since 2012 (draw 3/3). Team Switzerland fielded:

  • Tank 1 – HON Zriny
  • Tank 2 – GER StuG Batterie
  • Mech 1 – US Armoured Rifle Company (ARC)
  • Mech 2 – USSR Hero Motor Strelkovy
  • Infantry 1 – GER KG Arnhem
  • Infantry 2 – UK CAN Rifle

Match-up and Results

  • Tank 1 – USSR Tankovy vs Mech 2 – USSR Hero Motor Srelkovy / 1/0
  • Tank 2 – UK Armoured Squadron vs Infantry 1 – GER KG Arnhem / 1/0
    Loic and Fred pressured their opponent with their aggressive tactics which worked fine and gained twin Wins.
  • Mech 1 – US Armored Rifle Company vs Tank 2 – GER StuG / 0/1
    Only Seb was a bad student, holding his game until the last minutes, but making mistakes with both his 25pdr (artillery without effect while they should have been in Defensive Fire position) and his HQ (too shy), costing him the game.
  • Mech 2 – URSS Light Artillery Regiment vs Infantry 2 – UK CAN Rifle / 1/0
    Jean Michel was happy to defend against his opponent who declared « Night Attack »; sitting and waiting with Breakthrough Gun / Volley Fire / Flames throwers hurt his opponent…
  • Infantry 1 – UK Motor Company vs Mech 1 – US ARC / 1/0
    I got a tactically very interesting game against an US ARC, where mobility was key. Managed to have my opponent attack the least defend side, but delayed him enough for my ambush, Cromwell in Reserves, and M10 to strike the fatal blow.
  • Infantry 2 – US Perimeter Outpost vs Tank 1 – HON Zriny / 1/0
    Laurent made a long run game against his opponent, none of them being able to strike the fatal blow… the outpost held !

5/1 – 29/13

What a start !
Sweeping away Seb’s tears  (so to speak), we head to the next round with a weight out of our shoulders. No, we are not THAT rusted.

Round 2 – Greece in “Encounter”

Looking at the board, we were surprised to find we were 2nd and facing the “Sons of Leonidas”… old rivals again.  They beat us in 2012 handily, but we got our revenge in 2014.  Now is the time for the third round !

Team Greece fielded:

  • Tank 1 – USSR Light Artillery Regiment
  • Tank 2 – GER KG Kastner
  • Mech 1 – URSS Peredovoye
  • Mech 2 – GER Pzspah
  • Infantry 1 – UK Welsh Rifle
  • Infantry 2 – US Rifle

We know they had two lists that were painful to us (Tank 1 and Mech 1), so we decided to play ” team work “; two of our players are going to be “sacrificed” to take out these lists, and the others make the points.

Match-up and Results

Bingo it worked !

  • Tank 1 – USSR Tankovy vs Infantry 2 – US Rifle / 1/0
  • Tank 2 – UK Armoured Squadron vs Infantry 1 – UK WELSH Rifle / 1/0
    Loic and Fred repeat the morning scenario, so the name of the game is “pressure”… too much to swallow for their opponent.
  • Mech 1 – US Armoured Rifle Company vs Tank 1 – USSR Light Artillery Regiment / 0/1
    After a “punitive” game, Seb breaks against their Tank 1. Hard, but we expected it.
  • Mech 2 – USSR Light Artillery Regiment vs Tank 2 – GER KG Kastner / 1/0
    Jean Michel proved to his opponent that KG Kastner is really not a good list, beating him heavily…
  • Inf 1 – UK Motor Company vs Mech 2 – GER Pzspah / 1/0
    My game was not looking good. My opponent (Oliver) barricaded his troop in his deployment area, and he masterfully played his King Tiger; 800 points killed by the KT, and still alive in the end. However, I refused to back down, it’s ETC, we are playing for friends and country.  Slowly, but purposefully exploiting every opportunity, I ground down his army. I ended up killing his 6th platoon with his HQ on the last turn. Victory!
  • Inf 2 – US Perimeter Outpost vs Mech 1 – USSR Peredovoye / 0/0
    El-maestro Laurent, paired up against the Greek Mech 1, played his part perfectly, holding his opponent at bay andnot giving away any Big Points  He even scored all the Small Points he could!

4/1 – 25/14

Well done Team France !
We have 9 points after 2 rounds only, half the points requested by the Captain.  Not bad !

Day 2

After a night that will stay in the history of Team France ETC (everybody bedding at 10:30 PM), came the 2nd Day.  We knew from experience this is the most terrible day.  A hard one.
And it will be…

Round 3 – Wales in “Breakthrough”

Well, we know this should happen.  We take on Wales, perhaps the worst meta-game for us this year, and we know the guys well from the UK circuit.  Adorable chaps, but they are not only painters; they play good as well.  Team Wales [hopefully we’ll have an AAR from them soon – Breakthrough Assault] fielded:

  • Tank 1 – GER Schwere Pzko
  • Tank 2 – UK Tank Co
  • Mech 1 – USSR MotoS
  • Mech 2 – UK Recce
  • Inf 1 – UK SCOTS Rifle
  • Inf 2 – US Rifle

[For more info on the Wales team composition you can also see the previous “ETC Home Nations” article – Ed]

Match-up and Results

  • Tank 1 – USSR Tankovy vs Tank 1 – GER Schwere Pzko / 0/1
    It goes wrong for Loic; while he had every chance to beat his opponent, he fell into the trap that, the master, Tim Harris, laid for him. The game was tense until the end, but ended up with Loic’s defeat.
  • Tank 2 – UK Armoured Squadron vs Mec 1 – USSR MotoS / 0/1
    Fred got such bad luck. I never follow Fred in his endless complaints about bad luck, but being at the side table next to him, I can only agree this time Lady Luck was one sided. 3 SU100 and 4 57mm resisting all the firepower of the UK Armoured Squadron and then killing all the Tanks in 3 turns?  Hard defeat…
  • Mech 2 – URSS Light Artillery Regiment vs Mec 2 – UK Recce / 0/1
    Jean Michel missed a victory against Matt, even if he was in good position to beat him. Here I need to give kudos to Matt, with an army I’ve never believed in, and still scoring 5 Victories in the end; proof that a good player, mastering his army, can be stunning.
    Doesn’t look too good for us so far…
  • Mech 1 – US Armoured Rifle Company vs Inf 1 – UK SCOTS Rifle / 1/0
    …But Captain Seb won’t let us down this time, and against the mighty Roger, got a Victory out of the claws of Defeat! Well done Cap’n!
  • Inf 1 – UK Motor Company vs Tank 2 – UK Tank Co / 1/0
    I got the “chance” to face Breakthrough Assault’s own Mark Goddard  and his artillery park; an all too well known list, very efficient in such a scenario.
    Taking shells on the head for eight turns, losing stuff, but still holding; I managed to concentrate on the only elements capable of taking objectives (well, everything but the 16 artillery pieces…). With an aggressive defence, I ended up having to contest the objective to a marauding squad of 3 invincible Churchills coming from reserves. It’s a Win! [If only we were playing the new More Missions PDF! – Mark]
  • Inf 2 – US Perimeter Outpost vs Inf 2 – US Rifle / 1/0
    Super Laurent was on fire; he managed to hold his opponent at bay, and get the points out of him. Impressive.

3/3 – 22/20

Damn, that was close, but we end up with the 3 points and a better goal average.  Could have been better, could have been worst, happy about the result nonetheless.  Meanwhile, the big teams scored fast and hard.  Surprisingly enough, at mid-course, we are not badly ranked at all!  Next round is going to be important to see if we can have a shot to the podium …

Round 4 – England in “Dust Up”

Damn ! Another British team [and therefore also covered in our previous “ETC Home Nations” article – Ed], and we know England came this year to claim the title. They prepared strongly for the event and they know what they want.  England fielded:

  • Tank 1 – GER Panther Kompanie
  • Tank 2 – UK Tank Company
  • Mech 1 – USSR Moto Strelkovy
  • Mech 2 – GER PzSpah
  • Infantry 1 – UK Rifle
  • Infantry 2 – US Rifle

Match-up and Results

From ETC 2015, we learned very valuable tactics from our Polish opponents, and we decide to apply it to mitigate wins/losses.
On paper, it works OK, yet the future will say otherwise…

  • Tank 1 – USSR Tankovy vs Inf 2 – US Rifle / 0/1
    Loic committed his nice rookie mistake from 1st ETC; literally rolling over the US army, he only defended his objective with 1 tank. The Tank is taken out by the US guns coming from Reserves, leaving the objective undefended… and then taken!
  • Tank 2 – UK Armoured Squadron vs Mech 2 – GER PzSpah / 0/1
    Fred keeps his bad luck day. Paul is a good player knowing how to exploit the situation; instead of falling back into a defence and denying a point, Fred literally “tilted” and lost his temper, making mistakes that cost him the game.
  • Mech 1 – US Armored Rifle Company vs Tank 1 – GER Panther Kompanie / 0/0
    Rookie Seb got to face Lord Charlton… and handled him well !
    A 25pdrs bombardment managed to kill the StuHs, leaving the Lord totally on the defensive! But Seb is too impressed by his opponent, and doesn’t manage to press his advantage. A Draw!
  • Mech 2 – USSR Light Artillery Regiment vs Inf 1 – UK Rifle / 0/1
    Jean Michel lose his duel against Laurence in a tense battle, but it doesn’t work and Laurence knows his stuff.
    Deserved victory to “El Cid”.
  • Infantry 1 – UK Motor Company vs Tank 2 – UK Tank Company / 0/0
    Meeting again my “best enemy”, Jez, in an epic game (3rd game of the season, almost same army as this morning, but again, someone need to take one for the team !).
    Super tactical game; observing, turning around. It looked like a draw is coming, but I failed to push, so reverted to defensive mode in holding the objectives safely… unless I do a poker shot. I did it, it worked, I survived the fire back, and then totally reversed the momentum of the game.  Now Jez is on the defensive and his army is in bad shape!  I only have to kill 1 model in 4 turns to force a moral check and win the game as the CiC is down and there is no 2ic.
    Failed. Fortunes of war… Frustrating… (and sorry for the audience ears, lot of french bad language I spoke to heavens !)
  • Infantry 2 – US Perimeter Outpost vs Mec 1 – USSR Motor Strelkovy / 0/0
    Laurent was very unlikely to score, so we have him take the Motor Strelkovy.
    Strangely enough, his luck was so bad this round that he didn’t damage much in Graham’s army, but he also have reserves coming on very slowly, frustrating the ruskies waiting to kill them ! A fair draw.

0/3 – 15/23

This round’s results are so hard. Scoring 0 in an ETC round is mean, and we know we could have done better. Not necessarily win it, England was better than us, but at least get those 2 points out…
Morale is bad as the team realise the title is unlikely with this game.
Fortunately, Captain Seb is here to make us happy again.
We have 12 points, the podium is still an option (and here you see all the magic of ETC : you come not to be ridiculous, to be Top 10, blah blah blah… but when you are IN the event, you want to give it all. All you can to clinch a good result… that’s the best event in the world …)

 

Day 3

The final day is here.  The previous day left us a feeling of undone, we wanted to be back with a better spirit and a better resolve.

Round 5 – Ireland in “Hold the Line”

So we got Ireland. Interesting, I predicted that Ireland would be on the podium at the start of the competition; good meta, good players, constant climb on the ranking since 2013.  Besides, we have had a little “rivalry” for years, yet never had the chance to play each other in ETC.
Ireland fielded:

  • Tank 1 – HON Zriny
  • Tank 2 – UK Tank Company
  • Mech 1 – USSR Peredovoye
  • Mech 2 – US TFA
  • Infantry 1 – BRA Rifle Company
  • Infantry 2 – US Rifle Company

Match-up and Results

Well, normally, in such situation, the word is “careful”, or as we say in South of France “mefi”.  But we are not in South of France and we are burning inside from our Round 4 defeat.  Time to get on the field with such a high energy…

  • Tank 1 – USSR Tankovy vs Infantry 1 – BRA Rifle Company / 1/0
    Loic finally plays simple, as he should do, and steam rolled over his opponent. Nice and easy.
    Last night coaching helped; full Tank assault.  It suffered losses, but in the end, worked.
  • Tank 2 – UK Armoured Squadron vs Mech 2 – US Task Force Alpha / 1/0
    Fred avenged himself from the” mockery” of Bill; he showed he knows how to play, and goes full force, with a “I’m losing stuff, but you are losing your army, so I win” attitude. Best way to win…
  • Mech 1 – US Armoured Rifle Company vs Tank 1 – HON Zriny / 0/1
    Seb held his game; his opponent is blocked, but it’s not working. With only 2 minutes to play, Seb has tons of things to do to preserve his army from a company morale check, but falls into his opponent “psychological trap”; he played too fast, and ended up being in Company Morale Check… which he obviously failed.
  • Mech 2 – USSR Light Artillery Regiment vs Tank 2 – UK Tank Compay / 0/1
    It went bad for Jean Michel who sees his army melt like snow with sunshine (gun in the pampa…). Jean Michel resists gallantly, tries to make daring manoeuvres, but breaks in the end. Defeat.
  • Infantry 1 – UK Motor Company vs Mech 1 – USSR Peredovoye / 1/0
    At my board, I play hyper-methodical, taking from my opponent all his SU122 in 3 turns, forcing his Valentine to play with my guns and M10s. I stay out of sight/range of the SU100 and artillery, and ended the battle with his Matilda CS duelling with my Cromwell he can’t penetrate… Not lucky for opponent Brendan, hence a severe 6-1.
  • Infantry 2 – US Perimeter Outpost vs Infantry 2 – US Rifle Company / 1/0
    Laurent is again resiliant against his valiant opponent; hold the position, get the point. Impressive job from our veteran player.

Well done Ireland, psychology is part of this game; you played this one well.

4/2 – 27/15

Rookie mistake is bad, but we still end up with 4 points taken and 2 given, against an opponent  for the podium, so that’s not bad at all.
Motivation was very high on this round and it helped.  For the rest, I will just say… “justice is done !”

Round 6 – USA in “Cauldron”

So we are 5th after our game against Ireland.  The title is not claimable, but the other podium steps are playable; we had a good goal average, and we need to win 4/2 against our next opponent, which will be a direct opponent to the podium.  Australia, USA, or Russia?  Drum rolls… and it’s the USA.

Big stuff ! Champions 2015 and 2nd in 2016… big final.  And their metagame is complicated to us.  The USA fielded:

  • Tank 1 – USSR Tankovy
  • Tank 2 – US Tank Company
  • Mech 1 – USSR Peredovoye
  • Mech 2 – US Tank Destroyer Company
  • Infantry 1 – UK/CAN Rifle
  • Infantry 2 – US Rifle

 

Match-up and Results

I think this round will stay in Team France ETC history as the most frustrating one we ever had.  We know they are very good players, yet we had the motivation and we end up having pairs ups that not only preserve our armies from hard battles, but also put them in favourable positions … yet it went wrong.

  • Tank 1 – USSR Tankovy vs Infantry 2 – US Rifle / 0/1
    Loic failed to beat the US Infantry. Loic tried to play better, failed, defeat. It happens, no regret. Loic need a couple of ETC experience more.
  • Infantry 2 – US Perimeter Outpost vs Mech 2 – US Tank Destroyer company / 1/0
    Laurent, “king of no pressure” is holding all he can against colossus Tony. To conclude a master class competition, he even managed to beat him!
  • Mech 1 – US Armored Rifle Company vs Tank 2 – US Tank Company / 1/0
    Seb, without doubt motivated to the extreme by his stupid mistake in the morning, deployed all his talent on this complicated game… and manage to take it ! Well done !2/1, 3 games running, 2 points to go… 100% undependable given the match up and the fact we are defending on the 3 games… just need to hang to the objectives !
    Yes… but no.
  • Mech 2 – USSR Light Artillery Regiment vs Infantry 1 – UK CAN Rifle / 0/1
    Jean Michel decided to “sacrifice his army”  in the trap laid by his opponent (Alex, so cunning to try to eat Defender’s reserves when you have Infantry and he has lots of Tanks…). Out played, Jean Mi lost this one.Wow. 2 games to go, no choice but to win both.
  • Tank 2 – UK Armoured Squadron vs Tank 1 – USSR Tankovy / 0/1
    Fred got to face the Doc and it was truly a painful game, where Captains were called several time to the board to resolve disputes. I have to say each time US Captain and I (with whom he was playing) were called, Fred was never wrong. Thinking about it afterwards, I believe the Doc is not a bad person, but actually a wise one.  All his circus about whinging, complaining, contesting, lead to Fred being totally not concentrated in his game, and making mistakes. Like not contesting the objective while he perfectly can. Game over…
    Again, psychology is fully part of the game; it’s not our opponent way to play which is to blame (far from it), but our mistake to fall into the traps.Well, 2/3, not knowing the score from the other boards, we think the podium is out of reach.
    One game remaining, we are not going to lay down our arms.
  • Infantry 1 – UK Motor Company vs Mech 1 – USSR Peredovoye / 0/1
    Playing against Chris’ Peredovoye is sport; great game, lot of fire exchanged.  My “thin red line” of infantry and guns is resisting, but hardly… and still no reserves!
    Doing bold manoeuvres to out play Chris, and it works and makes him suffer.  His army is melting, yet he managed to throw his Sherman on the objective.
    Then he said “OK, let’s stop here, 1/0 – 4/3 “, and I answered ” 1/0 for me ? ” and him “Are you kidding ? for me !”
    Ahah, joker… nuts ! You’re gonna see Yankee : I can contest the objective with … oh my… I begin my turn and I thought I’ve placed my 1iC and 2iC to call back my White Scout Cars and easily contest the objective, with time for my reinforcements who finally arrived to finish the job. But no; bad placement for an handful of millimeters… need to take back the objective by force.
    I got him 1 tank platoon, 2 AAA out of 3, his 1iC, reduced his 76mm to one gun …My shots on the Sherman hurt, but not enough.
    2 morale tests, all succeed, 1 missed would have made his army test.  Too bad : I throw my 1iC assaulting the abandoned position of the Sherman, no choice. 8 shots needing 5+ to stop me. If he misses (or if I survive), I contest the objective and it stinks very hard for Chris…
    8 shots … 5 hits… Assault stopped. Game Over. Defeat…
    Epilogue : while packing my models, I noticed a small detail : if my 1iC and my 2iC couldn’t bring their transport back, my unit of guns (6pdr+mortars) could have brought his back… and I could have contested easily. Frustrating, you’ve said frustrating?

2/4 – 19/23

Most difficult defeat to swallow in 5 ETC.

In the end…

In the end, we end up having :
Tank 1 – USSR Tankovy (CT) (Loic Soler) => 3 W / 3 L / 25 small points
Tank 2 – UK Armored Squadron (CT) (Frederic Guardiola) => 3 W / 3 L / 21 small points
Mech 1 – US Armored Rifle Company (CV) (Sebastian Pohl) => 2 W / 1 D / 3 L / 19 small points
Mech 2 – USSR Light Artillery Regiment (CT) (Jean Michel Parant) => 2 W / 4 L / 20 small points
Infantry 1 – UK Motor Company (RV) (Frederic Osio) => 4 W / 1 D / 1 L => 28 small points
Infantry 2 – US Perimeter Outpost (RV) (Laurent Lustiere) => 4 W / 2 D => 24 small points

Which grants us 7th place.  Not bad, to be fair !

Sure, we would appreciate if all players would have scored at least 3 Wins each, but you know how ETC is : it’s a hard competition, with a very high level of skills from the best players coming from all over the world !

So you would say “but you didn’t come here for a podium” or “you were not expecting such high ranking” or” those are the Americans, they are great players”… and you will probably be right.
But that’s the magic of ETC : you are involved in the event, taken by it, you want to give everything you can not to let your team mates down, and to make your country proud.

That’s the game, and we can only learn from our mistakes and move forward.
It has been a wonderful event, thanks to the Team and all the players we had the pleasure to met.

Thank you Team Switzerland, Team Greece, Team Wales, Team England, Team Ireland, Team USA.
It’s been a pleasure, and I hope you had a good time with us.

Congratulations for Team England victory, as well as Team Poland 2nd place and Team USA 3rd place.

2017 had been quite an adventure.
2018 will be a new one as well…

See you in Zagreb !

Cheers from France,

Fred « Angel » Osio

 

 

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Article by: Mark Goddard