Guest writer Andrew Gaboury sent us this tournament report in late October, which Lee promptly forgot all about because he’s been in a Comet and BMD induced high. Apologies to Andrew but here it is now!
It was a beautiful fall day in New England, perfect for wargaming in 15mm.
The New England Flames of War community is vibrant and growing, sustained by an active online presence and regular pickup games and tournaments.
The best attended event is Armourcon, a regional table-top convention in Marlborough, MA.
Tournament Organizer Aaron Berger did a great job marketing the event on Facebook, gathering terrain, providing mission packs, and keeping all of us gamers on a schedule. Three games in one day, with time for lunch, is no easy feat but it was well done.
The tournament was 105 points of Late-War. This was only my second tournament, my first
being the previous year’s Armourcon. There, I brought a Hero T-34 Battalion that had a decidedly mixed record. Running against lots of Axis infantry was tough and I didn’t bring enough footsloggers of my own. I planned on rectifying those errors with a new list: American Shermans and Pershings with air support. As we’ll see, they weren’t the panacea for the Axis that I’d hoped for!
My entire list was comprised of:
Sherman Co HQ – 2 x Sherman 76mm
Sherman Platoon – 3 x Sherman 76mm, 1 x Jumbo 76mm
Sherman Platoon – 3 x Sherman 76mm, 1 x Jumbo 76mm
Armored 81mm Mortar Platoon – 3 x M4 (81mm Mortars)
M26 Pershing Tank Platoon – 3 x M26 Pershings
Battle Weary Rifle Platoon – 7 x Rifle Teams, 2 x Bazooka, 2 x LMGs
P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter Flight – 2 x P-47s
Cards – Lucky
This is an attacking force and I planned to go on the offensive where possible. We had no
restrictions on what stance (Attack, Defend, Maneuver) we could take and I planned on
attacking all the time. We had 8 people on the day of the tournament, luckily for some
semblance of historical accuracy, four were Allies and four were Axis.
Kyle P: German Puma Company with King Tiger support
Dick W: German StuG Company with Panzergrenadiers and King Tiger support
Teddy C: Romanian Mountain Infantry with Tacams and Air Support
Jerry L: Hungarian Infantry w/ Hetzers and Tiger I’s
Pat H: American Tank Destroyers w/ Battle Weary Infantry
Aaron B: British Infantry w/ Achilles and Churchill support
Shawn T: Soviet Hero T-34 Battalion w/ IS-2s
Andrew G: American Sherman Company w/ Pershing support
I drew Kyle P and his Puma Company. Seeing the horde of small units, I chose to defend while Kyle chose attack. This got us Bridgehead. I placed my minefields and artillery markers to try to staunch what I knew was going to be a ton of Pumas coming my way. I hoped my Shermans would make short work of the lightly armored horde, allowing my Pershings to work on his King Tigers. I started with the Battle Weary Platoon on the table, a platoon of Shermans, the HQ, mortars, and the P-47s on call. The rest was in reserve.
Turn one and the scout cars are rolling. Kyle spearheaded out and put pressure on my small on-table force. I immediately saw the error of my ways by having a list with such high-pointed units. I had Pershings and a Sherman company in reserve and there just wasn’t a lot of meat on my side of the table. I got air on my first turn but no reserves. The Shermans moved up to try to take shots at the Pumas but, them being so many, plus the density of the terrain, meant I was having a hard time finding good shots. My air came in and hit the infantry but they would unpin the following turn. That was the story of the match from my perspective. I got my reserves on the next turn but instead of bringing in the Pershings, I brought in a four tank platoon of Shermans. I wanted their shots to hold off the hordes and I thought I could get the Pershings on the next roll. That roll never happened and I would end the game with 29 points of Pershings sitting next to the table rather than on it. Kyle was able to deftly avoid my minefields and even though I did destroy a King Tiger with a combination of air attacks and side shots from my Shermans, I lost on turn 4 when Pumas overran an objective. I lost 8-1 having only destroyed a single Puma platoon even though I’d killed or bailed a bunch of other ones. Kyle was a great opponent and did me the grace of claiming our game was close but, in reality, the ending wasn’t in doubt due to my poor deployment and his skillful one.
My next game was against Jerry Lane, a veteran of many games of Flames of War and a legend in our little New England community. I’ve played Jerry many times and he always approaches the tabletop in a methodical and calm manner befitting someone that has travelled to Canada and Iceland for tournaments.
He’d brought a Hungarian infantry company with Hetzer and Tiger support. I knew from past experience that he was tenacious in the defense and my only chance was to be aggressive and try to seize the initiative. Unexpectedly, Jerry opted for attack as well but, on the roll-off, was listed as the defender. We got Dust-Up with myself as the attacker. I deployed all my forces on the table with the exception of the two Sherman Platoons. I wasn’t going to be cheated out of the Pershings this time! The Battle Weary platoon sat on my objective and promptly dug in. I was going to attack straight into the teeth of Jerry’s Hetzers and infantry, planning on either winning or losing fast.
I moved out first and my aircraft came in, bailing a couple of Hetzers. Jerry was holding his Tigers in reserve and I was leery of having too much high AT across from me. My mortars couldn’t range in and the Pershings rolled out but stayed behind a woods for cover. Jerry largely stayed put but slowly approached my infantry on the right. I started to wonder if I should hold back and rethink but decided no, let’s go for it. I got a Sherman platoon in from reserve and aircraft on turn two. I pinned the infantry with the aircraft and rolled the Shermans on, firing their machine guns into the Hungarian infantry. They took more hits but few casualties. Jerry killed a Sherman from my HQ next turn and pinned my infantry on the objective but didn’t advance. I decided he wasn’t serious about going for the right and rolled into the infantry on the objective.
The Pershings and Shermans were missed almost completely by fire from panzerfausts, panzerschreck, and Hetzers. Some epically bad rolls from Jerry gave me hope.
I launched the Pershings into base contact on the objective and thought I had a chance. Unfortunately, my rolls went bad and two fausts found their way in. Two Pershings bailed and they broke off. That was my highwater mark; the two Sherman platoons couldn’t whittle down the remaining infantry and the Hetzers found their marks. Three tank platoons were soon destroyed and when Jerry destroyed my final HQ tank, my formation broke. I lost 7-2 but I could taste how close I’d come. Jerry, as always, seemed calm in the face of my almost victory but afterwards would give me all the acknowledgement I needed by saying that the Pershing assault had made him “slightly nervous”. I’ll take it!
My final game of the day was something of a consolation match. I played Aaron Berger, the TO and consummate good guy that was pulling double duty wrangling the administrative duties and serving as an opponent. He’d played a couple of tight matches but was really there to make sure everyone else had a good time. Aaron had his British infantry and Crocodile Churchills, a formidable combination and one that I was eager to see go against my Americans.
We got Cornered with me as the attacker. Aaron set up in the corner and I deployed everything on a short table edge. I started by dashing everything and getting right up to the center line.
Aaron had bad luck on reserve rolls and I was able to destroy some universal carriers with aircraft. I then assaulted his observer and pinned his infantry on the objective. My Shermans rolled up the left to prevent him from moving everything to the right, where my main effort was.
Aaron was able to stall me there but the Pershings were closing in. I moved my Battle Weary infantry up and skirted a minefield. Getting into assault with the Brits was far more than I was prepared for, however. They repulsed my infantry and every time I pinned them, they bounced back. I assaulted with Pershings but PIATs and infantry killed one and pushed the other two back. My aircraft pinned but couldn’t kill and we kept going back and forth on assaults, neither one of us giving quarter. As time was running out, I had victory in sight but Aaron was able to dash two Universal Carriers over minefields to contest the objective. Insane dice rolls and bravery saved the British from a loss.
We called the game a 3-3 draw and wiped the sweat from our brows.
While my performances throughout the day were lackluster, other players fared better and had interesting matches. Shawn T. and his Hero T34s had a great match against Dick W.’s German Grenadiers with King Tiger support. In a mirror of my first match and my Pershings, Dick couldn’t get the King Tigers on the board from reserve. Even so, it was a close run game with lots of smashed units but the Soviets took the field. That would be Shawn’s story throughout the day, his Soviets would go on to defeat Kyle’s Puma horde and then Pat’s American tank destroyers. Another good match featured Teddy’s Romanians skilfully using airpower and Tacams to almost take down Jerry’s Hungarians. The Axis on Axis fight was close but Jerry pulled it out in the end.
At the end of the day, Shawn and his Soviets won, having bested all comers. It was a triumph for the exact force that I’d struggled with last year, which just goes to show that it’s the player, and not the list, that makes the difference.
The new hotness does appear to be King Tigers with two of four Axis players bringing them and a third Axis player bringing Tiger Is. No one had Brigade Panthers from the Bulge: German book but people were talking about that.
Overall, the Axis did very well with Americans faring especially poorly. Low AT for the Yanks and lots of numbers for the Germans made up for a lot. The Axis Allies of Hungary and Romania also did quite well, using their idiosyncratic rules to great effect. As an American player, I think my next move is to go infantry heavy, perhaps with an Airborne company backed up by artillery and Pershings. If I don’t get distracted by all the shiny new things in the Bulge: German back, that is. Pushing around King Tigers and Panthers sounds like a fun way to spend a few hours.
Armourcon is a great event and the Flames of War community of New England is a great group of people. We have events planned for Mid War Eastern Front in January, Team Yankee in February, and Mid War North Africa to follow. If you’re in the area and looking for a game of Flames of War or Team Yankee, look us up on social media. We’ll be expanding to Bolt Action as well next year. Looking forward to getting defeated by all these guys in the future!