Sean Richey has been kind enough to put together a report from the Canadian FOW nationals in 2023. This is an event I have always wanted to attend and maybe one day it will be held in Calgary (where my Brother lives) and I can swing a pass from ‘home command’. Until then let’s see how it went.
I recently returned to playing Flames of War. I played quite a bit of it in version 3 but stopped playing after a couple of moves and a couple of kids got in the way. Having recently moved to Ontario Canada I finally got reconnected to the game after I stopped in to take a look at Canadian Nationals last year and was introduced to a couple of local players. I managed to get a handful of games in over the ensuing year, but no tournaments. So I showed up not really sure how my list would perform and what other people would be bringing. I wanted a list that would let me play aggressively but would have a reasonable answer to anything that I might see.
The King Tigers provide the aggression to the list (and a one-unit reserve). While I thought the StuHs would be a versatile platform able to do light AT work, dig out dug-in infantry and act as artillery. Of these tasks, they were only really good at the last one but performed it admirably. The infantry was a reluctant addition as I would have preferred a unit of Hetzers, but they ended up being the unsung heroes of the list with their 2+ to hit in an assault. We were very lucky to have the event hosted at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario. Very cool to walk by Shermans and 25 Pounders on the way to the Cadet Mess where the games were played. We did have a few cadets stop by to take a look, and hopefully, we sparked some interest in the game!
Game 1 Vs Panzer Training Company: Encounter
Ben was running a Panzer training company with a Tiger II HQ, 3 Tigers, 3 Panthers, 3 Wespes, 2 infantry platoons, Pumas, 2 paks, and Flame Hetzers. I placed my Tiger 2’s in reserve and he reserved his Panthers and Tigers. I spearheaded on the right flank and pushed my Panzer 4’s forward. He spearheaded into the middle and placed his Paks there. His right objective was held by an infantry unit, while the left was held by the Wespes with the King Tiger, Hetzers and the infantry unit looking to push forward. My left objective was guarded by my infantry, 1IC, StuHs, and Wespes. While my right had the Whirbelwinds. I went first and pushed my Panzers forward on the right flank, as the terrain screened them from the Paks which were in the middle.
On the left, I pushed a unit of StuHs forward to take shots at the Hetzers, but his King Tiger and artillery firing back killed them. The Hetzers and an infantry squad moved towards my objective. My artillery caught his paks who had begun moving towards the right side, killing one and the second fled. Artillery pinned his infantry in the town, who failed to drive the assault home, and he was reluctant to push the Hetzers in by themselves as my HQ Panzer and a unit of StuHs were also covering the objective. His King Tiger was coming up to help push the objective but on Turn 3, I got my reserve King Tiger unit, and they happened to show up directly behind his HQ King Tiger killing it.
Then they began pushing towards his Wespes holding his objective. On the right my panzers pushed his infantry off the objective, losing one to panzerfaust fire and were holding the objective at the end of my turn. On his turn 3, his Tigers turned up right where they were needed on top of my Panzer IVs, but only bailed two. They both remount for me and I bail the two tigers who are holding the objective (I use a Lucky card on one of the firepower rolls) and he has no active teams on the objective at the end of my turn getting me the win. Ben was very nice and helped me work the rules that I was rusty on, and had a bad run of luck with his Tigers.
Game 2 Vs Chaffee Company in Scouts Up
It took us a while to sort out where the objectives and deployment zones were on the black-and-white player pack, which unfortunately slowed down the start of the game.
Andrew had 2 HQ Chaffees, one unit of 4 Chafees, and a big unit of infantry, priests, and armoured mortars on the board to start. 2 more units of Chaffees and 155 SPGs were in reserve. I have the King Tigers in reserve. I go first and push my Panzer 4s up the middle, recce up the left and Whirblwinds on the right to cover my right objective. My infantry is dug in on my left objective. His Chaffees and Stuarts come forward to threaten my right objective but when I move the Panzers over to counter that, they come back to the middle. He had a nice hedgerow-lined field that gave him good cover.
His HQ Chaffees on the right killed my scouts that I was too aggressive with, while not exposing themselves to any return fire. He gets a unit of Chaffees on turn 3 who start to threaten the middle, while his original unit begins circling towards my right objective. My King Tigers arrive on 4 and with the Panzer 4’s they kill the Chaffee unit in the middle.
My artillery eventually wears his priests down to two teams, and he had to spend a lot of the game moving them. His second unit of Chafees arrived from reserve and headed towards my right objective as well. At the end of turn 5, we run out of time and the round is called. A 1-1 draw as we each only killed one unit. If we got to play it out he has an advantage on my right with two chafee units moving up on the objective while on my left I have three Tiger IIs ready to make a run at his infantry on that objective with only the 2 HQ chaffees to help them. A very close game.
Game 3 Vs Clausewitz Panzers and Panzer Grenadiers in Free for All.
Grant had an armoured panzergrenadier company with 2 units in halftracks, a command card commander in Panther, 2 Panthers and 2 Jagdpanthers, 3 StuHs, mortars, nebs, and 2 15MM Drilling units. I spearheaded the tigers and Panzer IV’s forward on my left while my infantry dug in on the right objective in the city. With 2 units of Stuhs and the Whirbelwinds more in the middle but able to support them.
I blitz my Tigers to the ridgeline to take shots at his Panthers but miss. His infantry and halftracks push forward in the city backed by his HQ Panther and StuHs. His JPanthers move out to kill the scouts on my left. On my turn my KT’s blitz and kill the JPanthers. The panzers move forward behind cover to start threatening the Panther’s flanks. On the right arty kills his IC panther and pins his two infantry units moving through the city. But he does well unpinning and blitzing to get them up towards my objective. I initially moved my Whirlwinds towards the StuHs before realising that I couldn’t hurt his side armour, so they then began heading towards his objective then back to protect mine, as his infantry began to close in.
On the right, his infantry wins an assault and pushes me back to where he is contesting. On the left, the King Tigers move forward and kill the Panthers while the Panzers assault the mortar unit holding the objective. I go forward and assault the mortars and push them off the objective. On the right, he wins another assault against my infantry and pushes me back but not quite off the objective. At the start of turn 6, I won with my Panzers holding the left objective. Another super close game against another great opponent.
Game 4 Vs Soviet Sappers in Probe
I can’t remember the mission but Patrice had 2 units of IS-2 in Reserve, his ISU-122s in ambush and then a small sapper unit holding the left objective on his side and a huge 20+ stand unit spearheaded forward by his armoured cars on the right. I had the whirbelwinds and the infantry on my right objective. The artillery on my middle and back left, able to see where his big infantry unit would need to move across.
The Panzers and Scouts spearheaded forward on my left. I had immediate reserves and my King Tigers showed up on my right where I wanted them to back up the Panzers going forward in the assault. The Scouts and Panzers moved up and he dropped his ISU ambush but missed the Panzers. On the right, his infantry unit was trying to blitz forward while I dropped artillery on them. He was making good unpinning rolls but failing to blitz which slowed his momentum.
My whirbelwinds moved into the middle of the board to threaten his infantry and the objective. I dropped a smoke bombardment to screen the ISUs and assaulted them with the Panzers. He bailed two of them and I killed a couple of stands but he failed his 2nd counterattack motivation and I pushed the infantry back. Meanwhile, the scouts tried to circle behind the ISU’s. The ISUs fired at the scouts only killing one. While my Whirbelwinds dashed onto the objective.
The King Tigers moved into sight of the ISU’s fire and killed all three of them. The Panzers carried on the assault, lost one tank, but reduced him down to 2 infantry stands. His reserve failed to arrive and my Whirbelwinds were alone on his objective at the start of my turn. Patrice was a great opponent and the luck didn’t go his way. With some crucial failures to unpin and no reserves showing up, my King Tigers certainly had their sights dialled in!
Game 5: ‘The Final’ Vs USA Bulge Rifle Company and Sherman Company in Counterattack
Dennis was I believe the only player with 4 wins going into the final round. We had a nice-looking table with a bombed-out village on one end with a train track going through it. A river down the middle of the board, and then trees on the far side. He placed one infantry unit in the field stopping my access directly to the objective in the town and the other one in the city. His Sherman HQ was out of sight near the objective. Hellcats were in ambush. His artillery units were along the back edge. Two units of 3 shermans and his scout unit were arriving from reserve. I spearheaded as best I could towards the far river objective, which allowed me to set up my PZ IVs looking across the river to where his reserves would arrive from. My infantry backed by the Whirbelwinds were in the town. The KT’s went on the line, with the HQ behind them. The Wespes and StuHs were on my back edge looking around either side of a wood. My scouts headed towards the river objective.
Turn 1: My infantry and Whirbels moved forward and the KT’s moved forward for an assault. My artillery pinned the field infantry unit and I think maybe bailed a couple of armoured mortars. The KT’s went in and I failed my save against his Bazooka, I chose to use my Lucky card and re-roll for a pass. I killed the stand and pushed his infantry back. Dennis got one unit of Shermans in from reserve and they headed into the woods opposite my PZ IV’s. He blitzed his Sherman HQ out to kill a StuH, and dropped his Hellcat ambush to bail 3 of the whirbelwinds and a bazooka bailed the 4th. The field infantry unit moved forward to get side shots on the KT’s but could not penetrate.
The infantry unit on the road sent a stand forward to assault the whirbelwinds and captured them all before consolidating back into a building. This was the start of Dennis schooling me on the way of infantry assaults, and moving stands out of command. This one infantry unit would eventually have stands probably 24” apart from each other by the end of the game.
Turn 2: PZ III OP blitzed over to spot onto the hellcats. Scouts crossed the river to get away from the Hellcats. My infantry moved up to the central white building in the town. The unit of 2 StuHs moved out to MG the infantry that had pushed forward. 1IC MG’d the Bazooka team. KT’s shot at the Sherman HQ, killing a Calliope by mistake. Wespes repeat bombarded and managed to kill the HQ Easy 8. No reserves for the Americans. They blitzed the Shermans on my right flank forward into the woods, failing a cross-check and firing at the PZ IVs but only bailing one. The Hellcats chased after the Scouts, failing a cross-check and missing their shots. A bazooka team and one infantry stand also chased after the scouts. He dropped smoke to cut the LOS of the PZ IVs and the KTs.
Turn 3: The Tigers drove forward and destroyed a calliope. PZ IV’s killed two of the Shermans. I took a page from Dennis’ book and two infantry stands hopped from one building to another then assaulted the Hellcats killing one and pushing another back. StuHs repeat bombarded killing the Hellcat that had failed its cross and pinning the infantry in the town. His other Sherman unit arrived and took some long-range shots at the PZ IV’s, along with the last Sherman in the woods, bailing one.
The Jumbo HQ blitzed forward and fired into the side of the KT’s bailing one. Hellcats moved to the crossroads to get a side shot on the KT’s. One failed to cross the stone wall but the other put his, concealed, long-range, shot right where it counted and killed a Tiger. The infantry IC looking for his Medal of Honour hopped out of the building to assault the bailed Tiger, but the last Tiger passed his motivation and killed him in the assault.
Turn 4: My infantry assaulted the two Hellcats killing one, and they failed their last stand and left. The Tigers killed the Jumbo and then assaulted the mortars, pushing them back. Scouts kept driving towards the far objective and out of LOS of his arriving Shermans. My PZ IVs remounted and then split fire (always a mistake) at the close Sherman and the far squad but they missed and the Jumbo bounced the shots that did land. Artillery continued to pin his infantry squad in the town and maybe bailed some armoured mortars. M8 recce unit arrived and began heading towards the river objective. His Shermans killed a PZ IV and bailed two, which his lone bazooka team which had been chasing the scouts, came over and assaulted. I failed my counterattack with my last tank, and the unit was destroyed. The infantry squad that was on the road began moving towards the town objective. Using the consolidate from the PZ IV assault to get some extra distance.
Turn 5: Things were starting to look a bit desperate on both sides. I could control the objective in the town with my Tigers, but not push his infantry in the buildings more than 4” away. The Scout unit moved onto the river objective, but the Shermans were coming for them, and they would not last long. The Tigers headed into the town and towards the objective but were limited by staying 2” away from the infantry in the buildings. They crucially managed to kill an armoured mortar or two and the unit failed its last stand. My infantry chased him into the red building in the town, and I think killed a couple of stands, but he counterattacked and the Tank Escorts then failed in their motivation and had to back away. On the American turn, the lone Sherman failed its last stand, which meant the company was no longer in good spirits and the other Sherman unit left the fight, meaning my scouts on the river objective could not be touched, winning me the game, 6-3.
I ended up tied for battle points with Chris who was running a Hero Tankovy T-34/85 list but managed to sneak ahead of him due to the strength of schedule tie break. It was a great event and I really appreciate the team for putting it on, and all my opponents for being incredibly kind and lovely to play against. The rumour is next year’s Nationals will be Mid-War, so I may have to set my Tiger IIs aside for a bit and give the original Tigers a spin….