Chaffee’s on tour. Milano International.

Some time ago, I bought a bunch of 2nd hand US models. Among them was 12 resin and metal Chaffee’s. As it so often happens, with newly acquired models, they ended in a box in a drawer, with no plan of putting them in top of the painting queue.

I had recently finished my Gebirgsjager army and was about to start my Cossack project. I think it was the beginning of September and the only tournament I had planned was The Iberian Tournament in Madrid the first weekend of December. Plan A was to take a Soviet list and see how many of the Cossack I could finish, with Plan B being, something else. As most of you might know, plans have a habit of changing. A friend of mine, Paolo, organises tournaments in a small town close to Milano and this time he was running a two day tournament in the start of November and all of a sudden I was going to Italy. Soren.

The list.

This meant that any hopes of finishing a Cossack army was out the window and Plan B had to set into motion. It is here the Chaffee’s re-enters the story. I wanted to run something fun and not something you usually encounter on the tournament scene. After a chat with Breakthrough Assaults Mark Goddard, I knew what to bring. I mentioned Chaffee’s and Mark, promptly dismissed them. “They are too expensive and can’t do anything the Sherman tank can’t do better.” I must say that I tend to agree with Mark. Chaffee’s is one point cheaper than their big brother and a little faster.

On the downsides they have less armour and can’t upgrade and downgrade like the Shermans who have Jumbo’s, Easy 8’s, 76mm, early M4’s and the 3rd Armoured Div Command Card. But it was precisely because of this, that I knew they wouldn’t be a common sight on the tabletop and therefore the perfect army for me.

For the list I decided to go all in on the Chaffee’s, 2xHQ Chaffee’s, 3 platoons of 5xChaffee’s and fill out the formation with 3x Armoured Mortars and 3x Scotts to act as cheap arty and smoke screens generators. Now this would be 74pt if careful and 58pt as Aggressive. This was a hard decision. In the end I went with the Aggressive as I wanted the extra points to have all the support units I felt I needed. Running the list as careful for the same price is an option, but you will need to only have 4x tanks in each platoon and cut a further 4pt from your support.

With Berlin Germans fresh out, I was expecting to see a lot of Volkssturm and Hitler Jugend on top of the countless halftracks and omnipresent Tiger 2’s. To counter the infantry, I went with double Priests batteries. Priests is some of the best arty in the game. 3 teams for 8pt with decent armour for a SPG, a .50cal and the wonderful special rule Time on Target, forcing the enemy to reroll saves on turn one if I range in on my first attempt.

Priests with muzzle flash.

Now dealing with Tiger 2’s and other heavy tanks, would be a problem. The AT 10 gun on the Chaffee isn’t something that scare side armour 8 Tanks. An option is running a Tank Destroyer platoon, but AT12-13 won’t reliably kill front armour 10 and up tanks and will always be the first unit to be targeted by the opponent. So I went with no high AT. I know, you should always have a plan for dealing with any unit your opponent might field, so in case of heavies, my plan was side shots or being really lucky with my planes. Yes you heard me, planes. The most unreliable unit in FOW. They either wins the game for you or doesn’t show up, but I spend too much time painting those birds not to take them.

My Thunderbolts with hand painted checkerboard pattern.

The two last additions to my list was a recce unit and a platoon of Armoured Rifles(ARP) on foot. The ARP will be tasked with assaulting units in buildings and acting as road block on the objective where my Chaffee’s are not.

After a month and a half of painting, I had finished painting 17 Chaffee’s, 3 Scotts and 3 Priest, to add to my US army. I flew in to Milano Friday night landing around 2AM. Paolo as the true friend he is, picked me up at the airport and dropped me of at the Hotel, where i got a couple of hours of sleep before the tournament kicked off.

The Tournament.

The tournament was run using a format I haven’t encountered before, but one I rather like. It run as a combined one and two day event, meaning the players play 3 games Saturday and the player topping the leaderboard wins the 1 day event. The players that for any reason can only play one day, can then go home, but still had a shot at winning the prices. The players that stay for the 2nd day then continue with the points they earned on day one and it its finished like a normal 2-day event with prices again to the winners and random drawn prices. The location is a lovely sports center with a cafe/bar that also was in charge of lunch which consisted of pizza, pasta and hamburgers, all included in the entry fee.

Game 1

My first game was against Claudio Tiso, a fine chap running a German army out of Berlin with a PanzserSturm formation and a Panzer Battle group formation with Panthers. We played encounter with me as the attacker. After a lot of turn with maneuvering and below average shooting from Cladios Panthers the game was decided by two Panthers getting sideshot by 2 Priests leaving one panther bailed causing the platoon to run, meaning that flank was open to the chaffee’s quickly moving in shooting the infantry in the open. 8-1 victory to Team Chaffee.

Game 2

8-1 in the first round, will see you matched up against some tough players. My case would not be different. Etienne was waiting in round 2. Etienne had gone with a non meta list, consisting of 21 aggressive Shermans. No 3rd armoured command card, no Patton and no infantry. One formation was Fortress Europe 75mm Shermans and the other Formation was a mix of Jumbo’s, 76mm and 75mm, some downgraded from front armour 7 to front armour 6.

We played Vally of Death, with Etienne defending. The table was dominated by a big town in the middle with hills and woods spread around it. I decided to play all in.

I started with 12 Chaffee’s, Armoured mortars, Scott’s and the ARP on table. With the mission being a meeting engagement, I couldn’t use arty so no smoke. I road dashed my 12 Chaffee’s with the ARP mounted into the town, hiding the best i could, planning to lose a couple to the Shermans, as Etienne’s Shermans most likely would be shooting with stabilisers and concealment and even range. Ohhh what a mistake. Etienne manoeuvred expertly bringing most of his Shermas to bear and combined with some nice dice, we could see 7 Burning Chaffee’s and 2 bailed out ones after Etienne’s turn 1. This was a blow I never recovered from. Even after my best efforts it ended in a 1-8 loss, but a very enjoyable one. Etienne and I had a blast and it was fun to finally get the chance to play against him. I had not only been out numbered, out gunned, but also out played. Well done Etienne.

Heavy losses taken on turn one.

Game 3

With a bloody nose, I returned to the middle of the scoreboard. with 1 win and 9 small point I was matched up against Davide. He had a defensive list with Grenadiers and 4x 88mm with the Pakfront, some StuG’s and PzIV’s. To make Davide move, I picked the Manoeuvre Stance and as he picked defend we rolled Bypass.

This is a tough mission for a defender with guns and infantry on foot. Not only does the defender have scattred reserves they are also delayed AND it’s possible to win on turn 3. All this meant the game was over before it began. I dashed my Chaffee’s down the left side of the table using Follow Me to go even further. Davide saw the writing on the wall and send all his troops in a desperate attempt to seize my objective, but his assaults was pushed back with the combined fire of my ARP and .50cals on the Mortars and Scotts. so at the start of my turn 3, I won a 8-1 victory.

With that we ended day one. I ended on a respectable 5th place and won best painted, but most importantly I had played 3 new opponents that all was top gentlemen and we had enjoyed ourselves immensely.

To finish of a great day we went out for dinner, trying some of the Milanese specialities.

Game 4.

After a good night’s sleep it was time to get back in the ring. Stefano from Swiss was my next opponent. He had a list very similar to Etienne’s, with two Sherman Formations, but some of his was Careful.

We both picked Manoeuvre and got a fair fight, I think it was Encounter. It was a nice winter table, with plenty of cover. I chose to start with my Chaffee formation including the Mortars and Scott’s on table, thinking that my only chance to win was to move quick and strike before too many reserves could arrive and secure Stefano’s way to victory. Stefano started with 6 Aggressive Shermans on one objective and 4 careful, incl. a Jumbo, on the other together with a Priest battery.

The winter table.

Again I went full speed. I sent 12 Chaffee’s towards the left objective, defended by 6 Aggressive Shermans. Leaving 5 Chaffee’s, Scott and Mortars to hold the right. Here Stefano made a mistake. He move 3 Shermans out to shoot at my charging Chaffee’s, killing only one. Now I was able to laydown a smokescreen isolating the 3 Shermans against my 11 Chaffee’s. Shooting was brutal. I needed to 4’s to hit and rolled 8 hit with my first 8 dice. The Shermans was no more. Now only 3 Shermans blocked my path to victory and in the following turn I killed one and bailed one and got within 10cm/4″ so I could win on turn 4. Unluckily for me Stefano got reserves and by using his lucky card he manages to get them in the right place. 4x Careful Shermans, with a single jumbo.

But again the Shermans wiffed. A Chaffee destroyed and two bailed, but the return fire killed 3 careful Shermans and 1 Aggressive. The following turn it was over, the remaining Jumbo ran away and the last Aggressive Sherman in the wood was destroyed. Speed and aggression had paid of. Another 8-1 victory.

Much to my own surprise, this put me in second place going into the last round.

Game 5

Even if I tried, I couldn’t have made the script better myself. In the last round my friend and host Paolo was waiting. He was fielding a Paolo classic. An UK infantry formation, with mortars, Wasps, Daimlers and Dingos, 3x Croc’s and 8x Achilles/M10C’s. Paolo have been playing this for quite some time and he knows exactly how to use it. We both picked Attack and got another fairfight. I had to defend and had scattred delayed reserves.

Ready to do battle.

We started deploying. with me overloading my left flank, leaving both my objectives protected by only the Scott’s and Mortars. Paolo put an infantry platoon on each of his objectives and one Achilles platoon behind a wood to my left.


As in previous, my plan was to be aggressive. Move quickly and try and overwhelm the 4 achilles before they could do too much damage to my Chaffee’s. Too bad for me Paolo’s immediate reserves showed up on turn 1. But still 17 Chaffee’s vs 8 Achilles. I pressed on and deployed 2 smoke screens, hoping to get into the knife fight my Tanks so enjoy.

Step one, of plan overwhelm.

Paolo counter smoked and move 4 of the tank destroyers into the woods. But he had forgot how far a Chaffee moves, when a blitz move adds another 10cm/4″ to their range. On my turn 2, I had killed the platoon in the town and killed 2 and bailed 1 in the woods. Everything was back on track. But again Paolo managed to get reserves and the 3 Crocodiles entered by the road leading to the town, killing 3 Chaffee’s.

At the same time Paolo sent his Wasps to threaten my objective on the right. This clever move ended in the Wasps forcing the Scotts to run and the Mortars being too far from the objective and only a lucky reserve roll saved me from losing the game on Paolo’s turn 4. My Armoured Rifle Platoon entered the table and with their Bazookas was able to defeat the Wasps a couple of turns later.

Now on the left flank I had killed of the second achilles platoon, leaving Paolo only with his Crocs as a real threat to my remaining Chaffee’s, but now he was playing masterfully, using his infantry to move into buildings, preventing me from flanking the Crocs and with front armour 11, I couldn’t kill them from the front. So the game turned into a cat and mouse game. Me retreating the Chaffee’s trying to lure the Crocs forward so I could flank them and Paolo skillfully moving his heavy tanks and sniping on my hit on 3+ tanks. I set my hopes on the Priests and Typhoons to kill the Crocs but to no avail. We managed 12+ turns, resulting in a bloody 3-3 draw.

Thought on my list.

So what did I learn about my Chaffee’s. Well being hit on 3+ is deadly. But I am use to that from playing Soviets, but if you are normally a Careful player, this will take some time to get used to. What the Chaffe’s have that the Soviets lack is the Stabilisers. I usually say it’s the best special rule in the game and nothing here have changed my mind. Getting full rate of fire on the move is exceptional powerful, but you should always think ahead. driving out in the open, shooting at careful, concealed, gone to ground enemies will not give you many kill. As Fred wrote in a recent article, the Americans is about getting in good positions, surviving the first round of fire and then overwhelm the enemy with you superior firepower.

I also never encountered Heavy tanks, except from the Croc’s and there i really struggled to hurt them, but that was not only because of the armour, but because Paolo played them well, together with his infantry screening they flanks. Side shots, fishing for the opponent to roll 1’s isn’t too bad when each platoon gets 10 shots on the move.

I would maybe consider trying to fit in a platoon of M18/Hellcats, but as the deadline for list submission to Madrid is over, I will be riding out with the same list. It will also tell me if I played well or if it was just good old luck.

It’s a wrap.

Points wise this left me in 3rd place after Paolo in 1st place and Etienne in 2nd. This was quite a surprise and was just the icing on the cake. I had played 5 new opponents and learned a couple of new tricks to my playbook, but most of all I had fun games, with all my opponents. So a heartfelt thanks to, Claudio, Davide, Etienne, Stefano and Paolo.

Also a special thanks to my roommate Anders from Denmark. Having someone to go sightseeing with and talking about all the impressions and games during the day is really fun. Pre-dinner Cocktails is just more fun in good company.

If any of this sound interesting and appealing to you, don’t worry, Paolo frequently organises tournaments together with Livio and all the Italian(and foreign) players was SUPER friendly. There was always time for a coffee or beer and a chat about life and wargaming.

I hope this have given you a tiny glimpse of my trip and maybe inspired you to go out and try playing Flames of war against new players in a tournament setting.

Happy hobbying.


3 thoughts on “Chaffee’s on tour. Milano International.

    1. HAhahaah yes Valendune, it had even greather success in Madrid, but I think that is down to the fact that I now had some experience with the list.

  1. Nice article and read Soren. I got into Americans through Sherman Bulge formations but never had the stones to try the full Chaffee approach though ironically I do play similar to yourself with my aggressive Sherman approach. I personally wouldn’t have left home without Hellcats but you have seemed to have mastered the art of manoeuvre & fire and how to isolate and overwhelm opponents.

    Lovely miniatures and painting too! If I’m lucky I may get to see them in real life one day!

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