Intro image quote – Daniel Gibson former Basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers
Today I’m writing about my recent trip to Battlefield Hobbies to participate in Corrivalry 2022 over the weekend of 8th & 9th of April. For those not aware, Corrivalry is a long-standing, annual, Flames of War event, held here in the UK which has a bit of a twist to its running.
I was joined on the trip by Fez (with D-Day British Recce) and Duncan (with D-Day German Beach Defenders) who no doubt will fully update you via the Shoot and Scoot podcast about how they got on.
Corrivalry is played over two days with five, 100 point, Late War games, but rather than using the standard game set up mechanics there are a couple of subtle, but impactful, changes.
Firstly, all the tables have a fixed scenario chosen to complement the terrain layout.
Secondly, all the Forces have a fixed rating which determines who is the Attacker and who is the Defender. In the event of equal ratings, you simply roll off, so there is no surprising your opponent by making an unlikely Battle Stance choice.
Your rating is based on the Formation HQs you have. So Infantry Team HQs are rated lowest (0), then mixed Tank and Infantry Team HQs (1) and lastly Tank Team only HQs are the highest (2). If you have multiple Formations your rating is the average, so you rate between 0 for just Infantry HQ Teams through to 2 for just Tanks HQ teams. My Force rated 0 so I knew I would always be the Defender when facing anything other than another Force containing only Infantry HQ Teams.
The final twist is you can have two lists with a 40 point difference. This is to give players who want to primarily play a Tank list some flexibility if they are assigned to play on a city fight table with a scenario involving Deep Reserves. I took advantage of this option to enter two versions of my list; the first is my option when playing with Reserves and the second can be used in scenarios where I will start with my entire Force on table.
So what was in my lists?
I took a Soviet Hero Motor Rifle Company from Bagration-Soviets supported by a large Partisan Band; this meant I could increase my on table deployment to 60 points, plus the Partisan Band, in scenarios with Reserves. Rather tournament-y, but I expected there to be a few ETC/US Masters-type lists I might have to face. I chose to make the Partisan unit more flexible by adding in some heavy weapons teams and the ever handy RPG-6 command card to ensure it had a bit more of an offensive threat capability. This also helped me with Reserves choice flexibility; I only need to field 18 points in Reserve if/when required.
The variation between the lists is to be able to field either a T-34/85mm Hero Tank company (as a Formation platoon) or an SU-85M Tank-killer Battery (Support platoon), making the choice once I knew the rating of my opponents Force and the scenario. The T-34/85 give me some more attacking potential in a Defender vs Defender game if I have to capture an objective, whilst the SU-85M are more useful when playing as the Defender where there are no objectives for me to capture, by being both harder to hit (4+ vs 3+) and having a point more front armour (giving a save versus AT13 or less).
Overall my list has a strong core Formation with at least seven platoons, three templates – one of which can direct fire, both available higher end dedicated AT gun units, a highly mobile AT/Assault platoon, a Spearhead platoon and plenty of reasonably well equipped infantry teams.
I had a measure of confidence that the build would give me a chance against any Force across any scenario and my only real concern before hand was timing. My Force isn’t the quickest to play a turn with and, against another large Infantry Force, in games where neither player can win until Turn 6, keeping on the right side of the game clock would be a key concern. From my one practice game against an infantry force, I knew I would need more time for the later game turns if I needed to force a decisive result. Being aware of this beforehand ensured I could try and give both myself (by having a bit of a plan for my general intentions in Turns 1/2) and, just as importantly in my view, my opponent a chance to get to a winning position in the allotted time, rather than just settling for attempting to score a 3 point mutual loss.
My basic plan was to use the Partisan blob as a a bit of a road block to getting near one objective, probably backed up by the 76mm artillery which double up as defensive AT guns versus medium armour, whilst my Hero Motor Rifles hold the other covered by the 100mm guns. The mortars are to the rear behind all of this and the 57mm guns can be held in ambush to support either of my positions. The T-34/85s form a mobile reserve, whilst the BA-64 unit offer the option to go hunt enemy self-proppelled guns and can increase my deployment depth by Spearheading even if it is just 4″; it helps me deploy.
My first turn objective is basically to target the enemy artillery with as much as possible and get my infantry dug in and heads down whilst my BA-64’s just make a nuisance of themselves by preventing dash moves. My AT and tanks won’t really come into play until turns 2 and 3 but the 100mm guns will still be controlling space thanks to their long range and serious AT value even if not actually firing. I like to keep the HQ near them as they are slow firing and I want to de-risk them from pinning as much as possible.
So how did the games go?
Game 1 vs Paul’s 116th Pz
The first game was against an old opponent, Paul, with a mix of 116th Panzer Grenadier & Recce Formations and supporting Assault Flak 88’s, Hummels and Tigers. The game was a Fair Fight on a Normandy themed table and I was the Attacker.
The opening turns were cagey, with my BA-64’s spearheading forward and then advancing on the 88 battery, whilst Paul tried to range in on my 100mm guns which somewhat worried his Tigers, leading to them being positioned out on one flank. The game turned in my Turn 3 when my combined mortar batteries destroyed the entire 88 battery and my Partisans managed to force back Pauls Armoured Panzer Grenadiers, Flamm Half-tracks and Stummel platoons (the PTRD anti-tank rifle teams proving very useful). This resulted in them getting bunched up and a big hole opened up in his centre, which my fast moving T-34s exploited. His Tigers were pinned on the opposite flank hiding from my still operating 100mm guns which covered all the centre ground through which they needed to traverse to support his collapsing flank. The game ended in Turn 5 when my artillery destroyed the last of the troops on the German right with my T-34’s and Partisans swept across the table.
It was a challenging and fun game to start the weekend as well as an 8-1 win. Victory was secured by winning the artillery duel quickly and by Paul’s miss-deployment of the Tigers unsupported by infantry on a flank; they needed to be in the centre to support his attack and were simply too far away for most of the game to make their presence count.
Game 2 vs Richard’s Bulge US Armour
Game 2 was against Richard, a new opponent to me. His Formation was US Bulge Veteran Shermans 76’s with a Chaffee platoon, armoured mortars and recce, all with the 3rd Armoured Command Card led by Patton and supported by a Priest battery. There was no infantry in the force. The game was No Retreat with me defending.
I covered one flank with the minefield between the table edge and a central wood and blocked the other with my Partisans covered by my 100mmm guns. The Shermans elected to attack through a wood in the middle of my line defended by a Hero Motor Rifle platoon who held off the initial assault and they were then joined by my ambushing 57mm guns, although with some poor rolls I only managed to knock out one Sherman platoon.
This led to a bit of a hiatus whilst the American artillery and tanks spent a number of turns digging out my guns for a couple of lost tanks. In the mean time my PTRD teams sneaked forward and managed to flank and eliminate the Priest battery. Eventually time forced Richard to advance through the minified; amazingly all tanks crossed unscathed and assaulted my remaining Hero Motor Rifles between the objective and the minefields now my 76mm artillery was partially eliminated.
I lost a few teams and fell back but still held the objective.
With the clock now run down I had a final turn in which I managed to launch an Urrah powered assault with my Partisans on the Shermans contesting the objective but despite actually managing to get over 12 teams into assault they were beaten back by the defensive fire and the game came to an end after 5 turns, with a score of a 3-2 draw to Richard.
Looking back, I made one poor tactical mistake in this game in deploying my infantry between the minefield and the objective; my better option would have been to be further back to make the Americans have to cross sooner if they wanted to shoot at me whilst being within 16″. By being so close this allowed them to use their .50cal MG’s which meant they could avoid the +1 to hit for no HE on the 76mm guns which could have slowed down my rate of losses potentially giving me more chance in an assault of defeating the three tanks platoons in a single round.
Game 3 vs Andrew’s 116th Pz
Game 3 was against Andrew with more 116th Panzer Grenadiers and a scout formation, plus an Allied Finnish T-26 Formation (with 14 tanks) along with an Elephant and Pakfront of 88’s in Breakout.
Andrew, as the attacker, put a single unit of scout half track as his delayed flanking reserves.
I used one platoon of Hero Motor Rifles to slow up the German initial advance out of their deployment zone; managing to take out the Armoured Panzer Grenadiers and Flamethrower Half-tracks for the loss of my unit whilst redeploying my Partisans to stop the reserve unit being able to contest the no mans land objective. The objectives were close enough together that my unit could cover both and still prevent the Germans getting within 8″. The game revolved around me using my troops to pick off core German platoons which were advancing behind the wall of Allied T-26’s which I really didn’t want to waste my shooting effort on whilst the Germans had to deal with my delaying units, I managed to flank the Elephant with my reserve T-34’s and took it out of the game.
All of this resulted in a rather ponderous and slow game as the Germans were only advancing 8″ per turn behind the T-26 wall, again resulting in the clock running out before I could claim a Defender victory.
Overall it was a 3-3 draw result.
For my opponent, this game was all about not losing after making a mistake in only putting three armoured cars into the flanking force. The armoured cars were easily defeated, leaving him reliant on a frontal assault against my entire force, concentrated on a small frontage
Day One Summary
By the end of the day, I had amassed 13 points which put me just four behind the leader on 17. It appeared that no-one had managed three wins, which surprised me a bit, and I was still well placed for day 2, despite the lone victory.
Game Four vs David’s British Armoured Squadron
The first game of the day was against David’s British Armoured Squadron consisting of HQ Sherman, three troops each with 3 Sherman and 1 Firefly, Stuarts, Motor Rifle platoon, Daimler platoon, M10’s, but no artillery!. The army ended up winning the Best Painted award.
I was again defending but this time in Dog Fight; this looked a similar match up to game 2 but without any artillery help for the attacker.
The table was also similarly set up but with a central hill making a superb position for my 100mm guns to cover both flanks from being screened to their front by a central wood. I also used my experience from day 1 and set my infantry up further back behind the minefield.
The game followed a similar pattern, with the British infantry platoon falling a rapid victim to my artillery and my ambush again coming in behind my central Hero Motor Rifle Unit. The British tried to attack through the wood so as to avoid the tar pit of my Partisans, but got bogged down and my infantry destroyed two platoons as they failed to assault effectively in the wood, gutting the core of the British formation.
I simply picked off the remaining Sherman platoons and the Stuarts whilst losing no platoons in return; I had a 76mm gun and a BA 64 pass 2 two last stand tests but I had wisely moved my HQ Leader to cover both of them so I wasn’t too surprised they stayed.
A decisive 8-1 victory.
I used what I had learned the previous day to good effect; the No HE weapons were nullified further, by range.
My opponent had made a poor choice of which list variation to use; his alternate list was to swap the M10’s out for a full Motor Company with a mortar platoon which would have provided the benefit of a smoke screen to manoeuvre behind and two more platoons to try and remove the minefields with, without exposing the infantry to my fire.
Game 5 vs Rex’s Romanian Guards Rifles
The last game of the event was against one of my old foes, Rex, whom I have played at many a tournament, always resulting in hard fought and close games. He was using a Romanian Guards Rifle Company consisting of three infantry platoons, mortars, HMG’s, 50mm AT guns, 75mm M43 AT guns, a R35 platoon, a TA Assault Gun platoon, planes, AB Armoured Cars and an allied Hetzer platoon; a huge force!
The scenario was Out-flanked and Rex was the Attacker.
I set up with my force defending a walled farmstead (AKA The Hugemont of Waterloo fame!) and Rex used the spearhead bubble to deploy his entire force in to. This made the entire battle front just a 24″ wide strip across the middle of the table. There followed the regular artillery duel with me losing my 76mm guns and BA-64’s to a combination of mortar, AT and aircraft fire whilst the Romanians lost their 75mm M43 AT guns, HMG’s, Allied Hetzers and R35 tanks in return.
As the game entered the last 15 minutes of play time, its worth looking at the bigger picture.
At the start of the game, Rex had a 5pt lead over the current third place player. By this point, we were on course for a 3-2 draw, my advantage, which would leave Rex on 7pts ahead; not enough to guarantee a tournament second place if the third place player got a 8-1 victory.
From my perspective, I needed a victory to upset the current standings.
Realising he needed one more point and to prevent me from winning, Rex moved all his infantry within 8″ of the objective to ensure the defender couldn’t auto-win (I couldn’t possibly kill enough, could I) and focused fire on the 57mm guns, wiping them out and gaining the extra point he needed.
Entering my last turn, now it was just a matter of if I could somehow get a victory and possibly alter the overall standings just a bit.
I had a choice:
1. Repeat fire with the artillery and try and wipe the infantry out with indirect fire. Danger Close would prevent me from assaulting though.
2. Fix bayonets and assault.
After a few seconds considering, and with nearly everyone else in the building watching the game, I made my choice.
*Breech loading noises*
I really didn’t want to risk ranging in and a repeat bombardment would be more likely to kill things. After looking at the positions of my teams I had worked out I couldn’t manage to get 12 Partisan teams into attack and, even if I did, they are Green, so unlikely to do much damage and Romanians are good for Counter Assault being Fearless so I gambled on the shooting option.
My mortar units repeat bombarding wreaked havoc on the closely packed exposed infantry and I destroyed the HQ, and two entire platoons worth of Infantry Teams with the bombardments, I rather fortunately didn’t miss with anything and Rex helpfully simply failed every attempt to save them, everything was making multiple saving throw rolls when hit thanks to the repeating bombardments.
This left me six Hero Motor Rifles, four T-34/85s and a couple of odd Partisan teams to try and remove what was now just seven remaining Rifle Teams. The DPMG and Rifle fire killed just one more team. This left me just 16 shots needing to kill 6 teams spread across 2 remaining platoons. Odds of 1 in 36 so not completely impossible! In the end I managed to kill a massive 24 infantry teams but there were 29 at the start of the turn! The Romanians had clung on just with a single platoon still in Good Spirits ending a dramatic game and the result was again 3-3 Draw.
So, overall I had two wins and three games ending in mutual losses, with no actual defeats, and totalled a respectable 25/40 tournament points for P5. On reflecting today, I feel, given unlimited time availability, I could/would have won two more of the games (3 and 5) and I probably would have eventually lost the third (2), but that is all conjecture.
My list performed how I wanted it to without reliance on any kind of weird combinations; it faced most kinds of opponent from hordes of cheap Romanian infantry and Finnish tanks to the veteran Patton powered tanks of the Americans via the predictability of the 116th Greyhound Division (swap your support option as appropriate).
I didn’t make too many mistakes in the way I played. Game 2 was probably my poorest effort overall – I deployed poorly and never really managed to seize the initiative in the game.
It was a great to get in a weekend’s gaming facing some interesting and challenging lists on well thought out tables. The games were played in a good atmosphere against some old and new opponent’s which I thoroughly enjoyed.