Today, Duncan looks at his experiences from the DAK DAK III; DAK to the Fuhrer tournament run by Breakthrough Assault’s very own Lee.
So I’ve been working on some EW Australian Dvisional Cavalry for a bit in preparation for for DAK DAK III – you can read my ramblings over here – and finally this weekend it got its first run out in competitive play at the Dice Saloon down in Brighton.
First thing to say is that the weather was miserable on the south coast – the snow from the previous day meant that we had ice, fog and sleet driving down on Saturday morning – to say it was inclement would be very polite. Unperturbed by nature’s chilly welcome we parked up and scooted inside to the warmth and bright lights of the Dice Saloon.
Just a quick recap on my list
Game 1 – Counter Attack
It was with hot coffee in hand that we settled down at 10am for the first game. I was drawn against Graham Wilmott and his Compagnia Carri. Graham was a lovely chap and we had a good old chin wag about using Peter Pig tanks for both our armies – his army was very nicely painted but I did not like the way that there were 13 x M13/40s across the board from me and all pointing in my direction!
“e qui viene guai!” or “and here comes trouble!”
With the scenario being Counter Attack, and as I was only a mechanised company, it was over to me to conduct a valiant defence. So with all of my carriers, Bofors 37mm portees and Vickers MK VI tanks in reserves (curse you mobile reserves rule) I was going to have to weather the Italian storm with the plucky Aussie infantry, Bofors 40mm AA, 18/25pdrs, R-35s and my mixed AT guns alone. True to form Graham picked up with dice to roll for the random morale of his Italians and came up with 2 platoons of Fearless Trained – 9 Fearless Trained M13/40’s!
Graham loaded up on his right flank and rumbled forward concentrating his fire on my 40mm Bofors AA guns but only managed to kill one of them and pin the platoon. I knew this was going to be my best chance of really doing some damage and opened up with everything on the M13/40’s only for the dice to utterly betray me and the sum total of my shooting was 2 bailed out tanks. The AT 6 I had just wasn’t coping with the FA3 of the Italians.
In the following turn Graham remove the final three 40mm Bofors Guns and skilfully continued to hide the vast majority of his armour from my 2pdrs and 18/25pdrs in the middle and to the right of my lines. It was at this point early in turn 2 that the jig was up for me and I tried to concentrate any fire I could muster on a single platoon of the M13/40’s to see if I could at least score a platoon kill – but it was not to be. I managed to kill a single L3 Lancia flamme tankette with an errant shell from an 18/25pdr barrage and that was the game, a 1-6 loss.
Game 2 – Free for All
Next up was Jon “Skip” Skipper and his Leichte Panzer Company. Having just taken a good old fashioned shoeing from an Italian tank company I did not fancy my chances too much in this one – especially against another seasoned Flames of War player like Skip. As it turned this game was a horror show for both of us.
It started off well for me as I seized control of turn 1 with a cheeky 5 on the dice and then proceeded to dig in with four consecutive rolls of 6’s! Outrageously lucky but was the only luck that either Skip or I had all game.
My plan was to put pressure on Skip’s left hand objective and stuck as many of his tanks over to that side by attacking with my R-35’s, MK VI’s and carriers. The rest of my forces would lurk in the centre and out on my left ready to pounce upon his right hand objective when it was most vulnerable… a cunning plan I know but one that would never come to fruition.
R-35’s line up for the mad dash forward to… glory? No the other one… despair!
I will spare you the miserable tale of woeful bad luck on both sides as recalling may push me over the edge! I think sufficient evidence would be that Skip made 5 firepower tests – in total – in the first 6 turns. I had a carrier platoon of Aussies sat on his objective for 2 or 3 turns unmolested as his 5 Panzer III tanks, 4 Panzer II and 2 231 8-Rads seemed to endlessly shoot and miss or shoot and bail my lighter tanks. With the R-35’s less than impressive AT4 my return fire was equally depressing and I ended up resorting to chasing down Italian M13/40’s with Hotchkiss 25mm AT guns.
The Aussie carriers sitting in a maelstrom of universally awful shooting!
The game finished up a draw which meant that we both scored lowly and I was in the running for an eating instrument of the wooden variety at this point. I always love playing Skip as invariably I learn something new about either the rules or my list but I think it is fair to say after this one we were both glad it was finally over.
Game 3 – Fighting Withdrawal
So, without getting to maudlin, I think it was fair to say that the plucky Aussie’s were up against it so far and with another Leichte Panzer Company in the hands of Simon Cook I was frankly staring down the barrel of a 5cm KwK 38 L/42 gun (both literally and figuratively).
Hoping that I’d offset enough bad luck in the last game that the dice gods might smile favourably on me this time round. Simon had a very nice EW panzer company with Panzer IIIs, Panzer IIs, Panzer I’s and 231 8-Rads all in the line up again but again nothing that the massed bren guns of my carrier could do anything against. As I was defending I chose to deploy my objects both directly in the centre of both deployment areas with Simon placing his in either corner of my deployment area.
I chose to spread out my AT assets, keeping the mixed 2pdrs and 25mm Hotchkiss AT guns in immediate ambush, with the 18/25pdrs on my left, 40mm Bofors in the centre giving me an AA umbrella and the sticky bomb armed infantry on the right. I interspersed carriers throughout my lines – hopefully I could keep them hidden until I could take them off in the withdrawal process. The R-35’s poised to counter any light armour and sit on an objective should the need arise. Simon massed his Panzer III’s centre left, with his Panzer II’s on the extreme left and mixed Panzer II’s and I’s in the centre.
The first few turns passed without much of a to-do. Simon was canny and played a dangerous game of cat and mouse with his Panzer III’s and the 40mm Bofors on the hill – moving out and shooting before using Storm Trooper to back off out of line of sight. This whittled the Bofors down to just a gun and the command team inside 3 turns. The Panzer II’s and 8-Rads tried digging out the dug in Aussie’s with 2cm and MG fire and frankly they were not up to the task. In the meantime the R-35 plugged away pointlessly in return at the Panzer II’s and the MK VI’s were even more pointless than the R-35’s.
As the game wore on I got extremely lucky with the Bofors, which had been reduced to just the command stand by the Panzer III’s, passing a platoon morale check and a last man standing check in order to remove that platoon as one that had withdrawn thus denying Simon the platoon as killed. My other withdrawn platoons were carrier that were desperately try to avoid being victimised by the Panzer III 2iC stalking them on the left hand side of the table.
Ultimately the game came down to the one thing – a Fearless company morale test. Simon managed to kill enough stuff with his Panzer II’s and III’s as I frantically fed them on to contest objectives that with 5 minutes to go he was rounding out his shooting ready for me to take my company test – and then it happened…
We realised that my 2ic and 1iC were both bailed in the shooting phase – not destroyed but just bailed. In around 4 years of playing this had never happened to me before or seemingly anyone around us as the blank expressions reflected our own bafflement. Rule book pages were flipped and mumbled questions accompanied the wild searching. I think it was Skip who came to our rescue in the end confirming that I did get to roll for the test as the commanders were not removed as casualties. I picked up my dice and rolled a 4 and the game was over – I had won by the two sweetest words in the English language: DE-FAULT!
Had there been more time Simon would have taken me off the table in the end, I have no doubt of that, but I had clung on by my fingernails and scraped the smallest of victories to end day 1.
Game 4 – No Retreat
Day 2 had me paired up first up with fellow Crawley Wargames Club member Jay Mercer and his DAK Infantry Company. Finally, I thought, an infantry company I can pick on and mercilessly batter and then I looked at the table… aah… and then I saw we had the potential for a sandstorm… ahh… and then I looked at Jay’s grin and I knew I was in trouble.
Playing lengthways rather than side to side was going to squeeze up my 10 platoons and hampered my deployment considerably – I resorted to limbering up the 40mm Bofors and AT Gun platoon!
TRAFFIC JAM!!! 40mm Bofors AA tows – come on who actually owns them??
To cut a long story short I lost this game – I lost this game badly. I had the same problem as Simon in the previous game – digging out infantry with machine gun fire is blooming hard work. Jay played the game perfectly – craftily ambushing his Panzerjager I’s inside – that is correct, inside – the buildings holding the centre of the table and holding up my fast moving forces for the majority of the game. The gig was really up on turn 3 when his Panzer III’s arrived and so did the sandstorm – the apparently goggle-less Aussie’s couldn’t see a thing and my moment passed by in a swirl of course grit and detritus.
Hide and seek anyone?
I can’t take anything away from Jay he bested me fair and square and so it was off to game 5 with another loss to my record.
Game 5 – Hasty Attack
This round was against the wily Mike K and another Leichte Panzer company (turns out that the Axis forces consisted of 3 Leichte Panzer, 3 Mittlere Panzer, 1 Carri and 1 Italian/German infantry company! – my poor Vickers MK VI’s). I opted to place my objects square in the centre of the 2 deployment area and Mike responded by placing his on the extreme left and right of my deployment zone. So on the defensive again I hunkered down on the same table as I played Simon on and adopted a very similar posture – Infantry and AT guns on the left, Bofors and R-35’s in the centre and 18/25pdrs on the right. Mike, very sensibly, decided that playing with the 18/25’s probably wasn’t going to end well so chose to remove the objective on his far left, my right.
Cue dice gods smiling on me. Mike adopted a similar approach to my AT assets as Simon – trying to maximise his shooting and minimising the opportunity of me being able to respond in kind. This was slow going for him as my 2pdrs stubbornly refused to die quickly and quietly and on the first opportunity I had on turn 3 my reserves not only turned up but also in the correct place on my left flank to hammer the single bailed out Panzer III that the 2pdrs had been trading blows with. The crews of Mike’s tanks seemed to think that their protected ammo was their commander fibbing to them as they refused to get back into their tanks turn after turn – it became a theme of the game in the end.
R-35’s… CHARGE! Aaaghh! They have better guns than us!
Having also learnt that the R-35’s counter attacking an objective was something my opponent really couldn’t ignore against Skip I tried it again here. The gutsy little fellas travelled nigh on 40 inches to contest the objective in Mike’s deployment area by the end of the game on turn 7. On turn 5 the two remaining R-35’s at that time took 15 2cm hits from Panzer II’s and 231 8-Rads and suffered only a single bail out.
Ultimately time was not on Mike’s side and despite a viscous assault by his mixed Panzer I and II platoon on the Australian infantry around my left hand objective ultimately I held out and ended up not even losing a platoon in the end.
The Wrap Up
I have loved attending the DAK DAK series of tournaments that Lee has put on – every one has been a corker and this was no exception. The format of Red vs. Blue is definitely a factor but I think that the biggest thing is that all the armies look cool on the table. Lee and the Brighton Warlords guys have invested a lot of time and effort getting the tables to look nice and eyeing the forces that were out there the entrants have responded by putting out nicely painted armies across the board. I didn’t play, and I’m pretty certain that I didn’t see, a single unpainted force which certainly enhanced the whole experience.
In terms of my list I most definitely ended up bringing a knife (probably a small, pocket fruit knife at that) to a gun fight with my list. The total lack of reliable, mobile AT hurt me in a ‘meta’ that had the Axis forces almost exclusively running armoured units – and the hardy German ones at that! Lee is already mooting another foray into Hellfire & Back in the summertime and I’m now contemplating what could be tweaked to help the poor MG armed carriers (answers on a postcard please) or else it’s back to the Jerries!
All in all I had a blast – as always – with the guys; met some great new people and ultimately whilst being a bit rubbish still didn’t have a losing record! That is until next time…