Reading Warfare – Early War AAR

Another month and another tournament.  This month saw me head off to Warfare at Reading (what a name for a show!) and take part in the 1500pts Early War Flames of War tournament.  I had my usual dilemma with what to take.
I took Polish Cavalry to my last Early War tournament and had some good fun but I fancied a change so why not take the French Foreign Legion.  I managed to pick up a Desert Fort fairly cheaply at Dark Sphere over the summer so a plan was hatched.

I did my usual trick and left painting the army until the very last minute, I didn’t finish painting until 11pm on the day before the tournament!

However I like to think the effort was worth it and I got some very nice compliments from some of the really talented painters in the tournament scene which is always encouraging for a newbie to hear.

I also knocked up a display board to make carrying round the army that bit easier.  It had cut outs for both objectives and the fort.  If anybody wants a how-to article on how it was built let me know in the comments section below.

 The end result!

Spahi Platoon and Armoured Car Platoon
Guns manning the turrets
The interior of the fort, note the objective in the bottom left (Kerr & King)

So onto the army list itself.  I decided to take Vichy French Foreign Legion as per below.

The list in all of its glory – victory here we come!

My list construction philosophy was simple; take something that’s fun to put on the table.  So why the platoon choices?

2 x Compulsory Tirailleurs (Legion)Platoons.  I spent the entire weekend mispronouncing ‘Tirailleurs’ which drove some of my opponents mad.  Languages were never my strong point at school, anyway I have found that if you speak English loudly and slowly when abroad then the locals soon understand what you’re after.  These were my main ground holding troops.  Being Veteran makes them difficult to shift, however with no attached HMGs and only being Rifle/MG teams if I’m pinned in the assault then defensive fire becomes a bit more tricky.

1 x Legionnaire Sapper Platoon.  The models for these from Battlefront were just awesome.  Men with beards carrying axes while wearing Kepis?  Yes please!  Hitting on 2+ in Assaults and Tank Assault 3 I’ll take some of that.

1 x Anti Tank Gun Platoon (Legion).  Not bad against vehicles but ultimately suck against infantry due to a lack of HE, turned out to be the most useless unit of the weekend.

1 x Combat Car Platoon.  The only thing in the entire army that doesn’t rely on its own size 10 boots to move.   Importantly it also give me a Recce capability.

1 x Spahi Platoon.  Yes, yes, yes I know they were traditionally mounted on horses and wore uniforms and not local dress.  But come on who can resist putting some Arab camelry (legit word, google it).  They’re trained so not the most survivable of units but they hit like Veterans in Assaults.  Did I mention that they just looked cool?

1 x Vichy Anti Tank Gun Platoon. This comes with 3 75mle guns on turn tables giving some hope against heavy armour.

1 x Vichy Artillery Platoon.  If I need to bombard or lay smoke then these guys will do it, otherwise it’s the ant-tank capability.

1 x Fort.  The centre piece of the army and what makes it even more fun.  Plopping something down on the table that makes an opponent scratch his head and try and figure out what to do is always a bonus in my book (like my Polish train!) and this thing did it admirably.

So what was going to be approach in using the army?  To be honest I didn’t have a clue!  I hadn’t played a single game before the tournament with this army so it was going to be a rule suck it and see affair.

I knew I’d always defend however the fort, which you can lay down in your own deployment area or no-mans land gave me some opportunity to seize the initiative.

Against Infantry armies my plan was pretty much to hunker down and let them come to me.

Against Mech I was hoping that the defensibility of my fort would make assaults much harder for vehicles to pull off.

Against tanks, and this was my most hoped for match-up, it was really to dig in and shoot him up on the way into the assault.

My ace up the sleeve was the “High Command” French special rule where I can move one of my objectives up to 4″ back towards my own table edge.  So what?  Well if you place the fort in nominees land right at the edge of the opponents deployment area it is possible, in certain missions, to bounce the objective into the fort.  Dirty?  Yes!  Fun? Absolutely, well for me anyway!

So that was the plan, how did it work out?

For my first game I faced Robert with his German Kradschutzen from Blitzkrieg.  His Army was utterly stunning and was a sight to behold.  The mission was “No Retreat” and I was defending of course. 

I placed the fort in the middle of my deployment area and placed my objective in it.  Robert placed his objective on the flank and I made my first mistake of putting a gun platoon to defend it rather than one of my hard as nails infantry.  There then followed a tough game on the flank which saw us tear chunks out of each other.  The highlight for me was an assault by his dismounted Kradschutzen which failed and ended up sucking my troops closer to his objective.  In the end though I lost, mainly due to an inability to dig in and the objective then being taken.  I got a platoon though so I ended up with 5-2 loss.
Failed cavalry charge by the Spahi Platoon.  You’ve got to try right?
The field is lost

For my second game I drew Victor who had travelled all the way over from the Netherlands for the tournament.  Victorfielded a Dutch Infantry Battalion and it turns out he was the author of the PDF from which the army was selected….hmmmmm sounds legit.

Anyhow the mission was Breakthrough and again I was sneaky with my Fort and placed in No Mans Land and forced him to place the objectives very close to the fort.

Another bloody game ensued and he managed to take a platoon off me before the game timed out after two hours.  Being an infantry company he simply didn’t have the speed to get over to to the other side of the board to contest the objectives with any meaningful strength.  So 5-2 to me.
Dutch cavalry,awesome!
For my third game I drew Roy who again was fielding a Dutch Infantry Battalion.  The mission was Dust Up and I placed the Fort right up at the edge of Roy’s deployment area and then used the French High Command special rule to move the objective 4 inches closer to me.
Again Roy didn’t have the speed with which to push decisively forward and the game timed out after a failed assault of two.  Again a 5-2 to me.

Saturday night saw the traditional beer and curry with some of the regulars which is always good fun.  This was swiftly followed by the killer hangover the next morning.

Game 4 saw me playing Mat, a very experienced player.  Mat had a Finnish Infantry Company, the list which is the bane of my life.  The mission was Dust Up and for the first time in Flames of War I felt completely dirty.  I placed the fort right on the edge of his deployment area and then again used High Command to bounce the objective into the fort.  As the objectives went live on turn one and was forced to contest it straight away and commit a significant amount of his resource into holding it.
I made fundamental deployment mistake myself however and placed 3 of my 4 infantry platoons in the fort thinking that he would leave the objective lightly guarded allowing me to charge out the fort and boot him off with a well timed assault.  Mat was simply too experienced to allow for any possibility of that however and placed enough assets around it to prevent me doing anything so cheeky.  In the meantime he snuck his way round the board and booted my sole infantry platoon off the table and took the game.  Doh!  A 6-1 loss for me it was then.
Yes, I felt very dirty
Finnish air (apparently they did have some, who knew) attacks the dismounted Spahi.
No way I was ever going to leave the fort and assault that!

With my ego suitably bruised I then played my good friend Tim and his German Gebirgsjaeger.  The mission was Encounter and again I was defending and was cheeky by deploying my fort right to the edge of the deployment area.  Tim is a wily player however and massed his three infantry platoons at the front of the fort to deny me the easy victory.

There then followed a brutal fight at the Fort and eventually the Gebirgsjaeger won out and broke my company.  Another humiliating 6-1 loss for me!

That being said I had a great time and played some really good opponents.  Again I learned a lot and continue to be impressed by the depth of the game.  I also got to spend so,e time with the top players in the UK who took time out to talk to me about using the fort more effectively in the future.

So in the end my games broke down as follows 5-2 loss, 5-2 win, 5-2 win, 6-1 loss, 6-1 loss.

I came 22nd out of 28.  One of my worst finishes this year and I have only myself to blame.  At times I didn’t pay sufficient attention and made rookie mistakes.  However I was also facing mainly infantry armies and as such struggled, had I faced more armour then it may have been a different story.

The beauty of Warfare is that as well as being a tournament it is also a trade show although I didn’t really get a chance to look round too much as I was too busy playing.

And as for hobby swag?  Well all I got was one of these, needless to say the wife didn’t share my enthusiasm when I showed her it.

What geek doesn’t like their gadgets?  And it was only £5.

My only niggle was the catering; us wargamers aren’t known for our modest appetites!  An overpriced burger or sausage roll really doesn’t count as a fufilling meal.  Show organisers are really missing a trick by not bringing in some decent event catering.  With the profusion of decent “street food” these days there’s really no excuse.
That being said though the show was well run and a joy to attend.  I shall definitely be back next year.

Marc

Category: AAREarly WarFrenchTournament

3 comments

  1. Hi Marc great write ups and most enjoyable game, the fort did send me into panic! It's a great testament to you in how we played the game, by which i mean we played well over 10 rounds and for some players that would auto win on defending missions when the time runs out that would be unheard of at events.
    Keep taking the different army lists it’s what the game should be about.

  2. Thanks Mat. It was a cracking game. I hate games timing out because people simply play slow when defending, its not fair in my eyes. Hopefully see you at the next one – I owe you a 6-1 defeat 😉

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Article by: Mark Goddard