Monday, 1 April 2013

'Easter Foolery' - a mini Fow Tournament

Some months ago now, the bunch of us 'KapitiFOWers' took part in the Wellington Warlords Call to Arms 2 day Gaming event, playing 5 games of FoW, over the 2 days.

Though we enjoyed the experience we all came away feeling slightly frazzled, and of course there is the required 'brownie point' expenditure required to commit to these kinds of things; we all have families to keep happy too, and a full weekend away to play toy soldiers requires a fair bit of sucking up to the Mrs!

 So when we heard the next major tournament in our area was to be the 3 day tournie over at the Hutt club over the Easter weekend, I think we all kind of thought it was a bit of a stretch too far, in terms of actual enjoyment, and we wouldn't be winning any favours on the home front.

So in lieu of taking part in this event, we decided to spend one day together over the Easter break and enjoy one full days gaming together. When it was explained to our respective better halfs, the sacrifice we had made for them, we all pretty much got their blessing to organise our game day!

The initial plan had been to try our hand at one big Total War game, two a side, pitching up something like 5000 to 7000 points per side, troops allowing, which was going to be a MidWar setting, selecting troops from the North Africa book as that seemed suitable for all the troops we had.

But with only a week or so to go till the event there was still no clear cut plan in evidence, and so a pretty much last minute change of thinking, changed our games day into a mini tournament instead.We agreed on a Midwar setting of 1500pts per player.

The 4 players would mean 3 games each over the course of a day, so we'd each play each other once on the day. Nothing could be fairer.

We had previously selected the last day of the weekend, Easter Monday, which also turned out to be April Fools day, as our games day. Paul turned up on Friday night as previously agreed to help set up the two tables we would fight over beforehand, to help speed up the start of gaming on the day. I managed to come up with a roster chart to pre-plan who would play who, and we picked three missions. The first game would be the classic mobile battle Free for All, followed by the equally classic No Retreat, and finally, something a bit different to end the days gaming with; Breakthrough - always a bit of a mindbender of a game!

Finally Paul mentioned we would have to name the event and have a trophy perhaps? Bugger ! I hadn't thought of that! With two days to go I decided to try and make something appropriate... Paul had already created his Snake Eyes totem trophy for his Hootenaney, so I'd have come up with something...

Putting Flames of War, Easter and April Fools day together, I came up with a large chocolate coloured flame trophy which was lashed out of an off cut of timber and a piece of MDF over two days... the final varnish going on at 10.30pm the night before the event. By this time I could barely see what I was doing in the garage with the poor lighting and typically, the varnish didn't go on too well, but hey, what the heck right?

On the day my wife Tracey went down to the local shops and managed to find a store that was open that did a small inscription plate for the trophy - Flames of War Easter Foolery was ready!

The trophy up for grabs...

... with its freshly done inscription...

Being the playing host I was also charged with taking some pictures and playing my games. As such I only really managed the deployment pics and I will comment as best as I can in the following 'report', and welcome the other players to add their own thoughts and comments at the end...

I had taken from Eastern Front, my typical Gepanzerte Panzergrenadier force;

HQ - 2 x Cmd SMG P'Knacker plus Puppchen, with 3 x 251/1 and Remer in a 251/1
2 x Full GPG Combat platoons, with Cmd P'Knacker and 3 x 251/1's and a 3.7cm 251/1 command half track
2 x 8 Rads (recce)
3 x Marder H
4 x PzIII H
3 x 15cm Nebelwerfers

My first game was drawn against Paul who had brought his Soviets, with IIRC:

HQ with Cmd and kommisars, and AT rifle  teams
2 companies of infantry, with some Light AT guns and HMGs
3 x KV1s with Tanks Escorts
'God of War' artillery battery  -  with 4 howitzers and a whole bunch of AT guns, a terrifying prospect!

We played Free for All...

Paul won the roll off and picked the left side, and we deployed in alternating fashion... I decided to defend and hold the left objective  in the town, with a GPG and the Marders in the face off against his KV's, and to attack the God of War on my right flank... with everything else, with nebs in the middle...

Our deployment...

I have played Free for All several times, and rarely achieved many points at it, usually playing too cautiously, so this time I thought sod it, lets go get some... and if I died, so be it, at least I'd have some fun shooting stuff up on the way!

For the most part Paul sat back in the face of my attack hoping to destroy me with his fire, whilst he was far more cautious in his approach on the other flank.

Over a couple of turns I made good progress on the right and was I soon in a position to assault, having lost a recce vehicle and a couple of panzers along the way. The initial assaults went well, and Paul started pulling back in the face of the assault and trying to bring his guns round to bear. At the same time he had been making tentative probes with his KVs through the town, but was hampered by reduced lines of fire at the Marders, and the Marders let themselves be known bailing a KV at range...

Eventually the weight of my assault continued to sweep Paul back from the objective with a combination of the remaining Panzers, Remer, the recce and the elements of the GPG platoon succeeded in damaging and forcing back Paul's God of War and infantry that the right objective was captured, for no loss in platoons to myself!

I was quite stunned by this course of events! A 6-1 to me!

Over at the other end of the table, Brett was playing Bryan.

Now it must be said, Bryan turned up with a force of German troops that he wasn't even sure would fit a list? We quickly had got down to using EasyArmy online with Bryan's available troops, as he had turned up early to do so, (I heard the doorbell go while I was in the shower!), and came up with a Panzergrenadier force, that comprised;

HQ - 2 x Cmd P'knacker, plus staff car and motorcycle
2 x 3 squad Panzergrenadiers with Cmd P'knacker
2 x armoured 2cm self propelled AAA gun SdKfz 10/2
1 x Tiger 1E
2 x StuG G
4 x 10.5cm Howitzers

Bear in mind Bryan hadn't used this force before, it was simply cobbled together to give him a force to use on the day... Bryan normally plays a Late War Brit force; "Taurus Pursuant" - A Market Garden themed force...

Brett had brought his American Tank Company comprising, IIRC:

HQ - 2 Stuarts
4 x M3 Lees
3 x Stuarts
3 x Scotts
3 x HMC 75mm self propelled Assault guns
3 x 81mm Mortar carriers, plus Cmd Half Track.
1 x Armoured Recce platoon (2 x jeeps plus 2 x white scout cars)
2 x 105mm Field Howitzers
1 x Sporadic Air

 Their deployment is as pictured below...

As you can imagine, I didn't get to see a lot of what was going on, but as well as I understand it, Brett found a small gap in Bryan's defence, a 1" gap between the wood on Bryan's left (next to the finger below) and the table edge, and exploited this to drive a tank force round into Bryan's 'backfield' !

I am not sure how long this took to resolve, but do know it resulted in a 6-1 win to Brett.

In my second game I was up against Bryan's Panzergrenadiers in No Retreat. Being Mechanised infantry against Bryan's Motorised infantry, I would be the attacker... Deployment as below... Bryan placed an objective centre rear protected by artillery, and I placed an objective on my front left, near a small farm. This Bryan protected by one PzGr pltn. He had his StuGs in ambush...

{It was at this point that I had that sinking feeling, staring at my list in my hand I realized I had got confused in my game against Paul previously ( I had tried several list variants through the lead up games to the event, and upon deploying had put down the wrong recce elements - picking a 250/1 plus 2 x 250/9s [proxied by 8Rads] as a Half tracked panzerspah platoon, when really I had actually just picked the 2 x 8Rads as a Heavy Panzerspah platoon). I mentioned this to Paul, expecting to have our game result invalidated... but Paul, thinking back to the game, and knowing he had partially damaged my recce in our game, said, "roll a dice... on a 1-3 I score a point against you for that game"... dutifully enough the die tumbled into place, and we adjusted our score from a 6-1 to a 5-2. I couldn't ask for a fairer result. }

Back to my game with Bryan. I decided to try and attack both objectives to try and keep Bryan, 'off balance'... I went with a GPG and PzIIIs plus Remer against the front objective, and sent the other GPG, Recce, and Marders after the rear one.  The large wood in front of me would cover my left approach, and the Recce would hopefully prevent a nasty StuG ambush on my right...

Within a couple of turns I was severely pressuring the front objective and heading for the rear one too. The 8Rads had killed the forward observer for the Howitzers in an assault on their way past ... I had just about captured the front objective, when Bryan finally sprang the StuG ambush. This blew away 2 of my PzIIIs and bailed a third, but the platoon hung on in there.

In the next round I destroyed the remnants of the front defending infantry with shooting, and started my attack proper against the rear object, setting up an assault through the rear farmhouse position.

My marders fired on the StuGs but only bailed one, which remounted. My assault went in against the rear farmhouse and fought their way in, the 8Rads having knocked out the SPAA, (which had previously come on to add weight of def fire to the Howitzers), to reduce Def fire.

I held the front objective and although Bryan's Tiger came on at this point it was too far away to help, forcing the StuGs and the CO to try a last gasp assault to reclaim the front objective. The StuGs battled their way in gamely, but were eventually overwhelmed by the Infantry Panzerknackers and bogging checks in the terrain, and if I recall correctly a failed motivation check forced Bryan' s remaining StuG to break off, leaving me with the objective. ...

Bryan capitulated, giving me a 6-1 win!

At the other end of the table, Paul and Brett were having the game of their lives! Deployment below...

Paul was defending and had decided to ambush with his 'God of War' against Bretts Tank force. Sadly for Paul this had not gone as well as hoped for... and Brett battled gamely through Paul's front lines eventually pressuring and virtually claiming the front objective. The game actually paused for lunch as it was taking a while...

After lunch (Pizza from Domino's plus some spicy extras from my wife), we returned to the fray for Brett and Paul to finish whilst Bryan and I looked on...

By all reckoning Brett had 'captured' the front objective, but had taken a heavy toll, in getting there, and Paul was staying alive in the game by feeding troops in to contest the objective, and having his Komissars shoot anywone who thought of faltering... eventually with Paul's KVs getting in to the fray, despite Bretts Planes giving their best efforts, Bretts tank force finally failed a company morale check, having passed one the turn before, and although sitting on the front objective was forced to withdraw due to loses...

Towards the end ...

Game was a 5-2 to Paul, but it was so keenly balanced on a knife edge it could have gone either way towards the end...

A large intake of breath and we plunged on into the last games of the day...

I played Brett in Breakthrough, while Paul and Bryan squared off...

I looked long and hard over the battlefield and came up with a plan, hoping Brett, might give me an 'easy run' through the town to sit on the objectives with my infantry and hope to dig in before he got there. It was a bit of  long shot but I couldn't think of any other way of managing this. I also lucked out in that he chose to allow me to run toward the church which my newly made walls surrounded, giving me bullet proof cover even if I didn't manage or have time to dig in once I got there...
This is a nasty game for a GPG force as due to the Mobile Reserves rule... I can only have one mobile force on the table. So my infantry would have no half tracks, but against a tank force I didn't really see this as a problem, other than slowing me getting to where I wanted to be, but hopefully there would be enough cover on the way...
I decided I needed my Marders on the board to hope to start sniping Brett's tank force as he approached.
I would leave my nebs, recce and PzIIIs as a reserve.

Deployment below... my infantry are poised for a dash to the objectives, while the marders wait behind the cafe to unleash their fire on the unsuspecting American tanks...

Brett launched off with the first turn, with his Priest battery selected as the end around 'reserve' force. Brett's logic being their 50 cals to shoot up infantry plus their breakthrough guns to blast them out of foxholes... cunning b*stard! ;-)

Brett never being one to hold back, rushed everything forward, including 'at the doubling' his Mortar carriers ... his first turn of shooting was ineffective...

 In my first turn, I managed to get reserves straight away, and selected my PzIIIs to come on behind Brett's ATD-ing mortar carriers... in the meantime my infantry scampered towards the objectives... and the Marders popped out behind the cafe for some shots at the target rich environment...

The PzIIIs let rip and blew away the 4 mortar carriers! The puppchen who had remained behind nailed a Stuart but the Marders failed to find a mark. I decided to leave them were they were hoping for six shots next turn and hoping Brett would fail to hit them on 6's... and he had 4 PzIIIs coming up behind his forces to consider...

Brett swung round his Lees to engage the PzIIIs, called in air to hit the Marders, and chased my infantry through the town with his recce whilst pressuring the front objective with his Stuarts and Scotts...

The results being 2 bailed PzIIIs (I can live with that!), but wrecked the Marders which fail morale and flee ( I carelessly left one vehicle a fraction away from the building allowing the plane to auto range in! Damn!)

My infantry mostly survived these attentions too and got into position contesting the objectives, but for how long would they hold out...

The PzIIIs remounted and looked back with 12 shots at 4's against the Lees... but I only managed to bail 2, and they both subsequently remounted... oh dear...

Brett remounted and blew away the PzIIIs, the last failing morale...

Towards the end things got scrappy through the town... Brett's Stuart's and Scott's pushed on over the bridge, the recce drove in through the town eventually assaulting one GPG platoon at the church whilst the Priests arrived from the reserve... the writing was on the wall for the Germans... but could I get any more points out of this game...?

Oddly enough, Brett chose to assault with his recce, presumably trying to bring the game to a swift conclusion... but I hung on destroying 3 vehicles, with only a 4th left between me and another point...

Remer hung on gamely in the churchyard thanks to the churchyards walls, and kept me in the game a fraction longer... my nebs had arrived as had my 8Rads, and the 8rads belted in down the road in the town to shoot up the rear of the last of Brett's recce elements but only managed to bail it! Curses.

I survived another round of Brett's all encompassing attention, losing my recce and having the church infantry platoon gutted... and only Remer contesting the church objective against the Priests...

But a last gasp saw smoke from the nebs hit the bailed recce vehicle as the CO and remaining Pltn Cmd team assault it in the face of two Stuarts in the town square.

They passed 'tank terror' and assaulted the bailed recce vehicle destroying it, but drew in the two Stuarts... after a couple of rounds I almost had them both, but eventually only managed to destroy one before my CO was squished beneath their tracks...

I was vanquished but had given Brett a bloody nose... a 4-3 to Brett!

At the other end of the table, Paul and Bryan played it out.

It took Bryan a moment to realise the danger he faced in his 'backfield' from Paul's potential end around reserve run, which he lined up with his KVs and an infantry company.

I am not sure how this played through, but Paul eventually emerged the winner as his reserves arrived and battled their way to take the objective, though for the loss of the KVs I believe, resulting in a 5-2 win for Paul.

So what would be the final standings?

A final tally of the results saw me emerge the victor with 14 points, Brett and Paul were tied on 12 points and Bryan brought up a very sporting rear with 4 points.

So I won my own trophy! A chocolate flame!

L to R, Brett, Paul, me and Bryan

No doubt it will be up for grabs again next Easter, I may be able to fit another table in and entertain another pair of contestants!

It has to be said this was an excellent and fun 'tournament', with much banter and humour, Bryan especially keeping us entertained with an amazing array of impressions and accents throughout the course of the day, he really brings a little hilarity to such events!

Special thanks again to Tracey my wife for keeping the troops fed and watered, and my daughter Rebecca for doing the running back and forth with the tea and coffee orders. And of course thanks to my gaming buddies for making the event an enjoyable experience. Excellent stuff!


  1. Thanks Scott for organising a very fun day of gaming, and to your family for their hospitality. Poor form to win your own tournament though! :-) For my part, Game 1 against you I just couldn't shoot you up, and didn't get going soon enough on the other flank with the KVs. Infantry against a mobile opponent in a mobile battle, it's always hard to take the initiative, but I probably could have done more to stop you dictating the game.
    Game 2 against Brett, what should have been easy I managed to make hard with some terrible shooting early on. My luck returned to keep me in the game and grind out the win, but it should have been way more comfortable. Brett had a difficult task given the terrain and the mission, and I'm glad he didn't bring the Panzers or he might have pulled it off!
    Game 3 against Bryan, the flank march was too much to handle. I was lucky not to lose an infantry company (passed three morale checks) and then desperately unlucky to lose the KVs on the last turn when I had the game in the bag! I guess it all evens out over the course of a game.
    All up, a very enjoyable day. I think we all left feeling like we'd had a solid days play but not burnt out. I am already plotting and scheming for next year!



  2. Looks like a fun day was had and a great trophy to play for.

    3 days is a day too many for gaming AFAIK so I don't usually bother with NATCON. One day of the three to game with mates is a much better way to go and not annoy the rest of the family.

    I hope it becomes a regular event