|Scotts Guards Armoured|
|Pauls British Paras|
My personal vote for Best Painted went to Steve Hill's Soviets. As usual, there were several armies that displayed a very high level of brush work. The way I separate them is looking for creativity and custom built work. I loved Steve's objective marker featuring dogs armed with mines that were trained to run under German tanks, triggering the mine in the process. Woof, woof, boom!
|Russell Briants superb objective markers|
We're environmentally conscious in this part of the world, so were encouraged to reuse our cups. I helpfully named Scott's cup for him so he wouldn't lose it.
Bob rode his bike up from Shannon. He must have been exhausted after pedaling that far!
FoW designer Phil Yates guides Rhys through an aerial dog fight in his new game Flames in the Air. It was very popular with those who got to play it, and Rhys could happily have stayed at this table all weekend.
The telescopic rods and dashboard of dials really caught the eye. We'll be hearing a lot more about this game in the near future I think.
After the trials and tribulations of Day One, Scott and I approached Day Two with our spirits remarkably high. We had a good drive up to Palmerston North, and in between laughs we set some goals for the day – still to get a win, and if nothing else to make it into double figures for VP’s for the weekend. Above all else, we agreed to keep our chins up and play to win each game in a positive fashion.
Game 4 was a Dust Up, played against Robert Groom and Mark Anderson. They were local guys I think, and fielded a double Sperverband combo featuring three platoons of RSO’s (vehicle mounted Pak’s) and lots of veteran infantry with high tank assault values. The table had a large town in the centre, which almost entirely blocked line of sight between our initial deployment areas. Scott and I both quickly agreed to place our “enemy deployment area” objective as close as possible to the edge where our reserves would come on. Given the table size, we just couldn’t cover two objectives and grab a third with only four platoons, so our force was split in two. Robert and Mark figured the same and mirrored our objective placement. One Para platoon, both artillery batteries and the Stuarts started on table.
We dig in artillery in our table quarter, a Para platoon moves up to head off enemy reserves.
Both sides plan for the early turns was the same – bombard each other and wait for reserves. We lost a Stuart to an airstrike, but that was it. The first couple of turns whizzed by as we could hardly see each other across the table. Our opponents got reserves on their first roll, and immediately declared their intentions by bringing them on along their own long table edge and moving them towards their own deployment area. To be fair, with two infantry companies and no armour to speak of, this was going to be a difficult mission for them to mount an attack in. Luckily we had other plans!
We placed our objective as close to our reserves entry point as possible. Death or glory!
The German air support knocked out a Stuart, but that was as hot as it got on our side of town.
Turn 4 and we get a platoon from reserve. We bring the Para’s on and they immediately assault an RSO platoon lurking in a wood. Defensive fire is minimal due to the wood blocking the view of the infantry holding the objective, and the RSO’s only having hull mounted main guns, which can’t defensive fire. The RSO’s were swiftly despatched and the Para’s moved up to occupy the woods.
As per the script for the weekend, it was all going too well! We got more reserves next turn, so brought on some Shermans to add some MG support for the Para’s push onto the objective. Unfortunately we pulled out the dreaded “snake-eyes” when trying to unpin the fearless Para’s and their gallant CO. Another turn wasted.
The Para's got straight down to work, but couldn't get any further.
As the game was nearing time, our armour kept hanging on against artillery and air strikes, and kept the German infantry pinned down. The Para’s weathered a couple of bombardments of their own, and then moved up to assault. There was no time to thin down the defensive fire beyond eight shots hitting on fours. Shaky odds, but still in our favour, and we had nothing to lose by going for it. Five hits of DF and that’s that plan down the toilet! Again. If that assault had gone in we would be fighting right on top of the objective against Reluctant troops, with little nearby that could push us off if we managed to gain the ground. It was not meant to be.
We tried to grab a point on the other side of the table. An RSO platoon came on from reserve and finished off our Stuarts, but the other Para’s were close enough to assault. They passed tank-terror, no defensive fire, seven veteran teams of TA 3 and 4 against top 0 vehicles, should be odds on to gut them, right? Between a combination of missed hits and great saves, the only damage was one bailed RSO. Unbelievable! They pulled back, and the game timed out.
It was a frustrating game, as it ended just when things were getting interesting. Full credit to Robert and Mark though, they kept the pace of the game up even though they never looked like getting anywhere near capturing an objective. It was always going to be a very difficult mission for them with two infantry companies, but they were sporting players and it was good to play against some different guys for a change! End result was 1-2 in Robert and Mark’s favour (as with our error in Game One we should have claimed a point for each platoon, so we diddled ourselves out of a 2-2. We didn’t bother correcting this as it was hardly likely to upset the medal ceremony, and apparently lots of others had made this mistake too).
Only Game 5 to go and it would all be over, a no pressure, bottom of the table clash against similarly hapless opponents, right? Partly right! Our opponents were none other than Team Buddha, aka: Mike Haycock and Chris Townley from Battlefront with their German/Hungarian combo, not exactly easybeats! They had also had some disastrous luck with the list they had used to win the competition in 2011, so at least we were in good company.
Hmmm... which end would you defend? Answers on a postcard!
A King Tiger reminds the Hungarian tankettes who's the senior partner prior to deployment. They were so tiny they looked like they could get sucked in by the Tigers gravitational pull and crushed!
The mission was a No Retreat, and we defended on a table featuring a river and a charming novelty hedge maze. We chose to occupy the maze end, forcing the attackers to cross the river and planning to turn the maze into a tourist attraction at the end of the war. We put down two Para platoons, a Howitzer battery, and a Sherman Platoon in ambush. The main threat from Team Buddha was 10 Zyrinis with breakthrough guns and three King Tigers. I won’t dwell too much on the action of the game, but we put up a gallant fight in the face of the near untouchable King Tigers and punishing fire of the Zyrinis. A heavy artillery battery also added to our hurt. Our only option to knock out the King Tigers was for them to get caught under a repeat bombardment from our artillery, but that was well beyond our dice rolling abilities. The big cats sat back and covered the Zyrinis as they removed the first Para platoon, and then pushed the second back to claim the forward objective. By this time our armour was nearly all ablaze. We did take down two of the Zyrini platoons in the process, one with Shermans and one fell when it assaulted the Para’s. The 9+ platoon rule did apply in this game however, and we only got one point for our efforts. 2-5 to Mike and Chris.
These guys were a real pleasure to play. They were easy to get along with, played in a relaxed but efficient manner, and it was a great game to end the weekend on. Our only concern was that by scoring two points we may have blown our chance of securing last place, the irony!
Shake, shake, shake, what will it be....?
A one! Who would have picked it?
For Sale: one novelty maze, some fire damage, may contain shrapnel, phone Gunther for details.
|Scott and myself in our sadly prophetic team t-shirts! Beaten but not broken, we'll be back.|
|The pride of Kapiti FoW Gamers, and proof that we're not completely hopeless - Rhys and Brett, Runners Up for Best General.|
Thanks also to the organisers and to everyone who brought terrain along. It was a mammoth effort to bring the whole weekend together, and they did a sterling job. Reflecting on our force, I think we tried to cover too many bases with too little stuff. Maybe being more one dimensional and strong in one area would have served us well, but we chose our list to have some historical context and work with the models we already had and enjoy playing.
We find it satisfying to get a “combined arms” force running smoothly, but it was a bit beyond us this time. Tactically we made the odd small blunder, but no major disasters. In four of the games we were either beaten by better players or the clock.
As for the luck of the dice, the bad rolls are always the ones you remember most, but I suspect the numbers averaged out more or less. It was more the timing of the bad rolls that hurt us. The higher the stakes, the lower the numbers we rolled, and the lucky break we were “owed” failed to materialise. If the dice gods are reading this, Scott and I both expect a torrent of sixes at Call To Arms! Two draws and three defeats doesn’t necessarily make for the most fun weekend of gaming I’ve had, but overall it was a good time.
The highlight for me was playing with Scott instead of against him all the time. Through every game we hung together as a team and managed to keep each other’s spirits up. We’ll always be bound by our crushing defeat, and are considering a “redemption” theme for next year’s Panzerschreck. But for now, I’m off to introduce some dice to my wide selection of hammers…