Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Flames of War - Late War Battle Report Vs. American Para's

Grenadier Kompanie Vs. Yanks 2,500pts

Taking a moment to note down some thoughts about tomorrow evenings battle against the RGMB’s resident American; Luke.  I asked for the late war period, and suggested the sum of 2,500pts which the opposition agreed too, and we’ll roll up a scenario at the start, provided either of us can remember how to play Flames of War!  My last game came at the beginning of October, and was against Laurent’s Panzer armada, scarcely a  useful preparation for fighting what is surely going to be a wall of fearless Yank para’s.  However I think Luke’s last game may be in the even more distant past, and I have reasons for optimism.

Firstly my army:
Grenadier platoon
Grenadier platoon
Grenadier platoon; white pioneers
HMG platoon
Mortar platoon

Pioneer platoon; double flamethrower and a goliath for fun
AT platoon; 2 x PaK40’s
Heavy AT platoon; 2 x PaK43/41’s (ouch time for heavy tanks!)
AA guns; 2 of.
Heavy AA guns; the infamous FlaK36’s and their extra crew
Heavy Tank Platoon; 2 x Tiger 1E
Artillery; 4 x 10.56cm guns (must upgrade at some point to the proper 15cm heavies!)

This little lot were chosen out of Festung Europe (how I wish I had access to Grey Wolf!), and were actually being prepared to do battle with Red’s Russians before man-flu claimed his freedom.  As such it is designed to fend off either the expected T34 tank wave, or a possible choice of massed Russian infantry.  I decided not to alter it to face the Yanks because I felt it could very much do the job there as well, and given I have a very good idea what will be in the Yanks army, while they can’t predict mine as well, it would have seemed unfair.

The plethora of AT guns (including the massive PaK43/41’s) can churn out a nasty 18 AT12 shots a turn, plus the artillery, and the panzerfausts and plentiful pioneers will ensure any tanks that made it into combat wished they hadn’t!  This style army and tactics worked nicely against Ian and his Panzer company (with additional Tigers) so should have a chance against a possible surprise Sherman wave too.

Against the  expected Para’s the combination of mortars, HMG’s and infantry with rifle/mgs should pin down the foot troops, while the AT guns and Tigers look to eliminate the tank support.  Then the pioneers and my own manoeuvrability, once the enemies vehicles have gone, should enable me to pick a weak point and chip away until it cracks.  Overall I’m happy with it as an army and a plan, most of it is even fully painted!  A further feeling of optimism comes from our last encounter where I was able to pin down and run rings around the Para’s, but didn’t have quite the combination of troops to finish the job.  This time round I have fewer trucks/halftracks and so will move slower, but much more nasty hitting power.

Expectations of the enemy:
Slight feeling of guilt having suggested 2,500pts as a limit, given I can reach that easily while Luke has to include everything in his collection.  However he agreed willingly even when given a chance to reduce to 2,000pts, so perhaps he has a trick up his sleeve.  I’m expecting around 3 platoons of Para’s, the usual engineers and light artillery plus mortars and HMG’s.  Given its late war I think some air power will put in an appearance, along with his Brit allies; heavy AT guns and a small platoon of Cromwells and a Challenger.  Finally those nasty tank destroyers and recon armoured cars should be there.

The Battle:
We actually chose a scenario rather than rolling for it.  I’d spotted the road sections in the scenery box, and remembered I’d only ever played the Roadblock scenario once (vs. Red’s Russians years ago) and suggested it.  Given we were both using infantry forces we rolled off for attacker/defender status.  I managed to acquire the title of attacker, which contrary to the image suggested actually meant it was my lot sitting on the road ready to be attacked by Luke’s para’s!  He chose the Tigers as his target for his Ambuscade, and I backed it up with pioneers and white pioneers and off we went.

 Luke sent a bunch of AT guns backed up by bazooka-toting para’s to do the job on the Tigers while the rest of his army got into position.  6 out of his 11 platoons started in reserve, and would be very sluggish turning up.  The Tigers tough armour saved them, and they backed off the road to return fire and await support from the infantry.

 That support was swift in coming, as the two pioneer platoons outflanked and wiped out the guns, while German artillery and troops arrived swiftly on the left flank.  The guns were replaced by a large combat platoon of para’s, and my attempts to use a goliath fell flat once more when a single rifle shot took it out.

 It wasn’t the only piece of good fortune to come the way of the Yanks; their air force having failed to damage the artillery they had more luck strafing the Tigers, before the British heavy guns managed to blow both apart in some spectacular shooting, removing a significant obstacle to the American attack.

More German re-enforcements continued to pour in, with the 88mm FlaK36 guns managing a scorching 32” move down the road!  An interception attempt on them by the Brit heavy guns failed, and both settled down to trade shots across the width of the battlefield.

 The American’s allied British tanks arrived as expected, and took a heavy toll on the German artillery, which successfully managed to kill nothing at all for the entire game.  I retaliated by bringing on firstly the PaK40’s, and then the PaK43/41’s to finish the job, which they did nicely.  But the 340ish points of British tanks had cost me 200pts of artillery destroyed, and needed 400pts of AT firepower to destroy them.  Firepower needed elsewhere as the Para’s finally started turning up in numbers and advanced with purpose towards my right flank.

The air force continued to prove a nuisance, destroying one of the 88’s despite the best efforts of my light AA guns.

 On my right my mortars were proving invaluable, decimating the advancing Yanks who had been forced to double in the open.  The HMG’s also arrived, and took up strong firing positions covering the road.  The first para platoon had by now overextended itself, and the pioneers flamethrowers helped wipe them out.

 I lost the PaK43/41’s to some of the newly arrived american artillery, but it was a sideshow to the right flank where the issue was being decided.  The second large para platoon managed to destroy the last of my white pioneers, and effectively destroy my large pioneer unit.  I rushed re-enforcements towards the scene but my right-hand platoon was pinned down by HMG fire.  The para’s own support was also too far away to help, and they stood alone in the last turn as I turned HMG’s, artillery, rifles, AA guns and even an 88mm gun on them!

When the dust settled a last surviving Yank stood by the objective, and my left hand platoon, having travelled nearly the width of the table, had just the movement to assault and wipe them out, ending American hopes.  It was a German victory, but only just.

I liked the scenario, which balanced the Yanks bonus in having a crack at my toughest unit with giving me first turn.  I did feel a bit guilty when my re-enforcements arrived swiftly, while Luke was desperately rolling however!  The Tigers were lucky to survive for a long period, and use of the Brits big guns might have be better than the smaller American ones for the ambuscade.

Interestingly for two armies branded ‘foxhole Normans’ it was an entertaining and manoeuvrable late war game, with only one unit (my pioneers) digging in all battle!  This was attributed to the lack of massed tanks normally encountered which allowed the infantry to get out and fight within fear of being instantly run down in the open.  Luke’s attack was initially stalled as he tried to take out the Tigers to secure an easier way through, and then my mortars proved their worth in wearing down his troops as they headed across the battlefield.

I would like to give the scenario another go, but take the place of the ‘defender’, attacking the road using the same armies.  I think Luke was fully expecting a Panther army to emerge from my carry case (score one to misinformation!), and was almost disappointed it wasn't so, because he felt victory would have been easier to get than against the numerous grenadiers and their anti-personnel weaponry.

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