Monday, 27 February 2012

Follow the Flames: Round 2 - 800 pts


My USSR troops were in action again (again mascarading as Greeks).  Unlike last time, both these games were tactically much more challenging and a good learning experience.

GAME 1 - Assaulting Hill 593

The battle was set in the mountains during the second battle of Monte Cassino, and the taking of Hill 593.  The rules were challenging, as neither side had the option to 'dig in' due to the rocky ground, but would automatically gain bulletproof cover if they went to ground (didn't move or fire).

As the 'assaulting' force, this left me with a significant tactical disadvantage.  The Germans would have fortifications, machine gun nests and mortars.  If I 'walked in' on this firepower, I'd be annihilated.  The Allies teams had taken considerable casulaties at this point.  How could I turn the tide?

For this game, I was fighting Kurt.  An excellent opponent, but Kurt scratched his list together with minutes to spare, would unfamiliarity breed mistakes - I hoped so.

GAME 2 - Fighting Encirclement in the Swamp

For this game I was going to be playing one of the most experienced players in the local area.  Coops has played flames for years and years and amassed a huge number of armies including an epic tonne of Russians, Germans and American Vietnam Vets.  He's played in national and regional flames tournaments.  I was pretty certain I had a fight on my hands.  Coops gripped my arm before the game, and whispered in an undertone.  "PLEASE give me a tough game!" ... he'd wiped the board with everyone so far, could I beat him?

For the first time, I was defending!  In this battle I had the option of splitting my forces over the bottom left and top right quadrants of the board.  Coops then deployed in the bottom right, with his reserves coming in top left, and the objectives he had to take doing likewise.


USSR - Rifles Battalion (800pts)
  • Command Team (Commander, 2iC, Commissar) - 30pts
  • 45mm Antitank guns (2 bases of guns as a Command Attachment) - 45pts
  • Strelkovy Company (8 bases, rifle and machineguns) - 130pts
  • Strelkovy Company (16 bases, 7 Submachineguns, 8 R/MG and a Maksim HMG) - 265pts
  • Scout Platoon (2 bases) - 100pts
  • Heavy Mortar Platoon (8 bases including 6 mortars and a spotter team) - 145pts
  • 45mm Antitank guns (5 bases including 4 antitank guns) - 85pts
My main strengths are the awesome Heavy mortars, these guys can pin and produce casualties of even dug in opponents.  My enlarged Strelkovy Batalon with 16 bases was also party to the "Quantity is quality" rule, meaning that they'd need double the number of hits (10 instead of 5) to get pinned, importantly, this meant that if they got in assault range, these boys were unstoppable.  Finally, my 45mm were my 'funny' ace in the hole.  I'd brought them along after my experience in round one of machinegun nests and they are VERY effective.  However, they'd also become increasingly useful for shooting up enemy infantry in cover, and despite the comments of my peers - I was enjoying having them aboard.

GAME 1 AXIS - Grenadier Company (800pts)
  • Command Team
  • Grenadier Platoon (7 bases)
  • Grenadier Platoon (7 bases)
  • 105mm Howitser Platoon (4 guns, spotter, command and staff)
  • Heavy Mortar Platoon (7 bases including 6 mortars)
  • 2 HMG nests
  • 3 sets of fortification trench lines

Hilly terrain dotted the board.  This was my core advantage.  The downside was that due to the 'rocky terrain', I couldn't dig in and anything that moved was going to get a pounding.  Kurt had learnt from his earlier games and had both a four gun artillery unit AND a six mortar platoon.  These could shelter behind a double platoon of grenadiers, trenches and two HMG nests.  While grenadiers are only Trained and Confident, ALL my troops are identical.  These represent the low water mark of the german reich.  Let's hope I can give them hell!

German Defensive Line
My forces (in blue) all started on the table, The heavy mortar platoon started in the top left hand corner - completely hidden behind a hill.  This meant that they could fire without being fired upon - very useful indeed.  The small platoon and Antitank guns started in the middle.  The larger platoon started at the top of the board.  Before starting the game I initiated an 'infiltration' move, using my 100pts of scouts to pull 16 bases of infantry 16" closer to the enemy.

The Germans didn't largely move all game.

Moving was risky in this game, so I went all out.  By running, I could get 100% of the huge platoon behind a large hill on the top.  This stopped them being spotted (for arty) or being shot at direct (direct fire rolls double dice against 'running' troops - ouch!)  The smaller platoon in the middle did the same trick, hugging terrain.

Russian flood from behind the hill up the left flank
Now the smart thing for Kurt to do would is to readjust his lines to ensure dominating defensive fire faced my incoming infantry.  He didn't however.  His BIG mistake.  I think he did this mainly because he was still working in "28mm mode" and thought that his infantry could see over the hill.  At only 5mm in height - they couldn't!  Realising that the only units with line of site were one shot artillery pieces and a couple of infantry, I ran like blazes at them.  Hooking behind the front line of the HMG nests - I avoided them completely.

Antitank guns move up behind their bulletproof shields to kill the HMG nests
 Now Kurt rushed to fill the gap, moving infantry across, reserves arrived that he rushed to the front lines ... but my mortars spotted them and blew them to pieces, wounding every one of them and Kurt failing 5/7 3+ cover saves!  But Rifles and Machine Guns are Rate of Fire 1 if they move.  My SMG units and most R/MG units rushed up under covering fire from my HMG and some rifle units.  The Russian firepower was devastating, destroying the Artillery with Machinegun fire alone and killing multiple infantry units.  The 'Mortered' reserve unit simply fled, many other units were pinned or engaged.  The Germans attempted a counter attack, but the defensive fire was too intense and they all died on the way in.  In one turn of assault I destroyed an HMG nest, 9 bases of infantry and a whole platoon of Artillery.  The next turn, we mopped up the remaining infantry and the AT guns wiped out the last HMG nest.

4-2 win to the Russians.

GAME 2 - Encirclement in the swamp.

Rolling for the next game (and promising experienced player Coops a tough game), I opted for a defensive position.  This would be my first defensive game and a beauty to start with.  Against such an old hand, I'd need every advantage I could get.  Coops list looked something like this:

Grenadier Company (Confident-Veteran)
  • Command HQ and 2iC
  • Veteran Rifles with 2 HMG
  • Veteran Rifles with 2 HMG
  • HMG Platoon (4 HMG and Command)
  • Mortar Platoon
In Coops opinion, Confident Veteran was the perfect mix.  Fearless is uneccessary, and costs too much.  Being Veteran means that over 16", you are almost impossible to hit.  Only certain weapons, and at certain ranges, can have much of any chance against you.

That said, as a numerically inferior force - charging out of pre-prepared positions at my lines would be suicide.  Even if they make it ... I would simply drown them in double the numbers.

The mass of heavy machine guns, while awesome in defense against an attacking army, would be handicapped by my dug in positions and bullet proof cover.


A Complete lack of terrain combined with the fact that I was automatically 'dug in' as the defender meant that I was in a good position.  The large hill on the top right formed the base of my defence.  The Heavy mortars hid behind the hill as they could range in anything on the board and could then avoid being spotted themselves.

In front of them came the two AT guns and and both the infantry batalons.  My original plan had be to 'infiltrate' the big infantry company over towards the objectives on the bridge, in order to muck up his plans, but without this, I dug in to weather the artillery.

My defensive position with the heavy mortars positioned behind the hill
And artillery Coops definitely had.  On top of the mortars, Coops commander character had two levels of artillery to pull on.  This meant that 'off the board' mortars and artillery would be raining down on my men.  Nice!  I also had taken this 'upgrade path', so I reciprocated as best I could (but lacked the two tiers he had).

On the other flank, 4 AT guns lined up.  As long as they didn't move, they have bulletproof cover, the scouts in front of them gave them a stalling line.  I was hoping that they (and the HMG nest adjacent) would be enough of a disincentive to approach in that direction.

The Germans attempt to dig in in the face of Soviet firepower
The game opened up with some blistering firepower.  Coops failed to dig in his veteran HMG's and mortars the first turn, although they opened fire with everything they had.  They killed a couple of bases and started to worry at the large platoons - but nothing to worry about too greatly.  In return my HMG and heavy mortars targetted the HMG's in the open and pounded their lines, killing 3 out of 4 HMG's and effectively taking them out of the game.

Over the following 2 turns, the mortar teams exchanged fire, with his mortars forced to target my infantry whilst my mortars rained hell and brimstone down on his mortar teams.  By turn 4 only 1 mortar remained, this is mainly because normal mortars are firepower 6, meaning that even if you hit and they fail their saving throw, you still need a 6 to kill!  Heavy mortars are firepower 3+.  Between the rerolls to hit (see below), the 5+ cover save for the mortar teams (unlike infantries 3+) and the 3+ to overcome their bulletproof cover ... they dropped like flies.

Artillery works in a unique way in that a 'hit' hits everything under a 4" square template.  You then roll a skill check (4+ for me, 3+ for Coops vets) to hit them.  Six or more arty pieces gets you a reroll to hit.  3-4 and it's straight, 1-2 and you have to reroll every hit.  This meant the enemy mortars were completely useless.

The reserves arrive
The enemy flankers arrived on turn 3, and I turned all hell on them.  The 'god of war' mortar barrage killed 1 and the Antitank guns got in range at 16".  At sixteen inches and dug in, I needed a 5+ to hit.  But the 'volley fire' rule meant I could pour on the firepower and hits.  Giving me rerolls to hit.  The 4+ firepower made a mockery of his cover save and then the Heavy mortar plowed in.

Killing half the team, his embedded and dug in unit pass their pinning test but fail their morale check (4+) and routed.  Sometimes fearless is just what it takes.


The first battle was won through some intelligent movement and a mistake by my opponent.  The second battle was an uphill struggle (for my opponent).  If he'd moved, I'd have killed him.  My heavy mortars came into their own and ate his for breakfast.  Personally, I can't see how he could have won unless I'd made a serious mistake.  I didn't, I gave him a tough game ... and with 2 more turns to turn on the pressure on those Grenadiers contesting - it couldn't really have gone any other way.
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