Friday night we played a fairly large game of Flames of War. I put 2,500 points of US Parachute Company out vs. 2,500 point of German Grenadiers. I already detailed the paratrooper forces, bringing all of that thanks to a very few proxies for the rest of the Cavalry Recon platoon and an off-board M2A1 105mm battery. I'm not sure the breakdown of the Grenadier platoon, but it contained approximately eleventy billion Tiger tanks.
First and foremost, I was very pleased at my contributions to the game. I brought one entire force, the bocage and kind of co-ran the game with the guy who brought the Germans. That's pretty significant for me, who usually just shows up and lets somebody else run the game. I'm trying, slowly, to change that. Anyway, I thought the table looked pretty high class.
We went straight FoW for this, down to rolling randomly for the scenario from the book. In a way, we were kind of foundering-- our Flames of War crutch who used to show up with custom scenarios, all the markers, terrain, forces, etc... has unfortunately for us moved on, leaving us to our own devices. We rolled up Fighting Withdrawal. I was pleased with this, as I obviously had never read the scenarios in the book and at Fall-In! was asking the WWPD guys why they were removing objectives from the table! Egg on my face. The "Strategic Withdrawal" special rule is very interesting-- the defender must stay on the table a certain length of time, but eventually starts removing a platoon every turn, and near the end, even pulls objectives off with them. I thought this was a pretty clever way to use objectives that I hadn't seen before.
In my defense, I actually did read most of the FoW rules before this game-- but I only read the rules, I didn't have time to make it to the scenario special rules. I'll continue my reading, though, and be better prepared next time. We did alright-- we had some oversights, but caught and corrected ourselves.
In the above pictures, you can see the three parachute platoons arrayed in line across the board. Their objective was out in the bocage, and the Germans had laid theirs in the open terrain on the American right, where they planned on focusing their attack.
The Schwerpunkt of the German Blitzkrieg was to be the far German left, led by the Tigers, and rolling up American paratroopers who, in an Assault, actually had a 1 in 6 chance to Bail Out the Tigers. Yeah, not pretty. However, we had dispersed a lot of extra Bazooka stands to the combat platoons, hopefully one of them would get a good hit in. The Tigers roll in, a Stug and Grenadier Kampfgruppe on their left and their right secured by a PaK 40 platoon suffering under the American 105s.
This game marked the first time I'd seen snipers used. Here, a sharpshooter in a shelled house keeps the 155mm Infantry Gun under fire. However, with no significant threat facing them, the two German Stugs on the right roll forward and roll through the house, collapsing something on the sniper, no doubt, and removing him from the game.
The German left fist is approaching the American jaw...
Things settle down for a bit on the American left as the Germans bide their time, watching how things progress on the right.
Here we see Fall Dampfwalze in action. It was an educational experience, really. This linear deployment was absolutely the worst deployment we could have chosen. The Tiger and Kampfgruppe (with no Stugs, which bogged down) rolled into the end of the line, hitting a minimum number of American stands with a fairly tremendous force. This guaranteed they would wipe out the two to three stands they contacted, with the Americans getting no return fire. Sure, we had bazookas, which was our best chance against the Tigers in assault, but they never got a chance to strike. The Tigers could then do the same thing the next turn.
On the left, a paratrooper platoon breaks cover and moves to assault the Germans, hoping to relieve some pressure on their right. Unfortunately, it came time for us to withdraw a platoon, and they were the logical choice.
The Tiger and the Kampfgruppe have wiped out the far American right with little difficulty. Well, other than the fact that we kind of forgot that pinning an all armor platoon like the Tigers doesn't really have much effect. We eventually remembered that, though...after a couple of failed Motivation tests.
The Germans begin their advance on the weakened American left.
The center remains fairly static, but the Tigers aren't far away.
Even Tigers can suffer the ill effects of Frau Gluck.
The Tigers roll in, supported by the Kampfgruppe, and shatter the rest of the rightmost American platoon. It came down to the wire, though. Honestly, I can't remember who won...we Americans might have pulled both center objectives off before the Tigers got there and defended the last. If so, it was a poor win, as the Tigers had been held up with our forgetful pinning of that platoon. Clearly, the Germans should have won, no matter the actual result. Still, it was a fun, educational game. Having to pull our own weight running the game helps quite a bit. I'm looking forward to our next game of Flames of War.
A few things I took away from this game:
- An almost Napoleonic trade-off between a linear formation, giving great firepower, versus a more columnar formation, allowing more teams to participate in Assault.
- I need tokens! I printed off some basic markers as I figured we'd need them, but they were pretty weak sauce compared to some modeled markers. I'll need to get on that...
- Objectives should be modeled on FoW large bases! Who knew? Probably somebody who had read the rules more closely...I think I may model Lt. Col. Vandervoort riding around in a cart with his broken ankle.
- And, last but not least, my Paratroopers are allowed an M10 tank destroyer platoon and you bet your sweet bippy that will be my next purchase.