Full confession: there won't be any pics for this report because, as you know, I rely on my phone to handle the picture duties. However being out late the night before and forgetting to charge my phone left me with minimal battery life, and I needed to shut my phone off in case I really needed it.
I was running a TD list with Patton at the helm, now fully painted and ready to avenge his earlier loss. I had a platoon of 4 Hellcats, a platoon of 2 Hellcats, two trained M10's, two trained AA half-tracks, a full platoon of veteran armored rifles, and a 6-gun battery of Priests. I normally don't take artillery, but going into this tournament I was most afraid of having to dig out veteran GtG infantry, and I would need those mobile breakthrough guns.
The other players had a variety of lists. The Soviets were well-represented with a Tankovy Batalon, two Guards Heavy Assault Gun Batteries, and an infantry horde played by the winner of the previous tournament. We had one of our regular competitors fielding British infantry with crocodile support, and a brave soul who brought the Hungarians to the field of battle (a full compliment of Zyrini's supported by Panthers and infantry). Our German players brought an army of fallschirmjager supported by bunkers, a SS Panzergenadier list out of "Nuts" (FT infantry with flame-tank Hetzers and Sturmtigers), and Grenadiers supported by Tigers and an armored train (which was so cool but God-awfully ineffective). Two other American players were both fielding Paratroopers, and proved that the new lists from "Nuts" are hard as nails.
I was feeling pretty good about going with the TD's, as this was the most armor I've seen at a local tournament in quite some time. And honestly, typing this up now, I can't believe that we had more Soviet players than German players...weird.
Anyway, the first mission was Hasty Attack, and I would be playing against fortified Fallschirmjager. I won't go into too much detail about this battle, because a combination of poor deployment on my opponent's part and Patton's spearhead special rules ended the battle on Turn 2. He had only 5 platoons total in his force (he spent a lot of points on fortifications) so he could only deploy two on the board, with delayed reserves. One of those platoons was rockets when it should have been infantry. I offered to just keep playing and rolling dice, but he declined in favor of playing World of Tanks. 6-1 to me.
Game 2 was No Retreat, one of my most hated missions and one that I don't think should be in tournaments (it is impossible for an infantry company to attack another infantry company in this mission. 16" of no-man's-land and the defender starts rolling for reserves on Turn 1). I drew the Tankovy player (fielding two large T-34 companies, a T-70 company, and a Guards Heavy Assault Gun company), a young guy still in high school. Full confession, I underestimated this opponent. First of all, I was finally playing against a tank army, and I had tank DESTROYERS!! Second, he was a young-ish kid, and most of the time those kids just rush everything forward and hope for the best. So I started off by once again going straight for the jugular with a pretty aggressive alpha strike. My armored rifles advanced toward some houses, such that they would be contesting by turn 2. The Hellcats and Patton went along with them, while the AA and M10's swooped toward the other objective just to keep up the pressure (and I advanced the security section so my M10's could pop in some woods). He ambushed with a large platoon of T-34's (a mix of obr 1942's and 85's), and I lost an armored car from a security section but little else. He also got reserves on his first turn. At this point I decided that maybe I should try to pull back a little. I swung my Hellcat security sections back behind the ARP, and dug-in the infantry. My artillery and M10's caused a bunch of casualties among the T-70's he brought in from reserve, even though I knew the M10's would probably be sacrificed at some point.
His Guards assault guns were in a patch of woods, and he kept them there for the whole game for some reason. He wanted to advance his mixed T-34 platoon against my ARP, but several turns of combined fire from two Hellcat platoons neutralized that platoon. The artillery continued to pound the T-70's until they finally ran away, but not before a lucky T-70 shot killed Patton! Now I was down a platoon (the M10's) and Patton, so I had to end the game quickly to keep from getting a 3-4 victory. My artillery really shined (double-wide Time on Target is nasty), and his final push with the other T-34 platoon was thrown back by bazooka defensive fire. A close 4-3 win for me, but if it weren't for me getting cocky I wouldn't have lost Patton and would have had a 5-2.
The most exciting game of this tournament bears mentioning. It was in Round 2 between the SS Panzergrenadiers out of "Nuts" and the Russian Infantry. The Soviets badly mauled the SS early on, including wiping out the infantry in one full turn. All he had left were three Nebelwerfers, two Sturmtigers, and Hetzer flame tanks (that had already fired their flames and couldn't assault because, again, they're flame tanks). For five turns the SS passed company morale checks while the Russians took out tanks and rockets wherever they could. But through a superhuman effort of one Hetzer, the Soviets were knocked below half strength, and even with the encouragement of a Batalon Kommissar, failed their company morale roll. Many players watched this game unfold; it was truly a spectacle.
Game three was Free-for-All, not the ideal mission for the TD's. If I thought the mission was bad, my stomach dropped when I drew my opponent. I would be facing the winner of the prior tournament with his Soviet infantry horde. This was basically my nightmare scenario. A game where I couldn't prey on an under-strength force as an attacker vs. a defender, playing against a terrific opponent with the tournament in the balance, against a horde of infantry. He was coming off the tough loss just mentioned, and so maybe he was just a little unsure of himself.
I deployed such that Patton would lead the armored rifles, M10's, and AA guns toward the objective defended by one of the large infantry blobs. On my other flank I would use the two platoons of Hellcats and artillery to hopefully hold on long enough for the game's fate to be decided on the other flank. Not a great plan, and I knew it wouldn't succeed if he just decided to dig in and concentrate his artillery on the armored rifles.
For the first turn or two, it looked like I was in trouble. Artillery killed a couple of half-tracks, and several of his AT guns joined in the fun. I decided, as a long shot, to try and lure the infantry out. I rolled to dig in my infantry (a success) and hunkered down. It worked. The next turn the Russians came lumbering out toward me, and I was able to then catch them under withering fire outside of their foxholes. To be fair, my opponent must have failed 80% of his infantry saves for this entire game, and I can't remember him passing a morale check (which of course contributed to his casualties via the Kommissars).
On the other flank my Hellcats were holding the enemy at bay, destroying a SU-122 platoon and causing a failed tank terror check amongst the infantry. On turn 4 or 5 I had cleared the objective on Patton's flank, and a double-wide Time on Target bombardment caused the infantry on the other flank to flee. At that, my opponent shot some artillery at the two-tank Hellcat platoon, destroyed it for the victory point, and then called it a day. 5-2 to me.
When the final victory points were tallied I was tied for first with the SS Panzergrenadiers (who had defeated one of the US Paratrooper armies in the final round). However that player, as the tournament organizer, graciously offered to award me an extra victory point for having a fully painted army (his was not). So after a wild three rounds Patton emerged bloodied, but victorious!
If you stuck with it this far, my apologies again for the lack of photos, and thanks for reading.