The rounds were short, roughly two hours and fifteen minutes per game, and so I wasn't able to get any good pictures of games in progress. However, I did get a few shots of the tables, and wanted to use this as a chance to talk a little about list-building and terrain. I'll also drop some historical pics to break up the narrative.
A preview of what's to come *wink wink*
Right up to the morning of the tournament I was still conflicted over what list to bring. I had worked out a very mean and cheesy Patton-led Armored Rifle company from BG&G, and felt pretty confident with it. However, my last two tournament wins have come with Patton lists, and he is often seen as a crutch at best, and outright cheesy at worst.
Not this time, my friend
My other option was to run a Panzer list that I had been testing. From Grey Wolf: HQ Panzers, Von Sauken, two platoons of four Panzers each, four StuGs, three mobelwagens, two patrols of 8-rads, and sporadic air. The air support was there specifically to knockout AOP's, as I was quite worried about Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS). I really like Von Sauken's ability to re-roll storntrooper moves, and his re-roll for reserves could be amazing if I was ever forced to defend
A couple of days before the tournament I realized that there was another option. I love my Panthers. I think I did a good job painting them (as far as my painting is concerned) and I think they're some of the best models that Battlefront has ever produced. Plus, they're Panthers...they're so cool! The problem is they don't provide the value they once did, and they're very costly in terms of points. It suddenly dawned on me that this could be my last opportunity to run them in a tournament for quite some time, given that they simply don't fit into a 1650 list.
Put us in the game, Coach!
I kicked around some ideas and came up with this, from Panzers to the Meuse:
HQ - 2 Panzers
2 234/1 Armored Cars
2 234/1 Armored Cars
And that's it. I didn't get any test games with this exact list but I had been reviewing Panzer tactics with the help of the WWPD forums. Ultimately I chose this list purely because I wanted to run the Panthers. I'll admit that I got some quizzical looks from the other FoW tournament players at my FLGS, as we have all heard of the death of heavy armor. But I wanted to risk it, and I needed to get away from the crutch of Patton.
So last Saturday we drove up to ToyWiz in Nanuet, NY to join the guys of the Ordo Malleus gaming club in one of their regularly-held FoW tournaments. I was joined by two other guys from my gaming group, each of whom were running variations on American tanks. One had some goodness from BG&G (no Patton or E8's though), and the other guy had a Light Tank Co. from Overlord. Most of the sixteen players who attended were shop regulars, but we were joined by the one and only Eric "Papa" Turner!
Alright, enough chat, onto the games!
Game 1 was Free-for-All against an American Armored Rifle Co. My opponent was relatively new to Americans, but knew enough to acknowledge that trying to dig Armored Rifles off of an objective can be a grueling process. He had two full, veteran ARP's, 5 shermans (2 E8's, 1 jumbo), Armored Mortars, tank recon, and 4 Jackson TD's. We were on this table:
We played the higher hedges as LoS-blocking but not bocage
I had the right side if we are going by the orientation of the above picture. I deployed my Panthers in the center, with the two Panzer platoons on my left flank to make the big push to the objective. My two recon units and mobelwagens were deployed to cover the other objective. He deployed his tanks and an ARP to cover the objective on my left (by the hill in the bottom-left), and left everything else in the area of the objective on my right.
The goal was to delay/stymie the deployment of the Jacksons with my recon, and then once they were deployed and I had weakened the Shermans I would swing one Panzer platoon back to my right objective. This would allow the Panthers and remaining Panzers to push the objective on my left. The road network would also allow me to redeploy my recon to lift gone-to-ground on the ARP.
The game went relatively according to plan. I got a little lucky in my first turn when, because his Jumbo was behind a hill and thus not a valid target, I destroyed two of his Shermans, including an E8. This spooked him and so he ran his tanks into a woods, from which they were never to emerge because I would have shot him into oblivion. My recon units also put enough pressure on him so that he felt obliged to pop his Jacksons all the way back in his deployment zone.
Get outta my house!
He hesitated too long on my right flank, and just couldn't fire enough shots at my veteran vehicles. My mobelwagens, at one point, killed two Jacksons and bailed another! Meanwhile my assault group made their move and pulled off a very successful assault against the ARP holding the left objective. Because his Shermans were in the woods they didn't have the movement distance to contest the objective. In his last turn he killed my mobelwagens and got a lucky bazooka shot against the last 8-rad in one patrol, which gave me a 4-3 win.
Game 2 was Counterattack, and I had to defend against Brits with lots of air, lots of artillery, and Crocs. I'll admit that I thought my chances in this game were slim, and my opponent's dice rolling didn't help. I deployed one Panzer platoon and held another in ambush. On turn 1 his artillery and aircraft each killed a panzer, and his Crocs, getting 3 shots needing 6's, hit all three times. I passed a morale check with my remaining bailed tank. In my turn 1 I popped my Panzers from ambush and took out enough of one artillery unit to render them useless, but couldn't get them to run away.
This was the board
From then on it was a melee, but with him rolling hot and me rolling below average. My veterancy kept me in the game, but I was bleeding every single turn. At one point I had four Panther shots against two trained Shermans, and I rolled four 1's (I have the witnesses to prove it). Ultimately the game came down to one die roll: I had to stormtrooper (and not bog) my AA guns to put them within contesting range of an objective, which they did. From there I was able to outlast my opponent, whose attacks were too spread out across my units to break me. Each turn his artillery would target one units, his tanks another, and his aircraft yet another. Had he tried to finish off platoons one by one I would have eventually failed company morale. I was fortunate to pull out a 4-3 win.
Game 3 was Fighting Withdrawal against German grenadiers. This game was won in deployment. My opponent didn't think that I would charge directly at a unit of three 7.5cm Pak40's with an open field of fire...HA! That's all he had covering one objective, and I made it my business to get there by the start of my turn 5. Interestingly I was back on the board from game 1, only now I was advancing from the opposite side.
The game went nearly according to plan, except that my assault group wasn't made up of Panzers. By a series of strange incidents my 234/1's ended up behind the Pak40's. One patrol assaulted from one end, and the other patrol came in from the other end. The guns were wiped out, and I had secured the objective. In his next turn he didn't kill them, and so the game was mine. 6-1 to me. This game also featured a successful ambush-prevention effort by my recon against his Tigers. They were the MVP's this game.
They fared better than this one
This was enough to get me third place for the tournament, as the TO was scoring the games strictly on victory points. Eric Turner finished second, despite drawing one game (draws count as losses). My 4-3 wins cost me in the end, but I know Eric is a much better player than me, and is a fantastic resource on all things hobby related (we talked ancients for quite some time).
Assembling my winnings
Lessons: I am pretty surprised that this army went 3-0. The fact of the matter is that this force bleeds victory points. I knew this going in, but goddamn!
Most of all, I am glad I brought the Panthers along for one last tournament ride. They did pretty well, losing only two tanks the entire tournament. They certainly aren't the end-all be-all they once were, but they have a definite role to play in lists that gel with their incredible points cost.
Overall I really liked the terrain that was set up for these tables. There was a mix of heavy and light terrain, and I never thought that the tables were inherently unfair against anyone. I would like to see more tournaments offer a wide range of terrain densities, as WW2 wasn't always fought in crowded woods or bocage country.
As always, please follow me on Twitter @piflamesofwar