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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WoT Map Analysis: Karelia

Each map in World of Tanks has some optimal places for tanks to go. No strategy is perfect and often times player skill rules, but a good strategy followed by a platoon can often times swing things in your favor. This series will hopefully lay out some ground work and give ideas on how best to tackle a map by analyzing the standard game play for each map.
Swamps, rocks and cliffs determine major avenues of approach on this map. This map, with sparse protection and no buildings, gives the combat advantage to artillery. Concentrate your attacks along the path of your main advance, while conducting delaying and defensive actions along the rest of your front lines.




Karelia is a notorious SPG favored map; plenty of open terrain, huge lanes for sniping, and the famous donut makes this map a very tactical one. Proper division of forces and knowing the correct areas to shoot from are some key ways to boost your chances for a win. Above all else though is the need to know the areas that artillery can hit and those that you are safe from.



One of the three major routes if the Northern area, known as the Rocks. The cover here is fairly decent, compared to the rest of the map, but only consists of a few outcroppings of rocks. It will become key to have heavies play peek-a-poo here while mediums proceed to flank behind the enemy and engage their rear armor. Direct head to head stalemates can often be broken here by accurate SPG fire and a well placed TD. Primarily a decent chunk of the army should head this way, mostly heavies and mediums are preferred over TDs, while a single artillery dedicated to this area will be able to turn the tide is things grind to a halt. Remembering to hug the rocks and squeeze into any area possible will serve the player well.



On the Southern side of the map lays the area known as the donut, the most popular attack route on the map. The donut can be fairly complex even if it looks simplistic and straight forward. The main objective is always to rear the top of the of the donut, pushing back the enemy forces and being able to shoot down into the rocky outcroppings, as well as being able to cross board snipe. Any tank with a decent speed should make a best attempt to capture the donut so long as they are confident that they can make it. Once committed to this, it is very difficult to back-track if spotted by enemy forces and so one must weigh out if they believe they can make it safely or not. Alternatively, there rocky outcroppings do offer protection for forces fighting head on and can be utilized quite well my mediums and TDs. Heavies and other TDs may find success in the corners labeled with stars. These areas usually have bushes to provide concealment as well as having room with which to play peek-a-boo back and forth. This area can quickly become bogged down and require luck, boldness, or well placed SPG rounds to break-through.



The final path, the center swamp, is a dangerous gambit to say the least. The only tanks that should ever consider this route with any sanity are scouts/light tanks, and fast mediums. The issue with this area is that the terrain, the swamp, will slow down any tanks traveling through the area, except directly on the center road. While shrubs offer concealment, only a few sparse rocky outcroppings offer any protection from players on base defense. Hugging the sides of either side of the swamp may prove more beneficial than the direct center road for sneaky assaults, but a quick scout can some times successfully traverse the road at high speeds and make a direct attack at enemy artillery positions in the rear and sides of the base. SPGs can usually find their place along the back of the base, or along either of the edges along their deployment area, usually being able to cover their one dedicated lane, along with mild support to the others. Karelia is their map, and hiding spots are plenty, but direct lines for fire often come with exploration to new and creative positions.

Effectively plan around this analysis, use the route to your advantage to best take on what tanks to expect in each area, and always support where areas are lightly defended but be ready to reenforce as needed. With a good platoon at your side, and now knowing this map better, you may just be able to sample the almighty donut.
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

After Hours Episode 16- Keep Calm- Or Else

After Hours 16- After recording episode 32, we keep on keepin' on! The chat is, of course, V3 heavy, along with plenty of other nonsense! This is a fairly crunchy episode- we just cannot stop talking about Version 3! We went on even longer once the mics quit rolling! Can you tell we're excited?


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Monday, February 27, 2012

Episode 32/30 mixup.

ATTENTION!  Some folks seem to be having an issue where iTunes has automatically downloaded Episode 30 rather than episode 32.  I'm not exactly sure what the issue is (I probably fat fingered the URL), but it seems to be resolved now.  However- if your iTunes/iPhone is set to automatically download the newest episode, you may still have the old one!  It's an easy fix- just delete it, and go manually download episode 32 from within iTunes.

If you don't use iTunes, you hopefully have not had this issue, but please let me know if you need any help!

Terribly sorry for the inconvenience!  
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WWPD News From the Front Episode 32

"Version 3: Now that we've been on a few dates..."



We're still all in on Version 3!  This is another crunchy episode as we discuss more rules clarifications, and our real world experiences with the latest revision of Flames of War!


TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  • 0:00 - ACT I: Intro/After Action Reports
  • 0:34 - ACT II: V3 rules followups and Discussion
  • 1:34 - ACT III: Cold Wars, German Train, WSS Magazine
Download this week's episode directly: 
http://www.archive.org/download/WwpdNewsFromTheFrontEpisode32/Episode32.mp3
Subscribe via iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wwpd-news-from-the-front/id398903039
Subscribe with other: http://feeds.feedburner.com/WWPDPodCast
Links discussed in this episode:
http://www.odms-club.com/convention/
http://www.flamesofwar.com
http://www.wssmagazine.com/cms/


 EDITOR'S NOTES:
We're still madly in love with Version 3.  This has been a really exciting time!  We'll return to our regular format next episode.
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Soviet DShK Truck and Dismount Option (part II)

And here's the finished product! If you missed part one, make sure to check it out so this makes some sense.


As you can see, they look good- but not perfect. More ambitious modelers could likely think up a cool way to get around the shiny base, but I am happy with the flexibility.





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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Soviet DShK Truck and Dismount Option (part I)



Let me preface this by saying, most people who know me know my least favorite part of our hobby is the modeling aspect.  I love painting, but I hate everything that leads up to brush hitting primer!  So, take the following tutorial with this knowledge: I took the easiest approach.  Extra work could make this work MUCH better.  Nevertheless, I hope this inspires someone out there who's about to work on some Portee AT Guns or something along those lines!

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Friday, February 24, 2012

SS Wiking Panzergrenadiers vs Soviet Guards Strelkovy (Firestorm Game 5)

This was game 5 of our Firestorm Campaign- I was attacking into Lepel to connect with my cut off bretheren! The Germans caught wind of the attack and immediately attempted a counter attack!

Having just recently finished the first parts of the German Train, we allowed Sean to let it roll on to the battlefield, which brought us to around equal points including my Firestorm troops.

Sean's Kanonen rolls full ROF for the commander and re-roll skill checks for the platoon.

Thanks to ROn Bingham for the shell craters again!

The Mission is: PINCER

NOTES: Honestly, this is HANDS DOWN the BEST game of Flames of War I've ever played.






Sean's SS Wiking Panzergrenadiers
  • HQ + Panzerfausts + Panzerschreck
  • Armored Panzergrenadiers
  • Armored Panzergrenadiers
  • Trucked Panzergrenadiers (Firestorm- I was out of halftracks)
  • 4x Panthers with Kanonen
  • 6 Nebelwerfers (3 Panzerwerfers Stand In)
  • Armored Train w/ 1 artillery, 2 tank hunter cars
  • 2 38(T) escort tanks
Steven's Guards Strelkovy
  • HQ + Pioneers + Supply Wagon + AT Gun Platoon + Sniper
  • 2 Platoon Strelkovy + Kom + HMG
  • 1 Platoon Strelkovy + Kom + HMG
  • Strelkovy Mortars
  • 4x ISU-122 w/ Rat and .50 cals
  • 3x T-34/85s (Firestorm)
  • 5x T-34s (Firestorm)






SETUP AND DEPLOYMENT


The board. Objectives are the statue in the center Right, and the grey large base in the North between the stream and the marsh.



Pioneers bolster the ranks.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

German Captured Armored Train

Choo Choo!
This project started as a review of Battlefront's new Battlefield in a Box Train Tracks and the Tank Hunter cars.  But of course, I am a wargamer.  That means my wargamer brain said "look- we already have the tracks, the tank hunter cars, and spare 38(t)s.  It just makes sense to buy the train!".  So I did.

Since this post was intended to be a review of the tank Hunter cars, I will get that done quickly- everything is very nice.  The large flat resin pieces were not warped, the casts were all crisp and clean, and everything fit together nicely.  And you can't argue with how cool it looks!  The wheels are the perfect size for the track, and the Panzer IV turret without zimmerett is very cool.  The spots for magnets are already drilled into the resin, and were a cinch to do!  In short- not a thing wrong with the model itself.  Clearly, it isn't a must own since I doubt every German player is champing at the bit to get a train... but if you have a train for your Grey Wolf forces (either the Polish one or the forthcoming BP44), you would not regret picking up this box!  19/19 Smoke Stacks


Originally, I was going to borrow a friend's airbrush to give this train the cool camo it deserves, but some complications lead me to decide to just do it my traditional way.  Besides, that fits more with my painting technique- sitting down for multiple short stints rather than one long stretch.  So I decided I would do it in solid Dunkelgelb (Vallejo Middlestone), but make it look old and worn out.  I used most of the techniques I practiced when painting my Imperial Guard Chimera.


Overall, I am happy with the way it turned out.  The assault car was a bit of a pain to get right, and still looks a bit... "wibbly", but it's close enough for me.  Painting it started off being a lot of fun, but by the end I was very happy to be done.


I had a few 38(T)s sitting around for my Early War guys that I hadn't gotten to yet, so I requisitioned 2 of them just to have every option.  I think 70 points is a good buy for 2 38(t)s in late war.  Plus, they count as an extra platoon to be put in reserve, leaving space to "front load" with better options, while ensuring you get TWO platoons for the price of one when you successfully roll reserves!


In game terms, I don't think it's *that* bad of a buy if you get a stripped down version.  The artillery cars are basically veteran 25 pounders, at a fairly reasonable cost.  Of course, this thing can't even survive the worst AT in Late War, so the train is definitely relegated to the back line.  Unfortunately, this can be problematic as the train is so large it can block reserves, or restrict your own fields of fire.

I'm curious if the AA machine guns will be any good at knocking down AOPs or Jabbos!

I'm not sure I'll ever really use the Assault Car since the platoon inside must start as passengers.  Seems like a good way to lose an entire platoon of infantry in one lucky shot.  

It may not see much table time, but it sure is a cool part of my collection!

At full strength (as pictured) with a platoon of Panzergrenadiers (not pictured)

The way I'll probably wind up taking it:


As always- thanks to Easy Army!
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German Medium Tank Swarm in Action

German armor at Kursk
I recently attended the FoW tournament at the Williamsburg Muster. The tournament theme was tanks!  Each player had 2750 points and had to bring a tank company.  That's a lot of tanks!  I decided to bring my Germans in an scaled-up medium tank swarm.

Since I'd recently written a tactics article for the tank swarm, this was the chance for me to show whether or not my ideas worked. My list looked like this:

ConfidentVeteran Panzerkompanie German Late-War
PlatoonQtyUnitPoints
Headquarters
Panzerkompanie HQ p.21
2Panzer IV H190
Combat Platoons
Panzer Platoon p.21
5Panther D or A or G940
Panzer Platoon p.21
5Panzer IV H475
Panzer Platoon p.21
5Panzer IV H475
Panzer Platoon (with Panzer IV H) p.21
5Panzer IV H475
Divisional Support
Rocket Launcher Battery  p.53
1
2
2
4
Cmd SMG team
Observer Rifle team
Kubelwagen
15cm NW41
165
Company Points:2720
Source document: Fortress Europe

Easy Army rocks again! 

As you can see, it follows my basic design principles.  There's a solid core of Panthers as my sniper tanks.  FIVE of them.  More than I've ever used before!  I have some cheap smoke.  And the rest of the list is Panzer IVs.  Seventeen Panzer IVs!

I was a bit nervous about the build, honestly.  As FoW tank battles scale up, German heavy tanks become disproportionately more potent.  More tanks means less room for flanking.  More points means stronger platoons of heavies.  With almost 3000 points, a German force could stretch a line of FA 9+ vehicles almost across the table edge.
  
Then, when I show up, I learn that 2 of the 3 scenarios will be fought short-ways across the table.  Yi!  Even less flanking!  What's a medium swarm to do?

Game One
vs. Stephen Wagner's SS Panzers 

Stephen's force consisted mostly of Tiger variants -- two Tiger IEs, two Sturm Tigers and a few Panzer IVs.  His army had a lot of support; he brought heavy artillery, some air, and an infantry platoon or two.  

The scenario was a modified Free-For-All, played from short edge to short edge.  I feared all the templates facing me, but it turns out I shouldn't have.  I mostly kept the Sturm Tigers smoked, the air never showed up, and the arty kept missing. 

My medium swarm worked more or less like it was supposed to.  My Panthers made short work of Tiger Is, and then the combined pressure of medium and sniper tanks wore down the remaining enemy armor.

I learned the Sturm Tigers aren't all that.  The template is terrifying, but it only hits on a 5+.  Conscript armor is just awfully easy to shoot, too. Ow!

The dice were not with Stephen, who otherwise played a very good game.  The game ended when Stephen's company broke.  5-2 for me.


Game Two
 vs. James Renteria's Guards Tankovy

James ran a terrifying force consisting of 5 IS-2s, 5 refrigerator assault guns, two platoons of 5-7 T34/85s, commissar Dandelion-whatever, a full company of sappers, AT guns, AA guns, and heavy mortars.  Holy crap! 

The mission was a short-edge version of Encounter.  I put some Panzer IVs and Panthers on the board.  James put on all his armor.  The board had a long cell of bocage along one flank, and town and hedges across the center.

We quickly engaged in a viscous center battle between Panzer IVs and T34/85s. The IS-2s supported his side, and my Panthers supported mine.  My IVs struggled to pop the T34/85's higher front armor, and James made some decisive flanking moves.  My IVs and Panthers eventually won, but not before taking crippling casualties.

On the other flank, the refrigerators kept two platoons of Panzer IVs locked down in a stand off.  Only when the T34s had died, and I was able to shift my Panthers, did I manage to push along that flank.  Again, however, I took heavy casualties.  

The game ended with both of us trying to snipe our remaining platoons.  My remnant tanks and Nebelwerfers turned out to be more effective than James' heavy mortars, and I eventually broke his company after several nail-biting last few rounds.

Anyway, I am confirmed in my belief that Panthers are the bane of Soviet heavy armor.  Panzer IVs on the other hand, were less effective against T34/85s than I expected.
  
 4-3 win. 
Game Three  
vs.Jon Pate's SS. Panzers

Jon brought two platoons of pz IVs, 2 Tiger IEs, 2 Jagdpanzers, a platoon of 3 Panthers including Barkmann, 88s and some Fallschrimjägers.

 This game was a modified Total War, fought long-edge to long edge.  The whole table was a checkerboard of bocage.

I really messed up my deployment, and Jon punished me for it  I intended to turn the center cells into a zone of death.  Instead, Jon turned them into a zone of death for me.  I rapidly lost about half my Panzer IVs.  Worse, he was able to seize a greater number of objectives.  My mood was only slightly lightened when I destroyed his Fallschrimjägers and 88s. 

By around turn three, I realized I wasn't going to ever catch up on victory points.  I had to try to break his company.  To that end, I made a series of sucide runs with my remaining Panzer IVs and my Panthers.  Barkmann and his platoon eventually destroyed my Panthers, but I was able at the last minute to ninja some IVs onto the flank of his Jagdpanthers and destroy them. 

We both fell below half and began rolling off to see whose company ran away first.  

I lost 3-4.

Jon brought a powerful list and played it well.  The Bocage funneled us along the flanks and largely separated our platoons, preventing side shots or swarming.  His heavy armor simply outnumbered mine, creating a fight in which he had the advantage.  My dumb-ass deployment didn't help.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed this tournament.  My three opponents were all great to play against, and my skepticism about its size and format proved largely unfounded.  A round of appreciation to the organizers and players.

I still love my medium tank swarm, but I think it may suffer more than I expected against a concentration of German heavies.  The T34/85s were also disconcertingly effective against Panzer IVs. 




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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Poles vs German infantry v.3 EW tournament AAR


Guest post by Anatoli from Anatoli's Game Room
My last game was played on the desert table - for some reason I always play my best on these.
Johan who was my final opponent had a German infantry platoon, the kind that my buddy Thomas often plays. Infantry backed up by a 6 gun mortar platoon, infantry platoons, PzII's, Panzerjäger I's (in ambush) and a battery of 105mm artillery. The scenario was "Fighting withdrawal" and my Polish army ended up being the attacker again. This time I placed my rails in a line towards the enemy deployment zone, I also placed 2 objectives near the railroad.

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WoT Map Analysis: Himmelsdorf

Each map in World of Tanks has some optimal places for tanks to go. No strategy is perfect and often times player skill rules, but a good strategy followed by a platoon can often times swing things in your favor. This series will hopefully lay out some ground work and give ideas on how best to tackle a map by analyzing the standard game play for each map.
Meaning "sky village" in German, this labyrinth of streets and squares are a large hindrance for artillery and tank destroyers, but ideal for speedy breakthrough and bypass by medium and light vehicles. With the castle dominating the area, access roads running by the hill and along the railway lines to help you out of the impasse.




The most notorious city fight board to date, Himmelsdorf represents the bane of all SPG players as the corners are tight, streets are narrow, and every path is fairly predictable. TDs have a major advantage on the major streets and Heavies make up the majority of fighting in the city itself. The railyard and hill are the playgrounds of the lights and mediums where flanking of poorly defended forces can make all the difference in the world.



The two major streets in Himmelsdorf have become known as 3rd Street (shown in Red) and 8th Street (shown in Blue), representing the two major arteries that cross the city. The majority of players will flow to either of these two areas, typically 8th Street seeing the most traffic, and will see primarily heavies and TDs taking advantage of the long sight lines in their attempt to push forward. Very little cover is offered in these streets and reliance on angling of the hull and squeezing as close to buildings to reduce the tank profile is a must. Quick flanking in the Central Park is an option if tanks push up enough but hit road blocks just before entering the opposing team's line of defense, but far to often the Central Park can become a death trap if one is not in and out quickly.



The Hill is often times the subject to medium and light tank battles. Heading up to, and conquering the hill not only grants the victor the ability to flank behind what tanks may reside on the 8th Street, but also can provide sniper positions down the avenues and allow SPGs to have an alternative position to fire from. Far too often, Heavies and TDs make the slow attempt to climb the Hill when they are better used elsewhere.



The last remaining area is the Railroad, the typical area where SPGs can find any initial success. Again, Mediums and Lights can find this area to be suited for their style as the more open space allows the to be mobile and making flanking maneuvers if successful in eliminating the SPGs and other Mediums and Lights in this yard. The difference between the Railroad and the Hill is that Heavies and TDs may venture into this area without nearly as many problems as they would face on the Hill, thus really becoming open to all tanks, but uncommon for some.

Effectively plan around this analysis, use the route to your advantage to best take on what tanks to expect in each area, and always support where areas are lightly defended but be ready to reenforce as needed. With a good platoon at your side, and now knowing this map better, each intersection will become jammed with the burning wreaks of your foes.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Poles vs Czech Panzers v.3 EW tournament AAR


Guest post by Anatoli from Anatoli's Game Room
My second game was against Patrik who arranged the entire tournament. He had a tiny tank army, which I knew would give me a hard time. The scenario was "Surrounded"  and the table we were playing on was extremely ill suited for the force I had. I had to put railway lines across my own deployment and

I faced 1 platoon of PzII's and two platoons of 38(t) tanks backed up by air support and a couple of 88's.

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German Grenadiers vs British Infantry in the Bocage!


Jon and I got together for a game, and wanted to try out some of the new artillery rules for V3.  We also wanted to get back in the thick of the bocage.  While the game was fun, and the dice rolls were all tense- the action doesn't come across quite as well in the photos.  I started writing a traditional battle report, but lost interest in keeping track of each individual loss since really the battle was so static.  So here's a quick summary followed by a picture dump!

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Poles vs Slovak's v.3 EW tournament AAR


Guest post by Anatoli from Anatoli's Game Room
My first game was against Andreas and his beautiful Slovak army, run as early war "SS infanterie". His army was tiny, and as we both had infantry armies we rolled to see who would end up attacking. Turned out the Poles had to attack. This time around at least I had a few mobile units in my tournament list.

Scenario played was "No Retreat".
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Swedish v.3 Early War tournament pictures


Guest post by Anatoli from Anatoli's Game Room
Another Early War tournament was played this weekend (February 18th). I think it may have been the first tournament to use the version 3 rules. Things worked out rather well, and everyone was happy with most of the new rules. I myself have complained about the new cavalry rules which replaced the 8" charge with 4" and a 4" hussar move in the shooting step on rolls of 4+. As my games played I failed to roll a single hussar move, and would have made great use of a 8" charge range on at least 2 occasions. So there you go.

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