Photos By Sean "Throckmorton" Sarah
Philadelphia is popular destination for travelers due to the city’s rich history, sports teams that always seem to lose and of course cheesesteaks (Ed. Jim's Steaks is the best). Another reason to head to the City of Brotherly Love is to play in a tournament at Showcase Comics and Games, located in Swarthmore PA, a southern suburb of Philadelphia which is less than 15 miles from the center of the city. The staff has always been friendly and according to Cooper who mans the counter, "they are not barbarians".
THE STORE AND THE TABLES
I have been heading to Showcase from Northern Virginia for almost two years now since they run some of the best tournaments in the area. About twice a year Showcase holds a big tournament for about 20-30 people that draws folks from all over the Northeast and even some making the trip from as far away as Florida.
If Superman played FoW, what list would he run?
Run by Mike Clark who is a gamer himself, the store just moved to its new location in Swarthmore in late 2014 and has about anything Flames of War related you could ask for. If you like game other than FoW and comics, the store has a great selection and I often end up making a non FoW purchase or two each time I visit. The store can accommodate at least 15-16 FoW gaming tables comfortably and has a great amount of terrain to make each setting visually striking as well as a real tactical challenge for the player.
Saturday’s 10 AM tournament started promptly at 10:30, and had 24 players squaring off against each other for three late war rounds. It was my first time playing my Indian list from Road to Rome, and the first time I played a game with so many points. It has been ages since I played with my Commonwealth forces in a tournament; I decided in 2014 that I would use my German lists for all tournaments; my plan for 2015 is to use only Commonwealth forces for late war. My list is below, very cosmopolitan, with Gurkha's, Kiwis, Yanks, and some Pommies.
More on how this list did to follow.
In a first for Jesse and I, Mountaineers vs. Mountaineers and terrain that only they can cross
Game One: Fighting Withdrawal
I have played Jesse before, great guy and a great player, the first time my British Paras got crushed against his massive German fortified company. The last time we played he was trying out his new Italian late war list, and because of the learning curve with this list and the mission, my Canadians were able to beat him. Because we both had infantry lists, I decided to not take the Night Attack option and go for that 50-50 chance on the die roll. Sfortuna (bad luck) for Jesse, he had to attack. While I would have been ok in the attack, the only vehicles Jesse had was a small armored car platoon. While my list had Gurkha’s, Jesse had a platoon of German mountain troops. The terrain did have some cliffs, so for the first time ever we saw both sides using that Mountaineer special rule. In the end, my .50 cal armed Roo’s and Churchill’s beat up on his attacking forces. Jesse’s well sited 88’s made life tough for my Staghounds and they thought it best to depart.
Result: 5-2 Indian
In the last year I played Seth’s younger brother and Dad. Those two games were closely run wins; this family is tough to beat. I have seen Seth, who is a new to the game, play before and after playing him this time I feel he is getting much better. While I love Puma’s, I take them as a recce platoon, not as the main part of my force. Seth’s force had a lot of Puma’s and they just couldn’t stand up to my AT 11 and TDs with AT 13. The unit I feared was his King Tiger, which did chew up a few of my platoons. However the terrain and the mission worked against him and I ended up with a narrow 4-3 win.
GameThree: Free For All
78th British Rifles (Road to Rome)
Being in the rare position of going into the last round with two wins I faced off with Miles on a Blue on Blue battle. This was actually bluer than most games since we had near mirror image lists; with US TDs, infantry in Roos. Miles took US Arty, Crocs, and Stuart Recce to make our forces a bit different. I have played Miles once before and I knew it would be tough; this guy makes no mistakes and knows the rules very well. With nine platoons the destruction of this throw away AAA platoon made no difference, I lost 6-1.
Miles win against me enabled him to take second in what was a very fun event.
LATE WAR WINNERS1. Ron Wismer, FV Finn Infantry (Grey Wolf)
2. Miles Cowart, CV Brit Roos with US Support (Road to Rome)
3. Ben Gobel, CC Soviet LSPAR (Red Bear)
So how did the list do? You could think that going 2-1 would make this this a sure bet for the future. Not so fast; I won the first game by a die roll before the game started. In the second game I should have cleaned up vs. Seth's light recce units, and in the third I was destroyed by Miles. I want to tweak this list a bit, but you can expect me to show up at future events with some form of this list.
I may have mentioned this before but I think the two Italian Campaign books have some great lists. Having played lists from both books I wonder why their is not more buzz about how the good forces in Road to Rome and Fortress Italy are.
Superbowl Sunday was the EW tournament. I wanted to jinx the Seahawks who were playing in the Superbowl and showed up in my Seattle jersey.
For those of you who read my article on my new early war force ("Fifty Tanks of Grey"), you already know I wanted to try it once. My list was tiny, it was a CV Light Panzer Company out of Barbarossa.
Very small, 4 platoons in total; 1390 points does not go very far. However I knew everyone would be under the same limitations and I felt the Stuka would be able to deal with the Russian monster tanks. As I was prepping for the tournament I realized that this was the first time I would be taking a tank list to a tournament. I have usually only played infantry lists and maybe less than a hand full of mechanized lists in the past. I was eager to see how this list would fare and how it would playing a small tank list.
Jesse Schaeffer just loves those Italians.
Game One: Hold the Line
Sean aka Throck was my first draw. Since I hang out with him a lot I heard so much about this Japanese tank list he was planning to run. Like with all the other Japanese players, Sean went with a night attack (British players did this on Saturday). Starting with his entire force on the table he quickly moved his infantry headlong into my Panzer Grenadiers, while I blunted that attack I could not beat back all of his tanks. Even with daylight happening during turn 3, my Stuka could not turn back the tide. So it went to a 5-2 victory for Throck.
Game Two: Hasty Attack
While I have seen Ron many times at tournaments we have never played before. Ron was running a Finnish infantry list that a lot of arty support and a platoon of T-28s. This was a great game, Ron is a great player who also knows the game gamer very well, and I was soon down a platoon right off the bat. I wanted to make a game out of it and seized the one of the objectives and Ron threw the kitchen sink at me. Despite the 5-2 loss, it was a closer game than we expected after losing my PZIII's in the first 3 turns.
Game Three: Dust Up
Chris an other player I play socially a lot. While I give him a good game when we practice our lists, he crushes me in the 2-3 times we have played in tournaments. Chris is a great player who knows the capabilities of his lists and knows how to use them. In this game we both had small lists, but he had those dreaded T-34's. Chris pushed hard on the objectives for the first turn. My Stuka was more effective than in my first two games. It was a see-saw battle but it was short, leaving nothing behind to defend the objectives, my reinforcements were able to get on the board and sneak up on the objectives. I pulled out a 5-2 win in a very short but well played game.
So the final tally of the EW tournament; Team Throck/Gobel did well except for me.
EARLY WAR WINNERS
1. Sean Sarah, FT Japanese Tanks (Rising Sun)
2. Ben Gobel, CV German Early Panzer IVs (Barbarossa)
3. Scott McLemore, CV German Panzerschutzen (Barbarossa)
So will I ever play with my German tank lists again or go back to my Japanese? That is hard to say right now, I loved playing with this list. I know its small and doesn't have the antidote against certain lists, it is a list that I plan to try out a few more times before passing judgement.
So another Winter-White out is in the books and like the other tournaments hosted by Showcase, it was an overwhelming success. If you want to hit a great tournament in a great location, I strongly suggest taking the trip to the suburbs of Philly. Even if their is not a tournament going on, some of the resident gamers (Jesse, Kurt, and Marcus) are always around to play a game or two. Just post a message on Showcase's forum and prepare to have fun.