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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Twice the Fun: Playing in a DoublesTournament

By Mitch Reed

One of the interesting aspects of the “tournament scene” are the different ways in which clubs and game masters create fun and interesting spin offs of the game.  Perhaps no better example is the doubles tournaments, where two players are pitted against two others in a regular Flames of War mission.  While these types of tournaments may be common in this region (Mid-Atlantic USA), I have not heard much of them elsewhere and felt that the word should get out on this great gaming experience.

The Basics
In a doubles tournament the team is comprised of two players who usually have a total of 2000 points in which to build their forces.  The forces the two players pick can be from the same nationality or in some cases from two allied forces.  Often this rule is more strictly interpreted and is up to the tournament organizer to make a ruling; in most cases I have seen a mix of British/Canadian or Heer/SS lists being allowed for one team where a mix of Soviet/US is something I have not come in contact with (and for good reasons is probably not allowed).  With this said, players are not limited to picking forces from the same list, company type, or even book, so it is possible to field a 1000 point infantry list from Grey Wolf with a 1000 point tank list from Desperate Measures.  Each team can, in most cases, “swing” about 200 points from one list to another, making one 800 points and the other 1200. Other than the selection of forces, the game is otherwise played the same as any other FoW game.

Another of my Favorite Doubles

One thing you may ask is if you can make one 2000 point company, and that is a no.  Each player must have a company with a command team in order to resolve things like company morale checks.  Also, on the table each player commands one of the two companies; which means they will select what starts on the table or in reserves and they move and attack with their forces. Now this does not mean you cannot “lend” your partner a platoon in your force during the game.  Sometimes it is easier for them to manage things on one side of the table while you are doing your thing on the other side, or they need that platoon of StuH’s to drive out dug-in infantry. It all depends on the situation your team finds itself in.

 As in tennis, you have to pick a good partner

Picking a Partner
This is the first step, and it often the quickest with someone you play with often saying “wanna go try this”, followed up by a quick yes on your part.  While this seems easy enough, it also can lead to problems.  As someone who has played in a few doubles tournaments it is key you select a partner who understands the rules at the same level you do and someone who’s playing style you are familiar with.  You do not need to have the same playing style, but let’s say you are an aggressive player, would being with an overly cautious player be a good fit?  Sometimes it can be, and sometimes it is not, but that is for you to decide.  There is nothing worse than looking over at your partner during a defensive mission and they are charging across the table.  So much like any other team sport, good chemistry with your partner is a must.  You need to know how they play the game and if they take risks you would normally never take. In the past I have enjoyed playing with guys whose style I know well and that I know what they are thinking during each turn.  It ensures they do not have to tell you what they are up to during the game in front of your opponent.

Picking a List
This step seems easy, but it is often harder than it first seems.  What nationality is usually decided upon right away, and that is important to see if you have the models needed for that list.  If someone would ask me to partner with them who wanted to play a US list, I would have to decline unless they had the models for me to use.

Once you have the nation selected, now it time to look over what type of force each player wants to run.  I have not seen a sure fire winning combo in the past, so it is up to players to decide what infantry, mech, or tank lists work well together. Should we go with two Tankovy lists and charge? Will your infantry be to slow to keep up with your partner’s tanks in an attack?  Is my mechanized force too weak to help my teammate’s tank company? These are just some of the many questions your team should think over as you create your lists.  Just because your lists are from the same book or even unit does not mean they will work well together in a game.  However you can instead look at what you plan and need to do in a game and making sure your have the capability to achieve what you want to do in a game as well as having the capability to counter an opponent’s threats. Think of it as a checklist; Recce… Check.  Template weapon… Check, something to kill a big cat…Check, and so on.  I know what this is sounding like to you; I am creating a well-rounded 2000 point list; well I think that is the best way to look at it. Once you decide on what types of capabilities your team requires, it is up to the team members to find two lists that have all those forces.

Keep in mind 1000 points isn’t a great number, and as with any list you create; you cannot take everything you want.  That is why figuring out what two lists complement each other the best should be something your team thinks about.  Knowing that your German Pioneers with Pak 40’s can hold the objectives while your 15cm artillery can support your partners tanks and recce while they go for the objective is a good way to approach force selection.

One set of Doubles you want to keep away from 

No matter whom or what you pick as far as a partner or a list, I will recommend practicing as much as possible.  Work out how you will communicate with your partner (sounds like marriage counseling) and how you will use your forces together as much as possible.

Other Hooks
In a few doubles tournaments I have played in, both players work together with a 2000 point limit for the first two of three games.  The last game is played with your 1000 point list pared down to 600 points and the standard gaming table is split into two equal halves  where instead of playing one 4 player game you are now playing two 2 player games. Your 600 point force must be from the same list as the 100 point list, and you do not have to take both mandatory platoons (if two are required) that the list requires.  I know this is a tough one!  I suggest thinking about how your 600 point force will look when you are making your 1000 point list. In some cases (King Tigers for one), you sometimes cannot get a command and a combat platoon for 600 points, and if you can, well you now have a force of two tanks which you can fit in your front pockets. Also, at 600 points, the synergistic force list you created with your partner is broken, so those 15cm guns you have cannot support your team mates tanks, they are in a different game.

Not much of a force at 600 points!

Another tournament organizer last year required all players to take a mechanized list; while I was not able to attend this event, I have heard from many that the list limitation was a great idea and the tournament was loads of fun (Editor's note: This RULED). Until my partner bailed on me (love ya Throck) we planned on taking two lists from the Indian Recce pdf.  We would have lost a lot games but we would have had a blast and would have certainly picked up some neat Hindi terms to use, like hama badabu (We stink!) or apani jita para badhai (Congrats on your victory).

Even the Bren needed doubles

Another question you might be thinking is if the added players and the high point total leads to longer games.  In the tournaments I have been too in the past I felt they actually went quicker, with two folks moving and shooting a small 1000 point list things move fast.

So, if you ever hear about a ‘doubles tournament”, I would recommend finding a partner and some lists and be prepared to have a blast!  I think they are a great addition to the game and a way for us to meet more like minded gamers at a tournament.  I would also like to thank the local I-95 Gamers (John, Eric, Joe, Bill and a couple of Bobs) who host and run a few great doubles events a year. 

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