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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Tale of Two Tournaments (Part 1)

Up here in the Northeast of the United States, we aren't as spoiled for tournaments as many of the folks down in the Virginia and MidAtlantic Area.  There isn't a "Why we Fight" podcast that goes by when I don't envy Luke, Eric, and Mitch for the litany of options they have in terms of competitive play.  But over the past year I've seen a small renaissance of sorts for my area.





Kirwan's Game Store up in Catskill NY, Home to 2nd place Nationals Finisher (and best sport, and best painted) Chris Johnson, has hosted a large number of tournaments.  His store, an excellent venue, will be hosting a Flames of War Regional Tournament this October. Kirwan's Game Store has a pretty regular crowd, and is only about an hour from my home in Western Connecticut.

To the South and West, There is Toywiz and the Ordo-Malleus folks, who also regularly host Tournaments.

To the East, deep in the heart of Connecticut in Manchester lies The Portal Where the Connecticut Valley Gamers club has recently popped up on my radar as well. Hosting a great Fall Regional last year, they have a regular game night Wednesdays, and are a well organized friendly group of people.

I mention all these spots in the hopes that other players in our neighborhood might stop by and grab a game, and if this article catches someone's eye you should check any of these spots out. They are all great.

Where I live in Danbury CT is from a flames of war perspective, "A geographical oddity....an hour from everywhere"



And while our local club at hobbytown is great, our store isn't big enough to host the larger tournaments of games without some creative use of space.



So imagine my surprise when I found out that there were 4 tournaments going on in the space of 2 weeks this August!  Since I had gotten grounded for historicon with the cost of travel being too high at the time, I decided to go all in and sign up for two tournaments in two days, both 1 or more hours away from my house in different directions.

The first, on Saturday the 20th at the Portal in Manchester CT.  The second, on Sunday the 21st at Time Warp Comics in Cedar Grove NJ (A Place I had not been too yet) So I paid my entry fees, cut off a block of British Cheese, and my Camera, and prepared to do battle.

My list:

51st Highland Division out of Overlord

I've had trouble making 1420 work with British Armor.  Traditionally I play armored cars or British Infantry with Artillery support. Despite the great suggestions of many on a variety of forums, I never seem to be able to make Armored lists work very well.  This from a British player who owns.

1. A Churchill Company
2. A Cromwell Company
3. A Sherman Company
4. A Comet Company

I'm probably just bad at it. I've seen others do it well. I also love rolling infantry saves. For some reason, I am the champ at rolling 3's. unless its for a fearless morale test....then my magical powerleaves me.

The list above is a weird one.  I posted about it on the forums and got some interesting feedback.  Is it historically accurate? no. not really.  It's a bucket of cheese. Its also tricky to play. I enjoy lists that take a while to master, or require a persnickety play style. I do like to play a historical now and then, but at an open tournament, I'll try some min-maxing.

Some of the quirks of the list?
1. All the armor in the list is trained....and none of it can assault since its engineering equipment
2. All of the infantry is reluctant, which means tank terror is a big problem.  The infantry are the clean-up crew. try using them for anything else and they'll let you down.
3. Because of the Breaching Groups, your list can have anywhere from 8 platoons to 12 platoons, depending on how you decide to arrange it before deployment. It can lead to some confusion, and frustration on the part of opponents.  despite my attempts to walk people through it, its one of the wonkier rules of British lists that I've ever come across.



All this translates to a list that needs to work together to get things done, can overwhelm outnumbered opponents, but is tricky to get to work right. In my experience.  If there is infantry the crocs will cook them. A weak spot? some soft skins that a 75mm gun can hurt? the tanks will blow them away before my Shermans all die. Foritifications? I roll up the AVREs...the end

....the only thing it has huge trouble with is all armored lists made up of mostly medium tanks since i have no AT over 11.


Tournament 1 - Saturday August 21st - The Portal
I will face 3 armored lists on my first day. In 3 games, I only saw 1 platoon with any infantry. It made for some bloody and exciting games....

Game #1 - vs. Karl's Panzer Lehr Company (Con-Vet) in Free for All
Karl's list


Karl had something in the neighborhood of 10 Panzer IV's.  A platoon of Pumas, and a platoon of short Panzergrenadiers with panzerfausts.  They came in platoons of 3. We took turns deploying and he ran out first.



I started some tanks, 6 pdrs, and infantry on my left flanks to defend and act as opportunity dictated.  On my Right, I put the bulk of my tanks, some AVREs, some Crocs, the mortars, and another infantry platoon.  I thought I would be able to win a gun duel with the Panzer IV's and Crocs, and move my infantry up to take the objective after I had flamed him off it.  Things quickly went south.

Deployment




My initial advance was checked, as he was able to bring a lot of fire to bear very quickly.  His Vets at range made short work of my 5 trained Shermans.





The Crocs would manage to kill a few tanks, and flame some of the infantry, but were side shotted to death before they could avenge their fallen Sherman comrades.

on the left, a firefight left those Shermans dead, as well as my Universal carriers. I was down 3 out of 9 platoons by turn 5.


luckily, Karl's stormtrooper move finally failed, and hanging around to try and punish the 6pdrs, led to the death of a panzer IV platoon and the collapse of his left flank.

I raced my infantry over to the objective in time for them to be forced back off the objective in an assault.







I unpinned and was able to contest, and we timed out.  a 2-3 draw for me. Karl played it well, and I was too aggressive. I underestimated how tough vet tanks are to hit, and overestimated how long I could stick around. Another 30min, and Karl should have taken it. He was gracious throughout, friendly and funny.  Despite being a relatively new player, he didn't seem like one.  He would have the last laugh by the end of the day as well.

Game #2 - vs. Zach's US Armored Company (Con-Vet) out of Bridge at Remagen in surrounded

I would have thought I had the drop on these guys early...but being vets...GTG, and long range meant I was stuck advancing from 2 directions over relatively open terrain relying on Mortar smoke to hide me from the worst of it.

 right flank
left flank

 Zach also learned, to his dismay, that uparmoring his easy8s meant no smooth ride. I don't know that it would have been a huge help, but considering how bad his dice were as he shot at my Shermans over several turns, and it could have helped narrow the odds sooner.

After some jockeying for position, I managed to focus fire 4 platoons on his 4 tank powerhouse, and wipe them out. He got his revenge, and knocked out 2 more platoons the following turn.





his Super Pershing was under a cloud most of the game....

The game finally came down to me flaming his superpershing, bailing it out, and sending in the infantry as a cleanup crew. He had no one to roll morale at the start of the turn, and his company broke...but not before taking 4 platoons with him.



4-3 me became a 5-3 (1 point for winning gets added)


Game #3 - vs. Scott McLaughlin's Panzerspah Kompanie (Con-Vet) in Breakthrough



The most exciting game of the tournament for me.

Scott's list:

4 Panthers
4 Stuhs
3 platoons of Pumas or assorted wheeled German Recon
Panthers and Stuhs started on the table.

I foolishly thought I could bum rush those StuHs while keeping the Panthers occupied. But I didn't wind up positioning myself well and Scott kept his Panthers active. he fell back well as I cautiously advanced through the town....








Several turns of cat and mouse later and both platoons of Shermans were wiped out. Some Pumas helped....

My delayed reserves arrived before his reserves started arriving....which is frustrating for anyone.
They snuck in and dug in on the objective without much fuss.

I moved the Crocs into position to contest, and a missed move by Scott put me one storm trooper away from winning.......




but he passed it!


The crocs flamed some open topped recon, and 6pdrs wrecked some double timed pumas in another platoon.

Both infantry platoons try to assault tanks...



But BOTH fail tank terror.....

Scott repositions and throws his tanks at me, because, as he sportingly said, "I didn't have the heart to just let you throw yourself into them again"  Since we were playing for what could have been 3rd place, it was a nice thing for him to do.

With minutes remaining, he launched his assault....he got in, killed a team.....and then I passed my reluctant morale check....2 rounds in a row.\



He rolled for the 3rd round...but failed...and failed his re-roll.....then....he pulled his single medic chip (which allows for a one time reroll  in the tournament)....and failed that too.

4-3 win for me.

When the points were tallied up Mike Cunningham, fresh from representing the US at the ETC took 1st convincingly with a US armored company and a Super Pershing.

 There was a 4 way tie for 2nd place and I was in it.

After some tiebreakers, Chris Kadish took 2nd with brits and comets,


 Karl Evertz (my first round opponent) took 3rd



I wound up in 4th, 1 point behind Karl :) a fitting end since I nearly lost to him in the first round anyhow. And in all seriousness, I was stunned that scores of 2-3, 4-3, and 4-3 would put me in contention for anything :) It was a great day, and I enjoyed all 3 games. In the end, that's why I come out to these events, and I'll be back here again as soon as they get something on the calendar.
Overall results:


Day 2 to follow....on to NJ....

Tom Mullane (aka Captainecho on the forums) is a new contributor to WWPD.  He is a High School History Teacher in Brewster, NY and lives in Danbury CT, he has been involved with Flames of War since 2011.


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