Flames of War hobby tournaments may be a bit intimidating if you’ve never been to one. Or, you may not have any in your area to attend. I can understand. Here in my neck of the woods of Sunny Southern California (USA), tournament are about as prevalent as rain or snowstorms in that same area. In other words, almost non-existent. I recently relocated to SoCal from the USA’s midwest, where FOW tournaments blossom like dandelions in a country lawn.
So, when I find one in my own back yard, a mere 40 minute drive away, I try to make sure I can get to it. Originally, I was scheduled to make a four-plus hour drive to Las Vegas, and attend a two day tournament there - but family commitments interfered with that plan. I was afraid this local tourney was going to face the same fate. Fortunately, I was able to finagle the family schedule and sneak in a day of gaming around the other activities.
This tourney was held at The Realms Comics and Games in Brea California. A nice little shop in Orange County (East of Los Angeles proper). After a few last minute cancelations, the tourney stabilized with eight players. Our lists were pulled from the new hardcover Bulge books. We didn’t have to deal with winter weather on the tables, but all forested areas were treated as sparse, with a 12 inch vision range, instead of six inches.
1685 points of Desert Rats fun!
I elected to run a Desert Rats 7th Armoured Division Mechanized Infantry Company. Two solid platoons of infantry, backed up with two platoons of three Cromwells plus one Challenger, along with heavy mortars, carriers, and Daimlers (with a Dingo). I wanted to find room for more 17-pounders due to the plethora of Jumbos, Panthers and King Tigers that I expected would be swarming the fields,
Round One began with Dust Up as our mission. I faced off against Bruce’s German horde. He had no armor, but lots of AT guns and artillery, along with pios to slow me down.
Bruce's infantry advance into buildings in order to get my recce platoon to move away.
Against Bruce’s force, I got to choose table quarters, and chose to force him to deploy in a mostly open quarter. I figured this would give me more opportunities to range in on troops in the open, and not have to attack into cover (avoiding bog checks). That part worked out well, but that meant he could screen my approach into coming through large sections woods (more bog checks) or channel my tanks down narrow alleys he could easily cover.
We ended up stalemating, but he was able to snipe one of my platoons (the Daimlers and a Dingo), which gave him an extra victory point over me.
Round Two had a familiar ring to it. I played against Tim (who finished in second place), and his German 12th Volksgrenadierkompanie. He had Brummbars in ambush, and delayed reserves. He chose the table end. This table had an L shaped wedge of buildings that force my mobility to go through one of three choke points. I took one platoon of Cromwells, along with the Carriers and the Daimlers around the buildings and threatened the rear objective. But, there was a lot of potential ambush areas for the Brummbars to pop out from. I left the other Cromwells firing into the buildings to whittle his Pioneer down while my infantry moved to gap the wire his pios put out to block the way to the front objective.
My opponent was nice and placed an extra burning wreck marker to celebrate his flamethrower's success against my universal carriers.
Eventually, his reserves arrived, and toasted my Cromwells and Daimlers in the back, and I didn’t have enough time to finish to advancing on the front objective before the round ended.
My infantry gapped the wire, and Cromwells move in to support the charge that didn't happen before the round ended.
Round Three we lost two of our players due to other commitments, so matchups got shuffled, and I ended up playing Ian, who won the tourney with his US Armored Company. We played Fighting Withdrawal. I selected the table side with the most cover, but I didn’t cover one of the objectives well enough, and he was able to capture and hold it on turn three.
Too many Jumbos and Easy-8s for my Cromwells and Challenger to handle when I was doomed to roll ones that turn.
I had an ambush of Cromwells that should have been able to hold out another turn, and allow my infantry holding the center objective the extra round needed to arrive to contest it. But, my normal luck (bad, that is) began. I started collecting the dice which rolled ones for my saves that turn, and the unfortunate die that came up with a one on the 1iC’s reroll to unpin the infantry that could have moved to contest the objective in the next turn.
After I took the photo, I added two more ones to the pool. I ended up with NINE ones on my dice in my opponent's turn and the beginning of my next turn.
Overall, we had a fun tournament, with lots of laughs. Out of the final six players, I finished last, but tried to make sure my opponents and I had a fun time rolling dice and pushing our tanks and teams around the field. If only the Tourney Organizer had an award for most ONES rolled in a single turn. I might have won that award.
Troy recently relocated from crossroads of America, and home of Able Kompanie – Indianapolis Indiana in the USA — to the “Western Front” of North America — Los Angeles California. He is a long time gamer, having dabbled in almost every type of gamer-crack. His small claim to fame is editing a Forgotten Realms supplement, “FR-16 The Shining South” back when TSR still existed.