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Monday, April 3, 2017

Great War to World War III in a Weekend!

I decided to take a break from all of the articles on Version 4 of Flames of War and write about some of the gaming and painting I have been up to. Plus it would be good to write about something less contentious that will not draw the ire of our readers. In many respects I have made the mental conversion to V4 for FoW already and I am excited for the release so I can play it in public. I know I have two more V3 events coming up at Cold Wars, and plan to use that as a farewell tour and put V3 in the past. So with my lack of interest in V3 I was able to really get into playing some other great games over the last few weeks.

Great War
A few weeks ago I wrote an article that showed off my new GW French and Yanks and since I finished them I have been itching to use them in a game. I will once again shamelessly plug playing GW; it is such a different game than the WWII version and really tests how well you can handle an infantry force.  For those of you who listen to the Why We Fight Podcast know that I was excited to test my new forces at the GW tournament held at Huzzah Hobbies on 11 Feb.

In the weeks before the event I went back and forth over what list I was going to run. It came down to the two I wrote with Wayne Turner and were released via the FoW app; The USMC or the Harlem Hellfighters. I feel both lists have their strong points and would be fun to play, however the New Yorker (and former NY National Guardsman) in me made the Harlem Hellfighters an obvious pick. The best way to think of the Hellfighter’s are as Fearless Trained French troops. In the game the Hellfighters cannot be on a list with any other US troops and use all of the French National rules. They also get to re-roll all Morale Checks which did help me out during the tournament.

Harlem Hellfighters Company
HQ Cmd Rifle Team (25 pts)
HQ Support 2 x 37mm guns (100 pts)
Half Rifle Platoon (200 pts)
Half Rifle Platoon (200 pts)
French Half Rifle Platoon [F/V] (250 pts)
HMG Platoon (3 MGs) (190 pts)
Mortar Platoon 2 x Type 58 Mortars (180 pts)
Light Tank Platoon 3 x FT-17 [C/T] (2x 37mm 1xMG) (345 pts)
Total: 1500

I know, I have stated I was not an advocate of tanks in the game, but I wanted to try to get those funny painted tanks on the table.  If I had to do it over again I would have taken another Hellfighters platoon and a French Flame Section, maybe another HMG.

I was also tasked with providing Throck with a force and I got permission from Battlefront to use the Canadian list I wrote for the game which is still in draft form. The Canadians are one of two lists I call “The Shock Troops of the Empire” with the ANZACs running a similar list. The main difference between the two is that the ANZACs can get an American Rifle unit in support (historically provided by another NY National Guard unit). The Shock Troops are both Confident/Veteran, they can night attack, get the Spearhead rule, and re-roll failed attempts to rally from being pinned down.  They do lose the Trench Fighter special rule, but gain Mission Tactics.

Here is Throck’s force;
Canadian Rifle Company
HQ Cmd Rifle Team (30 pts)
Rifle Platoon Full (225 pts)
Rifle Platoon Full (225 pts)
Rifle Platoon Full (225 pts)
3 x 3" Stokes Mortars (270 pts)
Mark IV Male Tank (340 pts)
Whippet Tank (170 pts)
Total: 1485 Points

The Spearhead and night attack abilities puts these guys right in your face in turn one and I may increase the points of the rifle platoons to 245 points in the future.

Let me first speak about the venue and the host. Chris Huhn at Huzzah Hobbies is a likeminded fan of the Great War, and in fact the first time I ever played FoW was his FoW 1918 game at Cold War’s 5 years ago! Chris has been hosting GW games at Huzzah for years and they play with forces that run the entire period of the conflict. So if 1914 or Allenby’s 1917 campaign is more to your taste, Chris has the forces and has played those campaigns extensively.

Since the time I was last at Huzzah, Chris has had his elves hard at work and has once again expanded his store! The new section is a wide open and high ceiling addition that gives him the ability to add a ton of tables and to expand his selling space. The store is really a premier spot to game in the NoVa area and you have to stop by and check it out.
The turnout was more than I expected and Chris had 12 players show up, and at least half of them only play the GW game which I found interesting. I do think the game has an appeal outside of the normal FoW community.  The field was also evenly split with 6 German players, 4 French, 1 Canadian, and my Yanks.

In my first game I drew Scott Simoneau, who used to be a big and talented FoW player. Our mission was “The Big Push” and I had to attack his German trench line. I have to be frank that I was not playing much attention to game and was busy catching up with Scott who is always fun to chat with. I drove hard at the objective and forces my way into his trenches. It was a rough game that went 4-3 to the better player. One day I will beat him in a game, but that will be sometime in the future.

My next game was against Richard Rush, who is a master painter and a great person to play against. Richard is not a FoW player and had a sizable C/T German force. We drew the “Through the Mud and Blood” mission and right off the bat Richard was aggressive with his Germans. I was able to take advantage of his overextended force and pushed him off the objective with my French Infantry coming in from reserve for a 6-1 win. I hope to see Richard continue with the GW and if you want to check out his work go to He is planning to re-create all 16 of the A7V tanks the Germans produced during the Great War, and I cannot wait to see his collection when he is done.
My last game was against another longtime friend, Bill Balding. I should not have been surprised by Bill’s presence, he loves those niche armies and periods in FoW. We played a mission that had the Deep Reserves special rule which threw us and a few others for a loop. However once we got things settled Bill started the game by coming right at me and I used the distance he had to cover as a killing zone. The game boiled down to his Stosstruppen attacking my Hellfighter’s and before they got pushed off the objective, my French vets counterattacked and wiped out his expensive horde. After the attack was repulsed I pushed my remaining tanks to the objective and ended up winning by a failed morale check 6-1.

Despite the scores all 3 of my games were a blast and full of suspense. Of the 3 games, none of my opponents had tanks, and my tanks did not really effect the games very much and only one of the missions used the trench lines. The GW period is a must play for any FoW player who likes big infantry battles and loves to attack with them. So few players took tanks, and I wish I didn’t as well.  The game is so much better without them. I also did something I never did before in 2 of my 3 games, I used an HMG bombardment to pin my opponent. Like I said, GW is a different animal.
When the dust settled, Throck and his Canadians won all 3 of their games and came in first and I came in second with the Hellfighters!

For those of you who worry about the future of the Great War; let me assure you it is not forgotten by Battlefront! More to follow on this topic at a later date.

On the Road, Again!
So after playing the Great War on a chilly Saturday afternoon, Throck and I mounted up and headed to Philadelphia for the Team Yankee tournament hosted by Showcase Comics the next day. The Team Yankee event was a follow on to the previous days Winter Whiteout which had about 20 players attend. When Throck and I rolled in they had about 8 players ready to go; which was not as bad as it sounds. In the past we have always loved heading up to Philly to play with the “Showcase Crew”.

 The usual denizens were there that Sunday too, Kurt Reese, Jesse Schaeffer, and “Cooper” who seems to always be working at the store when I visit. Instead of a tournament we decided to just play and have some fun. I was able to show Jesse how TY works and my DDR force went up against the British force he borrowed from Cooper.  After our first games we had lunch decided to mash up a few tables together and have a huge brawl which ended up with scores of dead tanks littering the table. After this game we packed up and headed back to NoVa, with Throck keeping me awake most of the way by arguing about baseball.

Finding my Fulda Game
I still wanted to get my DDR force on the table to see how they would do in a real game. I decided to contact Glenn Goddard and see if his Yanks wanted to take up the challenge. I like playing Glenn, not only is he a good player, but loads of fun to chat with. We decided to meet up at Eagle and Empire in Alexandria VA for a throw down.

Since the tables at E&E are only 5’ across we decided to play on two tables with each of us bringing a 100 point force.

I fine-tuned my force as follows
T-72M DDR Panzer Battalion
1 x T-72M HQ (3 pts)
10 x T-72M (35 pts)
10 x T-72M (35 pts)
10 x T-55AM2 (16 pts)
4 x BRDM-2 (2 pts)
4 x Gaskin (2 pts)
3 x Spandrel (2 pts)
2 x Shilka (2 pts)
3 x BMP-1 Scouts

Glen Brought his A-Team
US Tank Company
Company Command  1x M-1  8pts.
Tank Plt.  2 x M-1  16pts.
Tank Plt.  3 x M-1  24 pts.
Inf. Plt.    4 x M-113  6 pts. + 1 Dragon Tm.  +1 pt.
Arty. Btty. 6 x M109 14 pts. + Minelets   + 1pt + Copperhead +6 pts.
M113 FIST Tm. 1pt.
AT Plt. 2 x M901 Hammerheads 3 pts.
AA Plt.  2 x Vulcans 3pts.
Air: 2 x A-10  10pt and 2 x Cobras  7pts.

I played around with this list using an infantry unit vice the T-55AM2’s, however the tanks look too nice not to take. I like how the Spandrel’s can back up the T-55’s, it gives an opponent something to think about when they go in for the easy kill.

We decided to play a free for all mission and I deployed my T-55’s, Spandrel’s and Shilka’s on the right, behind a spearhead forward of BMP-1’s, and the T-72s on my left behind the BRDM-2’s. My plan was simple, charge!  I felt the rushing T-55s would hold his left in place while the 20 tank horde went for the near objective.

On the right, even with my missile shooters in over watch the M-1 platoon and the infantry TOW missiles took a toll on the T-55s. Pretty soon many were burning and I had to break off my attack. I was hoping that my 6 missile shots would kill something, but Glenn was rolling save after save.

Things were just as bloody on the left flank attack, long range shots from Glenn’s Hammerheads and tanks, who took up a position in the middle of the table, got kill after kill. I saw how the terrain and how an attacker places hits can cause C2 problems for you right away and while my attack did not stall, it did slow down as I had to get forces back under command.

In the middle of the table I lost the fight between the Cobra’s and my Gaskin's, ouch. Glenn was smart and figured out what I was doing by leaving the middle of the table open. He knew that if he left cover into the void, my left hook of T-72’s would swing to the middle of the table and go after the one M-1 and Hammerhead platoon he had.

Some may have laughed at Glenn’s list with the big arty battery, however they were his MVP unit. The Copperhead shots where hitting at a high rate and making my life difficult. When you throw in the A-10 and Cobra shots into the mix, the center of the table looked like a tank graveyard.

I was able to kill both M-1 units, however it still left Glenn with a lot of fire power on the table and time was not on my side. As I threatened one objective, Glenn went for the other and in the end I could not cope with so many losses and lost to Glenn 3-4 when I failed my Formation Last Stand check.

Great game that shows me why I love Team Yankee so much. It’s about firepower and fun. Even with the bigger table, the game did not change much. Yes, we did hope to exploit the games mobility, however when you can effectively kill at a distance I feel it makes little difference.
It was a lot of fun playing in two vastly different periods over s short amount of time. I really am glad I will be able to play the GW period more often since Chris plans to hold more events in the future. I want to make yet another push for Great War; it is such an interesting game that does require a much different approach and mindset than a player would have for the WWII version of the game. As I showed above, not every mission uses the trenches and many players are skipping the "tank" aspect of the game.

I am also happy that Team Yankee is taking off and finding its own distinct "crowd". I feel it suffered at first because too many players compared it to FoW and that many felt the scale was off. However as folks started to play the game I think they saw how everything was "just right" with the system and realized how much fun it is.

So I am going to recommend to everyone that taking a time machine and playing similar games that cover two distinctly different periods is a fun adventure that you should not miss out on.

Twitter: @MitchWWPD
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