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Friday, June 9, 2017

FOW: EW V4 Indian vs French (Vichy)

Over the past few weekends, Raymond and I were able to work in a few games of Early War to try out the Version 4 Flame of War rules. We set up the latest battle one Sunday afternoon at the Brookhurst Club in Garden Grove California.

I found the depth the the EW lists refreshing after the past several weeks running demo and introductory games with the new and extremely limiting Desert Rats/Afrika Korps V4 books. Plus, it was fun to dust off the 2 pounder Portees and let Raymond get his Axis French forces out of storage for a bit.

We created lists of 1,500 points each. Raymond used the Burning Empires book, and I went to Hellfire and Back for my British Commonwealth Indian lists. I had to proxy my generic British Infantry stands for the Indians troops I don't have painted yet.

Unfortunately, I managed to forget to bring my dice tin. I got lucky, however, and scored a deal. Raymond had brought along an old Desert Rats dice tin with dice and markers, hoping to sell it to me. How could I say no to that offer?

I decided they'd be my new LUCKY Desert Rat dice for the game, even if I was running a Commonwealth (Indian) force this game.

We agreed that the desert ground would be cross country with gentle hills (no cross check) at one end, and some rocky hills (cross check) at the other end. The oasis would all be short terrain providing concealment, and requiring a cross check for vehicles. The various mossy bits were freestanding scrub (short terrain).

We rolled for a mission and got CounterAttack. My Indian force won the roll to be the attacker. Raymond selected his table quarter, with lots of hills to give his artillery and AT guns elevation.

Deployment: Commonwealth (Indian) to the bottom. Vichy French to top. The Arty in the upper left is waiting to be deployed on the empty hill in the top center.

I decided to do the same and took the quarter across the short end from his deployment area. Unfortunately, this put the 2nd objective in a wide open area that he could easily line up anti-tank and artillery to cover.

First Turn
In deployment,  I had used my universal carriers to extend my deployment zone with a bubble into my left flank. This allowed me to extend the range of my Portees and Valentines. Both of those platoons Cross Country Dashed the first turn. Neither was able to get into cover, and ended up being too close to each other.

My A-unit of Infantry also dashed, attempting to get close to cover. I assumed they'd have to suck up one round of artillery. My goal was to set them in the scrub/oasis close to the 2nd objective, while my Bofors and Mortars whittled away his AT and Artillery.

The Vichy 75mm AT guns quickly became a target for the Bofors and Mortars.

In the shooting phase, the Indian Bofors opened up on the French 75mm Anti-Tank guns on the front hill. No luck from the Lucky Desert Rat dice... yet. The mortars launched a barrage and pinned the infantry, but failed to even hit the AT guns. Finally, the HMG platoon used their bombardment volley to finally pin the 75mm AT guns.

The Vichy did not get their reserves on Turn 1. The infantry platoon on the table failed to unpin, so they continued to keep their heads down. The AT guns did unpin, and opened fire on the Bofors. Not enough hits accumulated to pin the Indian AA guns. Their bulletproof cover kept the damage to a few scrapes, and the lads were all right back at their guns with no casualties.

The 75mm Artillery dropped a barrage on the combined infantry platoon and HQ unit that were dashing toward the open objective. Nine stands were caught under the template, but only one casualty was reported.

The 105mm Artillery caught the Valentines and Portees. One destroyed Val, and two bailed Portees was the extent of the damage. (Note: Bog marker was used to denote Dashing)

The 105 Artillery battery dropped a barrage on the Valentines and Portees. Two Portees were bailed out, and one Valentine caught an unlucky hit and began burning.

Turn 2
Both of the Portees managed to remount. The infantry and HQ units both unpinned. The Portees made a dash to the rocky hill near the objective to target the Vichy reserves that would arrive next turn. Two of the portees attempted Cross checks to climb into a hull-down position, but failed and stayed behind the hill.

The Valentine moved toward the objective as well, but stayed far enough away from the Portees so that a single artillery barrage wouldn't catch both units again.

The infantry moved toward the 75mm Artillery, in hopes of setting up for an assault in the following turn.

Those pesky 75mm AT guns were soon to flee the field.

The Bofors were able to get some of their shots on target and knock out one of the 75mm AT guns. The mortars ranged in on the same two units, and pinned both the infantry platoon and the surviving 75mm AT gun.

No french reserves arrived. The 75mm AT gun failed its Last Stand test and fled the battle after they failed to unpin. All other Vichy units succeeded in unpinning.

The Parapluie de Artillerie (an un-used objective) was used by Raymond to designate which of the 105 gun stands was the leader. Despite it having no significance in the game (it didn't count as a stand), the Indian AA guns would eventually get around to firing at it.

The 105 battery failed to range in on the Valentines. The 75mm Artillery, firing at the infantry, did range in on their first attempt. They managed to kill two stands of infantry, and pinned the HQ and the Infantry unit advancing on their positions.

Turn 3
The Indian infantry unpinned, but couldn't find their shovels to dig in. I had decided to turn them around and prepare for at least one of the French reserves that was sure to show up this turn. The HQ unit had the same luck, and the ground troops were left in the open hugging the dirt. Dispite this set back, I was sure the Lucky Desert Rat dice were saving their luck for when I needed it most.

The Universal Carriers begin moving around the hill, utilizing its cover to set up for a run on the infantry supporting the 105mm artillery.

The universal carriers continued their move toward the right flank. With the 75mm AT guns out of the game, they could begin an advance on the infantry and keep that unit from advancing toward the other objective.

The lone Vichy infantry on the hill -- abandoned by the 75mm AT guns -- continues keeping their heads down as the Bofors and Mortars unload on the artillery behind them.

I really wanted to dismount my 2-pounders from the portees and park them in the scrub near the open objective. But a quick check of the rules showed that Portee or Not is now an either/or choice at the beginning of the game. I was stuck with them on the trucks. In the process of looking up the rules, I forgot to move them into a better firing position to take on the Vichy reserves. They stayed behind the hill. I couldn't blame my Lucky Desert Rats dice for deserting me on that one. I have to move to where I have targets in order to roll the Lucky Desert Rats dice.

The Bofors proved their worth again by destroying one of the 105mm Artillery guns. The Valentines fired at the 75mm Artillery and missed everything. The HMGs were able to pin the 75mm arty again.

The Vichy managed to roll two 5s for reserves. A unit of Renault R-35s, and unit of Tirailleurs moved onto the field. Both Artillery units unpinned.

The R-35s moved to threaten the HMGs and the Infantry. They fired on the infantry in the open and achieved five hits to pin the infantry, but only killed one stand.

The Tirailleurs moved to the other side of the rocky hill opposite of the Portees. No shots were exchanged.

The 75mm Artillery opened up at long range on the Valentines with their Quick Fire ability. Six hits were scored, but the thick armor bounced all of them. The 105 battery again fired on the infantry. No stands were lost, but the HQ unit became pinned as well as the infantry.

Turn 4
This became the make or break round, and I decided to go on the offensive, and count on the Lucky Desert Rats Dice to do their thing.

My roving infantry couldn't unpin, but did find their shovels and dug in.  The HQ unit with them did unpin, but couldn't find shovels and stayed gone to ground. I'm not sure if that was half-lucky, or half-unlucky.

I got brave with my portees. I knew I'd either be facing an assault from the Tirailleurs and direct fire from the 75mm Quickfire guns, or the same Tirailleurs and whichever French unit came on from reserves, depending on which way I moved them. I decided to go after the R-35s harassing my infantry. The Lucky Desert Rats dice would surely come through for me this turn.

The 2-pounders on the portees managed to destroy one of the R-35s and bailed another. That was decent shooting. I was starting to believe my Lucky Desert Rats dice might pull this one out for me.

Only one R-35 survived the initial volley from the 2-pounder Portees.

The Valentines fired at the 75mm guns and missed.  The carriers moved within range of two infantry stands, and hit twice, but couldn't dig them out of the foxholes. Perhaps the Lucky Desert Rats dice were saving their luck for the upcoming French assault when I'd need it most?

The Bofors had the best success, scoring eight total hits on two of the guns, killing both 105 guns that were in range. The Lucky Desert Rat dice showed what they could do!

The mortars had difficulty getting their rounds ranged in. The HMGs kept up their bombardment and pinned the 75mm guns yet again. Those non-damaging HMG bombardments were forcing him to unpin each turn. Unfortunately, that happened too often with that battery.

My Lucky Red Desert Rats dice came through for me and decimated Raymond's 105 battery.

Only one of the French reserve units arrived this turn. The 75mm guns didn't unpin. The bailed R-35 didn't remount either. However, the commander of the R-35s made his last stand and moved into assault range of the HMGs.

The single 105 gun made it's last stand test as well, and managed to kill another infantry stand on a repeat bombardment, despite being a single gun.

The 75mm guns couldn't bombard, due to being pinned, but they could direct fire. I had moved the Valentines out from under the template, but not out of their long range direct fire. The 75s managed to bail one of the Valentines.

The Valentines took hits from the 75mm guns on the hill, but only one tank was bailed out.

The single R-35 shot at the HMG platoon and scored a hit, but the HMG saved it.

The Tirailleurs moved to assault range of the Portees. They waited on the new unit of R-35s to fire on the trucks. One Portee failed its saved.

The Portees face the wrath of the Vichy. I gambled on my Lucky Red Desert Rats dice coming through for me this turn.

The single R-35 assaulted an HMG position, failed to score a hit. The HMG counter assaulted, hit, but didn't destroy the Renault. The tank crew failed their motivation to counter-attack and broke off.

The Tirailleurs closed on the Portees. Defensive fire went out, but only three hits were scored, killing one French stand. The assault succeeded in wiping out the portees on their first go.

Unfortunately, my new "Lucky" Desert Rat dice seem to have deserted the Portees.

Turn 5 - Revenge of the Lucky Dice

We looked at the table and decided that continuing the game came down to one unit. I needed to keep my Valentines operational to stay in the game.

To remount the bailed out Valentine, I rolled a two.

The "Lucky" Desert Rat dice failed me again.

This forced a unit last stand test. The Lucky Desert Rat dice -- that I had just purchased from Raymond --  bounced, and landed with another 2 showing. The Valentines failed their last stand and retreated. I conceded the game, since Raymond still had two units of Tirailleurs to bring on, and could dig in on both objectives and make it near impossible for me to drive his forces off of them.

Or, perhaps my new Lucky Desert Rat dice were just confused about which owner they were supposed to be lucky for; the new owner, or the old owner.

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.

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