Monday, June 24, 2013

Flames of War French Army Project - Update

 Last summer I wrote a series of posts about my plans for doing an early war French army for Flames of War.  In that series I took a very methodical approach to selecting the period, nationality and the army for the project.  I ended the series with a detailed army list with the pack numbers and prices.  I had a solid plan but I knew it was going to be tough for me to stick to it.  See the links below if you would like to read these posts.

 With all the details worked out I set off on the path of building this army.  I knew that the need for large numbers of trucks was going to pose a major issue but I was sure I could get it done.

For the next few weeks I collected items that I needed and slowly began the assembly of the new army.  Then came the first of the year and my new interest in US mid-war tanks forces.  Without any plan I just started collecting and painting Sherman tanks and M10 tank destroyers.  Before I knew what happened the French army idea was put on the shelf.

It is not as if I no longer had an interest in an early war French army, I just had so much going on with the new American project and our Tunisian campaign to really put any time in.  Recently, however, I have been able to make a couple of major acquisitions for the French collection.  In addition, I have come to the realization that my original plan was overly ambitious and doomed to failure.  My idea was to actually plan an army first and the collect the models and, as I pointed out in my article series, this is very different from how I normally do things.

My normal approach to building armies is much more free form and driven as much by the deal I can get right now as it is by what I actually need.  This self-imposed restriction made it hard for me to justify picking up something that might be a good deal but did not fit with my plan.  I must admit that this made me crazy and helped drive me away from the project.  In fact, this is why (as much as anything) I started working on the US stuff.  I could just go where inpiration took me which is way more comfortable for me.

So, long story short, I now have a French Tank squadron army box and the French infantry company box and will be starting the project from scratch.  I still have plans to do the Escadron de Fusiliers Portes but it will be an evolutionary effort rather than the main focus.  With these two boxes, as well as the items I had already collected, I can almost do the original army anyway (but I still need a butt-load of trucks).  So the new plan is to start with the Escadron de Combat and then add in additional elements that can be used in both forces.  I have also redone my list for the Fusiliers to leverage the tank items that I now have in the collection.

The good news is that this project is back on track and I am now inspired to work on it.  In fact, I have already assembled all the tanks and will be putting together a unit of artillery next.  Then the paint begins.  I would love to have something playable and on the table by the time my original idea is a year old.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

First Battle of El Guettar

Tim and I got in another of our El Guettar games about a week and a half ago.  This would be the first battle of El Guettar and the Americans were hoping it would be the only battle.  The Germans took a Panzer Company with a mix of PzII, PzIII and PzIV tanks.  Tim also brought an 88.  I was really expecting a Tiger this time...

The Americans had an Infantry Company with 105's, Shermans and M10's in support.  The US also have P-40 air support.  The scenario was Fighting Withdrawal with the US defending.  This was an extremely tough battle.

The battlefield....

US deployment...

The German deployment...

Kampfgruppe platoon advances...

...and is promptly bombed!

German tanks enter the Village of Doom....

The second airstrike knocks out the 88.

Panzers attack the hill.
Panzers move up the hill and past the Americans on the peak.  The objective is within reach!

PzII confronted with well dug in infantry.  This is going to be tough.

PzII platoon cautiously advance on the US infantry, trying to thin out the Bazookas before the attack.

M10 finish off the kampfgruppe platoon.

PzII continue the flank attack against the US Infantry platoon.

Sherman platoon springs their ambush but then forget to move into position.

The Panzer Company Commander is knocked out and too far away to jump to a new tank.

The Sherman platoon finally gets moving but failed to knock any of the German tanks.  Payback is going to be a bitch...
American infantry assault the PzII platoon.

And it was.. The Sherman platoon is destroyed but the M10 platoon quickly moves to fill the gap.

Panzer attempt to assault into the rough ground at the peak but have two tanks knocked out by the Bazooka teams. 

The Bazookas finish off one Panzer platoon while the M10s punish the other.  The Germans are at break point and with no HQ are forced to withdraw.
Finally, after only 5 turns the Germans could take no more and broke.  This was a brutal fight and the Americans pulled out a 4-3 victory.  In the final analysis if Tim had concentrated his full armor force on the center objective I think he could have pulled out a big win.

Friday, June 14, 2013

City Ruins Find a New Home

 After several years of sitting on a shelf in my garage my large city ruins collection has found a new home.  These ruins were built over the span of about 10 years by me and my friends Tim and Neil.  Neil actually built the first pieces many years ago and after much wheeling and dealing, and several owners, I acquired them.  Tim and I then set out to do an entire table with these style buildings.  We kind of went overboard and a couple years ago I threw away a bunch of unfinished pieces.

These are all made of wood and are very sturdy.  At the time my friends and I were playing lots of 40K and this stuff was made to be generic sci-fi ruins.  I have used these for 28mm WW2 and they was cool.  I also used these the one and only time I played Inquisitor in 28mm.

Anyway, these now belong to my local shop, Imperial Outpost Games.  Like most shops the need for lots of terrain for event and open gaming is never ending so they jumped at the chance to add these to the shop collection.  Below are a few pictures of the building, most for my own reference.  I never properly documented this stuff.

Here are a few battle reports that I have done over the years that feature these buildings.  If you have been following for a while you might remember these.

The nice thing is that if I want to use these for a game I know right where they are.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

El Guettar Turns 7 and 8

After a few weeks break from Flames of War and our El Guettar campaign Tim and I got in a couple of games over the weekend.

Game seven of the campaign was a Hasty Attack with the Germans attacking and the American defending.  Tim took his Panzer Company with mostly PZIIIL and a platoon of PZII.  His command were in PZIVF2. Tim also had ari support. I took my US Tank Company with Shermans, M10s and two batteries of armored artillery.

Hasty Attack has the attacker placing two objective markers on the defender's side of the table and the defender place on objective marker on their own side.  The defender then places one objective marker on the attacker's side of the table.  Once the defender has deployed the attacker removes one of their objective markers.  This keep the defender from just piling stuff on the objectives and allow the attack the chance to wrong-foot the defender.  Tim removed the objective marker on my extreme right.

Tim's plan was simple and sound.  He would attack the US right with his strongest platoon and bring in the kampfgruppe platoon from his center in support.  My right was held with an M7 battery and the CO and 2IC in Shermans.  While he attacked the right flank the US left flank, the M10 platoon, took a chance and swung around a village with the hope of taking the German objective.  As usual, this game would come down to reserves.

Tim got his reserves on early and slammed head first into the M10 security section.  In support he also had his PZII's.  Meanwhile, the Germans shot and bombed their way through the M7 battery and knocked out the 2IC.  They were getting very close to the objective and there were no US reserves in site.  The M10 platoon destroyed the PZIII platoon and shot up the PZII platoon.  Then, strangely, the PZII platoon (now down to 2 tanks) made a mad dash down a railroad line for the US objective.  This left the German objective uncovered.  The US commander made a dash for the PZII and destroyed the reamining tanks only to be knocked out by Tim's flank attack.  Meanwhile the M10 platoon moved to capture the German objective.  US victory 5-2.  Afterwards we decided that Tim would have won easily if he had left the objective marker on the US right and taken the one from the center.

Game 8 was Dust Up.  I really love this scenario but I haven't played it in a long time.  We each played the same forces as in game 7.

This game is really about reserves and proper force management.  You have to pick the right forces for your reserve force and for your defensive forces.  In this game I failed in this task miserably.  I started the game with the same initial forces as the last game - M10 and M7 with the company command and 2IC.  The M7 platoon was deployed and tasked with defending the objectives but I failed to actually secure the objectives.  The M10 platoon was tasked with moving into the center of the German table edge and acting as the right pincer and the reserves would be the left pincer.

Tim deployed his large PZIII platoon to cover the objectives and had a small panzer platoon to attack early with.  Tim moved towards the center of the table with his attacking force but got bogged down on a date grove.  From here he gave and received harassing fire but was in  no position to influence the battle.  The M!0 security section made it across the table but lost a couple of jeeps to enemy fire.  The rest dismounted and took cover in some rocky ground.  The Germans used their air superiority to try and smash the M7 but repeatedly suffered losses from "Ma Duce".

The key to the battle was the arrival of the reserves.  The Germans go their early and made good use of them.  The American reserves were tardy but worse the M10 attack was one turn late.  Tim took a pounding defending his objectives but is attacking force made short work of the M7 platoon.  Germans win 6-1.  Reserves, reserves, reserves.  How many of these games have come down to this?

The US performance was good enough for them to keep the time table of the offensive and capture of Gafsa.  Now the fight for El Guettar is on.  The current scoring is as follows:

Victory Points
US - 30
Germans - 26

US - 118
Germans - 71

Vehicles lost
US - 49
Germans - 36

Guns lost
US - 2
Germans - 6

It sure was nice to get this game back on the table.  It is always a good time.