Tuesday 20 November 2012

Kasserine: Passed

Remember when this blog used to be about painting? Well, me too, and it's high time it went back there, however briefly. As I still have plenty of "new dad" duties, I don't get to spend as much time at the paint station as I used to, but dogged persistence has eventually paid off, and I've managed to get my Flames of War US Armored Rifle Platoon ready for the table.

The platoon arrayed in all its many-weaponed glory

This really is a pretty spectacular platoon option for the yanks in Mid War. 255 points gets you 5 half tracks, 5 stands of riflemen, a commander, a mortar, 2 machine guns, 4 bazookas and the choice of an anti-tank gun or another bazooka.

Throw enough men at the enemy and eventually they will go away!

With 14 teams on the table when dismounted, the platoon is big enough to spread out and cover a wide area of the table, or can obviously jump in the half tracks and quickly redeploy - with its own AA machine guns to protect it from marauding aircraft or infantry as it goes.

The M3 37mm anti-tank gun
With a full loadout of bazookas, the armored rifles are a fearsome prospect for enemy tanks - they can scramble all over them, fire shots into side armour, and then assault with the means to destroy tanks, or they can sit back in their foxholes, fairly safe from enemy firepower, and repel assaults from tanks as they come in.

The M3 gun has a high rate of fire and decent range, but isn't that powerful against armour, so for me it's a toss up whether to include it or swap for a bazooka at the start of the game. It would depend on whether I was planning to assault with the platoon I would think, in that case an extra bazooka would be very handy.

If the enemy gives up on the tanks and tries sending in infantry, there are two machine guns to start with, with the option to dismount the guns from the half tracks and swap the rifles for another five machine guns. 

In case any infantry get ideas, this platoon has its own machine guns

I found these fairly simple to paint, and they would have been pretty quick if I'd had a few hours to spend on them in one go. All I did really was follow the guide on the Flames of War site for the base colours, and use an ink wash. To my eyes, flames of war infantry models are a bit small to do anything else with, so I save the more in depth techniques for the armour. I quite like how the bases have come out though (flat brown followed by drybrushing english uniform and then usa tan earth), so at some point I'll go back to my Airborne and make their bases match these.

I do still need to paint the dismounted machine guns - at the moment I don't have that option as they are still in the blister pack, so I've dealt with that by cunningly arranging to fight against German armour!

And with that, I've segued nicely into a quick battle report from this weekend's game at the club.

Kieron of Cheaphammer fame is running the campaign and is also my teammate on the US side. As I went into Sunday's game against Andy, Kieron had just lost a game against Andy the week before, and so I had the opportunity to be Patton to Kieron's Fredendall...

I was using the US Armored Company I've been putting together, and Andy had his panzers. We rolled Cauldron for scenario, and since we both had tank companies rolled to see who would attack. With Andy attacking, I was left with defence. Since "at least half" of my platoons had to be in delayed reserve, I had to pick two from the 5 I had available. I chose the armored rifles, which I deployed without the half tracks, and the security section from the tank destroyer platoon, which I placed in immediate ambush.

Andy deployed some panzer IV's, but my attention was immediately drawn to the Tiger on his left flank. I knew it would be in his army somewhere, since it had given Kieron so much trouble the previous week, and so I placed the ambushing security section as close to the Tiger as I could, knowing that the scenario gave me the first time and a chance to take out the Tiger before it mauled my other tanks. This was especially important as nothing else in my army had much chance of hurting the Tiger at long range.

The "entirely suprising" trap was sprung in my first turn, and the M10's appeared and drove around the flank of the Tiger - I decided to sacrifice rate of fire for a greater chance of hurting the big cat with shots that hit. The M10's let rip, and... managed to bail the Tiger. Oh dear.

I wasn't too worried given the low rate of fire of a Tiger. Surely my M10's would be reasonably safe, until Andy brought on his reserve Panzer III's immediately next to them. His first round of shooting destroyed one of the M10's and bailed two others, leaving me with a single operational tank destroyer. I had more luck in my second turn and was able to destroy the Tiger (without which I think I might have started to get into some trouble) before the Panzers destroyed the entire tank destroyer platoon in return.

Meanwhile, back in my deployment area, the sheer number of teams in the armored rifle platoon and the short distance between the objectives I had to defend (thanks to the smaller deployment area in the Cauldron) meant I was able to use the single platoon to hold both objectives with dug in infantry, bristling with bazookas and an anti-tank gun. Since Andy needed to take the objectives he threw his tanks at them, but wasn't able to winkle them out - in the whole game they only lost a single rifle team, in an assault.

Andy got a platoon of reserves in each of his first two turns so soon had his whole army converging on my dug in infantry. Oddly, this actually helped me out as it meant that when my own reserves finally arrived they came behind Andy's tanks and he was forced to choose between engaging them and continuing his attack.

Also, having my reserves off-table for so long meant that my air support could keep hunting stray tanks while Andy had to call off his aircraft as they were too close to his attacking forces, and he had no luck at all in shooting down my planes.

All of this combined to allow me to destroy quite a lot of panzers (many of them in defensive fire as they assaulted the armored rifle platoon), including Andy's commander, and eventually forced the company to break. A 5-2 win to the Americans, giving me bragging rights the next time I see Kieron I think!


  1. I notice that you neglected to mention losing your opening game of the campaign to Kev, who'd never played Flames of War before...

    ...brag away Lloyd!

    1. Silence!

      Anyway, it's not sporting to beat people when you're showing them the game. So that's why I lost. Yeah. That.