|Field Report: Minneapolis Part 2|
We continue our Field Report that began last week.
My second opponent ended up being Allies, again. The field was stacked, as I initially feared, with 5 players fielding Allies and 3 fielding Axis armies. I was once again matched up with an opponent who was fielding Set II units rather liberally: IS-2, T70 x 3, “Screaming Eagle” Captain, “Screaming Eagle” Paratrooper, and a PPSh-41 SMG. His force was also rounded out with some of the staple units from the Base Set: T34/76, Marines M2-2 Flamethrower, Bazooka, and a Jeep. The second battle map was Hedgerow Hell. This is one of the maps that my force was specifically designed to handle.
Since the map is perfectly symmetrical, starting set-up had the single advantage of being able to see where you opponent set up before placing your units. My opponent split his force in half, placing the PPSH-41, Jeep, Bazooka, and a T34/76 on the northernmost objective hex. The T70 swarm and the IS-2, flanked by the M2-2 Flamethrower were positioned dead center to take on the center objective hex.
I stacked everything save for the two Jeeps and the “Red Devil” Captain and Fanatical Sniper dead center of the map to negotiate for control of the center objective hex. The others held the southernmost objective hex.
A tremendous battle ensued over the center objective. I had one sole tactical moment of genius. I sent a Crusader II around the southern road to the full rear of his formation, parking it in the trees at the edge of the eastern side of the map. Since I had moved first, he pulled his IS-2 and all the T70’s back in an attempt to crush, once and for all, that Crusader II. He had lined up shots from all angles in preparation to unload on that Crusader. Instead of firing, I moved, two tree hexes to the south, effectively eliminating all his lines of fire. With the center being freed of opposing Tanks, I was able to flank to the north my T34/76 and a Crusader II with the Vickers MG Team in tow to pressure his forces on the northernmost objective hex. All I needed was to win initiative on the next turn and victory was sealed.
Unfortunately, my opponent spent a great deal of time deliberating his assault phase to the point that time was about to expire. In all fairness, he was a relatively new player, had been learning quite a lot about the game, and had only been playing the game for about three weeks. Of all the players there, he was most certainly the most improved. Knowing that I probably wasn’t going to get another turn to try to win the initiative, and the game, I simply conceded and pointed out to my opponent that which he needed to do to finish out his assault phase in order to provide him with a victory, and more importantly, the explanation as to why: Move the IS-2 onto the center objective hex, shift a couple of infantry, and then stall out the clock moving T70s. Victory was his.
Given at least one more turn, I probably could have easily taken the northernmost objective hex by force, or worst case, at least placed it into point contention in my favor. The KV-1s might have had a chance to take out the IS-2 at point blank range, giving a Soldier the opportunity to claim the center objective hex. But all in all, I couldn’t have lost to a better guy, and it gave him his very first “official” tournament win. I learned a few more things about my choice of units, and the tactics that I was employing, and a good time was had by all.
Finally I drew an Axis opponent. My opponent fielded: King Tiger, Panzer II Ausf. F, Panzer III x 2, SS-Panzergrenadier, SNLF Paratrooper x 4, Wehrmacht Expert Sniper x 2, Imperial Sniper, MG42 Machine Gun Team, SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer, and a Pak 40 Antitank Gun. The final battlefield map was Le Mans, so named because of its interesting “road loop” that kind of resembles a road race track. Le Mans is another symmetrical map with the center objective hex offset to one side (East).
My opponent won the setup roll and deployed on the East side (closest to the center objective hex). I deployed in my normal fashion with the KV-1s to the southernmost objective hex, the balance to the center objective hex, and used Vanguard to advance the Cromwell and the Crusader IIs up the center to surround the center objective, unfortunately failing the forest entry roll to get the Cromwell adjacent to the Objective hex and the Crusaders.
To make a long and rather painful story short, I now know and fully understand what they mean by “caught a Tiger by it’s tail”. The Tiger made short work of the Crusaders and after failing yet another forest entry roll the Cromwell was soon to follow with some additional supporting shots from the Panzer III’s. To add insult to injury I ended up losing a KV-1 at the hands of a disrupted and damaged Panzer II "Flamingo" with a triple-six roll, which I promptly disposed of out of spite. I once again completely and totally misdeployed my Paratroopers in a last desperate attempt to take the center Objective hex away from the King Tiger. Needless to say, not the most brilliant decision in my battle history.
The only thing that could have made this battle go worse for me would have been the presence of a Nashorn sitting on the top of one of the Charlie-2 hills, plugging away. This battle was a complete and total disaster on my part, and an overwhelmingly flawless victory on my opponent’s part. All things taken into consideration, a very nicely played battle indeed…just not on my part.
After Action Review:
After all was said and done, I learned a handful of very important things about the units that I chose for this tournament. Additionally, I made sure that I was watching not only what worked well and what worked less than optimally in my force, but my opponent’s forces as well. In hindsight:
- I need to learn how to more effectively use my Paratroopers. In all three games I either waited too long to deploy them to the battlefield, or I placed them in a location that was not strategically advantageous to seizing objective hexes. I’ll have to spend some time looking at these units more closely.
- Other than the first game, where my Fanatical Sniper had an opportunity to take some long-ranged shots at a couple Soldiers (rolling no more than two successes in all cases), it was, for all practical purposes a wasted 8 points. The fact that I took the “Red Devil” Captain to specifically shadow him and support the Sniper with his Pinpoint Special Ability, really meant that I had wasted 15 points. 15 points that could have been much better utilized in other forms.
- The two Crusader II’s were fun, but the reality is that against other tanks, they don’t stack up point for point after you have used their Vanguard ability. I would have been better off combining them into another Cromwell IV, or with the additional points saved by ridding the force of the Fanatical Sniper and “Red Devil” Captain open up the possibility to add some more punch to the force: M3 Lee, Churchill Crocodile, Guards T34/85, etc.
- The Vanguard special ability really didn’t do a whole lot for me strategically in these games. It is worth debating the value of the Cromwell IV in comparison to other medium Tanks to see if there may not be a better fit for this force.
- Although overall my die rolls were absolutely abysmal, I shouldn’t count on anything more than statistical average die rolls. There were a couple of times that I was throwing forces at units in the hope of achieving 75% or better successes. That’s just not realistic. Bravery is not a substitute for intelligent decisions and a sound battle plan. Ah well, live and learn.
With lots of information to mull around in my head and an enjoyable evening of war-gaming, I can honestly say I am very much looking forward to the 2006 Tournament season. Hopefully, I will have taken something away from this AAR that I can apply to my future games that will provide me with a record better than 1 for 3. But hey, batting .333 consistently will get me in the Hall of Fame right?