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AAR: Flames of War – 1500pt LW – Brit Tanks v German Infantry in Cauldron

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I met up with Matt at the North West Gaming Centre for my first game of Flames in several months. I have had a bit of a rest, enjoying Saga and a bit of WFB. I have never played Matt before but this game turned out to be a lot of fun and down to the wire.

See what you think….

Matt took a Fearless Veteran force of Fallschirmjägerkompanie (6.FR) from “Hell’s Highway”. Two HQ SMG teams , one with Panzerfaust, two short infantry platoons with Panzerfaust, an 88mm gun with extra crew, recoilless gun platoon, penal platoon, Assault gun platoon (Jagdpanzer IV), PAK40 platoon (2 gun)  and a 2 heavy gun artillery battery.

I took a selection from my 1750 point British Armoured Company (Normandy). In the end I had 17 Sherman’s (2 x HQ, 3 x 4 combat platoons and 1 x 3)  including 3 Firefly’s plus 3 Recon carrier platoons and one short Rifle platoon, Confident Trained.

Deployment:

There was a table of scenery already set up with a river (difficult going) and lots of wheat field. We rolled up the “Cauldron” mission. As defender, Matt chose to take the wheat fields for his deployment. I put two objectives down and he then put down his two infantry platoons with their Panzerfaust plus his 88mm gun and a couple of artillery pieces with their staff team. He kept back his Pak40s, recoilless guns, 4 assault guns (with Stug level abilities) and a convict platoon of Reluctant infantry in Delayed Reserve.

I put down three larger tank platoons and one Recon platoon plus the HQ.  Luckily for me all the platoons went down on the objectives side of the river (river counting as difficult and giving cover if in it)! The 1ic, Recon and two tank platoons went down pretty close to the objectives. The other tank platoon and 2iC went on the opposite table side on the base of a hill with roadway.

FoW AAR (1) FoW AAR (3) FoW AAR (4)

Turn1:

The game started with the Germans firing their artillery and 88mm gun. The artillery didn’t do much as I recall but the 88 got two hits on one tank platoon. I managed to roll two sixes for armour which just glanced! One miss and one bail – very lucky.

FoW AAR (7) FoW AAR (9)

The Brits failed to get any Reserve. One tank platoon fired on the 88mm gun and got lucky – it was killed on turn 1! First blood… I forgot to move the lone tanks and left them shoot. I think they got one infantry team in the wheat fields with semi-indirect fire.  The Recon moved up as well and sat on the roadway.

Turn2:

One of the Recon carrier patrols used ‘Eyes and Ears’ to remove gone to ground from the German platoon defending the forward objective.  The lone Brit tanks with 2iC decided to move in on the objectives. They moved forward and tried a little firing on the suddenly not-gone-to-ground platoon of german infantry. This was added to on the opposite side by the other Brit tank platoon moving in and firing, ready to Assault…

FoW AAR (11) FoW AAR (12) FoW AAR (14)

As you can see above the Assault was stopped. I had never come across Panzerfaust in any force and at Tank Assault 6  they got the best of two Brit tanks and that was the end of that. Two tanks bailed and the others were forced back. The Germans went on to take the bailed tanks later.

A Reserve of 3 British Sherman’s came on and tried to take on the Artillery. In turn they were beaten off soundly and didn’t play much part and were soon destroyed by the end of Turn 4 I recall.

FoW AAR (15) FoW AAR (17) FoW AAR (19)

Turn 3:

The Germans held tight, using their now single artillery pice as an AT gun to try to hit the tanks in the wheat fields. I seemed to recall they whiffed a bit at dealing out damage in the long-term but I think they killed off one more Brit tank.  A reserve of British Recon carriers came on near to the artillery and tried to get in and do something. The Recon in general tried to help, but with little to do they kept a wide berth of the German Panzerfaust and artillery!

The third Brit tank platoon had come onto he wheat fields by now and also took their place…

The Brits used the fact the German infantry platoon were now no longer dug in or gone to ground to really pour in the firepower. MG’s ripped through and destroyed the forward infantry platoon. This was looking good for the Brits! Somewhere in all this the German 1iC bought the farm too. Trouble is their 2iC was at the back of the field with their other infantry platoon keeping the Fearless men very Fearless!

  FoW AAR (22) FoW AAR (23) FoW AAR (25)

Turn 4-5:

The Germans now played the classic trick of pushing an infantry team out to within 4 inches of the forward objective. They did this each turn and the Brit tanks covering the objective could not take it in their turn start. The Team was then destroyed by tank MG’s. Rinse and Repeat…

FoW AAR (27)

Turn 6:

The Germans finally got a Reserve to come on and proceeded to bring their Assault Tanks on. Four “tanks” with Stug-G stats – AT 11 at the back-end of a Sherman at 32″ range wasn’t something to think about. The Brit tanks now had to try to get some threat onto the enemy guns to keep them back over their hill…

FoW AAR (29)

The result was the Germans used the hill for cover, shooting on the move then using ” Stormtroopers” and moving back behind the hill out of the threat of the turned Sherman platoon…

FoW AAR (32) FoW AAR (33)

The British decided that trying to keep pressing on the forward objective was pointless. The pressure from increasing German reserves with AT11+ and from the dug-in Fearless German infantry with their Panzerfaust was too much. The idea dawned to use the Recon Carrier MG’s to try to fire on the German infantry and get 5+ hits per turn to try to pin them ready for some kind of Assault with whatever was left. This tactic went on for four turns and resulted in some 8 carriers delivering 96 shots and not one kill (dug-in Veteran infantry!) – though they did get Pin results but nothing left to really make use of it. Stalemate!

Turn 7:

The Firefly didn’t last long…. and the German PAK40’s arrived on a hill overlooking the whole scene. The Germans also got their reserves of recoilless guns and the penal platoon. Things were tipping away from the British… fair to say the tanks were now so much scrap in the making with all that AT11/12 incoming.

FoW AAR (37)FoW AAR (38)

As time and reserves went on, the Brit tanks were destroyed or pulled back. The Brit infantry Reserve marched across from the table edge as well.

FoW AAR (35)FoW AAR (41)FoW AAR (40)

The British infantry couldn’t really add much to the fight but were spared some of the carnage of their tankies by being behind the wreckage.

Turn 9:

The German infantry were then assaulted in a desperate attempt to take the rear objective – the front having fallen back into Axis hands…

FoW AAR (43) FoW AAR (47) FoW AAR (48)

By the end of Turn 10, the Germans had destroyed or routed all the Brit tanks and several Recon carriers. The Brit infantry was reduced to a few stands.

Having already lost the 1ic and 2ic, the Brits had just lost their 5th Platoon. At the bottom of Turn 10, the game ended with a break result.

German victory, 4-3.

FoW AAR (49)

Summary.

This was a hard game. The Germans lost their 88m gun at the start and the Brit tanks took heart and went in for the assault. The excellent set-up of the German positions meant that the two objectives were self-supporting. The Brit tanks could not take and hold an objective before the German reserve arrived because the second german infantry platoon kept pushing a team a turn out.  Not being able to dig-out or assault the Panzerfaust armed Germans cost the British the game. If the Germans had been luckier in their Reserve rolls, the game would have been over more quickly. This was a three-hour guts n’ glory epic and from about Turn 5 was only going to end in a 4-3 or 3-4 result. Matt played faultlessly as far as I could see and his army and attitude made for a really fun game. Looking forward to a rematch sometime. Thanks Matt.

As for the Brits, this was the best I had really done attacking with Trained tanks. It’s a hard slog. MAybe it would have been different with a bit of artillery or no ‘fausts to contend with…?!

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