The morning dawned bright and clear and the sun rose quickly, as it tended to in this part of the world. As the village they had taken refuge in was revealed the Tiger Tank support crews began peering through the woods that had sheltered them overnight.
Alarm was raised and battle positions were taken up almost immediately as the Germans realised to their horror they had spent the night almost cheek to jowl with a 100 point group of British Paratroopers, Sherman tanks, mortar and anti-tank support crews.
The match was soon underway.
We selected a match titled Breakthrough at Coutances with the two armies vying for power over two objectives placed by the British in the top left quarter of the board. I as the Germans took hold of the bottom left and top right quarters and placed my Tiger Tank Formation and HQ and Artillery Pieces in the former and my infantry teams and OP in the latter, all hidden by hillside terrain, forests and bocage. I kept one tiger tank unit of two teams in Ambush, hidden somewhere unspecified on the board, and one Tiger Tank Unit of three teams in reserve, to be rolled for at the start of my first and each consecutive turn.
In our chosen scenario I was defending, the British were attacking and victory would be determined if either faction held, uncontested, both objectives at the end of each turn after the sixth.
I was running 7 Tiger Tanks in 3 units, one Panzergrenadier Platoon, a 10.5 cm Artillery Battery made up of 4 guns and a Panzer III Observation Post.
Now you might be looking at my line up and thinking “not a huge variety in equipment there buddy, this looks like the 100 point setup of a simpleton”. And you would be exactly right. I have played three, maybe four games of Flames of War over the last year and never handled more than 80 points. I find when I’m manoeuvring too many different types of war machinery and infantry I lose track of their abilities, both standard and special, and end up wasting their potential. I, under the advice and tutelage of our match umpire Alex Nebesky, decided to choose as few options as possible to make sure I could remember and utilise my fighting force as effectively as I could.
Despite my lack of variety, I felt fairly comfortable settling into a match with 7 Tiger tanks up against Shermans, having been on the Sherman (and losing) side in a previous game.
As the game began my first drive was to get my infantry into the building containing objective one ASAP so I placed them as close as possible while remaining in their designated quarter. They were in a neighbouring field, separated from the two-storey building by bocage. With my automatic crossing perk and my unit leaders “Follow Me” rule I felt confident I could get them all in by the end of my first turn.
My men charged the hedgerow and ended their movement as planned within 10 cm of the building. My squad HQ cried “Follow Me” and 80% of his force promptly failed their roll and ended up split and stuck outside the cover and away from the objective.
My artillery guns were well hidden In the middle of a forest and my Panzer III OP (chosen to fill the final 1 point of my force) was placed far away in the opposite corner on a hill, hull down with a good, clear view over the terrain to my enemy’s starting position.
My Tiger teams began to manoeuvre slightly in the Forrest taking pot-shots at the enemy and staying far too static until too late in the game.
My overall plan was to take control of the objectives and claim clear lines of sight down the road that was the line delineating the four quarters of the map.
This sort of worked but my biggest flaw was, as per usual, too much caution. I and my opponent tiptoed around each other for much of the battle and while it was my game to lose for the first 5 rounds or so, I still managed to lose it.
My lack of infantry was another key in my eventual downfall as I did not have the boots on the ground power to hold the building-bound objective.
I made an impressive last stand, mowing through infantry and Fireflies alike before my units began to fail motivation tests and, scared off by the sights of their combusting comrades, excused themselves from play.
Here are some bullet points I made for each turn:
1. Set up as stated before, units in reserve and in ambush, attempt to move infantry into building (mostly fail), successfully pinned down opponent infantry, placed tanks in both my quarters. and settled in the forest with my artillery and Tiger Tank HQ.
2. My Tiger Tank Unit in the top right quadrant square up to begin fire through bocage into the church in an attempt to thin out the British troops sheltering within, range in on and assault a smaller building filled with enemy with very little success other than one kill and a pin, successfully bring in my reserve Tigers to enter the battle from the bottom left (forest) quadrant, failed a blitz move with my Tiger Tank HQ leaving it within enemy LOF unable to shoot and scoot back into cover and left other Tank stuck in the middle of a failed terrain cross half out of the forest. I also finish moving my infantry to hold the Buidling Objective.
3. Begin manoeuvre with my Top Right Tigers, leave one stranded atop bocage after failed terrain cross roll, the other moves into centre top baord to cover enemy’s movement towards objectives, use my Panzer OP to spot and range in again for another successful pin. Enemy pulls back to cover, still largely contained to bottom right quadrant where they began.
4. Bottom left Tigers move forward and kill a Three Inch Tank Destroyer, Artillery repeat barrages and kills three teams in bottom right feild, double Tiger MG assault on church fails to kill any troops inside. In my enemys turn he kills his first Tiger.
5. I use my BLQ (Bottom Left Quadrant) Tigers to kill 2 Shermans and my Artillery and Top zone Tigers to kill “a lot” of troops hidden in buildings, British 17 Pounder destroys another Tiger.
6. I reposition to take and hold secondary objective with my remaining Tanks (I still hold the Building). However I have forgotten about the British reinforcements that are due in this round and am too late and too weak to hold it. My solo tank left in the BLQ fails a morale check and flees, my Grenediers pass their morale check but remain pinned and I kill a Sherman. I kill a Sherman but have very few pieces left to do war with. The British attack Tigers with Artillery, Piat and a Firefly and artillery strikes grenadiers. With this the British destroy the last of my men holding the Building Objective and take it.
7. I assault with my remaining tanks over the Bocage, machine guns doing enough damage to force British off the secondary objective and cause them to abandon the assault.
8. I fail to kill anything, the British fails to kill anything.
9. The British take the final objective.
I learned something new as I always do and hopefully will take it into my next match. Tama great game, way to hold it down.