Monday, 21 April 2014

Desperate Measures Panzer Kampfgruppe vs Grey Wolf Finnish Jaakarikomppania - 1750pts Encounter

Matt and I got together for a couple of games on Easter Sunday, see here Finns vs US 2nd ID for our first game of the day. Desperate (see what I did there?!) to reclaim some honour from his 4-3 victory against me I broke out my German Panzer Kampfgruppe from Desperate Measures. Given that the last game was an 8 turn attrition fest we both wanted a quick fun game as well so a Tank Company against an Infantry Company it was. Boy, was this anything but a quick game! Some big lessons about playing Flames of War were learnt and not about the rules either. 

Here are the lists 

Matt used the same list again. It's a good list and Matt certainly plays it well. He's good at using the mortars to smoke opponents, whilst his killer SMG platoon snurgles it's way up using the terrain for cover and launches an assault. Lauri Torni allows the platoon to re-roll failed skill tests which is just lethal in assaults. The heavy artillery is good for neutralising armour or artillery and the T34s and BA10s provide some mobility whilst the ISU152 makes anyone think twice with its 1+ firepower. 

This is 1750pts. Not a lot to have to worry about moving! 

I don't think you could get much different from 2nd ID if you tried. No Veteran infantry to dig in and bounce shots. No crazy bazooka teams running around. No transforming tank destroyers and no artillery of death. However what you do get is some big cats who can sit there and bounce your AT and are mobile with it. Oh and look at those recce 8-rads, I mean who doesn't love an 8-rad? Did I mention Rudel, oh yeah! 5 platoons certainly makes deployment quick as well. 

Mission wise we decided on Encounter as the scattered reserves rule introduces a nice bit of randomness into the proceedings. We also wanted to use the game as some practice for the upcoming The Art of War tournament


The board was unchanged from our previous game and I, as the attacker, chose the board edge with the most terrain on to make Matt think carefully about his deployment. We both placed our objectives pretty much in the same 2/3rds of the table. Having only 5 platoons makes for some tough choices as to what to bring on seeing as you must nominate at least half of their platoons to be held in Delayed and Scattered Reserves. I chose to bring on my Grenadier Kampfgruppe Platoon (with a mortar as the Weapons Team to provide the ability to do some smoke) and my Heavy Panzerspah Platoon. This meant that the Panthers, Jagdpanthers and Panzerwerfers would be off the table for at least 3 turns. Oh well, at least Rudel will come on in turn 2.

Matt decided on his bog-standard Rifle Platoon, T34 Platoon, Heavy Artillery Platoon and his Anti-Tank Gun Platoon. I could see where this was going. I imagined he wanted to shut down the objectives by plonking his Infantry around them supported by Anti-Tank Guns and shut down my mobility by throwing the T34s down my throat and dictate the battle on his terms. 

Deployment over we made our recce moves. This is where Matt made the first mistake. Due to the weariness bought on by the last game which had only finished less than half an hour before he forgot to include his recce teams in his starting deployment. 

This allowed my 8-rads to have free roam. They snurgled their way up the right flank hoping to make him think about the use of his T34s. The way I saw it he had 2 choices. Ignore them and risk them over running his artillery and objective or divert the T34s to take them out. The other 8-rad patrol pulled back and to the right to give him more to think about it. A tip I picked up from the WWPD Know the Mission podcasts  was to think about recce laterally i.e. you don't always have to go forward instead you can use it to create problems for your opponent whilst not directly threatening him. 

Turn 1 

Being a Meeting Engagement I had to treat everyone as having moved. I therefore took the opportunity to dig in my infantry on the left most objective. The Company Commander in his Panther was already doing a good job in covering the other objective so I felt pretty relaxed. The 8-rads continued their infiltration up the right flank with the Pak40 wagon leading. The Company Commander looked out of his hatch and saw a possible shot at the T34s at extreme range. He thought about it and thought sod it and took hit. And got a kill! First blood to the Fatherland! The Pak-40 armed 8-rad was obviously inspried by this and decided to take a pot shot as well and got a Bail. A bit of cheeky storm-troopering by the 8-rads pulled them out of the line of fire.

Matt failed to remount his bailed T34 and decided to hide the other one behind the building facing the right flank to meet the 8-rads that were by now over the halfway line. His artillery dug in as did the infantry, damnit. Shots by the Anti-Tank Gun Platoon against the Company Commander's Panther were deflected by the finest Krupp steel. The spotter fails to range in on the Company Commander's Panther, probably nursing a hangover from some capture Russian vodka. 

Turn 2 

Time for Rudel to come on and sort out the remaining T34s. Except he's too busy munching on sauerkraut at the local kasserne to bother flying to the aid of his comrades. So no Rudel (this was going to become a theme!). As there was nothing to shoot at we just move our 8-rads closer up the right flank. 

Matt fires everything he has and hits a grand total of nothing, even against trained his super deadly Finns are unable to hit the proverbial barn door. 

Turn 3 

Having finished his sauerkraut starter Rudel has obviously moved onto the schnitzel and potato salad main course. At least that's the only explanation I can think of for him not turning up again. Gott in Himmel!

What I imagine Rudl is going while I am facing the Finnish horde

I roll 1 dice for reserves and get a 6! I decide to bring on the Panzerwerfers to give me some much needed indirect fire support. The Company Commander decides not to hang around and retreats behind the wood near the objective out of line of sight of everyone. The end of my turn and I forget to make the first of many Stormtrooper rolls. 

Matt's move.  His 155mm artillery ranges in on the Panzerwerfers and kill one. We have both learnt a lot over the past couple of months and are now assiduous about spacing our units so we don't get multiple hits from an opponents template. The T34 has remounted and joins his comrade and kills an 8-rad on the right flank between them. I shrug it off for now as it means at least they're not heading towards my objectives. 

Turn 4 

I roll for reserves and Matt all of sudden realises he didn't roll for his in his last turn! To be honest I didn't notice but it shows just how much remembering to do things matters. I roll 2 dice and get both on. That's all of my stuff now on the table. The Panther's arrive on the right flank, perfect for engaging the T34s and the Jagdpanthers arrive on the left flank. Perfect for digging out the infantry. 

Rudel is obviously washing down his meal with some schnapps as he still doesn't turn up! 

Rudl enjoying an after-dinner aperitif.  "What's ze rush ze war will wait, ja?"

Nonetheless I press on. The Panthers move into position to be ready to take on the T34s in their next turn and the 8-Rads have a go but score no hits. My turn over. Again I forget to Stormtrooper. 

Matt rolls for his reserves but gets none, unlucky. He double times his Panzerschreck teams with the Company 2i/c over to the left flank objective probably in an effort to be in a position to take on the Jagdpanthers should they decide to attack. His artillery spotter seems to be getting more sober by the minute as he ranges in successfully to kill a Panther and an 8-rad. The T34s kill another 8-rad, the last Pak40 wagon, the sole surviving 8-rad tests for platoon morale and passes. 

Turn 5 

Rudel finally decides to turn up to work! He instantly assesses the biggest threat to be the T34s and flies in to target them. The Panthers let rip at the T34s and bail one. Rudel flies in and kills the other. They test for morale and fail, they're off! Phew time to breathe easy on the right flank, or so I thought. Again I forget to Stormtrooper, what an idiot. 

Matt's Mortar Platoon comes on from reserve and digs in on the left flank behind the infantry. His artillery fires on the Panther's again but it seems the Fuehrer himself has blessed the tanks as they bounce the shells raining in on them. 

Turn 6

Rudel was feeling peckish again so he's gone back to fill up on some apple strudel, or so I assume as he yet again fails to turn up. What a brilliant investment of 175pts, not! 

The Panthers move into a position to target the artillery but fail to score any hits. A Jagdpanther digs out an infatry stand with the fire from its 88mm canon. The remaining 8-rad decides to assault the artillery battery observer but only manages to push him back. Again forget all about Stormtroopering. Honestly, you may as well not have German special rules at all when I play. 

Matt rolls for reserves and only gets his ISU152 which trundles into position. He fires a smoke bombardment and succeeds in smoking my Jagdpanthers forcing them to move on their next turn. His artillery fire at the Panthers and kill one. The other fails its morale and reverses off the table at the speed of the proverbial thousand gazelles. 

Turn 7 

Guess what? Yep, no Rudel! I decide to move my Panzerwerfer observer into a better position and he jumps into his Kubelwagen and screams across the table. The 8-rad shoots at the artillery platoon and kills a gun. The Jagdpanthers having spent a turn moving across the table kill a Pak40 gun team. End of my turn and again no Stormtroopering, what an idiot. 

Matt's BA10s arrive. The BA10s scream up to the 8-rad and bail it. The ISU152 finishes it off. The artillery ranges in on the Jagdpanthers but fail to do any damage. 

Turn 8

Rudel? Oh, he doesn't arrive. No surprise there then. 

The Panzerwerfers make the rifle platoon their priority and kills 2 teams and pin them down. The Jagdpanthers achieve a fat load of nothing apart from move out of the killing area of the artillery. 

Matt brings on Lauri Torni's SMG wielding angles of death. Lauri's platoon arrives on the left flank and is in an ideal position to threaten my objective which is only held by 2 Rifle/MG teams, and SMG team and a Mortar team. Gulp! 

The mortars smoke the Jagdpanthers again and a Pak40 bails one. The artillery range in on the Panzerwerfers again and kill another. I'm now down to just one with double crew which means I'm now re-rolling hits. Great. At the end of his turn Matt realises he didn't roll to unpin his rifle platoon. 

Turn 9 

I'm starting to think Rudel doesn't like me as he fails to turn up yet again. 

The Panzerwerfer focuses on Lauri Torni's platoon and kills a stand. The Kampfgruppe mortars join in but get no kills. At least they're pinned though. The Jagdpanthers kills the remaining Pak40 gun team. Again I forget to Stormtrooper. 

Matt moves his BA10s round the flanks of my Jagdpanthers and bails one with a sideshot. The ISU152 crashes through the woods and moves into a position to shoot next turn. Again he forgets to unpin his platoons. 

Turn 10

Again Rudel is nowhere to be seen. So much for his legendary skills! 

I fail to remount my Jagdpanther and jog the other one around the edge of the farm building to take on the BA10s. I fire at the ISU152 and bail it, hoorah! However yet again I forget to stormtrooper. 

Matt remounts his ISU152 and kills a Jagdpanther and bails another with his pesky BA10s. This time he remembers to unpin Lauri Torni's platoon and they resume their inexorable advance towards my objective. 

Turns 11 to 13

The turns begin to blur into another as Matt and I now are like 2 punchdrunk boxers swinging wildly at each other. 

 I bring on Rudel for the final time and can only really target Lauri Torni's platoon and discover he's next to useless against infantry. 

The Jagdpanthers and the ISU152 and BA10 trade blows over several turns. Matt forgets to move Lauri Torni's platoon twice costing him the opportunity to put in an assault to capture my objective. 

 The Panzerwerfer continues to snipe at the platoon along with the mortar from the Grandier Kampfgruppe platoon but to no effect. Eventually Matt destroys the Jagdpanthers and I'm 3 platoons out of 5 down. 

 I roll my company morale The day belongs to the Finns (yet again).

The Aftermath 

So much for a quick game. 13 turns later and 5-2 to Matt. I think we both learnt a lot and not just about the rules. 

The main lessons I picked up on was attention to detail when you're tired and starting to lose focus. Something I will really try to keep on top off when I go to tournaments where I'm possibly playing 5 intensive games over 2 days.

It's all too easy to forget to roll for reserves, stormtrooper moves, un-pinning tests etc when you're trying to think about the bigger battle and what your next move is going to be. Attention to detail is key I feel. 

I for one will be following the Quick Reference Sheet anally in my turns to make sure I don't forget anything. 

Some readers might think that it's harsh that we didn't remind each other but we genuinely didn't spot it ourselves a lot of the time and the times when we did it was too late as other stuff had already happened. 

It was good practice for playing against "that guy" in tournaments who will quiet happily sit back and knowingly watch you forget to perform those vital rolls.

"That Guy" - Remember if you can't spot him at the tournament then it's probably you.

List wise I really like the German Desperate Measures lists.  They give you a good mix of units and being trained means that having the big cats on is a realistic prospect.  It would be interesting to see how they perform against another Tank list.  Bizarrely I quiet enjoyed having just 5 platoons to play with as it certainly made my tuns a bit quicker.  With an Infantry army is sometimes feel like I am spending my entire life just moving individual stands around the board.

Anyhow the Art of War beckons this coming weekend. We may just have time to get in a quick practice game on the Friday morning before we set off as we both have the day off but the next major AAR you'll see will be my tournament report. 

Auf Widersehen!


  1. What a beautiful report! Love your terrain, your figures, and your write-up...great work!

  2. Rudel...pride of the Luftwaffe...phish