All of my opponents were great fun to play against, plus they were jolly helpful in terms of the rules, explaining what they were doing and why, plus offering me suggestions and options as to how I might use my forces - all good when you're very new to a set of rules. It may have been a tournament but the approach to the games was just friendly competition.
Day One featured three 500pt games and each game used the Maximum Attrition scenario and was limited to 90 minutes. Day Two was two 1,000pt games and the scenarios would be announced just before the start. Anyway, on to the games themselves.
Day One... Game 1: Gary Rich - Germans
A good way to start - with an enemy force I know something about.
This turned out to be a fairly cautious affair with both of us being quite cagey about committing to the attack. Another factor was me still being a bit vague about the rules, but Gary kept things moving nicely.
My Recce Jeep took a pin, then when I tried to activate it they FUBAR-ed and started blazing away at a nearby Para section in the wood - thankfully only one friendly fire casualty was inflicted however it meant at that early point in the game I had killed more of my own men than the enemy!?! The Jeep went on to partly redeem itself by taking out a small enemy squad.
The game ended as a draw, just 3 VPs each. However, it was a good 'warm up' for the tournament.
Game 2: Ian Crosswaite - Japanese
I don't think the Paras ever fought the Japs in WW2 (I may be wrong?) and certainly not in a French village! But we won't let that get in the way of a good game.
Ian's force consisted of two officers, two large inexperienced squads and two tanks! As they were lighter tanks my light mortar stood a tiny chance of damaging them - but nothing else in my force could get them.
With both tanks on one flank I tried to focus my efforts on destroying the two squads and the officers. I bagged one of the squads and both the officers but those tanks (being light and thus quite manoeuvrable) were able to hunt down a number of my chaps. So a win for Ian's men.
Game 3: Andrew Banks - Japanese
Yet more dangerous eastern types (in Normandy again!) and led by the reigning champ too!
This proved to be an hilarious game. Both Andy and I wasted no time in getting to grips with each other. The focus of the fighting was in and around the farm complex.
The Recce jeep drew a huge amount of fire throughout the game as it raced around letting rip with its twin Vickers. At one point I rushed a section of Paras around the left side of the farmhouse confident that the Japs inside wouldn't be able to see them ... but what I hadn't realised is that the model has a small window next to the extension (couldn't see it from my side of the table!) thus allowing them to spot the bold Paras... so the fanatical warriors poured out of the building and cut my chaps to ribbons.
Aside from that fluff-up, I felt more confident with the rules and my army and to be honest I think I played a bit better in this game. That was reflected in the scores too, still a win for Andy but I definitely played better.
That brought day one to a close. The evening was spent at Charlie Foxtrot HQ with a bunch of good friends merrily drinking beer and talking rubbish about wargaming, history and a variety of other topics that I'm definitely *not* going to blog about! ;o)
Day Two... Game 4: Steve Jones - Hungarians
Another force I know relatively little about, however they were partly equipped by Germany so a number of the items across the table were familiar. The Scenario was Demolition, so my plan was to use the Recce jeep on a wide flanking move to appear on turn 4, use the twin Vickers to suppress any enemy troops around the objective then race up and destroy it ... what I didn't know (until turn 4) was that wheeled vehicles (even jeeps) cannot enter rough terrain ... Ooops!
An Eastern Front themed table this time. Paras on the left in the pic.
This game had a number of dramatic/cinematic moments - such as my Paras surviving a close range blast of LMG and then assaulting the light tank with just their bare hands, and managing to set it ablaze. There was also the vicious fighting in and around the buildings in the centre of the table. On my left flank the Para sections flushed out the snipers and AT rifle and hunted them down.
Another great moment was when the other Jeep roared on to the table carrying the PIAT team. They survived a hail of bullets and raced forward again allowing the PIAT team to disembark and take a shot at the assault gun that had been pounding my lines. I called out the obligatory "Boing!" but clearly I didn't get the incantation quite right and rolled just one pip less than I need to punch through the armour.
The Paras on my left flank raced towards the Hungarian objective with grenades at the ready, but they would have needed an extra turn to be able to reach it. This was a close game right up until the last turn when Steve's flanking force destroyed my objective and bagged a couple of small units to win by just 2 VPs. Again I felt I played better - apart from the fluff up with the terrain rules!?
Game 5: Jason Gorringe - Finns
Game two of day two and I must admit to feeling a little 'gamed out' at this point. This game saw the very odd match up of my Normandy/Market Garden Paras fighting Jason's winter themed Finns on a jungle table?!?
This time it was Point Defence and Jason took on the role of defender. My preliminary bombardment took out two observer teams and put a heap of pins on some of his units, so a good start! But I got a bit distracted and my attacks were poorly co-ordinated so it quickly started going wrong.
The Finnish tank proved to be a nightmare and was quickly nick-named the death star as it's turret mounted howitzer blew whole sections to smithereens. The Jeep/PIAT combo trick had much the same result as the previous game. I clawed back a few vital VPs towards the end of the game but it was too little too late and the game ended as a win for the Finns.
The results: I don't have a full listing of everyone's results yet but I didn't win any trophies and I didn't get the wooden spoon - so I'll settle for mid table somewhere. Not bad for a 'noob' ;o)
Hopefully I'll be back next year, perhaps with a new army - I quite fancy US Paras. Anyway, a Big Thank You to Big Ron for organising the tournament which went very smoothly indeed.
Finally, my own observations on my army and tactics...
- Lack of any armour, indeed it was probably the only force with no armour. However the jeeps definitely caused tactical problems for my opponents being so mobile and packing quite a punch versus infantry.
- Limited Anti-tank capability, i.e. only a PIAT team in the larger force (the 500pt list effectively had none).
- Doing the right things but in the wrong order - not taking in to account enemy activations. Sometimes it's better to delay a 'good idea' until you see what the enemy are doing. If they've already been activated that turn then they can't go down on you.
- Being somewhat 'reckless' and 'gung ho' when attacking, perhaps a little too bold at times! That also applies to co-ordinating attacks by several units.
- Having a lot of small units or teams made it easier for my opponents to score VPs by wiping them out.
- Forgetting key special rules - e.g. Rushing my Recce Jeep towards an enemy artillery piece only to be reminded that it has a gun shield so all those shots will need 6's to wound instead of 4's. Another example would be forgetting to use the medic to patch up chaps wounded by enemy shooting.
- The force was perhaps a bit too all-round and too historical for its own good. When you're playing in a tournament you have to balance historical accuracy with practicality, particularly as you'll probably be fighting at least some a-historical match ups.
- A lack of knowledge of the rules and especially the opposing forces - but that will be fixed with practice.