Friday, September 19, 2014

One More Sho't - Fate Of A Nation AAR

Oy vey...not again...
Following last week's unlikely Egyptian triumph, we decided a part two was in order to see if the IDF forces could get their revenge.  So we played "Fate Of A Nation" again this week.  I used the "Hold The Line" mission from the Flames of War rule book, with the idea being that a second IDF column was arriving to deal with the breakthrough the Egyptians achieved last week in our imagined encounter near the entrance to the Mitla Pass in the Sinai Peninsula.

IDF Company - Sho't as company commander, a platoon of 3 Sho'ts, a platoon of 4 M51 Shermans, a mech. infantry platoon and priority air support from Dassault Ouragans

UAR Tank Battalion - T-55 as battalion commander, one company of 9 T-55s, one company of 8 T-55s, one company of 6 IS-3Ms, one mechanized infantry company (with two platoons plus RPDs and B-10s) and a pair of ZSU-57-2s
Jim played the UN force (pictured above)
Two 1685-point forces were set up (very odd, but the point totals matched out exactly that way *shrug*).  Some slight adjustments to the forces this time compared to last week - even more T-55s for the Egyptians, but no SU-100s (Dallas was out of town) while, inspired from a request by Fawcett Avenue Conscript alumnus Sean M (Hi Sean!!) I added some Centurion Sho'ts into the IDF force.

Initial deployment - line of UAR T-55s supporting UAR mechanized infantry to the left, IDF advancing from the right
The Egyptians wait for the IDF attack to begin
The Sho't was a fabulous MBT, particularly in 1967, and they are expensive points-wise in "Fate Of A Nation", so that is why the Egyptians had/needed even more T-55s than last week - just to keep things balanced.

M51 Shermans - I love these models, I think I want to paint 10 more, just because

Now THAT is how it's supposed to go! IDF gunnery starts to burn out the first T-55 company
Byron and Mike F. played the Egyptians, while Graeme (I am so sorry, sure I am not spelling that correctly) and I took the IDF side.  Graeme had a tough outing last week with his M51 Sherman platoon getting shot to pieces - he anticipated much more fun with a platoon of Sho't tanks at his disposal.  Jim also came out, but mimicking the UN role in the 1967 conflict, he simply observed for a couple of turns before he had to leave.

Sho'ts moving out into battle
The table was 6' x 4', with both forces using opposing deployment areas tied to the short table edges. Two objectives were placed in the Egyptian zone (the defenders).  The Egyptians were required to put half of their units into delayed reserve.  Byron and Mike opted to put the mechanized infantry company on to the table, as they could start the game dug-in.  They back the grunts with a company of T-55s and the battery of ZSU-57-2s.

Uh oh...T-55s knock out a Sho't
The IDF had six turns to get one of the objectives, or just break the Egyptian battalion.  I had high hopes with the Centurions in the game, and indeed we blew away a large number of Egyptian tanks, but the IDF would be defeated again!

That !#$!#$ing T-55 company took three turns to die...here are some lucky ones crowded around the hill
On the IDF side we made a cautious advance, knocking out a healthy number of T-55s while moving toward the Egyptian infantry.  Unfortunately we had terrible luck with our air support.  Even with "priority" air support, we often failed the roll to have the aircraft arrive, and when they did, they were usually driven off or reduced by the Egyptian AAA tanks.

M51s back off in the face of losses from T-55s...the M51 front armour cannot stop the T-55's 100mm shells
Mike and Byron watched their T-55s burn with some alarm, but they made the motivation checks when they needed to, and so we couldn't get a turn of exclusively concentrating all of our fire on the infantry - as we finally finished off the first T-55 company, the second one arrived, and once we torched them the IS-2s arrived...and so on and so on. The game would eventually turn on this.

Finally! The first T-55 company is wiped out! Things should roll from here, right? But look at all of that infantry...
Mike and Byron also scored a few hits, taking out two Shermans (yikes!) and a Sho't (oh no!) as we approached.

IDF mechanized infantry roll out
With the arrival of the 6th turn, Graeme and I had to go all-in, so we sent in the infantry and charged with the remaining tanks we had.

B-10 recoilless rifle team blasts away at the approaching IDF tanks
The close assault was punishing on the Egyptians - they got mauled.  But they also passed the motivation checks they needed in order to stay in the fight, meaning they held the objectives, meaning they won! We had torched two companies of T-55s and really chewed up the infantry, but still didn't get the job done.  Congrats to Mike and Byron. That's two in a row for the Egyptians!

Sho'ts deliver a blistering round of fire
These #@$@ing things kept the IAF at bay for most of the game
The stars of the game for the Egyptians were their infantry and their ZSU-57-2s!  Byron and Mike made good use of the enormous infantry horde (there were 20 teams in the company), leaving them static and dug in, very difficult for the outnumbered IDF troops to pry loose.  Some air strikes would have helped us, but even when the IDF air support did show up, the ZSU-57s blazed away and usually drove the Ouragans off.  I have to say I find the Flames Of War rules seemed to deliver a neat experience on this score, with the hapless conscripts able to hold out if they were dug in and not moving.

IDF mechanized infantry continue to move up...the burning M51 is a bit of a grim thing to pass by...

Now that is how the air force is SUPPOSED to work...one good run with the cannons and there are many burning T-55s...sadly this is the only successful pass the Ouragan would manage
The IDF air support did have a single good run, torching three T-55s in a single pass with cannons, but overall we didn't get nearly as much help as we needed from the fly-boys.  And just like last week, the IDF doesn't have a margin for error - losing even a couple of tanks can really set you back.

IDF infantry dismounting and preparing to assault the Egyptian line
So - two straight Flames Of War games in a row...I'm actually starting to get a bit more familiar with the rules.  "Fate Of A Nation" and Flames Of War are not deep simulations of combat or anything, but it was pretty fun.  Lots of tanks, lots of dice, lots of stuff on fire, and a result in six turns.

The close assault under way - defensive fire from the Egyptians fails to stop the Israelis
Sucks to be these guys...the M51s did their part to try and break the Egyptian mechanized infantry company
Again, probably the worst part of a Flames Of War game is the proximity of the tank models to each other on the table.  The T-55s companies looked like black powder musket lines in some respect.  But on the other hand, when you have 25 tanks and tank-sized vehicles in your force, even a 6' x 4' table will be crowded before you know it. 

There were so MANY Egyptians...the UAR mechanized troops hold the line in the face of heavy losses, winning the game for their side!
Thanks to Byron, Mike F and Graeme for coming out play.  The IDF revenge will have to wait for another day...
 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Six Turn War - Fate Of A Nation AAR

This picture captures the Israeli side of the game perfectly...
Gaming returned to full form for the Fawcett Avenue Conscripts this past week with Dallas hosting.  We played "Fate Of A Nation", the Battlefront "Flames of War" rules supplement for the Six Day War.   The house was packed as many Conscripts stopped in for gaming and visiting after the summer, and some new Conscripts took in the atmosphere as well - I think there were about twelve people out - quite a crowd!
IDF forces before the game 
Part 1 of the Egyptian Forces

Part 2 of the Egyptian Forces
The scenario was taken from the Flames of War rules, one of the defensive battles from the rule book.  We imagined an Egyptian battalion commander on the second day of the war in the Sinai, seeing the army collapse around him, rallying some troops outside of the Mitla Pass to try and hold back the IDF spearheads and buy some time for his comrades to reach the (relative) safety of the crossings over the Suez Canal.

Conscripts receive their briefings before the game starts
The very small but hard-hitting IDF force would have six turns to capture the objective in the middle of the Egyptian half of the table.  Half of the (very large) Egyptian force would be in reserve.

M51s at their start points on the table 
The Egyptians lie in wait...
The IDF force was comprised of a total of 8 M51 Ishermans - one company commander, one platoon of three tanks and one platoon of four tanks, backed up with a mechanized infantry platoon in M3s and priority air support from the Israeli Air Force.

I wonder which Conscripts set up this particular deployment? :)
Egyptian AAA and Mech Infantry Command wait in the centre - the old house is the IDF objective
The Egyptians had a company of nine T-55s, a company of six IS-3s, a platoon of three SU-100 tank destroyers, a mechanized infantry company in BTR-152s and two ZSU-57-2s.  It was a LOT of stuff. With so many folks out to play, we subdivided the T-55s into two smaller companies - one of five tanks and one of four.  We also split up the mechanized infantry company into platoons, something not strictly within the rules, but whatever.

Air support arrives…but not much happens
Dallas, Indo, Kevin, Brian and Mike all took command of the Egyptians, while Dave, Graeme (hope I spelled that correctly) and Bill took command of the IDF.

M51s roll out - confident of victory...

This ZSU-57-2 was taken out by an M51 on the first turn…would end up as one of the few losses for the Egyptians in the game...
I have only played Flames of War a few times.  The last time we played "Fate Of A Nation", four Centurions took on like 20 T-55s and shot them to pieces in the space of three turns at the cost of only two tanks.  I expected the Sherman tanks would have similar results.  But we were in for a surprise!

"Hey - was that a hit from an SU-100?"
The M51s press ahead without their comrade - after all, their superior gunnery will surely prevail, right?
IDF radio net - "Hey! WTF???"
The Egyptians started with the SU-100s, the IS-3s, the ZSU-57-2s and the command element of the mechanized infantry deployed on the table, with the rest of the force in reserve.  The IDF's whole force started on the table.  The IDF players made plans to destroy the Egyptians one platoon at a time, counting on their terrible gunnery and weak morale to sink their superior numbers.

Egyptian armour tangles with the advancing IDF; one T-55 is lost, another bailed out, but they keep advancing
And yet…in the first turn, the D'Assault Ouragan made its first run, and only managed to bail out a couple of SU-100s.  What at first seemed flukey was in retrospect an ominous sign for the IDF and portent of favour for the Egyptians.  The bailed out SU-100s re-mounted, and promptly knocked out an M51.

Dallas takes out one of Kevin's M51s...

Kevin loses a second M51…ruh roh...
As the turns continued, the IDF players suffered a string of terrible luck with their tank gunnery.  In "Flames of War" you roll a Firepower Check to see if you blow up the target.  In many cases, with 105mm high-velocity shells from the magnificent gun on the M51, this is literally a 2+ roll.  But the IDF players rolled "1" after "1" after "1"…the tanks would bail out, and because they were not destroyed this would have serious implications for the IDF attack.

The tide of Egyptian steel threatens to overwhelm the IDF...
Meanwhile, the Egyptian players, beset by clouds of negative modifiers and struggling to hit the veteran IDF tankers, would roll very well and start to make a hit here and there - after all, they were rolling buckets of dice with so many tanks on the table - with more and more arriving every turn with the reserve rolls.  Dallas's T-55 company of five tanks weathered several turns of direct hits from IDF guns - either rolling Vegas with his front armour or cheering as Kevin and Dave would roll a "1" on the Firepower Check - to knock out several M51s.

Bill's mechanized infantry dismount to prepare for a desperate assault...
The poor M51s did not hold out well against direct hits from 100mm and 122mm guns - in fact, their armour could not stop the shells.  Even the roll of a "6" would not prevent the Egyptian guns from penetrating the old armour. 

And the Egyptian players were spot on with their Firepower Checks, knocking out one or two M51s every turn.  Considering the IDF only had 8 tanks, it was a loss rate the IDF force could not endure.

Dallas, Brian and Indo deal with the last of the M51s - that's 8 M51s lost in action!!
The air support had a rough night too…again and again, the bombs and napalm would have no effect, and when it did, the crew would bail out, as opposed to having the vehicle destroyed.

It ends in tears for the IDF…their mechanized troops are gunned down by the armour
The final scene - a devastating victory for the Egyptians of the United Arab Republic
The IDF fought to the bitter end, with Bill leading a last-ditch charge of his mechanized troops toward the objective.  But it was not to be - done in by a tidal wave of Egyptian armour, the IDF force was knocked out.  The IDF may have won decisively won the Six Day War, but last week they decisively lost the Six Turn Battle.

Cairo would have looked like as reports of the great victory were shared over the radio! Praise the gunnery of Dallas, Indo, Mike and Brian, heroes of the revolution!!
So that was our first real game of "Fate Of A Nation".  You will notice I didn't impose my usual mandatory minimum distances on the tanks or anything like that.  It certainly was a crowded table, but it was still a fun and very light-hearted game with lots of humour and sportsmanship on both sides.

Of course in the real Six Day War, the Egyptian army, leaderless, poorly deployed, shocked by the IDF attack and without any air cover, were utterly routed. But they did manage to put up tough stands here and there, so to me this game represented one of those instances - a sharp shock to an advancing IDF column, which would have been dealt with by a sudden hit from the flank by another IDF force.

I don't have a lot of experience with Flames of War, and chances are I missed/screwed up some rules that may have made things inadvertently tougher on the IDF players, but to me the game showed how the small elite IDF forces could really dish it out but, particularly in the old Sherman tanks, had a glass jaw.  There was very little room for error and bad luck, and the IDF players had terrible, terrible luck with their dice.  Those missed firepower checks on the first and second turns were decisive - if the Egyptian tanks had been destroyed, their companies would have started to melt away and it would have been a very different game.

Flames of War still has a few "gamey" aspects that I dislike, but overall it was a lot of fun.  It's a good excuse to move a bunch of toy soldiers around and blow them up!  I hope we can play this again sometime soon.  Thanks to Dallas for hosting, and to everyone who came out to play, watch and visit!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Egyptian T-55 Company in 15mm

Egyptian T-55 company in 15mm - models from Battlefront
Before I got too much further back into Horus Heresy stuff, I wanted to finish off a project I had started back in the spring - completing Egyptian and Israeli forces for Battlefront's "Fate of a Nation" supplement.  I had painted quite a bit of stuff through the spring and summer for both sides, but true to my short-circuiting attention span, I eventually got distracted by other projects even with the finish line in sight!  This T-55 company was the last component I needed for the Egyptian force. I finished three T-55s in July, started on the rest of the company, but suddenly trailed off on to other things.

The T-55 - an inconic piece of Cold War era kit. A decent and modern MBT for the era of the Six Day War, they didn't get a chance to do too well in 1967 for the Egyptians, and the IDF destroyed a great number of them, and captured so many they refit them for IDF service!
I have the attention span of a gnat.  Anyway, while I did this other stuff, six T-55s were sitting on the painting table with a base coat of paint. After weeks of passing over them I finally snapped and finished them off this week.  So here is a completed T-55 company, nine tanks strong.

The tank with the open hatch will be used to represent the company commander
These painted relatively fast, but as I said in my previous post on these vehicles, the quality of the cast metal accessories is very, very disappointing. The cupola MGs, fenders, hatches, fuel tanks and crew were all very poor quality castings.  A great disappointment considering how much you pay for them.

Tactical numbers are from Battlefront; I don't know that the Egyptian army of 1967 was too rigorous when it came to turret numbers, but I think it adds a nice flourish to the vehicles
The main colour is GW's "Zandri Dust", pin-washed with GW's "Agrax Earthshade" wash and weathered liberally with some dark brown chipping and a bit of soot and dust coloured weather powder. The numerals are all decals from Battlefront.  And while their accessories seem to be taking a dive quality-wise, the decals are top-notch!

In Flames of War, the Egyptian companies essentially move as platoons...so this will be a horde of tanks...
This completes my initial Egyptian force for "Fate Of A Nation". In addition to these bad boys, I have a company of IS-3s, a company of mechanized infantry, and a pair of ZSU-57-2s.  It works out to something like just over 1000 points of stuff for the table.

We'll see how long they last on the table tonight!