Friday, September 13, 2013

Bagration Sensation - Flames of War Battle Report (Yes, Really)

Germans pre-game
Dallas hosted our regular game again this week, and we loaded up for some Eastern Front late WW2 action, with a scenario set during Operating Bagration, the Soviet annihilation of the German Army Group Centre in summer 1944. For a bit of a surprise, we played Flames of War...I have held a very dim view of the Flames of War rules, but I have to admit that the game was a lot of fun.

The scenario pitted a Russian tank spearhead against a (largely vain) counter-attack by elements of a German Panzer division. It was tanks galore - my kind of game! The Soviets had a group of T-70 light tanks, some heavy duty IS-2 tanks, and a company (!) of T-34/85s.  An SMG platoon accompanied them.  They were rated "confident trained".

The Germans had a platoon of Mark IV-Hs, a platoon of Panthers, and a platoon of German Panzer Grenadiers.  They were rated "confident veteran.

Soviets pre-game
For this game there were a few modifications - I ignored a lot of the army list restrictions, I used my own scenario rules instead of one from the rule book, I ignored nearly all of the special rules, and I stipulated that the tanks could be no closer than 4" to another tank that wasn't burning.  I also ignored the chain of command restrictions for the tank units, so they could spread out.

Dallas, Jim and Dave V took the Russian side, while Bill, Frederick and Kevin took the German side.

Panthers from Plastic Soldier Company
I promised the guys that things would be burning in short order, and it didn't take long.  The Soviet T-70s and SMG infantry started the game on the table, and were promptly tangling with the Panzer IVs. I assumed the T-70s would be ventilated immediately, but they actually held out well.  Frederick had some bad luck rolling firepower checks for the Germans, and the T-70s surprisingly managed to move up and knock out some of the Mark IVs! Good performance from the Soviet recon element.

Flaming trucks representing an earlier German column which had been hit by the Red Air Force
In the second turn the Russians welcomed five IS-2 heavy tanks.  The heavily-armed and armoured the Russian breakthrough tanks started blasting away, duelling with Panthers and Mark IVs alike, all while keeping up a steady advance.

Germans enter from the bottom - Russians from the top

We used Litko "WTF?" markers to represent pins and "bailed out"
I have to credit the Russian players - they really played to doctrine, rolling ahead very rapidly, heedless of their losses.

A Panther tries to shore up the German flank...only a T-70 to worry about here....

Russian T-70 crew sees where things are headed...
The T-70s had a good outing against the Mark IVs, but were no match for the Panthers.  Their brave sacrifice had, however, bought time and space for the follow-on Russian elements, something the Germans would pay for as the game went on.

"Run for it Yuri!"
Another factor affecting the outcome was some bad luck for the German dice - the Panthers were lethal tanks, but the German players rolled a lot of "1"s and "2"s at key points, missing opportunities to knock out Soviet tanks with their potent 75mm guns.

Line of Panthers advance...very ominous

Things end poorly for  a T-70 crew
By the fourth turn the table was swarming with Russian armour, and the Russian players were not holding back.  They rushed headlong at the enemy, hoping to overwhelm them.  It was very cool!

Soviet tanks pour on to the table
The Panthers took a small toll - knocking out an IS-2 here, a T-34/85 there, but the Soviets hit hard as well.  The 122mm gun on the Soviet heavy tanks is a tough customer, and the small German panzer force was feeling the pain.

IS-2s pave the way for the Soviet spearheads

Soviet tanks race ahead
One bright spot of resistance was the German Panzer Grenadiers.  This game was not an infantry fight, but Kevin's Grenadiers made a bold stand, knocking out an IS-2 and stunning two T-34/85s with their panzerfausts...a rude shock for the Russian players.

The table starts to fill with wrecks as both sides exchange fire
Ultimately the weight of Russian armour prevailed.  Down to three Panthers, the Germans ultimately pulled back, leaving the field to the Russian spearhead.

The Germans are overrun - but they extract a toll from the advancing Russians

Check out all the burning tanks...
The table was FULL of burning tanks - lots and lots of fun! The guys were really into the spirit of the game, and it played at a good clip.  We got five turns done, and a game resolution, in less than two hours.  Not too bad at all.

German Pamzer Grenadiers dismount and grab their panzerfausts...
You know, I've really disliked the Flames of War rules for some time.  I hate on-table heavy artillery.  I don't like the thick plaque of special rules that encrust the rules.  But I have to admit their basic mechanics, while simple, were a lot of fun.  We conveniently ignored the rules we felt like ignoring, and the basic game played well. I really enjoyed this game - there were 27 tanks on the table, and it was all settled quickly and enjoyably (well, maybe not for the German players, but they still seemed to enjoy the overall game).

So I guess I have to get over myself - Flames of War was a hoot!

Heavy fighting on the German left...
Thanks to Dallas for hosting, and thanks to everyone who came out to play.  I look forward to another Eastern Front armour battle in the future.  And we might even play more "Flames of War" again some time - stay tuned! Greg B.


DeanM said...

Great looking models and game. I have a soft spot for Ambush camo. Best, Dean

Natholeon said...

It is only a matter of time before you, too, join the dark side...
And you know official 1967 FoW is coming out in October!

Simon Quinton said...

Nice looking game and it sounded like you all had a blast which is what really counts at the end of the day!

Has the FoW Bug gripped you into playing more?

Paulalba said...

Brilliant looking game and units, we are just embarking on FOW and there are areas of the rules we also may drop or tweak.

Ian said...

Good game report and the table looked awesome


Kevin Holland said...

That was a good game, despite the outcome for the Germans. And those panzerfausts "ambushing" out of the woods against the Russian tanks worked great!

BigLee said...

Love the camo patturn on the Panthers. They look excellent.

Greg B said...

Thanks everyone for the comments.

@ Simon - I would not say we have the FoW "bug" yet, but I'm sure we'll play again (or try to, at any rate).

@ Natholeon - I am looking forward to the miniatures from Battlefront for sure, and looking forward to the October rules. You guys should get a commission on that!