Noob Zone in NL

Back in March, my friend Rene van den Assem and I tried a couple of games of FOW using two small German armies he has in his collection. Having played blue on blue twice, we decided it ‘tasted like more’. Some debate later, we opted for Russians (Rene) and Germans (that’d be for me!) and obviously the Eastern Front: big steppes, saves on terrain (Sorry Luke, we won’t need Lucage for a while…). As we both have lives lots of wargaming projects and, much more importantly, are both complete FoW noobs with very little idea of what is actually effective in Flames of War, we agreed it’d be best to start out slowly, painting and collecting armies while we play a game every so many weeks.

With 600 points about finished, it was time for a battle.

Rene took the field with 11 T34/76s (C/T), five in each of his two platoons, one for his commander. I selected my list from the Sperrverband (R/V) in Grey Wolf: 

  • Company commander & 2iC, Panzerfaust SMG team
  • Sperr Pionier Platoon with 4 Pioneer Rifle/MG teams, Cmd Panzerfaust SMG
  • Sperr Platoon, 4 Rifle/MG Teams, 1 MG42 HMG (I wasn’t sure Rene would bring tanks only!) and Cmd Panzerfaust SMG
  • Sperr Assault Gun Platoon with 2 StuG G and 1 StuH42

Rene set up a small (roughly 4*4) board with plenty of crop fields, one large plowed field, some hedges and trees. We forgot to dice for our preferred table edge, but the one I ended up on was, I think, definitely to my advantage. As we’re very much still learning, we decided on Free-for-All, plonked two objectives each into each other’s back field and deployed. Rene divided his tanks into two groups, one, including the battalion commander, lining the hedge along the plowed field, the other partially behind the gentle rise in the middle. 

I put my Pioniere along the back edge down in the plowed field, flanked by the Sperr platoon on their left with the company commander in the middle. Two StuGs held the middle lane, and my Kampfgruppe - a random experiment that worked out very well in the end - consisting of the 2iC, the StuH and two Rifle/MG teams, held the crop fields to their left. This deployment left just my entire left-hand quarter of the board free of any teams, but neither Rene or I seemed to worry about that fact. And so battle began, with the disclaimer: please don’t complain to the management if you notice obvious disregard of rules. We be noobs…!

Turn 1   

Soviet turn

- Rene’s left-hand Tankovy company - we’ll call them First Platoon - raced into the plowed field. Being noobs, we forgot that a bog-check is not a skill-check, and is actually a bit harder to fail. Two tanks bogged, the rest raced on into the field. The other Tankovy - Second Platoon for ease - moved across the rise and (mostly) behind the house out of sight of the StuGs. No shots were fired.

German turn

- The infantry on my right flank attempted to dig in and was partially successful. The StuGs moved forward to the copse and fired through the gap in the hedge at the Soviet First Platoon, destroying one T34. The combined arms Kampfgruppe advanced, after which the StuH took a shot at the Soviet Second Platoon, killing one T34.

Turn 2 

Soviet turn

- First Platoon advance. The tank along the hedge fired at the StuGs and whiffed (the rest had no possible shots). Second Platoon and the battalion commander switched direction, moved past the house and engaged the Kampfgruppe with the hoped-for result of providing me with too many targets to pick from. Second Platoon fired at the StuH, bailing it. 

German turn

- Infantry teams not yet dug-in completed their subterranean exercises so effectively Soviet First Platoon had no possible shots for the entire game. One StuG bailed the T34 along the hedge, the other combined with the StuH (whose crew had jumped right back in) from the Kampfgruppe to bail two T34s in Soviet Second Platoon. In a fit of overconfidence, I assault the bailed tanks of Soviet Second Platoon with the infantry from my Kampfgruppe, slightly forgetting the fact that two live T34s remained within range for defensive fire. In what surely will come to haunt me in future games, my hubris was rewarded with four hits - one team killed - and a successful assault. The T34s failed their counterassault, had to break off and both bailed tanks were destroyed (we do hope we did that right!) With three destroyed teams, Soviet Second Platoon had to take a morale check, which they beat easily. For the Motherland!

Too slow to get away, the two bailed-out T34s are now destroyed after a somewhat miraculous assault by three stands of German infantry…

Turn 3 

Soviet turn

- Second platoon attempted to take up defensive positions on both sides of the house while First Platoon continued its advance on the German right flank until they’re almost on top of, but just outside of charge and Panzerfaust range of the Sperr Pioniere. The bailed T34 stayed that way.

German turn

- The Kampfgruppe advanced, aiming for one of the Soviet objectives. The StuH takes out another T34 of Soviet Second Platoon. The remaining tank disregarded the fate of its comrades. I moved the Sperr Platoon to the copse to possibly take the remaining tanks and battalion commander from the rear, while the StuGs move back down my line to the hedge along the plowed field. Having arrived there, they promptly destroyed one T34 and re-bailed the one along the hedge, destroying it as well.

Turn 4 

Soviet turn

- What remained of Second Platoon took up positions behind the house with the battalion commander to prevent the infantry crossing the road to the Soviet objective. First Platoon assaults the Sperr Pioniere, whose Panzerfaust bailed one in defensive fire. The assault was ineffective, but the Pioniere failed their counterassault (Sperr infantry may be fearless when counterattacking armour but that doesn’t help when you roll a 1!) and had to break off, running off to their company commander in the hedge line.

German turn

- The StuH moved into the woods across from the house to get a shot at the remaining tank of Second Platoon, and destroyed it. The StuGs bailed another of First Platoon’s T34s and the Pioniere, having recovered from the shame and handily not being pinned (not having taken any hits in the previous assault), flame the Soviet tanks. There was no effect as a result of their hits, apart from preventing defensive fire. With a little encouragement and hands-on leadership of the Company Commander, they assaulted and destroyed both tanks. German victory.

With only 600 points aside, we took a good three hours to play the game, much of which was spent analysing what was going on and checking the rulebook. Sure that broke the flow, but we both felt it helped make us at least feel less like complete noobs by the end of the game, and that was the point! Also, fun was had by all, and we’re looking forward to our next meeting in June, when we’re supposed to have 800 points done. I hear air attacks may be incoming, so I’d better find some FlaK!

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