Monday, July 11, 2016

Battle on the Mississippi 2016.3 - Flames of War

Saturday we had a small Flames of War, mid-war tournament at Deaf Ear Records in la Crosse, WI.  After last minute drop-outs we had ten players competing for some nice trophies, plaques and BF items.  I took my Italian Bersaglieri company, based on the AS42 reorganization where they broke up the weapons platoons and mixed them with the infantry.  So I had two platoons of four Bersalieri stands, two 47mm ATGs, two HMGs and one platoon with a Solothorn ATR and the other with two 20mm AAG.  Rated "elite" they are an "always defend" company.  I added a Bersaglieri platoon of 8cm mortars, a "Demolisher" (engineers) platoon, a Recce platoon of three AB41s, a platoon of Semovente assault guns, a battery of 100mm guns and, the key to my survival, a pair of 88s with extra crew.  The Germans handed over a few to the Ariete Division in '42 so they could appear on my list.  A total of 1700 points after adding the sticky bombs to the infantry.

Chuck Hiner and crew make it a point of pride to set up some really sharp tables with at least one that goes with each army entered.  So I could be confident that I'd play on the desert table first round.  With good fields of fire for my 88s I felt optimistic.  Click the pictures to "big-up."

Table as expected but facing a Soviet tank company built around
T-34s.  Mission was Breakthrough (Mobile Battle).

Only the 88s could realistically hurt the T-34s frontally, but the
100mm guns killed a couple.

Lovely terrain and models.  Tom made a bold rush but in  the end
it was a 5-2 win for me.
After a lunch break I was paired with "horde of Stuarts."  A lucky pairing since my anti-tank guns could affect them frontally.  Mission was Fighting Withdrawal but with 8 platoons I had some leeway to pull without massively compromising my fighting ability.  Jason was properly aggressive, used smoke to mask one of my 88s and hit both flanks.  However a combination of my hot dice and his frigid dice doomed his attack.  He later deservedly won the Best Sportsmanship prize.

M3 Lees advance in the middle while Stuarts and armored infantry
work the flank.

With the 40" range the 88s can be way back.  Demolishers in the
middle and Bersaglieri on my left.
At one point some American M8 assault guns worked around and engaged my 100mm guns in a direct fire exchange, but that didn't work out for them.  In the end, a 6-1 win.

Last round I got the worst possible table, a burnt out city.  With the 88s needing to stay together and extremely limited "reach out and touch" potential, I felt doomed when the Soviet KV-1s hit the table.  Fatigue also showed since I made some poor deployments and wasn't even keeping track of when his armor went into play.  Otherwise, it was an all infantry force which ended up being my salvation.  Mission was Free-For-All.

So here are my AB41s and Semoventes, facing the KVs they
can't kill frontally or to the flank.

On the left are my 88s, which did manage to kill some stands
but never had a shot at the armor.
Because of the sheer number of stands Jim had to move each turn we ran out of time.  I destroyed a platoon of guns and lost nothing, out of total luck, so it was a 2-1 tie in my favor.  I had the great good fortune of playing three really nice guys, never needing to deal with "that guy" that tournaments can bring out.
First place went to a Finnish player.  I got second and Best Axis General, while Jim got Best Allied Player.  It was nice to see two of the top spots go to "minor" armies.  Besides the trophy picture below I chose the scenario/campaign book "Battles in Italy," which seemed somehow appropriate.


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