Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Vapnartak Report 2010 (like the Cook report, but with fewer episodes)

The Vapnartak Report (like the Cook report, but with fewer episodes)

Below are my thoughts and report on the day and the tournament, readers should note these are my views and opinions, and should not be considered the views of Greater Germany or its people. Neither should they be taken seriously.

The venue itself was very impressive. It took us a mere 2hrs 5mins to drive from the centre of Chester to parking up outside York Racecourse (in Red’s case this was slightly longer but that’s what you get for living in deepest Wales), and it well signposted and easy to find. We were just waved inside without having to wait in a queue and found the FOW area. The building was large, modern, and packed with traders on the first few floors, with the FOW, Warmachine and a couple more Tournaments taking up the top two floors.

Sadly I was unable to make a full survey of how many traders were there, but there was certainly much shiny gaming goodness to be seen everywhere. On a rare walk around at about 10:20 I did notice that there was a queue running out of the doors and a long way around the corner, and was very thankful that we arrived early! It definitely became very busy for most of the day around the traders, with the bring & buy being surrounded by what appeared to be a 40 wide, 3 deep mass of people.

The Tournament

And so to business -

Round 1
: It appeared that the Germans (or Axis, who managed to include two Finns and at least one Italian) outnumbered the Allies 11 players to 9, so some Axis had to fight each other, a situation Nath and his Finns found themselves in for the whole day. I was lucky (!) to end up was an Allied opponent, a Russian in fact that went my the name of John.

Having declared on the drive over that I feared facing a Strelkovy Battalion or a heavy tank company the most, John was fielding a 2,000pt Russian Guards Strelkovy Battalion, with a 5-strong KV-8 heavy flame-tank support- bugger. This was joined by a full-strength Strelkovy Company, a 2/3 strength one and a battery of four SU 122’s. Finally the Russian air force also put in an appearance. My own lot had the Marder III’s, StuG’s, PaK40’s, heavy artillery and three platoons of infantry, supported by mortars and machine guns.

With Hasty Assault the mission I quickly decided that the KV-8’s had to be put out of commission before I even start on the mass of infantry, and with an open enough battlefield to use my long-reaching AT guns I was hopeful. Fortunate smiled and only the KV-8’s and the full-sized Strelkovy Company could start on the battlefield, and I set my StuG’s, Marder’s and PaK40’s the task of killing them off, supported by my pioneers. Unfortunately they badly failed in their task.

The rest of the Russian army turned up and gradually advanced in a ten turn game while everything with a chance of destroying one of the Russian heavy tanks fired repeatedly at the KV-8‘s. By the end I had managed to bail out several, and destroyed the KV-8 company commander twice, but only two Russian heavies were burning for the loss of all of my anti-tank except the artillery, and my infantry were driven far from the objective. I managed to destroy a single SU 122, and around 15-20 bases of infantry (nearly a platoon morale check), but a 6-1 defeat was inevitable (or in the terms of this tournament a 32-0 defeat!). Luckily my opponent was a likable chap, and the pain of defeat wasn’t in evidence as I headed off for lunch.

Round 2: Back from the shops for the second game; the 800pt quick-fire round, and the tournament rules which meant you simply moved one table to your left, which left me with a desert battlefield, and facing Red Brits as an opponent! 110miles is a long way to go to game against someone you play most weeks, but the organiser was disinterested in our pleas for different opponents, and we sat down to slug it out. Having had a dry run a few weeks previously I had adapted my tactics, and some buildings in the centre helped my cause as my infantry and captured KV-1e swiftly made them into strongholds, and they joined by PaK40’s and 8.8cm Luftwaffe gun in shooting up the rest of the enemy who, after a gallant charge towards my AT guns (I lost the PaK40’s and my mortars), were unable to dislodge or damage my centre and eventually retreated from the battlefield. A 5-2 victory, or a 26-6 victory in tournament terms.

Round 3: Thankfully no sign of Nath’s Finns, but plenty more Russians and yet more KV’s! This time it was a mixed tank company commanded by a man named Simon. He brought four KV-1e’s (one of which was the CO), seven T-34’s, seven T70’s, a 2/3 Strelkovy Company, a Sapper platoon and a Katuysha platoon of two rocket launches to the fray. My own force had only the pioneers, the PaK40’s and the StuG’s to combat this wall of armour, plus two more platoons of infantry and some SMG troops, it didn’t look good. It looked even worse when I found out what rocket launchers can do, and my ambush on the T-34’s with the StuG’s yielded only one casualty. The battlefield was heavily covered in scenery, with hedgerows, buildings and woods giving a taste of Normandy. I had hoped to use this dense terrain to ambush the enemy piece-meal, but instead it aided their advance down the centre, and it looked grim with the T-70’s following the KV-1e’s out of the built up area and helping to destroy my retreating pioneers. The T-34’s had headed off towards my far right flank, and the enemy infantry was moving through woods, fields and hedges on its way towards swamping my remaining bastion of infantry and PaK40’s on a hill overlooking the objective.

I had completely given up on victory by this point and simply wanted to destroy a platoon to gain some points and morale! My chance came suddenly when the enemy sappers ran straight into an ambush - my heavy platoon (SMG’s) and a grenadier platoon leap from hedgerows to hit them from two sides at close-quarters, and with no support they were forced back into buildings and wiped out. The KV-1e’s and T-70’s also unexpectedly came a cropper when the StuG’s hit them from the rear and the PaK40’s from the front. My poor luck in killing tanks evened itself out as two KV’s burned and the third fled, while the PaK40’s accounted for six out of seven T-70’s, with the StuG’s destroying the last one. The T-34’s had swept round my flank and secured the other objective, but I had destroyed three enemy platoons (half of their starting six), and despite defeat had my own personal victory which made me feel much better about the whole thing! Around two minutes of stalling would have brought a draw, but the opposition deserved the win and it would have been a bit petty. A 4-3 defeat translated into a 19-13 defeat.

Final analysis:

Slightly gutted to have travelled so far to face one of my own club members, and annoyed at the number of heavy tanks. I counted at least three Russian armies with KV’s, two Finns with the same tank, (I know, even I used one in my 800pt game but it looked nice!). There was also at least one German with a Tiger and two Brits with Churchill III’s, I did hear mention of a Panther army further down the tables. Perhaps I should have realised that tournament play would mean the opposition would bring slightly more powerful armies than my poor Grenadier Kompanie, and my infantry spend most of each battle hiding in buildings or trees, or being gunned down as they tried to retreat from enemies they had no chance killing.

On the plus side I was very happy to receive 14 out of 16 for my painting, although I felt a score of 6 out of 8 for uniformity was a little harsh and probably based upon my PaK40’s being late-war dark yellow. The total of 20 meant that despite losing two games out of three I still ended up on a respectable 83 points overall (with the full 24 points for sportsmanship added - possibly generous of my last opponent because I was getting quite depressed during part of that game!). 8 points were available for background, although I don’t know whether they got added in or not. Hoping the organisers will be putting the scores up online soon so I can find out what place I came in.

Other plus’s were seeing some of the scenery that others produce for 15mm games, and I was particularly impressed with the Battlefield In A Box material from Battlefront which I think I may invest in. I also fought against flame tanks and rocket launchers which I’d never encountered before, and have a healthy respect for then now! I managed to forget my camera, so I’m hoping Nath will be providing the pictures at some point, I will take a few of my army (now its finally painted) and post it up soon. All in all a good day, even if it was spent running from the enemy!