The Big Four Detour: Panzerschreck 2019 Report

Every year members of the New Zealand Studio travel down to sunny(ish) Palmerston North for the worlds longest running Flames Of War / Team Yankee tournament. This year the Big Four embarked on a road trip whilst other members of the team took the expedient option and flew.

The road trip down featured the customary stops at various model and gaming shops along the way, where some mistakes were made! At least there were no road closures resulting in 2-hour detours (unlike the last two years!).

Panzerschreck is normally a doubles event and under Team Yankee it was decided a force should contain a minimum of two Formations, using one Force diagram as the basis for the army. Wayne and Victor paired up, using West Germans and Israelis, whilst Casey and Chris teamed up with their Soviet and Czechoslovakian armies. The combined forces could be up to 140 points with no prescribed way as to how they are split.

Over the weekend we were fortunate enough to play some really great opponents, as well has facing off against some tough armies. Of course, Panzerschreck is known for being a hard but friendly event so this was no surprise.

In addition to the gaming activities during the day, in the evening we would retreat back to Evan’s (our NZ based sculptor) house for some post game debriefs and some boardgames.

Before we knew it the weekend was over and it was time to return to Auckland… of course we made time for a few more stops, including a quick visit to the New Zealand Army Museum at Waiouru.

To check out some of the armies and games, click on the thumbnails below

The Big Four Detour: Panzerschreck 2019

The Big Four have been working on a secret (or not so secret in some cases) project to get armies ready for this weeks Panzerschreck tournament. Panzerschreck is the longest running Flames Of War tournament in the world and this year it has been hijacked to run a Team Yankee doubles event.

The Big Four paired up along traditional lines, with Wayne and Victor (Bratwurst and Bagels) and Casey and Chris (Chalk and Cheese) each joining forces.

Wayne had most of his army already painted having taken his West Germans to a number of events over the past couple of years. His Panzergrenadier Company has a mix of Panzergrenadiers (no surprises there), Leopard 2 tanks and some support vehicles.

Victor painted (most) of his rather homogeneous force as part of the Oil War launch, having just completed the extra stowage and tank commander this week to complete the Company. He is bringing 11 Merkava 2 tanks to the battlefield and expects to be leading from the front, thanks to their heavy armour.

Casey, finally, finished his first Soviet army for Team Yankee after a couple of years – he did paint a pretty massive Soviet army for someone else during the time as well. His force consists of 15 T-64 tanks, as well as anti-aircraft launchers, anti-tank launchers and some recon.

Last, but certainly not least, Chris has been gagging to do a Czechoslovakian force for some time now and has used this as a chance to get the first part of it finished and ready for battle. Of course, his pile of T-55 tanks, support vehicles and infantry only come out to 35 points, so he has quite a bit more work ahead of him (once he has finished his Big Four project) to complete it as a stand-alone army!

Stay tuned to the Big Four Instagram feed over the next few days to keep up with all of their progress and road trip activities!

 

Battle Report – Casey VS Victor

The first battle of the Big Four took place this weekend, both to celebrate the launch of D-Day: American, and a good excuse for Victor to put his new army to the test.

The Forces:
Victor used his recently finished American tank force. He’s hoping it will provide a good mix of tools, and the veteran status 4+ to hit should help mitigate any poor tactical choices.

Casey revisited an old force he used to run, based around Hermann Goring Division in Italy. Fortress Europe allows you field a mix of Panzer III & IV’s, so Casey came up with the below list using Battlefronts Studio models.

Setup and Deployment:
The table was set up with a third being a small town, the opposite third bocage, and the middle forest and fields. The bocage was just played as hedges, but when Casey finishes more of his terrain it would be cool to do a full bocage battle.

Contact was decided as the mission, and Casey chose to defend from the fields, with the Tigers in Ambush and two Panzer Platoons in reserve. Victor spread his units out to cover both objectives, but he would need his reserves, 76mm Shermans and Stuarts, to arrive quickly to reinforce his initial units.

Turn 1:
Victor failed to bring a reserve unit on, so simply moved his M10’s and 75mm Shermans forward for better firing positions next turn.

He may have been forgetting something though, as Casey pounced on the Shermans with his ambushing Tigers. They eliminated two of them, while the Panzers in the fields chose to remain Gone To Ground.

Turn 2:
Again no reserves for Victor. The 75mm Shermans were forced to get out of the sights of the Tigers, and instead aiming for the Panzer HQ, as did the M10’s, but both units were unsuccessful in scoring any hits.

Casey’s Tigers, having tasted blood advanced forward and fired on the Sherman HQ but were not as deadly this time. Meanwhile the Luchs pushed for the objective on the far side of the town, and the Panzers in the field punished the M10s for revealing themselves and scored one kill.

Turn 3:
Victor now got his automatic reserve, and choose to bring on the 76mm’s, dashing them up the road to pressure the Panzers. The three remaining 75mm Shermans now in position opened fire on the Panzer HQ and destroyed both tanks. The M10’s however continued to miss the Panzers. It’s also worth mentioning that the Priests had been trying to range in on the Panzers every turn but no luck.

Casey started rolling for his Delayed Reserves now but he’d have to continue to wait. The Tigers returned the favour and killed Victors Company HQ, leaving both forces leaderless. The Luchs drove even closer to the objective.

Turn 4:
The American’s last reserve unit arrived and not a moment too soon. The Stuarts moved on to the objective and engaged the Luchs, killing one. Victor tried something different with the Priests and dashed them up to backup the 76mm Shermans. He used the 76mm Shermans to great effect and killed two Panzers and bailed a third. The 75mm Shermans and M10’s decided to fire on the Tigers, but their armour proved too much.

Casey got his first reserve Panzers and rolled the corner in the bocage. They immediately got to work and killed a 76mm through the hedges, and bailed two more. His Tigers moved forward to get a better angle on the M10s but missed with their 2 shots. The Luchs were also unlucky with the newly arrived Stuarts.


Turn 5:
Victor knew he needed to close on the Germans, and so moved his M10’s forward. Luckily they delivered, and killed a Tiger. The Priests Blitzed up to the hedges to direct fire on the fresh Panzer Platoon, and scored one kill. The Stuarts and 76mm Shermans were also hot with their shooting, killing a Luchs and a Panzer respectively.

At the beginning of Casey’s turn he had to make Last Stand tests for both the Panzer platoon in the field, and the Luchs. Unfortunately they both failed and sent their tanks and crews running.

However Casey still had one unit to come on from Reserve, his third Panzer Platoon, which arrived in the perfect spot to finish off all 3 remaining 75mm Shermans. The rest of his force wasn’t so lucky, only managing to bail a 76mm.

Turn 6:
The 76mm Shermans drove up the road to contest the objective, and to get shots through the gap in the hedges. They fired on the Panzer Platoon and scored two kills, thanks in part to Lafayette Pool ignoring the +1 to hit with Stabilisers. The M10’s repeated what worked for them before, and eliminated the last Tiger. This left two out of four of Casey’s Formation units destroyed, with a third on the brink.

Casey was forced to make another last stand check, this time for the second Panzer Platoon. Their fate was the same was the others, so with all but one Panzer Platoon destroyed, Casey’s Formation broke. Pool’s platoon was also on the objective, so a convincing American win.

A close game that looked to be in Casey’s favour in the first few turns, but turns 5 and 6 really swung it to the Americans.

I was glad to get the win here, but I would say I have a lot to learn about running American armour. In a battle like this the Priests would’ve probably been better served laying down smoke while my tanks pushed forward to out flank. Long range and concealment made scoring hits tough going, but the M10’s getting lucky with the Tigers really helped. And of course the hero of the day was Lafayette Pool (when he finally turned up), breaking the German company and securing an objective.

Well that was a blast. I knew the game was going to come down to getting reserves at the right time in the right place. I was quite happy with the performance of the Panzers that started on the table. I always figured they were going to have a difficult time against the sheer number of tanks on the table. I think if my first reserve had of turned up on the first turn of rolling, and if the second platoon had of come onto the table in a more use full place then I think I would have won.

In hindsight I should have probably waited until the 76mm Shermans arrived and sprung my ambush against them. I was just too eager to get some runs on the board.

Starting a Soviet Army

One of the most exciting Soviet Formations to me is the Hero T-34 Battalion. It was one of those lists that I was quite excited about when it came out in Version 3, but never had the time to paint or play before, so I’m quite glad that it made it into Fortress Europe.

On a side note as a rabid soviet player I’m very happy with the lists in Fortress Europe. Since we Soviet players have to wait longest for our army books, we get access to a LOT more formations straight away in Fortress Europe as it has to last us longer that the other nations.

The other bonus about the list is that it is a reasonable sized force, aka not a hoard army like I usually paint, so hopefully it will be more achievable given that I’m planning on a more time-consuming paint scheme than just painting them green.

The obvious place to start is the new Soviet army deal as it is fantastic value, and a lot of the models that I need straight off the bat. The only models in the box that I’m not going to use straight off the bat in this army are the KV tanks, however I’m going to paint them up to support the infantry battalions that I already have painted.

I like taking large formations wherever possible. There is nothing worse than playing a game where you are about to win a game by taking an objective, only to have that victory snatched away because your formation is broken, despite having lots of support on the table.

Because of this, the core of the Force is a maxed-out Hero T-34 Tank Battalion of and HQ T-34 (76mm) and three Hero T-34 Companies of 2x T-34 (75mm) and 2x T-34 (85mm) tanks for a total of 13 tanks straight away.

It is worth mentioning that the T-34 (76mm) tanks are Overworked, making them add +1 to the score needed to hit when they move (basically like old school Hen & Chicks), however the T-34 (85mm) tanks don’t have this so can fire and manoeuvre much more effectively.

Another cool thing about the formation is that it can have integral infantry and mortars. I’ve added the Hero SMG Company at full strength because they are a useful unit to sit back on an objective to free the tanks up to do their job, or, if needed they can get into assault and make the most of their Assault 2+ stat.

Note, I’m going to cheat slightly with painting my army. In my time I’ve painted at least 7 full strength Soviet Rifle Companies, so for the sake of speed (and not wanting to paint even more Soviet infantry) I’m just going to use some infantry that I already have painted for my army. Luckily it is even based in a suitable theme already.

Even though I know the rest of the Big 4 aren’t really going to be taking infantry to start out, I’ve also added some mortars to my Formation. It’s another platoon in the formation to keep them in good spirits, and mortars are generally quite useful against more balanced forces.

With the formation sorted it is time to look at some support.

The army deal comes with 4 SU-85s, which is great because they will be one of the soviets go-to units from now on. They are quite expensive, coming in at slightly less than 6 points a vehicle, but they are Fearless, Veteran, and Careful, making them the best troops you have. They have average armour, but will require 6s to hit (Is Hit On 4+, +1 for range, +1 for concealed) when I use them to cover the advance of my T-34s.

No Soviet Army is complete without artillery. Again, you have lots of options, 76mm guns, 122mm howitzers, or Katyushas. I’ve added 4 Katyushas to my army because I already have plenty of anti-tank weapons and don’t really need any dual role weapons in the force, and that Salvo template will be devastating against any infantry that I face.

You’ll notice that I went with the T-34 (76mm) for the HQ, rather than the T-34 (85mm). The main reason for this is that the Soviets don’t have access to any observers, so I’m going to use my Battalion HQ as the observer. If he is observing he is not shooting, so any points used to upgrade him are wasted. Also, if he doesn’t have a big gun, I’ll be less tempted to use him in the wrong role. Also, using him as a dedicated observer means that I can hide my fragile rocket trucks out of sight.

The last unit in my force is the Hero T-70 Company. I’ve added this basically as a nuisance unit. It has a good enough gun that opponents can’t ignore it in case they get around the flanks. It’s not there to reliably take anything out, more to distract attention away from my main attack.

I’m also going to future proof my army by painting all the extra turrets for the T-34s, so that each hull has both a 76mm and 85mm turret, as inevitably later books will add options for hero units armed with all T-34 (85) tanks. It also means that with very little effort I’ll have a new Mid-war army at the same time as painting my new late War army.

~Casey

Winter On The Eastern Front

With the volume of Soviets that I have painted, when looking through my collection I was surprised to see that I actually don’t have that many tanks painted, other than a whole battalion of metal and resin T-34/85s that I painted over 10 years ago.

And with all of the new plastics that have come out since I did my last Soviet tank army, I was actually quite keen to get back into painting the green horde…almost.

I’ve always wanted to paint a winter tank army and have started a couple of times in the past. I have an almost finished KV-1 tank battalion, that I was quite happy with when I painted it, however having gotten better with my painting now I’m not so happy with it. Another time, we did a 24-hour painting challenge and I tried to paint a winter American army, but was so disappointed with it that I ended up never finishing it.

So, third times a charm, this time and I’m going to take my time and paint a winter tank force that I’m happy with. As it so happens, the last Soviet infantry army I painted was my Shtraf Battalion (that happens to have a winter theme) and I am quite happy with how it turned out. So, I already have all of the infantry that I will need.

As you can see from my army list article, I’ve chosen a modest target of only 24 vehicles (29 if you include the KVs that I’m going to paint as infantry support). The theme of my army is a Hero T-34 Tank Battalion.

These days I like any army that paint to have a unique story. Historically the Soviet Army had a tendency to throw entire armies into battle until they were destroyed and then rebuilt them from scratch, but I want to tell a different story with my army.

My army contains a mix of T-34s (76mm) and T-34 (85mm) tanks. The story I want to tell is of a Hero T-34/85 unit that has been decimated, and then been brought up to strength with any old tanks that have been salvaged, scavenged, repaired, rebuilt and sent back to the front from wherever possible.

In order to achieve this, I’m going to build the T-34 (76mm) tanks without much consistency. They will have a mix of cupolas, fuel drums, and mudguards etc. I’ve also managed to scrounge up a few early turrets which I’m going to throw into the mix as well. I will also use this story to give the tanks different amounts of weathering, some will have fresher looking whitewash, while others may have whitewash that has almost completely worn off. The T-34 (85mm) tanks are going to be built fairly consistently.

Of course, I’m going to paint the 76mm turrets and 85mm turrets for all the tanks to give me more gaming options in the future. I’m going to keep the ad hoc theme running through the 76mm turrets if I ever field it as a mid-war army, but a later all T-34 (85mm) army will be a little more consistent.

To keep with the theme, I’m going to give all of the T-34 (85mm) tanks a consistent tank numbering style, but randomise the 76mm turret numbers and unit markings a bit. I’ve also ordered a selection of tank riders to further add to the ad-hoc nature of the formation, but I’ll probably use these to either help denote different companies, or make the command tanks stand out.

Since there are only 3 T-70s in the army I’m going to keep them similar—they are the remnants of a much larger company. The SU-85 tank killers however, are going to be a mix of SU-85 and SU-85M tank-killers, mainly because the sprue comes with both options, and add to the ad-hoc look that I’m going for.

Over the past few months I’ve been collecting images from other modellers of their winter tank schemes. Here is a selection of the photos that I’m going to use for my inspiration.

~Casey

Who Are The Big Four?

Four Nations. Four People. Four Army Deals. Welcome to the Big Four Of Late War…

Victor “el Presidente” Pesch is the ring leader of Big Four, having come up with the entire concept of embarking on the Journey alongside our players. Known in the Studio for his painting prowess he spends his days wrangling Photoshop and InDesign working as a Graphic Designer, whilst his nights are spent working on whatever new project takes his fancy. He has his eyes set on an American force filled with Sherman tanks. For now…

Wayne “the Veteran” Turner is one of the longest serving employees in the company, having worked in almost every department of the company from Game Design to Production. These days he finds himself primarily working on Team Yankee, but a return to Late War has him excited to return to World War II and the chance to build his first Panzer IV based German army.

Casey “Comrade” Davies has built more Soviet models than anyone can count, with an astounding seven complete Strelkovy Companies to his name. After some debate he grabbed the new Soviet Army Deal whilst making noises about wanting to try his hand at building a new Hero Company. Like Victor he spends his days creating the books, cards and imagery that you see whenever you play a game of Flames Of War (or Team Yankee).

Chris “The Magpie” Townley is always looking forward to the next project, even before he has finished whatever is currently sitting on the painting table. He spends his time pouring over spreadsheets and planning documents, all the while looking over the writers shoulders trying to noodle his “next big project”. For Chris, the Late War Journey is a chance to finally build that British Sherman company that he has been planning for almost 10 years…

To follow their individual progress you can click on the handy icons over on the right hand menu, as well as checking out the groups Instagram feed to see plenty of behind-the-scenes activity. Over the next few years there will also be plenty of great content coming from the rest of the Battlefront family so don’t forget to keep an eye on the Flames Of War website for this, as well as all the latest news and information on what is happening.

~The Big Four Of Late War

The Big Four Of Late War – A Flames Of War Journey

On June 6, 1944, thousands of men were nervously waiting in landing craft, transport aircraft and bunkers as the fate of the world rested on their shoulders. The liberation of Europe was about to begin.

75 years later, across the world, thousands of gamers are preparing to embark on a journey of their own as Flames Of War returns to Late War. Starting with Fortress Europe and the D-Day series of books Battlefront will spend the next four years extensively covering the fighting in Europe through 1944 to 1945.

For gamers this is an amazing opportunity to grow a new army from nothing, starting by choosing a nation, a theme and then selecting the models that they want to use as the basis for their army. Then, over the next four years as each new theatre is explored, they will be able to add new units to their force, just like the real armies of World War II.

At the beginning of the journey, the humble Sherman will be fighting head to head versus the dreaded Tiger tank, whilst as the war progresses the King Tiger, Pershing and IS tanks will change the shape and nature of the battlefield. These changes will make the shared journey through Late War that much more interesting and dynamic as we, the commanders of the battlefield, pick the best forces available to us on the day, whilst looking forward to the next “wonder weapon” that will ensure that we will be victorious in tomorrows battles.

Collectively we (the “Big Four” – more on who we are later) have been playing Flames Of War for around 50 years and we think that the Late War Journey is the one of the most exciting things to happen to the game since its original release back in 2001. Now, with people all around the world taking their first look at Late War and building new armies, we wanted to come on the journey with you and take a fresh look at our favourite period of Flames Of War.

This will be like no “Tale of Four Gamers” series of articles that you might have seen in the past. Instead it will be an epic journey (one with Tanks instead of Ringwraiths) that will take part over four years…

Starting with the release of Fortress Europe we will be creating armies using our new Army Deals as the basis, building and painting from scratch, and then getting them on the tabletop to play some games.

During the course of the first year, we (just like you) will be able to access new units and Formations as the D-Day series of books is released. This will give us the chance to tweak our armies by selecting new organisations or building and painting new models. On the Big Four Of Late War website you will be able to see our finished efforts, as well finding out what we are planning on working on next.

If you want to keep up with what we are up to on a day-by-day basis you can also follow our Instagram feed where we will be showing off progress photos as we build and paint the models.

At the conclusion of the Journey we will have built entire new armies, filled with great new models, as well as having played a pile of games as we try to find out who is the biggest of the Big Four.

We look forward to you coming on the trip with us…

~The Big Four Of Late War