Well, it was a week ago but Conquest 2011 has now passed. It was the 9th time Conquest has run, I have played in 8 of them (I think..?), with the only one I have missed was when I was trekking in Nepal. It was 9 years ago that I first started playing FOW, I bought an army from Comics Compulsion 3 weeks before the tournament after a practice game or two with Stephen and Tim there, I took them to a tournament!
The first tournament was an eye opener as to what a fun game it could be- I met a few of my long time adversaries, it was the first time I met and gamed against Craig, Nick and Dale, who I now have long standing rivalries with. The army I took? That was US Armoured Rifles. The painting on them was absolutely awful! They are still in a box somewhere, deep down hidden from the world. I can't bring myself to get rid of them, but equally I don't want to see them!
Other tournaments have been pretty noteworthy, the year Craig and I did game about was enjoyable, there was certainly alot of banter between us as to which was the "correct" way of doing things! Always, the competition has been enjoyable and well run.
This year, it made a great step forward in that regard. I thought that the terrain was exceptional, I enjoyed playing all of my games and there was a great variety of missions, which made it damn challenging at times, but also a lot of fun!
Game One was against Dave Evans' Spveerband in a No Retreat on Craig's wonderful Cassino table. This game the Guards really put in the effort. Attacking a list which is designed to defend is always going to be tricky! Semi-Indirect Fire vs StuGs using 17pdrs was satisfying, but not as satisfying as killing an 88mm gun with a Bren Gun Carrier! Max points for me, the Coldstreamers stormed the objective successfully.
Game Two was against Rob Shirley. An old nemesis from Hamiltron, fighting in a Roadblock. He was running Kampfgruppe Kastner, so I was the one blocking his road. At night. Poor choice of ambush chaps.... And how poor an ambush location was proved when my ambuscade rolled a 1 and couldn't see anything to ambuscade! Luckily, the Guards Rifle platoon was made of strong stuff, and could fall back relativly unscathed to the other 2 rifle platoons who were rollicking through the fields trying to capture the road. A pure infantry/armour combined assault onto the right flank (away from PaK 40s) secured me the game, with minor casualties. Max points again, but being at the top has it's problems!
Game Three was against Bob Pearce. Now, here is where things got dicey. Bob is a lovely chap, but unfortunatly for me also a damn good FOW player.and when I was attacking his horde of British Paras in Fighting Withdrawl, I was up the proverbial creek. Things got worse when in my turn one, my carriers decided to fluff themselves in an assault (one dead to a piat, 2 bailed out to rifle fire), followed by my M10s dissolving in a 6pdr ambush. My shermans were making every attempt to run into ever tree root on a hill, and my infantry refused to move. Not ideal. When 3 cromwells came rocking around, machinegunning infantry with gleeful abandon, it was looking like the deal was sealed. However, some stellar gunnery from a duo of 6pdrs (their other buddies and carriers had problems of the 75mm kind) combined with a cheeky assault by a Piat allowed me to get rid of that threat, and allowed my infantry to get stuck into his paras on the objective. Guards rifles vs Paratroopers was never going to be pretty, but the Coldstreamers came out on top. Certainly not max points, but a win!
And so ended day one, with only myself out in the from with a grand total of 3 wins! There were many, many other players snapping at my heels with 2 wins, and nothing is assured when there are good players around!
Game Four was against Craig Courtis in a Free for All. Now, this game is well documented, so I don't really need to say too much. It was a traditional affair between Craig and I; essentially everything died and we both had a great shot of winning, at the same time and it was only through a random course of events that the final result was decided! He was running tough as nails FJ with bunkers and 2+ morale. We each made a good attempt to attack, but after all our tanks had died and our infantry had worn themselves down assaulting each other, tragically my CO had a run in with a MG42, and so was unable to prevent my army failing company morale. Man of the match for me had to be one of my 6pdrs, his carrier got shot out from underneath him, so he proceeded to wheel the gun around looking for targets of opportunity including Marders and 4 different bunkers! Sadly the crew met their end at the hands of a large FJ platoon, the VC has been sent to the widows. A tight loss, putting Craig and I level at the top of the table.
Game Five was against Nick Garden. Nick is another player like Bob, in short someone who is fantastic to play, but is problematic in that he knows what he is doing and how to win! We were playing Breakthrough, the Guards were attempting to show Nick's colonials just what good British steel meant! Perhaps avenging the Maori wars? Unsure. At any rate, Nick's Kiwis made me pay dearly for any piece of land I took. I pushed hard against one of his flanks with 2 platoons of infantry, in an attempt to press him back and force his reserves into one corner (and thus not on the objective), but it didn't really work out that way! Our 6pdrs traded shots for a few turns (yay for HE in late war!) and unfortunatly his M10's and Shermans arriving from reserve did a real number on my M10s, and would have wreaked some havoc onto my rifle platoons, were it not for the infantry getting a bit lucky and finishing off 3 platoons in one assault step, thus putting Nick under half strength, and failing Company Morale. One platoon destroyed (M10s), but had it run another turn, my army would have capitulated also! A very fine run thing!
So, at the end of 2 days I had 4 wins and 1 loss, amassing 24 BF points. Craig by the end of day 2 had done exactly the same! So, honours are shared between us, despite the overall win being given to him as he was the victor in the game.
What did I learn? Rerolled morale saves my bacon. Numerous, numerous times. Apparently I am really bad at rolling a 4+ on one dice, but on 2 dice, it is no problem at all! Guards Rifle platoons are great at basically everything. They were fantastic assault troops with their large size (9 stands) could do some AT (Piat) and were able to do basically everything I wanted them to, without dying! I really enjoyed the three armoured platoons (carriers, shermans, M10s), which given I was attacking in 4 of the 5 games (the other was a Free for All), being able to choose the point of attack was essential to my ability to win. Equally the large amounts of 17pdrs enabled me to get rid of opposition tanks in such a way that my infantry could do the business unmolested by armour.
In fact, the Guards were so much fun, that they are heading up to Flamescon 2011 in Auckland in 2 weeks time! The only changes being I drop my light mortars, in favour of 2 4.2" heavy mortars, and my carriers are replaced by an Armoured Car Patrol from the Household Cavalry regiment. Because Daimlers are awesome! Now I just have to get painting them....
First game of Dystopian Wars tonight, the Southern Fleet is out on patrol in the Coral Sea....