Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Dystopian Wars fleet action

Since coming back from Flamescon, my enthusiasm for gaming was high, but the motivation to actually do it had splutted somewhat. So with plans of not doing anything, I was going to not game for a while. That was, until Jason's despicable Prussians appeared on the horizon threatening the supply of New Guinean rubber to London!

So, it was up to the KoB to defend the poor islanders (fuzzie wuzzies couldn't defend their way out of a paper bag).

We played a 1000 point game of Dystopian Wars, we also used Tiny Fliers for the first time (we are learning rules as we go), and there was a carrier on either side.
The Brittanian Fleet arrayed nicely, formed around a core of the carrier HMS Victoria, the twin battleships the HMS Iron Duke and the HMS Achillies. Supporting vessels included destroyers and frigates.

The dastardly Prussian fleet included not only a Dreadnought class vessel (identification unknown) but also a lumbering red behemoth of a Sky Fortress, unleashing hordes of bombers from her decks. To be sure it was going to be a tough match!

 The Combat Air Patrols orbiting over the captial ships of the fleet. These dive bomber squadrons are pulling double duty as both Ack-Ack and as a last ditch anti-ship weapon!

 As the action heats up, a tiny bomber squadron prepares to engage...

 Coming face to face with the Tesla coiled nose of the Prussian Sky Fortress! The fortress did eventually go down, to boarding in fact. Ironically all of the Prussian zepplins had a raging fire at one point or another- shouldn't that do bad bad things to a zepplin (ala Hindenburg?)
The downfall of the HMS Victoria, struck by Prussian bombers, then boarded by their rocket marines. The Dreadnought class vessel can be seen lurking behind the oil derrick.
The final end for the Prussian Battleship (unidentified name), struck by British dive bombers and subjected to close range firepower from the battleship Achillies.
The game overall was a traditional Dystopian Wars slug fest. I was running around with far more little ships than Jason, but their capacity for damage is no where near enough to get damage done on his Dreadnought, which was ultimatly the only thing that for him, survived. The tiny tokens were fun, not game breaking, but certainly added some cool elements to the game. We will have to keep thinking about how they are used!

As for the Prussians. Well, they are NASTY! Fantastic boarding assaults causes real, real problems, especially for the Brittanians (we are bad at boarding). I think escorts will be the order of the day, extra Ack-Ack dice might work to even the odds slightly. The Prussian Sky Fortress is an absolute behemoth also, a mammoth construction of firepower and death- and cheaper than the KoB carrier (who is for all intents and purposes, worse). 

But, in saying that, I do really like the Brittanians. The battleships and little vessels are great, super fun to run around with. Best described as a glass cannon, the KoB certainly CAN do the damage, it's just making sure they don't die in the process.

Apologies for it not being an "in character" report, I was feeling a bit put out- too much stuff dies in Dystopian Wars to really get a good character going! 

Another game planned for tommorow night, against some different Prussians, perhaps Cooper will return for that?


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Flamescon 2011 Day 2

Following on from my first entry about Flamescon, this is the story of how my second day went!

Game 4: Surrounded against Paul Mounsey

This game is one of the new missions we played, essentially there is one comapny in the middle, and the other two companies are on the outer sides of them, making them surrounded on two flanks! Cool idea, and played like a pretty cool mission actually.

Paul was running his Commandos of death (trademark pending), which was 4 platoons of commandos, 2 sets of Naval Gunfire Support (he had two companies), Typhoons and a smattering of Mortars. The Guards naturally were attacking (being mechanised sometimes sucks hard), so there was nothing to it but to show these beret clad show ponies what real British soldiers look like! Well that was the intention.

The guards ready to go! The sunlight really ruined any later photos unfortunatly...

His immediate ambush viciously claimed most of my Sherman platoon- having flamethrowers then hitting on a 2+ is pretty damn rude! Typhoons and Naval Gunfire attempted to wipe my M10s from the face of the earth, top armour 0 is just not good at all when AT 5 and 6 starts dropping on you!

The key moment in the game was when a full commando platoon with CiC, piats and The Lord Lovatt assaulted out of their positions to run off to kill one of my Guards platoons, only to not pin them and get beaten back by defensive fire! That meant that they were left cripplingly in the open, to get MG'd by Daimlers and then assaulted by my unscathed armoured platoon.

Meanwhile on the other flank, my shermans had finally run out of steam, but not before killing a platoon of commandos and gutting another, leaving me to finish that platoon off, forcing Paul to fail company morale, as I had killed all 3 of his commanders!

A vicious, vicious 4-3 win. Paul is a guy who takes ridiculous lists, simply for the reason that they are ridiculous. While I appreciate that its fair enough to do it, man do I ever not like to play them! They make me think too hard. Good guy to play, which makes it darn hard to begrudge him.

So, 4 wins from 4 games leading in to the last round- not a bad effort at all!

Game 5: Hold the Line against Andrew Oates

This mission marked the return of the old Hold the Line mission, which was the predecessor to No Retreat. Simple changes from NR are that the defender has delayed reserves, but he does also get 2 ambushes.

To be blunt, this game was unsatisfying.

Andrew had a British Rifle Company from Fortress Europe, with 2 platoons of infantry, some 6pdrs, some heavy mortars, carriers, 40mm bofors SP, Typhoons and 6 Churchill Crocodiles. So, being an infantry company, he was defending. The table itself had little terrain, what terrain there was; was based around large hills, covered by impassable cliffs. Which meant that there was exactly 2 routes towards an objective. He deployed 1 platoon of Crocodiles and 1 rifle platoon, with his 6 6pdrs and second croc platoon in ambush.

With no concealment, no night attack and no ability to go toe to toe with Crocodiles, this game boiled down to me having to go all out to try and press him hard enough that I might, might keep an objective.

To stand any chance, I really needed him to roll poorly. When crocodiles came in flamethrowing, I needed them to fail some hits, I needed the typhoons to not appear, I needed him to get no reserves. But, it was not to be. Andrew cruelly rolled average dice, which sunk me. His crocodiles flamethrowered my infantry when they got close, gutting each platoon as it got anywhere near his objective.

Shermans were annihilated by Typhoon strikes, and M10s decided to miss flank shots onto Crocodiles with their 17pdrs. Infantry became pinned and stayed pinned, 6 pdrs couldn't hit a barn door (9 shots, hitting on a 4+ for nothing over a 2....). Also his 3 morale tests he had to make to keep platoons in the game were successful, denying me a point.

The only highlight for me was when I attempted a super sneaky zoom with the Daimlers trying to capture the rear objective before reserves arrived there, only to be met by ambushing Crocodiles, who simply rolled forward from concealment and annihilated the top armour 0 vehicles. Thus did my best chance to win the game disappear.

In effect, all that could go wrong, did go wrong. It is a gamblers adage that you should never chase luck, and I got stuck chasing it in this game, I had to have it to stand a remote chance. It was unsatisfying, but good on my opponent, he took a list specific to win, and he beat me. I can't begrudge him for that, he was a nice guy to play, but the combination of his "gamey" list, an impassable terrained table and a brutal mission meant that the game itself just was not actually that fun, I don't enjoy sending troops into mindless slaughter.

Final Thoughts....

So, 5 games played. I played one person I had played before, the other 4 were people I had not played before. I really enjoyed a couple of my games, I was really happy with the game I played against the Commandos- tactically I think I played it right. The game which was the most fun had to be against the Fallschrimjager, a wonderful guy to play against on a wonderful table, with plenty of cool stuff happening. HE was close to having a really, really cool list too!

With the exception of the last game, I enjoyed the game themselves. The second game I was annoyed at his list, but at no point did I feel as helpless in the situation as I did in that last game, there quite simply was no way I could see that I could knock out 6 crocodiles before they released their 30 dice of instant killing flamethower dice. Even at range, I can't kill them but they can kill me with impunity. So, sorry Andrew, I didn't enjoy our game much, but that was nothing to do with you, more the situation itself!

Daimlers were quite simply the funnest thing ever. Zooming around machinegunning, or trying to littlejohn things, or assaulting nebelwerfers, these guys were great. So great in fact that they will be back, and in greater numbers!

Cheers to BF for running it, and to all my opponents. Simply great to chat to all you guys over the weekend, was fantastic.

Next up? Who knows!


Monday, 21 November 2011

Flamescon 2011 Day 1

Well, I figure I should split up my Flamescon blog posts- otherwise it will take far to long to read let alone write!

As previously mentioned, I took my Guards Rifle Company to Flamescon over the weekend, coming a respectable 12th place. I won 4 games, losing only the last match. I tied for best sport with a few others, and got an average army presentation mark. But anyway, here is the rundown of Day One.

Game 1: Dust Up against Andrew Agutters

Andrew was playing an SS Tiger Company- led by none other than Michael Wittmann! The mission really, really did not suit him. Half your platoons off table? having to both defend and take objectives? Not ideal.

My deployment was typical of my overarching strategy against tanks- assault them! Tanks (especially with minimal platoon size) suffer greatly at covering multiple objectives and getting rid of lethal Guards assaults. I basically charged two full platoons of guards riflemen towards the near objective, with the third adopting a defensive position. I killed his 4 SS scouts quickly and cheaply, forcing his tiger platoon to come to contest the objective controlled by the 2 platoons of infantry.
In this pic Wittmann stands alone against a brown horde....

With only one objective covered by the 2 tigers, it was a simple means of having my reserve Daimlers sneak up and place themselves on the other objective. 2 tigers simply could not cover the whole area.

One thing I really regretted in this game is that he was a really nice guy to play against, but the game was over much to soon for me to truly enjoy the game! One win and 6 game points to me....

Game 2: Breakthrough against Rob Torrance

We were playing a modified Breakthrough, the only change being that the defender gets a minimum of 2 platoons. Which in Rob's case, mattered a whole lot! He was running a Panzerspah company, with 7 Luchs, 1 platoon of 250/9's, 2 Elefants AND 2 Kingtigers. Awesomesauce.

Naturally his deployment was 2 elefants, 2 kingtigers. Double Awesomesauce. So my flank march was the 6pdrs and the Daimlers, while the 3 platoons of infantry with the big stuff (17pdrs!) tried to deal with the big kitties across the board. The plan was simple, smoke and charge with the infantry, try and flank with the 17pdrs, all the while waiting and hoping that the other stuff saves the day!
The M10's attempted to seize an opportunity and recieved their punishment for getting it wrong! One managed to survive and kill a Kingtiger; but was later brutally cut down by Elefants.
Just in the right of that shot, the prow of an M10 lurks! But on the left is the real hunters- Piats are lethal in assault!

With the 2 Kingtigers and the Company HQ dead, and my reserves duelling with Luchs (and winning) the only thing that Rob had left at the end of the game was his 2 elefants, who in spite of everything just would not die!

So, 2 games down, and I have played against 9 heavy german tanks. Awesome. The breakthrough was just an ok game, sure I won the game, but why would you take the list in the first place? You take Panzerspah because they are light fluffy and cool, not because they are the only list you can still have Kingtigers and Elefants in? I don't know really, just doesn't seem fun? At any rate, 4 game points and a win.

Game 3: Free For All against Eddie Ching

This game was really, really fun. Eddie won my best sports vote by far, he was an absolute blast to play. Who can fault another infantry player for attacking in a Free for All?? He had some nasty Cassino Fallschrimjager, running something that I am sure Craig would like- Marders, Panzer IV's, nebelwerfers. His only real fault was that he had 3 small platoons rather than 2 big ones (in my opinion)
Here is the gallant (and foolhardy) last stand of the poor 6 pdrs! They got viciously attacked by Panzers, without a chance to dig in or really fire at all- We did kill one, but that was not enough!
The infantry did get a bit of revenge at least, the panzers were finally killed by the M10 Achillies.
The late game run by my infantry to finally dig out some pioneers who had been causing me no end of strife! Behind those two burning Marders (killed by Shermans and Daimlers) is the objective. The Daimlers were fantastic this game, they shot up no less than 2 88's with MG's, then mowed down some infantry, assaulted a Nebelwerfer platoon off the table, killed 2 Marders with gunfire and best of all, didn't die! Absolute brilliance from the Household Cavalry!
This shot sums up my day really, here is the last of my 4 tank sherman platoon at the end of the game. In the background you can see the rest of his platoon, turretless and destitute. Ahead of him lies the wreck of a Marder, with another inside the ruined monastary. In the distance, the Guards Rifles prepare to assault and finish off the last of the FJ on the objective!

A 4-3 win, and a damn fun one too.

So, to sum up day one, I had some good games. The free for all was easily my pick of the three! I was left on 14 points, which curiously was the score for everyone staying with us (except Bede, dirty gerrrrman that he is being on 13). Most exciting for me was that I had not played any of those 3 guys before, new opponents are even cooler than wins! But there was alot to like, and two more games to go....

Further updates soon, dinner now


Friday, 18 November 2011

Flamescon 2011

Well, Flamescon is all of a day away, and my Guards Rifles from the 5th are rearing to go!
 The list is more or less the same as what I took to Conquest, with a few minor changes.

Company HQ

Guards Rifle Platoon- Three of these

Anti Tank Platoon- 4 6pdr guns with Lloyd Carriers
Heavy Mortar Platoon- 2 4.2" Heavy Mortars, Lloyd Carriers
Guards Armoured Platoon- 2 Sherman V, 2 Sherman VC (Firefly) Tanks, one with a .50cal AA
Self Propelled Anti Tank- 4 M10c Achillies
Armoured Car Patrol- 2 Daimler 1, 2 Daimler Dingo

So, thats the army! I thought I would try to see what a few close ups looked like on the different elements, I am pretty happy with how they look overall really, they are certainly a cohesive force if nothing else!

As for the tournament, well... I am not sure what to expect. I am guessing an excess of tank armies, with a smattering of tough infantry companies. I know that Bob and Nick will be there, with their super tough infantry armies, so I really hope I dont have to face them (again)!

Will have an update for you Monday, here is hoping the dice are on my side. Failing that, brew more tea!


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Treachery among the Atoll

Time had barely passed enough for reserves to arrive to the battlegroup before dark, looming vessels appeared on the horizon. All hands were quickly placed to battlestations, as the vessels anticipated further bloodshed at the hands of the Empire of the Blazing Sun. However, the hawk eyed lookout atop the H.M.S. Achillies spotted that the vessels were not the sleek pointed vessels of the Empire, but rather the squat  and dubiously sea worthy vessels of the Federated States of America.

It had been barely longer than living memory that the Federated States and the Brittanians had been at war, the States fighting to be free of what they called the Brittanian's "oppressive yoke", which they did not realise was simply their rightful place as members of the Kingdom of Brittania! Certainly they had suffered in Cooper's opinion of vessel design, their flattened hulls although suited to the Mississipi would be a liability once the vessels ventured any further south.

The Captain had ordered the crewmen to stand down once the vessels were identified, as the belief was that the two nations were in alliance to protect their own interests against the Empire of Japan. Once the shells from the FSA vessels began raining down among the Brittanian ships, the Captain was heard to loudly cry "Are they bloody blind or just bloody stupid? Don't they know we are allies? The revolutionary war is OVER!" First shots had been fired by the FSA, claiming sailors from the nearby cruiser, causing severe damage to it's engine systems. The decision was simple, the FSA may have started the fight, but damn well the Brittanians would finish it!

Immediatly all hands went to the critical stations on the Achillies, as a shell struck the superstructure before those in charge of the Sturginum generator could get it online to provide covering support. The cruisers were faring badly, being caught without defense against a withering hail of heavy cannon fire, the shells from the single barrels of the FSA Battleship and Cruisers tearing great gashes through the hulls of the cruisers as if it were a flame through paper. It was only a matter of minutes before both cruisers were listing heavily to one side, before beginning the process of sinking.

While the FSA fire was being concentrated on the Cruisers, the lighter frigates began their task of harrying the enemy vessels, closing in with dash and elan, pouring fire from their twin turrets and launching torpedo strikes whenever a target exposed itself. It was at this point that the F Squadron of frigates (the H.M.S. Exeter, Avarice and Fury) burst forth from the wreckage of the smaller FSA ships to pour crippling fire onto one, then another FSA Cruiser, the fire setting alight their magazines, causing explosions to ring forth from the very bowels of the vessels, lifting both ships high into the air and tearing them in half.
The secret weapons again made an appearance at a critical point, the Captain again simply uttered the word "Overlord" into the wireless. The nearby FSA cruiser simply stopped firing, smoke ceased to billow from it's smoke stacks and when Cooper looked closely, he saw black clad men stalking the ship, and a Brittanian Flag flying on the mast. Cooper watched as silently next to the Cruiser two metallic hulls rose up out of the water, the black clad soldiers leaping back onto their vessels as they went off to stalk their next prey. Cooper could only watch aghast as the brass prow of the vessels began to slowly move, then pick up speed as the vessels steamed forward into the hapless FSA frigates. The consequences were violent and instantaneous, the two grey hulls continued their rampage, leaving broken vessels in their wake.
It was only now that the Achillies really began to spew forth fire from her guns, sending plunging fire against the enemy Battleship. Raging fires broke out over the enemy vessel as one of the secret weapons endeavoured to provide the coup de grace against the enemy battleship. The submarine's brass prow again burst into life, attempting to rip apart the battleship from stern to stem. Unfortunatly the submarine simply collided with the enemy, tore into it and became stuck and was easy prey for the enemy boarders, who were able to disable the submarine and capture it.

Upon seeing this, the Captain again issued a second order, "Chastise" was said into the wireless, as the submarine erupted into flame, from an internal source. The Captain turned to Cooper, and said "No secrets must fall into the enemies' hands, those sailors knew the risks, with great glory comes great sacrifice".

The enemy battleship evaded around a small gap in the atoll, evading the heavy fire from the Achillies. The commanders of the remaining Frigates offered to pursue the stricken vessel, but the Captain ordered a halt and a return to Darwin, there needed to be a refit and rearm, lest the battlegroup get caught by another Japanese ambush. In addition, the FSA were meant to be their allies.....

So, Dystopian Wars. 3 games down, many, many more to go! It is a really fun game, very easy to kill the small stuff but the big stuff is much, much harder to get rid of. Frigates were brilliant in this game, and my Battleship has been exemplary in both of it's engagements!

Hope you enjoyed reading them!


Saturday, 12 November 2011

Revenge in the Coral Sea

It had taken a week of furious work before the Warspite could return active duties, the British dockworkers as well as those colonials worked furiously day and night to put the damages done back right. The reason for the haste was that the initial elements of the Southern Fleet were arriving from their long journey from New Zealand, and higher command were anxious to resume engagements against the Japanese in the Coral Sea theatre.

Meanwhile, Cooper had received a commendation for his actions amongst the Archipelago (now unofficially renamed Aria Atoll) as well as a new posting as First Mate aboard the H.M.S. Achillies, a brand new Ruler Class Battleship, equipped with the latest in offensive and defensive capabilities, technology which Cooper had not a single chance in comprehending. All he knew was that the Captain was legendary amongst the men, and had led several highly successful engagements against the Krauts, but was yet to combat the Japanese, which Cooper assumed was his purpose in being there.

The plan was simple, activate a battlegroup and sail north as a bait for the Japanese. Cooper predicted that they would again attack in the same fashion, attempting to use their fiery rockets at extreme range, before attempting to close and maneouvre for broadside gunnery attacks. The smaller ships then would act as the hounds, chasing, baiting and goading the Japanese, before the capital ships as the hunters steam in to a bugles call to deliver the killing blow.

It was again off the coast of the atoll that the Japanese sprung their attack. Long range rocket fire rippled through the sky, igniting the foredecks on the newly refitted cruiser H.M.S. Colossus. Return fire was swift and vengeful, the enemy aircraft were quickly targeted by the frigates, with one critically damaged quickly and the second damaged also. Further fire rippled from the enemy vessels, plumes of water gushed up around the Colossus. Cooper observing from his post on the Achillies could only watch in horror as from behind the haze an enemy battleship erupted forth, spewing rocket fire as well as spitting death from it’s main turrets. It only took one rocket to seal the fate of the Colossus, a single rocket plunged straight into its boilers, causing a catastrophic explosion leaving nothing left of the ship to sink. The remaining fire from the enemy battleship crashed into the beloved Vanguard, causing what appeared to be crippling damage. 

However the Vanguard was made of sterner stuff, steaming forth at full speed, placing herself in a position to fire all of her guns simultaneously in a gallant act of fury. Her fore and aft turrets spat fire at some nearby frigates, her torpedoes rippled out of her hull in all directions, as her Ack-Ack crews attempted to bring down the lone enemy bomber from the sky. It did not take long for the Japanese to realize the threat this vessel posed, as the bomber and multiple frigates fell to this fullsalide, and it took the battleship mere seconds to turn and acquire the target. Cooper could only watch in horror as the Vanguard like the Colossus before her had simply erupted into a fireball of green flame, the tell tale sign of a reactor explosion, meaning any chance of survivors was lost.

It was now that Her Majesties’ Royal Flying Corps joined the engagement, two Doncaster bombers swooped down from high in the clouds firstly directing torpedo salvoes onto the enemy battleship, followed by a crippling bombing raid. Cheers rang forth from the crew of the Achillies and efforts were redoubled in an attempt to pour more explosives onto the enemy battleship.

Unbeknownst to all but Higher Command, a secret weapon had been dispatched with the battlegroup. Once the enemy battleship had been damaged, it was elected that the time was right to unleash a coup de grace onto it. The captain of the Achillies simply said the codeword “Overlord” into the wireless, and pointed to the starboard side of the ship. Emerging from the water were two grey, animalistic vessels, bristling with firepower. Torpedoes raced forth from their jagged snouts, erupting in catastrophic explosions on the enemy battleship, until finally she broke apart from the stern, and began to list violently to the port side.
It had been a successful engagement for the Kingdom of Brittania, but at high cost. There was nothing left of the two cruisers, but the Achillies had performed admirably for her first engagement, claiming two confirmed enemy capital ship kills, as well as smaller vessels and an aircraft.

Time was now taken to refit, receive further reinforcements from the oncoming Southern Fleet, as well as to allow time for Cooper to grieve the loss of his beloved Vanguard. Sadly, it was not to be, as the look out from the lighthouse confirmed dark shapes looming on the horizon……


Monday, 7 November 2011

Coral Sea naval engagement

A tropical haze had spread across the island archipelago that the small battlegroup sheltered in. It was getting towards the hottest part of the day, when all operations were forced to a virtual standstill by the unrelenting temperature. The Captain of the H.M.S. Warspite, a Tribal class Cruiser, John Cooper surveyed his position. It had been weeks since he had left the safe port of Christchurch on a long range scouting patrol with the small battlegroup comprised of the trio of cruisers and their supporting frigates. No contact had been made, save with a few hostile locals. Naturally the fuzzie-wuzzies were educated in the pure excellence that is British doctrine and once swearing an oath to Her Royal Highness, they were immediatly put to work.

But aside from the haze and the memories of past glories, there seemed to be nothing afoot in this calm archipelago. It was not until the H.M.S. Exeter, an Attacker class Frigate erupted from a magazine explosion that the calm morning was broken into cries of action. More columns of smoke erupted around the support vessels as out of the haze loomed rounded prows bristling with murderous guns. Rockets began to rain down, setting a nearby oil derrick alight and forcing all hands to sprint for cover. Around the other flank small support vessels arrived, pouring their lethal fire into the frigates. The H.M.S. York was hit in her bridge, and remained blazing for the remainder of the engagement. It was about now that the well Cooper's disciplined crews began to set about their work. Main guns blazing at the smaller vessels ahead, the Warspite sought to put an island between herself and the pursuing capital ships.

On the other flank, the Brittanians were not faring well. The cruiser H.M.S. Colossus was struck in her rear boiler, causing a catastrophic eruption of flame as she sank briskly, with the loss of all hands. Other frigates lay burning hulks in the water. An order was relayed by the Commander of the H.M.S. Vanguard for the Warspite to break engagement at top speed, and the last Cooper saw of him was the cruiser moving at full steam, firing all torpedos and guns directly towards the oncoming enemy.
The Warspite was able to break engagement, but due to damage suffered during the engagement was unlikely to survive any further encounters, so Cooper elected to head straight for the safe port at Darwin, carrying stories of the carnage the Japanese fleet unleashed upon the unsuspecting Brittanians.

With the Warspite laid up in port, Cooper was interrogated by Higher Command as to the tactics, firepower, structure and nature of the Japanese attack in an attempt to understand and comprehend the engagement on the archipelago, so that when the full Southern Battlegroup arrived, the Brittanians would not be caught unawares again....

For the Japanese account, head here. Note that it is all lies and propaganda, nothing from Kruger can be trusted!

In other news, the Federated States of American are entering the Coral Sea also, and are expected to make first contact with the Japanese tonight....


Sunday, 6 November 2011


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....