Monday, 30 January 2012

Valleycon 2012 with Valentines- A Report

Last weekend Valleycon was run by the Hutt Club, the tournament was 1500 points early war, with 18 players.

I was running the Valentine list (here) with big tanks and lots of squishy soft stuff! It was a very enjoyable tournament, there was only one game which I found frustrating, it was against a good guy to play against, so I still enjoyed it, but the key for me was a fun weekend spent catching up with people I don't see anywhere near enough, talking plenty of smack about whatever comes to mind, and having some enjoyable games. The Valentines performed well, I only lost them all twice, a testament to how much of an armored blob they are!

Day one!

First Game was a Free for All against Mark Stanton, who was running Italians. 5-2 Win.

Mark was running one of the sillier things to come out of Battlefront, the Desert Fort. So he gets to put down a massive fort, which he then occupies. And shoots from. With a lot of heavy machine guns. Which is problematic!
So.. that's your deployment then?
Things started poorly for me, a carrier patrol was annihilated by some Sahariana recon jeeps, who raced around a corner, rolled 3 hits, I failed 3 saves and he passed 3 firepowers. Bugger. I responded with a brutal barrage of 25pdrs, ranged in, and rolled this...
That would be no hits then.....
So, that didn't work. While this was going on, my platoon of Maoris were hiding in a forest from the heavy MGs of the fort, while I raced my Valentine CO over to help them not get run down by the Saharianas!
These Saharianas have been problematic!
On the other flank, I sent the 4 Valentines completely unsupported in a truly historical fashion! 4 Valentines against the entire Italian left flank! Oh, and the Italians also had air support....
Gorgeous Planes. Gorgeous planes with bombs....
Luckily! Luckily the Valentines armour was proof to the bombs, meaning they could press home their attack.

First into the Infantry...
Advance, line formation, engage targets!
Then into the Italian Artillery....
Except for the one that bailed out, that went quite well sir!
And with a failed Tank Terror test to assault my Tanks off the objective, the game was mine! A 5-2 win to the Valentines, pity about the poor sodding carriers on turn 1!

Game 2 was against Pete Curry, with DeGaulle and French Armour in a No Retreat. 6-1 Win.

This was a silly, silly game. Pete was running French Armour, with Char B tanks. Which have front armour 6, side armour 5 and top armour 2. Valentines' 2pdr gun has AT 7. The AT of the 75mm on the Char B is 6. So in effect, our tanks actually couldn't hurt each other. Huh. Add to that, it was a No Retreat, so by me "losing" the dice roll, I got to defend, basically deciding the game.
The vaunted "triangle around the objective" defensive formation
Where as Pete opted for "Le Hammer" tactic.
Le Hammer in action!
Pete had to call an all out advance, so I used my Valentines to kill his one platoon of Infantry, which meant our game turned into this..
The Valentines are using the Square formation now!
To Pete's credit, after a few turns of this, he decided to go for the jugular, and make a daring attack through the escarpment into my lines, where the squishy stuff of my army was hiding!
Uh oh! Sticky bomb time!
Three armoured platoons made a break through the three gaps in the escarpment, but my squishy stuff was defended by my artillery and my infantry (sticky bombs!) 
Defend the camels!
The heavy shells of the 25pdrs tore apart one platoon of Char tanks, and gutted the second, leaving only one tank and the platoon of Hotchkiss light tanks to capture the objective. The 25pdrs lost multiple guns to the enemy MGs (argh 6's on firepowers!) but remained on table, leaving the Infantry with their sticky bombs to do the real damage to the enemy, destroying the platoon of Hotchkiss tanks, leaving one Char standing alone...
Qua? Ou est le tanks?
 Full credit to my opponent, he got a bad match up, in a bad mission. But he really, really made a game of it, which was great.

Game 3 was vs Russell Briant using Matilda Infantry tanks, in Witches Cauldron. 1-6 loss.

If the last game was a bad match up for my opponent, this one was even worse for me. Witches Cauldron, and shock horror, I am attacking. Against Matildas. Which are front armour 7, side armour 6, top armour 2. So at best, he has to roll a 1 for ANYTHING to happen. Which it didn't. Ever.

As attacker, I brought 4 25pdrs and my Valentines on table, with the Maoris and the carriers as reserve. The goal was to keep the Matildas occupied with the Valentines, maybe kill a couple of the Matilda 1's (the lighter ones) so when the Maoris assaulted, they stood a better chance of not dying! 

Now this is just flaunting your armour.....
Unfortunatly, when it came time for my grand assault, the Maoris got ruthlessly gunned down- Russell had a turn where he simply did not miss. With 23 dice. Which meant I died. A lot. But, full credit to Russell, he didn't give me a single sniff at getting the win, I tried to do a sneak attack with carriers, which he was able to counter, and he rolled the motivation test he needed to do for his 18 pdrs to stay on table after my carriers tried to kill them! (3 carriers try to cross a hedge. 1 bogs. 2 carriers machinegun and pin. 1 18pdr shot hits and bails. Last carrier assaults and misses. 18pdrs have to break off, which means I kill the gun!).

So, a well played game for Russell, but a bit of a frustrating one for me. Any slim (very slim) chance of winning required very, very good dice which I didn't get.

In hindsight, I could have spent a lot of my time trying to kill two platoon's of Russell's, deploying my troops to engage his reserves directly rather than going for the objectives, but heck, a chance of winning the game is worth doing! 2 wins, 1 loss from the day so far.

Day 2!

Game 4 was against Simon McBeth (Mr Early War) with his Kiwi Div Cav in a Dust Up. 5-2 Win.

The first thing I will say about this game is that I rolled very well for turn 1-3. As in, every save was for those first 3 turns, a 6. Which is exactly NOT what Simon needed. It was very much ridiculous. Sticky Bombs, artillery, direct fire from 25pdrs; all a 6 to save.

But, it was Dust Up, I deployed my Valentines and 25pdrs,
And I deployed them all on one hill.....
The game was very fluid, I sent my 2iC valentine out to harass Simon's Infantry, and he ended up killing them! With them gone, Simon needed me to roll some seriously bad dice to start losing Valentines, but it wasn't happening.
Shhhh the artillery can't see us!
Simon's reserves came on and sought to flank my 25pdr battery, only to be thwarted by a lack of 6+ firepowers and the artillery's ability to unpin! The Stuarts, followed by some Universal Carriers and then some Vickers light tanks all fell victim to direct fire. The only respite came when 3 Carriers came out, machinegunned, and the return fire from 6 dice hit nothing. At all. And they were hitting on a 3+!

But by this time, the ship had sailed, the Valentines had driven off to run over the 2pdr guns (and killed 2 through their gunshields with MG- my dice were so very on!). Simon had claimed one of my carrier patrols with a unit of Vickers light tanks, but the second one ran off and hid in a wood!
They have big machine guns, hide!

All up, my dice being so very good in the first few turns meant that Simon had a really hard time of the game. Had my dice been average, I think my small army might have crumbled. Or certainly had a much harder time of it.

5-2 Win, but very very easily could have been a 4-3 (I passed 3 motivation tests for my artillery...)

Game 5 was against Alex McEwan, with his Italian Steel, in a Fighting Withdrawl. 4-3 Win.

To call this game a win is actually wrong. Everything died. Everything. What did I have left at the end of the game? My 25pdr battery, and 2 Universal Carriers, 1 of which was bailed out. What did Alex have left? 1 100mm gun, and 3/4s of a Demolisher platoon.

Everything else had died....

I was attacking the Fighting Withdrawl, so I chose one flank to put the Valentino hammer down on, hoping to crush through the enemy tanks and escape into the squishy infantry beyond. That was the plan... But what eventuated was the enemy tanks not dying (Italian Steel!), my Valentines getting schwacked by 100mm guns and stalling! Eventually the 25pdrs were able to smash through the armour, leaving the Maoris to finish the enemy tanks off in assault. By this stage the Valentines had broken through, assaulting 3 platoons at once! 47mm guns bailed one in defensive fire (yep, a 1. Crap), then I proceeded to drive merrily about some infantry, then roll two ones for armour saves (oh look, 2 more 1's. Craaaaaaap), then fail my motivation, with a reroll (more craaaaaaaap), making me lose the tanks. To conscript infantry.

The last Valentine got obliterated by a 100mm shot straight down the roof armour, leaving me 2 platoons down, with only the Maoris left to win me the game. The plan? Assault. The Maori's followed up where the Valentine's left off, destroying first the Infantry, then the 47mm guns, then almost destroying all of the 100mm battery (I couldn't reach the last one!). But by this stage, I had worn the entire platoon down to only having the platoon commander left, where upon he failed his morale test.

Thankfully, Alex had the next turn, so he broke from Company Morale before I had the chance to! 4-3 Win.
So many burning tanks....
So with 4 wins and 1 loss, it gave me enough points to tie for 3rd place, but with more wins than the other guy (4 vs 3, poor Tim!) I was declared 3rd! First place went to Bede, who managed to stall out Russell's matildas in a Fighting Withdrawl, Russell and Bede were equal First place, but again it came down to the number of wins.

All up, a fun as weekend! Was great to talk to all the guys, was good to play people I hadn't played before (Pete), but was also good to get some vengeance on people who had smashed me in the past (Simon!). For more photos, head here to see the photos from Nick the T.O. Last thing to say is a big thanks to Bede for the bed and the beers, to Nick for running a fun competition and to my opponents for being great guys to game against.

Very much looking forward to the next competition now, Day of Days will be brilliant!

Back to the painting table...



  1. Great report Pooch, wellldone- you even remembered to get some photos!

    Looks like ahistorical matchups in EW can lead to some very amusing results- game 2 for instance. The fort looked cool but is stuff like forts and armoured trains really adding to the enjoyment of the game or would they be better for scenario type games? This game is getting stranger and stranger.


  2. I know what you mean Craig - had a look @ Andy's Grey Wolf with the armoured train and my reaction was: do we really need that in our generic company level battles? It's gotten very Warhammerish. Hopefully they continue to leave MW alone.

    Nice report Poochie and well done on third place. I recognise many of the names so I guess they are supposed to be good and the level of opposition was high? Do you think the 'funny' matchups are just an oddity due to not all lists being out yet? Valentines are cool tanks - you WIP almost made me want to make a Tankovy of them.


  3. Things like the forts and trains are unlikely to appear in many "serious games" unless the player is really just having fun. They have just too many liabilities.
    Like any wargames rules the "power gamers" do more to spoil the game than the designers ever do. FoW works well and allows lots of sillyness if you want to do it, if all you want to field is a list which is legal (IINO for example) but not exactly "standard" you are perfectly able to do that as well.
    Loved the write up Poochie, makes me think I should do more gaming than organising.

  4. You can never have to many Vals Jamie.

    Fully agree re MW- the final version of MW (4.0?) has fixed most of the silliness and rorts.


  5. Have to agree with Stephen S on the power gamers.
    I only took the fort as Valley-con has a very relaxed gaming atmosphere in my opinion, and I expected most of the players wouldn't of minded so much in me taking a different list to the ordinary. I fail to see why it wouldnt be enjoyable to play against ?
    Sure I could of annoyed a few select people in the taking it, but that could of been said about anything in this game of FOW we play, a good example is a full on Maltida army in EW or Kingtiger and Elephant units in a Panzerspah list that was used for LWGT recently.
    Seeing as the EW Vichy French army can legally take a desert fort in their list, I can see no reason why a garrison force can not be used for EW tournaments - and lets not forget that you have to take the fort to even get up to 1500points.
    As you say, I would never take myself to seriously when using a fort (or train) and would have a fun approach to war-gaming when using it especially for a local little tourney like Valleycon.
    Cheers Mark

  6. I wouldn't muddle 'power-gamers' into this. That is, I think the concern is not that they are 'too good', more that they are 'silly' - they seem to stretch that suspension of disbelief, that points-build games require, just that bit further.

    To me, what sticks out like a sore thumb about Forts and Trains is that they are more like Terrain and look really jarring sometimes - see above photo of the desert fort amongst the green grass and fir trees!

    I agree with Craig - things like heaps of Churchills (which I think is Stephan's IINO ref) in support of infantry used to be something promoted through scenarios and for a while there we still got specific scenarios in our LW-Battlebooks. We still regularly use one of them (Breakthrough Assault) in tournaments.

    Still - as you say - fun, and I do recognise and agree with that. GW produces very popular games and they are full of that kind of cool and odd 'army centerpiece model', they call it. I like their giant armoured spider, with goblin riders. :)

  7. The fort is... Interesting. It bothers me more than the train, but any advantage it offers is negated by the rubbish troops it contains! I found the game vs the fort to be absolutely fine and fun, Mark and I had an enjoyable game! Equally, I have no doubts his brother Andrew had any complaints about someone gaming vs the train.

    The Train is actually just really cool. Having seen it in action, it is not game breaking, and can be countered very easily, but it is something that adds to the game, rather than detracts.

    Both the fort and the train are not armies for "Power Gamers"- they are not strong lists on the whole. Yes there are more powerful ways of making armies with those things in them- but there are other lists which are much more problematic!

    3 of the top 5 at valleycon were built around heavy tanks for example? Matildas, Valentines and Char B's are all very tough to deal with for the average infantryman.

    Yes. Yes there are silly things in FOW. There are things for power gamers to abuse, there are things for people to have fun. Fundamentally? I think it is about the right attitude to gaming, which is why I have no problem with guys like the Stantons bringing Trains and Forts, because they are fun guys to game against, and I have only ever had fun games against them.

    Then again, I don't enjoy people playing supid powergamey lists. See my rant about Flamescon!

  8. Lol - I have no problem with silliness - look at some of my favourite games.

    It just seems that there is a bit of a melding of genres going on - I never liked those prepacked Jam+Peanut Butter things they trialed when I was a kid....

    My answer to stodgy heavy tanks or inf with heavy tanks is the Ironman Challenge: Ironmen run mech inf and recon (and tanks, if you want 'associate' membership). Back to basics FOW.

    Now must paint the HTs!

  9. Silliness is good!

    Halftracks and Recon are very very cool. That is without a doubt! Alas, next tourney will be tanks for me....

  10. Good point Pooch- I've played the Stanton's several times and always had fun games- powergamey has never been something I'd accuse the lists I've faced from them of being.

  11. Exactly right Craig! They are guys who take stuff because it is cool, not for game effectiveness. Which is why I have no problem with them doing it!

    The train and fort are.. interesting. The fort bothers me because it looks wrong, the train looks awesomely cool!