At the last club meeting David and I decided to try out the latest version of the Flames of War rules (V4) in the Late War period. I was using Germans – Jadpanthers plus support, and David some nasty Russians. Having not played version 4 of the rules I was quite keen to see how they played out given some mixed reviews from existing players.
The scenario we chose was ‘Encounter’ which is where the two armies meet head on and try to claim certain objectives placed in their opponent’s deployment area. The only slight problem was that not all the army would be on table at the start with a percentage being kept off table until turn three. I elected to bring on my Jadpanthers and 2 Grenadier platoons with the rest of the army in reserve. David deployed a mixture of infantry, some captured Panthers (the cheek of it), artillery, AA guns and some SU 100s. (pic 1)
My plan was simple, steam ahead with the Jadpanthers , with the support of the Grenadiers on the flanks, and eliminate everything in their wake before any more Russians arrived. Well the plan started badly. As my Jadpanther platoon moved into enemy territory an ominous sound was heard overhead. Russian aircraft arrived in the first turn and took out my Commander in Chief (in a Jadpanther) with a ‘lucky ‘shot. Although I had bought with me some anti-aircraft guns they were not on table and I immediately regret my choices at deployment. (Pic 2)
I still kept moving with my Jadpanthers and Grenadiers but by the end of turn 2 it was clear I could not take as much ground as I had hoped. I took out a couple of SU 100s but had little success elsewhere, the Russian artillery pinning my Grenadiers in cover.
Neither of us gained reinforcements on turn 3 (as you have to dice for it) and although the Russian aircraft made another sortie no real damage was done. I continued to blast away at the SU’s causing more losses. By turn 4 the captured Panthers had made an approach so I had to try and change target or risk being outflanked. What I had not realised was that I had to carry out a ‘recognition’ roll before I could shoot at them. Of course, I failed, despite the fact that they are clearly painted Russian green, so could not shoot. (Pic3)
At this point I was relieved to see some reinforcements become available so I bought on my Anti-Aircraft guns. Much to my annoyance, on the next Russian turn David’s aircraft did not arrive and my AA became sitting ducks for his T34s that had arrived on the same flank. They were taken out in short order. The artillery was also taking its toll and I had to pull back my Grenadiers before they were hopelessly lost. They felt safe being in a wood close to my table edge. The only saving grace was that I had now managed to destroy the SU100s after they failing a morale test.
The pesky captured Panthers now made their move and surrounded a Jadpanther, eliminating it with a point blank shot to the side armour. The Jadpanther platoon was now down to 2 tanks and I was forced to pull back. On the final turn I got on some STUGs and took out one of the captured Panthers, who of course we now automatically recognised as they had shot at us. My Nebelwerthers arrived but too late even to get a shot off. A whole shed load of Russian infantry now appeared as reinforcements on the same flank as the T34s so the game was heading for a German defeat. By the rules reckoning, it was actually a draw when we finished having destroyed one platoon each. (Pic 4) However it would only have been a matter of time before the Russians would have captured an objective so well done David.
There are some significant differences in V4 of Flames of War to the previous version. Artillery is not quite as good and aircraft seemed to be improved as I quickly found out. Movement has changed a lot but I don’t think we really used this area to its full potential. It’s too early to make a judgement on this new version of a ruleset that I used to play quite a bit of. Will certainly give it another try or two before making a decision.
Report written by : Bill Skinner