My gaming buddy and I recently took advantage of Warlord Games' vehicle offer (buy 3 vehicles, get 10% off all of them) to add some reinforcements to our armies. He had it easy since he plays only Russians but I've got more challenges as I'm rocking Germans, Americans and British. I got all three because I knew I'd have to start building the scene and having at least two forces was a good way to start. However, for this order I decided to focus on the Germans since they'll be able to play against every other force.
For the game we stepped up to 750 pts and it was a great challenge. Both of us had new units to use and new things to work on. I was particularly interested to see how my flame half track fared. We'd heard that it could be overpowered in the game and so this was a testing match of sorts.
750pts of Germans. I had 8 order dice and the army, front to back, comprised a 6 man squad with 2 LMGs, a 10 man squad with 3 assault rifles, a 6 man squad with 2 panzerfausts, a 3 man command team with assault rifles, a sniper team, an MG42 medium machine gun, the aforementioned flame half track and a half track sporting a 37mm light anti tank gun.
Gergely's veritable horde of Russians was intimidating to face. Three 11 man squads, a commander, a medium machine gun, an anti-tank rifle, a sniper team, a medium mortar with spotter then the reinforcements of a machine gun jeep, a light howitzer and an SU-76 assault gun. Phew, 11 dice of Ruskies coming my way :-)
Our match left me as the attacker going up against the Russian gunline. We nominated the three buildings as the objectives (two you can see here, the other is just out of frame, foreground right) and I went on the offensive. My preliminary bombardment was great, putting pin markers on nearly every Russian unit and even killing the officer's adjutant. Not a bad start.
This picture shows the effects of a single advance order from the flame half track. I moved up, getting range on both squads and with my two flamethrowers, I could split fire. Flamethrowers automatically hit (18" range for vehicles), putting 2D6 hits (+3 to damage, meaning 2+ to kill infantry) and D3+1 pin markers on each unit. I took out five from squad 1 and four from squad 2 and dumped pin markers all over them. Both squads took their mandatory, post-flame, morale check and failed, despite re-rolls. In one turn I took out 22 infantry and two order dice. Wow!
Luckily for Gergely his reserved Su-76 came in. He'd kept it off the table to avoid the pre-battle barrage. Sadly for him it missed the flame half track and I prepared to burn some more.
Here's where it went wrong for me. Reluctant to expose my flame vehicle to the howitzer and AT rifle I tucked it into the cover of the trees and declared a double flamethrower attack against the Su-76. I was out of range by 1/2"! Damn. The Russians, ignoring the waves of flame just in front of the tank, put an armour piercing shell through the thin plating of the half track and left it destroyed (and probably burning).
I did my best to take out the assault gun but a half track with a light gun isn't going to have a good fight against a more heavily armed and armoured foe. My half track fell victim to another 76mm shell.
From there I did my best to enact revenge but I was just outgunned and unable to turn the tide. I took out a few more troops with my machine gun, who narrowly avoided the mortar's fire before shooting them down at long range. Otherwise my troops just got bogged down and hit by enfilading fire. The panzerfaust squad couldn't make it close enough to shoot at the Su-76 before they were pinned and battered from all sides.
I lost the game as I failed to capture two of the three objectives. In the end I had one and Gergely had one, but with a large chunk of his force intact and mine battered and bruised, the Russians had definitely carried the day.
The star unit for me was actually the MMG. I can't deny that the flame half track was brutal but I think the plucky MG-42 team who stayed brave as the mortar started zeroing in on them, pinned the infantry and the howitzer then finally turned their gun on the mortar and wiped it out deserve a pat on the back.
From the Russian side the best moment was the MMG jeep. It drove right into my lines (crazy Ivan indeed) and gunned down troops at point blank range. It took fire but survived with just a pin marker, then failed it's order test and reversed manically between two Wermacht squads around a hedge and to safety.
What about flamethrowers? Are they overpowered?
Gergely thinks no, but I think I need a few more games to really decide. It took out two squads like a dream and had it been a tiny bit closer I think I'd have taken out the Su-76, giving me a chance to burn my way across the field and rolling up one flank. The flammpanzerwagen feels like a lot of eggs in one unit. It's expensive (168 points), pretty vulnerable but has the chance to brutalise the enemy, especially if you take out the main anti tank threats. We'll see what it comes to in future games.
All the best and keep your eyes open for model reviews in short order.