Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Flames of War - Desperate Measures in 20mm

I guess like most wargamers I find it hard to settle on a default set of rules for a period.

I was very excited when Battlegroup Kursk rules came out, they gave me the granularity of infantry section tactics and battle drills that I craved - surely these would be my default set of 20mm rules for small-medium sized games?

But their artillery rules are so convoluted - it feels like being back on an Artillery acquaint course at the School of Artillery at Larkhill! And, if I'm honest with myself, no matter what my good intentions, I do seem to always end up 'going large', whatever rules I use!

So I think for now I'm going to trial using Flames of War rules for my 20mm games as well as for my 15mm games. Simple and fast to use, and, in my opinion, generally giving an outcome that is credible and authentic. And of course very popular and well supported.

Somewhere in NE Germany, April '45 - looking south east
My default playing surface is 12 x 6 foot, and in past experiments with using FOW with 20mm, I had simply doubled the ground scale - effectively only giving myself a 3 x 6 foot table, for a rather cramped scenario.

Now looking due west...
The purpose of this game was to trial only increasing the ground scale by 50%, which corresponds better to the relative increase in model scale, and is hardly more taxing on my mental arithmetic - infantry movement goes from 6 to 9 inches, most tank gun ranges from 32 to 48 inches. And my table now covers, in 15mm terms, 4 x 8 foot - plenty large enough for all FOW scenarios!

The 'liberators' form up...
I quickly cobbled together a 'No Retreat' scenario that would give this ground scale a good test - lots of artillery and armour! Desperate Measures covers the tank battles of Eastern Germany from Jan - April '45, and would be ideal!

Advance to Contact!
The attackers would be a Soviet Tankovy Batalon of 2550 points (told you I like to go large!)

The backbone being a couple of companies of T34-85 with tankriders, but supported by a platoon of SU85s, 

Guards IS-2s, 

and a small troop of ISU-152 assault guns...

The German Panzer Kampfgruppe of 2475 points consisted mainly of 2 platoons of Panthers,

A pair of JagdPanthers,

And a mixed armoured artillery battery of 2 x 105 Wespes and 3 x 150 Hummels,

With the PBI represented by a platoon of Volksgrenadiers,  

armed with a variety of light AT weapons.

The objective was the crossroads in the village, upon which the German company commander sat inside his Panther, making a total of 6 of these beasts, against 16 T34-85s...

But of course the Germans were confident veterans, with the exception of the 'Trained' Volksgrenadiers, and they had Oberst Hans-Ulrich Rudel in his Ju-87G Stuka...

The defenders were deployed first. Siting the rifle pits and artillery was fairly straight forward, dotted around the objective in all round defence, with the SPs close enough to intervene with direct fire if things got a little emotional...

But where to spring the Panther platoon ambush? In the churchyard facing across the flank of the likely approach route?

Or in the orchard facing the exit from the treeline?

I decided to follow the intent of the rules and leave it till the enemy forced an obvious choice - easy to do in a solo game! The other 2 platoons were off table as reserves.

Then the Soviet hordes came on, up the middle and off on their left flank through the woods...

However Rudel was soon on scene...

But only managed one kill despite the target rich environment!

The hordes were coming on...

And no German reserves came on for the first round...The company commander ordered his driver to stalk the Befehlpanzerwagon forward to the edge of the village - when the rush came every tube would count!

On and on they poured - Stalin's River of Heroes!

But the second German reinforcement roll was a game changer - two platoons could come on!

It was also high time to spring the ambush, from a fog shrouded fold in the ground that just gave a modicum of cover - it all helps!

So with the Jagdpanther platoon advancing to contact, that was all the German platoons on and soon to be in the fight!

And Rudel was getting his eye in - this time a double bullseye, including one of the scary ISU-152s!

The Panther ambush thinned the leading cohorts of the T34-85s emerging from the woods...

Whilst the Jagdpanthers reaped a harvest with their 88mm cannons:

At this point the Soviet company commander was in a quandary:

- use the guns to lay smoke, or continue targeting the infantry around the village, which were proving hard to range in on?

But there was only one answer - he couldn't send his tanks into the village against unsuppressed infantry armed with panzershrecks and fausts! Eventually the range was found and both batteries hammered the front edge of the village...

The armoured columns pressed on, their 85mm shells mostly just bouncing off the Panthers...

Predictably, Rudel continued to reap his deadly harvest...

Closing on the objective, the Soviet armour was now within effective range of the Panthers...

 And Jagdpanthers, and it was telling...

The left flank advance ground to a halt in a twisted mass of flames and molten metal...

And the centre advance had also reach tipping point, although it passed motivation - this time!

A further exchange of gunnery proved the advantage of the 88mm L71 and the 75mm L70 over the 85mms once again, and the final Soviet tank company withdrew...

And what did I conclude about only increasing the ground scale by 50% ? Well in any wargame, objectively, ground scale, compared to model size, is ridiculous - 1/72th of a 88mm/L71s effective range - call it a conservative 2,000 meters - would need a table accommodating 27 metres! So you have to fall back on your subjective instinct - did it look and feel right?

Oh yes!


  1. A great read, and everything looks beautiful as usual. I'm still holding out great hopes for Chain of Command for our 20mm games, when I can find the time to actually read the rules.

    1. Thanks Lawrence! Yes CoC is popular in my group, but for skirmish games I have plumped for Bolt Action. But I wouldn't try to use either for this size of game, which FOW handles easily...

  2. Great collection of minis you have, the terrain adds so much character and makes fab eye candy.

  3. Great looking table and minis...thanks for the report.

  4. Superior photo essay! It was completely possible to follow the tale of the table. Your table looked exceptional and everything melded very well. One thing - where was the Red Air Force?

    1. Thanks mate - yes good point about the Soviet air, I was trying to keep the points balanced, but with hindsight I should have given them some since Rudel was so effective.

  5. Sparker,
    Loved the AAR. Welcome to the gaming of FOW in 20mm. Your miniatures look the part and shine in the their tabletop glory. I will have to try the increased range effect again. I play with the standard distances for my 20mm gaming. How did you handle the infantry teams. 4-5 miniatures on the standard FOE team base size or did you go larger like myself. 4-5 based on 2.5" x 1.75" and the smaller base as 1.75" x 1.5". Also all HMG on the smaller base size compared to the rules on the larger team. Just couldn't fathom how the HMG was so spread out... it is a crew served weapon.

    1. Thanks Michael! Most of my 20mm infantry is based 3 figures on a 45mm wide by 40mm deep base, which seems to work. However as you spotted I haven't gotten around to rebasing my 'dug-in' Germans yet, they are on twice that width, so I was using one base to represent 2 squads...

  6. "Right now the ....Commander was in a quandary, use the guns to lay smoke or continue to pound the German infantry.." I must assume you have concluded, correctly, that Soviet field artillery can fire smoke and choose a house rule to allow Soviet indirect fire weapons to fire smoke? The ISU-152 have no smoke nor can they indirect fire. Same with the IS-2 and T34/85. What would have fired the Soviet smoke? You have no Soviet field artillery listed, nor would a Soviet unit advance guard likely have more than 4 76.2mm towed guns with it, and they would be Tank Killer AT guns. Confused in the USA. Where would the smoke to screen the attack have come from? P.S. At least one T34/85 Coy probably should be carrying a SMG Coy instead of tank riders, and this Coy should have attacked the town. I would have put a SMG Coy on each of the T34/85 Coy and Tank Riders on the IS-2. Like to know your thoughts.

    1. Hi Mike - you are quite right about the Soviet inability to fire smoke, I hadn't realised that! Yes I didn't mean to provide a full orbat, but the Soviets did have 2 batteries of artillery, but, now I've checked they couldn't have fires smoke anyway! D'Oh! Yes more Soviet infantry would have been useful - I was just trying to keep the points down but get lots of amour and arty on table...

  7. Sorry. Found the guns in one of your first pictures. They are not mentioned in your list of Soviet forces. Still wonder about the smoke house rules? Also, where were the ISU-152 and IS-2 in the attack? I don't see them supporting the T34/85 BN?

  8. Unfortunately the ISUs and IS-2s had been taken out before they could put too much fire down on the town - mainly by Rudel.

  9. Looks a good game, have you tried Rapid Fire, they were designed for 20mm?


  10. Thanks Ian! Yes I have tried Rapid Fire, indeed played many games with them, but found them confused about the level of command they are supposed to portray, and trained infantry appear to me to be too easy to kill.

  11. Love the Stuka tank buster, one of my faves.

  12. Thanks Jeremy - yes it pretty much dominated the game, tactically as well as eye candy!