Flames of War Milan Tournament

Flames of War Milan Tournament

Flames of War Milan Tournament 
with Paolo Paglianti

Well, I’m really happy. I began to set up this tournament in early January, but the situation was not that good. In the end, despite the COVID and all limitations, we managed to gather 43 players (28 FOW, 14 Saga, and 1 reserve) under the same roof. A full Sunday playing wargames, throwing dice, and blaming luck, and a lot of fun. This was probably the biggest FOW tournament in Italy since before the Pandemic.

First, the gadgets and the sponsors
I like the idea of each player returning home after the tournament happy and, possibly, with a small gadget or two. Something unique that they can use in their future games. For FOW players, I created three tokens for Attack, Defence, and Manoeuvre. These tokens can be used when a FOW game starts and the two players select the scenario with More Missions PDF. It’s very easy to create a 3d “sign” from a 2D draw, using 3D Builders, a pre-installed program with Windows 10. I also primed them with dark grey, and I painted them with a German WW2 camo-like color.

Flames of War Milan Tournament

Each player received a 20$ coupon for buying a strategy game on Slitherine Games website, a 10% off coupon from PWorks Wargames, 20% off for Baueda, a 15mm soldier on a personalized base with the player’s name, and a 3D printed gadget: Attack/Maneuver/Defend tokens for FOW, 6 themed Fatigued tokens for SAGA. 

Next Step, Table Preperation
We were going to play in a basketball camp in Sandro Pertini Sporting club in my own town, Cornaredo. The town is really close to Milan, and also to Malpensa international airport, so I hope some players from Europe could come to play FOW or Saga tournaments. The facility is large, so we could place the tables with a good social distance of more than three meters one from each other.

Since I’ve been organizing FOW tournaments in the last five years, I accumulated enough scenic to cover up to eight FOW thematic tables. Torino, Trento, and Switzerland players brought elements to cover additional tables, and I really want to thank them for helping. Another Milanese player, Giorgio Bendotti, has 4 tables on his own, so he also greatly helped to have crowded and beautiful tables. Nobody wants to play a FOW game on an empty table where Tigers and Pershing can shoot from one side to the other. We want cover.

Flames of War Milan Tournament

Flames of War Milan Tournament
Flames of War Milan Tournament

The Lists
Aurelian LeClerc, a masterful painter and also a very good Saga player, handled all the preparation for Saga Tournament, checking the list. For FOW, I wanted a list-checker with great experience, so I asked for some help from my friend and ETC Captain Søren Petersen. His eye for precision meant he found many small errors in the lists I’d probably have missed.

Speaking of my list
I was tempted to play the new US Bulge list. The US has the strongest artillery in the game: they can buy cheap three-tank platoons of Priests, whereas the British need to buy guns troops of four, wasting precious points for the useless fourth model. Also, the Time on target special rule grants them the lethal ability to force a double save test on hit infantry and guns if they manage to call the range in at the first try. Against Soviets and SS, this is particularly strong.

However, I played with my favorite army, the British. I’ll probably use the British at the FOW ETC Championship, where I’ll play with the Iceland Team. I kept the core list I already used in September, but I swapped the Bofors, the plane, and the AVREs for a full-strength Churchill Crocodile platoon. I thought I was going to meet lots of infantry defending in dig-in holes, and flamers are the best infantry formation killers. Together with the two WASPs platoons, I could theoretically count on 36 flamers shots per bound, even if moving Crocodiles and WASPs.

Flames of War Milan Tournament

The First Game - Giorgio Bendotti’s Germans
Giorgio is one of the best players in Milan, and we usually play a couple of times per month. We tried to avoid the same cities games in the first turn, but we ended up playing together – again.

Giorgio Manouvred and I attacked, and we ended up with the new mission “Gauntlet”. In this scenario, the defender deploys on the sides, while the attacker is on one long table edge. Both Objectives are on the other long table edge, in the center. Basically, it’s a run for the Objectives: the Defender needs to wait for the reserves, while the Attacker has to run in a central corridor with the opponent shooting from the sides.

Flames of War Milan Tournament

A game of Flamers. My Crocodile and a Wasp platoon are on the left, lurking behind and in the wood, ready to jump on the 88s in nests. A lucky roll for the immediate reserves allowed me to bring on the table the second Wasp platoon, aiming to the other two 88s on the right side. At the same time, Giorgio’s full flamer platoon wait to unleash its attack on my advancing infantries.

Flames of War Milan Tournament

Giorgio placed the four deadly 88s on the sides, as a warm welcome committee. Thanks to the Nest card, he can deploy them individually, and he can lose them without losing precious score points. Mortars and Artillery behind the sight, to shoot to my advancing infantry – I couldn’t dig in with this scenario, as I had to rush to the objective. Finally, a full Armored Panzergrenadier platoon mounted on their SD KFZ, to quickly go where they were needed, and 6 flamers to further counter my attacking infantry.

On reserves, the two Tigers, the scout Puma platoon, and another infantry. I placed on reserve both M10s platoons, as they were not needed in the initial part of the game, since no opponent heavy armor was deployed, and a single Wasp platoon. I deployed both infantry in the central corridor, aiming to the wood and the building ruins on the left – the only two spots where I could cover a bit my Canadians. On the left side, I also deployed my experimental Crocodiles with the other Wasp platoon.

In the first bound, I rolled a six for my reserve and I immediately moved on the table the other Wasp platoon. I aimed for the two 88 bunkers on the right, killing one immediately. Good shot! The Crocodile entered the wood on the left, and the infantry began to move towards the objective. My first target was to clear the flanks from that nasty 88s, and the flamers were the best option to kill them despite being in a bunker.

Once I killed them, I was free to let the M10s enter. My infantry reached the central house but was immediately countered by the German flamers: 6 SD KFZ with flamers, 24 dice of deadly fire. In two bounds they almost destroyed my first infantry platoon, but then the M10s came in help and killed the flamers – with AT 14, I just needed to roll to hit them, and my 17 PDR would tear them apart almost automatically. Once killed them off, I could advance with the other infantry and fight off the remaining units, some Armoured Panzergrenadiers in the cornfield north of the houses. The M10s, plus the Wasps, plus the Canadian proved too much for the single German platoon and I conquered the objective. 7-2 for me, having lost a Wasp platoon and the first infantry one.

I think Giorgio played very well but did a single mistake: when he had the Tigers entering on the left side, he used them to chase off the three Crocodiles. I moved the Crocodiles on the right, and he went on chasing them. This move allowed my 8 M10s to swiftly advance (losing only two of them) to the upper half of the table, where they literally had no enemy and could kill the mortars and the SD KFZ, both flamers and troop transports. If Giorgio had moved the Tigers to counter the M10s and control the objective, I could probably lose the game.

Second Game - Davide Ranzani's US List
Time to face for the first time a Super Pershing! The US army in Late War was already a formidable force, but as we noted at the launch of US Bulge (LINK) now Uncle Sam’s generals have what they missed: AT14 guns and a Tiger-like tank, the Pershing. Davide fielded the even more deadly and indestructible Super Pershing, a super-heavy version with frontal armor 13 and 90mm gun with ROF 2/1 and AT 18. Here is his list

Flames of War Milan Tournament

Flames of War Milan Tournament

Supertank! I met for the first time a Super Pershing. Davide used it as a mobile fortress to support the infantry weary Rifle on the rightmost objective. Since we both had Scattered Reserves, I deployed the infantry in the center, to be able to direct it to the most vulnerable objective. 

We both attacked, and we rolled out the classic Encounter mission. We played on a desertic table as obviously the Crown’s army and the US Ally were doing a Blue vs Blue training in North Africa before joining the Liberation of the Continent. Davide deployed his infantry and the Super Pershing on the right and a force of mixed 75/76 gun Shermans on the left. As any well-composed US army, he had two artilleries.

I placed an infantry in the center, with the mortar platoon on the right to keep the objective. Since I needed the two M10 troops to keep Davide’s Shermans at bay, I had to keep in reserve the other infantry and the Crocodiles in reserve. The two M10 units were on the left, in the cornfield near the left objective, and on the far right (not visible in the photo) behind the rocky hill.

Davide rushed to attack on my left side: his Sherman tanks with stabilizer moved in the cornfield on the far left, and still shot ROF 2. Since my M10s were hidden and gone to ground, the first 76/75 salvo proved worthless. In my bound, I moved my infantry in the houses in the center – since I didn’t know when and where my other platoon would arrive on the table, the center position was both safe and good to coordinate a later attack.

However, Davide concentrated the mortar unit and the Priests on the infantry, and using the Time on target special rule, he mauled the poor Canadians. Meanwhile, on the left the M10s lost one tank but wiped out the Sherman platoon: a new tank troop appeared from reserved, the nimble and fast Chafee, and they took the place of their bigger cousins: the same spot in the same cornfield, shooting twice per tank with AT10. The M10s resisted: at the end of the high caliber duel, only two M10 survived among twisted burning wrecks.

My infantry come from reserves and joined the fight in the center: I moved them and the newly appeared Crocodiles towards the right objective. The Super Pershing was invulnerable to the AT10 from the Crocodiles, and the AT14 of the M10s could only hope to scratch its super armor.

However, the Pershing could only shoot twice per turn, and I assaulted at maximum speed with a total of 7 tanks. Davide destroyed a Crocodile and 2 M10s, but the others arrived on its flank and shoot point-blank on the vulnerable sides, destroying the super heavy Star and Stripes tank. Once the cover of the Pershing was reduced to a wreck, the remaining Crocodiles and the WASPs flamed the US infantry and the Canadian infantry forced the few survivors away from the objective. 6-3, having lost a WASP platoon, a full Infantry platoon, and the UV carriers.

The game was fast and furious. We counted more than 16 tanks destroyed on both sides, and we did more than 10 turns. Davide’s attack on the left was really dangerous, as my other M10 platoon was too far to intervene in case he managed to kill off with some lucky shoot my poorly armored M10s on the right, that held the flank basically all alone. However, the numerical superiority on the right was the key to killing the Super Pershing: it simply didn’t have the chance to hit all the tanks I threw at it before I got to the flanks.

Third Game- Maurizio Cisotto's Germans
Maurizio is one of the best Italian players, and I was not surprised to see him in the first two tables in the last game of the tournament. His German army includes the feared and almost indestructible Elephant, two infantries, a platoon of armored flamers, some antitank Pak  – everything he needed to counter my anti-infantry army. Here is his list.

Flames of War Milan Tournament

We both attacked, and we selected the Scouts Out new mission. In this mission, both players have Delayed reserves, and have an exposed objective in front of their deployment area. Here is the starting position.

 Flames of War Milan Tournament

Rush hour. With this scenario, the players naturally aim to the exposed objective in front of the opponent’s deployment zone. Mine is the German cross in front of the buildings, which I easily controlled with one infantry platoon. Maurizio’s is much more exposed on the left, on the side of the building. Since he kept his flamers in reserve, he couldn’t effectively clear the right objective, while my massed flamers kept Maurizio’s infantry away from the objective I was trying to seize. 

I deployed an infantry platoon near the exposed objective – Maurizio placed the objective near a ruined house, and I instantly elected it as the perfect nest for my defensive flank’s infantry. The mortar platoon, with still a decent assault/counterassault value, had to defend the other, less exposed objective.

I run with my scouts (despite the scenario name, you can still use them) on the left quarter and I deployed behind the hill my attack force: the other infantry platoon with the support of the HQ, a Wasp platoon, and the Crocodiles. Maurizio mirrored my deployment, using his scouts to extend his deployment zone and setting up an attack on my weak, right side: a full infantry platoon, the SD KFZ with guns, and some scouts. To protect his objective, he deployed the Elephant, some mortars, and a couple of PaK guns. To my surprise, he kept the flamers in reserve.

Since I knew there was no point in a draw, I rushed to attack. Maurizio’s forces were stronger than mine in terms of armored vehicles, so I tried to play as fast as possible to get in a good position before his reserves could arrive from turn 3. I moved the infantry in the open – and that was a gamble, boys! – in front of the houses near the objective on my left.

I failed the Blitz order, so they stood in the middle of nowhere and faced a couple of bombardments from mortars and Wespe. By the Crown, the Canadian platoon lost only a couple of bases before reaching the relative safety of the building on the far left. On the other side, I moved the second infantry platoon inside the ruined house and firmly kept an eye on the exposed objective. Maurizio shot the infantry with guns and the SD KFZ AA powerful machine guns, but the walls kept the defensive Canadians safe. I also avoided shooting with them to make it harder to Maurizio to hit them.

Meanwhile, on the left my assault mounted on: the Wasps and the Crocodiles joined up and began to shoot the lighter vehicles, destroying some SD FKZs, including the AAs. Obviously, I wasn’t able to even scratch the surface of the Elephant, but – again – shooting him with some smoke I forced Maurizio to move it every bound, and with ROF 1 the Elephant was simply not able to kill everything I threw to him. Maurizio was forced to retreat to avoid being flanked and had to move the Wespe to control the objective with some machine gun armed vehicles. However, with Top armor zero, they were destroyed by the Wasps and the Crocodiles flamers, and I won the game checking the objective before the reserves could come into play. I love when a plan comes together. 8-1, without losing a single platoon.

I think Maurizio did a single, fatal error. He chose to deploy the AA and the mortars but kept the flamers in reserve. The flamers were the winning weapon and would have proven invaluable to destroy the infantry in the building on the right. Without them, my 7-bases Canadian could have kept the building and the objective indefinitely, as no gun could kill them in less than 6 shooting bounds.

At the same time, my flamer force of Crocodiles and WASPs simply kept away Maurizio’s infantry, as he knew that if he dared to moved anywhere near the objective, I would have destroyed them easily thanks to the double-save, AUTO firepower fo the flamers. While the Ferdinand in Mid War tournament can effectively keep an objective, in Late War with much cheaper and more powerful tanks around, it needs to be supported.

The Prizes

Flames of War Milan Tournament

I ended up second in the tournament. My friend, and an excellent player, Claudio Tiso managed to win the tournament with his US Army full of Pershings and Artillery. I was only disappointed that we didn’t play a game, but I’m happy he won a well-deserved tournament.

The prizes offered by Battlefront included a brand new fantastic Tobruk starter box for the first place as well as a marvelous Artbook drawn. The book was awarded in a random drawing to Gianluca Moroni from Pesaro, a front-line doctor who has spent the last two years battling the pandemic. He traveled 350 km to play in the tournament. There was another randomly drawn prize, a 4-Panzer IV platoon painted by myself. It was won by Jacopo Perini from Trieste.

I really like to have random prizes, as I hope more and more players go home in the evening happy for the tournament. The first five players received a cup with the tournament’s logo. We also had four medals for the best “army placement”. The US, British, and German went to the first three players, while the USSR went to the twelfth.

Final Results for Flames Of War

Position Player List Army BIG SMALL PTN
1 Tiso Claudio US Bulge 3 22 16
2 Paglianti Paolo British D-Day 3 21 14
3 Maggioni Flaviano German Bagration 2 19 11
4 Zanchi Stefano US Bulge 2 17 19
5 Martiniello Paolo German D-Day SS 2 17 7
6 Regazzoni Stefano British D-Day 2 16 15
7 Bendotti Giorgio German D-Day 2 16 12
8 Grimaldi Luca Finnish Bagration 1 14 10
9 Ranzani Davide US Bulge 1 13 5
10 Cisotto Maurizio German Bagration 1 12 13
11 Dal Dosso Andrea Rumenian Axis Allies 1 12 12
12 Papisca Luca US Bulge 1 12 12
13 Mastrandrea Davide German D-Day 1 12 7
14 Pozzi Diego British D-Day 1 12 6
15 Vinante Tiberio British D-Day 1 12 5
16 Panzieri Tommaso Soviet Bagration 1 11 14
17 Baroni Luca Soviet Bagration 1 11 4
18 Sandrini Mattia British D-Day 1 10 6
19 Vanini Marco German D-Day SS 1 10 5
20 Moroni Gianluca German D-Day 1 10 3
21 Filippini Michele US Bulge 1 9 7
22 Perini Tommaso German Fortress Europe 1 8 9
23 Perini Jacopo US Bulge 0 8 8
24 Bortolussi Fabio Soviet Bagration 0 6 6
25 Bossi Alessandro US D-Day 0 5 5
26 Arosio Filippo US Bulge 0 5 4
27 Marcondini Guido German Bagration 0 4 1
28 Pavanati Andrea (Sparring player) German D-Day 0 0 0

 A color set for the best-painted army: the winner was Luca Grimaldi, a seasoned player from Milan with his fantastic well painted Finnish Army.

 Flames of War Milan Tournament
 Flames of War Milan Tournament

Luca Grimaldi’s Finnish army, winner of the best painted prize. The tanks and the infantry are gorgeous, but the two themed objectives with Santa Claus and the Elves working on shells are even better!

The Winners

Flames of War Milan Tournament

Paolo Martiniello, Fifth Place. Paolo, if you just managed to kill two platoons in the last game, you would finish much better!

Flames of War Milan Tournament

Stefano Zanchi from Bergamo. He played a really interesting list, a pity we didn’t face each other on the table. Next time!

Flames of War Milan Tournament

Flaviano Maggioni, third place, and best German player. BTW we played with masks, we just removed them for these photos.

Flames of War Milan Tournament

This is me while I receive my Second Place cup and Best British army medal from a very happy player (he won the Panzer IV platoon drawn randomly). Someone could argue about being rude to organize the tournament and coming second, but The Crown doesn’t care.

Flames of War Milan Tournament

Claudio Tiso won the tournament by only one point. If Paolo Martiniello would have killed only two platoons, that big box could come at home with me. Life is so wrong sometimes.