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Even Phil Gets A Montage Panzerschreck VIII 2009 Journal
By Phil Yates

Nothing Like The Last Minute...

Friday 0930: At work, ready to go. Given a few tanks that had patchy matt varnish a touch up to hide the gloss underneath. They’ve been that way since the late-war GT last year – nothing like doing it at the last minute! Speaking of last minute, I had hoped to take my new late-war Romanian tank force to Panzerschreck, but it’s still not finished, so the good old 1 RTR will have to do battle again. This will be their second Panzerschreck. They debuted there in 2007 (but missed 2008 due to a bout of pneumonia!).
Also gave my El Alamein  version of 1 RTR (with Grants) their varnish finally! They went to the mid-war GT this year with only half of their markings present. The rest went on at lunchtime on the first day. I’m always a last-minute painter – the tanks themselves were finished about 4am on the morning of the tournament! Still they did well and it’s cool to have the same regiment (same squadron even!) in two different periods of its existence. Hopefully early war will see a third version of them with early cruisers! Maybe even a fourth version for Italy with Sherman tanks might eventually happen too!
Friday 1900: Just arrived at the venue. Ken, Wayne, Chris, Mark, Mike and I travelled down from Auckland in a rental van christened Bessie by Wayne. We left at 10:30 with Ken at the wheel. Stopped at Tirau around midday for lunch (and incidentally found a neat secondhand bookshop with heaps of military books!). I took the second stint down to Lake Taupo and on to Turangi. The weather was perfectly clear, although a little cold. Beautiful view of the mountains from north of Taupo. Lots of snow on the mountains. Good skiing this year, I bet. We stopped for fuel and snacks there around 1600. On the road again with Wayne at the wheel down through the Desert Road. A little snow on the sides of the road in the gullies, but otherwise just cold and clear. Mountains looked even more inviting close up! Unfortunately Waioru Army Museum was closed by the time we passed it. Arrived in Palmerston North about 1830. Called in to Evans to drop everything off. Chris was delighted to find his army intact and undamaged as Bessie was a little underpowered and overloaded with six wargamers aboard, so some of the bumps were a bit rough. Everyone’s setting up the tables in the hall now. Better stop typing and help.

Friday 2130: Dinner’s done. Everyone’s at Evan’s place. We went down to the Fish & Chip shop at the corner. I got a Nasi Goreng. Not bad. Large serving though. Now about to enter all the entries in the database. 25 people signed up (still 15 to pay yet though, me included!). On to the database now, then to bed on a materess in Evan’s studio (after reading all the new books in his library).
Let The Games Begin...

Saturday 0830: At the venue. It’s cold. Then again, its always cold at Panzerschreck. Palmerston North in the winter is cold! Still, there’s no frost, snow or hail on the ground this morning, and the sun is peeping through the clouds, so it’s better than some years. Getting the final registration details sorted out now.

Saturday 1100: First game over! Yay, a 6-1 win against Ken. Last night I said I really wanted to play on tables 1 to 3 as they have some really nice hex-based terrain done by Evan. So when the draw came out with me playing Ken on table 1, I was given a bit of stick for rigging the draw. If I’d rigged the draw I wouldn’t have put myself against Ken, that’s for sure – his infantry forces tend to be packed with tank-killers!
The Cromwells Hunting Their Prey
So, as you can guess, having a Reluctant Veteran tank force, I approached the game with a bit of trepidation. It turned out that his force was a Sperrverband, so it was a battle of Reluctant Veteran against Reluctant Veteran. We played Encounter and I won the roll-off as the attacker. I chose the side of the table that would give me good firing positions, but with just two armoured platoons on table my deployment was pretty quick. When Ken finished his deployment, I saw an opportunity. His 88’s and artillery were fairly central, his StuG assault guns on my right, and his pioneers spread out from the objective in the far left corner to the centre of the table. I figured that if I could keep the StuG’s busy, I could rush the two teams of pioneers actually defending the objective and win quick. As it turned out, my plan worked perfectly, well, almost perfectly. Turn one the Firefly moves up and knocks out a StuG, the other platoon advances diagonally up a road through a wood. Ken’s response was to knock out the Firefly with another StuG. Oh well, the Cromwells would have to do the job now. Turn two and the RAF turns up with two Typhoons attacking the StuG’s. The Cromwells moved to the edge of the wood and missed, as did the RAF. On the other flank though, things went well. The CS tanks knocked out one of the 88’s (they’d failed to dig in), and the advancing platoon moved out of the woods behind a hedge. Its shooting blew away the second 88, and the platoon ran away. Ken’s turn saw the StuGs bail out a Cromwell.
Turn three and no reserves. Sad. Otherwise a good enough turn. The Cromwells advance out of the wood, but one bogs under the artillery template. Another can’t move far enough and stay concealed to get out either. The Cromwells still do nothing against the StuG’s, but the RAF did the job, killing a StuG and making the other run. I love reluctant opponents! On the other flank, I failed to pin down the pioneers, paying for it with a Cromwell lost to defensive fire, but crunched the two teams in the fight with no further loss in the assault. Now I just had to hold on to the objective. Of course Ken gets two reserves, his tank-hunter group and the tanks. The Panzer IV’s drive on behind my Cromwells on the objective and bail one. The tank hunters failed to hurt my Cromwells on the other flank, but assaulted the two operational tanks. The platoon commander died. Ken said to take a Motivation Test to Counterattack, I declined and the 2iC retired back to the bailed out and bogged down tanks.

In my turn I finally got reserves, and my third armoured troop appeared on the flank and machine-gunned the tank-hunters while the RAF rocketed them. Bye-bye tank-hunters. On the other flank, the Cromwells and Firefly just traverse their turrets and annihilate the Panzers. Ken’s turn saw his two infantry platoons appear on the wrong flank, and the game was over. Big relief as things could have gone very wrong, but went very right.

I'm Attacking, I'm Defending, I'm Counter Attacking... Saturday 1415: Exhausted! That was the weirdest, funniest, and most knackering game I have ever played! I played Derek on table 2, so two out of three of the hex tables. Unfortunately, they seem to be really hard on tracks. My crews obviously didn’t do their maintenance properly as they bogged at almost every available opportunity.

Derek had a Fearless Trained Flemish SS force from River of Heroes, and the mission was Hasty Attack, a new one that Ken is testing out at the moment. The mission is a cross between Encounter and Hold the Line. The table had a big ridge running from the centre of my table edge to a village at the centre of his.

I deployed with one armoured troop on the right of the ridge and one on the ridge behind a wood. The left objective was held by the squadron HQ. Derek had his Panthers and StuG’s facing the SHQ.On turn one the RAF turned up, and with a total brain fart, I only rolled once to range in with them, missing. The Cromwells on the right tried to move out of the wood, but half of them bogged down. Derek responded by moving the StuGs so that several had shots at these Cromwells around the ridge and through the village. They did nothing, the start of a trend for the rest of the game.
On turn two the RAF turned up in strength and this time killed his Panzer Kanone in the Panther! The armoured troops both moved up. The lead tanks of right-hand one into the village, the others moved along the ridge out of sight of the Panthers and killed another. Derek responded by killing my 2iC in the village.

On turn three the Cromwells charged through the village and killed a StuG, while the other platoon killed another. Derek then got his Panzer IV platoon and Panzergrenadier platoons in from reserve. At this point the game just went crazy. Neither of us could actually kill more than a tank a turn, and often not even that. In two successive turns as my reserves moved up behind the ridge into the village Derek had five and then three of my tanks under the template for his Stuka divebombers, and did nothing!

After I don’t know how many turns of ineffective shooting, we were down to Derek with one Panther near his objective, one Panzer IV near my objective and his company commander behind the village at the back of the table. I had a Firefly and a Cromwell out of command behind the ridge where they could see nothing, one Cromwell on the ridge, my command tank behind the Panther, and one CS and the A/A tank near his objective, with the scout platoon and motor platoon on my objective.

At that point, I was really worried. A few lucky casualties and my company could easily break, but his Fearless troops were hanging in there. Finally, I killed the Panther and won because he didn’t have any teams across the half-way line.
Oh, and yes, one incident I forgot to mention. Derek assaulted a tank platoon that could have taken the objective with his Panzergrenadiers. My defensive fire was excellent and scored five hits. Mike, Derek’s friend, was walking past and said to him as he picked up his dice for the saves from a church graveyard, ‘Don’t use those ones, they’re cursed.’ Derek proceeded to roll four 2’s, bringing the platoon below half strength at a stroke, and to add insult to injury, the whole platoon ran away. It was just that sort of game! Well, I did win in the end, scoring 4:3, but boy was it a strange battle.

Saturday 2100: Well, just had dinner at Bangkok Thai. Now sitting in Evan’s lounge while everyone else watches The Da Vinci Code on TV. Better get the last game down before I forget everything. This time I was on table 3, the last of the hex tables. Well, I got my wish didn’t I! The game was No Retreat and the table had a stream across the table one third from one end. Could be bad news for a fast-moving force like my armoured squadron.
Flank Attack Verus Some StuG
My opponent was Stu, a guy I first met many years ago when I lived in Wanganui. He had a Panzerkompanie with Panthers, StuG’s, and a platoon with mixed Panzer III and IV. These were backed up with Flammpanzer flame-thrower tanks, pioneers, and light anti-aircraft half-tracks. It is just the sort of force that gave me my worst hiding in this force’s first outing at Panzerschreck two years ago.

We rolled off and I got to defend. Good news so far. I learned from the previous   disaster that I certainly didn’t want the stream in my deployment area. That made picking table ends simple. So was deployment. One armoured troop in front of the forward objective, another in ambush.

Turn one didn’t go so well. Stu came forward, blew away my Firefly, bailed a Cromwell, and generally crowded me. I responded with the ambush and reserves coming up the right flank where there was a bit of cover. The RAF turned up, but Stu was already too close to the bailed tank, so I took a risk. I moved the 2iC up to the bailed out tank and hooked up. In the shooting step I towed it back, and the RAF strike went in. It got one of the Flammpanzers! Yay! On the other hand, I was foolish enough not to pull back the rest of the platoon and they all died or ran away. Sad.

From there things went down hill. I achieved little and had lost eight tanks for the Flammpanzer platoon and one more Panzer III by turn four. At least I was keeping the Germans busy! Meanwhile the StuG platoon was moving down the other side of the ridge outflanking my position and getting close to the rear objective. Things were looking decidedly sticky, especially as the pioneers were doubling along behind them.

Then things turned dramatically. My scout platoon arrived from reserve and moved right in front of the StuG’s as the company commander moved out of the wood onto their flank and a platoon of Cromwells engaged them head on. Between both surviving Fireflies and the commander, one StuG died and another bailed out. Their return fire got one, and next turn the Cromwells dashed past as did the carriers. The StuG platoon died taking the 2iC with it and the carriers massacred the pioneers. Things had turned and the flank was saved.

From there it just got better. My Cromwells were still unable to enter difficult terrain, so they didn’t give the Panthers any trouble at all, but the platoon that had taken out the StuG platoon went on to get a Panzer III and broke that platoon. Add that to the previous casualties and it was a platoon gone, a company morale check, and game over.
That was definitely a turnaround from what I was expecting. Three wins so far. Now let’s see what tomorrow brings.
1 RTR In All Thier Glory D-Day +1...

Sunday 1100: Well, tomorrow brought my first defeat, snatched from the jaws of victory. This morning’s game was against Surfboard’s Tiger II company. I defended in a Fighting Withdrawal on a table with a hedged and walled road across the centre of the table. Turn one was fairly uneventful. Surf moved up on my left flank. I sent in the ‘Fairies’ as I have an unfortunate habit of calling my RAF (‘Rare as Fairies’) Typhoons. I need to get in the habit of calling them Tiffies – I think they might respond better! Anyway, they went in against intense flak – Mike has five 37mm guns, and didn’t make it through.
Turn two was much better. Mike moved up further and bailed a Cromwell on my right flank that was creeping forward. In response, I sent in the RAF against the StuGs, and ambushed his company commander and the Tiger that had gone after the Cromwell. The Cromwell and its mates had a go at the company commander as well and the scout patrol went after the pioneers trying to cross from a wood to the road. The results were good. The Tiffies got two of his StuG’s, despite the heavy A/A fire. The Cromwells got the company commander, but the ambushing Firefly flubbed getting its Tiger.
Surf’s return fire on turn 3 was relatively effective, blowing away the ambushing platoon, but things were looking good. His advance had stalled. If I could keep him from moving forward for another turn, I reckoned I’d be able to hold. To keep the pressure up, the carriers and armoured troop raced around the wood where the rest of the pioneers were hiding and attacked the anti-aircraft guns, getting one. The Tiffies attacked the remaining StuGs and the last armoured platoon came out from behind its woods on my left flank and engaged the StuGs as well. If I managed to get the StuGs, I figured that Mike was pretty well beat. He thought I’d then try to kill the A/A platoons and pioneers to break his army. My plan was simpler – run away. I was going to double away next turn and hide. The distance to the objective was now too great for his Tigers to make it in time to take it cleanly. Unfortunately I flubbed everything.

Turn 4, and Mike pulled the Tigers back to handle the outflanking move. My plan was working. The StuGs swung round too. I lost one Cromwell to the Tigers and things were going well. Then the StuGs opened up and devastated the platoon engaging them. Lastly the final tiger blew away the scout platoon. That was it. The armoured platoon ran taking the company commander with them and it was game over. It had been going so well until that point, and I’m sure that if I had survived that turn of shooting, I would have won, but the Germans finally found their form and did the job – 6:1 to Mike.

Sunday 1400: Another 6:1 defeat! What a game though. A Free-for-all against Fallschirmjäger with SS support on a table with plenty of terrain. A difficult challenge for a reluctant veteran tank force. I deployed with a bias to my left flank with the infantry mounted in the middle and the scouts on the right. His Panthers then appeared on the right flank, so that made my advance pretty straight forward – it would be on the left.
My left-most platoon raced at the double towards the isolated paratroopers guarding that flank with the motor platoon racing along behind. Unfortunately it started from the centre and took two extra turns to get there and dismount. They were just getting ready to assault with the armoured troop when the game ended. Despite this, I’m really happy with the Rifle Brigade. They made good use of their half-tracks in four out of five games and were instrumental in me winning at least one.

The Dark Lord With His Eager Apprentice
In the centre the platoon with the CO moved forward planning on sandwiching the paratroopers on the left flank, killing the HQ mortars on the way. With the Panthers proving rather resilient, they switched to the objective on the right that was only held by the Nebelwerfer rocket-launcher battery. Unfortunately, although they got to the objective, the Nebelwerfer battery got one on the way, and then survived being machine-gunned without losing a single launcher! The German tank-hunting scout platoon had fallen back to a wood near the objective, so it wasn’t sustainable, although pulling them back (and hopefully the Panthers too) had been a reason for going there.

The main fight turned out to be my holding action on the right. The scout carriers went forward to harass the paratroops on this side, and died in turn one when the Panthers bailed two out and the aforementioned scout platoon assaulted them. The armoured troop on this flank played a cautious game as the Tiffies got one Panther, but that was the highlight of the action there. The Panthers moved forward killing a Cromwell, but coming within range of a counterattack. Two Fireflies missed and a Cromwell’s flank-shot bounced. Next turn my platoon died. The remaining Firefly seemed to give up with a string of 1’s and 2’s and the RAF likewise failed me. With the HQ CS tanks and Skyraker/The Princess, my A/A tank, all that was left on that flank, it didn’t look good. The Panthers followed up the turn after with bailing most of the HQ tanks and then the Fallschirmjäger assaulted. Game over.

Once again a close game that turned on a bad turn of shooting by me and an excellent one by my opponent. Talking to Steve afterwards, he really thought he was done for after turn two, but just pulled it out with calm play and good luck.

My Head Hurts! So, what next for 1 RTR? I’m definitely going to paint the fourth armoured troop to replace the aircraft. I think it would make a huge difference. Surf prefers the self-propelled anti-tank platoon, but I’m more aggressive and need another go-forward platoon. Unfortunately that will mean losing the last A/A tank and probably the CS tanks too. I’m sad about this as I love the Crusader A/A model (and The Princess in particular!), and the CS tanks are both characterful and useful for harassing the enemy, but they aren’t as necessary as a bit more combat punch.
The sad thing is that I really want to finish the motor company that this force started out as, so it won’t see any tournaments for a while. On the other hand, I’ll have a full armoured squadron and a motor platoon to do some really cool Total War scenarios – particularly with Surf’s armoured squadron too. That’ll make for some really great scenarios on really big tables.

The other problem with this scenario is that I really need to get my late-war Romanian Companie Tankul finished first. It’s half done and really should be next in the que, so it’s lined up for the late-war GT in October.

Sunday 15:15: Prizegiving over, everyone happy. I got a sportsmanship vote!

Panzerschreck VIII 2009 Winners and Results...

The Aftermath...

Monday 0700: Getting ready to drive the van back to work. We departed Palmerston North after the prizegiving with warnings of wind and snow on the Desert Road. Chris drove first and it was indeed a slow trip through the Desert Road. Snow was falling gently, the landscape was white, the night dark, and the road a bit slushy. We stopped for food at Turangi and I took over driving. Instead of snow I had the high winds and Bessie gave a bit of a lurch every now and then as we came out from behind trees or a hill. I’m not sure if it was the food or the lack of my scintillating conversation, but everyone fell asleep in the back. We stopped again at Turangi to change drivers and Ken took the last stretch home. Here the hazard was the police. Ken was cruising through Ngaruawahia (perhaps a little too fast) when a cop turned out of a side street and pulled us over. Fortunately Ken looks such a nice harmless chap (and was driving on an American licence, so obviously you can’t expect too much of him), so the cop just gave us a warning. We hit Auckland around 11pm and started tiki touring around dropping everyone off. It was well past midnight by the time I pulled up outside my house. Then up bright and early as my wife starts far to early on Mondays. Now it’s back to the grindstone churning out books!

- Phil

Ken's Sperrverband At Panzerscreck VIII 2009...

Mike's Tigers in the Snow...

Last Updated On Friday, June 11, 2010 by Blake at Battlefront