Cancon 2022 - Battle of the Bulge Tournament Report

Cancon 2022 - Battle of the Bulge Tournament Report

Cancon 2022 - Battle of the Bulge Tournament Report
With Garry Wait
It was with great excitement that we were advised Cancon (the annual Canberra wargaming event that tends to be the biggest event in Australia) was going ahead finally for 2021.  With only weeks to enter, there was a themed campaign lined up.  Thus the name, Battle of the Bulge as an Ardennes campaign sorted.

Poor Matthew Dixon, our beloved TO, such a struggle to get things sorted. With concerns about Omicron outbreaks here in Australia and uncertainty as to whether Cancon would even go ahead, numbers dropped to 8 at the last minute – a drop of half on a few days previously.  The campaign was to be three days but this was shortened to a two day event with two games on the Saturday 22nd and three games on Sunday 23rd January 2022.

The TO wisely decided to give extra time for the first two rounds due to expectations that people would be rusty as Cancon hadn’t been held the previous year and many people had been stuck in lockdowns for long periods.

Although the campaign idea was dropped at the last minute, I had decided to put together a VolksGrenadier option using Beach Defence Grenadiers substituting and a Panzergrenadier formation as well to represent the better troops available for Bulge.  After finding in my one and only test game that this list had some resilience I decided to go ahead with the same list.

I was very excited to use some new minis that were recently painted up by my good friend and painting guru, Jasmine-Tegwen  Degurechaff of Degure Painting.  Strongly recommend her services as a brilliant artist too.  What she can do with minis is unbelievable – the snow based and panzergrenadier foot minis in the photos are all her work and I’m proud to push them around.

CAVEAT – as this event took place over a week ago, apologies in advance to anyone if I misremember games or lists, it’s not my intention to be unfair to anyone as all my opponents were excellent and friendly games were the entirety of my experience all weekend. 

My list was as follows :

Beach Defence Formation (716th Infantry cards)

Company HQ – 2 SMG
2 Platoons – 7 MG42 & K98 teams and one Panzerschreck
1 Platoon – 3 PAK40 7.5cm
1 Platoon – 2 12cm Mortars 

Panzergrenadier Formation (116 Panzergrenadier cards)

Company HQ – 2 SMG and Panzerfaust teams
1 Platoon – 5 MG42 teams with panzerfaust
1 Platoon – 7 MG42 teams with panzerfaust and one Panzerschreck
1 Platoon – 2 8cm Mortar
1 Platoon – 2 HMG
1 Platoon – 3 PAK40 7.5cm
1 Platoon – 4 Sd Kfz 251 7.5cm
1 Platoon – 2 Sd Kfz 10/4 (2cm AA)

1 Platoon
- 3x 8.8cm PAK43 (with Tank Hunter card to allow bombardment)
1 Platoon – 4 8.8cm AA
1 Platoon – 4 Hetzer (Hungarian Allied)
1 Platoon – 2 SdKfz 250/9 (2cm), 1 Sd Kfz 250 (MG)


Game One - Vs Ray Hilder (Mixed Panzers)
Ray had HQ – 2 PzIV, Plt – 4 PzIIIM, 2 Tiger 1, 2 8.8cm AA, 3 Nebelwerfer, Panzergrenadier platoon on foot.

We used Expanded missions, I chose Manouver, he chose Attack and we ended up with Counterattack.  Unfortunately Ray was out of practice and struggled with my list.

I had on table all bar the 7.5cm halftracks, Hetzers and both panzergrenadier platoons. Some lucky shooting took care of the Panzers and combined mortars took care of the 8.8cm AA.  Honestly I don’t see why people don’t max out on mortars by the way, they are best value in game even in two tube batteries.  Vicious for the points and reroll saves after first turn of fire.

Cancon 2022 - Battle of the Bulge Tournament Report

The game ended on turn four with a bayonet charge from the Ostruppen which captured a bailed out PzIII and tore through the panzergrenadiers and formation broken along with Hetzers taking out HQ and AT guns taking out panzers.

Very friendly and relaxed game.  8-1


Game Two - Vs Mark Ross with SS Panzergrenadiers
Mark had a very similar list to mine, running (from memory)

SS Panzergrenadier Company

Company HQ – 2 SMG
1 Platoons – 7 MG 42 in halftracks
1 Platoon – 7 MG 42 teams on foot
1 Platoon – 3 PAK40 (upgraded to 4+ to hit)
1 Platoon – 4 MG42 (in MG nests)
1 Platoon – 4 2cm AA

1 Platoon – 4 PAK43 8.8cm (Pakfront)
1 Platoon – 4 8.8cm AA (SS)
1 Platoon -  2 SdKfz 250/9 (2cm), 1 Sd Kfz 250 (MG)
1 Platoon – 4 StuH 42 (10.5cm)

Cancon 2022 - Battle of the Bulge Tournament Report

We both chose Defend and ended up with Contact. VERY VERY tough game, we laughed nervously that this was like a mirror image game for us both,3+ to hit 8.8cm AA guns, PAK43 8.8’s, mounted and dismounted panzergrenadiers… scary. I had in reserve again 7.5cm halftracks, Hetzers and both panzergrenadier platoons while Mark had both panzergrenadier platoons and the StuH42’s in reserve. He had PAKfront spread evenly across the board while two MG nests covered each objective.

The game went a looong time, with up to six turns of duelling 8.8cm (my 7 vs his 8) at long range and concealed.   I ended up losing all my 8.8cms but shortly after took out his. I took out both MG nests and all guns repeating took out his PAK40’s. Again, my Ostruppen were aggressive – stupidly so – and one platoon spent three or so turns pinned cowering in a wheatfield. Finally my worst infantry – followed by the mounted panzergrenadiers in halftracks – swarmed the objective. Running into Mark’s infantry who had come from one long table edge to the other…  Talk about stress, 3+ crummy infantry vs 3+ elite infantry… Fortunately the weight of fire I had was enough to push the enemy Panzergrenadiers off the objective and gave me game. With two 8.8cm units lost, this was a 7-2 my way and a very hard fought game vs an excellent opponent. I was lucky to have more infantry to throw at the objective while Mark’s scattered reserves proved to be a fatal issue for him to have to traverse woods to rescue his stricken StuH42’s. Exciting and nerve wracking both.

 Game Three- Vs Rob Murray with Veteran US Armoured Infantry

Rob had a very tough army with (as I recall it) :

Veteran US Armoured Rifle Company

Company HQ
2 understrength Vet Armoured Rifles
1 Battle Weary Armoured Rifle (in reserve)
1 Platoon – 5 Vet M4A1 76 shermans (in reserve)
1 Platoon – 3 Priests
1 Platoon – 2 M5 3” guns (in ambush)
1 Platoon – 3 M4 Mortar Halftracks
1 Platoon – M8 and two jeep recon

We  both chose Defend so this time I got to be attacker in Breakthrough. I sent Hetzers and one Ostruppen into reserve.  

Somehow Rob had some uncharacteristic deployments and tactics  which surprised me. Normally when we play locally, honours are pretty even. I’ve beaten Rob and he has utterly smashed me before with his Armoured Rifles so I was surprised to get long range shots on Armoured Rifles in halftracks with 8.8cm guns. That and I got to assault first round with Panzergrenadiers against the recon platoon. This wasn’t good for the recon and shortly after I took the mortars down to one vehicle as the two units were on an isolated flank. Again the Ost Truppen lead the way, foolishly and suicidally charging into armoured rifles – although they did push them out of a woods!

Ultimately I lost one unit of OstTruppen, halftrack recon, panzergrenadiers and other troops but got to hold the objective as of turn 6 with Hetzers and Ostruppen from reserve. It was going to be 6-3 one way or another!

Rob forgot to go after the second objective which saved me from having to bayonet US riflemen on TWO objectives.

6-3 to me.

Cancon 2022 - Battle of the Bulge Tournament Report

Game Four - Vs Alberto Crescitelli with Grenadiers 

Alberto’s list was :

Grenadier Company
Company HQ – 2 Grenadiers
2 Platoons – 7 MG42 & K98
1 Platoon – 3 PAK40 7.5cm
1 Platoon – 4 Panzer IVH (Reserves)
1 Platoon – 3 SS Panther with Barkmann card (Reserves)
1 Platoon – 2 8.8cm AA
HS129 flight

We both chose Defend so ended up with Scouts Out mission.  Another cracker. 

I had in reserve again 7.5cm halftracks, Hetzers and both panzergrenadier platoons 

Cancon 2022 - Battle of the Bulge Tournament Report

Alberto had a platoon of Grenadiers on

 each objective with one platoon supported by the three PAK’s plus HQ and the other 

supported by two 8.8cm.   I chose to go after the left hand objective with my army and ignored the other objective.

The game went slowly at first trying to range in and adjust which worked surprisingly well.  I thinned out the grenadiers and the PAK’s a little and rushed up the Ostruppen – one from each direction of frontal and left flank.  Unsurprisingly they both got pinned.   And stayed that way for a few turns.  Alberto’s man of the match was his HS129’s which were vicious.  They tore apart my AA halftracks first strafing run.  Second time through they wiped out my 12cm mortars – dug in and all.

Another time they took out a PAK40.  Scary little Luftwaffe guys…

Unfortunately the combined 88’s and PAK40’s tore apart the incoming Panzer IV’s and Panthers in one round of fire and after Alberto attempted to counterattack an Ostruppen – not realising they were backed up by a recon platoon of halftracks – I was able to clear out the shattered remnants of his commander and grenadier platoon. His reinforcement grenadiers were one turn too late in coming from the other objective which proved a fatal flaw.7-2 to me. 

Game Five - Vs Mitch Dare - US Tanks  

Mitch had the following from memory :

Company HQ – 1 M4A1 76, 1 Jumbo 75
2 Platoon – 4 M4A1 76, 1 Jumbo 75
1 Platoon – 5 M5A1 Stuart
1 Platoon – 3 M4 Mortars
1 Platoon – 2 M26 Pershing
1 Platoon – 4 M12 155mm SP guns
1 Observer in Sherman

Cancon 2022 - Battle of the Bulge Tournament Report

Mitch chose Attack, I chose manouver and we ended up with Counterattack.

I had in reserve again 7.5cm halftracks, Hetzers and both panzergrenadier platoons

This was a game of hide and seek with lots of buildings across the field.   Comedy value went to a unit of Ostruppen that took out a Pershing with a Panzerschreck side shot (needing a 5 to hit and getting a six, then a five for firepower when my unlucky opponent rolled a 1 for armour !) I took a photo of the gorgeous snow camo unit passing dead M26 just to prove it happened…

The same unit went on to spend the rest of the game chasing the M12 platoon round the board .

 Mitch’s Stuarts decimated my arriving Hetzers – only game they all died – and tore up half the 7.5cm halftracks when they arrived.  Unfortunately the remounting 7.5’s and reinforcing panzergrenadiers took out the stuarts with panzerfaust and Panzerschreck assaults and moved on to take out the mortars.  Amazing to see sniping in gaps behind buildings and  a game of peek-a-boo with Sherman vs PAK or FLAK ensued.   Ultimately the game ended around turn six with army break for poor Mitch.  Agressively pushed FLAK 8.8’s using the softskin card proved too flexible.

Cancon 2022 - Battle of the Bulge Tournament Report

I lost the Hetzers and a unit of infantry to make it 7-2 and took the tournament honours. 35 points

Second place was David Geddes with Finnish Tanks and Third was  Rob Murray with Armoured Rifles

I’m sure there will be a report from the TO later but I want to thank Matthew Dixon and all my opponents and fellow gamers for a friendly and enjoyable weekend’s gaming with lots of laughs and white knuckle worrying moments.

I have included some pics of other fantastic games as there were some amazing beautiful armies on display at the tournament.

Lessons learned and confirmed, most of this isn’t new but it is always helpful to get the most out of your games in my opinion:

  • Always always have spare copies of your list and make sure you plan ahead for reserves.  I made sure that I had a plan for tank heavy OR infantry heavy opponents and what to do for reserves so that when opponents nominated, I was ready to go.
  • Have your army on a tray or ready to put out to save time.  This is doubly important when using as many units as I was.   It’s not only polite to your opponent but it ensures games don’t time out.  Not once did I have a game go to time and I’m glad of the extra shopping time.
  • Be prepared – as I said above.  With three templates, I made up counters to indicate which was which.  This made life easier for both me and my opponent as there was never any doubt on what is what.
  • Discuss the terrain before the game.  I personally go a step further and ask that if my opponent wants to clarify things like whether a team is visible or not, say so in the movement step.  I will accept intent if its stated at the time.  Saves heaps of argument and discussion later.   It’s toy soldiers after all, not life or death ! 
  • Just because it’s a tournament, doesn’t mean it’s not a friendly game.   Always treat your opponent with respect and be prepared to explain why you have done something afterwards.  It’s surprising that even after many years I still learn from my opponents and I hope that my opponents learn from their games too. 
  • Think ahead to what sort of armies you will face and have a plan BEFOREHAND on what you will do to counter them. I have found my personal nightmare is US Armoured Rifles (witness it being my closest game and worst result !).   So I worked hard to have a plan to minimise the firepower of the Armoured Rifles through pinning options and worked to have multiple platoons capable of cleaning up.  Not ideal but working with a well rounded list that is expected to be jack of all trades is what makes tournaments exciting.
  • Make your plan in advance and stick to it.  Changing your gameplan partway through the battle is always going to end badly for someone. Hopefully it’s not you.
  • Be aggressive with your minis (and not personally). In most games I was on the attack, even those games where I was defender. I had four platoons of infantry and it was rare to have them cowering in foxholes. Nothing copes with a well prepared combined arms attack. It was a challenge to get the most out of even the worst of infantry (OstTruppen with 3+ to hit, 5+ Last Stand and 5+ skill) but they won me games by being on the enemy objective when nothing else was. Yes, they had help, but that’s the idea. Co-ordinating the attack works well if you can push hard and keep your opponent responding and reacting – even if you’re defending. Make it an exciting game for both of you.  

Last Updated On Thursday, February 10, 2022