Friday, 21 April 2017

FoW v4 AAR: The Battle for Noyers, Phase 1

Hi folks,

On Easter Monday I headed over to StiGs for a quick, introductory, game of version 4 Flames of War. Also taking part was Stu, who had never played FoW before. On the 30th of April I'm laying on a large scale FoW v4 game at the club, so wanted to use this game as an opportunity to test out the theory (and the new rules) in a trial scenario.

I decided to go for the Battle of Noyers (Operation Pomegranate), one of the diversionary attacks put in by the allied armies immediately before Operation Goodwood. As usual, I went with something that has a personal connection - this was the first battle that 33rd Armoured Brigade fought as a unit following it's arrival in Normandy. The other benefits of using this battle as a scenario is that there were two phases to the battle. This meant I could do a trial game with StiG and Stu before the main event, and have it impact on the game on the 30th.

As an intro game, and a scenario, I decided to use a few special rules. However, we stuck to the v4 rules for everything with the exception of three main points:

1.  Hidden German deployment. The Germans were controlled by myself as umpire and were deployed at the beginning of the game via a sketch map.

2.  Preparatory bombardment. The allied players each for a bombardment template at the start of the game, which left a ranged in marker. This was relevant as one of these templates was directly on a German position. Artillery was off table and available via a different mechanic..

3.  Tiddly Winks... Over the board, at points I deemed to be tactically significant (gaps in hedges, narrow points of the roads, forests and corn fields, etc) I scattered small green counters. These counters, on being approached by allied units, would generate a D20 roll on a random events table. These events ranged from positive events - such as 'covered approach' which allowed the unit to move 2d6 and be in cover at the end of that movement, or Ambulance Jeep, which brought on an ambulance jeep which would allow an auto unpin for a unit it was near. On the other hand, there were negatives - such as a random sniper shot against a unit (including armour - the commander was being sniped), German reinforcements or - mainly - minefields in Ambush! Artillery was also available (for both sides) through this method, but neither side rolled for artillery support.

This combination of hidden deployment and random events seemed to go down very well with the players. StiG stated that he thought it was one of the best games of FoW he had played, which I take as a massive compliment. Both players approached the game carefully and tactically and there were some great, thematic, random events. Like both times the corn fields were entered resulted in the 'covered approach' roll, allowing units to appear at the edge of the corn in one move. Or the unit emerging from the corn into an orchard rolling the 'lost' event, and ending up 2d6 away in a random direction and emerging onto the parallel road. The most common event, however, was 'minefield'. This was deliberate, as I had seeded this event into the table several times to reflect the history of the battle. Basically the allied forces had been promised that friendly minefields had been lifted or gapped for them, only to find out they had not been. As a result, from one Squadron of 18 tanks, only 7 made it to the enemy positions - largely down to 'friendly' minefields!

I'll be using a different table to roll on during the next game, so for your enjoyment, here is what I used:

Battlefield Events 

  1. Ambush minefield – skill test to avoid (4+)  
  1. Wireless failure – no unpinning or remounting for one unit this turn – umpires selection 
  1. Reinforcements – Sherman Crabs (if already on table, roll again) 
  1. Artillery support available (off table) - 1 battery of 4 x 25 Pounders. Must be used in same turn, if no spotter then previous ranged in marker used. May lay smoke.  
  1. German DF point – mortar bombardment on location of counter 
  1. Ambush Minefield – skill test to avoid (4+) 
  1. Battlefield smoke – unit counts as concealed for turn 
  1. Field ambulance available (can be held till needed, immediately unpins one platoon) 
  1. German Armour – StuG reinforcements arrive 
  1. Covered approach – unit may move 2d6 in a chosen direction, counts as in cover at end of movement.  
  1. Commander casualty – closest armored vehicle immediately bailed 
  1. Ambush minefield – skill test to avoid 
  1. Reinforcements – Crocodiles (if already on table, roll again)  
  1. Enemy spotted – hidden enemy unit visible for turn.  
  1. Artillery support available (off table) - 1 battery of 4 x 25 Pounders. Must be used in same turn, if no spotter then previous ranged in marker used. May lay smoke.  
  1. Sniper – enemy sniper shot against unit. 
  1. Battlefield smoke – unit counts as concealed for turn 
  1. Ambush minefield – skill test to avoid (4+) 
  1. Lost – unit randomly moved 2d6 in random direction 
  1. Covered approach – unit may move 2d6 in a chosen direction, counts as in cover at end of movement. 


Brits deploying and the long view up the table. Objectives there the three 'lines' up from the nearest cornfield. With line 1 being the hedgerow, line 2 the orchard and line 3 at the rear of the hamlet. 

Somewhere, Germans lurk...

Allied forces start rolling forward, with the friendly minefields to their front, and the 'cleared' spaces. Note the tiddly wink next to the hedge. 

Rapidly, the allied advance ran into minefields. Quite a lot of minefields, especially in front of StiGs platoon of the 1/6th South Staffs.

Ranged in markers and craters marking where the initial bombardment landed. 

StiGs infantry (on the right) had to clear several minefields to let his tanks advance. Minefield rules have now been well and truly clarified for next game!

Shermans breaching the hedgeline. I wonder what that tiddly wink could be... a Minefield!
As the allies advanced, the Germans held their fire, waiting for clear lines of fire (or trying to unpin)!

Stu's careful armour advance, avoiding the road... The marker on the road would turn out to be... a minefield!

StiG running into more minefields! but they were still enjoying rolling the D20. 


The first Pak40, having unpinned, takes some shots and some of Stu's infantry on the road (the only target it could see). Both teams died, but the German forward line was established. Or was it!

The German Pak40, despite being dug in and having a 3+ save, it fell to 75mm fire from the Shermans. 

Stu encounters another hidden gun, losing a Firefly in the following turn. StiGs forces circumvent the minefields and try to keep up!

The Firefly commander scans the ridge carefully... he thought he saw movement, but it must have been a rabbit.
Stu's platoon reaches the edge of the corn field, to find themselves face to face with a dug in German infantry platoon. Concentrated MG42 fire would soon wipe out this half of the platoon (another slight variation from the rules, Stu had the company commander with the rest of the platoon, so we judged that it would stick around under his command till the platoon commander got back in command range). 

The StuGs make their presence known... for the allies some Crocodiles and Sherman Crabs turned up. 

The Crabs chose to operate out of command - a dodgy move if they had taken casualties, but it fitted the scenario. 
A German Sniper team in the corn, soon to be pinned and assaulted - no prisoners were taken! The Sherman on the road would fall to a Pak40 shot from the hedgerow beyond the corn field. 

Ambulance jeep, prior to being run off the road by HMG42 fire from the green building. 

Burning firefly (using my new smoke marker)
The battle rages. Stu's surviving infantry flank the village while his armour moves up. StiGs armour and infantry get bogged down in the corn field, losing a Sherman to the Pak40. The infantry platoon would get hit hard by MG42 fire. 

British armour dashes up the road to support - including the Crocodile, which would burn a lot of the Germans from their buildings. A duel was ongoing on the left between Stu's armour and the left most Pak40. The Pak would eventually lose. 

A StuG and Pak40 trade long range fire with StiG's crocodile. But that front armour of 13 bounces it all. 

Close up of the StuG on Sherman action...

Allied armour enters the town. A German assault from the buildings is seen off with no casualties on either side. Then the Croc gets in range and 5D6 dice worth of flamethrower (causing re-rolls on successful saves) empties the buildings of German units. On the other flank, the other Croc does the same. The last surviving German squad surrenders, and Phase II is read to go!



I really enjoyed running the game, and I hope I can run something as fun on the 30th! The table looked great, and it was really good to get my terrain out again. Need more hedges and stuff, but I was happy with the look.

How did v4 play? I think StiG summed it up best. He has played v1, 2, 3 and now v4. His comment was that "It's Flames of War, it just plays more smoothly. But it's definitely Flames of War.". I would 100% agree - this was very much a FoW game, even with my little tweaks. I'm a strong believer that the rules can be used as a framework for playing historical games. I think what we played was a fun, fast and tactical game based very much on a historical scenario. To me, it reflected the outcome of the actual battle - and that is key to me. Any rules should reflect the outcome you expect.

I'll get pictures and stuff from the game on the 30th,

8 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Bob - thanks for the idea about the 'random event markers' - they worked a treat.

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  2. looks great.. really looking forward to playing phase 2 next week

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    1. Thanks Dave! I'm looking forward to it too.

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  3. Glad you're finding the rules working well for you. The scenario looked a lot of fun to play!

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    1. Thanks Phil - very much so. We're really appreciating that with the various changes and the formation rules it's very much a toolbox for playing WW2 games. Well done!

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  4. It was a very enjoyable game, thankyou James. I liked the random events of the Battelefield table, all added to the fun. I would happily play Flames of War again.

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    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed it Stu - hoping the big game goes just as smoothly!

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