Miniature Ordnance Review looks at the world of historical and fantasy miniatures wargaming and model building. From 15mm Flames of War, to Warhammer 40K, to 1/35th scale tanks, with some potential surprises on the horizon - you'll find them here!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Upcoming "1945" Tournament!

In honor of Battlefront releasing "Berlin" - which at least chronologically wraps up the war in Europe, there will be a "1945" tournament at Guardian Games on November 14, 2015. Lists must come from a handbook or online / digital list that includes the year 1945 - so there won't be any Normandy or Market Garden lists included in this particular tournament. The point value is also higher than I've generally done - 1945 points in honor of the year.

The thing is, I'm in a quandary about what to bring for this particular tournament. To be completely honest, I've been extremely busy with writing this summer - along with other non-Flames of War hobbies and responsibilities (yes - I do have some!), and my Polish Black Brigade is still begging to be finished up (it's getting there, but not THERE yet dang it). That means space and time have been at a premium, but I've had a few projects on the back burner that I've slowly been working through.

By and large I've been an Axis player - the more unusual the army the better. One of the forces I've been looking at is 26. Panzerdivision from Fortress Italy. I have some good research data on the unit including some wonderful markings for the unit's Panthers, Panzer IV's, and Stug IV's (yes - IV!) from the Firefly collection book, To the Last Bullet: Germany's War on Three Fronts, Part 2: Italy. The unit has some nice modified Panthers, but for its capability, the Panther is very expensive and fragile in very "Late War" games. Even with a lot of Panzer IV/Stug IV support, it is going to be a tough army to attack with successfully - especially at high point values.  Generally at high point values the Reluctant Trained Panthers seem to do better on sheer volume, though you'll not likely get a lot of 6-1's.

Given I wrote the German section of the Bridge at Remagen book, there are still several armies in that work I'd like to field. The Jagdtigers of 512. Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung have always been a favorite of mine, and at 1945 points, I think both the CV and RT versions would both be viable, though the RT would I think work a little bit better because you'd have more big guns and the option of Carius. 654. Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung would also be interesting, and I've already started working up some of their Jagdpanthers, but unfortunately they have the same issue Panthers have - they're fairly fragile for the points cost. SS-Panzer Brigade ‘Westfalen’ would also be interesting, and is a really decent defensive army with some strong armored support, but I'd have to paint up a bunch of SS figures (and the LW Battlefront minis often have issues) - and just about anything out of Remagen is going to need Volkssturm support - which is a large time sink for figure painting.

Given the large point-value of the games, I've also considered a couple of the Berlin lists (again, as I did a fair bit of research and writing for that book as well). The Berlin Kampfgruppe gives you so many options, you can tailor build a force to your liking. I was thinking of running a fortified company with a mix of Heer, Volkssturm, and Hitlerjugend with Panther Turret bunkers. I've even considered throwing in either Elefants from 614. Schwere Panzerjägerkompanie or the Krupp-Steyr Waffenträger as well. Depending on the mix of missions, fortified companies can do well, or fail miserably at a tournament like this - especially at these point values. However, while I really want to do this army some day for purely historical reasons, it would involve a lot of infantry painting as opposed to vehicle painting, and I'm a much more efficient (and better) vehicle painter than infantry / gun crew painter. I'm looking at least a couple of Volkssturm units, Hiterjugend, at least a platoon or two of Heer, machine guns, anti-aircraft guns (those 3.7cm Flakzwilling are too good to pass up) - and I just don't think I have the time to do the force justice.

Another list I've considered is the Panzerdivision Müncheberg list on Flames of War digital. I helped sort out the force organization for this one, but as with the 26. Panzerdivision list above, the core of the unit is fairly expensive - Panthers and Tigers - and given the proliferation of high AT Allied weapons, they're now fairly fragile. I know I could work up a very historical force, but I think the core of it (4 Panthers and 3 Tigers) could easily be wiped out in a turn facing something like British Comets.

Then there's Allied forces. I've always wanted to do a force representing the all African-American 761st Tank Battalion, but the current lists always seem to fall a little short of representing the unique character of this unit. One of the 1945 confident veteran or confident trained lists would likely work okay, but going trained would lend itself to putting together an "Arty Party" which is unbalanced. It would run well in the tournament, but would lack the feel of the unit in my view.

There's another good Firefly Collection book, Comrade Emcha: Red Army Shermans of WW2, that has a lot of great photographs and color plates, including some good force organizations to build a great Berlin Soviet lend-lease tank unit from Red Bear. I've also recently picked up Dmitriy Loza's autobiography, which is another great source of inspiration for this army. I could theoretically run a mixture of 76mm and 75mm M4A2 Shermans in this list - though I'd need to update a lot of the 75mm M4A2's to the "large hatch" versions as most of the "small hatch" versions had been destroyed at this point (though there is photographic evidence of a few surviving). I know Valentines were being used during the assault on Küstrin, so I could throw them in as well. Throw in Loza and Nevsky and you've got a force with a lot of alpha punch... but on the downside it is a lot of painting to punch it out to 1945 points.

So as I said... I'm in a quandary. There's reasons for and against running each list. Historically they all have something very solid to offer. Each unit tells its own important story about the state of the war and that particular group's role in it. In terms of game mechanics, I think any list where the German tanks remain fairly safe from the front when faced with Allied AT assets is going to have an advantage over those that don't - but my RT King Tiger list from last year was still delicate to play. I think I'm more likely to win games with the Allied lists at this point, but my primary goal has never been to max/min the heck out of a list for a Flames of War tournament.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions, feel free to put them in the comments below!


  1. I suggest you try the 512, it can be very fun list and it's somethimes fun to look your opponents face when he tries to find a way to flank your KTs and JTs. I've run it a few times, both 1900 and 1780 points and bot work reasonably well. And combine 512 with 1 or 2 KTs with Tank Ace and you have a very tough unit to hold a flank with a platoon of infantry (I highly suggest you take 2 platoons of infantry, panzergrenadiers are great).

    Of the other nations I have nothing to say as I haven't tried them, only played against them.

  2. I ran the RT one with Carius. At 1900 points my list has varied a bit, it has had 1 or 2 infantry platoon, always Wirbelwinds, 3 or 4 JTs and 0 or 2 KTs. So far the list I really liked was,it wasn't the most effective and really lacked against infantry but it was fun:
    2 JT with Carius
    1 JT
    2 Wirbelwinds
    Full Pzgren
    2 KTs
    Sporadic Me 262

    I've also tried with nebs, without KTs, with FlaK43s and 4 JTs.