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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Polish Black Brigade EW Tournament After Action Report

We ended up having eight guys for the tournament yesterday, which considering the attendance was looking like four just a couple of weeks ago, that's great. We had four Axis and four Allied, with a fairly eclectic mix of armies, so it was a lot of fun. In terms of the list I was finally able to field, it was a variant on the "gun-brella" theme using the Pułk Kawalerii Zmotoryzowanej list from Blitzkrieg - page 26. I focused on reasonable-sized infantry companies with tons of anti-tank guns and some heavier guns, though I did include some mobile assets. Of course, as it turns out, I barely saw an armored vehicle all day as everyone tended to bring infantry or cavalry lists!

My first game was Cauldron against a very nice Bersaglieri force from Hellfire and Back. As my Black Brigade is a Mechanized Company, I was the attacker. The Bersaglieri had something like 12 platoons if memory serves, so he was able to start with a fair amount on the table, including heavy machine guns, M13/40 tanks, mortars, coastal guns, and demolishers. I started with my two Kawalerii Zmotoryzowanej Companies, one unit of anti-tank guns, and the 75mm guns on the table. My random deployment was fairly fortunate, though I was forced to put my 75mm guns at the back of the table near the defender's reserve zone. One infantry company was pretty tightly pinned down by machine guns in buildings near the left objective, so I stayed dug in and fired pot shots at them to whittle them down. The right objective was only covered by the demolishers, so I decided to focus my attack there with my larger infantry company supported by one heavy machine gun. They were able to secure the objective by the second turn with help from the Vickers tanks which arrived from reserve, but I lost over half of the company - fortunately with the help of the 1iC they were able to pass motivation. A Bersaglieri platoon arrived behind my 75mm guns, but shot poorly and were unable to assault - on the next turn my TKS platoon arrived from reserve and cut down the luckless Bersaglieri platoon - I was able to destroy enough platoons to force a company morale check, which the Italians failed giving the Poles a 6-1 victory.

The second game was Surrounded against a Japanese Kihei Chutai force from Rising Sun. As we were both Mechanized Companies, we diced off to see who was the defender and I ended up defending. So yeah, lots of infantry - not a hard target to be found. I tried to balance my force as much as possible around the two objectives (top and bottom), but the top one ended up a bit more lightly defended. I'd kept the Vickers tanks in Immediate Ambush, so when the Japanese overloaded the top objective, I had to drop the tanks to the top of the board. We played using the "Hell by Day, Paradise by Night" rules, though I think that should have been restricted to an infantry or tank company, but I didn't think it was worth hitting the books for. In the end I think it probably hurt the attacker more than me because he couldn't fire any of his heavy guns as they didn't have line of sight to my force. He worked to get into close contact as quickly as possible, even moving some guns and the infantry support at the double. Unfortunately I was able to get my Vickers, TKS platoon, and enough guns and infantry close enough to the large infantry platoon to decimate it, though the resulting assault with the Vickers did result in the loss of two tanks. He shifted his axis of attack to go after my infantry, but as I was unpinned at that point, I had enough firepower to repel the assaults. That left his force fairly decimated, and my mobile assets were able to track down the cavalry and one of the gun teams. His remaining gun team called upon its Seishin and came after my 75mm guns, ultimately destroying two, but with well over half of the unit remaining he wasn't able to secure a victory point giving the Poles a 6-1 victory.

My final game was Free-for All against a Luftlandesturmkompanie from Burning Empires. I've always wanted to play against this army, so I was excited to actually see one at the tournament. I was technically the "attacker" in this mission - and as we put down platoons, he decided he was going to do a glider assault. I therefore worked to cover as much territory as I could in a fairly dispersed deployment to ensure I could react well to wherever his gliders ended up. He ended up concentrating his gliders near the right-hand objective with only one crashing (killing both teams inside). So now we have FV Luftlandesturm among FV Polish Black brigade. The irresistible force has met the immovable object. Again, this game was going to come down to pretty much one round of firing and assault. My opponent's shooting rolls were not very good, and my saving rolls ended up being good - I ended up losing one 37mm gun and a couple of stands of infantry. When the assaults came, I therefore still had enough volume of fire (even counting as pinned down) to repel both assaults - just barely! Now the luckless Luftlandesturm were out in the open, out-numbered among the poles who quickly dispatched the two platoons and the HQ company. Still at half strength, and with mortars and anti-tank guns on the opposite side of the table, I had to get my mobile assets going. Did I mention he also had Stuka air support? I started moving the Vickers tanks and loaded up the halftracks with one infantry company (yes, I actually got to use some of my transport!!!) and started heading for the open left objective. His rolls with aircraft were nothing short of terrible, and only managed to kill a few infantry stands. I managed to get my tanks and one infantry company on the objective and close enough to his mortars to kill a few and make them take a morale test, which amazingly they failed - forcing a company morale check, which was failed because of a lack of HQ. Even if that hadn't failed, I'd secured the objective, and all he had left were a couple of 37mm anti tank guns on the opposite side of the table. Poles win 6-1, though honestly if my opponents die rolls had been better I would have likely lost at least one or two platoons. I've always thought that the Luftlandesturmkompanie was a bit pricey for what you got, and honestly this game just reinforced that opinion. I believe it would work better in a defensive battle where the defender has limited assets on the table. That way the glider infantry can concentrate their assault in one area and the defender will likely have few assets to counter them. In a fair fight where the enemy has large platoons covering all angles, there is just too much on the table and too many fields of fire to cut up the assaulting troops.

So in the end it was an absolutely great day for the Poles. The Invincible Black Brigade lived up to its name, and I ended up taking home Best Allied General and Best Painted for the force. As I mentioned before, the tournament itself was great because the lists present all pretty much represented "the road less traveled." The Allies had a British LRDG, a French Escadron de Combat, a French Compagnie de Combat, and the Polish Pułk Kawalerii Zmotoryzowanej. The Axis forces consisted of a German SS-Infanteriekompanie, German Luftlandesturmkompanie, Japanese Kihei Chutai, and the Italian Bersaglieri. Lots and lots of infantry, very few tanks and vehicles - and ironically the Poles had the most vehicles on the table (and I think I was the only one with 10 tanks as well). Kudos to the tournament organizer and everyone who came out and played - it seems like everyone had a great time, and I believe we represented the hobby well!


  1. Congratulations Mike. Sounds like a good showing for 10BK... their reputation will clearly strike fear into all that face them now! :D

    1. Thanks! I honestly haven't gotten to play much early war since our playtesting group worked on Burning Empires and Rising Sun. I really like the dynamic where you haven't had the full "arms race" yet, and certain units and tactics of limited utility in LW and even MW really have a solid role (anti-tank rifles being one of them).

      I was very impressed how the army played - it had enough mobility to attack when needed, and when it was dug in, it was pretty much a rock.

    2. Its exactly the reason I like the early war period. I get the feeling that the fighting is more fluid and not dominated by armoured behemoths...

      I have my Polish cavalry up next but Ive just finished sculpting my Vickers E (same method as you) and I have a load of Ursus trucks as well so the 10BK may overtake the Kawalerii... we shall have to see.

    3. It's also an interesting game from an infantry standpoint - maneuver and assault become very important because you're dealing with more guns and infantry stands, though tanks catching infantry out in the open are still deadly"!