A typical New Zealand Village.
Our intrepid writer decided on a whim to take a 10 hour flight to Middle Earth and play in Flamescon, the annual New Zealand Flames of War / Team Yankee Tournament on November 9 & 10 2019. This year's event took place in the suburbs of Onehunga, just south of central Auckland.
Flamescon 2019 was organised by Greg Lockton and Gavin Van Rossum, longtime players/playtesters and tournament organizers. This year's tournament hosted a whopping 28 players for Flames of War (Late War) and 8 for Team Yankee. Utilising the missions pack and battleplans, New Zealand's best would face off in 6 rounds across 2 days over the weekend. A bevy of prizes supplied by the local TCOW club, Battlefront, Battlekiwi and Dice of War, along with the Flames of War developers playing in the tournament itself, meant that the event would be a fruitful and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
Book: D-day Germans
3 platoons of 4 Pz4
4 8.8cm guns
full beach defense grenadiers platoon w/pzfaust and 1 pzshrek
Having virtually no knowledge of the NZ playstyle or list preferences, I decided it would be more prudent to stick rigidly to maneuver doctrine and use the superior numbers, mobility and assault value of my tanks to rapidly overwhelm my opponents while maintaining a solid anchor with my heavy guns and family men on one flank to keep 1 objective secure. My 14 Pz4s, with its decent gun and excellent speed and skill, would be the lynchpin of my list and would be sufficient to deal with everything up to churchills, which I expected to face in large numbers. Anything heavier than that would have to be left to the 88s to handle from their static positions.
A very early start to a very long day in the event hall
Game 1: Brent Young
As expected, my first matchup was against Brent's British tank company list with, you guessed it, Churchills supported by shermans and rifle platoons. Deploying in a sparse formation, the battle devolved into a brawl with both objectives under fire in the heavy terrain. While I had a head start with a lucky reinforcement roll bringing in 2 tank platoons on the left flank, Brent had equal luck and reinforced the next turn with his Achilles and sherman platoon engaging my panzers, wiping them out with superior 17 pdr firepower. While I was able to blunt the churchills on the right flank, his shermans reached the objective on the left and pushed off the beach defense survivors to attain a bloody victory.
Result: 3:6 loss
Game 2: Ray O'Connor
The second round was fought in bocage terrain against Ray's Russian tank horde, comprised of Churchills and a very big platoon of T34s. With the bocages hindering movement across the battlefield, even the mighty churchills spent a lot of time stuck in the hedges of Normandy. This time, the set defense worked according to plan and despite losing my CO and a Pz4 platoon to the T34 rush, my 8 Pz4s overwhelmed his SU-85 defending the objectives and fought off the Churchills to achieve a decisive victory.
Result: 7:2 win
Game 3: Rob Murray
The final round of day 1 turned out to be a nail biter and one of the best matches of Flames of War I've ever had with Rob Murray's ARP company. Composed of 3 platoons of infantry and a ton of bazookas, Rob bum rushed my objective on the left flank with 2 full platoons and trusted his doughboys to give the Germans a good kicking. Thanks to the sacrifice of my CO, which bought time for Pz4 reinforcements to stem the tide with a bucket of MG dice, the left field turned into a slaughterhouse when the dust cleared, with 3 consecutive turns of ferocious assaults pushing the Americans off the objective at the cost of almost all my defenders. With his remaining platoon contesting the objective on the right flank, a hail mary shot from a survivor's bazooka killed the last Pz4 and won the battle.
Result: 3:6 loss
Our lovely contestants at the end of day 2. The grind is real.
Game 1: Glen Horseman
Mission: Free for All
Day 2 started off with a case of a curious mirror match. Glen's force had almost the same composition as mine, with 10 pz4s, artillery and pumas facing off against my own 14 pz4s in a free-for-all. In a tense round of assaults, his Pz4s almost pushed my grenadiers off the objective, but the family men stuck around and bought time for my panzers to whittle his tanks down. Eventually, his panzers were completely destroyed, awarding me the first decisive victory of the day.
Result: 8:1 win
Game 2: Colin Barret-Hog
I forgot to take pictures of this match so here's a pic of Phil Yates pushing his Stuarts around instead :P
Despite having a favorable matchup and mission, this round was an abject disaster for me as Colin's skillful deployment of his PAK40s and Marders stymied my best efforts to outflank his grenadier company and Pz4 escort. Doing the best I could, it was not enough as everything I threw at the objective was repulsed and taken apart piecemeal.
Result: 1:8 loss
Game 3: Jon Carryer
The final mission saw yet another blue on blue vs Jon's Grenadier company in a bridgehead mission. Back in Bocage country yet again, I was wary of his tenacious defense having observed his previous round where his Germans held against a Russian T34 horde. Finding a weak spot in his deployment, I risked a minefield crossing to push my entire force through his left flank and assaulted his guns and mortars. A combination of poor luck on reserves and his PAK40 team's inaccuracy meant that my Pz4s were swarming his objective, securing it for a swift win on turn 3.
Result: 8:1 win
With 3 wins and 3 losses, I expected to be somewhere in the middle of the pack, but the final standings were somewhat of a surprise, with me and my opponents ending up neck-to-neck in the top 8 placings. The decision to stick to maneuver doctrine and a tenacious attitude to earn points even in a losing scenario had a consistent result, which was improved by some lucky wins on day 2. New Zealand players tended to favor armored lists and Lee Reygate, the champion of flamescon 2019 had a cracking army with 20 Churchills supported by soviet infantry. With a whopping 8 point lead in VP, he took the trophy against the odds to a cheering crowd.
Lee Reygate's winning Soviet army
All in all, I had a most enjoyable time at Flamescon 2019. The organisers did a fantastic job of keeping to time with the schedule and maintained a warm and cheerful atmosphere at the tournament. My only regret was not being able to play against the Battlefront Staff this year (especially Phil's Stuarts) but I was at least able to say hi and exchange banter about our progress of the tournament.
So Long, Flamescon. Perhaps 2020 will bring more Singaporeans across to play in Middle Earth?
About the Writer:
Eddie is an avid painter who also enjoys anime, studying military history and hopes that Girls Und Panzer will come true one day so that everyone can resolve their differences with tank Airsoft.