(Warning: This blogpost contains lots of pictures, if you are on your mobile, turn back now.)
The various Team Irelands have made their way back from the ETC and the clear winners were our 40K detachment who took 5th place. They also produced a nice video which really encapsulates their time at the ETC. The rest of us fell to a mix of food poisoning (Team Ireland WFB) and Italian military prowess (Team Ireland FoW) to finish mid-table in our competitions.
Allow me to say that I make this statement of my own free will and I am not under duress. The organisers were very friendly, very competent and I am well fed.
But really, this was the best ETC I’ve ever attended. The organisation was top-notch from the results hub to the media center to the multiple bars. The Serbs also followed the lead of the Poles by bringing specialist vendors like Titan Forge and The Russian Alternative. Again, a very good idea.
There were also stands selling militaria which we quite liked. Kaptain Brian decided to prepare his children for the forthcoming Irish revolution and I picked up a nice entrenching tool to assist in any heated rules debates.
Booze was plentiful and very cheap. This particular grapefruit-based beverage (2%) meant that the players had a cool drink on hand at all times but couldn’t actually get enough alcohol into their system to impact on their gameplay.
There were some concerns about the quality of terrain prior to the tournament. While they fell short of the Polish ETC, the organisers did very well considering the lack of a local FoW scene. I believe the Germans, Poles and Battlefront provided a fair chunk of terrain but the Serbs still had to go to some trouble to make up the shortfall. These pictures should give a decent overview. The tables were a little disjointed in some cases but certainly playable.
After dumping my 2nd Infantry Division in the hotel and checking out the hall, we passed a civilised night, enjoying the local food and drink. Our captain attempted to keep our natural inclinations in check by threatening that the most hung-over player would be first bid for all of Day 1.
The first round saw us pitted against the Portuguese and Richard was fed to the wolves. I faced off against an American Armoured Rifles list. I set up a weak front line and fell back on the objectives behind that screen. There were some small clashes as I tried to extract the blocking forces. He managed to kill one small platoon during their retreat but when one of his full strength platoons got shot up in their halftracks, his force ran out of steam. Our tank destroyers traded shots (to his benefit) but with two platoons of heavily armed Yanks dug in on the objectives, he didn’t really have the troops to remove them. A morale-boosting early win.
Overall, honours were even as both countries claimed three wins. We started our 2013 campaign in 14th place.
We faced the Czech Republic in the second round. My game was a fair fight against a Soviet horde. We both went for the throat during the game, risking dangerous assaults but neither of us could press the attack home and it became a simple slugging match. Ziead did over-reach a little, losing five of eight platoons and I’d like to think that had it continued, I could have broken his company. But the infamous “no new turns in the last 10 minutes” rule reared its ugly head and that was the end of it.
Although, we’d only scored two wins, there were an abundance of drawn games across all the table and those two points lifted us into 12th place.
*A draw is treated as a mutual loss so it’s bit of a worthless distinction.
When we saw that we were paired against Slovenia, our hearts fell as they had gutted us last year. A second glance cheered us up as we realised that we were playing Slovakia. My opponent’s evil StuHs almost won him the game as he swarmed an isolated objective. I was forced to start siphoning troops from other objectives into the area in a desperate bid to salvage things. However, the tank destroyers finally stopped mis-firing and shredded his assault guns at the critical point. His attack stuttered to a halt and he spent the rest of the game trying to avenge his troops by hunting my M18s down. A lovely if ruthless opponent, he does get credit for (accidentally?) shelling his own troops when they refused to un-pin. We ran the game to its natural conclusion and I came away with the win.
We scored a solid victory overall and jumped into 8th place. The matches for the following morning went up and we were to face England.
We started our night by checking on Team England. Obviously, news of their upcoming match against us had left them in a state of paralysing fear but we did what we could to reassure them and ease their terror.
Then we started drinking properly. When we were choosing between the French and Serbian bids, it was the US State Department’s dire warnings which swung our vote.
“Serbian nightclubs are increasingly popular with foreign tourists. If you decide to go to a nightclub, you should know that they can be crowded and may not be up to Western standards for maximum occupancy and fire safety.”
This is the single fire exit we found on our travels and it was behind a locked glass door. Presumably to keep it safe from grubby, ash-covered hands.
We were actually in pretty good shape the next morning. My opponent, Tim brought the Irish Guards against me, which seemed a bit mean. I hardened my heart and prepared to shoot down my 15mm relatives. He did a great job of containing the tank destroyers but couldn’t really get any traction against the infantry until they were eliminated. By the time we got to the critical tank assaults, he was under pressure. The game was still winnable but he hadn’t factored in my homing bazookas which chopped up the charging Shermans in short order. Another close win.
Across the tables, we’d managed to go 3-3 with the English but dropped to 10th place as a result.
In the last round, we went up against the Italians. This is probably the game of which I am most proud. I risked everything on a massed continuous infantry assault over the first three turns and manage to smash three of his infantry platoons for the loss of almost half of all my infantry platoons. It really shouldn’t have worked but it did. Enrico has to pull units off his far objective to contain my attack and after his reserves arrive and bog down under mortar fire, he’s got no way of stopping teleporting tank destroyers bypassing his wire/mines and roaring onto the far objective to claim a win.
Looking around, I realise that I’d used up our team’s entire luck ration in my game and we’re running into trouble elsewhere. The heavy defeat drops us to 13th and slingshots the Italians into 3rd.
You’re welcome, Italy.
Onto the awards ceremony, where the Poles, French and Italians take the top spots. They’re traditionally associated with success in WW2, right? The contrast between prizes for the Battlefront and GW events is interesting. Battlefront provided prize support, plaques and terrain for the ETC. Games Workshop continue to completely ignore the event.
We had a few minutes to spend at this point so I grabbed what pictures I could of the various pretty armies. The very first shot is the greatest observer team ever.
These are not Flames of War-related but were so nice, I had to include them. It’s a Chaos Dwarf army of some sort. If you look closely, that is some kind of functioning plasma ball in the second shot.
The last morning was marked by the usual Serb efficiency. They loaded us all onto our buses in record time and we fled the country through an airport swarming with wargamers.
Now go watch the video again.