Official and Glorious Blog of the Inglorious and Officious Warheads Gaming Club

Category: Flames of War (page 1 of 4)

Warheads Flames of War League, Week 1

The annual Warheads Flames of War League began this week.  At stake: bowls of schadenfreude and an engraved name on the Warheads league plaque.

This year the league is short, just four games.  We’re playing two Fair Fight missions, Fighting Withdrawal, and the new mission Breakout.  It’s a 1780 point Late War league.  Players are restricted to one briefing for the duration of the league but can alter lists from week to week.  NGFS is banned.  Scoring works this way: 3 points for a win, 1 point for a loss.  Small points (traditional FoW scoring) are tie breakers, with enemy platoons killed as 3rd tie breaker if needed.  In addition, you get 1 bonus big point for using the same list for four weeks, and another generous big point if you are fully painted for the whole league.  The lists and rules are on this thread: http://warheads.ie/index.php?topic=530.0

Nine Thursday night regulars reported for duty and names were drawn from a hat (actually, a Samsung phone) for pairings.  The mission was Free-for-All.

Baz’s Tankovy and Floody’s 2ID landed together on table 1.

Padraic, the league kommissar, drew Grant.  How would Grant’s Aufklarungsschwadron fair against 2ID?  On table 3, John’s trained Panzer Kampfgruppe faced off against Ulick’s Canadian infantry.
Table 4 pitted Daniel’s Canadian Armoured Recce list of Sherman ninja tanks against Brendan’s Independent Tank Company.  Brendan looked over his Stuart spam and concluded: Worst.  Match.  Ever.

This left yours truly with a bye.  Sad face (Although the bye point win and the fact that Woody and I went for a few pints provided some consolation):

The games were of a high standard.  Everyone save Grant is a tournament veteran.  The armies were nicely painted too.  Check out the detail on Floody’s staff team maps:

Padraic’s Sherman platoon took cover in a tree line while the infantry in the background dug in.  Grant attacked aggressively, quickly lost several platoons and then Padraic cleaned up for a major win.

Daniel’s land mattresses were ready for action:

Brendan’s 11 platoon Stuart spam list suffered mightily at the hands of the Canuck ninja tanks and Daniel came away with a decisive victory.

The bloodiest game of the night was between John and Ulick.  John’s FlaKs put some fear into Ulick’s two Sherman platoons.  John’s jagdpanthers inflicted kills until a single Typhoon wiped out the unit.  The guys traded a good few platoons before time was called and they limped away with a mutual loss.
Ulick’s two units of Shermans, backed up by fin and fur boys, lined up for battle:

 Baz and Floody both played aggressively.  A risky flanking action by T-34s put serious pressure on Floody.

Floody, however, was able to sneak a unit of Stuarts and recce jeeps onto one of Baz’s objective.  Unfortunately for Floody, they ran into Baz’s commander who had paused for a brief looting pit stop.  The lone matilda contested the objective and the game finished with a mutual loss.

It was a good night and the four games were enjoyable to watch.  The table after Week 1:

1.  Daniel, 3-6-6
2.  Padraic, 3-6-6
3.  Brian, 3-6-0 (bye)
4.  Ulick, 1-3-5
5.  John, 1-3-4
6.  Baz, 1-3-3
7.  Floody, 1-3-3
8.  Brendan, 1-0-0
9.  Grant, 1-0-0

Warheads: The Podcast (Episode 001)

Following on from such innovations as penicillin, democracy and armoured warfare, we’ve decided to make the world a better place by producing our very own Warheads podcast. It turned out to be relatively straightforward, stick four friends in a quiet corner of the pub and add one recording device.

I enclose an actual contents list but to summarise, we discuss Bolt Action, Flames of War, the peculiarities of Irish wargaming and bicker relentlessly. We’ve also noticed that the background noise tends to pick up whenever Floody speaks, as if the universe itself wishes to silence the opinions of our worst cheese-monger. Our only concession to our listener (hi, John) is to keep it under an hour in length.

00:00- Our presenters introduce themselves and our listener(s) are aurally assaulted by our theme song.

02:18- Operation Encore: an introduction to Irish tournaments, the Madagascar theory of meta-gaming.
06:48- List Discussions: God bless and help you, King Tigers.
12:45- Day 1 AAR: grace in defeat is a foreign concept.
25:06- Day 2 AAR: chasing your own tail and the perils of the Swiss system.
35:16- Hobby Shack Preview: how not to alienate new players and make friends.
39:54- General FoW Chatter: the dreaded comp, tournament missions, general squabbling.
47:10- Bolt Action Chatter: The pedigree of the game and the strange concept of “fun”.

You can have a listen here. I can only you enjoy it as much as we did.


Report from the All Ireland Flames of War tournament

This past weekend we travelled up to the All Ireland tournament in Belfast.  This was a single day 1780 point, Late War affair.  It was sponsored by Battle Front so we were all eager to put on a good show.  The three missions (in order) were: Dust Up, Fighting Withdrawal, and Breakthrough.  The venue was the Masonic Hall in Belfast (for those keeping track this is the second FoW tournament we’ve attended–the first was in Birmingham–in a Masonic Lodge):

The tables were excellent–some will complain about the airfield but no matter.  Coffee was at hand and everyone settled in to Game 1.  Floody and Ulick had to play under the watchful eyes of Brother Braithwaite.
This game resulted in a draw. Ulick’s 12 platoon strategy weathered the storm of naval guns.
Padraic’s 2ID defeated a German mechanized list.  Brother Swathmore, a distant relative of Padraic, approved of his no-155, 2 veteran TD gambit.
I played Chub who was a victim of a five platoon list in a 1/2 on mission.  My Razvedki platoon zoomed up the road and seized the objective on the third turn.
Daniel defeated Jonny on the airfield.  Jonny’s look of realization at exactly how shitty the Soviets are in tournament play resembles that of Brother Didsbury when he heard that the Austrians had been defeated at the Battle of Sadowa.
The airfield had a great looking supply depot:
After the first game we enjoyed an affordable pint and soaked up energy from a nexus of power.
In round 2 my Forward Detachment was pummelled by Daniel’s naval guns.  Trained tanks truly stand little chance against them.  I was happy to walk away with a 4-3 loss and I even shamed Daniel into buying me a beer.  John played on this fabulous desert table:

In Round 3 Padraic played Daniel for all the marbles.  After six turns Padraic was bruised but victorious completing a three game sweep of the tournament.  This was an excellent tournament.  The venue was great; the tables were high quality, and the entry fee provided a huge lunch, spot prizes, and a goody bag which included a really nice resin bunker among other treats.  My game 3 timed out for a draw and I do think that increasing the time of rounds would be better for the game.  Congratulations to Scott “Vapusa” on hosting an excellent tournament.

ETC 2013 After Action Report

 (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.

Ireland Score Score Portugal Result
Barra 2 5 Joao Loss
Brian 2 5 Carlos Loss
Richard 1 6 Jorge Loss
Ulick 4 3 Pedro Win
John 4 3 Pedro Win
Padraic 4 3 Jose Win

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.

Ireland Score Score Czechs Result
Richard 4 3 Daniele Win
Barra 3 4 Tibor Loss
Padraic 3 2 Ziead Draw*
Brian 2 5 Jaromir Loss
John 1 6 Ivan Loss
Ulick 6 1 Jiri Win

 *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.

Ireland Score Score Slovakia Result
Richard 3 4 Michal Loss
Ulick 6 1 Andrea Win
Brian 2 5 Lucia Loss
Padraic 4 3 Karel Win
John 5 2 Anders Win
Barra 5 2 Michal Win

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.”

 Sounds perfect.

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.

Ireland Score Score England Result
Padraic 4 3 Tim Win
Ulick 1 6 Jez Loss
Barra 1 6 Pete Loss
Brian 5 2 Dave Win
John 4 3 Ian Win
Richard 2 5 Steve Loss

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.

Ireland Score Score Italy Result
Richard 3 4 Stefamp Loss
Brian 2 5 Maurizio Loss
John 3 4 Federico Loss
Padraic 4 3 Enrico Win
Barra 3 4 Lorenco Loss
Ulick 2 5 Andrea Loss

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.

ETC 2013: Nerds to Novi Sad

Another year, another Nerd Olympics. We’re all off to the European Team Championship this weekend. The Irish 40K and Fantasy teams (best of luck, chaps) are flying out tomorrow for their three day event, we’ll be joining them on Friday for the two-day, Flames of War event. I can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to keep you updated but I’ll certainly grab as many pictures as I can of the armies, terrain and venue.

 After last year’s “triumph”, the Flames of War team will be looking to “refine” our performance. The 40K team had a strong finish last year and will be looking to break into the very top ranks. The Fantasy team are looking to get back to previous form and match their performance in 2011. There’s been wild talk of playing sober but I can safely assume that madness will pass once people notice that the venue has three bars. I also thought I’d give a brief overview of the preparation involved in attending the ETC. There’s two critical tasks to be completed before I leave. The first is making sure that every piece of the army is packed and every scrap of supporting materiel is accounted for.


The second task is researching the country itself to ensure a degree of cultural sensitivity and, at the very least, pack the right clothes. I found the “Behind Enemy Lines” documentary to be very informative. Based on my research, it seems to be a cold country and a mix of fatigues and tracksuits would be most appropriate. I assume weapons can be sourced at the customs desk.

Some of my less-enlightened teammates persist in claiming that the local temperature is 38 Celsius but they’ll be sorry when they’re freezing to death while I luxuriate in my fine winter coat.

Announcing Team Ireland for Flames of War at the 2013 ETC

The War Altar is pleased to announce Ireland’s Flames of War team for the 2013 European Team Championship.

Brian “Minsk Meat” McKenzie
Comrade Captain
File:RIAN archive 2410 Marshal Zhukov speaking.jpg
Barra “Long Tom” Mac Niocaill
Comrade Vice Captain
File:A I Antonov 02.jpg
John “the Haddington Road Hetzer” Gallagher
File:Василий Блюхер.jpg
Richard “Das Rheingold Reaver” Flood
Padraic “the Konnemara Komissar” O’Confhaola
File:Klim voroshilov.JPG
Ulick “the Donbass Dynamo” O’Sullivan
File:Browning M2HB Normandy.jpg

The War Altar sat down with the team captain for a brief chat about the ETC.

War Altar: Welcome to the internets.  Tell us about this year’s team.  How did you select it?
Comrade Captain McKenzie:

WA: What are your goals for this year?

WA:  We hate to single out individual players but last year one of your players under performed on the first day.  What happened?

WA:  You have four returning members and two new members.  What tips or tricks do you have for the new members?

WA:  Do you have anything to say to the other teams?
WA: Thank you for your time.

Flames of War Tournament Stats (IRE/NI: May 2013)

We’ve got another Flames of War tournament kicking off soon, it seems like an appropriate time to have a look at the state of the game. We’re still operating with a seriously flawed data set (not enough tournaments yet) but we’ll improve over time.

First up is the big pie chart of nationalities played. The Germans remain very popular but their market share has dropped slightly. The Americans have also slipped slightly while the British record the biggest increase. Soviets and Hungarians climb very slightly. Overall, it’s situation normal here with an even mix of Germans and the rest.

I mentioned in the last round up that the tournament scene was notable for its list variety and that remains unchanged. The last tournament had twelve players with twelve completely distinct armies and included six never-before-used company lists. We’re still waiting on a list to be re-used. I suspect that run will end with the next tournament, this Sunday, but it’s still nice to see such a large measure of originality and experimentation.

The win ratio graph has gone to hell after a run of draws (which I treat as losses). I wouldn’t read too much into it as we’re going to keep seeing big swings like this until we’ve gotten a large number of tournaments into the system. It’s also a bit of fudged statistic as the national lists can vary widely in type and quality. With that in mind, we’ll quickly say that the Germans and Americans see a drop, the Soviets and Hungarians climb slightly and the British completely tank. Now, the last tournament didn’t see many of the new Bridge by Bridge companies so the British are still running on their older lists and I think we see that the v.2 versions are just a bit outclassed.

Those general overviews don’t really help in that a German list could be anything from a Jadgtiger company with a small number of heavy tank destroyers to a Luftwaffe Flak battalion pressed into service. There’s a wide variety of force lists which have only been played rarely so we’re going to ignore those and focus on the regularly played options. In essence, I’m ignoring the force lists that have only been used by a single player at a single tournament. So, what interesting tidbits can be drawn from the data? What’s are the most popular and successful lists?

The most popular army list is, without a doubt, Kampfgrupper Pieper from Devil’s Charge. It makes up 12% of all armies played and a whopping 24% of all German armies fielded in tournaments. However, it has the worst win ratio of any of the widely used lists, winning 22% of its games. It may have the numbers but it’s lacking in staying power.

The second most popular list is everyone’s least favourite opponent, the vile 2nd Infantry Division from Devil’s Charge. To no-one’s shock, it has the highest win ratio of any list at 69%. You could argue that it’s the players behind the list driving the win ratio up but as one of the guilty, I can say you’re wrong. The rules revisions to tank destroyers may draw some of the venom from the list.

The Panzerkompanie from Grey Wolf (third in popularity) is the second strongest performer on a 64% win ratio. I’ve got a real soft spot for it and it continues to perform even in the face of some internet hate. The bronze medal goes to the Hungarian force, Puskas Szazad on a 63% win ratio. This is a bit of a surprise and it’s probably the combination of assault guns and plentiful artillery that make it deadly.

As a quick finish, I’ll say that tank lists are played more often than infantry and mech lists are the least popular. You could argue that tank lists appeal more to players due to their low cost in actual money, their iconic status (think of the Tiger, Sherman and T-34) or the ease with which a force can be assembled and transported. I honestly can’t say.

When we look at the percentage of their games won by these list types, things change. Infantry lists score highly while the tank lists do not perform well. This is largely in line with the results of the 2012 ETC where the foot-sloggers strongly out-performed the armour. As we get the results for more tournaments, I’ll be curious to see if this trend continues.

Model Review: Zvezda KV-1e

During a thaw in Nazi-Soviet relations in the late 1930s, legend has it, a team of Soviet officers toured a German tank factory.  Their Nazi guides beamed with pride as the latest German tank, the Panzer mk. III, rolled off the assembly line.  The Soviets exchanged confused looks and then one asked, in broken German, “Don’t you have anything bigger?”  The fascist running-dogs would soon understand why the Soviets were unimpressed.
This is a review of the Zvevda 1/100 (15mm) KV-1e.  I picked up three of them a while back at Gamers’ World.  They run 4 euro a piece.

Assembly is easy, so much so that I had all three put together before I remembered to take any photographs.  The hull is two pieces that snap together.  Each track is a single piece that snaps into the hull, and the turret is two pieces.  Although the “snap-fit” kits ostensibly do not require any glue a little dab on a few of the contact points won’t hurt.  I painted them using the practical method I previously detailed in the decent looking tank tutorial.  

In short, this is a great kit.  It’s a good looking tank and it adds an iconic vehicle to your model collection.  In Flames of War it’s a good unit and you can easily make it the core of a competitive army.  Its high armor value makes it virtually immune to Shermans, StuGs, and Panzer IVs.  It has a better than 50/50 chance of bouncing shots off the ubiquitous PaK40 anti-tank guns too.  Although slow the combination of high top and side armor and a turret-rear MG make it one of the best assault tanks in the game.  Finally, as a guards unit they do not suffer from the horrible Soviet special rule Hens and Chicks.    I’ve got the following list in the painting queue after I finish my Canadians.  The KV-1e has the same armor values as a Tiger I, and this list has eleven of them!  The KV-1e has a weak gun so you’ll need something to help against heavy armor.  I added a unit of artillery and Il-2 air support.  

Bristolscale7’s History Corner: Blitzkrieg, by the book

Blitzkrieg–the word evokes images of charging panzers, Stuka dive bombers, and encircled French troops. The purpose of this article is to discuss the accuracy of this general impression and then meditate on the whether or not Flames of War captures this style of offensive warfare on the table top.  So what are we talking about when we use the term?  In practical terms blitzkrieg refers to the mobile warfare doctrine developed by a younger generation of German officers in the 1930s.  These officers argued that armoured forces should be concentrated along a narrow front to achieve a breakthrough in the enemy’s lines.  Many military forces in the 1930s saw armour as primarily a tool for infantry support and tanks were distributed among infantry formations rather than concentrated in armoured divisions.  According to the German model the concentrated mobile forces could exploit breakthroughs and plunge deep behind the enemy lines to destroy logistics and command structures.  At the same time large portions of the enemy would be encircled and eliminated.

Let’s take a look at an actual German operation.  The German strategic offensive for the summer of 1942, Case Blue, involved a huge drive into southern Russia.  Hitler committed a blunder in August when he split Army Group South into two groups.  One group continued to push south to the oil fields.  The other group headed to the Volga and Stalingrad.  As the Germans approached the Volga there was a major engagment west of the Russian village of Kalach.  The German military published a magazine called Signal for popular reading by the troops.  The following maps of the battle of Kalach are taken from it.

In this first map below we see the initial German penetration north of Kalach.  There is a major cut from the north and a broader application of pressure from the south.  Bear two things in mind as you look at this first map.  First, we’re in mid-1942 now and the Soviets and others are now implementing (or attempting) counters to blitzkrieg.  You see it in the two black arrows.  These represent Soviet forces attacking the flanks of the armoured spearhead.  If these attacks succeed then the German armoured forces become encircled, not the Soviets.  The attack failed in this circumstance–beaten off by German grenadiers following up the armoured forces.  The second thing to note is the bulge created by the German advance.  This illustrates the dual purpose of the blitzkrieg: exploit but also encircle.

In the second map below we see that the salient (bulge) is well established.  The Soviet forces attempt two counter-attacks at this point.  One strikes north from the salient while the other attempts to link up by attacking south through the new German lines.  These fail.
Now the Germans pinch off the salient to form the encirclement.  The main German attack cuts across the salient from the south.  Other German forces engage in the north to prevent a Soviet counter attack
In the final map below the salient is reduced and the graphic explains that over 35,000 infantry, 270 tanks, and 560 guns were captured.  Note that the front line to the east of the encirclement takes an offensive posture while the salient itself is captured.

Thus concluded another bloody chapter in the war on the Eastern Front.  This was the last major battle before the Germans arrived at Stalingrad.  We can grasp, even after this short exposition, why the Germans had trouble in Stalingrad–blitzkrieg clearly is more suited to open, mobile warfare than it is to urban warfare.
So does Flames of War capture this?  The first thing to point out is that Flames of War is a company level game.  A German infantry company was just over 100 men, give or take.  In terms of armour, roughly, a company level battle represents a portion of an armoured regiment, one of a couple forming an armoured brigade.  In essence, two 1780 point forces fighting it out represent each player controlling a couple different types of companies–a good chunk of a bigger battle.  In terms of game play, the Flames of War system does an excellent job of capturing mobile warfare.  Concentration of armour is locally powerful, but without support it can be isolated.  The exploitation nature of mobile warfare is also well-represented.  Tanks that punch through defences can wipe out artillery parks and kill command teams.  The 15mm scale helps capture the flavour of this type of warfare.  Flames of War strikes an excellent balance between flavour, playability, and veracity.

Bristolscale7’s History Corner: D-Day

With interest in Flames of War increasing I thought it would be a good idea to go over some of the “fluff.”  Here’s a thing.  It’s the first message sent from General Eisenhower to General Marshall on the morning of 6 June 1944.  I obtained it from the National Archives and Records Administration.  Digital history FTW.   Have a read:


 First we note that it’s from SHAEF–Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force.  This was the allied command for all U.S., U.K., Canadian, and French forces.  It called the shots and Eisenhower was in charge.  The ability of the allies to coordinate grand strategy was a real strength of the alliance.

The next thing we see is that the telegram is for General Marshall.  He was the head of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff– the #1 military man in the U.S.  He was Eisenhower’s boss and reported directly to Roosevelt.  Marshall developed U.S. strategy and Roosevelt signed off on it.  Marshall was a nice guy.  He bombed the shite out of Europe and then helped rebuild it after the war with the plan that bore his name.  “Eyes Only” means Marshall is the only one who was supposed to read this.
O.k., let’s get get to the content of the telegram.  Eisenhower says it’s 8:00 a.m. local time.  The airborne operations were about seven hours old at this point, but the first troops to hit the beaches had only been on the ground for ninety minutes.  Eisenhower explains, “I have as yet no information concerning the actual landings nor our progress through beach obstacles.”  In other words, he doesn’t know what the situation is.  Eisenhower was a chain smoker–four packs a day!  Who can blame him?  He was responsible for the lives of hundreds of thousands of soldiers.  The next line is, however, quite chilling:  “Communique will not be issued until we have word that leading ground troops are actually ashore.”  What does this mean?  It means that the entire operation–an invasion of 160,00 troops–is going to be kept secret if it fails.  Back in August 1942 five thousand Canadians invaded Dieppe.  Fifteen hundred died and the Germans captured over two thousand.  It was a disaster.  Yet according to Allied news reports the plucky Canadians accomplished their objectives and returned to England for some well-deserved R&R.  A nice way to describe an operation that failed utterly and resulted in over 60% casualties.  Eisenhower is leaving open the possibility of failure on D-Day: June 7 newspaper headlines of a few thousand casualties from a training exercise.  What would have happened if D-Day failed?  To Eisenhower on the morning of June 6 it’s a real possibility.  Stick that in your counter-factual pipe and smoke it.
The middle paragraph contains some good information.  It informs us that 1250 aircraft were involved in airborne operations and that the losses, as far as he knows, were very light.  Mine-sweeping operations and preliminary bombardments appear to have went off without a hitch.  
The last paragraph of the telegram is also noteworthy.  We’ve all seen this photo:
Now you know what Eisenhower was thinking.  In his diary on June 3, 1944, Eisenhower wrote, “Probably no one who does not have to bear the specific and direct responsibility of making the final decision as to what to do can understand the intensity of these burdens.”
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