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I paint small metal and plastic figures and rarely get to play with them. But that is fine with me.

23 March 2015

Duel in the Desert Tournament AAR from 14th March

On Saturday, I attended the Norcal Flames of War Tournament Circuit March tourney at the Red Lion Hotel in Sacramento. The theme was "Duel in the Desert", 1650 point lists restricted to the North Africa book and any corresponding .pdf's. 

Ten players (Including the TO and his son.) attended and a fine day of gaming ensued. This was a strict red vs blue setup with 3 Italian, 2 German, 3 British and 2 American lists present. The TO allowed Mid War Monsters as well, though I think only his, his son's and one of the Italian lists featured any.

If you've been following my blog for the past 4 months, you might have noticed I've been painting Desert British units that I'd selected to fill out a particular list as follows:

I always loved the rousing story of El Alamein and this list has all sorts of elements that could (And would) have been present during the 2nd battle. Plus, there are so many different types of pieces to paint, I knew it was going to be a lot of fun hobby-wise too! Just for list-building's sake, there is pretty much almost everything one should require to deal with just about any threat I would expect to face in the 1942/3 North Africa theater. My only real fear were Tigers - my poor 6-pounders were really not up to the task, so that's why everyone and their brother got Sticky Bombs! (Not that I even used them once....) The only real weakness I can think of in this list is the small unit sizes meaning I'd have to be careful maneuvering about the board prior to assaults. Night Attack was the flavour of the day. 


My Game 1 as versus my nemesis, Richard Gagliasso and his Italian Bersaglieri in Counterattack. Four tournaments in a row now I've played Rich. I am in firm belief that he has magical dice manipulation powers, for every game we play my dice roll even more 1's and his own a veritable plethora of 6's. -__- Regardless, I set up well with two strong groupings of mobile assets each headed to an objective under the cover of darkness and was ready to assault almost on Turn One, but it doesn't matter how good plans are if you can't hit a damned thing when you shoot. So my assaults didn't go in as his defending troops were unpinned in buildings and my other group managed little more than managing to take out an Anti-Tank Gun platoon and severely maul (But not break) some allied German Grenadiers. 

2-5 to Richard. Not the best start, but on to game 2!

Richard's setup in his quarter of the table. 

Two Motor platoons armed with AT-Rifles and MG's, some cheeky Armoured Cars and a platoon of Crusaders never rolled so many ones together. 
After the first round was done (The Axis beat just about every Allied player I believe.), our armies were put out for display and for players to vote on for the Best Presentation Award.

A better look at Rich Gagliasso's Italian Bersaglieri. He said he painted them in the darker uniforms so he could use them in multiple eras of the war. 

The other half of Rich's Italians. So much stuff...

Wyn Robertson's US Tank Company. I believe Wyn was the only Allied player all day to actually win a game.

Dave Partak (The TO) played a British Tank Company, which must have been sucky as there was little Axis armour brought on the day and so the lack of High Explosive firepower to hurt infantry pretty much doomed him to a frustrating time I'm sure. Please note the platoon of 3 (!!) Tog2 Mid War Monster heavy tanks in black on the right!

Chris Hansen's Italians

Dave Ripperda's Desert Germans

Dave Partak's son played a British Infantry company...

... which also included a platoon of Mid War Monsters. This time, some Churchill 3" gun carriers - the black 3-tank platoon on the right.

Russ Moore brought his Italian Paratroops and also brought along a single Italian Mid War Monster, the P40! (Which is acutally not much of a "Monster" at all if you look at it's crappy stats.)

Kevin Spesart's US Infantry. I think I missed his 155mm artillery in this picture.

Densmol's Germans. None of it is Desert appropriate though. Lazy sod.

Game 2 had me face another player who I struggle to beat, Dave Ripperda in Hold the Line. Dave brought a German Infantry force with mobile Artillery including two Bisons (Which were bloody nasty.). I opted to Night Attack again in the hopes of swamping him with stuff before Day broke and he was stuck only being able to place one platoon on the board at the start of the game, (His Wespe artillery.) with two others being in ambush (Two large infantry platoons.). This game started a little better for me and my boys made good progress rolling toward his lines all mounted up in trucks with tank support. Unfortunately, he popped his ambush on turn one in a long line and my attack stalled, then Night turned to day and with so little terrain, my boys were munched. I did well enough to kill his Bisons and almost took out both his Wespes and an infantry platoon and land on an objective for a possible win, but in the end I again lost 2-5.

Dave's setup at the beginning of the game. If it weren't for Night Attack slowing down my movement, I would have been in his face and far tricker to  deal with  way earlier. 

Spearhead and Recce moves gets my infantry and Recon too far ahead of my tanks, which proved rather silly of me.

Suddenly, out of nowhere all these bloody Krauts spring out of the sand in a long line. 

With Anti Tank guns in support that made tank assaults pretty tricky.

Day comes about and I drop smoke to help keep my Kingforce Churchills safe as they try to get close enough to assault the infantry line.

Best moment in the whole tournament for me was when Dave's Stukas are called in first turn to try and bomb the slow tank column. Dave rolled for 3 planes too, so I had to try to roll my own Air to try and intercept. I needed to roll a 6 for my RAF Hurricanes to force off his divebombers. And I got it. We set up this fun picture to celebrate!

Burning tanks everywhere.....

These German troops know how to tow the line. I did manage to get an assault off, but in the end, Dave just broke them off to keep them alive and on top of the objective for the win.

My last game was against Densmol in Encounter. By this time though I was downspirited after two failed attacks and so declined to Night Attack a third time and instead chose to defend against his German Grenadiers (And TWO Tiger 1E tanks!). Things were actually going pretty well and my plan, including dealing with those Tigers was pretty good. That is, until all of my tanks, showed they were bloody crap and couldn't even run over a Nebelwerer rocket artillery emplacement... My planes came in almost every turn, but failed to destroy even one target. I tried hard in this game but couldn't even earn myself a point and lost 1-6. Bit of a poo finish for me in the end - joint last place!

On the right my boys were defending a small compound, whilst my 6-pounder portees took long range pot-shots at German halftracks, whilst at the same time, doing their best to avoid the monstrous Tigers!

My tiny HQ mortar platoon were the most successful of my whole army this game, smoking Densmol's 8.8" Flak gun (Far end of the table with the yellow box around it) every turn so it couldn't target my tanks as they advanced up the flank.

Churchills ready to assault the Neb's with Crusaders as second wave.

88 somehow manages to bail a churchill which the Neb takes out in a counter-assault. The same exact turn of events happened when my Crusaders rolled in. 
After this, I stopped taking pictures and pretty much gave the game to Densmol. He ended up almost winning the whole thing, ending 2nd place Axis with Richard Gagliasso getting 1st place. Wyn Robertson got 1st place for Allies. Russ Moore won Best Sport and in the end my day was made all the better as I got the award for Best Presentation, which made all the blood, sleep and stress spent on the army I brought worthwhile in the end!

*I didn't include a picture of my own force as I want to showcase them in their own post with proper pictures and the remainder of the army painted up*

This post brought to you by... (Delish!)


  1. Nice stuff Dai, and I liked the picture of the Hurricane's driving off the Stukas :-) The camo on the Churchills is rather nicely done as well. great posting.

  2. Sounds like some frustrating games! Those small motor platoons must be tricky to keep alive and effective. Is that one motor platoon painted for night fighting :-P?

    1. Congrats on best painted as well! I'm looking forward to seeing the whole company together.

    2. You don't know how ashamed and certain of NOT winning a presentation award I felt because of those unpainted minis... But yeah, that's exactly what I told my opponents - Nightfighting. Heh.

      The motor platoons ended up not being so tiny. Commander, 3x MG teams and 3x AT Rifle teams makes for a 7 stand platoon. Far better than one first imagines.


  3. Sounds like a super frustrating time. It'd be nice to pull at least one win out of the bag. Argle bargle! I'll (continue) to echo Cameron....congrats on the best painted. Quite a feather in your cap.

    1. Cheers Dave. Won't be attending another tournament for some months, so maybe I can charge up my dice for my next one and force that win.

  4. Sounds like good fun Dai! Wish I could've been there. Congrats on the award, well deserved.

  5. Hurrah for the RAF saving the pongos again !

    Humm. More mortars ?

    1. Yeah, I think I need more in the way of indirect fire options. At higher points levels, I'll for sure be taking an artillery section, perhaps in lieu of the mortars altogether.

  6. Hearty congrats for the 'presentation' award, mate: well deserved!

    ...And as for "Densmol's Germans. None of it is Desert appropriate though" - I absolutely love the eclectic mix there. The arctic camo in particular!

    Bloody well done.

    1. I'm pretty chuffed - I see it as "If I can't bloody win a game, let alone a tournament, then I'll at least do my best to try for the best painted!".

      Heh - Densmol doesn't care about cohesion amongst his collection - prefers to paint just whatever sounds cool at the time. I envy his loose painting attitudes!

      Thanks, once again sir.