Club Night 22/05/17: FFT3, Poles this time.

Another week and another FFT3 game. This time I was playing Mat who has played quite a few games at the club but had all been in multi-player games so this was a chance for him to have more space and units to play with. As they seem to be on such a roll I figured that the Lithuanians deserved another run out, this time they’d be facing off against a couple of Polish Regiments. I set out the terrain and we diced for which side of the table the attacking poles would come on from. Mat wanted to defend, which I was quite happy with as I wanted to have a go with the Poles as it has been a while, so I dispatched him to his side and he got to it working out his positions (we always have hidden deployment if defending). Which he deployed thus:

PolLith def
Red are Cavalry teams, Lt Blue are Tank Companies, Dark Blue are Infantry Companies. Orange is Bgde HQ and AD. Armd Btln Infantry Company held off table as reserve.

The Lithuanians had their Armoured Brigade on table whose TO&E can be found here if you are interested: https://tracksandthreads.wordpress.com/2017/05/01/lithuanian-army/

The Poles would be attacking with an Armoured Cavalry Regiment which had the following units:

  • Regtl HQ
    • Cmnd Sultan
    • 1 Blowpipe team
    • 4k 7fa gr81 sp81mm Mortar
    • Striker
  • 2 x Sqdns
    • 3 x Scorpion-90’s
  • 2 x Sqdns
    • 3 x PT-78m (Vickers Mk.3)
  • 2 x Sqdns
    • 2 x Infantry
    • 1 x Infantry with BILL atgm
    • 3 x Stormer/20

followed by an Armoured Regiment of:

  • Rgtl HQ
    • Cmnd 4k 7fa
    • Blowpipe team
    • 4k 7fa gr81 sp81mm Mortar
    • Striker
  • 4 x Coys
    • 3 x PT-78m
  • 2 x Coys
    • 2 x Infantry
    • 1 x Infantry/BILL
    • 3 x 4k 7fa/20mm

They would be supported by quite a bit of artillery: 2 battalions of 155mm and 3 APR-21 MRLS batteries. There would be AD defence in the shape of a platoon of SP quad 25mm adg and helicopter support from a Mangusta armed with ZT-3 ATGM.

Each of the forces would be able to call on air support in the shape of Jaguars and L-39’s for the Lithuanians and Jaguars and Alpha Jets for the Poles these would be rolled for, with the greater chance for the Jags turning up for both sides, the planes also had random loads. Both forces were rated as ‘Regular’ so differences in quality wouldn’t be an issue.

I planned to do a phased advance along the right of the table as I wanted to give the town a wide berth, I figured it would be crawling with infantry and I know just how hard they are to extract from buildings in FFT. The long ridge in front of the village (farm looking building) would also probably be manned so I wanted to bound forward to this whilst pushing a Scorpion and Infantry company through the woods on the extreme right to get some eyes on the hills to the rear of the Lithuanians position and cause any units on the ridge to fall back once outflanked. Once I had consolidated a line roughly from the hill between the two BUA’s along the ridge and into the wood I would bring the Armoured Regiment on along the road as by then I should have a good idea of where the enemy was and could act accordingly.

Like all good plans (!) it of course went completely tits up as soon as I made contact with the enemy. I managed to move onto the table without any problem, the right hook force headed for the trees and didn’t trigger any fire. In the centre of the push, the other Scorpion squadron and the Regimental HQ took up positions along the hill to the left of the right flank force. To their immediate left a PT-78 company advanced on the ridge whilst the remaining tanks and infantry squadrons advanced to the left of the road. I had also done well in the initiative roll and had 5 command pips banked for use as soon as the action started.

The peace didn’t last long though and soon an artillery barrage fell on the Scorpions and Striker arrayed on the crest of their hill. This didn’t do much damage but did supress a couple of platoons and this shock completely threw the whole battalion and coupled with some effective Lithuanian EW the advance halted for a period (I failed my activation and had to halt for a move). Being stuck in place allowed more accurate artillery fire to fall and more suppression, this time on the Scorpions on the right. The first shock of contact was quickly shaken off though and the Poles started moving again, although having failed to shake off the accrued suppression, it was a tentative advance. All of a sudden a flash appeared on the ridge to the front and MILAN missiles flew towards the slowly advancing tanks in the centre which, although they didn’t destroy anything, caused one platoon to drop out of the battle after failing a quality test.

Unfortunately for me Mat then grabbed the initiative which meant he could get another round of firing off before I could reply. This was even more effective than the first round as the VAB/Milan chaps got their eye in and soon another of the tank platoons was gone, this time brewing up a platoon from the second tank company which had just taken up post along the ridgeline of the hill near the bend in the road. Then the Lithuanian VBC-90 joined in and their excellent 90mm guns dispatched another platoon from the first tank company, the surviving platoon of which then decided that any further action on their behalf was useless and withdrew from the field. I was down a whole company of tanks and hadn’t even engaged the enemy yet! I did get some payback though as the Striker dispatched the VAB/Milan platoon with some overwatch fire although my return tank fire from the surviving tanks on the armoured cars failed to do any damage but did suppress them.

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Mat sensibly decided to withdraw the remnants of the Cavalry team from the ridge which allowed me to advance the Scorpions and Strikers toward the now unoccupied height. Whilst this was going on his gunners continued to play havoc with their accurate and concentrated fire suppressing my remaining tank platoons which waited in place for news from the advancing light tanks. As this was happening my right flank force had reached the edge of the wood. I debussed the infantry and having failed to spot any enemy forces from there pushed the Scorpions forward. This went very badly. All of a sudden the hill behind the village lit up as a company of Chieftains opened up with predictable results – 120mm sabot vs aluminium armour = burning Scorpions.

So I was down another company but at least I had found some of the enemy armour. I still didn’t want to bring on my other Regiment yet so spent some of my saved Command Pips to release my helicopter support and my Mangusta entered the fray keeping near my starting position so as to try and avoid being fired on by enemy Air Defence assets. This meant that I was just out of range of the Chieftains so would have to risk moving forward to engage them. I did manage to do so with the Striker platoon that had now arrived at the ridgeline in front of the village which suppressed a platoon. The escorting Scorpion-90’s engaged the VBC-90 now ensconced in the village and a duel started which the Poles won quickly.

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Then, remarkably, the Chieftains started rolling forwards, looking to re-take the ridgeline and maybe to prevent another strike from massed MRLS, which had done nowt but suppressed a platoon but might be worse next time round. Unfortunately for them I let loose with a plethora of missiles and spoilt their day completely. Over on the right the infantry in the woods let fly with a BILL whose top attack ability brewed one platoon, the Striker had a pop from the ridge which caused another platoon to fail a QC test and lastly the Mangusta was now in range so it had a go with it’s ZT-3 also brewing up its target. The surviving Chieftain platoon saw the futility in carrying on and left the field at this point. So things suddenly looked up for this side of the battlefield, if I could neutralise the village then I could push forward with the remainder of the Regiment as I guessed there were no more tanks on this side of the battlefield.

I decided that the best way to do this was from the air so called in an airstrike, whilst taking the village under artillery fire too that only supressed the defenders. Unfortunately for me the only aircraft available was a flight of Alpha Jets (all I had to do was roll 1-5 on a d6 for a lovely Jag chock full of ordinance but no) who failed to make any impact. This was down to both the small load they carried and the attention of the Lithuanian Air Defence assets. On a positive note I now knew the location of these which was meant I could move the Mangusta safely.

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I had started to move the surviving tanks and infantry forwards to the ridge whilst screening the town with smoke – I had wanted to do this earlier but had a bugger of a time getting any available artillery, those bleeding Lithuanian EW boys again – and decided it was time to bring on the Armoured Regiment. With them strung out along the road heading into town Mat decided it was time to call in an airstrike of his own and, luckily for me, also failed to call up a Jaguar flight but his L-39 did more damage than my strike suppressing the two lead platoons and then banking to have a go at my helicopter with his guns next. Unfortunately we had run out of time at this point and had to stop playing but I conceded to a defeat.

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L-39 strike on the head of the Tank column

Although we didn’t fight to a finish we both enjoyed the game, it had the lot – helicopters, air strikes, counter battery fire due to the SNAFU chart, and lots of tanks going bang! My advance on the right was much too cautious after reaching the ridge, I was reticent to get the surviving tanks moving before smoking the town to prevent any further loss from any nastiness lurking there I also should have waited to have the tanks and Striker platoon on the ridge in an overwatch position before moving the Scorpions out of the wood on the right. Mat admitted that reason that the Chieftains from the hill advanced was to clear the ridge and take on the surviving tanks before moving across to deal with my new Regiment once it arrived. This was going to be running into quite a bit of missile and tank fire as I was planning on swinging left of the town and right into his ‘kill sack’ so probably best we ended when we did.

Another good thing about this game was that the house rules had finally worked properly, they got a good testing and Mat liked them as well so I think I’ll stick with using them from now on as they have had good feedback from all that have used them so far. I’ve yet another game slated for Monday and this time more time to develop the battle as we have access to the club all day so looking forwards to that.

 

 

 

 

 

FFT3 House Rules updated….

After some further playtesting at the club and as a result of suggestions and feedback received I’ve made quite a few changes from when I initially posted them on their page (should have waited really, a lesson learned). I finally think that the house rules are at a point where I won’t be tinkering with them anymore. I thought it might be best to chuck a note about the fact that they had changed here so that people who might be interested see!

 

The Miniatures Page, what a mess.

I really couldn’t let the recent antics of the odious twerp that runs TMP go by without commenting (reading Frothers has been a hoot recently!). Over the past few days he has banned about 20 people and caused many more to leave with his ridiculous and slightly unhinged behaviour which has included having a pop at all British wargamers. I really can’t see why you would bother with it any more, especially if you aren’t an American as it seems everyone else (Tango aside) isn’t welcome. I’ll be giving it a wide berth from now on.

I look at it this way: TMP is like a pub that you go to initially because everyone else does. Soon though you realise that even though most people there are alright and the conversation is usually nice the views of the landlord and his cronies at the bar are truly unpleasant and any pointing out of this results in being barred, and speaking up in defence of people who are attacked by said cronies also gets you barred. Thankfully there are other, nicer pubs around (The Wargames Website in particular) where the vibe is a lot cooler, the locals pleasant and the landlord isn’t a vile xenophobic, egotistical maniac.

Club Night 15/05/17: FFT3, Once more into….

I had a game of FFT3 booked in for this week against Alex who hadn’t played for quite a while and was keen to get another game in. He told me that he would be bringing a Soviet Tank Regiment along so I figured why not take the survivors from the Lithuanian force from last weeks game and see how they did against the follow on force. Obvious really if you think about it and I was really keen to have a go with them as I had just painted them! We would be just using the vanilla rules this time round and wouldn’t be using any air assets.

My much reduced Battle Group consisted of the following:

  • Tank Coy:
    • 4 Chieftain mk.13
  • Armoured Inf Coy:
    • 3 Inf, 1 Weapons stands + 4 Stormer 20’s
  • Mech Inf Coy:
    • 3 Inf, 1 Weapons stands (dug in, no vehicles)
  • Cav Combat team 1:
    • Recon VBC-90, VAB-VCI + Inf stand dug in
  • Cav Combat team 2:
    • Recon VBC-90, VAB-VCI, Inf stand dug-in + VAB-Milan
  • VAB-Milan platoon
  • TOW platoon (1 ton LR transport)
  • 2 x SP 155mm batts (off table)
  • 2 x 5.5″ gun batts (off table)
  • 2 x 155mm batts (off table)

Not big in numbers but it definitely had some punch with the mix of 120mm & 90mm guns and Milan and TOW atgm. I probably wouldn’t be able to completely halt the oncoming tide of armour but I’d at least be able to exact a hefty toll on the attackers and maybe might be able to pull off another victory like last week.

Before we started Alex informed me that he had brought a BMP Regiment instead of a Tank Regiment so my morale went up immediately, I might just be able to deal with the onslaught after all! However he still had a massive superiority in Artillery and his force was still quite large:

  • Regtl base:
    • 2 Brdm-3
    • 2 Vasilek 81mmM
    • Recon Brdm-2 + BMP-R
  • Tank Btln:
    • 9 T-72
  • 3 Motor Rifle Btlns:
    • 9 Inf stands (3 with AT-7 atgm) + 9 BMP-1’s
  • Off table Artillery
    • SP 122mm Btln (4 batts)
    • 2 x SP 152mm Btlns (4 batts)
    • 2 x BM-21 MRLS batts (6 units each)

 

Vilnius 2nd battle
Lithuanian Deployment: Red – Tanks, Orange – Amd Inf, Lt Blue – Mech Inf, Purple – VAB/Milan, Pink – TOW & Violet – Cav teams.

So we got to it with Alex bringing on a MR Btln down the road and another over on the left, so exactly the same approach as the chaps last week. Alex had rolled up only one turn of pre-game barrage and it only suppressed one infantry stand which was lucky. I decided that I’d open up as soon as possible but waited for the road column to get past the farm before unleashing with a combination of TOW, 90mm gunfire and 20mm autocannon. I managed to take out a couple of platoons of BMP’s and suffer only suppression in return fire, the second round of firing having some effect too even with being supressed and the Soviets started to lose platoons. Alex shrugged this off though and stating that he was going to do it the Soviet way didn’t pause to return fire and continued to barrel up the road before turning right and heading for the wood.

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There was another Battalion of  BMP’s following along the road and these were tasked to take out the Cavalry that had been tackling their comrades in front and pretty soon massed ATGM fire and artillery strikes had caused the end of the plucky VAB and VBC-90 platoons but not before they had virtually destroyed the lead battalion with only 5 platoons making it to the safety of the wood. With the end of the Cavalry on the hill (which I had left in place for a move too long) I decided to withdraw the TOW platoon and they duly mounted up onto their 1-ton Land Rovers and started to pick their way slowly through the trees. Unfortunately for them they were caught by the advance of the vengeful BMP’s and we decided that they were captured. there was one last bit of action in this wood though as the dug-in infantry platoon took out another BMP before being forced to quit the field in the return fire.

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The action in the centre now paused for a bit as Alex consolidated his position in the wood by the road and brought his T-74 battalion forwards. On the flanks things got hotter, much hotter. Whilst the fight for the central position had been going on the BMP’s on the left had been advancing through the wood seeking out the Lithuanian forces and after clearing the trees Alex pushed them forwards to take post on the hill in front of the stream. This meant that they ran smack into the infantry company entrenched there. A quick and brutal close combat ensued with 3 BMP platoons soon knocked out whilst the infantry only lost their weapons platoon. Retribution was swift however with the surviving platoons of AIFV’s letting loose with their 73mm guns which forced all 3 Lithuanian platoons to fail QC checks clearing the way for the advance to continue.

Over on the right the survivors of the first Motor Rifle Battalion that had reached the wood were making their way out the other end when they ran into the second Cavalry combat team and the combination of close combat with the dug-in infantry, 90mm guns of the Armoured cars and MILAN fire soon saw them reduced to a solitary platoon which promptly failed their formation test and left the battle. With their work done the Cavalry team began to withdraw but suffered the loss of the VAB/Milan platoon when a retaliatory Soviet artillery barrage rained down on the hill hitting them as they withdrew. So all in all at this point I was quite happy with how things were going, I had suffered some casualties yes but I had taken out a whole battalion caused casualties on two others and still had my Chieftains uncommitted. Alex still had the numbers to finish the job though and so the fight moved into its final act.

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Whilst the quick flurry of action had been taking place on the flanks Alex had brought his tanks forwards and had sent them into the wood, I had taken them under fire with the VAB-Milan platoon posted at the end of the wooded ridge in the rear of my position and soon a couple of tanks were burning, however retaliation was swift and the huge weight of return 125mm fire soon saw the anti-tank unit to quit the field. Alex was busy debussing his infantry in the wood, he had failed to save any from all of the ones hit so far and wanted to use their AT-7’s against my tanks once he located them, and slowly moved to the edge of the wood. At the same time the battalion on the left had recovered from their fight on the hill and surged forward to the stream which was the queue for the Chieftains to open up. I decided to split the fire of each platoon to try and maximise the damage and hopefully cause a formation check, it nearly worked but one platoon somehow survived and the battalion was still in the fight.

With the Chieftains now located Alex bravely pushed his infantry out of the wood to the stream covered by the BMP’s and newly arrived T-72’s. The combined fire from the various ATGM, tank guns and a massive MRLS strike supressed the Chieftains who gamely returned fire resulting in more BMP’s bursting into flames but the writing was on the wall and when one of the Lithuanian tanks brewed up after the next massive onslaught of Soviet fire I decided that it was time to pull out and leave the field to the very much battered Soviets whilst I still had some forces left.

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It was a cracking game that really did go down to the wire, for the loss of 4 platoons KO’d, 1 captured and 5 that quit the field I had eliminated a battalion of BMP’s, totally gutted another and inflicted casualties on the remaining one and the tank battalion so very much of a Pyrrhic victory for the Soviets. Alex was a great opponent and enjoyed the battle too and I look forward to playing him again. Next week will see some more FFT action as I try and get an even better handle on the rules and this time it will be the turn of the Poles to have a crack at the Lithuanians who are now firm favourites of mine.

 

 

 

Club Night 08/05/2017: FFT3, Vilnius or Bust!

I have been busily painting up a couple of new forces for my Modern FFT3 project, concentrating on the Alt-History Lithuanians and the first part of the Soviet forces. As I had volunteered to get a game on and they were ready to go it meant that it was a no brainer that they met on the table.

The scenario was a simple one, a Motor Rifle Battalion reinforced by 2 Regimental Tank battalions and the Divisional Tank battalion was tasked with breaking through to Vilnius. The remainder of the Division was busy taking on the 3 Lithuanian Infantry Brigades whilst this force had slipped through and was launched at the capital. Unfortunately the Lithuanian Armoured Brigade had been deployed to prevent this happening. The Soviets would have a near 3-1 advantage in tanks and artillery but the Lithuanians had managed to throw up hasty defensive positions and lay a quick minefield to help boost their efforts, they also had 2 dug-in tank turret positions for the enemy to worry about. The Lithuanians were of better quality too, being rated Regular (QC4) vs the Soviet Conscript (QC 5). The Soviets were commanded by Dan and Daren, the Lithuanians by Phillip. Unfortunately due to having to umpire I didn’t get any time to take photo’s during the game so only have a few but here is the battlefield from the Soviet perspective (the dark squares on the 2 round hills are the dug-in Conqueror turrets):

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I had allowed the Soviets pre-planned barrages for the first 2 turns which meant that they didn’t have to roll for the availability of their guns but were limited to 3 out of the 4 fire units available to each battalion. They used these to hit the 2 dug in Conqueror turret positions with a 152mm battalion shoot each whilst the 122mm battalion hit the front of the left hand wood behind the fields. Both turrets were supressed as was an infantry platoon in the treeline. Dan brought the first of his units on in a manoeuvre straight out of ‘Comrade Noakesavitch’s Instructions to Armoured Troops’: Belt some tanks straight up the road and see what happens, plenty more where they came from! So the ‘spare’ Regimental Tank Battalion was duly dispatched for this reconnaissance of death duty. Elsewhere, over on the left, Daren brought on the Recce company (one BMP-R and one BRDM-2 platoons) and headed for the wood just targeted in the barrage.

Vilnius defence
Lithuanian defence in depth. Lt Blue are Inf (‘M’ Platoon positions are Milan), Pink is Amd Cav, Red is Armd (coy on ridge at back is Mech infantry). Brown bit is the minefield.

 

The Soviets then piled more units on, the Divisional Tank battalion entering along the road whilst the other Regimental Tank battalion entered behind the recce company along with the BTR-70 battalion in a scary looking phalanx of Communist might. Their pre-planned barrages continued to hit the turret emplacements on the hills, knocking one out, and re-arranged some more of the lovely Lithuanian forest. However, no Lithuanian troops had revealed themselves yet although their artillery had supressed a T-72 platoon on the road. Phillip then gained the initiative off of the Soviets and, bagging himself 3 command pips, he duly called in a strike from his air support. This saw a plucky flight of Jaguars brave the Soviet air superiority and head straight for the mass of armour arrayed along the road. Unfortunately for Dan, he his AA assets were stuck at the back of the traffic jam and couldn’t prevent the attack from hitting home. When the dust had settled 2 T-72 platoons had to retire (failed QC checks) and another was supressed. One of the Lithuanian VAB/Milan vehicles also opened up on Daren’s attacking horde and ko’d the BMP-R from the recce company whilst an artillery strike supressed a couple of BTR-70 platoons and the BRDM-3 AT platoon. It was quickly dispatched by one of the supporting T-72’s though.

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This suppression had a massive effect on the rest of the game as Daren consistently failed to roll high enough to clear the suppression and move the Motor Rifle Battalion more than half speed for the rest of the game – even when Daren spent one of their command pips he failed, a terrible sequence of 1’s and 2’s – which basically stymied his advance and the action here was limited to the BRDM -2 nosing close to the wood and shooting up an infantry platoon so bad that it retired (QC fail). The brave Recce chaps inside then spent the rest of the game calling in artillery fire on the wood that eventually caused another Lithuanian platoon to fail a QC roll and the survivors to retire back to their waiting VAB’s and start to bug out.

So the action was all over on the other side of the table and along the road in the centre. Dan was also finding it difficult to unsupress the survivors of the Div. Tank battalion and also get them moving again as they recovered from the air strike so swung the huge 5 company Battalion of T-72’s with their attached ZSU-23/4 and Engineer company off to the right aiming towards the hill with the now kaput Conqueror turret on. This manoeuvre was carried out well and shrugged off attempts to disrupt it from the Lithuanian artillery, which Phillip was having trouble calling in now, until all of a sudden the unmistakeable crack of tank guns were heard. One of the Lithuanian Chieftain companies stationed along the stream opened up and had caught the Soviets in the flank too and soon a few platoons of T-72’s were burning. The Lithuanian’s also opened up with their TOW launcher but this was not as successful, only causing one suppression I believe. Dan reacted bravely to this new threat, taking the Chieftains under fire with half the battalion whilst surging forwards with the survivors of the other half to gain the hill.

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The return fire did well enough, causing a suppression, and the attention of nearly all of the supporting MRLS artillery supressed another platoon and caused one to quit the field. The arrival of a Hind really began to tip the balance though as it sat at the back of the battlefield immune from Lithuanian AA fire and started to pick off the Chieftains with long range ATGM fire. Meanwhile though the Chieftains were knocking out T-72’s so it was imperative that the companies of tanks heading for the hill got there quickly to help out. Unfortunately for them they ran smack into a dug in Infantry Company at the base of the hill, which saw some bloody close combat. This fight actually went a lot better that it could have done for the Soviets, admittedly they lost a few platoons but they did succeed in punching through and caused the Lithuanians to fail a formation check – probably due to the survivors watching the ZSU take out a platoon with ground fire. The T-72’s duelling with the Chieftain company had closed the range, bravely driving through a minefield to do so without a scratch on them, and with the help of the Hind had finally eliminated the last of the brave Lithuanian tankers.

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In the meantime Dan had finally got the stuck remnants of the Divisional Tank Btln sorted out and the leapt off down the road whereupon they were duly ambushed by some Lithuanian Recce types hiding in the wood by the road junction, this resulted in another platoon gone and one more supressed. Phillip now started to move his second Chieftain company from its position on the right by the stream over to engage the T-72’s of Dan’s battered command. With time running out we decided that the Soviets had shot their bolt and would have to retire to re-organise before trying again as Dan’s units were all close to triggering formation checks which, given their QC rating of 5 might be tricky to pass and Daren’s were effectively out of the fight. Daren’s awful luck activating his chaps had a large bearing on the outcome we felt (as all the troops on the table were newly painted one lot had to have rotten luck as is the first law of wargaming) and we believe that the commander of his MR battalion was called to a ‘meeting’ with the Regimental Commander and the Commissar. Philip had lost half of his tanks and nearly half of his infantry but had held on just, medals all round, especially for the Jag pilot as we all enjoyed seeing one on the table!

Hopefully the game went alright for the chaps involved, and I’d like to thank them for taking part and putting up with my sometime befuddled handling of things – it’s been a while since I played the rules and I did make a few mistakes! I will be tweaking the activation rules a touch to try and prevent what happened to Daren’s force happening again. I’m hoping to put on a big FFT game at the end of the month so this helped an awful lot in planning for that. Cheers gents!