Saturday, 23 June 2018

Bolt Action - Key Positions

Another splendid game of Bolt Action, this time with good chum Orange Dave, and what a very different kind of game this proved to be.  The recent game with Mike was a close run affair ending in a draw, whereas this battle was a completely one-sided slaughter almost from the off.

Dave and I decided to ‘go large’ and each put 1500pts of troops on my little 6x4 table.  We’d both have plenty of armour so there should be room for the troops to get in on the action.  At Dave’s suggestion we played Scenario 3 “Key Positions”, so I set the table up with plenty of scenery so that we could have some good, close range fire-fights.  I still had most of the scenery out from my game with Mike so I re-jigged the layout and swapped a few things around. The objectives were placed in the Farmhouse, in the Signal Box and in the little wood; far from ideal for the Germans.
A little bit of sleepy Normandy

Both of us chose to field two reinforced platoons: I had German Regulars with a Panzer IV, a Stug and a Kubelwagn (I really need to get my Puma painted!);  Dave had a mix of Regulars and Veterans (his Africa/Sicily/Italy force) with a Churchill, a Stuart, 2 Bren carriers and several trucks bursting with angry Maori nutters – the bane of my games with Dave :-D

Turn 1
With just the snipers and observers/spotters on the table at the start, it was all about advancing. Both of us kept about a third of our force off the table to begin with.  Dave used much of his reserves to stage a flanking manoeuvre. Like the June bride, I didn’t know how big it would be, or quite when I might get it ... but I knew I’d get it!
Straight away Dave bags one objective and is close to another!
Jerry's on the move too
Yikes! A 25lb-er

My sniper in the farmhouse opened the show with an amazing shot at Dave’s sniper in the Signal Box.  Little did I realise that this was to be the high water mark for my chaps.  No, really it was!

Turn 2
My Panzer rolls on, aims at the 25lb-er, misses, the return shot from the plucky British crew is plum on target and the Panzer brews up.
Bang! (Shhh, I know it's a Tiger but I can't find my Pz IV model)
The troops are dismayed at the tank's fate

The Churchill and Stug exchange shots but both crews are feeling edgy and the shots go wide.
The Churchill makes good use of cover

Turn 3
The German 81mm mortar zeros in on the 25lb-er and blasts the crew to bits!

Same turn, my shot from the Stug ricocheted off the Churchill’s thick armour whereas the British crew’s (more carefully aimed) shot tore off a track from the German AFV... if only a Stug had a turret ;o)  The pile of pins they incurred would effectively keep them out of the action for the rest of the game
The crew's view of events was probably as blurry as this photo!

Turn 4
The flanking force arrives! Crikey, I hadn’t realised just how much he’d kept in reserve.  It’s a small flippin’ army!  Some crafty manoeuvring by Dave meant that he was able to maximise the firepower of these chaps and literally shattered the resistance of the troops I had guarding the objective in the farmhouse.
Vroom... Vroom!

The German reserves move through the orchard to prop up the flank but their shooting is appalling.  Just six hits from an absolute hail of bullets and all fail to wound!
The German reply is less than stellar :o(

A German officer (finally!) arrives in his Kubelwagn to get things moving again but as his driver swerves around the pinned Stug.
Achtung! Schnell!

However, the British Boyes AT gun puts a round right through the fuel tank and the little vehicle is engulfed in flames.
Bang goes the Leutnant and kubelwagn

Turn 5
The British artillery support arrives and Dave rolls the maximum blast effect, shredding the troops mustering in the woods as they readied to take the objective in the Signal Box.  Meanwhile, over on the farmhouse flank Dave’s veteran troops de-bus and take the fight to the German regulars – with predictable results.
Where have all the Germans gone?

The sniper in the attic kept firing until the last moment, determined to take a few Tommies with him.
The immobilised Stug receives a second hit, this time in the flank from the Stuart’s light AT gun.

The Stuart's spectacular shot at the immobilised Stug

The shot slices through the armoured hull and detonates both the fuel and the ammo, BANG!

Turn 6
As you might expect Dave’s chaps were now simply mopping up.  Indeed, we didn’t even need to finish turn 6 as the last of my brave Germans fell to the allied onslaught.

This game was full of laughs and good humoured groans - mainly from me. It was also great to catch up and have a good chin-wag. Let’s not leave it so long before the next game mate!

Friday, 15 June 2018

Bolt Action - Hold Until Relieved!

You know how sometimes you play a game and it just epitomises everything that is great about wargaming?  Well, this game was exactly that and more!  Thrilling action, high drama and heroic bravery in spades along with fine sportsmanship and moments of utter comedy.  What an absolute blast and a great inaugural game at my new place - yes, The Wargames Table has moved.

This game follows on from the game Mike and I played at Bristol Independent Gaming, here...

   It was long after midnight but an exhausted Hauptmann Müller began another tour of the sentries.  They had to stay alert, he couldn’t possibly let Allied forces sneak up on his small, battered command.  It had been a long day; his men had reached the bombed out SdKfz 251 at the same time as an American patrol.  In the ensuing maelstrom he had just got away with the secret plans but it had been a tough fight.

   Low on ammunition, carrying wounded men and with the light fading fast he knew he had to find cover quickly.  The isolated signal box was almost perfect.  It was a solid building with good views of the surrounding countryside.  The old signalman had fled leaving hot coffee on the stove.  He doubted there would be any rail traffic to disturb what little rest they might get.  In days since the landings on the Normandy beaches allied air power had reduced much of the rail network to twisted iron.  What they missed the hated partisans had finished off.

   Müller counted himself fortunate though, Dietrich had got the radio going and his call to headquarters had resulted in a promise of reinforcements early the next day.  Clearly the sheaf of papers with their odd symbols and pages of coded text were of vital importance to the Reich.  His orders were crystal clear... Hold Until Relieved!

This game sees the remains of the German force holed up in a signal box awaiting relief.  However the Allies are hot on their heels!  We swapped sides just for the variety, so I brought out my British Regulars to take over the pursuit from Mike's US Paras.  Mike fielded his lovely late war Germans.

The scenario is "Hold Until Relieved", but to add a bit more character and fit in with our narrative we agreed that the Allies could not target the signal box with any HE weapons in case the secret papers were destroyed.  This would have to be settled at the point of the bayonet!  This turned out to have a very interesting (and positive) effect on the game.

Here's the table ready to go.

As I set up the table, Mike chose sides.  He picked the right hand side with a couple of squads set up in and near the signal box.  Both buildings and tree bases by Charlie Foxtrot Models.

Turn 1 saw all the Allied force deployed as per the scenario with around half of the German relief force arriving.  I knew Mike had a Stug in reserve but as I had to deploy my AEC MkIII it would be up to the dice who got the first shot.
Tommies in the orchard and on the flank
The woods provide excellent cover
The Germans are spread thinly
The Jerries in the signal box let rip at the Vickers killing all but one of the crew!
Hidden counters by Charlie Foxtrot ;o)
I was feeling fairly cautious; I didn't want to launch the attack on the signal box too early as I would then have to hold it until the battle finished.  Timing, I thought, would be everything!

On to turn 2 then.  Mike brings on some more chaps plus the dreaded Stug!  Thankfully Mike has an amazing ability to roll precisely one less than is required to hit a target (or indeed make a morale test) and this was exactly what happened when he opened fire against my AEC.

The return shot from the plucky British crew was plum on target!  Rolling to penetrate I scored a hefty 10 ... then proceeded to roll "crew stunned".  Still, the extra pins on the Stug might be handy ... and indeed they were!
Most of my chaps continue to remain hidden
A German squad, medium mortar and a light howitzer bolster the line
My sniper did well and took out the MG42 in the squad in that last pic, which probably saved his life! However, apart from a few pins, that was all he did in the battle.  My Forward Observer has called in the artillery - look for the little skull marker in the pic above.

Turn three began with a big bang as the artillery support came in.  Just some pins but given how Mike was rolling for morale tests I knew these would be handy.  Plus the observer is a freebie so you can hardly grumble!
BANG! In comes the artillery support
These brave chaps burst from the wood blazing away
The advance begins

The German squad behind the signal box had been targeted by the British mortar, so to avoid another round (requiring a 4 to hit) they moved across the field.  However the spotter had keen eyes and relayed the movement ... A natural 6 saw the round land right on target!  The few dazed survivors staggered off in random directions!

This turn was also the point where I decided I needed to begin the advance on the signal box - hoping I hadn't left it too late.  I mean, how long could a few Hun hold out in there?  Quite a while as it turned out.

The chaps advancing on the farmhouse burst from the wood and blazed away at the sniper team in the upper floor.  To my utter astonishment (and Mike's dismay) one shot found its target and the sniper's mate fell dead.  Take that Fritzy!

Over by the signal box the British First Lieutenant ordered his Bren carrier forward and they hosed the signal box with bullets but those chaps were well hidden.

Turn 4 got off to a flyer with the British CO leading the charge by further advancing in his Bren carrier and turning the two LMGs towards the MG42 team by the farmhouse.  Eight shots and six hits!  Scratch one MG42 team.
Crikey chaps! Six hits
Closing in on the signal box

The Stug failed to activate (two pins causing so much confusion!) and the AEC's shot whistled past the German beast.  The section near the farmhouse decided to ignore the sniper and ran along the train lines towards the signal box.  They would block any shots from the AEC towards the Stug but I was confident that I could get them out of the way before it was a problem.  I am an idiot.  An over-confident idiot :-D

All the while I had been keeping a steady stream of bullets heading towards the German squad in the signal box but they were proving terribly hard to dislodge!  Still, their casualties were mounting.

On to turn 5 and this was the turn that Mike found his groove!  He brought up a squad to dispute the objective so, with a small SMG armed veteran squad nearby I decided to get up close and personal.  In they went and it was carnage.  My veterans tore the German regulars to shreds.
British veterans with SMGs versus German Regulars... Ouch!
Even better... I decided that with just one German (the NCO) now left in the signal box, my observer team would get stuck in and claim the prize!  Their charge in was beyond six inches so the NCO could react... After a brief discussion we bent the rules and agreed that he could wield the MG42, as that would simply be more heroic!  My brave lads ran up the stairs waving their trusty Webley revolvers so the dastardly Feldwebel opened up with the MG42... dakka dakka!
Two heroic (but dead) observers tumble down the steps
The duel between the Stug and the AEC came to a conclusion.  With a section (who'd failed their morale check - see "idiot" comment above) blocking the shot to the Stug, I'd trained the little tank's machine gun on the signal box (to no effect).  The Stug commander took the opportunity to blow his opponent to smithereens!
Stug 1 - AEC 0 (final score)
Mike also managed to shred two of the British sections near the signal box with stunning shots from his mortar and the light howitzer.  Those shots really shifted the balance of things.  However, in a moment of pure comedy, my own mortar fired the final shot of the turn to land a shell plum on his mortar!  Take that Fritzy (again).

Turn 6 and both sides are now getting a little punch drunk.  Mike has very sensibly moved his HQ team up to the signal box.  To claim victory one side must have troops in or within 3" and no enemy nearby.  I tried to activate the section on the railway so they could tackle the German CO but they stubbornly stayed in cover.

However, I was able to get the battered remnant of a squad of regulars in to the signal box where they dispatched the brave German NCO.

As the turn ended we rolled for turn 7 but the dice decreed that the battle was over.  Phew - what a belter of a game!  Both sides had troops in or on the objective so the result was a draw.  Honours even then.  What does this mean for our little narrative campaign though? Wait and see ;o)

Not being able to blast the signal box with HE had quite an interesting effect.  I had to supress the enemy with weight of fire, which led to some tough tactical choices.  Then get my chaps close enough to take the objective in close combat.  Proper heroic stuff for both sides.

Anyway, I hope I've been able to convey some of the splendid fun that this game provided.  Mike was, as always, a superb opponent and true gentleman wargamer.  My thanks sir.  Looking forward to the next game.