Sunday, June 7, 2015

D-Day +6, A Bolt Action scenario

Met with friends on the anniversary of D-Day to kick the tyres on the Bolt Action rules set for WW2 skirmish battles. The situation was a reinforced platoon of US troops trying to dislodge the Germans from the fictional village of Les Hommes avec des Seins. The Germans were well dug in and had the usual kinds of toys: lots of machine guns, a PaK40 AT gun and of course, a Tiger I.
The Americans' greatest asset was a pre-game bombardment and 2 air sorties. They also had a M5 Stuart (oh boy!) and a Veteran airborne squad equipped with AT grenades. In all there were several ways to take out the Tiger, including the airstrikes, a 3" AT gun and a bazooka team.
This was a playtest of a scenario I would like to run at conventions. I think Bolt Action lends itself extremely well to scenario design as well as a very balanced tournament style game, though that isn't my particular cup of tea. Anyway, the scenario was based on one from the rulebook (#3) in which the Americans had to take 2 out of three objectives determined before the game started. We chose the church steeple as one and the two road exits in the German set up area as the other two. The idea was that the Americans were trying to open the bottleneck and into the heartland of France. The board was covered in bocage from where the Americans entered with choked ingress into the village.
The scenario called for 6 turns with a 50/50 chance at a 7th, but I wanted to see how long it would take to come to a conclusion. The game ended up lasting 8 turns with a last ditch assault by the Americans. Whoever won the assault would win the scenario but the Germans slaughtered them in defensive fire, killing 8 out of 9 GI's!
After it was over, we decided to modify it by allowing the American First Wave to set up 12" on the board. (We played long ways on a 4' x 6' table.) Also it was decided the PaK40 was an uneccesary luxury and dropped it from the German OB. Point totals were about 1120 for the Americans and 1140 for the Germans. After the removal od the AT gun, the Germas will have about 1000. This makes sense as the Americans should have more points assaulting dug in positions.
Anyway, here's some pics:
 Some of the best friends an old fart can have.
 Part of the American First Wave enters bocage country.
 The Airborne after their flank move are greeted rudely but the hosts of the town.
 Germans hunker down behind a hedge and ambush the Airbone as they enter the board, whacking 3!
 The Stuart contemplates where to die as an American squad enters the woods on the outskirts of town.
 As good a place as any, the Stuart decides. It was picked off by the hidden PaK40 and blocked the road the rest of the game. The Americans chose this route as a certain Big Cat was on the other side of the table.
 Sneaky Germans with their LMG upstairs take a bead on the advancing unit in the woods.
 The Tiger has to go hunting. With infantry support he turns his attention to the center of the board and the main American advance.
 He finds a target rich environement. In the upper right you can get a glimpse of the US 60mm mortar team. They fired smoke all game but for the most part was never accurate and the Germans moved it so it hit the pond and fizzled out. The one time it landed on the board, it effectively blocked it's own 3" AT gun's LOS!
 The ultimate heroes of the game. They whacked 8 out of 9 US GI's in defensive fire to hold onto the objective. The GI's had just dispatched the PaK40 crew with little patience.
 The German MMG kept most of the American advance pinned. Repositioning only once, it was expertly placed by the German CiC.
 Give 'em the pointy end! Close assault in the rubble.
 Why it's important 'not to be seen.'
 How's that taste?

A couple shots of the terrain we fought over.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

British Commando (Beaches)(C3rd) vs. 21. Panzerkompanie

March 16, 2015

Flames of War, Late War, 1695 points

I met the inestimable Rich Baier for a game at Legions Hobbies and Games in Pittsburgh. They have a tourney coming up and I offered to let Rich use me as a punching bag and practice against a historical opponent. Rich is one of the best gamers around and games with him are always fun. He has a lot of experience and shares easily. I was looking forward to it but had to trim my force down from 1900 points. I know Rich is playing lots of Brits lately and with all their cheaty rules, I had to figure it would be a night attack. So I dumped the Quad AA platoon and the mobile artillery and ended up with six platoons total and an even 1695 points.

 CiC and 2iC in MkIV's, 2 platoons of 3 MkIV's, one with a captured Sherman and the other with a captured Firefly, 2 Tigers, a rolling wreck, I mean recce, platoon, a single 88 and a panzergrenadier platoon of 6 MG teams. That's it. All Confidant Veterans. I am notoriously poor at building lists and when I looked at them on the table, I felt this was no exception.

As projected, we diced and ended up with a night attack, me defending the objectives in 'Fighting Withdrawal'. The three objectives are set up in an 8" band through the middle of the defenders set-up zone; attacker placing two, defender one. Typically they were evenly split: one in the middle and one at each end. Rich placed the two end ones in woods and mine was placed hard against a large church. Rich came at me with three platoons of Commando's, two of which were rifle/MG teams and the third an HMG platoon with three guns. He had a platoon of Shermans with a Firefly (more on *that* guy later), 2 M10's, another Assault platoon of Commando's, 2 rolling Bofors, a Priest 105 battery AND naval artillery! He also had some special guy who was Monty's nephew or something; I figured he could explain his special rules as I was buggered with them.

We chose this board: (Though you will notice we swapped out the onion dome church for a western Europe style church before the game began.)

I set up with the PG's dug in around the church objective, and a platoon of MkIV's at each end objective. Thinking I would hold the Tigers in Ambush and probably use them on the right side (it just looked like a better avenue of attack), I placed the 88 on the left behind some fields for concealment and the left MkIV platoon got the Firefly so there was decent AT capability there. The recce unit hung tight in the center. I planned on the 2iC joining the MkIV platoon that looked like it would need the numbers and hid the chicken CiC behind the church. My company is fragile; I couldn't afford to have him in the open. It looked like this:

 The left objective:
The right objective:
 The brave CiC:

Rich set up 8" in from his edge. I assumed his guys would have their sneakers on and be ready to run. Hi *did* set up the 105's and the Shermans on his left as I thought he might, so that's where my 2iC attached. His MG's were in the center and the M10's also were there, taking cover behind a building until he knew where the Big Cats were.

Turn one started innocently enough: Rich moved everyone except the M10's forward across the line. The Commando's crossed the street into some houses and rubble, the MG's moved into position and the spotters found their hides. 'Here we go', I thought, I figured it would be an early supper for me.
My turn, I bring on the Tigers right in front of the Sherman platoon. I've seen all the movies, I know Tigers kill Shermans, unless Brad Pitt is in command. I move up with the support of the right MkIV platoon. Well, almost all the platoon; one schmuck bogs in the woods before he starts. Anyway, I line those puny Shermans only to roll a '2' on night vision and can't see them! I fire off a few MG rounds and one of the MkIV's hits a Sherman but he shrugs it off like a politician at a press conference when asked about his mistress.

Turn 2 sees the Commandos slow their advance in the center and push on both ends. The 105's rain down on the right MkIV's bailing one, the Bofor's take out an 222 who couldn't run because they shot first turn and the Firefly gets two dice and hits both Tigers! So far my save on the bailed MkIV was a '1'. The save on the 222 was a '1'. The first save on the Tigers: yep, a '1', then a miracle happened and I passed the other with a '3'. 2 shots = one dead Tiger, one bailed. Luckily all Rich's Sherman's miss. Whew!
My turn two and the Tiger remounts and misses all three shots. Booo! But both MkIV platoons have some success and start whacking Commando stands. Yay! The 88 can't see far enough, neither can the CiC. Every platoon fails their Storm Trooper move and we sit in the open, butt puckered, ready for Rich's Turn 3.

Yay, the Tiger survives the bombardment!


Turn 3 and the Firefly knocks out the other Tiger. (Um, that sucks.) However the brave recce platoon shrugs off 5 HMG hits, saving them all. Too weird. Luckily the 105's don't range in and the naval spotter is still getting into position (or waiting for dawn.) The Brits move inexorably closer, especially on their left, my right, under cover of a couple burning 60 ton wrecks. I try to get away from the 105's but that same tank bogs for the third consecutive turn! What the hell did they park on? On our left we have a little more success, whittling down the commandos as they cross the fields.

Shouldn't all that flame light those guys up?


Like I said, shouldn't the flames illuminate the area? Jeezus, I missed with a whole platoon's worth of vehicular mg's!

We soldier on. Turn 4 remains night and the naval bombardment arrives, killing the Firefly on a re-roll! Mine wasn't quite the hero Rich's was. Rich advances hard on the left taking out a MkIV in close combat in the woods. I kill a couple stands coming in but fail the countercharge roll and get the heck out of there. Luckily I can keep one tank with 4" of the objective so he doesn't have complete control yet. His attack on his right grounds to a halt and those tanks and 88 at knocking off a stand or so a turn. He's bogged down in the center as night vision has prevented him from getting any kind of decent shots. My PZ are dug in so even if he could see them, he needs 6's to hit and would expose his own troops in doing so. Smartly, he keeps plinking at the recce guys who somehow manage to keep saving and staying alive. In my half of the turn, dawn comes and my 88 withdraws. Luckily we've stalled the attack on that side, especially after the MkIv's take out a few more stands and there is no attack left on that side!

Hey, we're recce, not stupid!
 I hate naval guns.

I say, apply that gammon bomb, what?

Damn, luckily they could only reach one! Who needs a 2iC anyway?

This was our defensive fire. Sigh.

Turn 5 sees Rich continue to plug away at those MkIV's holding the objective. My offensive firs does some real damage and they are down to 2 stands, including the commander. The other one is rightly hunkered down behind a burning Tiger.

In fact this goes on for three straight turns as Rich tries repeatedly to kill one more tank and make the platoon check morale. I'm sure he knows how many misses he had but I lost count. And my saves for that matter. The only one he could knock out was the captured Sherman with, you guessed it, that damned Firefly! But that was it. I lost another recce vehicle when the M10's came out to play but they made their moral check, leaving them on the table so I could withdraw the lone survivor and not lose much. I was also able to remove the right most objective.

Raining 105's.

Oh yeah. Did I mention I hate naval guns? Now there are only two left in this platoon, making them one away from checking morale as well.


Turn 7 and I pull the sleaze move. I remove the center objective leaving only the left one on the table and park my two MkIV's behind the woods like the big pussy I am. I realized he simply did not have the movement to threaten the last objective from where he was. I withdraw the heroes, the other MkIV platoon, before Rich can kill one and force a company MC. I leave it in the hands of the PBI's to face the wrath of the Brits He needs then naval guns, then tank fire and MG's. When the smoke clears only one stand has been lost but it was the one that would have allowed Rich to Close Assault! (It was the only one he had a LOS to.) What a game!

The one stand visible to the Commandos.

Stay in your holes boys!

Ah, naval guns aren't that bad.

The final positions.

It was  a nail biter down to the bitter end. A few things must be said: for starters, my dice sucked but Rich's were worse! It looks like there's nothing but barrages every turn but he failed to range in as many times as he did manage to. He has THREE turns to kill a MkIv and force a MC and couldn't do it. I had the same amount of time to kill one more infantry stand in the same sector and also couldn't do it. And it absolutely must go into the record that on Turn 7 Rich advised me I had moved a MkIV from the platoon he was trying to whack into the LOS of the Firefly. He allowed me to move it elsewhere, which epitomizes why Rich is a great guy to play. 

I felt I played well overall though, despite the dice issues at times. (I also made some crucial rolls, it has to be mentioned.) But... I feel I made a lot of right choices. I shot when I needed to and hid other times. I didn't rush about and stayed calm. I really felt I made good decisions about keeping guys alive to withdraw them without hurting me and also taking up the right objectives at the right times. It was clear Rich's tactic was to break the army but I still had to play smart and I felt that, overall, I did a decent job.

It was all in fun and we laughed all night, especially when we talked about Larry. Thanks for a Great game Rich.