Sunday, April 8, 2018

Bolt Action: Normandy

Met with the usual suspects for a game of Bolt Action, the good edition.

I've run a similar scenario before; the idea is that a bigger, yet less experienced American force tries to dislodge a smaller, but veteran, German force who are dug in in a bombed out village and causing a bottleneck for the Allies to get off the beach and into the hinterland.

Eschewing convention, the lists used were by no means legal and included multiples of choices that are disallowed for tournament play. But this is not tournament play. The GI's got two M4's, two M3 half tracks, 4 machine guns; the Germans got two machine guns, etc...

I love the rules but hate competitive play. I like to design realistic scenarios and use these fine rules to play them out. In this case, the Americans were tasked to take as many of three stated objectives as they were able. These objectives were both exits off the board on the German side and the steeple of the church. If the Americans captured no objectives, it would be a German victory, one and it would be a draw, 2 or three makes for an American victory.

Some other home brewed rules included hidden units for the defenders and the Americans got to use dummy counters so the Germans wouldn't be sure if units were real until they got too close or shot at them. We accomplished this by having the Americans only place one dude to represent units moving on the board. Dummies were marked underneath as such. This way, the Germans would either have to start shooting and give away their hidden positions or wait and let the real Americans close in on the objectives without opposition. The German set up was recorded on a map.

The scenario started with a pre-game bombardment that pasted the Gerries pretty good, delivering lots of pins and even though only one dude died, he was part of a MMG team, and that lessened their effectiveness. Several of the units, including the sniper did NOT want to play much after that. It took multiple turns for them to pass a Leadership test and shred some of those pins.

Spoiler alert: the bombardment that we rolled against us was to be the best dice we faced. The American dice started off really poor. And then they went downhill.

The sleepy village of Hommes avec des seins.

Hilly bocage surrounds town.

The sunken road in front of the village marked the western most edge of the German set up.

From the back of the German side. There was a MMG in the upper right that sat in Ambush the entire game without firing a shot. Until the last turn actually when we fired it just so we said we could. The last dice roll of the game.

Staring forces included a squad in the rubble in front of the church, a MMG (minus a loader) in the steeple, the HQ behind the church. Also, the sniper's hide was the old attic of the red brick hotel in the upper center and in the meadow in the upper left awaited a hidden PaK40 and supporting squad, plus the aforementioned superfluous MMG in the building overlooking the fountain.

A ruined farmhouse on the road into town.

A view of the terrain from the south.

Unfortunately, I could only load the rest of these pics in reverse order unless I wanted to upload them one at a time. I didn't. So if you want to watch the battle unfold, go to the bottom and work your way back up.

Plus, in a game of this scope, one could take a thousand pictures from any angle. I decided just to take a few at the end of each turn.

The Gerry half track provides machine gun support to the center.


The Tiger waits to take on all comers. Unfortunately the road was too narrow for it to go any further and it was relegated to intimidation duty. Note also the HQ in the background and the FJ occupying the forward house.

The high water mark for the Americans. Due to absolutely abysmal dice, they never even got into town, though several times they were poised to do so in a meaningful way and just needed one dice roll to break their way. Not today.

The squad that was to support the PaK40. It took a beating but never broke.

The American Airborne. Talk about taking a licking! But they never stopped moving forward. Through fire and flying lead, they never quit.

The aftermath of the worst possible dice failure. The Americans had a forward artillery observer that could call in one barrage. The rules say that he has a 1 in 6 chance of hitting his own guys but I have always felt that is way too great a percentage, so we have always played a '1' followed by a '1' means  a mistaken attack. Even a 1 in 36 chance is too high but that's the way we play it. So, naturally, Chris rolled a '1' followed by a '1' and we were allowed to bring in the barrage at a place of our choosing.

Too bad too, because the Americans were poised to overwhelm the defenders on the heels of that barrage. they almost certainly would have gotten into the church and steeple. Unfortunately, two entire units were wiped out, including their HQ and a 10 man squad. The other units, including a M3 with HMG took so many pins they were never able to recover.

The shot above shows where the barrage landed but also a German squad that was so emboldened the actually left the ruins to counterattack in HtH and took out a squad *and* the M3, then took cover in the sunken road to take aim at the last element of the American attack.

This is what happens when a PaK40 sees you. The HT was carrying the Airborne squad when it was hit. Luckily they escaped with minimal damage. The half track didn't though.

German paratroops debus and take shelter in the front of the village, emboldened after watching the Americans rain death onto themselves.

Right after the barrage. there was a full 10 man squad and the American HQ in that field. The Germans were still back in the rubble when it hit. 

The view from the PaK40. The burning wreck on the right was actually the work of the Tiger.

A sniper's view of Normandy.

Still pinned. Dick.

From this spot, the Tiger reached out to touch the other Sherman. 

So this is a good shot because it shows the spotting round called in by the Americans. If it comes in right there, there are four German units that are Fucked with a capital 'F'. The FJ in the open, the HT, the MMG in the steeple and the only squad between the Americans and the objective!

And here are the Americans massed for the assault. Sad.

Another shot of the spotting round and the vulnerable German defenders.

American armor burns. There are two American MMG's in the right/center bottom that must have fired every round they had but simply could not budge the PaK40 or it's defending squad. Methinks this side show ended up using too much of the American resources, but the German defense was going to be a hard nut to crack in any case.

This was interesting. Both sides opted to bring their last reinforcement on either side of the bocage in the middle of the board edge. And both decided it would be suicide to assault the other (Good Call) so they engaged in a fierce shooting match across the bocage.

U.S troops advance through a ruined farm.

The Shermans take up position to work together to take out that gun. They had multiple chances to but simply could not score a hit other than taking out one crew member. The M3 burns.

Worse than a cave troll, it's a MkVI.

The Americans advance through withering defensive fire.

The artillery observer finds his hide in the upper story of the old farmhouse.

And still Gerry waits.

The farm.

It's a beautiful day in Normandy. The birds sing, the wind whispers and the soldiers croak.

The artillery observer advances down the road behind the M3 that isn't burning. You can see one or two individual figures representing real or fake, troops.

The Airborne squad makes an early exit.

Damn thing just fit.

PaK40's are bad news and no mistake.

Well, I had a blast. It really is a shame the way every single break went against the Americans. Their strategy deserved better results. Plus I really wanted to see all kinds of HtH in the rubble! It was a German victory; Ike is going to have to send another task force to sweep through this particular bottle neck and into France.

Bolt Action is a great game. I am already looking forward to the next game. Hopefully by then we'll have some new and different forces to play with. My Soviets are just started and it's going to be a long time before they hit the tabletop but it's the prospects and the projects that keep the hobby interesting.

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