Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Action At Last

Club night and the big night for my Bolt Action troops, however before I start let me just say in order to prove two of my colleagues correct that we were late in last night as the holder of the keys was away as was his deputy, so after a bit of detective work a volunteer went around to Matt's house got the keys and off we went. I was five minutes off inviting everyone to the Post office as I can put at least five tables up albeit only three chairs, I probably have all the terrain and mats as well, scary.

With the completion of my WWII forces I wanted to have a point to the battles so I bought a few of the Two Fat Lardies pint sized campaign books along with the main campaign book and set about converting the system to Bolt Action. The premise is that you get a map and fight over a certain number of 'tables' marked on the map to coincide with the campaign, there can be any number of these depending on how complicated you want to make it or how much time you have.

All the campaigns so far involve historical actions in Normandy, so it is British and Germans, however my friend Simon has Russians, so I cobbled together an 'Into the Reich' game where the Russians have invaded Germany (my terrain is all Western European and I am not buying more for the Eastern Front). They have to fight their way forward to capture a town which has a vital road junction, the Germans also need the road so that their retreating forces can escape the Russian pincers. The bones of the campaign would be Lardy and the fighting would be down to Bolt Action, you can get hung up on detail with the original rules, rolling for characters and charting their success or lack of it during the games and how their 'mood' effects the men and reinforcements. I have not had the time while setting things up to go into that depth and I am not sure I would want to.

The first game involves my Kampfgruppe Heinrich which has just been kicked out of the small village of Stehla and taken up a new defensive position on the road leading to the vital town, I had three regular squads of infantry and six support points. I reasoned that Simon, also having a core three squads but double the support points would turn up with a tank so I needed something to kill it, I could have taken an anti-tank gun and also got a medic or an entrenchment but opted for a mobile tank destroyer, my Marder III. I duly set up my forces along some stone walls and behind a hedge, my right was weak but I reasoned that once I saw where the Russians were making their main effort I would move a squad across to help and bring on the Marder, which was in reserve, when I could see the tank.

My defence line.
The Russian steamroller.
  Simon made his main effort against my right and the T34 moved cautiously up the road with its supporting infantry, this is where it all went wrong. A sniper opened up on one of my hidden squads and managed effortlessly to get a kill (Simon's infantry were deadly throughout the game), this exposed the squad and although they were in ambush and opened up as the Soviets approached they managed only one kill. Now that they had been sighted the squad took a pounding despite being in hard cover, they were reduced to under half strength and broke for the rear, the way forward for the Russians was suddenly clear.

The damn sniper.
T34 with supports.

I now tried to race that second squad over to my right, I also brought on the Marder, it fired a long range shot up the road which bounced off the T34, the Russian gunners were just as nervous and their return fire missed by a mile. I now hoped for a German die to come out so I could knock out the T34 and then mop up the infantry or at least halt their advance, no, the T34 fired  first, the Marder took a hit which caused a fire, this meant the crew now had to miss a turn in order to put the fire out. The Soviet infantry rushed forward sensing victory. The Marder took another hit which stunned the crew just as they put the fire out, another turn wasted, bullets pinged off the tank destroyers hull, my second squad was now taking fire from the sniper and steadily losing bodies. It was time to pull out, I got one squad and my officer up the road but the remaining one and the Marder were badly pinned and would not rally. My infantry then dispersed and the Marder routed, the crew could take no more, the road ahead was open.

Now we will show them.
Fire for heaven's sake, fire!
The end.
 The wargame, a disaster for me, I knew I was up against it as my meagre support points did not allow me to get anything near what I required, I really could have done with an MMG at least and a mortar at best, I had nothing which could touch the sniper and he was deadly. I may be wrong and we have a couple of things to check up on as we are still pretty green with the rules, but the sniper completely ignored the cover and the fact my guys were hidden, Simon needed sixes a lot of the time and was getting them in spades. Not only did my men's morale crumble so did mine. I took twelve casualties overall, not as bad as I had thought, the way the campaign rules work I basically lose four, get four back for next game and four miss a game. I think I only put one casualty on Simon, I tried to rally a few times rather than shoot as my suppression mounted and once I was in ambush and forgot to open up first and then of course it was too late. A lot to learn.

The Germans as expected had been thrown back, this was probably the realistic result and as much as we thought the game was unbalanced last night we have to move forward, discuss and amend things for future games, I think I have to get to grips with the support points and change them to the BA system, there are a lot more options in BA than Chain of Command and this has to be reflected somehow. I have some friends who also play these campaigns and all are of the opinion that they are unbalanced and the defenders have a hard if not impossible task ahead of them, in their defence the mini campaigns are historically based, but you also need to give both sides objectives which can be attained.

We had a full house last night, X-Wing, Warmaster, Wars of the Roses boardgame and Sharpe Practice, we also had a visitor who has moved to the area and although on holiday for the next week or so seems keen to come back. Andy informed me he has his 28mm Germans ready for Bolt Action and Julian looked keen to get back into the game, and I think Rob is willing to try it, so it is looking good on the Bolt Action front, I only have to learn the bleeding rules now.


  1. Good stuff George, all your hard work on the terrain and figures recently looks to be paying off.

    Bad case of stage fright from the Marder crew, eh?

  2. I forgot to mention the turn after putting the fire out they were hit and stunned, so another turn lost. I may have to get better replacements, or a real tank.

  3. George,
    Lovely looking table you have there! :o) Agree with Andy about all your hard work paying dividends.
    We have a gentleman’s agreement that we tend not to shoot at hidden troops, but I guess to start with it is easiest to play the rules as is. The tank should have been at -4 (and more) to hit the officer in the building, so a 6 followed by another 6, D2 hits (I think) then anything but a 1 to wound, rather than blazing away at the building.
    I’d strongly suggest switching the support points to the BA points system in some fashion; then keep any advantage for one side to no more than 10-15% or thereabouts. Like you say, history was rarely balanced but you still want a good game where either side can win.
    In BA ‘hidden’ means ‘very difficult to see but you know something is there’, rather than genuinely hidden. Still think that even snipers should be at some sort of disadvantage when shooting at hidden troops though.
    Anyway, a very enjoyable read. Glad your campaign has got off the ground. Look forward to game two.
    Thanks for posting!

    1. Thanks Matt, changing the points is next on my list. Dead Man's Hand next week, maybe second game week after that. Two big games this weekend, looking good.