Sunday, 18 September 2016

Market Garden

Yesterday three club members braved the roads around here and managed to eventually find there way to Warton from Grange-over-Sands, a very genteel, up-market town of these here parts. Rob  wanted to do a large Market Garden themed game, which many WWII gamers are doing at the moment of course, ours just happened to be on the very first day of the anniversary of the battle. Nice timing.

I wasn't sure what Rob wanted in the way of terrain so set up an empty table and at last used my portable 6x4 for the inevitable wargame paraphernalia required for such a large game. The lads duly arrived on time which meant I had to fend off the odd customer whose looks of amazement as their PO turned into a part of Holland were a treasure to behold until noon when I closed.

What we had was a canal with a bridge over it around which was a small town, halfway between the canal and the other end of the table were fields and gentle rises and of course the main road which entered through a large patch of woodland. I know about Arnhem of course but not so well up on what happened during the rest of the campaign, for this battle we had American paratroopers who had been ordered to take the bridge but once on the ground had decided to secure the high ground first, this left a window of opportunity for the Germans to get into the village and protect the bridge while the Americans then awaited the arrival of their allies.

I took the Germans, mainly because after all my work on the Flak wagon I wanted to use it, Paul was with me and was given the village to defend, my troops would come on on the other side of the canal and hopefully delay the Americans. Rob took the paratroops and would probe the German defences while waiting for the armour to turn up, commanded by Stuart. Both Stuart and Paul were new to Bolt Action but long time WWII players.

Paul managed quite nicely to get his men ensconced in the town, he also put his PAK 40 and Marder III in sheltered positions with fairly good lines of sight into the hinterland. I on the other hand found myself restricted, I brought my Panzer IV on as support for my three squads but found that I was not going to get to the hedge line before the Ami's, I was also fearful of a squad of British Paras and a sniper team way over on the right which could easily enfilade me. I did make an attempt but luckily my platoon made it back to cover before the British armour got the range. I dug in around the bridge and a nearby house. My sniper made the first shot of the game and took out an American NCO, looking good.

Stuart turned up and came through the woods, this turned out to be a mistake as it was slow going, he recovered mid game and put his men onto the road, his left got through the trees much quicker and he flung his armour forward. The British were a bit cautious due to the firepower in the village and the threat of my lone tank behind a small hill, rightly so as the PAK 40 hit 'Betsy' coming over a hill and took her tracks out and caused a fire, this was put out only to have another one started by another hit later, Betsy led a charmed life but she wasn't going anywhere, the PAK crew now rested on their laurels and they couldn't hit her again.

Stuart unlimbered his 17pdr and took out the PAK crew with a HE round, not one man survived, I had tried to help with my sniper but only managed to ever get one crew member, the Marder however did manage to brew up the 17pdr's M3 tow.

I had hemmed in my tank with my own me and needed to sort myself out so it could again manouvre, I rushed a squad back to the village only for them to be cut up pretty badly but they held, out in the open but they remained viable. There had been a threat from a sneaky bazooka team heading for my tank but the sniper took care of them, my medic hit the dust before he could help anyone and I had to reverse the PzIV once again.

It was now that Paul moved on the annoying British para squad, I at last brought on my AA vehicle to support him and it paid off as the Para's disappeared and I also managed to shoot up a sniper team as well, one of whom was a woman, however we were Waffen-SS.

The Americans had been halted despite bravely trying to rush the bridge, they had managed to deplete several defending squads but whom nevertheless still managed to hold on. Stewart now rushed my tank with his infantry, a hail of fire hit them from a defended building, they still got through but failed to dent the steel monster, they did give me a fright though. 'Lindy Lou' the other Sherman had moved forward to take a shot at my Flak wagon but cursed when it realised American para's were in the way, lucky for me as I hadn't given the rest of the battlefield much thought and had decided to go after a Bren carrier which looked like easy meat, oops.

That was the last move, the game was called, we had spent about six hours playing, eating cakes, drinking tea and beer and generally chatting, a good afternoon. It was deemed the Germans would hold on so they got the honours.

Our first game of Bolt Action Second Edition, what was the outcome? I love the templates, much better than the last way of doing things, we were a bit perplexed by the auto-cannon but on reading the book later I can see where we went wrong but that was only on one occasion. I also like the officer getting extra orders and we used this quite a bit, however we were all a bit sceptical how it would work at the higher level, captains and majors and think this would probably unbalance the game, one or two orders being just perfect. No doubt you won't get a lot of majors at least running around but I can see it being a gift for 'win at all costs' players.

There was one situation which came up where my troops on the road had all used their initiatives and Stuart in his turn could have taken three out the bag, one for his officer, then trundled his anti-tank tow down the road onto my flank, unlimbered then shot. Now that I think about it I may have to check whether guns unlimbering on an advance can actually shoot. Anyway at the time we thought they could and felt it was not very sporting, so he didn't do it.

As I said they are all WWII veteran gamers and like many others with BA had a discussion about weapon ranges, justified no doubt, but I can live with it as my main objective with the rules is a good game with a WWII feel to it. So, despite my rising dislike of Warlord Games' handling of the whole Second Edition saga the rules are fine and for me does what it says on the tin, I look forward to many more enjoyable games, thanks lads.


  1. Nice report. I got my rules yesterday, so I appreciate the chance to see them in action here.

    1. They fixed a couple of major gripes, not them all of course, but the game doesn't suffer and as I said I liked the templates, so easy, and the officer orders are a great idea.

  2. Nice write up and fine photo's. Sounds like the changes in 2 went well, picked mine up from the sorting office yesterday, it had 48 on too, so you evere right. Playing a game tomorrow, albeit a Spanish Civil War do.

    1. Apart from the orders the feel of the game to me hasn't altered, if you were perhaps playing with the amendments you might wonder what all the fuss is about. Interesting period SCW, brutal conflict.