My brother came round today for a game of Bolt Action, which I realised the other week I hadn’t ever shown him. I pointed some Operation Barbarossa lists, set up the field, and we cranked some Sabaton as the battle began.
Soviet (all inexperienced)
1st Lieutenant with one staff
Rifle squad with AT grenades
Three LMG squads with 12 men and LMG
82mm medium mortar
AT rifle team
45mm 1937obr AT gun
German (regular, expect where marked)
2nd Lieutenant with one staff (veteran)
Two Heer squads (one eight man, one seven man, NCO with SMG in both)
Heer pioneer squad (six men, flamethrower, veteran)
Sdkfz 221/1 “Hanomag” half track
Panzer III J
Table and Mission
I rolled Surrounded for the mission. I took the Soviets and would be the defender. Half my force needed to be deployed within 12” of the centre of the table, half Lee’s force would be the first wave with the other half in reserve.
Order of Battle
I chose to deploy my mortar on the hill, AT gun at the base of the hill, an LMG squad forward of centre behind the fence, Maxim in the most central house, and my Lieutenant behind the same house.
The preparatory bombardment came down, with a pin for the LMG squad, two apiece for the Lieutenant and mortar, but a direct hit with one casualty to go with the two pins on the AT gun. The Maxim escaped harm. Then the battle commenced.
Germany pulled the first dice and Lee brought on the Panzer III. It took a shot at the AT gun with its main gun, hitting, and blowing apart the rest of the crew. First blood on the very first order dice. I rallied my Lieutenant and cleared his pins, but my LMG squad decided they wanted to be down. My Maxim repositioned to the rear centre building.
One of the Heer squads entered the field in the centre, and shot at but missed my LMG squad. My mortar returned fire, passing its order test, scoring that lucky six to hit, blowing apart four Heer troops and adding a couple of additional pins. They barely passed their morale check, but were very much weakened. The final unit to enter the field was the other Heer, which skirted the hill on the German left.
Turn two and the Soviet were up first. My mortar once again passed its order test, clearing the last pin, dropped another shell on the Heer in the centre, blowing apart three of the remaining four. The NCO as all that was left, but didn’t fancy his chances and quit the field. It was good I got that action in with my mortar though, because the Panzer III followed up its first turn to fire on the mortar and take it out easily.
The rest of the turn involved units moving on to the field, for the Soviets at least. Both the halftrack and the German command team botched their order tests and failed to materialise. Unfortunately, so did my AT rifle. I kept my rifle squad down, but brought one LMG squad on the far left, and the other moved into the forested hill. Meanwhile my T-26B showed up on the left to cover that flank, moving up behind the church. Finally, the second Heer squad moved up and took some shots at my LMG squad on the far right, killing a man.
Turn three and the Soviets were up first. My LMG squad on the right advanced and opened up on the Heer opposite, killing three. The Maxim went into ambush, the command team hanging with him. My men in the forest Advanced slowly. The Heer tried to advance but failed their order test, while the halftrack showed up on the German far left and put some shots into the LMG squad, killing another man.
In the centre, the Panzer III trundled up and opened up on the LMG squad behind the fence. Half the squad was blown apart, but they hung in there. I probably should have remembered to respond by going down, which is where they stayed when they tried to rally. I brought my rifle squad with AT grenades on the right side, but my AT rifle still refused to respond to orders to deploy. Finally, the German command came on behind the Panzer while my T-26B trundled up on the left.
Turn four and I again scored the first dice. I decided to take a risk and try take out the Panzer III. It did not pay off. Not only did I miss my shot, the Panzer III knocked my T-26B out, while mowing down more Soviet infantry with its hull MG.
I ran my rifle squad up the road, heading towards the Panzer III. Meanwhile, my LMG squad on the right finished off the Heer, while the halftrack trundled up, spraying them with machine gun fire. The pioneers then jumped out and added rifle fire to the mix. Despite scoring hits with both units, Lee failed to score any kills.
The LMG squad on the hill advanced again to reach the centre of the forest and tried shooting the pioneers, but failed. My Maxim remained in ambush, which was probably a bad idea, with my commander hanging nearby. The German command moved up, using the Panzer for cover.
Turn five and I thought I was in luck when I pulled the first dice and went to fire on the pioneers with my LMG squad. They had other ideas though and when they scored a FUBAR on their order test, they proceeded to open fire on the rifle squad right next to them (which was just barely within 12” of the pioneer squad). Luckily with their two pins along with light cover and being inexperienced they couldn’t hit the backside of a barn. Their failure was pretty bad though. It went from bad to worse when the pioneers went next, moved up, and saw off the rifle squad with a torrent of flame, mixed with rifle fire, which the squad very much did not want to stick around for.
Worse then went to even worse when the Panzer moved up, fired on the squad on the hill, and stacked on the pins. This forced them to rally (which they did). The German command moved up and took out another Soviet infantryman in the centre, leaving two. In response they charged the command squad, like true heroes. Unfortunately heroes they were not to be, rolling a one and a three for damage. They were promptly bayonetted by the veteran officer and his staff.
With the Maxim and Soviet command again being Very Inactive, the AT rifle finally showed up. I ran it into position for a side armour shot on the Panzer III and crossed my fingers for the first dice.
Nope. Turn six and Germany, sensing victory was near, seized the initiative. The Panzer turned to face the house the Maxim was in, and put an HE shell through the window, followed by a hail of machinegun fire, after which only corpses remained inside. With the front armour of the Panzer now showing, the AT rifle was neutered. I decided to go for a shot on the German command, but missed it. They tried likewise on the AT rifle, but also missed.
Meanwhile the pioneers and halftrack opened up on the LMG squad on the far right. But despite the hail of bullets and torrent of flame, five men still stood, and were keen to hang in there. The squad on the hill tried for some shots, but failed. Before finally my Very Pinned LMG squad decided it best to stay down than give assaulting the pioneers ago.
Although we did roll a turn seven, there was no way the Soviets could even bring the battle to an inconclusive result, and so operations ceased. A victory for Germany!
We had a lot of fun. I really like that the battle see-sawed, with the early game very much looking quite positive for the Soviets. The Panzer III was MVP though, and really cleaned up. I made some poor choices with my Maxim and T-26B, but the fourth turn order dice and FUBARed order test really hurt me too.
Lee really enjoyed the game, and loved the simplicity of the core elements of the system. No doubt we will play again in the future!