Andrew was back from deployment and not on night duty so we were able to get a game of Bolt Action in last night. 750pts, Soviets v Japanese – it’s WWII in the Far East!
Never mind Sky Panzer, 37mm, and the Maxim – Andrew forgot his Chihi and AT gun, so I lent him the models for proxies.
Soviet (all regular expect the Rifle squad)
1st Lt with one staff
Meatshield, er I mean Rifle squad with AT grenades
Two LMG squads with 10 men and an LMG
One LMG squad with 10 men but no LMG (I accidently forgot this though, but, spoilers, didn’t matter much)
Zis-3 divisional gun
Japanese (all regular)
1st Lt with one staff
Imperial Japanese Squad with 14 men and an LMG
Grenadier squad with 12 (I think, might’ve been 10) men and 3 light mortars
Suicide AT squad with three men
45mm AT gun
Chihi “medium” tank
Mission and Deployment
We rolled Demolition for the mission. The objective of this mission is to end a turn with one of your infantry units in contact with the enemy base.
I took the side with the barn and positioned my base behind it. Andrew put his base in the Church (we used SAGA dice to mark their location).
I elected to keep my T-34, one LMG squad, and my HQ in reserve, while Andrew elected to hold nothing in reserve. Drawing order dice to place our units, the Japanese line formed up with the Chihi and grenadiers beyond the forested hill on my left, Imperial squad on the road, HQ in the church, MMG to my right of the church, and AT gun way off to the right on the road. I positioned my Zis-3 on my left flank, one LMG squad to the right of that just in the field, Rifle squad forward and centre behind the field, sniper team up top the barn, and second LMG squad in the house on the right. Finally, Andrew’s suicide squad infiltrated behind the forward house near the road.
Order of Battle
Turn one the Japanese drew the first three dice, and Andrew used them to place his MMG, AT gun, and HQ in ambush. I pulled the forth and my sniper zeroed in on the Japanese MMG, hitting but failing to kill. Next the Grenadier squad stayed put, and then the Imperial squad ran up the road into the centre of the field.
Knowing the Chihi was more or less stuck where it was this turn, I fired my Zis on the Imperial squad, but missed. My LMG squad then advanced, and the Japanese MMG sprung its ambush, but turned out to be just short of being in range! My LMG squad opened fire and picked off a couple of Japanese and added an all-important pin marker. Next my Rifle squad advanced to do the same, tripping the Japanese AT gun’s ambush. The Japanese gunner hit his mark, blowing apart two Riflemen and triggering Green. I rolled a six! My one inexperienced squad was now regular and was able to pick off another member of the Imperial squad.
Finally, on the right, the suicide squad and my LMG squad in the house went into ambush. This standoff would last until turn 5, so they’ll be absent from the report till then.
Turn two and the Japanese were again hot on the dice. Andrew tried to advance his Imperial squad, but they decided hitting the dirt on the road was the better idea. Next his Lt went into ambush and ordered the MMG to do likewise – unfortunately the sniper shot made the team think otherwise and they too went down (although we both forgot the morale boost from the Lt. I forget what he rolled for the test, but they possibly would have passed).
I then advanced my rifle squad and poured more fire into the Imperial squad, adding another pin. The Grenadier squad advanced through the woods before the Chihi rounded the corner and unleashed all its MMG fire (hull and rear turret) on the rifle squad, inflicting no casualties (I think) but adding another pin.
I realised the arc on my Zis was no good and readjusted, while my LMG squad nearby advanced and put more heat on the Imperial squad – which was now on four pins. The Japanese AT gun tried from my rifle squad, but missed, while my sniper missed the Japanese MMG. I then was able to bring on all my reserves.
The third LMG squad came on the far left and the LMG gunner scored a lucky couple of hits on the Grenadiers, inflicting a casualty to go with the pin. My Lt ran up behind the fields in the centre, and my T-34 trundled on the road – but not too far, fearing the suicide squad. The T-34 shot at and missed the Chihi, and found the Japanese MMG to be just out of range.
Turn three and the Imperial squad kept put on the road. My Lt ordered the rifle squad and LMG squad to snap to, who continued to put the heat on the Imperial squad. The pins were certainly forthcoming, but casualties were not. The Japanese MMG went into ambush, while the AT gun took a wild shot at my LMG squad in the house. My Zis tried for the Chihi, but missed, which then poured MMG fire into my rifle squad, picking off another two. I advanced my third LMG squad again and once more, sharp shooting added a pin to the Grenadier squad, who then advanced, but whose fire was ineffective.
I decided I didn’t want to edge my T-34 up, but needed to turn slightly to get arc on the Imperial squad. I opened up with the hull MMG and took another wild shot at the Chihi. At least the Imperial squad had another pin now, right? Also my sniper hit the Japanese MMG again, but still couldn’t kill it.
Turn four and the Chihi decided to mix its fire, putting the hull MMG into the Rifle squad and turret light howitzer into my sniper. Things I did not realise: the Chihi had a light howitzer. I put my rifles down in response, which saved them from damage, but the sniper team was not so lucky. Both team members were killed in the explosion. Turn four and first blood goes to the Japanese.
Andrew then figured laying on the road really wasn’t working. With a cry of “Banzai!” the Imperial squad charged my Rifle squad. In response, my Lt and an LMG squad opened fire. I was able to pour on the hits and add another two pins (taking them to eight), but six Imperial squad members were left standing. They promptly killed four riflemen, with the remaining four only able to take out one. The rifle squad were no more and the Japanese had another kill.
My third LMG squad advanced up behind the fence near the road and put more fire on the Grenadiers – adding another pin. My Zis then took a wild shot on them, and likewise the Japanese AT gun on my LMG squad in the house.
Turn five and I’d decided to take the LMG squad on the right out of ambush, because, hey, we actually have an objective so we should probably do that. The turn began with me finishing off the Imperial squad with my Lt (one pin was all that was needed) and snap to gave me fire from my LMG squad on the Grenadiers. My Zis gave it a good try too, but really wasn’t helping. The LMG squad on the far left had the right idea though, and the grenadiers were down to six with four pins.
Andrew was able to rally them however, and worse, we realised my slight adjustment earlier left a small target of side armour of my T-34 open to the Japanese AT gun. It was promptly hit and knocked out. Not good. The Japanese MMG picked off one of the LMG squad members in the middle, while I ran my LMG squad on the right straight forward (but kept them out of sight of the MMG).
Turn six and a stalemate loomed. Andrew ran the suicide squad out towards my base. My Lt and LMG squad opened fire, but could only kill two. The Grenadiers put a mortar round on the LMG squad that had fired, but failed to kill a single man. My LMG squad on the right repositioned and opened up on the lone suicide squad member who became Very Dead, Very Quickly.
Finally, the LMG squad on the left and the Zis (who finally hit) took the Grenadiers down to a single man – who passed his last man standing test in a show of defiance.
The end of turn six, and it was clear I had no way to reach the Japanese base in a single turn. The Soviets were well in control at the end of the fighting, but with the objective out of reach of both sides in the allotted time, operations ended in stalemate.
An inconclusive result, but we both had fun getting there. Rolls were pretty terrible and we were unable to hit or kill much, especially early in the game.
There were a few rule errors: I forgot the +1 to hit for moving on turn one; that one of my LMG squads didn’t have an LMG; and Andrew forgot the morale boost from the Lt turn two. I also have to follow up whether there is a minimum target size (i.e. how much of a unit do you have to see to declare it as a target).
Analysing the battle, force composition wise, I’d have done better to take an MMG than a sniper I think. Also Comrade Zis really let me down. I actually wanted to take a forward artillery officer and a BA-64 (because beep, beep), next time though. Next time.
Strategy wise, I’d say putting the three units in reserve was a Bad Idea and I should’ve deployed everything at the start. Especially with the lack of transports, I needed to make sure everything was out and advancing towards the objective. Speaking of which, tactics on both sides were very conservative. The lack of aggression meant we spent a number of turns shooting at each other (or rather, I shot at Japanese units while they cowered on the ground). We both needed to be far more aggressive if we wanted to successfully complete our objective.
Unfortunately Andrew is on deployment next month, but when he’s back in November I’m sure the red bear and the rising sun will meet again, hopefully with more conclusive results. Next month I am aiming for a game or two with my brother though, so fingers crossed there won’t be as much of a gap between this AAR and the next one.
Till then, happy wargaming.