As mentioned in my last report, I had the pleasure of having two games of Bolt Action in two days. I was spoilt indeed.
Andrew was keen to get his new Hungarian force on the field, so I put together a suitable 1,000pt Soviet list, shifted round the terrain, and got ready for another great game.
Battlefield and Mission
The Mission we rolled was Manhunt. In this mission one side is the attacker while the other is the defender. The attacker’s objective is to seize the highest ranking enemy officer. To seize the officer, the attacker must win a close quarters fight against the officer. Should the officer be killed, the battle results in a draw. The defender wins if their officer survives the battle uncaptured.
Both of us were keen to be the attacker, but it was me who won the roll off with a 2 of all things.
Andrew selected the side without the field as his table edge. The description of the battlefield below is from my perspective.
My left hand flank was open ground studded by two forests. The nearer was roughly halfway between my board edge and the centre line, while the further was roughly halfway between the centre line and the far side.
A road entered the battlefield from my mid-left flank. It curved up toward the centre line, before following the line through a village in the centre of the field, then curving back towards me to head off the right-hand side of the field. In the centre of the village was an intersection. A second road intersected the first there, running from the centre to the far side from the middle of the centre line.
Right and slightly forward from where the road entered from my side was a small church. Fences surrounded it on the near, left, and far sides. The near and far centre portions of the field were clear, but the centre of the battlefield was occupied by houses around the intersection. One was on Andrew’s side of the road left of the second road, the second house was opposite it to the right. The third was opposite the second house on my side of the road.
My near mid-right was occupied by a field from the table edge. Beyond and left of the field was the third house, while open ground lay ahead and right until the road. Across the road on the mid-right as a wood. The near far-right was open ground, though a barn was positioned just beyond the forward right corner of the field on my side of the road. Beyond the road on my right was a barren hill, behind which was open ground.
Disposition of Forces
I fielded a single reinforced platoon. All are regular, except as noted:
- Captain with one staff
- 1st Lieutenant with one staff
- Artillery forward observer with one staff
- 12 man rifle squad with anti-tank grenades (inexperienced, the free squad)
- Two 12 man LMG squads, each with an LMG
- Flame thrower team
- Maxim MMG team
- Medium mortar team with spotter (inexperienced)
- PTRD team
- 45mm 1937 gun
- BA-64 armoured car
- T-26B light tank
Andrew’s Hungarians were all regular and consisted of:
- 2nd Lieutenant with two staff
- Three 10 man rifle squads, each with an LMG
- Medium mortar team with spotter
- Medium howitzer with spotter
- Csaba armoured car
- Turan medium tank
- Panzer 38T light tank (German Allies)
Order of Battle
In this mission the defender deploys half his forces (rounding down), one of which must be the highest ranking officer in his force, within 12” of the centre of the table. These units start in hidden deployment. Meanwhile the attacker nominates half his forces (rounding up) to form his first wave. All other forces are in reserve.
Andrew selected one rifle squad, his mortar, and his howitzer to join his officer on the field. His officer was positioned in the house nearest me, with the rifle squad on the road behind the house. The mortar and its spotter was then placed at the intersection. Finally, the howitzer was positioned on the road leading off Andrew’s side and at the very extremity of the allowed distance from the middle.
I elected my 1st Lieutenant, artillery officer, mortar, Maxim, flame thrower team, and one LMG squad to form my first wave. Next I rolled for the preparatory bombardment. The Hungarian officer and rifle squad both took two pins, the howitzer one, while the mortar managed to avoid any damage or disruption. With that, the battle commenced.
The action began with my first LMG squad running on through the field. Their arrival was heralded by the boom of howitzer fire, though thankfully the Hungarian crew failed to range in. With the next dice however, Andrew brought his rifles up to the right of the near house and opened up on my first LMG squad, killing one man.
The rest of my first wave then made their way on. The artillery observer moved up the road, wile my mortar positioned itself behind the church. The BA-64 drove on in the middle of my line and shot wildly at the Hungarian mortar. Meanwhile on the right, the flamethrower team ran up beside the LMG squad in the field, while my Lieutenant hung behind them. Finally my Maxim ran up short of the barn, facing itself toward the Hungarian rifle through the field.
The arrival of the rest of my men was heralded by more Hungarian artillery fire, this time from the Medium mortar. It too failed to range into my relief. Finally, the Hungarian Lieutenant ran back toward Andrew’s line, ending on the other side of his mortar team.
Turn 2 began with the Hungarian rifle squad going down. While they’d passed their order test the previous turn, they still had one pin left on them and subsequently failed the necessary test.
Next up I brought my second LMG squad on. It was at this point Andrew noted the Confusion of Battle special rule that applies for the mission. Essentially the mission takes place as a battle rages around the AO, lines having become muddled for whatever reason. As a result, reinforcements may come on any table edge except the table edge the last enemy unit deployed from that turn. Things were about to get chaotic.
I advanced my second LMG squad on from the opposite side to my first wave and dumped fire into the howitzer. With the gun shield being on the wrong side to protect them from the attack, I wiped the crew out without much trouble. First blood to the Soviets.
The zaniness continued when Andrew brought his Panzer 38T on the short table edge on my very near right flank. Its MGs blazed away into my flamethrower team, but while it scored a hit, it was unable to drop a man.
Cognisant of my artillery observer’s vulnerability I used my next dice to activate it and call in a barrage on the centre of the field. The BA-64 then charged forward just short of the road while blazing away at the Hungarian mortar, but only managed to kill one man.
I scored another order dice and attempted to bring my PTRD team on, but was unsuccessful. Getting the next dice as well, I decided to have my Lieutenant get my men to snap to with the intention of mopping up the Hungarian rifle squad.
My flamethrower team was first to act, passing its order test (just), and advancing to turn the dreadful device on. Unfortunately I failed to hit with a 2. Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, I rolled a 1 on the test to see if the flamethrower was exhausted. And so a poor Soviet supply line managed to achieve what German MG fire could not and the flamethrower team was removed.
It was up to the LMG squad and Lieutenant to do the job instead. I had intended to charge the LMG squad should the rifles remain after a dousing of flame. Instead I had them fire, while the Lieutenant advanced. Between them, the two units applied another two pins and killed three men.
A flurry of units then entered the battlefield. I moved my 45mm anti-tank gun into the field, ready to strike the 38T next turn, while Andrew moved his second rifle squad on to protect the tank. The third rifle squad came on the left-hand short edge and picked off one of my artillery forward observers. Finally my T-26B trundled on behind the 38T and picked off two riflemen from the second squad. The Turan and Csaba however were nowhere to be seen, both failing their order tests to materialise.
The final moves saw the Hungarian Lieutenant pick off men from my second LMG squad, while my rifle squad ran on ready to assault the officer next turn.
Turn three, and before the first order dice was drawn the distant booming of guns saw all heads turn toward my table edge. I rolled Fire for Effect for my artillery barrage and Fire for Effect it did. I rolled the maximum area of effect. I had already realised my mistake at moving my BA-64 up so far, and now there was no doubt it was about to take a pounding. As it turned out, it, the first Hungarian rifle squad, Hungarian mortar, Hungarian Lieutenant, and even my rifle squad, were in range.
Andrew suggested I start with the Hungarian rifles, but instead I went with the BA-64. It was a direct hit. Somehow the little clown car survived, though the engine caught fire. I passed the resulting morale test however and the armoured car stuck around. It netted a total of five pins from the experience however, so it was doubtful it’d be much use.
Next the Hungarian rifles took three pins, taking them to six, much to my satisfaction. Next was the Hungarian mortar, and I rolled a direct hit yet again. Of course, the Hungarian officer being so close he too was caught in the blast. When the dust cleared the mortar’s spotter was fleeing for the hills while everyone else was reduced to their component body parts.
With the Hungarian officer dead, so were either of our hopes of victory.
And so I snatched stalemate from the jaws of victory.
You may be wondering why I didn’t just reposition the blast template in such a way it did not hit the officer. This choice was an option and it did cross my mind, but we weren’t playing for sheep stations and, besides, things were both more cool and more hilarious this way.
And how hilarious it was indeed. From the reinforcements popping up everywhere, to the impotent flamethrower, to that fateful artillery strike. Andrew declared it to be the most hilarious game of Bolt Action he had ever played and I heartily agreed.
The destruction in the middle would’ve been even more complete had I remembered the impact of the BA-64 being open topped. That would’ve bumped the On Fire result to Knocked Out. I’ll have to remember that for next time.
All in all though, comedy gold.
Manhunt was a highly enjoyable mission. I look forward to playing it again sometime. On the topic of my next game, Matthew is keen to show me Victory at Sea on the last Sunday of this month. I also have another Warhammer Fantasy Battles game pencilled in for the first weekend in July. I’d also like to get another Bolt Action game in next month too. So hopefully there’ll be plenty to come in July.
In the meantime, I’m intending to have a general hobby update at the end of the month. Been working on some fantasy things I’m looking forward to having done.