Top Secret – Soviet v Fallschirmjäger

Matthew was back around last Sunday with his Fallschirmjäger for a top notch game of Bolt Action.

Battlefield and Mission

The mission we rolled was top secret. In this mission there is a central objective representing a drop of important intelligence or a high value target that requires retrieval. Once an infantry unit makes base contact with the objective they take possession of it. The unit must then move off its long table edge to successfully extract the item.

The item can be passed to another infantry unit within 1”, but may only pass between units once per turn. An enemy unit who defeats the unit carrying the objective in close combat also takes possession of the objective.

As it happened, I had set up the battlefield with a T intersection smack bang in the middle of the field. I placed my BA-64 there to represent the objective, orienting it to represent it having been knocked out after reconnoitring the German lines. Soviet and German forces were now scrambling to recover the vital intelligence. The below description of the battlefield is from my perspective.

Battlefield viewed from my near right.

A road entered from my long table edge on its far left. It traversed diagonally to a T intersection in the centre of the field. Turning left at the intersection, the road headed toward the far left corner of the field before turning off the far side of the short table edge.

Turning right at the central intersection, there was another T intersection. Continuing directly on, the road ran straight before veering slightly to head off the short table edge on my near right flank. Meanwhile, turning left at the second T intersection, the road carried on diagonally before turning slightly to exit off the right side of the opposite long table edge.

Battlefield from my far right (i.e. Matthew’s left)

Returning to my left, a wooded hill occupied the central line of the battlefield, nestled between the two roads on that side. Forward of my mid left and on the near side of the road was a house. Opposite this house, over the two roads, was another. While on the far left was a small wood.

Forward of my centre, on my side of the central crossroad, was a barn. Beyond the central intersection the ground was open. Right of centre, a field spanned between my table edge and the second intersection. Beyond this intersection, forward and right of centre, was an open hill.

Finally, my near right flank was clear, but beyond the road on this side was another field, with a house positioned near the centre line between the field and the second intersection. Beyond the field and the house, the right flank was clear save for the road that headed off the table on the far side.

Disposition of Forces

I took a single reinforced platoon, all regular save the free rifle squad, consisting of:

  • A 1st lieutenant and one staff;
  • A medic;
  • A 12 man rifle squad with AT grenades (the free squad);
  • Three 12 man LMG squads with LMGs;
  • A medium MG team (the Maxim);
  • A medium mortar team;
  • A flamethrower team;
  • A Zis-3 divisional gun; and

A T34/85.

Matthew’s Fallschirmjäger, all veteran, fielded:

  • A 1st lieutenant;
  • A 10 man rifle squad with LMG;
  • A 10 man assault rifle squad with LMG;
  • A seven man SMG squad;
  • A medium mortar team with spotter;
  • A puma armoured car; and
  • A Hanomag halftrack.

Order of Battle

In this mission, all forces are placed in reserve, but reserves begin coming on from turn one instead of turn two. And so it was straight to the bag to start pulling dice to see which forces would be arriving on time, and which would be caught napping.

With 11 order dice to Matthew’s 9, you’d be forgiven for thinking the battle would start with some red. Instead, the first units to enter the field were German. Matthew brought his half-track (and its accompanying payload of SMG troops) on via the right road, parking the vehicle just short of the second intersection to use the house on the right as cover. Next, his mortar ran on behind the far hill, while its spotter made his way into the far house.

The German assault rifles advance on my left.

I scored the next two dice, but to my great displeasure the curse of the 9s was back. My T34/85 failed its order test by one and went down. Thankfully my Zis passed and came on my left to cover the long road. More black dice followed, with Matthew bringing his assault rifles on the left, running them up just short of the far road, while his rifle squad came on the right, moving up behind the field.

My mortar then came on my left, forward of the near road, while I sent my flamethrower right up the guts, ending its move at the near left corner of the barn. Matthew responded by bringing his flamethrower on, running it up behind his assault rifles. Next the puma arrived, and landed a long range shot on the my mortar team, taking out two crew. Thankfully the last man passed his morale test to continue manning the tube on his lonesome.

My Zis covering the road.

With so many German units deployed, the bulk of my forces began showing themselves. I ran my rifle squad up through the field to face off with the half-track, while my 1st LMG squad came on just left of centre next to my flamethrower. I then brought up my medic between the three units, ready to apply first aid as needed.

I didn’t have to wait long, as Matthew used his next dice to advance his SMG squad out the half-track, guns blazing at my rifle squad. Six men would have gone down had my medic not been there to save one, preventing the squad from needing to test their morale. I rolled a 4 on their green test, meaning they would continue on as inexperienced troops.

The German left/my right.

In response, I brought my 2nd LMG squad on to the right of the field with an advance. The hail of rifle and LMG fire they unleashed was devastating, cutting down three of the SMG squad. Unfortunately I proceeded to fail my next two order tests, which saw my lieutenant and my 3rd LMG squad go down.

Soviet left flank.

The final moves of the turn saw the German lieutenant come on behind the hill next to the mortar, and my Maxim arrive on my centre left to hold back the advancing German assault rifles.

Turn two and I netted the first dice. I used it to immediately order my 2nd LMG squad to fire on the SMG squad, who went down in response. There was nowhere the perfidious fascists could hide from my noble heroes however, as incredibly sharp shooting saw three of the remaining four killed. Unfortunately the last man managed to pass his morale test to stick around, but I had effectively neutralised the threat the squad posed.

The assault rifles stand off against the might of the Soviet Union.

My good shooting continued as my Maxim managed to take out the LMG from the assault rifle squad opposite with a fire order and exceptional damage. My third and fourth dice then saw my Zis go in to ambush, while my 1st LMG squad advanced and fired on the assault rifles, killing two more from the squad.

Despite my desire that some black dice should start being drawn, the red kept coming. I repositioned my medic slightly to keep the 1st LMG squad in range, but moved too far and left the rifle squad slip out of range in the process. My lieutenant then ran on through the field. With yet another dice, I tried to range my mortar in on the Puma, but was unsuccessful. It was only then Matthew secured his first dice.

My T34/85 arrives at the end of the turn.

His mortar crew proceeded to show mine how it was done, ranging in on my 1st LMG squad and blowing five of them to smithereens. The German assault rifles then advanced under fire from the Zis, which sprung its ambush but failed to land its shell. The Germans opened up on my 1st LMG squad, killing another two.

My 3rd LMG squad then arrived. I advanced them on the left, next to my MG. Firing on the assault rifles, I managed to take out another from that squad. My rifle squad was not so lucky when I ordered it to fire on the lone SMG. Though I scored a hit, I failed to take the man out. I would have been better to charge in, but the two German vehicles and their MGs dissuaded me.

I only had two units left to issue orders to, yet still the red dice came. I opted to order my flame thrower down. Again, I would have loved to have run him into the middle to grab the objective, but those pesky German vehicles and their deadly machineguns stopped me.

Finally another black dice was drawn, and Matthew drove his hanomag straight forward to open up on my rifle squad at point blank range. It seemed the German crew was in need of the training my men had received, as they only managed to hit twice and then kill a single man. A dismal showing.

My final dice was then drawn and, with little options in where I could actually deploy, I advanced my T34/85 on the far left and sent a long range shot sailing over the Puma.

In a repeat from last battle, the Puma sped forward to take my Zis head on.

With all the remaining dice Matthew’s, he was free to order the rest of his units. His Puma sped forward, turned the corner, and came hooning into the face of my Zis, firing its main gun wildly. The rifle squad on the right ran up to the field on that side, while the flamethrower team continued along with the assault rifle squad. Finally Matthew’s lieutenant went down.

Turn three and I pulled the first dice again. I had a tough decision to make: order my Maxim to keep the pressure on the German assault rifles, or fire my Zis on the Puma. I went with the former, scoring another hit but no kills. Matthew then had his own tough decision to make when he netted the second dice of the turn. He opted to lob another mortar shell on my 1st LMG squad, who went down and lost another two men.

The assault rifles continue to be shot to hell.

I netted another dice and this time gave the order for my Zis to fire. A few dice rolls and an almighty boom later and the Puma was knocked out thanks to massive damage, the 6 I rolled to penetrate having just seen the shot over the threshold.

The Puma’s daring run did not go as well as last time. Enemy armour destroyed!

The next two orders saw my mortar failed to range in on the assault rifles and the Hanomag take out three from my rifle squad, despite the squad going down in response. The tit for tat continued however when my 3rd LMG squad advanced and picked off another two from the assault rifle squad, including the NCO, though German initiative training saw that he was quickly replaced.

It was Matthew’s next order however that took me by complete surprise. He issued a run order to the lone SMG trooper, who dashed behind the objective and secured the intelligence. IO desperately wanted to put fire on the lone man, but didn’t have any units that could get an angle with a single order. In frustration I had my T34/85 advance and take out the German spotter.

The lone SMG trooper siezes the intel.

The race to secure the intel was well and truly on however, as I sent my 2nd LMG squad running at the Hanomag, while Matthew ran his rifle squad across directly toward the middle. He was determined to cover his extraction, while I was pushing to stop his escape.

My flame thrower team ran up onto the other side of the objective, ready to pounce and reclaim the intel next turn, and I ran my medic up into the barn to support it. Meanwhile, my lieutenant advanced to the left of the barn, sending a wild shot at the German assault rifles,

My right flank viewed from Matthew’s perspective.

Matthew’s last moves were to advance his flame thrower, which remained out of range of my units, and put his lieutenant down. As for his assault rifles, they failed an order test and went down earlier in the turn.

Turn four and, much to my delight, I secure the first dice. I advanced my flamethrower team passed the SMG trooper, blocking his escape, and unleashed a torrent of flame. The man died in screaming agony. Unfortunately the flamethrower operator evidently was somewhat overenthusiastic in the application of his horrific device as he drained it completely of fuel. And so my flamethrower team was removed with a solitary kill to its name.

All wasn’t lost for Matthew however, as with clever orders he could secure the intel, then get the squad into his halftrack for a speedy extraction. To support the plan, he advanced his vehicle, firing on my 1st LMG squad when he arrived in the middle, though they suffered no loss. The squad’s good luck continued when, two orders later, the German mortar failed to hit despite having been ranged in.

To stifle his plans, I advanced my 2nd LMG squad and opened up on the German rifle squad, scoring three kills. More important however was the one pin as, when ordered to run, the squad failed its order test and went down instead.

Left flank at the end of turn four.

Meanwhile on the left I continued the pressure,  taking out the flamethrower squad with my 3rd LMG squad and continuing to whittle down the assault rifle squad with my Maxim and T34/85, though my mortar continued to be ineffective. Matthew rallied the assault rifles however and cleared all its pins, ready for a manoeuvre next turn.

A sweep of the forces and fighting taking place around the objective.

Final moves of the turn for me included my rifles going down of their own accord, Zis going into ambush, and my lieutenant running into the barn. I also sent my medic into the middle to grab the intel, which I realise now might’ve been impossible, but we were caught up in the moment. As for Matthew, he moved his lieutenant out from behind the hill and took a long shot at my medic, but missed.

Turn five with the German order dice pool being much depleted, while mine remained almost entirely intact, it was no surprise I scored the first dice. I ran my medic into the barn and passed the intel off to my lieutenant. Though the Hanomag turned to open up on my officer, he was only able to kill my staff member. Further, my lieutenant passed his morale test to be able to run out of the barn and into the field, a single order away from getting off the board.

I mopped up the German rifles on my right…

It was clear where the battle was headed. As a result, after my 2nd LMG squad picked off another three from the German rifle squad, Matthew charged the squad into my unit and saw the remaining four men killed for the loss of two brave Soviet heroes. Meanwhile on the left, the assault rifles went at my T34/85 while under machine gun fire. Their assault was ineffective however and I charged my 3rd LMG squad in to see them off.

And did the same to the assault rifles on my left.

The rest of the action of the turn included my Zis being unable to hit the Hanomag, my rifles going down (intentionally this time), the German mortar continuing to shell my 1st LMG squad, and the German lieutenant going down.

My lieutentant makes his escape with the intel through the field behind the barn.

And so we arrived at turn six. As to be expected, I scored the first dice and saw my lieutenant safely off the field, successfully securing the intel.

Aftermath

Though it may read like a victory in which my forces were very much on top throughout the battle, I can assure you it was a very tense game. Matthew very nearly stole the intel out from underneath my nose. With a slightly adjusted battle plan, more cautious use of his vehicles, and more concentrated offensive he well could have seen me undone.

My efforts were assisted undeniably by some incredible shooting. The number of times I needed 5s to his and yet netted more than 50% hits was extraordinary. As for my flamethrower, I’m sure he’ll do well one day. One day.

Regarding my medic collecting the intel, I realised as I was writing the report up that it might not have been possible. Medics are ignored for the purpose of determining control of objectives according to the rulebook, so I suspect that captures possessing the objective in Top Secret as well.

I doubt the outcome would have been much different if that were the case however, I could have easily picked the intel up with my lieutenant instead. It likely would’ve just delayed my getting it off the field by a turn, though if my rifle squad obeyed an order that mightn’t’ve been an issue either.

Of course, I think it was pretty cool how things played out anyway.

Final Thoughts

I’m not sure when I’ll be able to have a battle next. The Delta strain of COVID-19 has made its ugly appearance here and the state is in lockdown, though things appear to be progressing most agreeably.

On top of that, I’ve just returned to uni to do law. I’m hopeful I can find half a moment between working full-time and studying part-time to get another battle in once we are able to interact face-to-face again.

Danger Close – Soviet v Hungary (Hold Until Relieved)

Andrew was around Friday for some more Soviet v Hungary action. What transpired was our most hard fought battle yet.

Battlefield and Mission

The mission we rolled was hold until relieved. In this mission, the defender starts with limited forces on the field holding a central objective. Whoever holds the objective at the end of the battle wins the day. To hold the objective, you must have at least one Infantry or Artillery unit within 3 inches of the objective without any enemy unit of any type also within 3 inches of it.

I again won the roll off to determine whether I wanted to attack or defend, this time opting to be the defender. I selected the side with the hill to be my side of the field. The description below is from my perspective.

The battlefield viewed from my side.

Mynear left flank was dominated by a hill. Forward of the hill, a road entered the field from the short table edge. The road was on my side of the centre point of the table and ran parallel with the long table edges to a cross road in the centre of the battlefield.

On its far side, the road was abutted by a field that spanned in from the short table edge by a foot. Right of the field was a barn, and beyond the two lay open ground.

From the middle of my table edge entered another road, this too led to the crossroad in the centre of the field. In the near left corner of the cross road was a house, with another diagonally opposite in the far right corner. The near right corner of the cross road was bounded by some fences, a little to the right of which was a church.

Beyond the central crossroad and in addition to the already mentioned left spur, the road continued off both the far and right table edges. Off the far edge, the road edged slightly left of the centre line. To the right, the road ran diagonally, exiting the table from the far right short table edge.

Slightly forward of my far right flank stood a small wood. Beyond the wood was a house of the near side of the right hand spur of the road. Finally, on the other side of the road, was another field, roughly halfway between the left/right centre line and right short table edge.

I’d set up the battlefield prior to us rolling the mission, so it was by pure chance the crossroad sat very near the direct centre of the field. I elected that as the objective over which we would be fighting. A most suitable target indeed.

Disposition of Forces

I fielded a slightly amended list from our last battle. All units are regular, except as noted.

  • 1st Lieutenant with one staff;
  • Medic 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;
  • An eight man LMG squad with an LMG;
  • Flame thrower team;
  • Maxim MMG team;
  • Medium mortar team (inexperienced);
  • PTRD team;
  • 45mm 1937 gun;
  • BA-64 armoured car;
  • T-26B light tank;

Andrew had the same force as last time at his disposal. All regular, these included:

  • 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 one infantry squad and one other infantry unit on the field. These are placed within 6 inches of the objective. Half the defender’s remaining units then form the first wave while the others are placed in reserve.

The attacker meanwhile places all his infantry units. These may be placed anywhere, but no closer than 18 inches to either the objective or any enemy unit. The rest of the attacker’s force is placed in reserve.

I opted to deploy both my 12 man LMG squads. The first I deployed in the near house, while the second I positioned at the corner with the fences. I then opted for my lieutenant, artillery observer, mortar, MG, the third LMG squad, and my BA-64 to form my first wave.

My deployment. LMG squads one and two occupy the near house and crook of the fences beside the road respectively.

Andrew positioned his first rifle squad on the left beyond the barn, the second far forward in the centre, and the third on the far right somewhat forward. His mortar team and lieutenant were both placed forward on the far right.

Turn one began with a bevy of red order dice. I advanced my second LMG squad into the church and shot at the third Hungarian rifle squad, scoring both a hit and a kill. My artillery observer and mortar then arrived, taking up positions on the hill.

Andrew’s troops weren’t idle for long however, with the first rifle squad advancing toward the hill and firing on my mortar team. With him needing 5s to hit and not being able to bring all guns to bear, you’d be forgiven for thinking my mortar would be quite safe. Instead not only did he manage a 50% hit rate, but almost every shot wounded. Thus the mortar departed as quickly as it came.

Looking right from the centre.

In retribution I brought my BA-64 on, driving up the hill and opening up on the rifle squad. My shooting left a lot to be desired, but I did still manage to score a hit and all important pin. Meanwhile, on the right flank, the third Hungarian rifle squad failed its order test to advance and went down. The Hungarian mortar then failed to range in on the church.

The BA-64 and artillery observer overlook the first Hungarian squad from their vantage point on the hill.

The rest of the turn saw the last of the movement. Andrew shifted his lieutenant up toward his third squad. His second squad meanwhile ran up behind the far centre house. For my part, I brought my third LMG squad on behind the near house, MG team on right of the road, and my lieutenant on behind the church.

The second Hungarian rifle squad uses the far house to cover its advance.

Turn 2 began with more red dice. My BA-64 revved its engine and sped down toward the Hungarian rifle squad opposite. I managed a single hit, bringing the squad up to two pins. My second LMG squad then advanced out the church and fired on the third Hungarian rifle squad. Sharp shooting decimated the squad, leaving it with a single man, though he did pass his “last man standing” morale check.

Meanwhile my third LMG squad ran to support the BA-64. Immediate resistance then arrived, with all three of Andrew’s vehicles passing their order test. The Turan advanced first, firing at my squad in the house and picking off one or two. Next the 38T came up behind the Turan and cut down half the third LMG squad, who passed their subsequent morale test. Finally the Csaba sped on and attempted a shot on the BA-64, but missed.

The first Hungarian rifle squad faces off with the BA-64.

In response I was able to bring my 45mm gun onto the hill and my T26 on via the road. Unfortunately the shot from the latter on the Turan failed to connect. Even more disappointing were the three 9s I rolled when trying to bring on my rifle squad, PTRD team, and medic. My flamethrower made an appearance however, deploying to my mid-right.

As for the rest of the turn, Andrew’s mortar missed my squad in the house, while his second rifle squad advanced around the far house and picked off one from my second LMG squad. His howitzer then arrived on the far right and lieutenant shifted up. His first and third rifle squads meanwhile both went down as a result of their pins.

Hungarian armour advances along the road.

Finally, I ran my MG forward and across the road, put my first LMG squad in ambush, and called in my artillery strike next to the Hungarian column of armour.

Turn 3 and the artillery strike was delayed, much to my disappointment. on the plus side however we had more red dice to start the turn. My BA-64 drove further forward to put the barn between it and the Csaba. It also picked off another of Andrew’s first rifle squad. My 45mm then took a shot on the 38T, scoring a penetrating hit but then rolling a 1 on the damage result. Still, a Crew Shaken result meant I wouldn’t need to fear it for a turn.

My second LMG squad at the end of turn three.

Next my second LMG squad passed an order test to advance and fire at the Hungarian howitzer. I scored some hits, but no kills. Then my T26 shifted up in front of the near house and fired on the Turan, hitting, but failing to score any damage.

Andrew responded by bringing his Csaba forward and firing on the T26. In exploiting the side armoured he managed to immobilise my tank. I tried to bring on my PTRD team to cover my now stationary T26, but it failed its order test again. Thankfully my medic and rifle squad were more responsive. The former ran on behind the near house, and the latter ran on up the road. My third LMG squad also continued to run forward, putting itself behind the barn and out of sight of the Turan.

The armoured might of the two forces face off against one another.

With so many red dice out the bag it was time for Andrew to issue some orders. His second rifle squad opened up on my second LMG squad with devastating consequence. Six brave heroes were slain, though the squad held its nerve to stick around. The howitzer then lobbed a shot at the extremity of its range into my 45mm AT gun, leaving nothing but a crater and hunk of twisted metal in the shell’s wake.

The next few dice saw the Turan fire on my T26, hitting, but failing to score any damage, my flamethrower taking out the last of the third rifle squad; and the Hungarian lieutenant and his staff killing my flamethrower’s assistant. As for our weapon teams, my MG joined my first LMG squad in ambush, and Andrew’s mortar failed to range in on the near house again.

The Hungarian lieutenant rounds the corner of the house to shoot my flamethrower’s assistant dead.

The final dice saw the first rifle squad pass its order test to fire a panzerfaust into the BA-64, netting a Crew Stunned result, and my artillery observer advancing to send wild shots toward the first rifle squad.

The situation behind the barn at the end of turn three.

Turn four and my artillery strike still failed to materialise. I opted to shift the aiming point up slightly, tracking the advance of Andrew’s vehicles. Again the first dice was red and I opted to award it to my flamethrower. I regretted the decision immediately, not least because I failed to hit the Hungarian lieutenant, but also because I really should’ve acted with the T26. This realisation was compounded when the battle took a sharp dive south for me.

Brown dice after brown dice saw Andrew issue a series of consecutive effective orders. The second rifle squad fired on my second LMG squad again. After last turn’s drubbing I opted to put them down. It didn’t save them from taking another two casualties, but if I had not they’d likely have been wiped out. The mortar then ranged in on my first squad, though failed to score any kills.

Next came an armoured assault on my T26. The Turan moved up and hit it, but only netted a Crew Stunned result, followed by the 38T failing to hit it. Finally the Csaba brought its anti-tank rifle to bear, with the shot striking true, penetrating, and knocking it out. To add insult to injury, the first rifle squad then pass its order test to fire a panzerfaust into the BA-64, netting a crew Stunned result.

With my ability to deal with Andrew’s armour rapidly diminishing, I finally scored another order dice. When issued to fire however my BA-64 went down. Andrew’s lieutenant then took out my flamethrower, followed by his howitzer trying a shot on my second LMG squad. Thankfully it missed, but that was about the only highlight of the round for me.

With my final orders I continued to move the artillery observer and third LMG squad up on the left, picking off more of the first rifle squad as I went. My Lieutenant also moved up on the right toward the enemy officer, managing to pick off his staff. In the centre, my medic moved up, and PTRD team finally arrived to cover the middle. Finally, my rifle squad assaulted the Csaba, but woefully rolling rendered the daring manoeuvre impotent.

My rifle squad assault the Csaba. Urah!

Turn five and things went horribly wrong. I rolled a 1 for my artillery strike, resulting in the aiming point shifting a random distance (thankfully only 8 inches) and direction (unhelpfully near my rifle squad), and immediately being resolved. I’m not sure if the pitiful area of effect I rolled could be considered good luck or bad, but even one more inch would’ve caught the second Hungarian rifle squad in the blast. Instead I only hit the Csaba and my rifle squad.

The Csaba took two pins, but my rifle squad suffered a direct hit. I sent them down to half the damage, losing five of their number. Andrew then said for me to roll to resolve the hit on the Csaba and you’d think I’d have learnt from last time to follow his suggestion. Instead I rolled the additional pins for the rifle squad. A six. I then rolled to resolve the hit on the Csaba and wouldn’t you know I roll a 1 when I needed anything but.

A shot of the middle viewed from the right flank at the end of turn five.

It was bitter consolation to be awarded the first order dice of the turn after that inauspicious start. I used it to good effect however, charging my lieutenant into Andrew’s lieutenant and sticking him through with my bayonets for no loss. The Turan then shifted and opened up with its machine guns on my medic, who went down. Not only did Andrew only score one wound, but my medic saved himself from it!

Meanwhile the Csaba failed to pass its order test due to its pins, while my PTRD team failed to hit the armoured car while it sat fretting. Next Andrew rained shells upon my first LMG squad. Though I put them down, there was little I could do against both the mortar and howitzer, which took them out.

Andrew then opened up his 38T’s machineguns on my rifle squad, but fell one short of causing enough casualties to force a morale test. His second rifle squad tried to act, but failed its order test thanks to a single pin my MG team managed to inflict before the rifle’s could act.

Finally, on the left, my third LMG squad shifted to the right of the barn and took the first Hungarian rifle squad down to one man. He was then promptly finished off by the BA-64, which passed its order test to drive around the far side of the barn and fire its LMG. My artillery observer then ran into the barn. As for my second LMG squad, they failed their order test to advance and went down.

Another shot of the middle at the end of turn five, this time looking from the left.

Turn six and I was barely holding on. Three Hungarian vehicles were in my face and I had been reduced to a single PTRD to deal with them all. On the plus side, Andrew only had a single infantry or artillery unit within range of closing on the objective.

The turn began with the Csaba attempting to see off the rifle squad, but failing to do enough to cause a morale test. Furthermore, the mortar failed to range in again. A plethora of units then made their way into the middle.

The 38T finally saw off my rifle squad via tank shock, and the Hungarian rifle squad moved up. They were joined by my third LMG squad and artillery officer, while my BA-64 sped along the far side of the crossroad. From the right, my second LMG squad also ran toward the middle. My MG put another ping on the second Hungarian rifle squad, while my medic dodged out the way of an assaulting Turan before joining the other units in the middle.

The Turan and Maxim at the end of turn six. The Turan had attempted to run over my medic, how rude!

Finally my PTRD missed the Csaba again, while my lieutenant advanced and fired upon the Hungarian howitzer, but failed to do anything. On the plus side, the Hungarian artillery piece failed to hit anything.

The situation in the middle at the end of turn six.

At the end of turn six we rolled and, while I hoped otherwise, we scored a seventh. It began with my MG, second LMG squad, and BA-64 pouring fire on the Hungarian rifle squad, adding pins and inflicting some casualties. The Csaba then attempted to take out the BA-64 but, while it hit, failed to cause any damage.

Next the Turan turned on my PTRD team, which went down, saving it from any damage. The 38T followed the Turan’s lead and opened up its machineguns on my third LMG squad, which went down. Andrew still managed to kill three, but the NCO was able to pass his last man standing test and stick around.

Andrew then tried to run his remaining rifle squad, only to roll double sixes on his order test! Fittingly, their FUBAR result was to flee, and so they booked it away from the centre as fast as their legs would carry them.

On the right, my lieutenant fired at the Hungarian howitzer, killing a man and seeing the gun go down when it was ordered to fire. Meanwhile the mortar failed to range in on my second LMG squad.

The final order dice of the turn saw my artillery observer assault the Csaba because: why not? The result was much as you would expect: a big fat nothing. (Note: my medic also assaulted the Csaba, though on review it appears some pesky international convention would have that disallowed.)

The outcome in the middle at the end of the battle.

The battle thus ended with me having two infantry squads totalling five men within range of the objective, along with two other units. Andrew however still threatened the area with his Csaba and 38T, thus rendering us in stalemate!

Aftermath

A draw the battle may have been, but what a draw it was. Andrew and I both agreed it was an incredibly hard fought result.  Between Andrew’s prompt neutralisation of my anti-tank capabilities and my wayward artillery strike, I was struggling to hold on.

I didn’t realise until much later but I, yet again, forgot to account for the BA-64 being open topped. That would have changed the Crew Shaken result to Immobilised, though it likely wouldn’t have made a difference. I also forgot to roll for Green for my rifle squad. Clearly I was far too taken up in the moment of being hit by my own artillery strike.

Final Thoughts

Another 10 out of 10 Mitre 10 battle. I remain wholly unperturbed at my artillery observer’s tendency to rain death upon my own units.

Should be more Bolt Action later in the month. Before then I will hopefully have a Warhammer fantasy Battles game to report on. I’ll also have a hobby update post when the mythical basing kits arrive.

Manhunt – Hungary v Soviet

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.

Hungarian deployment.

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.

Repositioned Hungarians at the end of turn one.

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.

Soviet forces advance through the field toward the Hungarian position in the village.

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.

My artillery forward observer scouts the village, ready to call in the barrage.

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.

Soviet forces outflank Hungarian forces in the village.

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.

Hungarian infantry out flank my mortar team and artillery forward observer.

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 action in the corner next to the field.

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.

Aftermath

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Demolition – Fallschirmjäger v Soviet

Hello Comrade, it has been a while. I am sure you knew however that it would only be a matter of time before I made a new Bolt Action post.

Today we return to the eastern front, 1944, as Matthew’s fallschirmjäger take on my Soviets.

Battlefield and Mission

We rolled Demolition for the mission. In this mission, we each have a single objective marker placed in our deployment zones. If an enemy unit is within base contact of the objective at the end of a turn, the objective is destroyed and the destroying side seizes victory.

The battlefield.

I won the roll off and opted for the side with the fields. The below description of the battlefield is from my perspective.

The ground on my left flank was open, with a road entering from my side a little in from the left table edge. This road ran on a slight diagonal up to a village roughly at the centre line. The road continued off the opposite side of the table, with a second road intersecting it at the village. This second road ran left-right, roughly along the centre line, until it veered slightly forward after passing a hill before heading off the right-hand side.

The village on my left.

To the left of the intersection in the middle of the village was a small church, while the far left of the field was open. Fences created a small yard around the church. Two houses sat on the other side of the road to the church at the intersection. One was north of the left-right running branch of the road, while the other was to the south. A third house was further along on the southern side of the road, roughly near the centre of the battlefield.

A small wood sat on my table edge just left of centre. It was here I positioned my objective marker. To the right of the wood the ground was clear until the fields on the right flank. Forward of this central portion, passed the central house and on the other side of the road, was a wooded hill. Beyond the hill, the far side of the field was clear.

Another shot of the battlefield.

On the right flank was a field against my table edge, a field width away again from the right-hand side. A barn was positioned forward of this field, to the right of which was another field spanning to the table edge. Forward of the fields was the road. Finally, on the far mid-right was another small wood. It was in this wood Matthew placed his objective.

Disposition of Forces

My forces, all regular except where stated, comprised of:

  • captain with two staff
  • 1st Lieutenant with two staff
  • 12 man rifle squad with anti-tank grenades (inexperienced)
  • Three LMG squads with 12 men, including an LMG
  • SMG squad with 12 men
  • Tank rider squad with 7 men (veteran)
  • MG team
  • Sniper team (veteran
  • Two Zis-3 divisional guns
  • T34-85
  • Half-track (inexperienced, I don’t have a suitable Allied half-track model, so it is a captured Hanomag)

Matthew’s forces, all veteran, were:

  • 1st Lieutenant with one staff
  • 10 man fallschirmjäger squad with LMG
  • 7 man fallschirmjäger SMG squad
  • Flamethrower team
  • Medium mortar team with spotter
  • Sniper team
  • Pak-40
  • Puma armoured car
  • Tiger I
  • Hanomag half-track

Order of Battle

The German left flank.

As mentioned above, I placed my objective in the wood on my mid-left and Matthew did likewise (my far-right). Matthew placed his Lieutenant next to the objective with his mortar to the left of the wood, while the spotter was on the far left beyond the church. Also on my far right was arrayed the hanomag, behind which was the SMG team, and Tiger. The rifle squad was left of these units.

The Puma, Pak-40, and German sniper.

Meanwhile, on my far left, the Puma was positioned on the road with the Pak-40 next to it. Finally, the flamethrower team was right of the road behind the house, while the sniper team was positioned behind the church next to the spotter.

A sweeping shot of the Soviet deployment.

As for my forces, I placed one Zis on my far left covering the road. The second I positioned in the middle of my line, covering the road between the hill and barn. On my mid-left, my Maxim, one LMG squad, and Captain were all in the wood covering my objective. Forward of them I placed the rifle squad.

The Soviet right flank.

Meanwhile, on my left, the second LMG squad was as far forward in the nearer field as possible, and the third just behind the further field. Behind these squads was my Lieutenant and sniper team. My half-track, SMG team, T34-85, and tank riders were all placed in reserve.

The battle commenced with a salvo of gun fire in the literal sense. My divisional guns opened up on the Puma and Tiger respectively, but shot wide. Both vehicles moved up and returned in kind, with equally unimpressive shooting. The Puma’s bold advance along the road however had brought it quite close. So close in fact I judged it in range of a run order of my rifle squad.

Urah! The Riflemen assault the Puma for the glory of the Soviet Union!

Without need to take an order test thanks to Tank hungers granted from their anti-tank grenades, I charged them left and forward. Needing 6s because of the Puma’s move blunted the assault however, and nothing came of the brave charge.

Meanwhile, on the right flank, my second LMG squad advanced up to the left of the barn and my third LMG squad advanced halfway through the far field. The two squads then opened up on the fallschirmjäger rifle quad.

Brave Soviet heroes advance through the distant fields toward the fascists.

Where my guns couldn’t hit the backside of a barn, my riflemen were crack marksmen and I managed to pick off three or four of the squad. In response, the fallschirmjäger rifles advanced and picked off one man from my second LMG squad.

The sniper skulks around behind the church.

The rest of the turn consisted of moving. The fallschirmjäger SMGs mounted the Hanomag, which moved up almost to the field. My sniper and Lieutenant entered the barn, and the German sniper and flamethrower both ran forward, the sniper behind the church, the flamethrower into the intersection. The Pak-40 went into ambush, as did my Maxim. My first LMG squad and Captain and the enemy Lieutenant all went down. Finally, the mortar failed to range in on my second LMG squad.

Turn two and to my horror it began with two black dice. First the Puma machine gunned my rifle squad, though it only lost two men. It wasn’t all bad either, as I rolled a 5 on their Green test, turning them regular. The Tiger then tried to take out my Zis again, but failed.

A red dice was drawn and I knew I had to act with the rifle squad. The flamethrower team was closing in and if they didn’t act now, they’d be burnt bread. Unfortunately their one pin from the Puma’s machinegun fire meant an order test. An order test I subsequently failed. The next dice was black and it was all over for the rifle squad. Half the squad was burned alive by the advancing flamethrower while the others fled in terror. First blood to the Fascists!

German forces move to blunt the Soviet advance.

Thankfully the right flank was looking a little better. Though my sniper missed the mortar team, an order to snap to from the Lieutenant saw the Lieutenant and my LMG squads advance. The third squad were now at the far end of the field, while the second squad crossed the road.

They poured fire into the fallschirmjäger rifles, culling them to three men. In response, the fallschirmjäger SMGs advanced out the Hanomag and opened up on my third LMG squad, killing half of them. The squad held its nerve however and stuck around.

The left-most Zis-3 faces down the Puma armoured car.

The rest of the turn was more poor gunnery from the divisional guns and movement. The sniper headed into the church, and my T34-85 arrived carrying the valiant tank riders on my far right. It moved up into the far field, hugging the right side.

Turn three opened with a tide of red. The divisional guns continued to demonstrate an impressive ability to be wholly ineffective. The crew in the middled missed yet again, while the gun on my left flank fired a dud that bounced off the Puma.

The true might of the Red Army is, of course, its people. The Lieutenant again ordered the second and third LMG squads to snap to. Unfortunately the third squad was too busy cowering from SMG fire. I decided to get the Lieutenant to show them how things would be done and had them act next. Firing on the rifle squad, not only did all shots hit, but I wiped out the last three men to a man. This allowed my second LMG squad to advance into the wooded hill, shooting at the mortar team as they moved.

Tiger v T34-85

The third LMG squad were not long for this world, as another three were taken out by SMG fire. A re-rolled morale test however kept them in the fight. In retaliation, my T34-85 unloaded on the SMG squad, which was quickly mopped up by the tank riders. In response the Tiger advanced to the barn. Its cannon missed the T34, but its MG neutralised the last of the third LMG squad.

Meanwhile, on the left, the Puma shifted up the road next to the Zis and out of its arc. Its machinegun took out two of the three crew, but the last man held his nerve, again thanks to a re-roll. The German sniper shifted into position in the church, while the flamethrower team entered the house nearest me, ready to threaten my objective. Finally, back on the right, my half-track entered the fight and drove up left of the barn.

Turn four and my T34’s main gun opened up on the Tiger to no avail. In response, the Tiger returned fire. The devastating 88mm shell was no match for superior Soviet tank design however as it ricocheted harmlessly off the T34’s hull. Unfortunately the barn did not offer my Lieutenant similar protection from the Tiger’s MG fire. With a dreadful tearing sound, the barn was filled with a hail of bullets, killing everything on the ground floor.

Recompense was not long in coming however, with my middle Zis landing a shell that penetrated the side armour of the Tiger and destroyed the tank in an almighty boom. Meanwhile, on my left flank, my other Zis sent a HE shell into the nearest house, killing the flamethrower team inside.

Soviet forces advance following the Tiger being knocked out.

With the Tiger neutralised, I was clear for an all-out advance. Though the Hanomag moved along the road to pester my second LMG squad, the squad were able to shift up to the far side of the wood and take out two of the mortar crew. To check the inevitable, Matthew turned the Pak-40 to face the right flank. I was unfazed however, gunning my half-track forward just short of the far wood and advancing my tank riders across the road.

The Pak40 is turned to cover the German left and all important objective.

On the left, the Puma picked off one man from the first LMG squad, while the sniper took shots at my Captain who kept himself down.

Turn five and the Pak-40, which I had completely forgotten about prior to my half-track gunning it forward, finally came into play. A boom echoed out across the battlefield as it fired, followed by a second explosion as my half-track was totalled, sending the SMG team inside sprawling to the dirt.

Vehicle graveyard on the Soviet forward right.

With the end of the battle looming, and my SMG squad down, I attempted to speed my T34 forward, only to have it fail its order test. The turn’s bad luck continued as the Hanomag opened up on the LMG squad in the wooded hill. My decision not to put them down resulted in all but two of the remaining men losing their lives.

Soviet forces press for the objective.

The near obliteration of the squad did not perturb it however, and it advanced across open ground, rifles firing, toward the objective. Their movement was backed up by the Zis. Buoyed by its destruction of the Tiger, it sent a shell into the Hanomag, immobilising it. My other Zis meanwhile turned to face the Puma.

Other actions for the turn were uneventful, with both snipers trying to take out the opposing force’s officer, and the Puma failing to land shots on the first LMG squad.

The desperate push for the objective.

Turn six and I threw everything at the objective. The SMG squad refused to budge, failing their order test, while both the T34 and tank riders didn’t have the distance to make it. The last two men of the second LMG squad however just had the range and secured it.

The impotent Zis-3. I need to requisition new shells.

The rest of the turn was uneventful, with guns failing to hit (Pak-40 and middle Zis) or inflict damage (left-hand Zis), and both snipers continuing to miss.

The remainder of the second LMG squad seize the objective.

And so turn six concluded with the Soviets destroying the German objective, securing victory for the Motherland!

Aftermath

As ever, there were some small rules errors made here and there early on, but once we were in the swing of things the battle progressed at a pace. And what a battle it was. We both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and while the Soviets certainly controlled the field, there was every chance of a sneaky German win.

Matthew and I both agreed he should have turned the Puma to face my units in the wood and gunned it towards them. By assaulting with the Puma he could have bullied my men off the objective and potentially secured it.

For my part, I’m very happy with how things went and my decision making. The turn one assault on the Puma was a bit silly and got my rifle squad killed but who could resist such a tempting (and hilarious) order?

Final Thoughts

It was so awesome to play Bolt Action again, but what was even better was it was just the first of a Bolt Action double-header. Yes, you read that right: there is a second after action report in the works. So come back next week to read a report on what was hands down the most absurd battle of any game of any system I’ve ever played (yes, even more absurd than Warhammer Fantasy Orcs & Goblin things).

Friday Hobby Check In – April

This past month I’ve been hard at work at my late war German force.

German Forces, 1944-45

With ANZAC Day on a Wednesday this year, I decided to take off the four days around it. So I’ve spent the week furiously painting, and I’m pretty happy with the results.

01 - The Force

I got the officers, medic, and Puma were all done about a fortnight back. But the grenadiers and MG-42 team were assembled last week and painted this.

The officer models are pretty cool, but the medic is my favourite.

I used Army Painter Desert Yellow for the undercoat of the Puma. I sponged on German Camo Medium Brown and then German Camo Dark Green for the camouflage pattern (I know, I’m old school. Also I’m unable to use spray paint beyond undercoating). I’m also big on hand painting my vehicle numbers, symbols, and inspirational messages (see my T-34/85: победа!), and I think they came out ok.

I was out of Army Painter German Fieldgrey, so the MG-42 and grenadiers were undercoated with Army Painter Uniform Grey. I find the MG-42 team a little annoying to put together. It’s the tripod and gun assembly and getting that to fit right with the gunner’s hand, plus the belt from the loader. I think this one was assembled better than my first though. I also didn’t realise the loader’s head was on his base until I was partway through painting (that’s why he’s got a non-covered helmet).

I assembled both grenadier squads with an LMG-42, two panzerfausts (one being aimed, the other carried on the back of a rifleman), and an NCO armed with an STG-44. The box set isn’t bad, but your weapon options are pretty limited in that you only receive three Mauser 98k rifles per sprue (one being aimed, one being cycled, one without arms attach that you can use the advancing arms or carrying arm for). So each squad had a couple of G-43s.

The covered helmets and camo ponchos are painted in the same fashion as the Puma, except the colours are dabbed on with brush. I’ve also put streaks (mostly thin) of German Camo Beige around the place too.

All in all I think they came out well. The 600 point force is an officer, the two grenadier squads, MG-42 team, and the Puma. I didn’t assemble a spare grenadier to escort the officer (I can always use one of my eastern front Heer), but I think I’ll likely take both NCOs with STGs and a panzerfaust or two (I might only be able to afford one, I forget). I just find I tend to keep my officers at the back out of harm’s way – I’m not playing a British force after all!

Next Month

I’ll be working on my Americans next month. I still need to buy a couple of things for them, but I’ve a couple of infantry squads and an M8 to work on in the meantime. I’m not sure how much I’ll get done

A Friday Hobby Check In

Just a quick post to show the things I’ve been working on over the past month.

Soviets

Motivated by my then upcoming game the other week, I painted some new additions to my Soviets for Bolt Action. I did a much better job of assembling a Zis this time round, so the barrel is actually straight. The gun shield is in the wrong spot though I think, but it looks fine to me. Third time’ll be a charm I’m sure.

I also got my light mortar and flamethrower teams done. I undercoated these quite some time ago, so it was good to finally get them done. I’m not sure the light mortar will see use, but I’m sure I’ll field the flamethrower at some point.

Finally, I painted up my T-34/85. Warlord’s vehicles kits are nice, although they don’t have the detail of Rubicon kits. My one issue with this model is that the turret is not removable (the T-34/76 model’s turret is though).

08 - New Soviet Toys.jpg

Through painting all of these I was reminded what I like most about Bolt Action, or 28mm WWII in general: it’s really easy to paint. If you want you can go all out with fancy techniques, but basic techniques of solid colour, washes, and only small amounts of highlighting on key areas (e.g. skin) come out great. Especially for someone like me who is vision impaired, it means I can still get a good looking tabletop army out in good time.

Marshes

Next up, here are some shots of the marshes I made the other week. These were really easy to make. The base is 3mm MDF on which I’ve applied a heavier amount of PVA than usual to glue sand. I made sure to leave areas glue free for where I’d be applying Vallejo Still Water.

Paint them up as usual (base of dark brown, dry brush lighter brown, very light dry brush of bone if desired), flock, and seal. Then mix up Vallejo Still Water with some light brown acrylic paint. Pour that into the sections without sand, wait for it to dry, then put some grass tufts about the play. Very quick and easy.

American Civil War Infantry – 2nd Battalion

07 - ACW Union Infantry

Before all the above, however, I had just finished my second battalion of American Civil War Union infantry – well, painting the men at least. I’m two short, so I still need a couple of extra guys for the officer’s base, but otherwise I just need to base the unit. I also got my Union general done too. Again, he just needs basing.

I don’t really have a time frame on my Union force. It’s been work in progress for quite some time now (closing in on two years I think). I need another box of Union infantry to finish my second battalion and make a third, a couple of extra Zouaves, an artillery box, then to assemble, paint, and base it all (including my cavalry battalion). It’s quite a bit of work when put like that, and without an opponent I don’t really have any motivation to get it all done in quick time.

Hoplites

05 - Hoplites

Finally, here’s a unit of hoplites. I bought a box each of Greek hoplites and Spartan hoplites from Warlord last year for a Kings of War project I came up with (a mythological Greek army).

06 - Hoplites.jpg

It’s another long term project, although if my brother does get around to getting his undead together I might focus more on it. The idea is to have a mix of human units alongside units of mythological creatures like minotaurs, centaurs, and so on. No official list exists for such an army, it’s just a cool thematic idea for friendly games with whoever is willing to play.

Next Up

I’ve decided my next Bolt Action army will be American GIs on the Western Front (France, Holland, and Germany). American infantry I have from the old Normandy box and the M8 I bought at the same time had a lot to do with my choice (I also have the downed US airman figure, I can’t remember what that came with). So I’ll be finishing off the undercoated Bolt Action things I’ve not gotten to (Puma, Tiger, another Stug G, and German officers and medic) and then working on some late war German and American forces. I’ll also be doing some new terrain, including hedgerows and houses.

I’m not sure on a timeframe, but I’m sure I’ll have a Western Front battle before the end of the year.

In the meantime I’ll be working on other things when I can or feel inclined to.

Addendum: I forgot to mention, you may have noticed from my last AARs that I got more roads painted. Well they’re now all done, including some new pieces (short sections, crossroads, and more bends). I might see about hitting them with some matte varnish though to take the sheen off the road surface in certain light.

 

Double Envelopment – Soviet V German – 1000pts

This is the second battle I had last weekend, this time against my brother, Lee.

Battlefield and Mission

I changed the field up from the night before, but kept the forest and marsh theme. We rolled a random mission from the main rulebook, netting Double Envelopment.

Half our force would be in reserve, with no out flanking. We would score one point for each enemy unit destroyed, two for each friendly unit in the enemy deployment zone, and three for each friendly unit that moved off the enemy deployment edge.

Disposition of Forces

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Lee took control of the Soviet force, which was the same as the last battle. This included a 1st lieutenant with one staff, three LMG squads (two with 11 men, one with 10 men, all with a single LMG), conscript rifle squad, 10 man tank rider squad, two Zis-3 divisional guns, a Maxim MMG, and a T-34/76.

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I commanded the German force including a 1st lieutenant with one staff, two veteran Heer squads each with 10 men and LMG, one Heer Pioneer squad with flamethrower, an MG-42 MMG, Hanomag halftrack, Sdkfz 222, and a Panzer IV G.

Order of Battle

Lee deployed one Zis on the road on his right flank, and another in the forest in his centre-left flank. His Maxim was set up in the forest in the centre, conscripts just behind the hill on the right, and one 11 man LMG squad on the far left flank.

I deployed my veteran Heer squads on my left flank, Lieutenant just behind the ridge, and MG-42 on the ridge.

Turn one and I advanced both my Heer squads. They opened fire on the conscripts (though most of the squad was hidden by the hill), adding a couple of pins and killing a few. The conscripts rolled a 5 on their Green test and became regular, but when ordered to move they went down. The Zis guns tried to take out my MG-42 unsuccessfully, while the Maxim fired on one of my Heer squads unsuccessfully.

Meanwhile my MG-42 picked off one of the crew from a Zis team, and the LMG squad on the Soviet left ran up the flank.

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Turn 2 and disaster struck when one of the Zis crews obliterated my MG-42 – something that took me 7 turns of shooting to do in my last game! The Maxim scored some damage on one of the Heer squads, before both advanced. The one on the left inflicted more damage on the conscripts (who went down against when ordered to advance), and the other killed two of the three Maxim crew – the last stayed put though.

Lee’s two LMG squads in reserve both showed up this turn. One ran on the centre left to support the LMG squad that ran further up the left. The other came on behind the conscripts and opened fire on the Heer opposite, scoring hits and kills. For me, the 222 was called to the field and set up behind the forest on the far right, opening up with its MG on the LMG squad opposite. A stray Zis shot was triggered in response.

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Finally, all other reserves failed to materialise.

Turn three and it was wall to wall red dice to begin with. On the left, LMG squads advanced. One fired on my 222, netting a pin. The Zis guns failed to hit anything, along with the Maxim. On the Soviet right, the conscripts passed their order test and with the LMG squad advanced, both netting hits on the Heer on my far left and causing casualties.

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My Heer tried to advance, but both went down. Things went from bad to worse when not only did my reinforcements still fail to materialise, but the T-34 arrived, opened fire on my down Heer, and still scored hits when it needed 6s then 6s!

Meanwhile, on the right, the 222 passed its order test and continued firing on the LMG squad opposite.

Turn 4 and it was more red dice to start the turn. The LMG squad and conscripts on the Soviet right advanced and lay the hurt on the Heer. The other Heer squad stayed down as the T-34 advanced all guns blazing, and the tank riders disembarked to throw down more pain. On my right, the LMG squads advanced and pinned the 222 again, which kept itself down when ordered to fire.

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My halftrack still failed to materialise, but my Panzer IV arrived. I fired on the T-34 with the main gun, but missed, and used the MG on the Zis in the forest, managing to kill a single crew member.

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Finally, I used my Lieutenant to Snap To! my Heer on the far left. The two then conducted an assault on the conscripts, seeing them off without loss.

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Turn 5 and it again began with a tide of red. First the tank riders assaulted and mopped up one of my Heer squads with ease. Then the T-34 tried to take out my Panzer IV, but only netted a pin.

I had my Lieutenant Snap To! my last Heer squad again and conduct a do or die assault on the LMG squad on the Soviet right. My rolling was not good this time, I only scored three kills. The Soviets then struck back with a vengeance, scoring 5s or 6s on five out of their seven dice! And so the Heer and Lieutenant were no more.

My halftrack finally arrived, and put a pin on one of the LMG squads coming at my right flank. But in the very next dice it was blown apart by a Zis, forcing the Pioneers out and down. The LMG squads opened fire on the Pioneers, pinning them further, and killing more members of the squad.

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In positive news, my 222 was able to fire on the LMG squad and net hits even with 2 pins. My Panzer IV also took out the T-34, but its MG didn’t do anything this turn.

Turn 6 and it was clear things were over. Lee moved his squads on the right up, both being in a position to make it off the table in the event of a turn seven. The Pioneers continued to be fired upon and lay on the ground in fear for their lives.

The Panzer IV and 222 did what they could, and I was able to see off one Zis, but it was but token resistance.

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Turn 7 was rolled resulting in two Soviet squads exiting the field through my deployment, as well as the destruction of the Pioneers. The 222 was unable to clear its one pin and went down again, and the Panzer IV and last Zis shot at each other without effect.

Thus the battle concluded.

Aftermath

Another decisive Soviet victory! With two squads off the field, one in my deployment zone, and six of my units destroyed, Lee netted 14 victory points to my 2.

The dice were very much not in my favour. I failed the majority of my order tests, and my shooting was atrocious. The Soviets on the other hand showed strong resolve, and that they were very keen shots.

Addendum: I forgot to add that, yes, I did forget to recce move my 222 every time. I don’t believe it would have made a difference though.

Battle of Pleshchenitsy – Soviet V Germany – 1000pts

After a long hiatus, here’s my first game of Bolt Action for 2018. On the other side of the table was Andrew, and both of us were eager to avoid the stalemate experienced in our last battle (Soviet vs IJA)

The Battlefield and Mission

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Andrew had recently acquired the Road to Berlin campaign book, so we decided to play the Battle of Pleshchenitsy. The scenario calls for a battlefield of dense woodland and shallow marshes. Lacking the latter, I quickly got some together that day (I’ll post up about these in the Future).

The mission for this scenario is Envelopment, just as in the main Bolt Action rulebook. The Germans are defending and score 2 points for every enemy unit destroyed. The Soviet are attacking and score 1 point for every enemy unit destroyed, 2 points for every friendly unit in the enemy deployment zone, and 3 points for every friendly unit that moves off the enemy deployment edge.

In addition, Soviets get a bonus to forward air observers (which the Germans are denied taking). Had I known this beforehand, I might’ve taken one, but probably not. The battle also lasts 8 turns with possible 9th and 10th turns (which neither of us realised till the end of turn six!)

Disposition of Forces

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I took a 1st Lieutenant with one staff, my free 12 man rifle squad with AT grenades, two LMG squads with 11 men including LMG, one LMG squad with 10 men including LMG, a tank rider squad with 10 men, a Maxim MMG, two Zis-3 divisional guns, and a T-34/76. All units were regular (except the free rifle squad of course).

Andrew fielded a 1st Lieutenant with one staff, two Grenadier squads with 10 men including LMG, a sniper team, two MG-42 MMG teams, a Pak40, Schwimwagen, and a Panther (not sure on the variant).

Order of Battle

Andrew deployed one Grenadier squad to the right of the forest on his mid-right flank. In the forest he positioned an MG-42 and the Pak40, as well as the Lieutenant. Just left off centre was positioned the second MG-42, with the sniper team in the forest on the ridge. All other units began in reserve.

I elected my T-34/76, tank riders, and 10 man LMG squad to be placed in reserve and out flanking (which the scenario allowed). Secretly I noted that the T-34 and tank riders would come on my right flank and LMG squad on my left. The rest of my force formed the first wave.

Before the start of the battle, a preparatory bombardment rained down on the Germans. The Pak and sniper team escaped without a scratch, the grenadiers and one of the MG-42s suffered one pin, and the Lieutenant and other MG-42 suffered direct hits! They received two pins and lost a man each – the Lieutenant passed his Last Man Standing/50% casualties from shooting test though.

First turn involved a lot of moving and not much else. One MG-42s both rallied (clearing all pins), and the other successfully went into ambush. The Lieutenant failed his order test to rally and went down. The Pak40 and sniper went into ambush, and the Grenadiers moved up and right towards the forest on Andrew’s far flank.

For my part, my first 11 man LMG squad came on the left flank and did the only bit of shooting for the turn, managing to pick off a Grenadier with sharp shooting from the DP-28. Next to them ran the Maxim, with the two Zis guns coming on centre left and just left of the forest in my centre. Towards the marsh in the centre right I ran my second LMG squad, with my conscripts to the right of them.

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Turn 2 provided the first highlight of the battle. The German Lieutenant FUBAR’d his order test and fled to the back of the field. I then moved my LMG squad on the left up and shot at the Grenadiers again, once more causing losses. They failed their order test and went down when Andrew tried to advance them.

My Maxim and conscripts both moved up – which put the conscripts in spotting distance (just) of the sniper team. My second LMG squad moved up into the marsh, in response to which the sniper opted to take a shot and hit, but failed to score a kill. The MG-42s then all opened fire. The first failed to do anything, but the second dropped a couple of brave Soviet soldiers in the LMG squad.

Andrew opted to keep his Panther and Schwimwagen in reserve, but brought on his second Grenadier squad on his left. My Lieutenant dallied around in the forest in the middle.

Finally, my Zis guns tried to take out the MG-42 in the forest opposite and both missed. This would become a theme of the battle.

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Turn 3 and the conscripts advanced, opening fire on the sniper team and scoring a hit! But failed to net a kill. The sniper decided to keep his head down afterwards, which pleased me greatly. What didn’t please me greatly however was how the two MG-42s once again opened fire on my LMG squad in the marsh. More kills and more pins meant they were down for the turn.

My LMG squad on the left continued its successful advance though. And my Maxim moved up beside them to provide support next turn. The Grenadiers were able to pass an order test pick off one of the Maxim crew though.

On the right, the Grenadiers advanced and were joined by the Schwimwagen, who both opened up on the conscripts. The good news was I didn’t roll a 1 on their Green test, the bad news is I didn’t roll a 5 or 6 either. Also, Andrew’s Lieutenant finally decided to rally.

Finally, my Zis guns both missed. Again.

Turn 4 and I was ready to bring my outflanking units on, now they could come on up to 36” in. the Schwimwagen got the first dice however and moved up onto the road, and lay into the conscripts. I tried to get them to run at the Schwimwagen in response, but they decided laying on the road was a better idea.

On the left, my LMG squad continued doing good work, before the first of my out flankers showed up. Bringing on my third LMG squad, I opened up on the weakened Grenadiers, seeing off the rest of the squad. My victory was short lived however as the Panther was next to arrive. Right next to my outflanking LMG squad. 12 MG shots, 11 hits, 11 kills. And the LMG squad was no more.

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I was quick to respond though, bringing on my T-34 and tank riders. I knocked out the Schwimwagen with the main gun and put the hull MG into the Grenadiers. My tank riders them dismounted and opened up on the Grenadiers. This was a mistake, I should have assaulted. Andrew put the grenadiers down, and I scored less than 50% hits from my 20 shots and only a single kill!

Meanwhile, in the centre, things went as they had been. I put my squad in the marsh down as the MGs opened fire again. The Sniper decided to keep his head down once more, and my Zis guns both missed. Their ineptitude was Most Displeasing.

Turn 5 and the Grenadiers netted the first dice, opening fire on the tank riders and killing two. I was able to respond with the next dice though and assaulted the Grenadiers, making short work of them. The MG-42 in the centre turned and fired on the tank riders, but wasn’t very successful, and I moved up the T-34 to cover them.

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On the left, the Maxim decided not to run behind the hill away from the Panther and instead went down. Said Panther opened fire on the LMG squad on that flank. Having seen what it did to the 10 man LMG squad, I put them down. Meanwhile the conscripts decided to stop laying about on the road and ran along ridge beneath the sniper.

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In the centre, things continued as ever. Machine gun fire rained down on the squad hiding in the marsh, and the Zis guns continued to be unable to hit the backside of a barn.

Turn 6 and the T-34 and the tank riders moved off the field. If I’d known it was an 8 turn minimum game, I probably would have kept the T-34 around, but it didn’t really matter. The conscripts passed their order test again, advanced, and opened up on the sniper. Not only did they get a hit, they scored a kill, and the sniper failed his morale o stick around.

The rest of the turn was uneventful, with LMG squads rolling around on the ground as machine gun fire flew every which way. The Maxim ran behind the hill, and I wondered whether the Zis crew had actually brought live shells to the battle or left them all back at the depot.

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Turn 7, 8, and 9 I shall deal with all at once, because they weren’t very exciting. The LMG squads lay on the ground for these three turns while the sound of tearing calico echoed out across the battlefield. By turn 9 Andrew decided to make a move on the Maxim with the Panther, but that was wholly uneventful.

For my part, it turned out the Zis crew had actually brought some live shells! In turn 7 or 8 I finally managed to hit the MG-42, obliterating it. Then, it turn 8 or 9. I hit the Pak40, killing three of the four crew and causing the last to quit the field.

Finally, on the right flank, after two good turns, the conscripts spent the rest of the battle laying down.

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Aftermath

I was a little worried early in the battle when my right flanked look a bit dubious, but as it turned out it was a very solid Soviet victory. With two units having moved off the table, and having destroyed six German units, I netted 12 victory points to Andrew’s 2.

The poor performance of my Zis guns Did Not Impress me. Of the 16 shots they took between them, they only netted two hits! I really regretted not using indirect fire by turn four. For Andrew, his Panther obliterating a squad was very impressive, and his MGs did the job, but his left flank folding was decisive.

 

Retrieving the Reconnaissance – Soviet V Germany – 750pts

Battlefield and Mission

We rolled Top Secret for the mission. The objective was placed at the road intersection near the large building and was represented by a BA-64.

The crew had conducted some reconnaissance, but was knocked out. Our forces would be racing to the site to collect the vital intel and extract it from the AO.

Forces

Soviet (all regular, except the rifle squad)

1st Lieutenant with one staff

Rifle squad with 12 men and AT grenades

Two LMG squads with ten men, including one LMG

LMG squad with ten men (no LMG)

Maxim MMG

Zis-3 divisional gun

T-34/76

German (Pioneers are veteran, Hanomag is inexperienced, rest are regular)

1st Lieutenant with one staff

Two Heer squads with ten men, including LMG and NCO with SMG

Heer Pioneer squad with seven men, including a flamethrower

Hanomag halftrack

Panzer IV G

You will note that the Soviet list is the same I took in my last game against Andrew, but swapping out the sniper for the MMG. I also remembered that the third LMG squad didn’t have an LMG.

I let my brother pick which army to play after the field was set up, mission rolled, and objective placed. He chose the Soviets. My brother also won the roll off and elected to take the side with the forested hill.

Order of Battle

Turn one and I pulled the first dice. I decided I would end the battle as quickly as possible, electing to bring my Hanomag on and Advance up the road to the objective. In response, my brother brought on the T-34, but its main gun went sailing over the Hanomag.

Most of the rest of the turn was fairly uneventful movement onto the table. I brought my two Heer squads on either side of the road, with my Lieutenant behind the one nearer the centre. My brother brought the Maxim on and ran it into the house, the Zis-3 on near the road, but hiding behind the hill from the Panzer IV which had trundled on and failed to land its main gun on the T-34.

The LMG squad with no LMG came on the Soviet left (my right), and one of the ones with an LMG moved on behind the forest. My brother kept his Lieutenant and Rifle squad Down.

With one dice a piece left, I pulled my first and ran my Pioneers out the half-track and collected the objective. My brother brought his final LMG squad on and some sharp DP-28 shooting saw one Pioneer dead.

Turn two and I again pulled the first dice. I elected to Run my Pioneers, who just barely passed their order test. The next four dice went to my brother. The T-34 acted first, moving up and hitting the Hanomag, but only managing a Crew Stunned result. The T-34 also opened up with its MMG, picking off another Pioneer. The Zis-3 tried for a shot on the Pioneers, but missed, while the Maxim put more heat on the Pioneers and killed a third.

The LMG squad on the road moved up further and added another pin to the Pioneers, but didn’t kill any, before my Panzer IV again missed the T-34. Its hull MMG was able to pick off one from the LMG squad on the road though. The second LMG squad advanced through the forest but their fire was ineffective on the Pioneers.

16 - Panzer's Sights

19 - Tank battle

I moved my Heer squad behind my Pioneers up to collect the objective from them. My Lieutenant also shifted up beside them. I wasn’t really squad what to do with the other Heer squad, so they went into Ambush. Finally, my brother moved up the rifles only LMG squad, brother on his Lieutenant near the Maxim, and the Rifle squad came on the other side of the battlefield and ran along the road.

Turn three and my luck continued with the first dice, again! I ran the Heer squad with the objective back towards my deployment edge. In response my brother moved his Lieutenant and ordered the T-34 and rifles only LMG squad to Snap To. Both advanced and opened fire on the Heer squad with the objective. Three men dead and a pin later, I moved my Panzer IV into action. My machine gun fire was useless, but my main gun hit the T-34, but only just. A six on the damage roll put the Soviet tank On Fire, but my brother passed the morale test and the tank fought on.

Next Zis-3 tried for a shot on the Heer with the objective, but missed. Meanwhile the Rifle squad continued to run up, LMG squads with LMGs advanced and added another pin and two more casualties to the Heer squad. The Maxim didn’t have any shots, and my second Heer squad were Rather Ineffective. My Hanomag decided just staying put was a Good Idea, while the Pioneer’s Rallied and cleared all their pins.

Turn four and what do you know, I drew the first dice. I ordered the Heer with the objective to Run and they promptly passed their order test and got the hell out of the AO. With the intel secure, victory went to Germany!

Aftermath

Basically it came down to me having a transport. Without it, the Pioneers wouldn’t have been able to reach the objective turn one. That’s not to say it was a done deal from the start. The order of dice pulled also went strongly in my favour. If any of the Soviet units had been able to act sooner in turns two or three, I likely would’ve faced more pins and casualties which would have severely impacted my ability to get out with the intel.

It was a fun game though and both of us enjoyed it. It never ceases to impress either of us how smooth the Bolt Action rules system is every time we play.

 

 

War in the Far East – Soviet V Japan – 750pts – Demolition

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!

Battlefield

Never mind Sky Panzer, 37mm, and the Maxim – Andrew forgot his Chihi and AT gun, so I lent him the models for proxies.

Forces

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

Sniper team

T-34/76

 

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

MMG team

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.

06 - Sniper team in the barn

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).

13 - T2 The centre

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.

15 - T2 Japanese line

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.

18 - T3 T34 v Chihi

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.

25 - T4 The Bloody Centre.jpg

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.

26 - T4 Japs in the trees

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.

Aftermath

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.

Next Time

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.