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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
- Puma armoured car
- Tiger I
- Hanomag half-track
Order of Battle
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
And so turn six concluded with the Soviets destroying the German objective, securing victory for the Motherland!
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?
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).