Friday, 15 August 2014

Basically a Victory - Bolt Action AAR

Although you wouldn't necessarily know it from reading this blog, I have been playing games at a fairly decent rate for the last few months. Some have been boardgames, but most of the actual wargaming has been Bolt Action, which we've used as part of a diabolical plan to lure Wes over from board games to the dark (and expensive) side of proper gaming.

And so it was that I found myself last weekend playing a little 500 point game, using my Partisans (and just saying they were Volkssturm rather than using that list) against Wes' US Army. We played on a roughly 4'x3' table, and as Wes had recently acquired some Sarissa bits and pieces, we combined these with some of my buildings and terrain to make small town square. We played the demolition mission, with Wes attacking a searchlight while I was targeting a small bunker.

The square, kept empty by the large numbers of guns pointing at it
We each had three units starting on the board with more in reserve, and we each had the obligatory sniper - these set up on opposite sides of the square, in the buildings.

Partisans set up defending their searchlight
Both objectives were slightly to my right of the centre, and behind walls. On the first turn, Wes' sniper neatly removed my machine gun team from a shop window, cutting them down as they set up their weapon. In doing this he revealed his position though, and so was himself taken down by my sniper.

Inexperienced partisans loiter in the woods
I moved my inexperienced squad round the back of the building to my left, and left a regular squad guarding the objective. Wes had a mortar on the table and started firing on the searchlight, scoring a lucky hit and killing one of the defenders. He also moved a squad to his left, behind the opposite building.

The rabble creeps behind a building

Reserves started to arrive on the second turn. This posed something of a problem for my inexperienced squad, which had broken cover with the intention of attacking the American mortar and officer, but now found themselves staring down a Sherman, which had arrived right in front of them. The tank opened up with its machine guns, in a most unsporting fashion. The partisans took some heavy casualties but didn't run for it - possibly not having the experience to know how bad the situation was.

Pistols turn out to be  poor choice for trying to outshoot a tank
At the same time, my veteran squad arrived and ran into the building on the left, and more regulars and an officer showed up to give more support on the right. A lot of moving around happened on the right after a lucky miss from the US mortar, to force it to range in again.

Everyone do the "under bombardment" shuffle
Having seen my inexperienced squad appear on their right, the US squad that had started to advance ran back to defend their objective. This left them in the open in front of my sniper, which cost them their NCO.

On the next turn, the Sherman finished the job of mowing down my inexperienced squad, after they failed their orders test and dithered in the open instead of pressing the attack. This did allow my veterans to burst out of the building, charge the tank, and blow off one of its tracks, but in turn they were driven off by the arrival of another US squad just in front of them (veterans know when they're beaten I suppose, and mine ran for it).

The Americans hold their right flank, irritatingly
The sniper continued firing on the squad in the open, pinning it down even more.

The view from the sniper's nest - oh look! Americans!
The frighteningly accurate US mortar had halved the strength of one of my regular squads on the right by now, but they continued moving up, spurred on by the officer. This drew the attention of the US squad, which retraced its steps again, taking up a position behind the building.

Moving up on the right
Thinking they had the advantage, the Americans charged, but things went very badly for them and the squad was wiped out, leaving three of the partisans still able to move up themselves.

It was at this point that the partisan officer saw his moment and darted out towards the bunker... having failed to account for the US tank on ambush at the other side of the square. As he revealed himself, he was taken down by machine gun fire. It was getting decidedly dangerous to cross the street.

Not a good move, as it turned out
The other US squad was now moving on my left, but I'd belatedly realised that the Americans didn't really have time to reach my searchlight, and so I could safely commit everyone to the attack. The remaining partisan squad leapt over the wall and started moving through the square, firing on the US officer crouching behind the opposite wall. Despite pinning him, they left him in the fight.

The last squad comes out to play
The shot up squad then broke cover and moved up, this time being more careful not to expose themselves to fire from the Sherman.

Heroes of the resistance make a move toward the hated invader
Meanwhile, the surviving US squad was crossing the square in the other direction, to face down the partisans making their move.

People actually start moving around in the square
The remnants of my squad ran for it, through the gauntlet of the Sherman's guns. As they were much luckier than the officer they lost only a single man and made it to the objective, needing only to survive the turn to win.

On the objective!
Unfortunately the remaining US squad had other ideas, and they moved back towards the bunker, shooting the poor partisan that hadn't made it behind cover, and causing the other to flee. Curses! 

Annoyingly positioned US infantry protect their bunker
The game was nearly over, but I had an ace still up my sleeve - if my last squad could assault the US officer, they could then clear the wall with a big enough consolidation move and might still be able to reach the bunker on the last turn. They'd taken a single hit from the US officer though, so needed to pass an orders test as they had a pin marker. This made the (inevitable) FUBAR result somewhat ill-timed, as the squad decided instead to run back towards their own lines. The game was over, a hard fought draw.

Officers are scary. Leg it!
Well, that's what the scenario rules say. And, OK, Wes is still a relative novice. But I still reckon I was making the best attempt to carry out my mission, so I've declared myself the winner anyway. Yes?

Fine. I think my main mistake was in trying to end things too quickly which meant I attacked piecemeal. With a bit more planning, I could have sent three or even four units across the open ground at the same time. As it was, they were taking turns, and each got a turn to be shot up. Still, you live and learn, so on to the next game!


  1. I see you're playing on a subbuteo pitch. Did you flick your models into position?

  2. The back of a subbuteo pitch actually - that's a bona fide battlefield I think you'll find.