Monday, 15 June 2015

The French take the field again

Let's have a battle report! I took to the Bolt Action field again with my French army, this time against Wes' Americans.

 It's taken me a while to write this post, and in the meantime Wes has put up his own report on proceedings here.

I was using a "Defence of Vichy" list, reasoning that this game represented a what-if scenario where the U.S. invaded mainland France rather than attacking North African territory as part of Operation Torch. It almost makes sense.

Unfortunately, since the American list for Operation Torch uses inexperienced troops, Wes didn't really have enough available and so he used a Market Garden list - which has veterans instead! This was going to be tough.

Thanks to a trick of perspective, the R35 looks
almost comparable to the Sherman here.

We decided on the envelopment scenario, and I won the roll and chose to defend. Neither me nor Wes are fans of the "outflank at the end and score lots of points the defender can't do much about" tactic, so Wes sportingly said he wouldn't use outflanking at all.

We'd decided in advance that we were going to use the night fighting rules, something that we both forgot about during deployment! I suppose I might have deployed differently if I'd remembered, but I'm not sure how exactly.

In the event I split my forces to try and cover both flanks, with just my howitzer in the middle. My tank took the right flank behind the town, with a larger infantry force on the left among some hedgerows.

As we're both used to needing to keep our troops in cover, the extra options thrown up by night fighting caught us both off guard - Wes was able to move his troops in open in the earlier part of the game but his mortar was basically useless as he'd kept his observer too far back and wasn't able to see anything. 

French troops defend the hedgerow from... well, no one really

I suffered quite a lot of pins in the opening barrage, so the delay in hostilities was useful as it gave the French some time to reorganise themselves.

 As Wes' troops moved up into contact with my line, the game divided into two battles. Wes had obligingly sent his forces directly at mine on the flanks, rather than rushing the wide open space in the middle, so most of my force was able to fight.

On my right flank, Wes sent his Sherman, backed by an infantry squad, presumably with the intention of taking out my R35 and clearing a path off the table. My artillery observer called in a strike on the enemy tank - which was clearly misinterpreted by HQ as shells started dropping around the french tank and I was lucky to keep it in the game!

Fortunately the R35 commander was made of stern stuff and recovered to begin a cat and mouse game with the much larger Sherman around the buildings. 

The mortar spotter tries to make out US forces in the gloom

I was able to hold both the tank and infantry back for a while by keeping forces in ambush, but eventually Wes just drove the tank off the table and bagged some victory points, leaving my tank to try to find another target. It found one in the form of the infantry squad, but was able to achieve very little against it.

On my left, my forces holding the hedgerow were a bit more successful. As US infantry advanced toward them they were able to inflict a few casualties, and took out the attackers' machine gun before it could fire a shot.  The Americans kept coming forward, and although I was able to pile pins onto them, I struggled to inflict enough casualties on the veterans - rolling well under average most of the time! 

Americans obligingly line up in front of the French guns

I managed to double my victory points in a Geneva-convention-busting charge by my medic team into the American lieutenant, but that was how it ended for me - Wes got two more units into my deployment zone, although they were heavily pinned and in the open. 

At the very end the dice betrayed me by ending the game after six turns, denying me a chance to wipe out one of these units and turn the tables.

The game therefore ended as:

US - 7 points
France - 4 points

This game was a lot of fun, the night fighting rules add some uncertainty to the game which I liked. I think I should perhaps have been more aggressive though - I needed to wipe out units, but for the first couple of turns I wasn't shooting as I waited for Wes to come to me.  Still, the important thing to learn is that Wes beat me even though Pete can't, so Pete therefore sucks at Bolt Action!


  1. That really is a VERY small tank.

    Do you think the French are noticeably better at defending than attacking? Or is it all much of a muchness?

    1. Isn't it just?

      As we've just bought a car and I've been looking at this stuff, I can tell you that the real life version was shorter and narrower than a Ford Mondeo.

      I can't really say whether the French are better at defending yet having only defended once and that was in the dark. To be honest I don't think there's much in it, although the force I have does lack speed - so that hinders you in attack, but then it also hinders defence too since you can't reposition things as easily.

      Really I think I'm just not so good at defence, my style of play is normally "always attack all the time", so I find hanging back and guarding stuff a bit harder.

      More games needed I think!