We've formed a tradition in our little gaming group of spending a full day on games at Christmas, and this gives us an opportunity to tackle something we couldn't manage in a typical evening session.
For 2015, we opted for a large scale Bolt Action game. Given the forces available to us, we came up with a "what if?" fall of Berlin scenario in which US and Soviet forces attacked the German defenders on two fronts and tried to link up. I'd written some overcomplicated scenario rules, which we merrily ditched on the day in favour of fighting each other and just seeing who seemed to have won at the end.
Kieron has written a pretty thorough account for this game already, and if I'm honest I generally just look at pictures of other people's battle reports, so I won't rehash too much detail here. Instead, here are my photos from the day, with just a light dash of commentary to give you some vague idea of what's going on.
|The table we set up - all eight feet of it
|Kieron looks pleased about something
|We still haven't started yet, but
Wes is doing his war photographer bit
|Still no forces, but this is the road the Americans would be advancing down
|You can't see much, but there are German defenders in there somewhere.
You can see my Panther peeking round the side of the warehouse.
|The hedgerow offers little protection to the
volkssturm as they await the American forces
|Aiming a big gun down the street seems like a reasonable plan
|As the enemy are sighted, the SS dart forward to a prepared position
so that they can cover the road
|US infantry arrive and move up the road in their
halftrack, supported by machine gun, mortar, and an
extra squad moving up behind the hotel
|The German howitzer and machine gun
bunker open up to little effect
|Having been disorganised by an opening bombardment,
the German defenders scramble to face attackers on both sides
|Wes holds a smoke marker and seems pleased about it
|A second US halftrack arrives
|The Americans advance as cautiously as possible,
when faced with a long open road straight to the enemy
|The Panzer II moves up and starts firing on the US attackers
|A horde of Soviet infantry makes its way
towards the front line, with armoured support
|Attack is the best form of defence - an SS unit barrels into the
warehouse in a halftrack to try to flank the advancing Russians
|A Russian tank arrives and destroys the SS halftrack,
leaving the survivors somewhat exposed and surrounded
|Pete rolls a 6, meaning that the sun rises at the start of turn 2,
giving the defenders a better chance of shooting the
attackers on their way in. It's fair to say he was happy about this outcome.
|German veterans move out of a building to
stem the flow of Russians toward the fence
|The Puma attempts an audacious flanking
maneouver, and survives to immobilise the T-34
|A Sherman and some US infantry creep up, away from the main fighting
|Germans leave the shelter of the building to fire
on the infantry but are shot back by the tank
|The US advance starts to stall on the road
|The rear halftrack is destroyed by the Panzer II,
leaving the survivors pinned and exposed in the street
|A sniper looks over the battlefield...
|... and sees juicy targets piling out of the haltrack wreck
|Taking heart from the presence of the Tiger and the SS,
a volkssturm squad breaks cover to advance into the graveyard
|Having been pinned in the preliminary bombardment,
the (veteran) Panther failed to pass an orders test for three turns,
while the other defenders got on with things around it
|Soviet forces advance on the barricades
|Officers try to keep order as keen but disorganised
volkssturm units swarm around behind the barricades
|American GI's pour out of the hotel and fling themselves
at the Panzer II, but aren't lucky enough to damage it
|The T34/85, having mocked the nervous Panther for a while, is taken
out by the Tiger which had used the road to move to a new firing position
|Soviet forces creep up on the volkssturm barricade
|Vicious close range fighting around the yard...
|... eventually leaves the Russian attack halted on that flank
|Seeing the American attack peter out, the volkssturm in the
graveyard head back towards the barricades to help repel the Soviets
|Despite heavy losses, the volkssturm barricade holds
|Having finally found its nerve, the Panther rolls out,
and slightly inconveniences an empty truck
|With that done, the Panther lurks in the hope
of claiming credit for destroying the T34/85
|Having seen off the infantry assault, the Panzer II moves
to the road and destroys the remaining US halftrack
|The Tiger rolls forward for a shot on the advancing Sherman,
and hits, but fails to cause any damage
|Germans dig in, warily watching the Russian survivors
|With the last dice roll of the game, the US airstrike which had been
"incoming" for several turns arrives... and destroys the Sherman,
which had already taken out the Puma and was
rumbling ominously into the centre of the board
We called the game after (I think) 5 turns - at which point the Americans were basically spent, and Kieron didn't think he had enough Russians left to overwhelm the remaining defenders.
We agreed that this was a German victory, and the attack had been repelled, but the Germans had been badly mauled, and the next Allied offensive in the sector would likely wipe them out.
Although I think Wes had lost interest by the end - his units had largely failed to make it into the fight due to bad luck - it was a fun game and it was very good to see so much of our stuff together on the table.
If we were to do it again, we might give the attackers a few more points to play with - defending is usually easier - but it didn't really feel like a German victory was guaranteed.
Anyway, big game done, what can we do next Christmas?