Sunday, 28 February 2016

Bolt Action 'Top secret' endgame.

Turn 5.

First dice out is green the Sherman opens fire again with it's MG's but this turn it's hit by the panzerschreck team, just equaling the armour rating of 9 ( penetration 6, die roll 3), for a 'superficial damage' result .....again the crew got lucky! The infantry firefight continues with heavy loss on both sides, but the Americans have two infantry squads left on the table to the Germans one. There's little in the way of tactics in this scenario, both sides have just 6 turns to reach the centre of the table, grab the objective and race back to own table edge to win.

The effectiveness of pinning has become clear to me and the little markers make it easy to keep track as pins are constantly changing, so for example when a squad or team passes an order test, 1 pin is removed from the unit. I'm finding that once a unit has taken 3 or 4 pins it's hard to get it to follow orders. The half track cleared it's pin and fired it's MG into the infantry in the road ahead. Mortar fire was not proving very effective so far as the targets were constantly moving so that they had to re range in each time, but did score a couple of hits at least. The little US recce jeep proved it's worth, firing its 30cal MG on 3 consecutive turns from the cover of the hedgerow, scoring pins and casualties each time.

The value of smaller squads and teams becomes apparent here, for example it struck me that 2 x 10 man squads firing can only put 2 pins max on the target, while 3 x 6 man squads could in theory put down 3 pins on the same target. Every shot counts, the platoon commander fired his SMG for just 2 shots, then fell as a hail of bullets were returned ( no plus 2 on morale throws if within 6" now). Turn 5 ends with the Americans back in control of the secret documents, a lucky dice and a 'run' order could see them win the game in turn 6, the only unit that can really stop them are the veteran grenadiers, but they end the turn heavily pinned and on a 'down' order for self preservation, will they pass the order test to get them back up again?

veteran squad heavily pinned down .... will they assault next turn?

The Sherman was hit and immobilised.

The recce jeep did some good shooting with it's 30 cal MG.

German losses mount up along the table edge.

Turn 6.
I was reading through the latest posts on the Warlord Bolt Action forum this morning and thought this sentence summed up the game pretty well, "Remember what Bolt Action is trying to represent as a game - 'comic-book' infantry fast play. "  That's certainly the case here and I'm loving it!

First dice out is grey, there is only one order, it must go to the battered veteran squad, 'advance' but it has no less than 6 pins and it's NCO has been killed, requires an order test, vets pass on 10 or less (2D6). They need to roll 3 or less to pass, (10 minus 6 pins minus 1 for loss of NCO), and of course they fail. They take a 'down' order dice and it's basically game over, as there is now nothing to prevent the American infantry from escaping back to table edge, the MG42 team also being 'down' for the turn. On the first green dice I ran the squad back down to within 3" of the table edge, game won effectively. I took my eye off the ball for a while and overlooked the fact that the sherman was still vulnerable, and in one of the final orders of the game the panzerschreck team scored 'massive damage' on the tank and it ended the game in flames sadly.

The victorious US infantry dash past the smoking Sherman to win the game.

Go Boys!

The field of battle.
So a win for the Yanks, but only just. An odd scenario I thought as its a race against time so you have to move fast and throw everything into the centre, tactics don't play much of a part as it's a game of attrition. Would be interesting to play it again sometime with slightly adjusted armies maybe more smaller squads ( the advantage of more dice in the bag is another consideration of BA gameplay), possibly an extra MG42 for the Germans as allowed in the lists, replacing the mortar which is not best deployed in such a fast moving game as this. I only missed a couple of things, overlooked a couple of medic save rolls, and forgot once or twice to offer the opportunity to a unit under fire to go 'down' as 'target reacts'. But overall I feel I'm getting a good grip of the rules now and the game flowed really well with very little checking of the book, just referencing my wall chart. I really enjoyed moving the individual soldiers around the table, very tactile and 'old school' and found no issues with measuring movement as it's very forgiving in BA.

The game has certainly left me wanting more, but for the next week or so I'm going to be stripping the table back to finish off those hedges and generally work on improving the terrain. As some scenarios feature 'air strikes' in the form of a ground attack aircraft coming in, I of course had to replace my FoW Typhoon with a larger 1/72nd Airfix kit, first one for over thirty years, felt odd opening the box up, a real flashback in time. Anyway, wasted no time in getting it built, a very simple kit that goes together perfectly, it's already undercoated ready for it's paint job. I reckon if it hovers about 12" above the table on thin brass rod it should look about right.

No, I swear I didn't make plane noises ... just testing for scale!

Could not resist replacing the blurred Airfix pilots head with a 28mm plastic head.

Test hedge section, soaked in PVA glue, cocktail sticks removed and a touch of paint added. Pleased to say it dried out nice and solid so next step is to do the rest of it.

This week I will be  placing my first order for 30mm AWI figures from Graham at Crann Tara, UK distributor for 'Fife & Drum Miniatures'. I'll be painting up for 'Sharpe Practice' rules. I dug out a couple of snaps from 2014 of Fife & Drum examples I painted up, I think you can see the fine scale quality of these figures, slim with long muskets, and approx 30mm tall.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Bolt Action 'Top secret' scenario, turns 3 & 4.

Turn 3.
So we begin turn 3 with both sides waiting to see who gets the first activation, and this time it swings the other way with 3 grey dice being drawn first, giving the Germans a real chance to stop the US infantry carrying off the documents. They opened up with everything available onto the Americans as they attempted to withdraw across the road to safety, putting  another 3 pins on them for a total of 6 and reducing them to just 3 men, I honestly thought it was game over for the Germans before those dice came out the cup, as it seemed inevitable the Americans would carry off the objective, but concentrated firepower stopped them and they failed the required morale test. They dropped the objective as they fled, which can now only be retrieved by another infantry unit, (my interpretation of this rule means that HQ teams can't do it, but I need to check, as I can't see why not?).

The Panzerschreck team moved through the hedge on an 'advance' order and let off a shot at the Sherman's front armour but failed to hit it, the tank having already fired it's MG's at infantry across the road and taken an AP shot at the half track which hit it, but failed to destroy it causing only 'superficial damage' , bit of smoke rising and crew a bit stunned for this turn only, it also takes a pin and a 'down' order dice to show it's immobilised for the current turn. But this gives the third US infantry squad the chance to move through the hedge and dash back towards the objective (red blob!).

The German Grenadiers now began to emerge from the orchard, directly opposite where the objective marker lay, and they take numerous pins and casualties as the Americans pour everything into them, even the commander advances and lets off his SMG, adding another pin and killing one man. The sniper on the first floor of the building puts a pin and kills one member of the MG42 team, this team having done much damage to the US infantry.

Situation start of turn 3.

The Shermans 75mm gun hit the half track immobilising it for the turn.

With the half track temporarily out of action US infantry stream back down the road towards the objective.

A smoking engine, 1pin and a 'down' order for rest of turn.

Anti tank team fires and misses.

M4 Sherman with all guns blazing!

At end of turn 3 the documents have been left in the road by the destroyed squad.

Turn 4.
It's vital for the Americans that the first dice out is green, as the Sherman is vulnerable, the panzerschreck is pointing directly at it's front armour and the crew know that the penetration capability of that weapon can tear clean through. If the first dice is green the Sherman could open up with it's machine guns, giving two 4 shot chances to take out the anti tank weapon before it can shoot, so it's tense! hand in the cup, give the dice a shake up and .............

...It's grey. The tank crew brace themselves, the panzerschreck fires but misses again narrowly (a throw of 1!), phew, next dice out is green and the Sherman reverses slightly to clear the road and opens up with it's MG's to prevent German infantry from moving onto the objective to retrieve it, adding another pin. As pins accrue during a game it becomes more difficult to get troops to follow orders, requiring an 'order test' to activate any unit with pin markers, each pin reducing the score to pass by 1. So a regular infantry squad would have a morale of 9 and three pins would require a 6 or less to pass  (2 D6), in addition, loss of the NCO also reduces the score by 1.

Now a German infantry squad dashes onto the objective, picking up the documents, but takes heavy fire and more pins, reducing it to half strength for the turn and fail a morale test. Again the objective is dropped on the ground, it's a poison chalice as units know they will take withering fire if they grab it. The half track takes an order test for its single pin and fails it, so it gets another 'down' order for turn 4. With 2 squads already lost in the fierce combat only the German veteran squad is left to win the scenario, armed with assault rifles they burst forward from the orchard and the Americans open up with everything! They take pins and casualties from fire from infantry, MG42 and the US sniper who draws a bead on the NCO and down he goes, leaving them without a commander next turn in addition to 3 pins. (Snipers ignore all cover modifiers etc as it is assumed they will wait until a head pops up or they have a clear shot, in addition to being able to select the target figure so do not require the 'exceptional damage' double throw to pick out officers etc).

German Veteran Grenadiers run towards the objective.

Armed to the teeth with assault rifles.

The sniper shoots the German veteran NCO (I must remove that wall section from the base!).

light mortar team threw a 6 to range in on a new target, but the HE failed to wound ( D6 minus 3, I rolled a 3).

Half track failed an order test so can't move this turn.

End of turn 4.

US infantry having a tough fight.

Still all to play for entering turn 5. I should point out that the scenario does allow for reserves to enter on the designated enemy flank up to 24" at this stage, but I threw everything in on turns 1 & 2 as the objective was close to the centre of the table.

Turns 5 & 6 to follow, a dice roll then decides if there is to be a final seventh turn.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Bolt Action 'top secret' scenario, turns 1 & 2.

Time for a refresher battle I think, a solo run though, table set up as shown below. All hedges block line of sight UNLESS squad or team is directly behind it where it is assumed they will have LoS through it and be able to fire through it. Soft and hard cover pretty clear I think, the crop fields represent waist high crops only so no cover moving through it unless on a 'down' order. The small orchard is soft cover too and may block line of sight, although I have left a few open sight lines through it. Remember that in Bolt Action an 'ambush' order given to any unit means it can choose to take it's shot at any time a target becomes visible by moving across it's front etc, so you have to watch out for that.

For this game I simply selected two even sides of:

  • 3 infantry squads of 10 men each commanded by an NCO (marked with a touch of red blossom on the base).
  • 3 support teams per side (selected from :Mg's/anti tank/sniper/mortar) 
  • HQ: commander  1st Lieutenant or equivalent, medics and Observers
  • 1 AFV (Sherman for US and half track for the Germans).

I rolled for scenario, scored a five so it's the 'Top Secret' mission where both sides have to attempt to move on and reach a central objective, retrieve the important secret papers and retreat back to own table edge with them. Everything starts the game off table in 'reserve' mode so requires an order test to activate, with a minus 1 modifier being applied. I rolled for sides with the US winning the more advantageous side in terms of hard cover to assault from.

It's the standard BA 6 turn scenario, with a possible final seventh decided on the roll of a dice. Dice in the cup ready to go.

Turn 1.
The Americans get the first 3 dice out the cup, so get a good initiative and move towards the objective. The Germans can only run up to the hedgerow, ready to advance over it next turn. German observer is also deployed along the hedgerow, from where he can see the US sniper moving into the bombed out building. He is spotting for the mortar team, brought up to put some fire into the large infantry squads heading for the objective, an MG42 team is also deployed along the hedgerow. Two US units fail order tests to come on, an infantry squad and light mortar team sit on the table edge with 'down' orders  and will try again on turn 2. The M4 Sherman moves on in support, but can see little at this stage by way of targets. The German half track takes advantage of the increased road move rate and takes off to get a good position further along the road, it carries medium machine guns front and rear so can pack a punch.  Medics staying close by, things could get tough around that objective shortly.

Overview, the objective is the stacked boxes beside the orchard. One contains the secret document.

German grenadiers mass for the advance.

Two failed order tests on turn 1.

The Sherman moves up into the fight with MG's blazing.

US recce peering through the hedge can see the advancing squads.

Ready to attack!

Turn 2.
No point in holding back, this is a race to retrieve the secret document, so need to get an infantry squad onto the objective, mark which figure is carrying it and retreat back to own table edge. Once again the first 3 dice are green (I gave them a good shake up!), so the infantry race forward and one squad grabs the objective, there are the first exchanges of fire resulting in pins and casualties. The Sherman rolls forward and fires it's MMG's at Germans behind the hedgerow nearest to the objective, getting a pin and killing one Grenadier. US MG team opens fire through the orchard, hitting a german squad, the German response is to advance it's MG42 team and open fire (5 shots for an MG42 to reflect the high rate of fire), killing the US machine gunner ('exceptional damage' 6 followed by 6). With the MG42 team deployed in the open the US sniper takes a potshot and misses. The half track moves further down the road, finding and opens fire, again pinning and causing a casualty to another US squad moving up across the road. Situation at end of turn 2 is shown below, dice left on to show who's doing what hopefully. 

Order dice back in the cup for turn 2.

US infantry move onto the objective, the red dot on base indicates the carrier of the secret document!

Germans move up on the other side of the hedge, ready to attack next turn.

Indirect fire, failed to hit on first shot.

German general advance over the hedgerow and into the orchard.

Half track hit the unit at right of pic, putting a pin on it and killing 1 man.

US plan is to grab the document and carry it back through the gate into the hard cover courtyard and off table.

But the half track hovers menacingly further along the road.

Turn 3 will see some real action and close quarter fighting as the Germans attempt to gain control of the documents before it's too late. Its going to be very much down to what colour dice comes out of the cup first, the Sherman is poised to put some more MG fire into the nearest German squad, and retains the option of loading HE shell to break up the general advance of the infantry or load AP shot and try to take out the armoured car possibly. The Germans need to get more pins on the US squads in order to stop them moving so first dice for them could give them that opportunity to gain initiative.

Turns 3 and 4 will follow shortly.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Painted US infantry a review, and last few bits for now.

I mentioned recently that I had bought 20 painted plastic Warlord US infantry via eBay, and I'm so pleased with them that I thought a little promotion for the painting service would be in order here.

As you can see there are 20 figures, looks like the contents of the 'D Day firefight' US infantry sprues. First thing I noticed, after having built and painted 20 of these same myself, was how well they had been assembled, the hands actually grip the rifles, unlike some of mine! I know how much time and patience it took me to glue the things together so the price of £2.25 per figure seemed well worth it to me, £45.00 for the 20 figures. The paint job is great, very clean and accurate, the faces nicely blended AND they even have eyes! The shades have been carefully selected and are both accurate and very crisply applied. Bases are 2mm MDF, a little thicker than my 'Warlord' bases but it really does not notice that much.

A very neat job, highly recommended if you want a quick way into Bolt Action.They also sell well painted Germans.  Contact:

Very neat work!

Finished the German mortar team, more mid war, but OK.

Last few bits, that's it, I'm completely out of Bolt Action stuff to paint!