Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bolt Action Batrep: Rumble in East Prussia

Nathan had promised me a big surprise in the leadup to our planned game last weekend. Amusingly (for him) I managed to guess just about everything under the sun - wall to wall assault rifles (correct, but not the surprise) - a plethora of pioneer flamethrowers - a heavy tank - the list went on. Nathan had the new armies of Germany book, and armed with a couple of trials vs me, knew massed LMG fire could not stem the Soviet horde. What he brought to our 650 pt clash on a 4'x4' table was wall to wall assault rifles, because why wouldn't you, AND arty support in the form of an 8cm mortar and an infantry gun. He also finally gave in and bought a sniper. His bright idea was that I had to defend this time around, though John was watching the game and totally called it when he said that in my case that probably meant "defender"....

We were playing the mission with three objectives. Nathan had his arty support, two vet assault rifle squads, some Volksgrenadiers (well armed but poor quality) and some German regulars. I had my two veteren assualt squads, another small squad of regulars in a Universal Carrier (my mech recce), my MMG team, sniper and flamethrower team, along with the obligatory 11 man inexperienced infantry squad. Suprisingly - to me - Nathan was opting to use cover to screen his advance, which about halved his speed. 6 turns to cover 3.5' at 6" per turn was an iffy proposition...
I put everything but the mech recce and one assault squad on the table. Now that I know you can come on from a flank (you write it down), I jumped at the chance of putting my most mobile unit in reserve. My other assault squad was to cover whereever I saw Nathan concentrating. Meanwhile, Nathan's prelim beat the odds and achieved something - pinning the vet squad that had to overwatch the road.
 In a bit of 'rules fail', I negelcted to remember that you don't have to test to get an order if not pinned. So my officer did not get across to the pinned squad very quickly. Nathan enjoyed the opportunity to nail them with mortar fire VERY much. Here were see them with now twice the pins.
 We got up to turn three and Nathan was being decidedly timid to my left, while in the center his vets had made the middle trees. We like to treat the woods as an area terrain - only allowing 1' LOS - so they were pretty effectively screened from my MMG and Sniper. His Grenadiers were suitably enthusiastic to my right so I brought on the reserve assault squad to cover that objective while I massed most of my troops to oppose his vets. Now you see my pinned squad is even MORE pinned. Sigh.
 I was positively chafing for some action at this point. And I got great satisfaction out of revealing my reserve mech inf were coming on the right. Turn 4' = 4' toward the enemy backline too. Here they are after racing through that gap in the hedges, pivoting, then laing down LMG fire on the mortar team. Then the infantry de-bussed.
 Nathan was not about to take that lying down so smacked the VolksGrenadiers right back into them. I started out with five regular Razvedki. Their SMGs did quite a lot of damage to the charging Germans. Then the assault went down with his three remaining guys having a crack at me: somehow I lost three guys but still managed to kill three back. So I won by default. My Razvedki's motto is "You come at the King, you best not miss."
 While that was all great fun, there was a developing issue in the centre - Nathan had two completely fresh Vet Assault Rifle armed units, ready to burst out and lay waste to my defenders. My sniper was gone by this stage (victim to German counter-snipers) and my MMG was starting to feel the heat from the German infantry gun. One of my own assault squads was still quite pinned. So I did what any good commander would do and sent in the Strelki as the first wave: Davai! Davai!
 That initial feint went about as well as Nathan's VolksGrenadiers did, though I at least got to keep their activation dice.
I was scrambling to put together a defense, so that I could keep my own Vets fresh for as long as possible so I sent my mech recon unit back careening down the road to light up onw of his units with its LMG. Nathan then pointed out he had Panzerfausts. Whoops. Fortunately the transport on caught fire and the passengers managed to put it out.
Since my other Vet squad was STILL pinned, in had to go my reserve Vets. I just couldn't crack the german Vets but had at least stalled them on turn five, with them still in rough going so still only going to move 6" turn 6. I think I had done it, and held the line.
Turn six was not pretty for me though, I lost all but one out of a Vet assault squad, while my flamethowers, SMGs, and assorted LMG fire hardly seemed to faze the Germans. Time had got on by this point so we never got to do a turn 7 (the dice roll gave an extra turn). So we will never definitely know if the sacrifice of all those Soviets actually managed to stall the ferocious German counter-attack.

Thoughts for the game: 1. Even just the one mechanised squad is incredibly useful. I think I may want two. 2. Assault Rifles are every bit as mean as their reputation suggests. The range of a rifle combined with the ROF and close-combat benifits of a SMG. 3. I can't wait to have even light arty of my own, it seems far more useful than the MMG team I've been using.

And 4. Nathan' terrain is now at the point it is consistently good (as long as I stop him putting down felt fields!). To top this off, he tells me he has ordered some of the awesome 4Ground buildings I have had my eye on. Puts my table to shame really, and well done. Also, good game, Nathan, your Germans are obviously beginning to click into gear.