Friday, January 4, 2013

Bolt Action Batrep: Tanks!

I have *almost* (got 4 Soviet Scouts and two flamethrower figs unpainted) got my entire BA collection painted. Their first encounter as a cohesive, combined arms, force was vs Nathan's Panzerfaust and STG-44 totin German Vets, with a heavy leavening of Volksgrenadiers. His army packs a scary amount of firepower. But were my Soviets scared? No, don't be silly, they are metal miniatures. Ahem. This was the first time both of us took a tank. I have to say they were underwhelming, in that they didn't manage to win the battle on their own.. I think this will be a game where infantry can definitely live without their armoured support and tanks will have to face serious risks (that unit lurking behind the hedge has four Panzerfausts...) to make up for the opportunity cost - almost two properly equipped infantry squads. The mission was 'Demolition'
Nathan had his vet CO with two Assault rifle buddies, three Vet squads, another two Volksgrenadier Squads (like normal green troops, with the chance of becoming Vets!), a 75mm Infantry Gun, an 8cm Mortar, a sniper and his new late model Panzer IV. My Soviets were led by their Vet Lieutenant, one buddy (always there to catch that bullet), two Vet squads with SMGs, LMG and Panzerfaust, a regular recon squad, a 12.7mm DsHK HMG, a 120mm Mortar (that 3D6 worth of HE, right there), sniper, flamethrower, free Green Squad and my trusty new T-34/85. Our tanks are identical statwise, in this game - medium tanks with heavy AT guns.

Demolition is the Bolt Action Equivalent of the FOW mission 'Encounter'. Both sides defend a fixed objective, while attacking their enemy's. Half the units are in reserve, and can arrive on the flanks.  Nathan's Volks Grenadiers, sniper, tank. and field gun were in reserve. I had my Vets, flamethrower, and tank in reserve. 

My plan was to try and hit Nathan's objective with a right hook, while my heavy weapons held the line. I suspect Nathan's plan was:
1.kill all my flankers
2. ....
3 profit! (none of his troops crossed half way).

The battle started promisingly enough for me. I was ranging in my heavy Mortar on Nathans Mortar, which I was also subjecting to sustained attention from my sniper. Meanwhile, the regulars were beginning to run around the right side. Indirect fire is kinda 'interesting' in Bolt Action. Turn 1 it is 6+ to range in, then 5+ etc. Unless the target moves. In that sense, my 120mm mortar wasn't any more useful than the 8cm one (both are likely to persuade their target to move) except that the 120mm mortar is scarier for tanks.

By the second turn, Nathan decided it was smoke rather than HE for his mortar. This too is 6+ to range in, otherwise your opponent moves the smoke 6". After the smoke dropped to the left of my sniper and observer, it made a handy piece of LOS blocker for my tank, as it rolled on to face the enemy Pz IV. In the bolt-Action battlefield, the only likely modifiers to a tank's shooting will be concealment and movement. So I was aiming for the first stationary shot... 

Turn 3 rolled around and by this point I was feeling good about the game (shows I have much to learn). Nathan's Volksgrenadiers may be cheap, but they struggle to come on from reserve, having already failed turn two. So I brought my flankers on Early - before I had saw what Nathan was doing with his reserves turn 3 - yes that unit in top of shot has just arrived from reserve AFTER my flankers and shot them up. Meanwhile, the tanks missed each other, I cared his by starting to range in on it with the 120mm mortar and I killed his 8cm mortar with my sniper.

More fun followed turn 4 (those who know this mission are seeing the counter tick over but not much talk of forward progress...) when I took aim at his tank again  - after it moved to avoid 3D6 HE worth of Pen on top armour and....
...By bye Fascist tank. Meanwhile, the troops that actually mattered were getting shot to pieces on the top right: sandwiched between the arriving VolksGrenadiers and two squads of Vets and their CO, who decided not to bother with attacking and really make the flankers life a misery. I was quickly losing men from the regulars, so I passed the order to the flamethrower to get ready for turn 5. 

Because immediately after feeling pleased with myself for being one tank up on the enemy, I realised that my tank wasn't doing me much good. I wanted to advance onto the objective but between me and it were three squads of Vets with panzerfausts AND whatever was going to be left of the VolksGrenadiers.  So I thre in the flamethrower and prayed. It maanged to hit a Vet squad, hitting and massively pinning them but they passed their motivation to remain on the board and the flamethrower ran out of fuel. 

At this point, our attacks were pretty much stalled and now it was just a dirt scramble to inflict casualties to claim some sort of 'moral' victory. I did what I should have done turns ago and threw my other infantry units toward the middle, to try and get some pins/kills. Had this been done earlier, it might have paved the way to roll forward the tank. Sure I could have lost the tank in the process to the enemy tank, but better a 66% alive (Schrodinger's Tank?) tank on the way to where it needed to be than the fully alive and largely irrelevant one I had. 

Here is the summing up. that road in the middle is over halfway. As you can see, neither objective was really in any danger. Oh well - lets chalk that up to (damned fun) experience and aim to mount a more credible attack next time.

(edit) Look - A Japanese list:

The Bansai rule isn't a million miles away from the one I suggested and I like their morale rules. Doesn't have an extra 'bombs on sticks' AT team (I guess that is subsumed into giving infantry AT grenades) but does have bicycles!

In other news, project Pike & Shotte has made some progress. On the one hand, I can't find my Swedish bitz anywhere, which is a bit of a blow to my efforts to field a Swedish 'Yellow' Regt at the sentre of the force. On the other hand, I have mocked up some basing (seen here with two Scots and one Saxon set of one pike, two shotte) and like the idea of 12 Pike on a 80mm x 60mm with shotte 8cm x 4cm. I have (thanks to the 'Pro Painter') almost all the Foote already painted.

 Jason and I had a chat and have settled on 8 cav per unit. I have five sets worth of the Pike Shotte, so  the focus is really on getting more Cav. Of course, I could just field my guys (I have enough to make it 3/5ths Scots) as combined Parliament and Covenanters at Marsden Moor. Jason really likes the idea, I am just not sure about this ECW thing though. I may yet relent, as he does already have Prince Rupert fig and I could still use some Cuirassers.



  1. Very enjoyable report, nice pictures!

  2. Hey Jamie,

    Good report. Those fully maxed out Stg-44 toting vets seem pretty hardcore. Good thing they are a long way from Manchuria!

    Japanese list is interesting...rules are about what I expected. Larger squad sizes are cool though now I need more models!


  3. @ @ Styx and Phil, thanks guys!

    @ Kruger - don't fear the Vets, fear the VolksGrenadiers. I don't have a copy of the German army book but I hear rumours they are a 40pt (for 5 guys) unit with assault rifles. And they might become Vets if they get (Very) lucky. Inexperienced troops just melt under fire though, so key thing is not to be a total idiot and not let them arrive from reserve AFTER you have activated. Who would be that dumb?

  4. Great looking game Jamie- the T34 looks good.

  5. Cheers Craig. Tank is a show pony.

  6. Cool report Jamie!
    My BA Yanks book just shipped, I figure with Chesty Puller I won't need no frickin tanks.;-)
    You'll have to try out Force on Force as well.