Got down to the Dueling Grounds last night for a game of Bolt Action with Nick the Lemming who's biased and Austrian-influenced AAR you can read at the link.
We played two games of "Hold Until Relieved", with me as the attacker in the first game, and then swapping roles in the second. Nick ran his German Gebirgsjaeger (or as he calls them, "gerbil herders") rain-of-death force, and I ran a slightly tweaked version of my Russians, with:
Vet. 1st Lt. and Buddy, SMGs
9 man Vet squad with LMG
9 man regular squad with LMG
5 man regular squad with LMG
Rookie medium mortar and spotter
Vet. PTRD team
Free 11 man Green squad with LMG and AT grenades.
Nick set up his first two squads in cover around our (curiously oversized) objective at the centre of the table, with the rest due to come on in 1st wave or reserves. You can tell they're secretly Austrian by the way the Tyrolian snows cling to their boots.
I split my squads up so they could take advantage of cover, putting the vets, observer, and PTRD on one side:
The mortar, my regulars, and my officer on the other:
I actually put my rookies in Nick's backfield, and promptly forgot to have them got hidden. You know, in case Nick got the first activation. Which he did, and proceeded to unload assault rifle death on my rooks. They bravely passed their morale check (in retrospect, we forgot to check their Green status), assaulted the Germans in turn on the next activation, and were slaughtered. I never got to take a picture of them on the table, though I did get a nice aerial shot of the Germans who wiped them out.
At this point, my medium mortar crew decided to buck for the Order of Lenin, and dropped a shell square on the German squad you see at the bottom of the above picture. Needed a 6 to range in, then rolled 5 hits.
Then the next turn, they did it again.
The 12-sider was the range marker. Boom!
While these festivities were carrying on, my infantry moved up under cover. I sent the veterans and large regular squad towards the forest (now German-free), and the small squad of regulars towards the ruined farmhouse on my right. I wanted a firebase to pepper Nick's remaining squads as they advanced to relieve their comrades.
My lieutenant and his attendant bullet-catcher moved up behind the infantry, spurring them to heroic efforts.
On the next turn, my small squad set up shop in the ruins, and began tagging Nick's squads with pin markers. You can tell in the picture below how much my lads have suffered from the impact of Fascist depredations on our supply chain. The condition of their uniforms has gone to hell.
I somehow managed not to get pictures of the next activation, though it was key.
By this point, my vets had moved up to just within assault distance of the squad Nick had remaining on the objective. Assaults are decisive, and they can go a long way towards balancing a game. While Nick's assault rifle veterans are a scary prospect, their advantage in shooting is greater than their advantage when things get personal. With that in mind, I threw my veterans into the fray, and cleared the objective.
I then brought up my regulars and officer:
And prepared to weather Nick's counter-attack.
Things went pretty quickly from that point. My mortar tagged another of Nick's squads, reducing them to gerbil-burgers, and Nick pushed up another squad, firing as he went. I sent in my last three veterans to assault them, and my boys won, though they were down to their last man.
There were a few shenanigans involving his officer (who just refused to go down despite a hail of gunfire), but we had taken the objective. Urrah!
Nick then suggested we swap roles, and I set up my bigger squads in defense.
That's the vets on my half of the table, the regulars on Nick's. I have to say, while the gerbilators are scary enough when you outnumber them two to one and can fire for effect, they're a hell of a lot scarier when they outnumber you, your forces are scattered, and they can concentrate fire from multiple squads on a single target. Let me illustrate.
Why yes, both my big infantry squads HAVE been entirely removed from the table, despite having gone to ground in cover, thank you very much. And yes, Nick's Austrian gerbil-bangers have managed to approach withing spitting distance of the objective. Urrah.
The one bright light in an otherwise grim set of turns was I'd managed to get my entire force on the table turn one (while my dice ranged widely over the game, I generally got important rolls when I needed them). Having decided hiding was a much better tactic than trying to shoot it out, I had my remaining infantry cower in the gully out of sight of the Germans and their terrifying super-weapons, while my officer had a smoke and a think-over. This left the mortar and PTRD to inflict casualties, which they did with their usual aplomb.
My mortar blew away yet another squad, while the PTRD piled up a few casualties of its own. The Germans eventually took out both units, but they'd occupied attention long enough to bring us to turn 6. Nick placed two of his units on Ambush, meaning any of my squads that peeked their heads out would get shot up, but if I could get just one infantryman on the objective, I'd contest it. You can see the situation below:
I ran out the small squad of regulars. Nick popped one ambush, but saved the others for the remaining infantry unit. He unloaded, but only a couple of my guys went down. I had the other squads hold in place, and we were at the end of turn 6 with the objective contested. It was a 50/50 shot we'd have another turn, and I caught a break. Game over, tied.
I still had a squad in reserve, which meant even if we'd had another round, I still could have pulled it out. Nick likely could have gotten a couple squads of shooting in, however, and that could easily have taken out even the full-strength rookie squad. Close thing, either way.
It's been a while since I played BA, but I'm damned if I know why. It's loads of fun, resolves quickly, and gives me pretty much everything I need from a WWII game. While I am going to focus on finishing up my 400 points of Dystopian Wars, last night has me jazzed about BA again, and I think finishing out the 500 point list will be next on the ticket.
In the meantime, I give the Heroes of the People of the Soviet Union, the humble 82mm mortar squad.