Thursday, August 29, 2013

Don mess with me.


With summer officially over (I took the Cub back east yesterday), I should be getting back on track as far as blogging goes.  Got in a roaring game of Bolt Action last night, although for some reason, the pics I managed to get are a tad iffy.  It was against my recurring cross-genre opponent Nick the Lemming and his gerbil-herders.  It was also my first 1000 point game, and the first where I ran vehicles.  As I've not played BA for a few months, we spent a fair bit of time looking things up, but still managed to get a game in, set up to clean-up, within 2 hrs.

I ran a force in 2 platoons, with a 1st and 2nd Lt., each with a SMG buddy, my maxed out free unit of inexperienced troops, a 9 man vet. unit and 2 9 man regular units, all armed half SMG half rifle, a 5 man LMG squad, 2 PTRD teams, 2 medium mortars, and a T-34 / 76.  Nick had a number of vet. squads with assault rifles, a medic, a sniper, a Stug, and a Puma.

Nick, with no idea of the fury about to be unleashed.

We rolled "Top Secret" for our mission, and set up a wooded table with a crossroads, and a few marshes / buildings.  Templates marked out areas of thicker woodland (difficult terrain + cover), while the rest of the table was open (trees were cosmetic).

The goal of the scenario is to get a unit of infantry in base contact with the objective (a strategic pile of wood in our case), and then have the unit carry it off-table.  We've house ruled in the past that the porting unit can't run, although I think that may require further discussion; in this game, no one even contacted the objective until the end of turn 3, and not having the run option makes it hard to carry off in time.

Apparently, a hazy day on the taiga.

We also screwed up deployment a bit.  The scenario calls for units to succeed at an order to get on to the table, making it not at all unlikely that some won't make it on for a turn or two.  We were three-quarters of the way through the first turn before we remembered.  This helped me out some, as Nick's force is all veteran, but it was balanced my my failure to recall one the Soviets' key special rules for the first half of the game.

Counter-revolutionaries issued night camo to some of our troops.
I opted for a fairly balanced deployment, with my infantry concentrated in the centre, a mortar on each flank (with their spotters on the opposing flank), the PTRDs on my right, and the T-34 on my left.  The basic plan was to draw fire from his armour with the T-34, and use my numbers to mob the objective.  I've learned from bitter experience against Nick's Germans that I need to close the distance quickly.  At close, or even point-blank range, I can match his firepower, and overwhelm his small, elite squads, but at a distance, he has the advantage.

My half-track, with no idea of the fury about to be unleashed upon it.

Nick also concentrated his infantry in the centre, and brought his armour in on his left.  He managed to pick up some rather disconcerting early kills with the latter, when he managed to wipe a PTRD team, and my LMG squad from the table in the first turn or so.  He also took a shot or two at my T-34, but didn't do more than put a couple of pin markers on it. Despite the initial setback, I decided to gamble a little.  I brought my veteran squad on in their transport (a looted Opel halftrack) on my last activation of the turn.  Even with the losses, I had an advantage in command dive, and if I could get the first activation, I could get a veteran squad on the objective by the top of turn 2.

Tough tank.

Instead, Nick rolled up his Puma (which had an upgraded gun), and blew my poor half-track sky-high, dumping the vets out with multiple pins and casualties.  My other infantry moved up, with one squad seizing the building overlooking the objective, and another taking shelter behind it.  Nick had done the same with a squad on the other side, so we had a bit of a stand-off on our hands.

The fortress of awesometude.  There used to be Germans next to it.  I love SMGs in this game.

I moved my inexperienced, i.e., free, i.e. bullet catching squad up to the edge of the woods.  From there, they could provide covering fire for the strong-point at the objective, and potentially pose a threat to Nick's tank, if it got too close (they're armed with AT grenades).  I then moved up the survivor from the junior lieutenant's unit (the Lt. himself having fallen to Nick's sniper) into contact with the objective.  While I didn't think he'd last the turn, it would mean Nick would have to focus some attention on my brave hero, rather than on the meatier elements of my force.

While we were jockeying for position around the objective, my mortars were doing their usual yeoman service.  In BA, indirect fire weapons select a targeting point, and then roll to range in, with the chance for success increasing the chances for success the following turn.  I rolled a lot of 6es to range in ;)

Yuri, we rolled a 6!

While they don't do much more than put pins on armoured targets, they pose a real threat to infantry, and can compel them to move or risk evisceration.

Nick rather efficiently removed my objective-controlling trooper (Hero of the Soviet Union for that man), and we continued the struggle for the objective.  Either one of us could move a unit into contact, but doing to exposed that unit to considerable firepower, something amply demonstrated when my unit in the building unloaded at point blank range into one of Nicks, and he then returned the favour into my unit which had advanced around the building.

The tanks were in a similar position, each having a shot on the other, and neither wanting to move out of cover to get a clean shot, for fear of exposing themselves.  That little situation resolved itself nicely when my T-34 sent a round clean through the Stug, knocking it out of action.

Did someone want tea?  'Cause that's one hell of a brew-up.

In return, Nick's sniper was doing good service, picking off key members of my smaller teams, including my remaining (and actually effective) officer.  His buddy managed to roll well for morale, however, and inspired by his comrade, took a shot at picking up the objective himself.

Machine gun fire inbound.

Amazingly, Nick managed to whif his effort to snipe the poor bugger, and my lone gunman hoofed it back behind the building into relative cover.  Deciding he could use a little help, I dropped a mortar shell on Nick's sniper (hello 6!), and it was distracting enoiugh to make the until-now deadly German miss his mark.  His Puma had no luck either, despite unloading on the hapless objective runner with its MG.

I now had a clear advantage, as we were basically playing Bloodbowl (a game Nick mysteriously eschews). I needed my runner to hand off the objective to a meatier squad, who'd then move it off the table for me.  The hand-off went well enough, but the new objective holders refused to shift themselves.  With 2 pins on them, they needed to roll a 7 on two dice, but nope, they weren't shifting from their nice, comfy hidey-holes.  No worries, though.  It was only turn 4, I had at least a couple more turns to go.  I'd even pushed the remnants of my veterans forward to screen them from enemy attention.

Veterans screen the withdrawal. 

Well, maybe some worries.  Top of turn 5, they refused to move again.  At this point, I had to seriously re-evaluate my options.  I had at least 12 inches to cover to get the objective off-table.  That meant at least 2 turns of movement left, and I had at most 2 to go.  The only other thing I could do to lock a win would be to table him.  So that's what I set out to do, concentrating fire on his units one-by-one, forcing pins, casualties, and morale checks.  While Nick's troops throw a lot of lead, at the end of the day, there's not that many of them.  With the Stug out of the way, my T-34 had the advantage in armour, I had numbers, and I had the objective.  No reason not to press him.

Left flank, looking bare.

I ended up trading my veteran squad for his remaining infantry, and tearing the Puma up rather badly (immobilized and on fire) by the end of turn 6.  The objective carriers still refused to move however.  We rolled a die to see if the game continued, and it did.  One turn to go, which meant one PTRD shot and one shot from the T-34 to clear the table and win the game.

Just one more hit . . . 

In the end, it was the T-34 that did it, starting a fire that panicked the Puma's crew and prompted them to abandon the vehicle.  Good thing too, because the objective-carrying unit failed their morale test for the third turn in a row.  Someone's got a date with the Kommissar.

"Painted figs play better", they said.  Horsepuckies, say I.

Fun game, and Nick took his loss to the fury of the dice gods in good spirits.  I keep forgetting how much fun BA is.

I've broken down and ordered the Soviet book, should be here in a week or two (waiting to ship with a pre-order of the newest Dresden / Butcher paperback).  Once it arrives, I'll need to revamp my list to get the cossacks going in earnest.  I've been playing around with list ideas in the meantime, including one with double SU-76s and one that crams in an IS-2 ;)  With the cavalry upgrade I'll need to shave some points somewhere, and there's some specific items (tachanka, horse-drawn guns) I'd really like to get in the list as well.  It's entirely possible that I'll end up with multiple Soviet options.  Given I've got enough for a couple of FoW armies stashed in the drawers of shame, it's not at all impossible.

I'm hoping to get a painting post up for the weekend, and then we should be back to the usual Sunday paint, Thursday game posting schedule.  Fingers crossed.



  1. Another great repor, with an excellent looking terrain...I do like your roads...Brave T34!

  2. Congratulations on a well earned victory!

  3. Good read from a good looking and sounding game.

  4. Another nice game, thanks Markus. Of course, if you need any advice in shaving points off, I can tell you where to start, like those mortars.

    If you're really nice, I can even tell you where to stick those mortars...


  5. Interesting game and good BatRep. I am not familiar with Bolt Action but it did provide an entertaining game.

  6. Glad you got in a game. Hope you get some good paint time in this weekend!

  7. Sounds like a dramatic final and a very good game!


  8. Great game and filed under "there's more than one way to skin a cat." Apologies to the cat lovers everywhere.

  9. Great report. I have just ordered some 28mm WW2 figures, surprisingly, so hope to give Bolt Action a go...

  10. Great looking game in which you sound like you had a wonderful summer blow out game. Haven't played BA in sometime, but it is a ruleset I prefer for skirmish. Best, Dean