Friday, 5 June 2015

Bolt Action: D-Day roadblock

Last week we got in the first game with our new 4Ground buildings. We decided to play a home brewed D-Day scenario where a German armoured detachment on its way to counter-attack the beachhead finds its path blocked by heavily entrenched paratroopers. The German objective was to defeat the American paratroopers, regain control of the village and push on towards the beach.

In game terms, the Germans had to gain control of two points in the village within 10 turns. The allies could deploy anywhere on the board and be in ambush on the first turn if they so desired. The Germans would enter in a mechanized column along the road. The German force consisted of two Panzer IVs, three squads of 10 SS men, a forward observer, lieutenant and panzerschreck team. This force was divided in roughly two, with the first wave arriving on the first turn and the second wave thereafter. The American force consisted of two squads of 10 paratroopers, two .30cal MMG teams, a sniper team, a bazooka team, a lieutenant and a Sherman that would arrive from reserve.

The board. The Germans would be entering along the road running off the left side of the picture.

The Americans deployed their two infantry squads on either side of the road and quite far forward. One .30cal and the bazooka took up positions in the foremost buildings (closest to the advancing Germans) whilst the remaining teams were kept slightly further back to offer support.

American support weapons

The Germans enter the board in a marching column. A mechanized SS squad had been put on point and advanced confidently down the main road. The Germans were awake and spotted the American bazooka team looming in the first building. They rapidly dismounted and raced for cover whilst simultaneously laying down some suppressing fire. The two Panzers and a second infantry squad followed suit an began fanning out on either side of the road. The American let rip with everything they could bring to bear and a few Germans fell from both infantry squads.

The Germans begin to fan out on either side of the road

The Germans' aim was to advance around either flank, forcing the Americans to split their fire and giving as much cover as possible to the advancing infantry. The Germans planned to set up a fire base just outside the village to give supporting fire along the central road, but this proved to be a big mistake. In no time the squad that had dismounted in the enclosure next to the road had lost three men and become severely pinned down by machine gun and sniper fire.

The first SS-squad rapidly reached the first building (on the right of the road), only to find that half of the large building was occupied by a squad of paratroopers. A few tense moments followed before all hell broke loose. Several grenades went off, a panzerfaust was fired and a number of clips were emptied on full automatic before the SS-men emerged victorious. After also eliminating the bazooka team, the house was securely controlled by the Germans.

Tense moments within the large building guarding the entrance to the village

After this loss, the arrival of the Sherman from reserve was a welcome occurrence for the Americans. The Sherman missed the Panzers, which were none-the-less spooked by this unexpected enemy reinforcement. The Panzers continued to fan out, aiming to hit the enemy simultaneously from all sides. However, in its haste to get out of the line of fire, the lead Panzer took a "shortcut" through some bocage and bogged down (we were playing that bocage could be rammed just like wooden buildings).

American reserves

The Panzer IV attempts to scurry to safety but gets bogged down in bocage with its flank towards the enemy

Fortunately for the Germans, the Panzer disentangled itself promptly and managed to advance into a hull down position from which to open fire on the Sherman. The other Panzer and some truck mounted infantry continued to advance along the right flank of the village while the two other SS-squads (in the large building and in the enclosure) were laying low and trying to recover their nerves (rally command).

German flanking manoeuvre on the right (Panzer IV and tuck-mounted infantry)

The Panzer (naturally) missed the Sherman but then succour arrived from an unexpected source. A German Sd Kfz 251/7 halftrack armed with a 3.7 cm "doorknocker" had moved up the street in order to bring up fire support against the entrenched American infantry and to hopefully draw the Shermans fire. The plucky halftrack fired on the move at the Sherman and, contrary to all expectations, scored a hit that detonated its ammunition supply!

Neither player had really expected that this could happen, but luck was clearly on the German side. The American situation deteriorated rapidly as the Germans got even more lucky and eliminated the heavily entrenched and camouflaged sniper team with small arms fire from across the street. The American .30cal MMG also fell victim to a HE round fire by the Panzer outflanking on the right. In a short span of time, the Americans had lost half of their remaining troops and one of their flanks had collapsed all together!

Sd Kfz 251/7 advances down the road and opens fire

Critical hit!

The Germans continue their flanking manoeuvre on the right whilst well concealed by terrain

The Americans got some small measure of revenge by blowing up the SdKfz 251/7 that had performed so well. The halftrack had advanced overconfidently down the road without regard for the American .30cal MMG team still lodged on the 2nd floor of the building guarding the entrance to the village. The team dropped a hand grenade out of the window straight into the halftrack, which went up in a blaze.

The Sd Kfz 251/7 is put alight by a grenade thrown from an upper floor

However, there was little the Americans could do to stem the now unstoppable German advance. An SS-squad (the squad which had become pinned down in the enclosure) had moved up and was ready to assault the .30cal MMG team that had destroyed the halftrack. In the end, the assault was unnecessary due to yet another lucky shot by the German lieutenant, who eliminated the enemy team with his pistol from across the street!

While this was going on, another SS-squad and a Panzer IV finished their outflanking manoeuvre on the right and took up strong positions from which to fire upon the remaining American infantry guarding the centre of the village as well as barring their axis of retreat. Facing overwhelming fire from three sides, there was little the remaining Americans could do other than retreat towards the only direction they could (away from the village) and thereby hand the village back to the Germans.

SS-infantry cross the street under cover of the Panzer IV

The American situation begins to look desperate

SS-infantry take up positions in the centre of town

Closing thoughts

This game was definitely characterized by freakishly good luck on my part. Everything seemed to go like a breeze, which is completely at odds with my previous experiences of assaulting veteran infantry in a heavily built up area (even when outnumbering them). However, the game was still a blast and proved to be very cinematic and interesting.

The buildings definitely added a new level to our games and I am very pleased that I got them. A few more buildings wouldn't go amiss, but I think the next terrain project will definitely be an effort to add debris and smaller obstacles to the table. Upturned civilian cars, crates, piles of rubble and furniture will definitely bring even more life to the gaming table.

You never know where an evil Nazi might be lurking!

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