Thursday, June 15, 2017

Gambioux, More Bolt Action, this time in France '40!

A pair of German AFV nose their way cautiously forward

Another Wednesday Night game at Tom's and it was a pretty good one. The scenario was part of a three scenario mini campaign found in the book France '40, Battles for the Meuse. The scenario itself was a tough one for the French, if you ask me, and I say this as a German player. All they had was an infantry platoon, a 25mm AT Gun, and 3 H-35s. Not much to hold off 4 MK-IIs, 4 MK-IIIs, 2 PzKfw 231s and 2 PzKfw 222s, not to mention a platoon of German infantry.

A view from the German Order of Battle, including variable attachments

A view from the French order of battle
A view of the battlefield from the French side

The objective was to take control of both hills on either side of the table (the hills on the left and right sides of the photo respectively). We Germans therefore planned on moving up the gap between the town and the woods on the left and then taking the bridge on the right and advancing on the other hill from the French rear.

Our plan worked...after a fashion, but it was something of a hollow victory for the Germans, as much of the French garrison escaped...and I get the feeling we shall be seeing them again in the 3rd and last scenario...

The beginning of the German advance

Schisse! A French AT gun has found the range to one of my Mk-IIs..and promptly knocked it out!

The French quickly had us at a disadvantage, they had blocked the gap I mentioned earlier with that burning MK-II, which forced us to advance up the road, much to our chagrin. We managed to get the better of the French AT gun...(ably suppressed by George Buzby) when the French armor showed up.

A clash of steel chariots
The French armor was quickly pinned down by concentrated 20mm fire, and eventually was knocked out for no German losses, with my MK-IIs and the Mk-IIIs (ably commanded by Scott Fischer) bypassing them. 

The German Advance continues

German armor enters the town of Gambioux

Our advance continued against little if any resistance, and the game was called on turn 12 with a resounding German victory. I know this kind of thing was historical in May of 1940, but honestly, I felt badly for the French players, they basically had to watch the Panzerwaffe advance on all fronts over their hapless Poilu. I have been assured the next scenario will be different, but it did feel a bit imbalanced here. I certainly would not want to play the French here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

More from Crete!!! Another Bolt Action Game

I am finally penning this AAR about another Crete game at Tom's house. The game was another scenario from the Skirmish Campaign's book on Crete. It was...bloody for the Australians to say the least, but it looked pretty grim for them starting out. The Germans were dug in on the heights overlooking Retimo Airfield...and they had everything. Captured Italian artillery, Matildas, you name it, they had it.

And what did we beleaguered FJ have? Not much more than three squads, a 8cm Mortar, which at first, was pretty underwhelming, and a Pak 36, which was also very underwhelming. In short, I was expecting to get rolled. The only good news, the Aussies had 10 turns to take the hill. But...we managed to hold out, but the cost wasn't cheap by any means.

The view from the German side across the airfield, you can see one of the Matildas, and the Captured Italian piece.
After some desultory exchanges of fire, and movement of our 3rd squad to a forward position to slow down the Australian advance, the fighting began in earnest right about turn 3 or so.

The Australian infantry advanced up the German left, seeking to winkle the Germans from one position after the other...and they found out this wasn't going to be cheap. 2 MG-34s in a cross fire managed to turn the advance into a horror show, and the pins were stacking like firewood. But it didn't help that the 10 man FJ squad soon got cut down to 3 by British fire from their captured Italian field piece and those damned Matildas.

The Australian advance, just before the carnage begins.

The advanced position soon collapsed onto my position further up the hill, and we hung on for our lives as Australian fire soon began to whittle down our numbers (including a lucky 2" mortar shot that silenced my MG-34!)

The 2" Mortar Round that took out my LMG!

The Australians overrun the advanced position

It wasn't long before things were looking grim, to say the least...and then, finally, the mortar, which had been missing just about every round fired...began to get the range..and it began to take a terrible toll among the Australians.
The Mortar that saved our bacon!

The Australian advance begins to falter under accurate German mortar fire

A closeup of the Australian advance

While the Australian advance in the center was faltering, and one of their tanks was damaged by 37mm fire (which was about all we could manage from the front), their advance up the left was gaining steam, and it looked like we were going to lose another position...when I turned to my fellow Germans...and asked for some mortar was our last two rounds...and boy, did they deliver.

The Australian advance on the German left is finally stopped.

At that point, the Australian player morale cracked, and the game was called. As it was, it was a very near run thing..we had no ammo for the mortar and about 12 guys left out of three squads, a Platoon HQ, a mortar, and a 37mm Gun Crew. Not much at all left if the Aussies tried again. (Which historically, they did not, but the Germans fled during the night).

I think what hurt the Aussies was frankly, our dice were hot, and theirs were not. I saw one poor Aussie player roll 4 consecutive FUBAR rolls with one squad in a row. It was well, to put it mildly, quite ugly as that squad did little more than break to the rear after a couple moves of trying to get forward. Meanwhile, once our mortar's dice got hot, they stayed hot. And it was telling what a well placed 8cm mortar round can accomplish!

The positions at Game End

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Part 2 of the Williamsburg Muster Report

Well, here we get to the good stuff...the photos and games I played! I got into three games over the course of the con. I wish I had done more, but it seemed that as the con wore on, a lot of my events well...canceled. Was that due to the depressed attendance? I dunno. I hope not, as the Muster is a good, fun smaller con that deserves to flourish, it's just had some bad luck lately. I am hoping it comes back from this.

Anyhow, on to the games and pics.

On Friday, I got into a SCW Bolt Action game..Yes, that's right, SCW in 20mm as run by Bob Watts. There was 3 Bolt Action games that Friday, even if the Bolt Action tournament was cancelled due to the organizer being unable to attend the con. The game was simple, the Republicans and Nationalists shot it out for control of a vital crossroads, and well, Dave Luff, my fellow attendee and good friend and I lost, we lost bad to a pair of players new to Bolt Action. We lost one of our two armored cars early, with our only real AT capability, and the rest of the Republican armor pretty much moved at will, gunning us down and making it very difficult to get much of anything started. But the troops looked pretty!

A Republican Whippet charges some Veteran Nationalist troops, (this Whippet survived quite a bit)

Republican troops advancing towards the crossroads

A burning Nationalist BA-6, hit by a lucky shot from a Republican Armored Car.

Nationalist troops at game start

I then played a 28mm Bolt Action game that evening, it was set in 1945 "somewhere in Germany" with a scratch force of Germans holding off a veritable horde of Russians. There was 3 players per side and Dave ran the game quite ably. The Russian goal was to take and hold the three bridges spanning the canal that bisected the middle of the board. they eaked out a minor victory as they managed to take 1, but their efforts began to peter out due to casualties that began to pile up. That's not to say the Germans got off scott free, as they lost quite a bit, including the only dead armored vehicle of the game. (A burning Marder). The terrain was well executed by Dave, all scratchbuilt except for the smaller items.

The board before game start

A view from the German Lines

The soon to be ill-fated center

A pair of German AFV hold off the Soviet horde.

There was so much Bolt Action going on, I broke down and bought a copy. I don't think it will be my primary go-to rules, but it will be a fun "beer and pretzels" game I can put together rapidly. These are some photos from a breathtaking Africa game that was also Bolt Action.

On Saturday, I was disappointed to find that  a Fistful of Tows 3 game didn't go off, I tried to get into a starship game, which turned out to be running that night, rather than the time the GM had seemed to indicate. Oh well, it allowed me time to get some pictures.

After that, and casting about for a game with Dave, we happened upon a 28mm 7TV game which was set in a 70s British Crime Drama (think Dixon of Dock Green). The scenario was simple. The crooks were robbing an armored car, with an assassin in overwatch. What they didn't know? It was a setup by the cops...I played the cops, Dave played the crooks. It was, to say the least, a very wild and woolly game.

First, the crooks pulled up and very quickly took the money, which lead me to pull up and seal off both ends of the main street bisecting the board. This did not go well for me, as the sniper in the pub had me moving a bit slower than I should have, and the two armed detectives split up, with the co-star being punched out by a crook extra! With one dead cop extra (one of the two armored car guards) and the crooks having all the plot points, things were looking grim for the cops.

Then things turned,..dramatically. First, the van exploded on a random event card. This led to it, the driver and another extra catching fire....the van's fire subsequently went out due to plot points spent by Dave, but the driver burned to death, and the other extra, after running after the boss's Jag, (who had so helpfully abandoned him and two other thugs, as well as the assassin), ran to the cops and let himself be arrested rather than burn to death.

Meanwhile, one of the extra cops went after the assassin, in an inexplicable bit of dice luck...he managed to beat down the assassin with his nightstick and make the arrest. (Yeah, this guy needs to be a series regular!) Then, another card random event led to one of the two remaining extras turning out to be a police informant..and guess what he had? A plot point, add in another arrest, and I managed to tie the game up by the time the episode finale rolled around. In all it was a great scenario and the terrain looked awesome...but I found 7TV a bit clunky and Dave agreed.

I mentioned to the GM that he had some great looking terrain that had a Winter of '79 thing going. He agreed and had a good laugh. Some of the terrain (from Sally4th as it turns out) isn't complete, but it looks great, and when complete, will be nothing short of awesome...and it broke down quickly!

He also ran a spy game on the same terrain, which I did not play, but it looked great as well.

One of my last purchases at the con was some French Telegraph Poles from Sally4th, and some hills from the Flea Market.

In short, three pretty solid games. Now, on to part 3, which will be on the Alpha Strike Blog!

UPDATE: I just realized this was our 5th post! I will keep on writing as you keep on reading!