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