Sunday, 28 February 2016
Bolt Action Big Game Part One
I haven't been able to get to the club during the week of late, so I jumped at the chance to do some weekend gaming instead, with a Bolt Action big game being laid on by Mike alongside the official Wessex Wargamers Winchester Venta Belgarum FoG tournament on Saturday. The game involved three of Mike's Cigar Box Battlemats laid end to end with a small fraction of his terrain collection distributed on top to represent 'somewhere in NW Europe' c1944. Any similarity to a certain stretch of Holland in September 1944 was entirely coincidental.
The scenario involved a combined British and American armoured relief column trying to link up with a force of British airborne troops, which had dropped onto a target in the middle of a swarm of SS defenders. My role was to take command of a regular Heer blocking force positioned roughly in the middle of the long table, with orders to hold up the British and American armour until reinforcements could arrive. I would be expecting some armoured back up half way through the initial six turn game but, up until then it looked like I would be heavily outnumbered.
This was immediately apparent when the order dice were counted out....gulp!
I positioned my two infantry squads in a farmhouse and farmyard, with orders to hold their fire until the Tommies and Yanks were within spitting distance. I also had some support in the shape of an MG42 team hidden in a barn, a PaK 40 behind the hedgerows and an 81mm mortar behind the farmhouse, complete with a spotter on the top floor of the farmhouse itself. To complete my rather small kampfgruppe I had a Hetzer in a flanking position and a Hanomag in reserve, just in case my CO needed to make a quick getaway!
The British set up to my right and the Americans to my left, forming two long columns of combined armour and infantry. I decided to keep hidden and issued my Ambush order dice accordingly. However, temptation got the better of my enthusiastic if rather naïve forward observer, who lobbed a mortar round at some Tommies in a field to keep them on their toes. This failed to stop the Allied players from ordering their respective forces forward in a general Advance, with the Sherman tanks to the front and their infantry jogging along in support.
Having been unimpressed by the 81mm mortar teams' efforts last turn, the disappointed forward observer had another go at a stonk, this time on the US infantry advancing up the road to my left front. This pinned them down but achieved little else. However, a rash advance by a British Sherman on the right, ended in a nasty brew up, thanks to the top shooting of my PaK 40 crew who had sprung a well executed Ambush. This stopped the Sherman from shooting an AP round at my Hetzer, so a very promising start and one which made the Allies think twice about driving straight up the middle of the road!
In the third turn nothing much seemed to kick off. This is that weird thing that always seems to happen around half way through a game, with both sides sizing up the opposition before they commit to a firefight. A tentative flank advance by a reckless American M8 Greyhound armoured car brought it into action against my Hetzer. The M8 tried to get behind the Hetzer and proceeded to fire a 37mm round into it's rear armour, only to roll a miss. The surprised Hetzer crew reacted quickly, spinning the vehicle around and firing a 75mm AP shot at the armoured car, only to miss as well!
Meanwhile, the Yank infantry advanced forward on either side of their armoured column and the Tommies moved past the burning Sherman using a Cromwell as cover. I kept my infantry squad on the top floor of the farmhouse in Ambush mode, not wishing to reveal my hand until the Yank infantry were really close, especially as I had no hand held AT capability. Who forgot the Panzerfausts?! I knew that my own tanks were on the way, however, as in the distance the unmistakeable sound of squealing Panther tracks could be heard approaching from my rear.
....to be continued!
(meanwhile, at the other end of the table, the SS were playing their own game of cat and mouse with the paras...or was it the other way round?)