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Xenophon's Ghost covers military history and wargaming from the ancient period to modern times.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bolt Action Test Game #1 - Envelopment

Ryan and I tried out my Axis & Allies minis-based Bolt Action lists in a game.  We used Scenario 1: Envelopment.  Both of us chose the tank option for the lists.  Ryan defended as the Americans, and I tried to bully my way across the field as a Wehrmacht platoon.  The going was rough.

Five Minute Buildings

Lacking urban terrain, I raided the recycling bin for cardboard, sketching out four buildings free hand.
Two bombed out buildings
Our Village Center
After a few minutes of work with scissors, hobby knife, and tape, we had four buildings for our village.   Using my other terrain, the dining table was transformed into a battlefield relatively quickly.

Initial American set-up


HMG on Hill / Tank Trap nearby
The attackers entered from the south.  Ryan held his Bazooka team and M4 Sherman in reserve.  He placed a Heavy MG on a hill, and the unit ended up earning its keep.  The Sherman made it onto the field on Turn 2, but the bazooka failed its order test.  The unit finally joined the fight at the end of Turn 3, and more than earned its keep.  

US Rifle Squad and Officer in building
He also moved infantry into both the woods on his right and the building on his left. 

I deployed the mortar, Panzer IV, and sniper on my left flank. I placed the two infantry squads, MG42 MMG, and officer on the right.  My plan of attack was to move the infantry forward, using cover, try to defeat one US unit in the building, and finish the envelopment on my right flank. I intended to use the other units as pinning/distracting forces.
Game Highlights

Turn 1  - German Sniper killed by HMG, partially attributable to a misunderstanding of the rules on the Penetration bonus. We applied the bonus to the "Hit" roll, not the "Damage" roll.

Turn 2- Germans advance from building to building, with one Wehrmacht squad and the MG42 in the second intact building on the left.  The other squad and officer was in the first damaged building.  Panzer IV in position to support assault.  M4 Sherman enters the field, but stays behind hill. No kills, but one Wermacht squad suffers pin.  German Mortar shoots at HMG, but no luck.

Turn 3 - Panzer IV fires on US squad in building, causing pin with MMG.  Wehrmacht squad assaults the same unit, destroying it after two rounds of close quarters combat.  Only two Germans remains in action at end of combat.  US HMG kills one; Officer kills the other.  Second Wehrmacht squad fails order, thanks to double sixes, panics, and runs away.  German mortar dialing in HMG, but no luck with second shot.  Sherman begins moving to the American left flank.

Turn 3: Moments before Wehrmacht squad in center panics
Turn 4 - Preparing to make a run for it, German officer and MG42 move forward.  Sherman fires all weapons on panicked squad, nearly wiping it out.  German mortar destroyed by US HMG.  Panzer advances and destroys HMG.  Bazooka advances to window, successfully hits Panzer and stuns the crew.

Early Phase of Turn 4

Turn 5 - German MMG and officer advance into deployment zone to gain some victory points.  Both  are subsequently destroyed.  Panzer, with two pins, fails order test. Bazooka scores another hit on the tank, but fails to damage it.  Sherman advances past building and score massive damage on rear armor of Panzer.  Ryan rolled a five and gained eight bonus points (+6 penetration bonus and +2 rear armor), allowing him to roll two damage result die.  The first was a "stun" but the second knocked out the last German unit on the board.

Ryan's Americans - 14 Victory Points
David's Germans - 2 VP

After Action Report

In the spirit of an AAR, we discussed positive and negative aspects of the game.  Ryan provided two pluses and one minus:

-Plus:  The skirmish/small unit aspect of the game.
-Plus:  The order dice system.
-Minus: Tanks are overpowering compared to infantry.

From my point of view, the game went quite well.  It was slow going, at probably 1 1/2 hours for set-up and play, but I know it will speed up significantly in the future. I spent quite a bit of time flipping through the rulebooks for the basics, particularly when the situation dealt with buildings or vehicles..  By Turn 4,  we were playing fairly quickly. 

I am going to reach out on the Bolt Action forum and ask about the rule when firing from a building.   If a soldier is located in the center of a building, but has line of sight through a window, is firing permissible? Or, must the soldier be standing at the window or door?

Get Playing

Although I love the aesthetics of finished armies and beautiful terrain, I definitely prefer to test out games quickly, before the investment of painting time, with material on hand.  My foam core counter test of DBN last year, like my recent play tests of Blitzkrieg Commander II and Bolt Action, have helped me move forward with projects and stay motivated.

We definitely plan some additional play tests in the future!  It will be hard to resist buying some figures if we keep the gaming going...I really want to finish painting the pile of lead that I already own...

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