Sunday, January 12, 2014

Flamethrowers and tanks! The reinforcements arrive for Bolt Action :-)

Hi folks,

My gaming buddy and I recently took advantage of Warlord Games' vehicle offer (buy 3 vehicles, get 10% off all of them) to add some reinforcements to our armies. He had it easy since he plays only Russians but I've got more challenges as I'm rocking Germans, Americans and British. I got all three because I knew I'd have to start building the scene and having at least two forces was a good way to start. However, for this order I decided to focus on the Germans since they'll be able to play against every other force.

For the game we stepped up to 750 pts and it was a great challenge. Both of us had new units to use and new things to work on. I was particularly interested to see how my flame half track fared. We'd heard that it could be overpowered in the game and so this was a testing match of sorts.

750pts of Germans. I had 8 order dice and the army, front to back, comprised a 6 man squad with 2 LMGs, a 10 man squad with 3 assault rifles, a 6 man squad with 2 panzerfausts, a 3 man command team with assault rifles, a sniper team, an MG42 medium machine gun, the aforementioned flame half track and a half track sporting a 37mm light anti tank gun.

Gergely's veritable horde of Russians was intimidating to face. Three 11 man squads, a commander, a medium machine gun, an anti-tank rifle, a sniper team, a medium mortar with spotter then the reinforcements of a machine gun jeep, a light howitzer and an SU-76 assault gun. Phew, 11 dice of Ruskies coming my way :-)

Our match left me as the attacker going up against the Russian gunline. We nominated the three buildings as the objectives (two you can see here, the other is just out of frame, foreground right) and I went on the offensive. My preliminary bombardment was great, putting pin markers on nearly every Russian unit and even killing the officer's adjutant. Not a bad start. 

So.....flamethrowers....pretty nasty...

This picture shows the effects of a single advance order from the flame half track. I moved up, getting range on both squads and with my two flamethrowers, I could split fire. Flamethrowers automatically hit (18" range for vehicles), putting 2D6 hits (+3 to damage, meaning 2+ to kill infantry) and D3+1 pin markers on each unit. I took out five from squad 1 and four from squad 2 and dumped pin markers all over them. Both squads took their mandatory, post-flame, morale check and failed, despite re-rolls. In one turn I took out 22 infantry and two order dice. Wow!

Luckily for Gergely his reserved Su-76 came in. He'd kept it off the table to avoid the pre-battle barrage. Sadly for him it missed the flame half track and I prepared to burn some more.

Here's where it went wrong for me. Reluctant to expose my flame vehicle to the howitzer and AT rifle I tucked it into the cover of the trees and declared a double flamethrower attack against the Su-76. I was out of range by 1/2"! Damn. The Russians, ignoring the waves of flame just in front of the tank, put an armour piercing shell through the thin plating of the half track and left it destroyed (and probably burning).

I did my best to take out the assault gun but a half track with a light gun isn't going to have a good fight against a more heavily armed and armoured foe. My half track fell victim to another 76mm shell.

From there I did my best to enact revenge but I was just outgunned and unable to turn the tide. I took out a few more troops with my machine gun, who narrowly avoided the mortar's fire before shooting them down at long range. Otherwise my troops just got bogged down and hit by enfilading fire. The panzerfaust squad couldn't make it close enough to shoot at the Su-76 before they were pinned and battered from all sides.

I lost the game as I failed to capture two of the three objectives. In the end I had one and Gergely had one, but with a large chunk of his force intact and mine battered and bruised, the Russians had definitely carried the day. 

The star unit for me was actually the MMG. I can't deny that the flame half track was brutal but I think the plucky MG-42 team who stayed brave as the mortar started zeroing in on them, pinned the infantry and the howitzer then finally turned their gun on the mortar and wiped it out deserve a pat on the back.

From the Russian side the best moment was the MMG jeep. It drove right into my lines (crazy Ivan indeed) and gunned down troops at point blank range. It took fire but survived with just a pin marker, then failed it's order test and reversed manically between two Wermacht squads around a hedge and to safety.

What about flamethrowers? Are they overpowered? 

Gergely thinks no, but I think I need a few more games to really decide. It took out two squads like a dream and had it been a tiny bit closer I think I'd have taken out the Su-76, giving me a chance to burn my way across the field and rolling up one flank. The flammpanzerwagen feels like a lot of eggs in one unit. It's expensive (168 points), pretty vulnerable but has the chance to brutalise the enemy, especially if you take out the main anti tank threats. We'll see what it comes to in future games.

All the best and keep your eyes open for model reviews in short order.

Pete :-)

1 comment:

  1. A very accurate review Pete  I’ve enjoyed reliving our game while reading it.
    Just to add my thoughts:
    Pete’s preparatory bombardment was indeed very successful, but not just because it distributed a fair share of pin markers, but because those pin markers made most of my army useless in the first turn as I failed almost every morale check and so I couldn’t reposition my forces in accordance with Pete’s manoeuvres.
    I was forced to just sit back and look on as Pete’s units arrived and positioned themselves neatly on the battlefield, the halftracks making sure they wouldn’t present themselves as targets for my anti-tank rifle team or light howitzer.
    Even so, I felt pretty confident, because I had the role of defender and because I had 11 order dice at my disposal to match Pete’s 8. My confidence was a bit shaken by the Flammpanzerwagen’s performance. I mean eliminating two 11 man squads and pinning a sniper team with one advance order is really scary, BUT I still don’t think it’s overpowered, because this destruction wasn’t just caused by its two flamethrowers and medium machinegun, but also by my crappy dice-rolls. You think I would have been able to pass at least one out of 4 morale checks (two rolls for each infantry unit, thanks to the Soviets’ special rule) … wrong. However, I managed to keep the sniper team on the table surprisingly, so at least some consolation was achieved.
    I agree with Pete, that the turning point was somewhere around my SU-76 turning up and the Flammpanzerwagen not getting close enough to turn it into molten metal. Still, the SU-76 would have meant little, had I not upgraded it with the “Versatile” rule for 10 extra points. Only because of this rule was I able to fire at the “flame-wagon” with an AP round as a medium anti-tank gun, instead of as a light howitzer. Although a shot from a light howitzer could have been equally devastating.
    All in all the game was a lot of fun. And I actually mean FUN  It included suspense (I was only able to hit the Flammpanzerwagen with the SU-76 on my second or third try), moments of pride (the German preparatory bombardment’s success; the Flammpanzerwagen’s outstanding performance; the Russian medium machinegun moving down the German commander together with his adjutants; the Russian light howitzer brutalizing a German squad that got caught out in the open) and also funny moments (the MG42 realising it actually has the range to shoot at and eliminate the mortar team, that was slowly zeroing in on it; the Russian jeep just driving recklessly through enemy units and shooting at every enemy it passed).
    So far I won a couple and lost a couple of games playing Bolt Action, but the surprising this is, one was as enjoyable as the other. And I think that makes the game so successful for me. Can’t wait to field my Russians in full colour.