Thursday, January 30, 2014

The German - Russian rematch. Flamethrowers versus howitzers

After my battering in our last game of Bolt Action, Gergely and I decided to throw down for a rematch and see if the Russians could continue their winning ways. To make it as even as possible we took basically the same 750 point forces with a few tweaks and played the same scenario, this time with the Russians on the attack. 

The Germans had 8 order dice with the following troops, all regular: 
 - Lt + 2 men, assault rifles                                     - 5 men with rifles and a panzerfaust
 - 6 men with 2 light machine guns (LMGs)             - 10 men with 3 assault rifles and 2 panzerfausts
 - A regular sniper team                                          - A medium machine gun team (MMG)
 - A SdKfz 250/10 half track with light AT gun       - A SdKfz 250/16 Flammenpanzer half track with MMG

The Russians brought 11 order dice as before with the following (I hope I remember correctly)
 - Lt + man, SMGs                                                - FREE squad of 11 green troops, LMG, Molotovs
 - 11 men, LMG, NCO with SMG                         - 6 veterans with SMGs and tough fighters upgrade
 - MMG team                                                        - Medium mortar with spotter
 - Anti tank rifle team                                              - Sniper team
 - Su-76 assault gun upgraded with AT rounds        - Zis-3 76mm light howitzer/medium AT gun
 - Jeep upgraded with MMG

Going up against the Russians I often feel outgunned simply because they bring so many order dice to the table. My plan was to do my best to focus fire and wipe out units so I could level the playing field and be able to activate units as often as Gergely.  

The Germans deployed mostly in the centre trying to get as many units within 6" of the Lt to help deal with the pins from the preparatory barrage. Luckily for me, the dice was a 1 and the Russians had to come on without their artillery softening up the way. The Su-76 duly rolled on and drew a bead on my AT half track. 

Luckily for the Germans the 76mm shell whizzed by without hitting. Half tracks really aren't built to take on large guns as their armour of 7 isn't worth much when your opponent has a +5 bonus to his penetration rolls. 

The Russian left flank had a hefty group of attackers with veterans, green troops, the AT rifle, Jeep and covering fire from the MMG in the forest.

To deal with them I sent my large squad forward towards the barricade with the Lt in tow. The small rifle squad you can see next to the tower. I decided not to enter the tower for fear of an assault from Gergely's tough, SMG-wielding veterans. In the end though, luck smiled on me and the tough veterans took one pin marker, failed their order test with a double 6 (FUBAR!) and ran off the table. A tough break for the Russians early in the game. This was coupled with my sniper getting a killing shot on the MMG team and, because every sniper shot scores exceptional damage, I could kill the gunner and wipe out the whole team in one go. Two order dice down and I was feeling a bit more confident.

Gergely sent his jeep around the tower along with his freshly upgraded squad of 'green' troops. ***When a squad of green troops takes the first casualty you roll a D6, on a 1 they take extra pins, 2-5 has no effect and a 6 upgrades them to regular....guess what he rolled for them.....again haha). They shot up my rifle squad at close range and my return fire wasn't so good. The panzerfaust missed the jeep and two rifles weren't going to kill much. Luckily the Flammenpanzer could get close enough to torch the jeep. In the background you can clearly see my jealous hands on the Armies of the Soviet Union book. Soon I hope to get the German book to see what sort of special tricks I can bring to the table.

Gergely's backfield was taking fire from my MMG team in the tower as well as the large squad hiding in behind the barricade. I'm really glad I got into cover sooner rather than later because it saved my guys from a lot of casualties.

However I did take some casualties. You can see the Lt's two men in the dirt, which cost me two assault rifles but luckily my commander passed his morale check and didn't run. I don't recall what killed them (the MMG, jeep or green squad I think) but I know the sniper was looking to draw a bead on them all game. Being able to ignore cover modifiers makes these scoped hunters nasty to face.

The Russian mortar spent the whole game throwing explosive shells my way, guided by their brave spotter in the woods. They took out a couple of troops from my double LMG squad (who also got hit with a howitzer shell) and then hit and killed the MMG team in the tower, removing a chunk of firepower from an elevated vantage point....damn.

Unfortunately we don't have more pictures of it but after three 76mm armour piercing shells streaked past its thin armour my half track decided to get out of the firing lane and motored around the flank. It avoided another shell due to the forest's cover then went for broke, closing to point blank range on the Su-76's flank....where it missed....MISSED I TELLS YA!!!

The Su-76 popped into reverse and guess what....didn't miss. We laughed about the poor luck of the Germans here as the shell set the half track on fire. The crew failed their morale check so they bailed out instead of putting out the fire. My most reliable anti tank weapon was gone and I'd lost an order dice curses.

We've jumped on a bit here in the photos but I got lucky. My large squad jumped out from behind the barricades and over the next turns went into the woods, pinned down a squad, moved up behind the Su-76 and blew the tracks off with panzerfausts, leaving it immobilised and facing the wrong way, assaulted the sniper team, moved out to gun down the mortars and then started back towards the howitzer.

Not quite in shot is my dead Lt who ran after the big squad and failed to hit the pinned Russians three turns in a row before they assaulted and killed him.

The LMG support squad kill off the Lt's killers on their way to take on the Su-76 in assault. Because it is open topped we had a fair chance to hurt it.

The Flammenpanzer, for all it's reputation, was a mixed bag. It killed stuff, sure. The jeep, half a squad and the AT rifle all fell to its flames or machine gun rounds. It was also blessed with the good luck to survive an AT shell from the howitzer. Then the comical bad luck game where it failed an order test (3 pins) and reversed. Next turn it passed an order check (2 pins) and raced up the flank. One more burst of speed would put it close enough to take out the howitzer and so it, of course, failed the order test and reversed away from the enemy again. What a yoyo :-)

Fresh from their mortar team kill, the big squad pours on the shots and without the gun shield's protection the crew fell to the bullets. Lesson learned, flank guns if you need to kill them.

The victorious German squad in the Soviet backfield

We had a quick go against the Su-76.

ASSAULT! With just four men though, we couldn't muster killing damage. 

At this point, with just an immobilised assault gun that was pointing the wrong way, Gergely conceded and the Germans held the victory. Revenge was ours for now.

While it turned out to be quite a strong German victory I had some great luck on my side. Gergely failing to get the bombardment was a big one as I had no pins or kills to deal with. Also he was very unlucky that his veterans got a FUBAR result and ran off the field without doing anything. I was also lucky not to lose my half track earlier on because that drew the Russian attention and kept the howitzers off my vulnerable infantry teams. 

Just like the last game this one kept me engaged and challenged throughout. We both enjoyed the back and forth of the game, cheered the other's success and commiserated the bad luck. I'm lucky to have found a gentlemanly opponent who is often generous with LOS or cover and refused to take any favours. I suggested that his veterans should fall back to near the table edge and not run off but he refused the offer and fought on. A lot of fun from the game and I can't wait to play more games.

All the best everyone


PS: I realise that I also inadvertently 'cheated' because I told Gergely that his gun's had a 48" range (light howitzers) when actually they jump to 60" when firing as medium anti tank guns. I think he took a penalty for firing over half range when actually it was under half range for the AT round. Gergely...I apologise :-)

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