Monday, October 28, 2013

Snatch & Grab

So, the boys got together on the weekend for a Mousehouse.1 A buddy of mine, who first introduced me to BA, has been itching to field his Americans but we'd yet to have a chance to play together since my purchasing of the rules and mini's. Several other Moushousers were also in attendance, some of whom are interested in playing and have purchased the books.
'maʊs: haʊs -noun: a) an organised gathering consisting of a group of male friends at the abode of one the group for the purposes of drinking and playing games without the attendance of females; b) the location where said gathering is held.

In short, this was an excellent opportunity for everyone to get better acquainted with the rules and the feel of the game. I'd been hard at work on scenery for the occasion as it robs so much to the ambience when you're surveying a battlefield made up of tea towels and Tupperware. Other players were also able to bring along what they had for scenery and, in the end, we created a down-right respectable looking scene on which our commanders could cut their Bolt Action teeth.

Since it would be the first game for many involved, we decided to keep it small; a 600 point force for each side (Americas v. Germans) with no vehicles or artillery. My friend with Americans was kind enough to email me his selected force -I swear I did not consult this when putting together the German Trupp- and I printed out unit cards for each side, a sort of 'tale of the tape' for players to reference since they weren't expected to know the rules like the back of their hand.

A quick view of the unit cards to help
new players understand their units.

I decided upon the 'Top Secret' mission for the scenario: it requires players to enter their forces from off-board, race to grab an objective from the board's centre and then escort it off the way they came. The mission would give players a chance to 'do' something with their troops rather than just shooting at each other from behind cover.

The board was centred on a small family farm that the Germans had occupied and used as a supply depot before subsequently abandoning it. Unfortunately for them, they left behind sensitive documents detailing the area's supply lines. Now the Germans found themselves racing back to the the site in order to recover the plans before they fell into the hands of the fast-approaching American forces.

The no man's between the German deployment zone and their forsaken depot.

The depot and objective at the centre of the farm complex.
A suitable defence point, if you can get there first.

Set Up & Turn 1

The scenario calls for the troops of both sides to begin off-table and enter units as they pass a successful morale check, which is meant to account for problems encountered while both sides race to arrive first. We did allow for units with advanced placement  rules to set up on the board, hidden. In this scenario the Amer-ican's sniper set up inside a house with a good view of the German deployment zone; the spotter for
the German mortar hid himself in a bunker, watching for approaching U.S. troops).

Both sides chose to run any troops that managed to arrive onto the board, the Americans making a B-line for the objective, while the Germans, wary of American sniper fire (which did drop one of the German's MG42 crew members), stopped some troops just behind a fence line and ran others along the side of the board, safely behind a small wheat field.

The German MG 42 hustles forward to supply suppressing fire
for troops following behind them.

U.S. sniper and spotter make their presence felt.

The sniper fire works, and the Germans advance cautiously, spreading out
and taking cover where possible.

German hesitancy plays into the Americans' hands,
Able Squad rushes forward.

Turn 2

Momentum stayed with the Americans the second round and they closed the gap the the objective, making it to the entrenched positions closest to them and setting up their MG teams. One more turn would have them at the objective. Turn two also saw the appearance of Bravo Squad, who'd failed their morale check on the first turn, they brought up the rear, eager to catch up with their buddies in Able Squad. The sniper continued to fire, failing to wound but placing a pin.

The Germans also advanced, but with their forces spread out, they had noticeably more ground to cover before reaching the documents they'd left behind.

American troops reach the outside of the defensive fortifications surrounding the depot.
MG teams set up and prepare to cover Able Squad's advance to the objective.

The German right moves up, exchanging the cover of one hedgerow for the next.

On the left, the Germans look out from a small field of wheat,
scanning for the sniper's muzzle flash.

Late but not forgotten: Bravo Squad makes its appearance.

Turn 3

Turn three saw the Americans push forward down the centre of the board. Able Squad surged over the entrenched positions surrounding the depot and took possession of the objective. Behind Able Squad, the .30cal MG teams got ready to cover the withdrawal of the G.I.'s. Bravo squad continued to move forward, edging right to deal with the flanking Germans.

Rather than coming at the Americans straight on, the Germans went up either side and tried to outflank their opponents. On the left, they managed to spook the U.S. sniper into retreating from his position;on the right they stormed into the two-room dwelling and set up a firing lane on Able squad in the depot. The German mortar also showed up, which meant that the Yanks could expect shelling to begin next turn.

Able takes the objective, but they've got Germans to the right of them...

...and German's to the left.

Turn 4

Thing started to look bad this turn for the Americans. Able Squad had taken the objective, but now found themselves under heavy fire on three sides as well as from the German mortar and MG 42. Despite Able's veteran status, it cracked under the pressure and went down instead of falling back, as ordered, behind the MG's set up to cover their withdrawal. Bravo Squad moved up to support, but the Germans, now in control of both buildings after a brutally one-sided assault on the U.S. sniper, were too well protected to be phased.

The Germans pour fire on Able from both buildings as a squad of
heavily-armed SS veterans advance, assault rifles blazing.

The German mortar and MG teams throw their weight behind the assault on Able squad.

The not so able Able Squad breaks as the casualties and pins mount.

Bravo Squad, rushing in to support their beleaguered chums.

A German squad moves up to flank the Americans.

Turn 5

Things went from bad to worse for the Americans this turn. The Lieutenant moved up to urge them on, but even his leadership bonus wasn't enough to shake them into action, Worse yet, the one .30cal MG team that could have offered Able Squad support was flanked and assaulted by the Germans who charged out of the dwelling where they had just finished off the American sniper. Then the Waffen-SS stormed the depot and put Able out of their misery.

Able Squad faces certain death with grim determination.

The Germans don't keep them waiting.

Turns 5 & 6 or The Ballad of Bravo Squad

The game was effectively over at this point. There was no way for the Americans to retake or even reach the Waffen-SS squad in possession of the documents before the Germans could safely relay the plans out of the combat zone. In true 'do or die' fashion, however, the Americans pressed on, resolved to avenge their fallen battle brothers of Able Squad.

There's no need for lengthy discussion here, best to let pictures and Pvt. Jimmy Rockwood, who served with Bravo Squad that day and was known for his 'skill' with the rhyme, do the explaining.

'The boys o' Bravo stood last on that day,
swore to 'emselves to make the Jerries pay.'

'And in they went, spirits low but heads high,
and they beat those Fritzes as the bullets did fly. '

'Then up in the house, gave the door a manly shove,
as Hun artillery came a-rainin' from above.'

'So off again it was 'gainst the next awaiting foe...

...and again it was Bravo done struck the winning blow.'


By the time we called it quits, it was turn 7! Sure the Germans had won the scenario, but even after the conclusion was foregone, both players were thoroughly enjoying themselves. In fact, in an impressive display of Corinthian Spirit, the German player even delayed moving the objective off the board so that we could all see how Bravo Squad's finest hour would play out.

Thanks to all who participated and I look forward to more exciting action to come.

'Such was the bravery of good ol' Bravo Squad,
that even Cap and Bucky were shocked & awed.'

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hold The Line!

A game of Bolt Action in 15mm at Dueling Grounds, 23/10/2013. It was a 1000 points per player for the Point Defence Scenario, the Germans were defending several key points which the Americans had been tasked with taking.

The battle would be fought just outside what must have once been a sleepy Dutch hamlet, the Germans were dug in just south of the main clutch of the town's buildings and had concealed themselves in and around the objectives they'd been ordered to protect

Set Up & Preliminary Bombardment

All but a handful of German units were set up. Of these, all were hidden as per scenario rules, making them very hard to fire upon until they fire or move out of cover.

The Preliminary bombardment wasn't too devastating, of the 11 shells that fell (1:unit on the table) non caused anything more serious than the placing of some pin markers on German units.

The German Anti-Tank Gun and MMG crew, holed-up in a ruined
church just outside of town.

Huddled around the crates under their protection in a copse, the men
dig in as the Yank artillery barrage falls all about them.

The German howitzer sits brazenly on a rise, hungry for targets.

Turn 1:

With aroar the American forces came onto the board, concentrating their troops on the German left flank. The Germans split their concentration: some firing upon the advancing U.S. troops, others rallying in order to remove pins and so increase their chance of hitting the broadside of anything.

A proud Sherman Tank forms the centre around which the Americans
anchor their advance.

The Americans show only token interest in the hamlet proper, devoting a
few troops to their other flank, an MMG, Bazooka team,
Mortar crew and their Forward Observer.

The Germans take advantage of the largely-ignored village and move in
to pressure the American left.

A German Lieutenant takes up position inside a dwelling in town,
offering covering fire to his men as they move forward and fire on
the U.S. MMG.

Turn 2
The second turn saw both forces manoeuvring for better firing positions. The American forces on the German left moved forward to close the distance to an objective while the Sherman sat back and fired
on the Heer units.

In answer, the Germans pushed their left forward, hoping to establish a front line the stymie the advancing U.S. troops. The PaK 38, which couldn't see the Sherman from the church, and the MMG teams raced to the aid of their Kampfgefährten on the heavily-pressured German left. On the right, the Germans continued into the town, increasing threat of a flank attack on the American's left flank.

U.S. grunts advance from the woods into cover as they close the
distance towards the objective on the German's left flank.

Across, on the German side, the German Panzergrenadier squads mirror
the Yanks and move forward into cover.

Meanwhile in town, another squad of Germans moves up to the
abandoned Bierstube and continues to pick off the American
MMG team.

"Lauf!": the German PaK and MMG's book it from the church.

Turn 3

And...Action! This turn saw some serious action; every unit that could fire/attack pretty much did. The German's Howitzer pounded a squad of U.S. infantry men and the Germans in town rushed into mortal combat with the Bazooka team, making quick work of them.

The Americans gave as good as they got and called down an airstrike on the Germans, tearing a squad of infantry to ribbons. The tank continued to move forward, pressured by German mortar fire, it missed the German Howitzer but caused more than one group of Panzergrenadier to duck in the face of a hail of fire from it's mounted MMG's, which gave another squad of Americans a chance to forward.

Now you see 'em...


...after a Howitzer, you don't.

A U.S. dive bomber lays waste to the Germans hunkered down behind a
stone wall.

When the smoke clears, there's German commander in the rows of wheat
sees that there's nothing left for him to give orders to.

"Ah, mêlée, the work face of battle.": the Germans rush and easily dispatch
the Bazooka team before regrouping... the bar! Hey, hand-to-hand is thirsty work!

The last squad of Americans moves up and into a position to fire.

Turn 4

Both sides continued to pour lead at each other, but the Americans were starting to have the worst of it: as the pins-count on the U.S. infantry units rose their morale started to crack. The pressure clearly got to the Forward Observer as well, who called in his remaining air strike on his own tank.

The Germans continued apace. The fallen squad was replaced by fresh troops moving up from around the rear and the MMG's and PaK that had been running from the church finally made it into a position to open fire for the first time in the game.

The Sherman Tank survives friendly fire, but takes a couple of pins
in the process. A close call!

The Germans concentrate fire on the Americans in the crops, firing from
their centre...

...the MMG's from the right,...

...and of course the boyz fire off a few between pints on the patio.

Under increasing fire, the lone remaining American unit hits the dirt
and refuses to advance any further.


At the end of turn four, without a single objective within running distance and the dwindling hopes of any of their units making it much further, the American command decided that discretion was the better part of valour and beat a hasty retreat.

Many thanks to my opponent, ernieR for a very enjoyable game!

Iacta alea est!