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Monday, September 17, 2012

Bolt Action - AAR: Americans vs Germans: Envelopment

"Sarge, you really want us to get out of the halftrack here?"

In our first battle of the Labor Day, modelling/gaming, weekend extravaganza/deathmarch, Dano's Americans attacked my Germans in an Evelopment scenario (p.108). The attacker in Envelopment earns three victory points for each unit he moves off the defender's table edge, or two victory points for each unit in the defender's deployment zone at the end of the game. The attacker also earns one victory point for each defending unit he destroys, while the defender earns two victory points for each attacking unit he destroys.

I decided to use the list Steve and Dano tore apart in an eariler article. For your convenience, the list follows:


090 - 1 Veteran 1LT

234 - 1 Veteran NCO with assault rifle, 2 Veterans with assault rifles, 6 Veterans with submachine guns, plus 1 Regular Hanomag (optional transport)

105 - 1 Regular NCO with rifle and panzerfaust, 3 Regulars with rifles, 2 Regulars with light machine guns


105 - 1 Regular NCO with rifle and panzerfaust, 3x Regulars with rifles, 2 Regulars with light machine guns.

030 - 1 Veteran Medic

075 - 1 Regular Air Observer

050 - Regular Sniper Team (2 men)

065 - Veteran Flamethrower Team (2 men)

245 - Regular StuG with MMG upgrade

999 - total

While Dano ran the following:


103 - Veteran 1LT (SMG) and Veteran Rifleman

155 - Regular Infantry Squad with 12 men (9 Riflemen, 2 Submachine Gunners, 1 BAR, Anti-Tank Grenades)

155 - Regular Infantry Squad with 12 men (9 Riflemen, 2 Submachine Gunners, 1 BAR, Anti-Tank Grenades)


050 - Regular .30 cal MMG

050 - Regular .30 cal MMG (Americans can get up to three .30s with one MMG selection!)

035 - Regular 60mm Mortar

103 - Veteran Forward Air Observer and Veteran Rifleman

220 - Regular Sherman with a .50 cal HMG upgrade

129 - Regular M3 Halftrack with two .30 cal MMG upgrades


We didn't change the table during our weekend o' Bolt Action. This was intentional because we wanted to concentrate on learning the rules. A generally open middle, while not necessarily ideal, is something you sometimes see in war gaming; and would give us a lot of opportunities to exercise our rules muscles.

The initial setup. The Americans enter from the closer board edge, while the Germans attempt to stop them from exitting the far edge.

As the defender, I figured I would need to be able to respond rapidly to the attacker's push - remember, his goal was to run off my table edge! And he could enter from anywhere along his own table edge! This being true I deployed centrally, with the idea being I would have a chance to respond to either flank if he pushed hard on a side. Additionally, I was forced to deploy at least half of my units, but the rest could be held in reserve to rapidly react to the attacker's push.

I soon discovered the folly in this, as my exposed men would not benefit from the hidden set-up special rule, as they need to be in cover to benefit.

That, and the attacker gets a preliminary bombardment in this scenario.

Oh, boy. 

The platoon commander deploys with one of the regular squads, a sniper team, and an MG42 holed-up in the ruins.

My forces receive several pin markers in the preliminary bombardment, but are otherwise unscathed. Dano boldly (and wisely!) runs most of his forces onto the table. By the end of the first turn, the German regular squad in the middle has also taken a casualty. Scattered sniping and machine-gunning from the Germans has applied a couple pin markers to the advancing Americans.

At the end of turn two. Shermans don't stop for fences. Sherman don't care.

The main body of the American advance. Screw fences!

Using Bolt Action's unique turn system, you're sometimes able to wait out your opponent, saving your important moves until after they've been forced to commit. Seeing the turn three push across the bridge, the German commander realizes the time for his halftrack (loaded with the assault squad, as well as the flame thrower and medic team) and the StuG respond by advancing onto the board. Unfortunately for the German commander the StuG misses its shot at the supporting Sherman. Which led to more shouts of "Sherman don't give a damn!"

The American squad decides it's better to be in front of those MMGs than inside the halftrack when the StuG fires.

The view from the "American" side of the river at the German defenses. Gee, there are a lot of Germans bunched up over there!

Before the turn ends, however, the American commander, having saved his Forward Air Observer until this point, decides to call in a strike on the halftrack. This resolves at the beginning of the next turn, so it was immediately resolved!

US air power makes short work of the halftrack, and also destroys the flamethrower and medic within!

The veteran assault squad is able to flee the burning vehicle, luckily, but carrying some extra pin markers, since passengers also receive the pins the vehicles they're aboard receive.

Feeling the battle slip away from him, the German commander issues the only logical order - assault!

The GIs take heavy losses from the assault squad's charge, and are broken.

The Americans are unable to rescue the halftrack that was once carrying the infantry squad, and it too is lost at the end of the turn. (If at the end of the turn, enemy units are closer to your transports than friendlies, it is considered destroyed.)

However, the daring assault has left the veteran squad dangerously exposed, and the combined might of the Sherman, 60mm mortar, .30 cal MMG, and a rifle squad cuts the unit in half. The pin markers alone effectively put the unit out of commission.

The Americans continue to advance.

Note: Zero pins on the Americans, lots of pins on the Germans. Key!
At the end of the turn, the American spotter calls in his second and final airstrike on the StuG. (American special ability allows for two strikes from one air spotter.) While the StuGs armor keeps it intact, it is heavily damaged, and the crew inside are in no mood for continuing the fight, and they flee the field.

I can't remember the specifics at this point, but some of the results on the vehicle damage chart indicate that if the same result occurs twice, the vehicle is treated as destroyed.

Regardless, that StuG was going nowhere! It received six pin markers from the air attack and light damage results the plane had inflicted! Additional pins were splashed on the nearby units when the plane attacked.

Cramming many units into a 12" radius. Bad idea.

Just want to reinforce that whole "bad idea" theme.

Seeing the success of the air, the GIs surge across the bridge and wipe out the remnants of the assault squad.

The platoon leader stands between the GIs and the MG42 position. With six pins, standing is about the most that can be expected.

The American soldiers sweep through the German commander's position, and make quick work of the lone machine gunner.

At this point, I'd wrapped my head around some more rules (read: Got slapped around by Dano's Americans) and I said, "no mas!"

Embarassingly, Dano didn't even attempt to run soldiers off of the board, instead bringing the attack to me. Oddly, this meant the end score was much closer than it felt like, as killing two of his units scored me four points. While he'd destroyed the vast majority of my force, only the rifle squad was in my deployment zone, so he ended up beating me by a couple points.

Trust me though, it was brutal. Dano did a great job.

Some quick notes:

After missing a few times with the StuG, I realized how unreliable anti-tank guns can be! On the other hand, seeing the Sherman blazing away with its two MMGs and a .50 cal showed me the value of a properly-played tank!

Five-man regular squads are fragile. Not a revelation to many of you, I'm sure, but I had to see it for myself. I really want to find a place for those cool, but expensive, German LMGs!

Assaults are powerful, but chances are, you'll be exposed to some heavy duty return fire after you launch an assault. It was easy to imagine the German veteran squad's celebration ending abruptly as the smoke cleared and they saw the remainder of the American force gunning for them; in the open! Bleh!

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