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Monday, September 10, 2012

Bolt Action - AAR: Americans vs Germans: Hold Until Relieved

My old friend (read: nemesis) Dano and I got together over the Labor Day weekend to paint and game some Bolt Action. We initially thought we'd spend the first day putting "finishing touches" on our forces, but both of us ended up having some bare metal/plastic to completely paint. By the end of the day, we deemed our soldiers GEFAFBR (Good Enough For A First Battle Report) and got them on the table. Those "finishing touches" would have to come later.

A German sniper team zeroes in on a squad of unsuspecting GIs during our Hold Until Relieved game.

Our 1000 point lists were constructed as follows:

Dano's Americans!


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


Judson's Germans!


103 - Veteran 1LT (SMG) and Veteran Submachine Gunner

163 - Veteran Infantry Squad with 10 men (3 Assault Riflemen, 3 Submachine Gunners, 2 Riflemen, 1 Rifleman with Panzerfaust)

175 - Veteran Infantry Squad with 8 men (2 Light Machine Gunners, 3 Riflemen, 3 Riflemen with Panzerfausts)

043 - Veteran Medic and Veteran Rifleman

075 - Regular Forward Air Observer

050 - Regular MG42 MMG

050 - Regular Sniper

050 - Regular Flamethrower

084 - Regular SDKFZ 251 Hanomag

230 - Regular StuG III


We rolled "Hold Unit Relieved" as our scenario, then rolled to see which of us could pick to be attacker or defender. I won, so I elected to attack; the thought process behind that decision being, "I hate defending".

The table after setup. The barrels and boxes around the two buildings weren't used as cover, neither was the plowed field to the left. The swamp at the top right was treated as soft cover. Everything else was treated as the BA instructions suggest.

In point defense, players nominate one feature within a foot of the center of the board, but ideally equidistant from both players' deployment zones, as the objective. Luckily for us - as we had no idea what the scenario would be when we set the table up - the bridge served as an excellent objective without rearranging the board. There's a lesson here, if you ever plan on playing games with random scenarios: Put something cool in the middle of the board! This scenario calls for it!

Dano had to deploy two squads within 6" of the bridge, while the rest of his units would be held off table. "Hold Until Relieved" - get it? He wisely deployed his two huge infantry squads on either side of the bridge, blocking the road.

American infantrymen ordered to hold a bridge until relieved. German veterans approach in the distance.

I deployed some units in the swamp, some behind the fences and copse of trees, and left a sniper team inside the farmhouse with the hopes they'd be able to immediately apply pin markers to Dano's defending squads.

A spotter, medic team, and squad of infantry move towards the objective, shielded by some woods and a farmer's fence.

The German MMG, and sniper fire at the closest American infantry squad, while the American infantry on the opposite side of the bridge take positions in a bombed out building. Both German infantry squads advance and fire into the closest American squad. It takes a few casualties and several pin markers during the first turn.

The sniper team quickly kills the American NCO!

The forward American infantry squad takes a beating, but soon its requests for reinforcements are answered!

A Sherman quickly responds to reinforce the defenders of the bridge.

The supporting Sherman fires at the advancing German assault squad with everything it's got, pinning the unit.

GIs hold the ruins near the bridge, while the rest of their platoon is hammered across the bridge; but not without a response from the Sherman.

The turn ends with the American squad across the bridge taking a beating. The veteran assault squad sent by the Germans has faced the wrath of a Sherman firing its 75mm, .50 cal, and .30 cal MMGs, however, and is equally bloodied. Additionally, the German spotter has managed to call down an airstrike on the Sherman in the middle of the road! The Luftwaffe reports fighter/bombers are on the way!

A view of the table at the end of the first turn.

As the second turn begins, German aircraft appear from above - and fail to identify the right target! (A 1 was rolled on the air table!) The Luftwaffe ace accidentally zeroes in on the same assault squad the Sherman had fired at during the first turn!

Three casualties and several pin markers were generously given to the assault squad by their own aircraft, along with being forced into an immediate Down order. Thanks for nothing, Goring!

Meanwhile, the American infantry have advanced from the ruins to allow for a .30 cal to take their position. An American Air Observer moved into the other ruins at the end of the previous turn.

Seeing the failed German air attack, the Sherman and advancing infantry pour more fire into the German assault squad with a vengeance. The German Commander, MMG, sniper, and other infantry squad pour fire into the forward infantry squad, killing more men and adding more pins. The American Air Observer calls in an air stike on the other German infantry squad.

The Germans threaten the bridge, regardless of a horrible miscalculation from the Luftwaffe!

Unfortunately for the Germans, the combined firepower of all their troops is not enough to cause the forward American squad to flee, and it is now supported by American armor after Dano advances his Sherman to the middle of the bridge!

The Sherman has confidently begun to cross the bridge after witnessing the failed German airstrike.

Dano doesn't hesistate to call one of his own airstrikes in on the previously unscathed German infantry squad on the other side of the road.

The unscathed German infantry advances on the beleaguered American defenders while an American air observer watches their every move from the ruins.

The combined firepower of the German forces is still not enough to cause the forward American infantry squad to flee. Dano's Sherman opens up with every gun it has on the same squad he's called an airstrike down on!

They die to a man! American firepower!

With one infantry squad completely destroyed, and another essentially knocked out of action due to pin markers, the German command boldly advances!

For the Fatherland!

His unit is finally able to destroy the forward American infantry - but at what cost?

The wily, outflanking StuG III commander sees his opportunity! With the Sherman committed (and successful!) to killing the infantry squad, its flank is exposed!

Rolling through the field near the farmhouse, the StuG III catches the Sherman by surprise, but misses!

The German commander urges both the medic and the sniper teams forward, as they will be needed if the Germans have any hope of contesting the bridge by the end of the game. Both units approach the bridge.

At the cost of one infantry squad, the Americans have essentially eliminated two German infantry squads and all but stunted their attack.

"Unfortunately" for the Americans, the Sherman has already destroyed the Air Observer's target, so it flies away harmlessly at the beginning of the next turn. Dano pushes more units towards the area he's had most success (someone's been reading their history books!) and brings his outflanking halftrack onto the table.

Seeing the forward squad fall, Dano wisely orders his flanking halftrack (with HQ and mortar units aboard) to enter from the short table edge. (See the Reserve rules and more specifically the Outflanking Manuever rules in the BA book!)

Dano's reinforcement plan is potentially thwarted, however, by a flamethrower team that is also in Outflanking Manuever on the same flank!

It never ends well for the mess o' dudes inside an open-topped vehicle when it catches fire...

The advancing flamethrower destroys the halftrack, and the men inside are forced to flee for safety (with three pin markers each). Before the Germans can relish their small victory, however, the American Air Observer calls-in its second air attack on the StuG III. (Yes, three air attacks on the Germans. Bad day for the Luftwaffe.)

The air attack immobilizes the StuG and gives it five pin tokens, as well as forcing it to go Down, thereby making it lose a turn. For all intents and purposes, it is knocked out.

Sporadic and generally ineffectual fire is exchanged by the rest of the units on the board, and in general, positions do not change. The Germans are too weak at this point to make a real advance on the bridge.

However - their flamethrower's got a brand new tank of gas on it!

The flamethrower kills the entire crew of the .30 cal within the ruins.

Seeing their comrades burnt alive, the American infantry squad assaults the German commander!

This will not end well...

After failing miserably to effectively call in an air strike, and watching his commander die bravely in a vicious American assault, the German Air Observer launches an assault on the .50 cal that had Outflanked into the farmhouse the sniper had previously occupied!

I got a flare gun!

In an attempt to redeem his honor, the spotter brings down two of the three members of the .50 cal crew before dying. The remaining gun crew member was so severely shaken by the fight, than he fled the scene as well!

It was clear, however, that the Americans had successfully defended the bridge, regardless of the individual acts of valour exhibited by the Germans.

A very clear board for the Americans, firmly commanding the bridge.

The Sherman - still holding the bridge!


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