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Friday, January 18, 2013

Bolt Action - AAR: Point Defense: Broken Arrow!

The final 1000-point game of our last FTX ended up being Point Defense. We decided to see how the game played blue versus blue this time, since all of our previous games had been red versus blue, and these sorts of matchups are inevitable in tournaments or pick-up games. At this point, we were pretty beat from a weekend of gaming, but Dano played his Americans and I played the Commonwealth.
A British officer and his attendants peer down an alleyway towards an enemy position.

For those unfamiliar with it, Point Defense calls for one player, determined by roll-off (winner calls it), to defend three objectives spaced at least two feet apart from each other and six inches away from the long table edge. Of course, on a six foot table, this twenty-four inch objective spacing means there's not a lot of leeway in placement for the defender.

Dano ended up defending, so victory for him meant none of his three objectives could fall into my hands. I needed to claim at least two for victory, and if I held one at the end, it would be a draw. 

I had a full, veteran HQ; a couple regular infantry squads; a veteran infantry squad; an artillery observer; veteran flamethrower; PIAT; Bren Carrier; and Crocodile.

Dano had his usual command and four small infantry squads (he calls it two full squads broken into teams) with a couple MMGs and a medium mortar. He also had a couple trucks with fifties, a Sherman, an air observer, and one full squad of engineers (simply infantry with anti-tank grenades) rounding it out.

The defender starts with at least half his units on the table, hidden, and suffers a preparatory bombardment. I use the term loosely, as the Commonwealth forgot their special rule and didn't reroll the results! (Shameful, I know, but it was the end of a long weekend; and the rule comes up so infrequently, I'd forgotten about it!) A few pins were scattered about amongst the defenders due to the preparatory bombardment.
The defenders look out from their positions, fearful of the giant fingers pinching the city in the background.
 Like any game with reserves, this one began with many "down" orders issued to units in reserve. There were outflankers for the attacking Commonwealth, and half of the Americans were forced to start in reserve.

British attacking infantry moves so quickly towards the relative safety of the bombed-out buildings, the picture gets blurry.
The Commonwealth commander and two regular squads run towards the buildings, doing their best to stay out of line of sight of the American air observer hiding in the trees beyond the town. One Commonwealth objective lies in the wooded area.
From the American side...
 American infantry moves up in response to the aggressive British push on the American left. Both sides appear to be hoping to take up positions in the remnants of the buildings. 

The Crocodile rumbles onto the middle of the battlefield.
 Seeing the American response, the British commander calls the Crocodile to the scene. It advances to the middle of the table, and fires its MMG at the American MMG team. One unfortunate American falls to a stray shot. It also fires its vehicle flamethrower and is out of range - and lo and behold, it runs out of fuel! That never happens! (OK, OK, it happens every time it fires...)

Advancing Sherman tank - never a good sign for the opponent. (And this was in the pre-gyros days!)
 In response, the American commander pushes a Sherman towards the British attack, putting pins (fifty cals - amazing) on the Churchill and killing a man in a nearby forward observer unit.
American Planner: "Yes, this truck is nice, but wouldn't it be better if we stuck a fifty cal on it?"
Suddenly everything goes quiet in the planning room, and the planners all stare at each other in stunned disbelief. A moment passes, then all at once, cheers erupt. Fifty cals for everyone! 
 An American truck roars past the Sherman tank, its .50 blazing away at the Crocodile, causing another pin marker. A nearby American infantry squad, guarding its objective, still sits in its original position with a pin marker from the preparatory bombardment lingering about. In the distance, the center objective sits protected by an American MMG and medium mortar. At this point, everything outside of outflanking reserves seems to be pushing the American left, through the village. 

British LT: No, no, Witherspoon! This is how you properly fire at a target concealed inside a building!
 One British infantry squad moves into the building to the LT's left, while the other moves around the left corner of the same building in order to get into assault position. The LT, fearing an airstrike, decides to move in support of the nearby squad and fire at the American troops inside a building across the street.

Somehow, the LT and his men manage to kill the American NCO! (Started with three rifle dice, needed six, then a six to hit; followed by a six to wound because the target's in a building; followed by a six for exceptional damage to pick out the NCO. British marksmanship!)

Sherman zeroing in on a Churchill and an observer team.
 The artillery, having yet to be called in, is fired on again by the Sherman's .50 cal. Taking another casualty, it falls to the Sherman menace after failing a morale test. This time, however, the Sherman misses the Crocodile with its main gun.

Blurry Action Cam: A British assault!

One of the regular squads that had moved around the building charges into close combat with the Americans occupying the building. Both sides take heavy casualties in two rounds of fighting, but the Tommies come out on top.

The British push on the objective! After some close combat and maneuvering, it's within charging distance! 
Some of the American truckborne troops disembark, but some are left behind to man the dangerous fifty caliber machine gun. The British seem to be near capturing the objective on the American left, but both sides have troops in outflanking reserve. 
"Out of the truck, time to stop that Brit advance!"
 With no other threats on the board, the American defense shifts to its left, leaving the Sherman to deal with the heavily pinned Churchill. 
A reinforcing American squad is given order to charge the British men occupying the building near the objective.
 Again the building changes hands, as a British squad is killed in close combat with an American rifle squad. The attack doesn't look as good for the British on the left anymore, but there's still a chance; and to keep the Americans off-balance, veteran SAS troops charge up the middle to challenge the center objective.

Seriously? Sherman tanks?
 The SAS squad is mowed down by the American MMG and the full firepower of a Sherman. Both the fifty caliber and the main gun were quite effective. In the matter of a single turn, an attack in the center suddenly materialized, and promptly evaporated.  
This trucker makes the Ice Road truckers look like pansies.
 American command gives the order to support the left, and the truck with its passenger-crewed fifty obliges, spraying the building as it moves. An American command moves in support, and an MMG continues to lay fire into the building.
Tally ho, PIAT team. Tally ho.
An often-mocked-by-Dano PIAT team advances in from the left American flank to contest the objective, fires a round at the mad trucker - and hits! The bold trucker's daring career is over, as well as one of the truck's occupants, but the rest get out safely and hop into the relative cover of the wooded area.
A late game charge...
Seeing victory potentially within reach, the British commander orders a flamethrower from the American right flank to run towards the objective. No teams are within range to close combat, but next turn an advance move means the flamethrower can fire and contest the objective.

The American commander can't have this, but the flamethrower is too close to fire on with the mortar. Instead, he orders his regular medium mortar to charge the veteran flamethrower team.

Both teams, apparently startled by the strange turn of events, fail to hit each other in the first round!

Suckers count on veterancy...
 The second round of the close combat sees the mortar team hitting twice, and the veterans hitting once - so the brave regular mortar team, defended the objective!

 Fast enough to make a blurry photo, but not fast enough (or even allowed to) capture an objective in this scenario.
 The slap fight between the Sherman and Crocodile continues. Unfortunately for the British commander, the Sherman tank is not the sort of vehicle that can be simply ignored by infantry. The Churchill, after losing its fuel tank (for the fifth consecutive game) was forced to engage the Sherman, or see it loose on the vulnerable Commonwealth infantry.
The definition of a cluster frick.
Now contesting the objective, the PIAT team is charged by the surviving passengers of the truck. The four of them destroy the PIAT team to a man, but the team takes two soldiers with them. The objective seems to be still up for grabs, though, as British soldiers in and around the building aim to charge it.

Seeing this as a possibility, the American commander does the unthinkable, and tells his air observer to call in an airstrike on the unit inside the building. The observer and target are within ten or so inches of each other, and a couple battered friendly units are nearby as well.

(This is where screams of "BROKEN ARROW" first began!)
That's a lot of engineers...
Those plans are dashed by the arrival of a huge engineer squad almost on top of the objective. They mercilessly gun down the British commander and his retinue, outside the building.

Seeing this dirty pool, the squad NCO shout's, "That's not cricket, men!" and charges the engineers. The squad loses nearly all its personnel, but wins! Down to three men, they consolidate onto the objective. All that stands between them and taking one objective from the Americans is the two men left from inside the truck, and an American air observer.
The "BROKEN ARROW!" calls get crazier here, as the target of the airstrike is now within three inches of what remains of two squads, and within a foot of an American command.
However, the British luck has run out. The air comes in, as ordered, on the intended target. Sure, pins would have been shared with all those other units, but this was the Commonwealth's last hope of victory. With the squad destroyed by an airstrike, this leaves nothing on the table for the Brits.

Victory goes to the Americans!

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