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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bolt Action - AAR: US vs Germans (Envelopement)

Dano and I kicked off our latest FTX (48+ hour gaming session) by rolling for a Bolt Action scenario, and up came Envelopement. I had some new German ideas I'd wanted to get on the table, and Dano was bringing his Americans. The dice dictated the Germans would attack the defending Americans, which was fine with both of us, as we both wanted more experience from either side in this scenario.

Envelopement, if you haven't played it before, calls for the attacker to move his units off the defender's table edge. The defender is tasked with eliminating as many of the attacker's units as possible. More points are awarded to the attacker for leaving the table than are awarded to the defender for destroying the attacker's units, so in a sense, the "defender" is forced to attack. He cannot sit back and let the enemy come to him, because if he waits too long, he won't be able to inflict enough casualties to earn the points he needs to overcome the points his opponent earns for running past him.

Envelopement starts off with a Preparatory Bombardment. As expected, most of the American units received one or two pin markers, but the MMG position sustained a direct hit from the German shelling. One member of the crew fell to the shrapnel.

With that out of the way, we started pulling order dice!

The Germans began the game with a light howitzer being towed behind a truck. Throughout the beginning of the turn, it idled patiently in the middle of the road in the German deployment zone. Their commander, waiting for the right moment (as late in the turn as possible!) finally ordered the truck to take advantage of the road through the bombed-out town. It had to attempt to run the American gauntlet!

Another American MMG sprayed them with fire as they hit the intersection, but could not disable the vehicle.

Bearing in mind the goal is to push through the American lines, the Puma drives full-speed towards the American positions that were previously shelled during the Preparatory Bombardment.

Seeing the German commander's intentions, the American officer orders his men to attempt to hault the truck's mad dash to safety.

Fire from the advancing American infantry squad hits the truck, further pinning the crew and passengers, but fails to stop its advance.

Meanwhile, towards the German lines, American air power swoops in and begins raining death on the grenadiers approaching the cratered town.

At the start of turn two, it all comes down to whether or not the German player can draw the first order die, and run two units off the board, or if the American player draws first to attempt to destroy the veteran truck...

... and the veteran truck passes its order test! The vehicle charges to safety, gun in tow, which gives the German player a strong, early lead in victory points. The American officer must hold nothing back now, if he is to have any hope of pulling out a victory.

Seeing the truck escape, the American MMG sprays the remaining advancing Germans with fire, inflicting more casualties on a unit recently strafed by air.

A Sherman is called to the front to respond to the aggressive German armored threat.

The wily Puma's commander, however, decided to reverse into the town, leaving the Sherman crew with nothing to fire at save a squad of grenadiers.

The Puma has just enough speed, with the rear driving position, to back itself out of harm's way - for now.

A full Volksgrenadier squad, capitalizing on the distraction caused by the Puma, worked its way into the remains of a building in the center of town. Their position directly overlooked the American deployment zone.

For all the successes of the German left flank and middle, the three squads previously strafed by air are unable to activate. They each had one or two pin markers. The advance on the right has completely stalled.

An American rifle squad and the Air Observer watch as the NCOs on the German right fail to motivate their men.

Volksgrenadier eye the enemy from inside their bombed-out shelter. The Americans outside don't fail to realize the firepower the German soldiers within the house are packing!

Seeing the Sherman preoccupied with destroying the elusive Puma, the German infantry squad edges towards the extreme left, hoping to be forgotten about so that it might make an easy escape off the board edge.

The Sherman commander is having none of it, though, and orders his crew to pour fire into the skulking German squad. A nearby MMG joins in, while the Puma backs its way deeper into town.

Suddenly, American engineers launch an assault against the Puma! Unfortunately for the Americans, their assault is unsuccessful in knocking out the vehicle.

The Volksgrenadiers, setting up a base of fire within the building, have drawn the attention of many defending American squads. Fortunately for the Volksgrenadiers, their lack of training is mitigated by the protection the building offers, and they take no casualties!

Noting the strength of the Volksgrenadier position, the platoon commander moves up to a nearby alley to support the inexperienced squad.

Regardless, the Americans won't go down without a fight. A truck carrying more troops to the fight arrives from an Outflanking Maneuver on the faltering German right.

Americans advance out and fire into the cowering German squad...

... causing heavy casualties! An American lieutenant joins the advancing squad and pours fire into what's left of them - but the NCO and last remaining grenadier won't quit the field!

One of the three German squads that had been stalled on the right shifts to support the successes in the center of the line, and fires into the engineers clambering over the Puma.

The German platoon leader, with his assault rifle toting attendants, moves around behind the building occupied by the Volksgrenadier squad, in order to support the Puma for one last push up the middle.

Furious at the fact that the Volksgrenadier have been allowed to maintain a forward position, the American officer orders more troops to engage the building's occupants. Some casualties are sustained, but the inexperienced men hang on.

The beleaguered Puma backs itself the rest of the way out of the town, to the stalled German right, spraying fire into the engineers as it moves.

The Americans on the right make short work of what remained of the cowering squad. They move towards the middle and the cluster of German units there.

German fire brings down the lieutenant that had been supporting the truckborne squad.

Even more fire is poured into the engineer squad, who at this point are all but eliminated from the game due to pinning.

Meanwhile, the Volksgrenadier still refuse to give up their position. However, the cumulative effect of all that American fire is beginning to take a toll on the squad's morale.

Seeing the German right advance halted, the American commander shifted his attention to the middle. Seeing his opportunity, the German leader calls his flamethrower team to the battlefield from Outflanking Maneuver. It runs on, and stands one run order away from escaping.

While the unit sustains a casualty, it weathers the fire and successfully exits the American player's table edge.

Although some German units have managed to make it to safety, some others have fallen into American traps; like this squad in a building, completely surrounded.

Nearly mad with rage, the American platoon leader calls the Sherman in to uproot the Volksgrenadiers, now supported by the German oberleutnant.

Unable to act under the withering fire from the American combined arms, the Volksgrenadier are forced to merely hang on for dear life.

Even the mighty Sherman can't dislodge the stubborn Volksgrenadier squad!

The American truck, hoping to prevent the Puma from escaping, drives in between the armored car and the American table edge. The Puma fires on it, destroying it, and forcing the remaining squad inside to fan out.

Even mortars can't dislodge the Volksgrenadiers. It seemed, at times, the combined might of the entire American armed forces was focused on that building.

The last remaining unit on the German (forgotten) left successfully rallies, potentially threatening the table edge.

The Puma advances into a position where it can leave the table on its next order, gunning down a member of the squad attempting to stop it from leaving in the process.

The German squad, hung up behind the Volksgrenadiers, in the middle, are fired upon in a last ditch effort to grab points for the Americans, to no avail.

Even the MMG defending the American right tries to make a point grab, killing on of the two remaining men on the German left. The NCO's morale holds, though, and the MMG is robbed of a final kill.

The Americans ended up destroying three squads - not enough to overcome the points awarded to the Germans for escaping with the units they had.

It was a really entertaining game, where both Dano and I learned a lot about the power of mobility, and the power of occupying buildings with infantry; especially if the infantry is inexperienced! What a difference that made to their survivability! It's amazing how much more effective a learning tool it can be to see a rule exercised on the board, compared to simply reading it in the book.

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