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Friday, November 1, 2013

Bolt Action - AAR: Hold Until Relieved: Americans Attacking Soviets

Nemesis Andy stopped by to get in some practice before Fall-In with what we thought would be our final 1000-point lists. We got four games in that day, this version of Hold Until Relieved being the one we happened to remember to take pictures of.

Before we get into it, though, I wanted to let everyone know that the "Moron's Dozen" has finally been completed. They picked up four ZIS-3 from Warlord Games along the way, so the project definitely took longer than I had originally hoped; but it's finally done! Here's a few shots before the battle report (which, surprisingly, also includes some shots of the same Soviets!) for you to peruse. Then back to the report afterwards, promise!

The class picture. It's a 1000-point list, by the way.
The right side of the class.
And the left.
Back to the fighting!

Andy's American list consisted of:

0035 Inexperienced 2LT
0035 Inexperienced 2LT
0075 Regular Air Observer
0168 Veteran 5-man Ranger Squad with 3-SMG and 1-BAR (two of these)
0084 Veteran 6-man Veteran Tough Fighters Squad
0110 Regular 5-man Engineer Squad with 1-BAR (two of these, and no flame, if you wondered)
0100 Regular 5-man Squad (two of these)
0052 Regular Sniper Team
0075 Regular Medium Howitzer 
0185 Regular Chaffee with Recce and HMG
0050 Veteran HMG Jeep
0031 Regular 3/4 Ton Truck
1000 points and 15 order dice 
My Soviets looked a bit (exactly) like this:

0035 Inexperienced 2LT
0035 Inexperienced 2LT
0000 Inexperienced 12-man Rifle Squad
0015 Inexperienced Commissar
0100 Regular Artillery Observer
0245 Inexperienced 5-man Rifle Squad (seven of them at 35 each)
0091 Regular 7-man SMG Squad
0120 Regular Anti-tank Rifle Team (four of them at 30 each)
0320 Regular ZIS-3 (four of them at 80 each)
0039 Regular Truck
1000 points and 22 order dice 

As mentioned before, we faced-off in a Hold Until Relieved scenario.

The ruined building in the center of the board was the objective. We'd played a few games before on a table where there was a lot of cover, but almost no line of sight blocking terrain. Relatively speaking, this was a very congested, claustrophobic table. Certainly, there were some long firing lanes, but nothing like the game before where every target was fair game - so long as you consider needing 6's on 6's fair game.

At any rate, this was quite a gear shift for the both of us. If you're lucky enough to be able to get a couple games in with your opponent during one session, take the extra ten or fifteen minutes to change the table. The more drastic the change, the better. It completely changes the feel of your games, without a single change of your list.

A twelve-man rifle squad occupies the objective, while a five-man occupies the lower level of the green rowhouse nearby.

Any Hold Until Relieved starts with the defender (a highly debatable term when both players are moving the majority of their units towards the objective throughout) deploying two unarmored units within six inches of the objective. Might I suggest, if you're ever presented with the proposition of defending a building objective, and find yourself playing Soviets, to drop that big, fat, free squad inside of it? Buildings are the great equalizer when comparing differing quality infantry. As far as survivability is concerned, an inexperienced squad is just as tough as a veteran squad, once it's safely within the walls of a structure. Planting the freebie squad inside the objective building is the ultimate no-brainer in this list; at least, considering it's the biggest squad.

I thought about deploying a ZIS-3 somewhere within the maze of buildings, six inches from the objective, but considering Nemesis Andy's forces would deploy 18.1" away, and some of them were pre-game moving Rangers, I instead decided to put a throwaway Rifle squad inside the rowhouse nearest the objective.

Nemesis Andy deployed his infantry squads in a half-circle around the objective. The scenario allows the attacker to deploy anywhere on the table outside of 18" from both the objective and the two defending squads, but deploying close to the edge the defender's units will arrive from is not generally a wise move.

Before the game began, Andy ran one Rangers squad into a building within 18" of the objective, and the other right out in the open, near the five-man inexperienced squad deployed in the rowhouse. (Damn that wily bastard.)

The Americans deploy around the objective, Rangers occupying a nearby building.
The Americans pull the first order die of the turn, beating the 1:1.5 odds, and the Rangers squad that ran into the open before the beginning of the game launched their assault on the lightly defended rowhouse. Poorly trained Soviet riflemen, firing from the door and window facing the charging Americans, manage to bring down two of the five sprinting veterans in an amazing stroke of Russian luck. Unfortunately for the conscripts, the remaining three Americans, equipped with SMGs, poured into the house and killed the inexperienced defenders to a man.

After seeing their brothers fall, the remaining Rangers quickly clear the house in hand to hand combat.
Most of the Soviets were just arriving on the table at this point. Given the fact that his infantry controlled most of the table, Nemesis Andy did not hesitate to call in the first of two potential airstrikes his observer had available to him. If it succeeded in destroying the 12-man squad on the objective, his Rangers would be able to quickly occupy the building, and the inexperienced Soviets would have a terrible time removing veteran infantry from hard cover.

The beleaguered defenders remain after the bombing, but in no position to put up much of a fight, and barely clinging to the field. Five pins on an inexperienced unit is not the definition of a combat effective unit.

D6 HE - good enough to take out a four-man crewed weapon.

Turn one had seen the reinforcements from both sides arrive on the table, so turn two meant the gun fight would truly begin. Those of us with games under our belts, at this point, realize that having weapons does not ensure kills. For the most part of this turn, those guns and rifles that had lines of fire on enemy targets missed, or were generally ineffectual. ZIS-3 and Chaffee fired at each other and missed. Infantry squads fired at infantry squads, who reacted by dropping down, and subsequently missed.

One exception was when a ZIS-3 destroyed the 105mm gun in Andy's back row. Given the fact that much of the Soviet strength lie in its guns, the loss of a powerful back row weapon like the medium howitzer was significant. Still, US infantry closed-in on the objective, with the Soviet rifle squad clinging, just barely (seven pins at the end of the turn) to the objective. The Rangers squad that had initially assaulted into the rowhouse remained, pinned, but alive.

Soviets arrive to serve an eviction notice.
Because of the layout of the board, I'd decided to keep my truck with its SMG passengers in regular reserve. The dice were kind to them, and they were able to enter the table and destroy the Rangers before the end of the turn.

The Soviet artillery observer's call finally came in, and it killed the American air observer, while splashing pins on many US units near the objective. Unfortunately, it also put the final pins on the Russians defending the objective, and they fled the field. This left American units with pins near the objective, and the Soviet regular SMG squad holding the opposite side.

The Chaffee exploded at this point, a lucky ZIS-3 shot finishing it off, leaving infantry near the objective from both sides, and guns from both sides pointing at the structure.

Like a WWI battle, the advances of both sides seemed to stall.
Looking at the table, we both decided that as far as a Hold Until Relieved scenario was concerned, this would end as a draw. Of course, we could have fought it out to see one side winning or losing - and in Bolt Action, anything is possible - but we'd played several games and would play several more before this weekend would end. Since both players had several squads to throw at the objective, we decided to call it.

Both of us learned a lot from this game. Want to talk shop with Nemesis Andy and I about it? Come hang out on the forum, by clicking below. There's a lot more to say about this game, and both of our lists, and the best place to do it is on the forum. We'll see you there!

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