(This Monday edition brings guest author heychadwick of forum fame to share his review of Skirmish Campaign scenarios. - J)
This particular book is about the battles for Utah Beach and the parachute landings around them. The book has 10 scenarios that make up three different campaigns: one based on the parachute portion; another on the beach invasion; and a third that incorporates both. There is a second booklet that is a Part Two to this one that involves the fighting after the first few days. It is one I hope to get, but I want to try this book first. Now, I will state that I’ve purchased a few booklets, but I have not played any games with them yet. A number of locals are gearing towards Historicon and want to try out their lists. I’m quite keen to try the game out, though. I do need to get a good church model to fit on the table for the couple of battles around St. Lo.
What makes this format interesting for me is that these scenarios are based on real historic events. What is provided is a brief history of the fight with a map on how your table should be set up. The table size varies depending on the scope of that particular scenario. The first is about a small skirmish with paratroopers being dropped in at night around the church at St. Lo and is only 2ft x 2 ft. The larger battles involve full sized tables that are 4ft x 6ft or even 3ft x 7ft! The size of the table fits the size of the game that you are playing. What terrain and where is all detailed in 1ft sections making it easy to figure out how to place everything. Height of buildings and placement of roads is all detailed making setup not a point of contention.
One of the best parts for me is that they include what forces should be used. What type of units and how many of each is listed. There is always the main force to be included, but then you roll a d20 to see what extra forces are available to you for this fight. These can greatly differ and allows some good replay value. There is also a system to allow a side that wins a previous game to modify the roll to get a unit he wants. An example is from the Brecourt Manor scenario for the US side:
1 Parachute HQ
1-8: Infantry Scout Team (squad w/ jeeps)
2 x Parachute Infantry Squads 9: 81mm Mortar
60mm Mortar Team
10-17: Infantry Squad
2 x Sherman Tanks
18: 57mm AT Gun
There are some complications and questions about how to build these units for Bolt Action. I don’t think one should do a direct translation into the strict format of the official Bolt Action rules. For example, some of the HQ squads consist of five members and the official rules only say you can have three. I’d go ahead and let the squad have all members, but only allow the leadership bonus from the two officers in the unit. In another place, though, a sniper and assistant are designated part of the HQ squad. I would break those two snipers out into a separate squad.
There is another instance about Ostruppen troops with a special rule that says the first time they take a casualty you roll on a d10 chart to see their skill level. Each unit can turn into anything from Inexperienced Shirkers to Veterans. There are some scenarios with just Ostruppen troops and to go with the straight translation from the Bolt Action book would seriously unbalance the scenario. I would think it best to stick with the special rules within the mission. While there are a few of these questions, I don’t think it would be too hard to hash it out with your opponent ahead of time. I don’t think they will break the scenario one way or another.
4 Officers (all with SMGs)
26 w/ Rifles
9 w/ SMGs
3 w/ LMG’s and 3 loaders w/ rifles
2 x MMG’s
2 Observers (with SMGs)
Pak 38 AT Gun
2 x Pak 40 AT Gun
76mm Soviet AT Gun (captured)
4 Panzer 35R’s (captured French tanks)
4 LeFH 18 105mm Howitzers – but these are not actually fired in the game. They are objectives.
5 Officers (half SMGs and half rifles)
35 w/ Rifles
5 w/ SMGs
3 w/ BARs
2 w/ LMG’s and 2 loaders w/ rifles
3 x MMG’s
2 x Light Mortar
Flame thrower team
3 x Jeeps
57mm AT Gun
Half-track w/ AA
4 x M4 Shermans
3 x M8 Greyhounds
The scenarios are quite interesting and are listed below:
Night Escape: The scattering of 101st Airborne over St. Marie. This is a small skirmish where the paratroopers scatter on the board and try to escape.
Uncle Red Beach: US 8th Inf Regiment needs to take the beaches at German stronghold W5.
Easy Company: A scene from Band of Brothers with Lt Winters and his scant paratroopers attacking gun emplacements.
Easy Company: In a scene from Band of Brothers, Lt. Winters attempts to destroy the artillery guns firing on Utah Beach.
Off the Beach: 8th Inf tries to move inland through flooded swamps against prepared German positions.
Brecourt Manor: Paratroopers need to take this manor house fortified by Fallschirmjaeger with reinforcements from the beaches.
Attack on St. Marie: 8th Inf and paratroopers attack Fallschirmjaeger defending the town in the first scenario.
Howell Force: Ostruppen defend against landing gliders and 8th Infantry from the beaches.
Advance to Le Fiere: 505th Paratroopers skirmish with the 91st German Inf. Division in the bocage.
Le Fiere Counter-Attack: 508th Paratroopers rush to help a small force defending a town from German 91st Infantry attacks.
Tank Attack: 91st German Infantry Div. and the 100th Panzer Training Battalion attack remnants of the 505th, 507th, and 508th Paratroopers to capture a bridge.
Overall, I have to say that this booklet is quite the catch for $20! I like the scenarios and find them pretty balanced. With no worries about how to set up a table or what forces to use, it can avoid the (allegedly! - J) cut throat world of Tournament Bolt Action. No vehicle flame throwers and just a bunch of grunts is almost like taking the game back to basics. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun or challenging as the scenarios make it a tough fight. Not picking your lists means you have to fight the good fight with the tools available to you. The Germans can find it hard to even just slow down the American horde as it rushes off the beaches. The tired paratroopers will even find a French R35 tank hard to handle with limited resources. I will say that after I try out some of these scenarios, I will be looking to get the next booklet in this series.
As a side note, it might be a challenge to field all the forces that are possible. Not all the scenarios require the full might listed above, but that’s the maximum of each type that you might need for a scenario. Be open to proxy troops on the board if you or your opponent don’t have all the listed forces. I know that I will use my four Panzer 38t’s for the R35’s as I don’t know anyone with that many 28mm French tanks! Also, if you roll a reinforced unit that you can’t field that type then just roll again. If you have everything except that AA half-track, then pick from what you do have.
(Thank you, heychadwick! Any experience with this sort of thing? Let us know on the forum. - J)