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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bolt Action - AAR: Germans Attempt to Disarm Italians

One of the most versatile aspects of the Royal Italian Army was its flexibility in who it was fighting. In both the First and Second World War the Italian Army changed sides mid-conflict. In theory, this offers the discerning Italian player a nice little bit of flexibility in their ability to play red and blue when rolling dice in anger. In reality it doesn’t quite play out this way. The majority of Italians who fought for the Allies after the Italian armistice were refitted with Allied (primarily US) kit. However there were instances, such as the fighting around Rome which lasted until September 11 1943, where the Italian Army put up determined resistance in the face of German efforts to disarm them.

The relevance of all this, I hear you ask? Well, as you will have guessed by now, Senior Judson of BAR fame and myself played some games at the USA FTX and this is an AAR of our clash between Jud’s German Historicon list and my ever evolving Italians.  

Here are the lists:

The Germans:
2LT plus 2 attendants regular
(3x) Veteran infantry squads with seven men, four ARs, one Pzf (2×)
6 man regular squad with 2 smg and 4 pzf (1×)
6 man veteran squad with 5 smg 
Regular Sniper
Regular Nebelwerfer 
Inexperienced heavy mortar
(2×) Veteran heavy field car
Regular flame thrower Regular motor bike (armoured car)

The Italians:
2LT plus 1 attendant inexperienced
7 man Paracadutisti squad, with pistol (NCO), 4 SMGs
MVSN (Blackshirts) with 1 LMG
Regular AB41
Regular M14/41

2LT plus 1 attendant inexperienced
7 man Paracadutisti squad, with pistol (NCO), 4 SMGs
7 man Paracadutisti squad with 1 LMG
Regular AB41
Regular L3 tankette with flamethrower

The basic concept behind Jud’s list is to do something different with Germans in making them work without tanks or armoured cars. The deficit in tanks, and the AT that comes with them, is compensated (Hopefully! - J) with the 60 points invested in panzerfausts. I’m really attracted to the list and the overall concept. In fact, if I was to take this list and make any changes it would be to add even more panzerfausts! I think four in each squad would be great, and ‘should’ tip the odds of actually hitting over the edge. 80 points on AT assets (with 16 shots) is still a great bargain.

The core concept behind the Italians is, basically, to make them work. Not only to make them work but to make them highly effective and capable of taking on powerful builds and winning. I’ve taken what I estimate as the strongest aspects of the Italian list, the vehicles, and maxed them out in this list. (Yes Brad, I’m vehicle spamming!) I’ve also taken lots of vets to avoid easy deaths and the activation of the AVANTI SAVOIA!’ rule. The blackshirts are really there for fun.

In terms of the history of the list, my Italians are built around pre-Alamein 2 North Africa.

The scenario was taken from Captain TO’s player pack from Historicon – based on Demolition.

Somewhere in the Roman contado, September 9, 1943. Following the Italian armistice (September 3 1943) clashes have broken out between Italian units and the German divisions attempting to disarm the Italians and occupy Rome. While the Germans are attempting to destroy an Italian supply dump on the outskirts of the city, the Italian forces are determined to secure and destroy a thoroughfare vital to the Wehrmacht’s access into Rome.

Turn 1:
While the Italian objective is tucked away in the corner of the board – as far away from the opponent as possible – the Germans have elected to place their objective in the centre of the board amongst the ruins. They're making the most of all that heavy cover instead of setting up out in the open.

Elements of the Italian armour come on from the corner of the board,

While the veteran engineers (using paracadutisti rules), advance through the ruined town.

The blackshirts stay back to guard the objective

While the nebelwerfer and mortar take up positions behind the ruined buildings, veteran German infantry advances, being careful to hug the burnt out building and avoiding open ground

Turn 2:

The Italian tanks close in on the German objective, displaying unusual enthusiasm.

The M14/41 unloads some MMG fire into the ruins, having little effect. 

The Germans consolidate their position, staying on the defensive.

Young Cam may or may not have been present with his space traveling wizard. An occasional appearance slipped through the censors! - J

Turn 3:

Turn three things start to heat up. The Germans move a squad into heavy cover to the right of their objective. This brings them into a strong position to flank around the Italian armour that has pushed aggressively into the centre, and move onto the Italian objective. However, the Italians have other plans. Two AB41s come on from reserve and land right on top of the German squad attempting to flank around. With six MMG’s between the two AB41s, they make mincemeat out of the flanking Germans.

The L3 flame tankette advances into range and takes its first victim, a squad of German veterans. Ignoring the hard cover the L3 wipes out the squad. However, it’s now up close and personal with a number of panzerfausts!

The rest of the Germans elect to go on ambush, awaiting the advance of the Italian engineers.

The M14/41 heads off some Germans attempting another flanking mauver.

Turn 4:

Things are looking a little grim for the Germans, as the L3 eliminates another squad.

Some Germans advance and unleash their panzerfausts on the L3 at close range, but all three miss! (D'oh! Best laid plans of Juddds and men, I believe it goes. - J)

There still hope for the Germans as a tank hunting squad comes on from outflank right into range of the L3 flame tankette. These grizzled veterans unload from their fieldcar and unleash a volley of panzerfausts. But they all miss! That tiny tankette is proving hard to hit. 

The Italian M14/41 and the two AB41s start to close in, spraying MMG fire and pinning the Germans behind their heavy cover. 

Turn 5:

With the last of the German panzerfaust missing the L3, the tankette is free to spray another burst of flame across the field of battle, and sends a German unit fleeing the field in the process. The centre is now looking extremely vulnerable for the Germans.

With all the panzerfaust spent, the nebelwerfer takes a crack at knocking out the L3, which is just outside its minimum range.

The nebelwerfer hits! In a display of German skill and efficiency the rocket hit the L3 directly, and rips apart its wafer thin armour. (This lucky six after failing to roll a single four-plus with three dice on separate occasions made me pull out tufts of hair. "Of course the indirect fire hits!" - J)

Unfortunately the damage is already done (too little, too late - J), and the engineers advance towards the objective, still supported by the M14/41 and the two AB41s. The German bike and sidecar race down the road and spray the engineers, but it is not enough to stop the Italian advance.

At the top of turn five the Italians had broken all German resistance, and the objective would surely be theirs! They may have won the hard fighting in this sector of the battle for Rome, but the Germans would ultimately triumph, disarming the Italians and occupying the city.


For the Germans, they simply had no ability to go forward and fight against four armoured vehicles. The premise of the all infantry list is a good one, and the Germans have the tools to do this better than most. Jud’s Germans list could handle one or even two tanks, but four vehicles all with many MMGs is just too much for the list to handle, and instantly threw Jud into a defensive posture from the beginning of the game, because nothing in the list could ignore all those MMGs. (Well said! The four AFV thing became a theme over the subsequent days - much to chew on there for future lists. - J)

For the Italians, the vets and the closed-topped vehicles is a great way to go. It gives you the toughness and backbone to avoid activating the AVANTI SAVOIA! special rules. The flame tankette brings something massive to the list. While all the MMGs are great and put down a lot of pins, they really struggle at finishing off vet units, especially if your opponent deploys in cover as Jud did. The flame tankette completely removes this issue from the list. In fact I find it is so effective I’m considering removing it from the list to make it more challenging to play. Overall the M14/41, the AB41 and the L3 (when kitted with MMGs only), are great to play with. Especially when you’re not concerned with long range AT guns, you have so much freedom to move, and don’t have to worry about cover. This adds a massive tactical edge to the list.

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