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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bolt Action - Soviet Deep Battle

After the devastation of Operation Barbarossa it took some time for the Soviet Red Army to recover, but by 1943 the Soviets were using a tactic they'd abandoned in the 30s. Called "Deep Battle", it required multiple spearheads to break-through the enemy front, followed by fresh reserves who could then push deep into enemy territory, creating havoc and threatening their rear operations.

The Iosif Stalin (IS-2) tank, designated as a heavy break-through tank, was ideally suited for the role of leading a spearhead, but hordes of T-34s were also frequently used. These tanks would punch through the German lines and keep going.

What does this have to do with Bolt Action you may be asking? A standard size table for Bolt Action is not really big enough to allow such deep penetrations into your opponent's rear but parts of it can still be utilised. By being aggressive and hitting your opponent hard in one area where they are weak, you may be able to collapse that area. This is nothing new for the experienced wargamer, but if you then continue to push through to your opponent's side of the table it can be quite disruptive to their own battle plan.

Suddenly they have enemy units getting side or rear shots to their own vehicles, or who are moving into position to assault their vulnerable backline assets like mortar teams and artillery pieces. They are forced to press on to their own objectives and ignore your marauding units or divert units to counter them, thus slowing their own attack. This style tactic can be very helpful when you're defending in Point Defence or similar missions, although it can come with risks.

If the enemy does ignore you, sacrificing their rearline, you need to be able to move quickly and strike them from the rear before they can get your objectives. For this reason, your spearhead typically need to be mobilised. Armoured vehicles, cavalry/motorbikes and truck mounted units are the better choices. Especially for Soviets, the Tank Rider squad is a great choice, as they can dismount from your tank to engage enemy artillery while the tank re-diverts to hit the enemy in the rear.

This same tactic can be achieved by outflanking, but this usually means you are losing your outflanking units for at least two turns, or roughly a third of the game. This can be a bit of a set back depending on what your spearhead consists of. If it is made of assault troops in fragile softskins, it maybe a wiser choice to outflank since they are protected for those two turns. The other problem is your opponent knows you plan to outflank when you declare it at the start of the game and might pick where your forces are coming from and be expecting them.

So the next time you manage to create a hole in your opponents line, try flooding through and attacking his backline; cause them to have to completely alter their plans. It worked for the Soviets!

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