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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bolt Action - AAR: French (US) v Germans in Hold Until Relieved

I have not done an After Action Report (AAR) for awhile team, so I bring you a game I had recently between my late war French and some German Heer. Now just to clarify before we go further whilst I say they are late war French, I am actually using US rules so they play exactly the same as any actual US force.

JTFM Tiger I dressed for the occasion.

The forces:

Later War French using US rules - 11 Dice

Veteran Lt + 2
Regular Infantry of 8 men with 2 BAR's and one SMG x 3 squads
Veteran Infantry of 8 men with 1 BAR x 2 squads
Veteran Sniper
Veteran Captain
Regular Jeep with HMG
Regular Light Howitzer
Veteran 76mm Sherman

German Heer - 10 Dice

Regular Lt + 1
Regular Infantry of 8 men with LMG and one SMG x 3 squads
Regular Kradschützen squad of 6 with one LMG and 2 SMG's x 2 squads
Veteran Sniper
Regular MMG
Veteran 8RAD upgraded to a light howitzer and pintle MMG
Veteran Tiger I

Now these were competitive but not optimized lists of around 1250 points designed to make use of some toys that we wanted to use and just have some fun. My opponent is a veteran of only about 6 games so we are introducing new units and tactics each game, in this one it was heavy tanks (Tiger I).

Prior to rolling for a random mission the table was set up using my brand new winter mat from Frontline Hobbies (They have a distributor in Australian so costs are greatly reduced for postage), some trees I picked up from our local Aldi supermarket for $20 for everything you can see and the 4Ground Hotel complex with the second story removed. I wanted a fairly open table to make use of the range of the tank guns and the hotel was classified as a ruin rather then a building so things did not get bogged down.

Commander Bobo maintains an alert overwatch position.

We randomly rolled Hold Until Relieved, with my opponent electing to go defender after winning the d6 roll. He placed 2 squads of Heer within the ruins and a high ranking German Officer to act as non player center point of the objective. The Hold Until Relieved mission is basically a friendly unit has captured an objective with a small force and is surrounded by enemy units and must hold on until more friendly forces can arrive. The defender can only place two units on the objective during set up while the attacker can place all their units anywhere on the table outside of 18" from the objective itself.

Starting position for the French Armoured team.

As attacker I had a plan of a two pronged infantry assault on the ruins.  On the white hut red roof (East) side of the table I had strike team Alpha led by the Captain consisting of 3 regular squads and a vet squad with a sniper in support. Whilst on the grey hut blue roof side (West) I had strike team Bravo being the Lt. with a vet squad supported by the artillery with the M4 and Jeep far on the West flank providing overwatch.

Two regular German squads take a defensive position to await reinforcements in the ruins.
Turn One

Drawing the first two dice the defender placed both of his units in the ruin on ambush while I moved my vets and Lt. of Strike Team Bravo up in the relative safety of the south side of the ruins while the light howitzer failed to find range. The defenders Tiger and 8Rad made an appearance and put a couple of pins on a reg squad of Strike Team Alpha but failed to get any kills. The French M4 took a shot of opportunity on the Tiger with the 76mm main gun and whilst hitting nicely failed to actually do any damage. The rest of Strike Team Alpha moved forward using the cover of a wall and took shots at the embedded Germans in the ruins with pins being exchanged with the defenders.

Three regular French squads and their Captain form strike force Alpha.

 Turn Two

This turn saw the defender pull out 7 dice to my 1 at the start and managed to place a number of pins on squads in Strike Team Alpha as they continued to advance on the ruins, causing a number of casualties as well. Fortunately for me I had my Captain placed with this group and with his inspirational leadership all squads were able to activate and continue their advance taking a heavy toll on the German defenders . My howitzer found range on one of the defending squads and rolled 1 for number of hits and another 1 for damage, apparently that artillery shell was made of butter but at least they had range. Our snipers exchanged shots with nothing to show for it and a number of German units began to advance in support of their beleaguered colleagues including a squad of Kradschützen. The Lt. in Strike Team Bravo took some fire and lost a man which held him up for a turn tending to the wounded (failed order check) but he still managed to order the vet squad onwards. The crucial point of this turn for the German player was failing three rolls to come onto the table for three crucial units.
The Tiger enters the field.

Turn Three

The Germans started this turn strong with some withering hits on a squad by the Tiger and 8RAD's MMGs completely destroying it while the 8RAD's howitzer ranged in on the French howitzer.  It rolled poorly though and left 2/3rds of the crewmen still standing. The French howitzer in return passed its moral test and almost wiped out one of the German defenders left in the building. One German squad with the Lt. raced up the eastern side of the table to assault the pesky French sniper whilst a Kradschützen squad placed a pin on the French jeep up the west end of the table. Meanwhile the other Kradschützen squad harassed a Strike Team Alpha unit but that unit still managed to make it to the eastern door of the ruins ready to breach next turn. They were supported by another squad of regulars as well as a squad of veterans all within striking distance now of the ruins.

Strike Force Bravo.

State of Play Mid Game

At this point the defender has only two very depleted infantry squads with multiple pins holding the objective, against this there are now four French infantry squads at mostly full strength and with little or no pins within striking distance and will take the objective next turn unless something amazing happens. The German armour has become bogged down slightly harassing Strike Team Alpha on the Eastern side and whilst inflicting some pain only managed to wipe out one of four infantry squads assaulting the objective. The French 76mm M4 has remained untouched and is now moving up to attack the Tiger and 8RAD around the North side of the ruins.

The Tiger harassing Strike Force Alpha from a position that opens it flank to the 76mm M4 coming around the Hotel.

Turn Four

French squads kicked the doors in on the ruined hotel and entered from the east and west, clearing out the remaining Germans and taking the objective as their own. A short time later a third squad scrambled inside and took advantage of the hardcover to get away from the guns of the German armoured units. Meanwhile the French sniper managed to take out the German NCO in charge of the squad advancing on his hide at the white house with red roof, however they still assaulted the position and take the sniper team out, leaving the Germans to control the entire eastern flank.  A vet French squad takes advantage of a Kradschützen squad in the open and opened fire. They retreated to the cover of a forest, however were still were within range of the squads rifles resulting in a single pin. The 76mm Sherman moved up and got a great shot off hitting the Tiger I for the second time but again failed to destroy it but leaving the crew stunned. 

This unit will soon cease to exist.

Turn Five

The French squads inside the ruins let loose with some shots at some random units which resulted in a few pins but not much else (I was rolling really well to hit but just could not convert to kills) and they in turn copped some return fire with minimal casualties. The 8RAD managed to finish off the howitzer crew while the Tiger I shot at and missed the 76mm Sherman. The Sherman shoot back and missed with it's main gun. By this time it was looking really grim for the Germans, with no units within striking distance of the objective and lacking sufficient firepower to remove three almost full strength squads, the result was now inevitable.

"Kick in that door, we got you covered!"

Turn Six

One of the first activations in turn six was the 76mm Sherman which resulted in a final shot that penetrated the Tiger I and blowing it to pieces (rolled a 6 for pen making it + 12 then a 6 for damage). The game was called there with a victory to the French.

"Position secure sir."

Take Aways

Having concentrated squads in two strike teams assaulting the objective really worked well for me meaning that the defender had to split his fire rather then concentrate on a single flank. Another thing that worked well is having a main thrust that had redundancies in the number of squads, four squads really meant I could afford to lose two and still take the objective. Having a Captain (+3 moral) within that strike team also meant that they activated and I retained the initiative rather then get bogged down with pins.

Third hit on the Tiger finally sets the ammo off and destroys it.

The German defender probably held back with his armoured units when he could have been more aggressive and had some really unfortunate fails to come onto the table when he really needed them. Also having two Kradschützen squads was not ideal in this scenario especially when the forces where concentrated in the middle of the table in hard cover.

I hope you enjoyed this AAR and check out some more random shots of the game below!

This is where the mat is from.

Close up of the French.

Strike Force Alpha advancing.

"Gunner watch for enemy armour at your 12."

Position of the French Captain ready to respond to any unit pinned down.

Strike Team Bravo using the cover of the ruins to advance.

"Enemy infantry 11 to 1 at 18 inches, machine gunners engage."

Pew pew boom!

Stacking up before making an assault on the ruins.

Put a jeep in the open and it is going to get shot.

Black Tree Designs BMW bikes.

"Yes we have a reservation for eight angry Frenchman with guns."

A very strong position in turn 5 for the French.

German regular squad advance.

Turn 6, lets call it there!

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