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Monday, April 20, 2015

Bolt Action - AAR: Siege of Budapest

Finally my Hungarians are ready for a game, having painted enough to make a solid 1000pt list. I organised to chuck dice with my good mate Kieth on his new and spectacular Ostfront urban table, we knew this was going to be something special. So I recorded it to share with you guys. In honour of the armies involved and the stunning table we were playing on, we decided to set the game sometime during the brutal 3 month siege of the Hungarian capital, Budapest, in winter 1944. Can the desperate Hungarians hold back the Stalinist hordes or will the city fall?

We chose the 'Domination' mission from the downloads section of this site as it's really balanced and both sides need to move up and grab objectives to win. You can see the table layout above, it really tells a story just by looking at it. We imagined our two platoons were fighting for control of the rail line, obviously an important line of supply and communication for the encircled Hungarian garrison.

For those who don't know, the siege of the Hungarian capital Budapest was one of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War, comparable to Stalingrad and Leningrad. It lasted 50 brutal days over the winter of 1944-45 and for the Red Army was a 'dress rehearsal' for Berlin, with many urban fighting tactics refined here. For the Axis it was incredibly costly, only 600-700 of the 70,000 defenders managing to break out of the encirclement in the end. It is largely unknown in the west due to it being at the same time as the 'Battle of the bulge' in the Ardenne.

Both armies were 1000pts. The Soviet's forces consisted of mostly veteran infantry, tank hunters and assault engineers, with some artillery in support but no armour except for a BA64 scout car. My Hungarian platoon consisted of mostly regular infantry and support weapons, backed up by a Zrinyi II assault howitzer and a Toldi I recce tank.

Apart from forward deploying units, both sides would be split into first waves and reserves as chosen by each general.

Both the Soviets and Hungarian platoons had snipers. Fortunately for the cities defenders, the Hungarians drew the first order dice and the sniper dual was ended swiftly in one shot.

The Soviets left 4 of their 8 Infantry squads in outflank, but forward deployed with 2 units of veteran tank hunters. Both took up good positions in heavy cover.

The second unit of tank hunters scouts ahead, ready to deal with any armoured support the Hungarians may have.

The tank hunters carry captured Panzerfausts...

The inexperienced Soviet troops enter the battlefield to support the forward deploying veterans.

The Hungarian infantry begin to run into the ruins to secure the objective to their left.

Heavy support arrives in the form of a Zrinyi II assault howitzer. The infantry moves to protect its flanks from the infiltrating Soviet tank hunters...

A Soviet ZiS 3 gun takes up a position dominating the rail line... Comrade Keithakov (the Soviet commander in the back of the shot) orders forward a medium mortar to cover the advance.

Looking down the Hungarian line on their left flank, a recently arrived MMG team moves into position.

Turn two and the Hungarian regulars, having already grabbed one objective,  move toward a further objective in the distance under the crashed Stuka.

The Zrinyi moves to cover it's 'little brothers' in the infantry.

Another regular infantry squad moves through the ruins on the look out for infiltrating Soviets...

Neither side is daring to cross the open ground of the train tracks yet.

A squad LMG grabs some high ground to cover the other Hungarian units moving forward to secure objectives.

The 3rd squad of Regulars runs on from reserve, they are all alone on the Hungarian right flank.

The left flank is held by support weapons, an MMG team and a medium AT gun in the form of the 'Mace-thrower' experimental rocket launcher.

No Soviets are crossing the heavy weapons line of site but with half the attacking force in outflank, they are wary.

Hungarian veteran troops from the Recce Battalion move into the line, expecting trouble. The Axis troops are really stacking up on their left flank and center...

...leaving only a token squad of infantry to hold off the Soviets on the right flank. A squad of Soviet tank hunters advances. It's firing causing a pin only.

A Soviet BA64 races to exploit the weak Axis flank.

The Hungarian flank guard pour shots into the Soviets, taking down half the squad, but they fight on!

Meanwhile the Toldi Recce tank fails twice to come in from reserve!

The BA64 arrives in time to support the tank hunter team.

Back in the center, the Hungarians have the numbers and so advance boldly on the next objective. The race is on to grab as many as they can before all the Soviet veterans arrive from outflank.

The Hungarian veterans join the advance through the ruins and pin another Soviet tank hunter team.

The players eye view. The Hungarians are bringing to bear 5 units on the small Soviet tank hunter team while the free inexperienced squad gets ready to counter attack any breakthrough.

The surviving tank hunters enraged by the lose of their comrades, assaults the Hungarians...

...but is wiped out by their superior numbers, although there are only two Hungarians left to hold the entire right flank.

Things stay bad for the Soviets as the Hungarians launch their own assault the other unit of tank hunters holding an objective.

The first of the Soviet veterans in outflank arrive and run into the streets on the weak Axis flank.

The Zrinyi moves to refuse the flank, taking up position looking down the street overlooking the rail line. It fires the howitzer at the outflanking Soviets but misses.

A second squad of outflankers arrives, putting pressure on the collapsing flank...

...with only two Hungarians to oppose them, though they hold the objective...for now...

With the center looking secure the regulars begin their advance on further objectives deeper in the Soviet half of the table.

The wolves circle... the Toldi arrives just in time. Shooting it's 20mm gun it causes the BA64 to recce escape away.

The Soviet commander himself, Comrade Keithakov cuts down the last two Hungarians holding the objective!

Hungarian regulars consolidate on the objective, making sure to stay out of assault range of the Soviet conscripts.

The Toldi tank is now holding the flank by itself. It moves to keep within 3" of the objective in the building and deny the Soviets an easy gain. The tank hunters launch a Panzerfaust at it but the recce escape move takes it out of range and the shot is wasted.

The ZiS-3 gun begins shelling the Hungarian regulars in the center but fails to hit it's mark.

Commander Keithakov leads his men onto the objective...

...While on the opposite flank the Soviet veterans finally arrive from outflank. Making sure to stay out of the fire arc of the ambushing Hungarians heavy weapons.

A regular sqaud continues to advance onto another objective, the center one secured by the Zrinyi.

The Zrinyi spots a squad of veteran Soviets in the building in front of it...

...landing a direct hit with its 105mm howitzer. The Red Army troops are wiped out.

On the opposite flank, the Soviets get revenge as they first assault the Hungarian rocket launcher...

...and flanking the MMG after wiping the Axis troops out. That assault didn't occur though as the Soviet Engineers in the building on the left used their flame thrower to destroy the MMG.

In the center, the Hungarian HQ leads from the front to defend their beloved Budapest. Assaulting and beating the Soviet conscripts, sending them fleeing.

Back on the other flank, the Toldi's desperate holding action goes downhill as another Panzerfaust launches and this time hits. Only managing an immobilized result, the Axis tankette is still in the fight, just!

With the Soviet center giving way, a squad of Hungarians secures another objective, right under the Soviet guns.

They hug cover and await the coming storm...

A determined Soviet flank attack falls on the Hungarians with three full squads of veterans arriving in turn 5.

A squad of SMG armed vets puts fire into the Hungarian regulars holding an objective...

But the Hungarian Veterans lay in wait...

...launching their own assault and hurling them back.

The Toldi crew stubbornly hold on even with 2 pins, contesting the objective until the end.

Commander Keithakov orders his forces to fall back and re-group. He knows no fear, but senses this attack has failed.

The Hungarians claim victory with the majority of objectives held. The Soviet gamble of holding off most of their infantry in outflank didn't really pay off as they arrived too late to save the day. The Soviet outflankers caused big damage, but the objectives were all to far away for them to be re-taken. The game featured many brutal assaults and not much shooting at all, much the way an urban street fight would be.

The Hungarian garrison has kept the rail line open for now at least. But the Red Army will give them no respite...

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