As the war in Europe begins it's 6th year of conflict, the outcome looks all but settled, but that does not stop desperate German forces attempting to hold the advancing Allies out of their homeland. As the sun rises the grim defenders of a German town clutch their last-ditch weapons and hunker down, awaiting the rumbling advance of an Allied armoured spearhead.
A little while ago, I managed to get in a scenario style game of Bolt Action with my brother. We decided to do something different, playing length-ways on a 8 by 4 foot table. I was playing a German army, that was tasked with defending the town with 1250 points of troops, chosen with the reinforced platoon selector. My brother, using his British, was tasked to enter the town and get through to the other side, with 2500 points chosen with the armour platoon selector.
The victory conditions of the game were similar to Point Defense. With 2 objectives at the far end of the table, the British had to capture both for a victory or one objective to secure a draw. An objective was whomever had the most units within 6" of it at the end of the game, which would go for 10 turns, to allow the British time to cross the 8 foot table. To help even out the disparate forces, the Germans could start anywhere on the table and were deployed in secret hidden deployment, while the British forces moved on in a first wave. The secret hidden deployment, allowed me to note where each unit was, without placing the models on the table. They also could start on ambush and were discovered when they either used an order other then Ambush or if a British unit got with the normal ranges for uncovering hidden enemies.
As I knew my brother would be bringing as many of his Shermans and Cromwells as he could fit and wanting to fit the theme of desperate defenders at the end of the Reich, I took a healthy dose of Panzerfausts. I had a core of 3 squads of veterans, with 2-3 Panzerfausts and 2 Assault Rifles in each squad. Then I took 2 big 10 man Volkssturm squads, each with 4 Panzerfausts and 2 squads of Hitler Youth with 3-4 Panzerfausts each. I included a regular 1st lieutenant with an aide, and for support weapons, a sniper team and 3 MMG teams. For more anti-tank punch, I took a Pak-40 and a StuG III. While I had more infantry squads and MMGs then allowed in a single platoon, we fudged this part of the army lists in the spirit of making a themed defense list. My brother was also unaware of what exactly was in my army, so he was literally driving blind.
This is the end of the table the British must make it too.
So as Turn 1 begins, the Allied armour begins to rumble onto the table.
A trio of Shermans and an AA Crusader advance up the right side of the table, giving the large hotel complex as wide a berth as best they can, sure that there will be some Germans hiding within the massive building.
Meanwhile on the left side, a Cromwell troop moves through the park towards the hotel.
The first turn is uneventful, as the hidden Germans lie in wait. Turn 2 continues with the British armour advancing further across the table.
As a the Brits on the left flank move up to the hotel courtyard, a German MG42 in the top floor opens up, spraying a British Bren Carrier with hot lead.
A Cromwell returns fire, but the shell passes through the wall, narrowly missing the MMG team.
Turn 3 begins with one of the Cromwells moving around to the front of the hotel, where the commander spies a group of Germans hunkered down in the ground floor. With a hasty command, the gunner puts a 75mm round into the front of the hotel, killing one of the veteran Grenadiers, as they return fire with their Panzerfausts, but fail to find their mark.
Meanwhile, another Cromwell drives into the hotel courtyard and fires at another squad of Germans hiding in the back area of the hotel, killing 1 with a 75mm round.
The rest of the Allied army continues to advance across the table.
Some British infantry begin to dismount in preparation to assault the Germans holed up inside.
A shot rings out, as a German sniper takes aim at the Brits below, but his aim is off.
The veterans at the back of the hotel hold their nerve and return fire on the Cromwell. A Panzerfaust hits and with a loud explosion, the Cromwell bursts into flames, blocking of the entrance into the courtyard with a burning wreck.
With the folly of youth, a squad of Hitler Youth run out of the cover of a ruined house at the advancing Allied tanks, but their Panzerfausts whiz past the lumbering giants.
The German MG team in the hotel relocates to the front of the hotel where the British infantry are streaming by in the wake of the Allied tanks.
Turn 4 begins with my brother getting the first order die, and so his Sherman advances past the Youth squad, firing into them as it passes. Over half of them are killed outright, and the survivors lose any incentive to fight and flee in terror.
The British infantry begin to stack up at the front of the hotel, ready to assault the men inside, as a Cromwell continues to pour fire into the building, killing another 2 veterans.
The veterans responsible for killing the Cromwell in the courtyard begin to pull out, having blocked off access to the rear of the complex and not wanting to get isolated in the hotel from the advancing British armour.
Turn 5 begins with the British infantry throwing grenades into the lobby of the hotel, killing the last of the German veterans on the ground floor in a vicious assault.
The other veteran squad continues to pull back in the cover of the large factory.
One of the Shermans tries to cut them off, advancing down the road at full speed, only to run across a StuG III, lying in wait. The two vehicles hastily fire at each other but both shots glance off the armoured hulks.
But while the Sherman is distracted, a squad of Volkssturm in the shop opposite the factory fire their Panzerfausts and the Sherman explodes.
As the British armour on the right side of the table continues to advance relatively unmolested, they are suddenly woken up as a Pak-40 fires a shot, narrowly missing a truck full of Tommies. The AA Crusader turns fire, gunning down one of the Pak crewmen.
Meanwhile back at the hotel, the MG42 opens fire on a truck in the street below, knocking it out and killing two of the men inside as they leap out of the death-trap the truck has become.
A Sherman also fires on the Pak-40, killing 2 more crew, leaving a single man behind.
The last squad of veterans move up into a building on the right flank in an attempt to hold off the mass of advancing enemy.
As a British PIAT team jumps out of a Bren Carrier and lob a shot at the AT gun. The round hits and blows up the gun and the last crewman, knocking out the German AT gun.
Turn 6 starts as the veterans split their fire, firing 2 Panzerfausts at the Bren Carrier (in an attempt to blow the narrow alley between the ruins) and firing their small arms at the PIAT team, only to completely miss all their shots.
The Brits continue to advance down the main road, as another German MMG team in the top floor of a corner shop opens fire on the infantry further down the road.
Another squad of Volkssturm rush out of the factory in a desperate attempt to knock out a Cromwell in the intersection. One of their Panzerfausts hits but it only blows off the tanks track, immobilising it.
The German officer advancing into the courtyard behind the row of houses to try and reinforce the right flank.
While a Sherman moves onto the crossroad and fires at the Volkssturm. The bumpy advance as it crashes through the ruins puts off it's aim and only a single Volkssturm is killed.
Seizing the opportunity while the Sherman is occupied, the StuG III moves up and puts an AT round straight through the side of the Sherman, killing everyone inside instantly.
Meanwhile the veteran squad that fled from the hotel takes up a final stand position at the factory.
The British M5 half-track sprays the hotel with MG fire, killing the sniper hiding in the attic window.
A British Bren Carrier runs past the Germans on the right flank as Turn 7 begins, reaching one of the objectives.
The veterans on that same flank move out of the building and open fire on an enemy truck as it advances. Riddling it with bullets, the truck rolls to a stop as the Brits inside leap out.
The last Sherman spies the StuG III through a gap in to ruins and takes a shot, but it's 75mm round bounces off the German armour.
The pair of Cromwells in the intersection hose down the Volkssturm who are caught in the open, cutting down a handful of them, before one of them fired a round into the top floor of the corner shop, killing the German MG team inside.
The British M5 half-track mows down the last of the Volkssturm as Turn 7 comes to an end.
Turn 8 sees the British infantry from the destroyed truck assaulting the German veterans and cutting them down in the hand-to-hand fighting.
Before the German officer runs in and kills the remaining Tommies.
His victory is short-lived, as he must quickly consolidate behind a tree as the British AA Crusader opens fire with it's twin autocannons. The tree is not enough, as he is cut down by the spray of 20mm rounds.
Back at the factory, the British half-track rushes down the road, past the burning Sherman and towards the objectives, but the second Hitler Youth squad is waiting and a Panzerfaust round explodes into the side of the vehicle, bringing it to a halt, as the survivors bail out.
Bail out, into the waiting sights of the last German MMG team, who opens fire on the Tommies.
A Bren Carrier pulls up behind the burning half-track, as a squad of British Commandos leap out and rush into the factory. They open fire on the members of the Hitler Youth squad, killing them all in a spray of SMG fire.
Turn 9 begins with the StuG III commander losing his nerve and reversing deeper into the factory, as the mobile British Cromwell advances behind the PIAT team.
The Commandos continue to storm the factory, getting into position to contest the second objective and seriously threaten the German veterans holding it.
The Cromwell's gun is not so lacklustre, as it moves up and fires a round into the StuG's crew compartment.
Meanwhile on the first objective, another British truck and the AA Crusader move up to secure it. (We had decided at the start at empty transports were valid scoring units.)
The German MMG team hosed down one of the British squads threatening their brothers in the final act of the game, but it was not enough. The British captured the second objective as they had two units within 6" to my one German unit, meaning they held both objectives and achieved a resounding victory.
The table is littered with burning vehicle wrecks. Of 7 Allied tanks, only 3 remain and one of those is immobilised. Only 3 of their 6 transports survived.
The losses for the Germans are heavier, with only a MMG team and five veterans alive at the close of the game. I really enjoyed the secret hidden deployment, as did my brother. There were plenty of tense moments as he moved forward, unsure when a handful of Germans clutching Panzerfausts would leap out at him. In the end though, the Allies persevered, and another step was taken into the heart of Germany...
"Anf" is a long-time gamer from Down Under, who currently focuses his hobby time on Bolt Action.
With an equal love of rockets and Ice Hockey, he constantly explores weird and wonderful army lists in his
never-ending quest to collect them all.