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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bolt Action AAR - Colonial Free French V DAK

By Patch,I recently got the chance to play James who I shall refer to as JL, a wily opponent and Bolt Action Veteran here in Canberra Australia at our local games store - Jolt Games. The match was set at 1000 points and was to be my Vichy French, who had recently changed sides to be Free French under De Gaulle for the match, against JL's seasoned German Africa Korps (DAK).

The forces

Free French - General Le Patch

French Generic Reinforced Platoon
1st Lt + 1 Veteran
French Foreign Legion (FFL) Squad - 6 Riflemen, 1 LMG and 1 loader with pistol - Veteran
French Foreign Legion (FFL) Squad - 6 Riflemen, 1 LMG and 1 loader with pistol - Veteran
French Foreign Legion (FFL) Squad - 6 Riflemen, 1 LMG and 1 loader with pistol - Veteran
Moroccan Goumier Squad  7 Riflemen, 1 LMG  - Veteran
Medium Mortar - Regular
Sniper Team - Veteran
Light Atillery - Regular
Medium Anti Tank Gun - Regular
AMD Laffly 80m - Regular
Renault R35 - Regular

DAK - General JL.

Rommels Defeat Selector
1st Lt + 1 Veteran
Heer Infantry Squad - 1 SMG, 6 Rifleman, 1 LMG - AT Grenades - Veteran
Heer Infantry Squad - 1 SMG, 6 Rifleman, 1 LMG - AT Grenades - Veteran
Air Force Forward Observer - Regular
Heer Infantry Squad - 1 SMG, 6 Rifleman, 1 LMG - Regular 
Heer Infantry Squad - 1 SMG, 6 Rifleman, 1 LMG - Regular
Medium Mortar - Reguar
Pak 38 - Regular
Motorcycle with MMG - Regular
Grille - Regular


We randomly rolled scenario 3 - Key Positions (Page 136). This required the placement of D6  objectives, we rolled 4, with the requirement to take and hold the majority to win. All units were to be in first wave or reserve, and to hold an objective you must have a non vehicle unit within 3" without an enemy unit within the same distance.

We took turns setting up our forward deployers, in my case it was the Sniper team while JL had an Air observer and a spotter for his mortar.

The French Colonial Sniper Team takes an over-watch position

Turn 1

As first wave we had to bring at least half our units onto the table, however both JL and I decided that none of our units were in reserve or flanking so we both committed 100%. From my side of the table I placed my mortar far right corner, my light howitzer middle and my anti-tank gun far left with an even smattering of infantry across the table using the cover of the buildings to run towards the objectives. I also placed both my armoured vehicles far left opposite where the Grille had been placed.

The table set up - the bottom right of the table is the Left flank of the DAK with objectives set up in the closest three buildings with the forth at the top of the picture underneath the arch.

JL had stacked his far right with all of his support platform and Grille and had his squads mirroring mine across the table. He did get some ineffective shots off with his BMW and managed to coordinate his air attack to strike against my light howitzer. My sniper took out an LMG gunner in one of his squads in the center of the table to claim first blood rights. The Laffly advanced on and pinned the BMW without causing further loss. 

The French far left flank covered by a running French Foreign Legion squad.

*** End of first turn and it looks like the battle will be decided on my left flank with the majority of big assets concentrated there, I needed to takeout his Grille as soon as I could otherwise it can really delete infantry squads from the table***

Turn 2

Prior to anything JL resolved his airstrike with a successful hit on my light howitzer, creating a crater where my team used to be. As part of the strike his aircraft also  put some pins over my left flank catching my R35 with 1, Lt with 1 and AT gun with 2. Whilst it hurt it was not a killer blow.

The German strike aircraft comes zooming in over the French left flank.

I pulled the first dice and activated my Lt, Jean-Patch Périer, along with my R35 and AT gun. Ordering his teams to "shoot at that massive gun!" Jean-Patch Périer and his buddy made a bolt for some cover while the R35 shed its pin and shot at the Grille. Unfortunately the less then light patheticness that is its gun launched a watermelon about 20 metres in front of the tank, splashing down on the sand with a soft thud (such a terrible tank!). The AT gun also shed a pin, leaving one, and shot at the Grille doing an even worse job than the R35 and seeing how far their projectile could launch over the horizon.

The DAK right flank, heavily defended.

In return JL, with a sound of a heavy howitzer elevating, pointed his finger of doom at the AT gun and using his snap-to action fired the Grille. A matching crater to that left behind by the light howitzer now stood where my AT gun used to be. His AT gun had a crack at my R35 however they were also seeing how far their round could go as the R35 watching it whistled way over head. The German mortar had a crack at my sniper team and missed which was the end of JL's opening snap-to action. My sniper continued to shoot at the center squad putting a second pin on which caused JL to subsequently fail his morale test to activate.

The French mortar support on the far right French flank, this team got a hit first round on a veteran DAK squad.

My mortar way over on the right flank zeroed in first go on the veteran DAK squad covering JL's far left caused two deaths and three pins. Back over on the left the Laffly got some hits with the HMG on the BMW which again caused it to fail his activation test when he it was his turn to go.

My FFL squad moved up and shot at the DAK squad covering JL's right flank with some amazing shooting causing a couple of deaths. Other than this there was some maneuvering of squads towards objectives however JL's left flank was now bogged down with both of his squads cowering in the sand from all the incoming fire.

My Nemesis, launching trash can sized HE all over the table.

***The second turn showed how effective the air strike can be as well as the heavy howitzer leaving me with neither my AT gun nor my light howitzer to reach out and stop his Grille. It also showed how effective two pins can be when it comes to activating units, JL's left flank was now bogged down with a mortar zeroed and two veteran squads moving forward towards the objectives with nothing to stop them***

Turn 3

Pulling the first few dice I was able to lob another mortar on the vet squad over on JL's left flank causing several more deaths and more pins as well as advancing my Laffly towards his right flank and destroying his BMW with the HMG. The FFL and DAK squads on that flank exchanged shots doing some minor damage however the FFL were able to take that objective. The Grille with its commanders eyes as big as dinner plates spotted the Goumier squad out in the open as they dashed towards an objective and shot a round as big as a garbage can at them, Luckily they were too hasty and it missed (it is truly terrifying to watch that dice roll knowing that the squad would be wiped out on a successful hit!).

The Laffly armoured car really getting into the right flank of the DAK.

The Goumiers were able to move forward and out of line of sight of the Grille and take a breath behind a building. JL was able to rally his middle squad and pushed them up towards the same objective where the Goumiers had just recently arrived however was still having all sorts of problems with the squad being hit with the mortar.

JL's mortar had another go at my sniper team and missed again but the explosions were getting too close for my liking so next dice I moved the snipers to a better position. The R35 attempted to advance and shoot however the one man turret test failed and the crew decided to just sit around in the sites of the AT gun as simply moving in one direction and shooting was apparently way to complicated an order for this regular trained crew. Luckily for them the German AT gun must have been out of practice as they missed their shot again. To catch up on the middle objective one of my FFL squads was moving up while the remaining DAK squad was sitting on ambush within the building cuddling the strategic point, they would soon come into action.

Hardly inspiring the R35 survived the battle.

***The Grille was starting to dictate my movements and I was in real concern for my right flank if it started to hit, destroying it was my priority but with my heavy hitters turned to glass it would be a hard ask.  JL's right flank was looking very shaky for him now with the Laffly almost in his deployment zone and shows the benefit of a well placed closed top armoured car to really put some pressure on***

Turn 4

Moving with the speed of a thousand startled gazelles the Goumiers rushed around the corner and assaulted the DAK squad that had been stalking the objective on the flank. Simultaneously they walked into an ambush set up by another DAK squad over at one of the other objectives and a Goumier was killed. This did not stop them however as they ripped apart the startled DAK squad and then withdrew out of sight of the Grille. The remaining four veteran troops of the other DAK squad on that flank finally were activated after trying to dig foxholes with their eyelids to avoid the mortar fire and advanced to shoot at the Goumiers. Unfortunately they had too many pins and sprayed the sand in front of themselves instead of the enemy.

A battered DAK squad takes cover behind a building near the objective, finally they can take a breath.

Until a squad of veteran Goumier tough fighters rush around the corner and get stuck in.

The Grille, my new nemesis, spotted an exposed FFL squad heading to support the Goumiers and with some hasty words to the gunner about the Eastern Front they hit their mark. Four out of the eight FFL were obliterated with the remaining four deciding that their countries of origin were actually pretty good after all and ditching their Kepi's made a run for the first flight home. Lt Jean-Patch Périer seeing the FFL squad disintegrate realised that the objective they were close to was now neutral grabbed his aid and sprinted in a move that could only be described as foolhardy and somewhat stupid as this would bring him within the arc of the Grille next turn.

The Laffly on JL's right flank now moved up behind the AT gun and sprayed the HMG killing one and sending his positions into chaos. At this point I imagine the commander was doing the "drive me closer so I can hit them with my sword" impression as he reveled in the destruction of being amid the
support units like the cavalry of old.

Switching to the MMG the Laffly works out the best way to get around the gunshield of the anti-tank gun.

The R35, after a somewhat detailed series of directions and discussions which included diagrams and references to Napoleon, finally passed the one man turret test and moved forward  taking a shot at the Grille. It missed... again.

The DAK squad that was protecting JL's right flank had taken a bit of a battering and was down to only a few men and managed to kill two of my FFL squad holding the objective. This caused the FFL to duck out of line of sight from them and bunker down at the objective.

Lt Jean-Patch Périer and escort mulling over what to call his memoirs "My scarf was blue, the sand ran red" is top of the list so far.

***At this point in the game I held one objective on my far left, I was moving my Lt to another objective which was unopposed with no DAK within striking distance and my Goumiers were within 6" of another one. This left one objective in the middle which a squad of FFL were contesting with a squad of DAK. I still had three squads with only minor casualties whereas JL had three squads but two were really badly mauled. Pending something really bad happening to my forces the game was probably decided at this point***

Turn 5

The Laffly advanced to within a few inches of the back door of the Grille with the commander leaning out and tapping on the door "Allo allo", when the confused DAK crewman anserwed "Da, who ist that?" The Laffly opened up with the HMG at point blank setting the ammunition on fire. At the same time the rear MMG cut down a few crew members of the mortar team. This terrible 80 point armoured car was taking its toll and running riot!  The Grille crewman put out the fire however were in a terrible state and unable to act this turn.

The perfect position for a HMG to fire on a SPG.

JL's left flank was cemented for the French when the Goumiers cut down the remaining men left in the DAK Veteran squad leaving no German units within striking distance. Lt Jean-Patch Périer took an advantageous position holding the lower right objective and immediately began writing his memoirs and day dreaming about his post war book promotion tour.

The middle objective had both the FFL squad and DAK squad firing point blank at each other through the windows of the building. This resulted in more DAK casualties than FFL but both got a bloodied nose with the objective contested.

Contesting the middle objective inside that house.

The French sniper finished off the Anti tank team with some accurate shooting while the R35 continued to throw soft watermelons at the still smoldering Grille.

***With JL being unable to take back any of his flank objectives it came down to the contested objective in the middle. The Grille was still in the fight, but with pins and its tracks blown off it was a shadow of its former glory***

Turn 6 and 7

The Laffly got some more hits on the Grille and finished it off finally before the German mortar, with its last bit of effort before the French sniper did its job, dropped  a round on top of the Laffly. This resulted in some furious firefighting and much cursing before the fire was under control but survive it did to take out the MVP award.

In a final move worthy of a posthumous Iron Cross the often overlooked forward air controller, who had up until this point tried to remain unnoticed, charged the Goumier squad. In a blaze of MP40 submachine gun rounds and a very well directed left hook he took out two Goumiers before being dismantled at the molecular level by an agitated group of fighters.

Most Valuable Player goes to the Laffly armoured car.

With all other German units dead or fleeing the French turned their combined might on the DAK officer and the remaining squad contesting the middle objective and they were soon sent packing. This left the French in total control of the table and holding all four objectives.

Round Up

It was a very enjoyable game with two evenly matched and theater suitable lists however JL admitted that he lost focus on the objectives while trying to kill my units. This led him to deploy too much of his support on his right flank to counter my armored vehicles which exposed his left to my veteran advancing Goumiers covered by a medium mortar. This also led him to being of a more defensive mindset rather than aggressive which allowed my troops a fair degree of freedom of movement towards objectives.

What you want to see when you roll those dice to hit. This was a FFL squad shooting at a DAK squad needing fives to hit.

In every objective based game I have played it has always been vitally important to take an objective first and then defend it. Once you own it the pressure is on the opponent then to dislodge you while you can dig in and play the waiting game. My advice is to be aggressive early on, take the strategic points with your infantry and have your mobile forces get in the enemies face distracting them from the objectives.

Another bit of advice is to concentrate fire, pick an enemy squad and have two or three of your assets shoot at it to build up the pins and kills. The sniper was excellent for this, adding pins and taking out projection of firepower weapons like German LMG's really hurts your opponents capabilities. In this game I did this to a number of German squads and basically took them out of any sort of forward movement for the first two to three turns by which time I had the objectives covered or close to it.

The table looking from the French deployment zone at the end of turn 7.

I did not have it all my own way and made the mistake of bunching up my infantry units like in V1 and paid the price when hit by a heavy howitzer template. I also lost two of my big hitters with the light howitzer and medium AT gun but in hindsight these were preferred targets to lose rather than my infantry squads.

It was a long AAR but hopefully you guys enjoyed it.

Till next time!


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