(Title image is my opponent Dan, a 40k power gamer,  whom we get immense satisfaction from beating every now and again)

The last time I wrote a battle report was nearly a full month ago. Since then I have in fact played two other games of Bolt Action, but did not have the sense to bring a camera with me. Short version, it was 2 losses. Humbug.

Tonight was the 7th (and quite possibly penultimate) game of our league and things looked bleak. With 5 defeats and one draw, I was fighting for pride if nothing else. If I could win it though (and follow it up with a win next week too), I’d have a good chance of not coming bottom of the table.

My opponent tonight was Dan with his Americans (14 Order Dice, Generic Platoon), facing off against my Germans (13 Order Dice, ‘Operation Citadel’ TS) at 1250pts. We’d already played once in the league, which Dan won, so this was our re-match.

We rolled mission 1, No-man’s land, but mutually agreed that we’d skip the preliminary bombardment phase.

Straight up kill-points then. Mano-a-mano

Turn 1.

Turn one began both explosively and brutally. The first dice out of the bag went to my Lieutenant, who used ‘snap to’ and activated a couple of my units in the center of the board. The Howitzer he triggered went for an indirect shell at Dan’s Howitzer on the opposite side, rolling a 6 to hit for the opening shot of the game and crushing half the crew (bad rolling, they should all have died!) as well as causing a couple of pins. Dan retaliated in kind, but missed, and proceeded to advance forwards with a bunch of units and small teams in jeeps.

The biggest clash however happened on the other side of the board. My engineers surged forward in their Hanomag, leaped out and fired their Flamethrower at Dan’s truck (holding 3 small teams: 2x Bazookas and a Flamethrower), which had moved up the action before. The Engineers rolled well, hitting and destroying the vehicle, but failing miserably to cause significant damage to the units inside, rolling a 1 and two 2’s respectively for damage.

We forgot some crucial rules though, so not only did the survivors not go “Down” as they should have, they also didn’t take the D3+1 pins that the truck would have done, (although they did take the morale check). This meant that when Dan’s next dice arrived, the lone Flamethrower marine did a number on the (still rather smug) engineers, killing 5 and breaking them, while the bazooka marine immobilized the transport.

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In this picture Dan’s marines are running forwards, not so much towards the enemy, as away from the artillery barrage marker behind them. Imperial Guardsmen-Style!

In retrospect, had we followed the rules correctly at this point, the result would have been devastating for Dan. Even in spite of some well-below-average rolling for damage, this should have seen at least two of the teams wiped from the board along with the transport, and critically, left my engineers untouched.

How much Dan would have deserved that, for the stupidity of putting three teams in an open-topped 6+ transport, remains to be argued.

We deemed it to much of a hassle to undo the mistakes though and so elected to play on. I’m a good sport like that……

Turn 2.

Where turn 1 had gone in favour of the Germans, turn 2 saw the luck reverse. The lone flamethrower marine, not content with dispatching 8 Engineers in one shot the previous turn, turned his eye to the Grenadiers (centre of image below) and fried half of them as well, but fortunately didn’t break them. The German vehicles out on the left flank moved up to try for a shot on the Sherman (just out of image on the road, centre right) but couldn’t quite manage it.

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At one point 4 units and a vehicle stood on that road. The lone flamethrower and bazooka marines are on the other side of the building, out of sight, and the model on top is the Spotter for my Howitzer. Looks like overkill on my part now.

On the other flank my 3rd squad of Grenadiers moved into the courtyard of the largest building. This effectively denied the building to anything moving into it from the other side which was not prepared for a fight. This forced Dan’s engineers in the other truck to dismount into the field so as not to risk a volley of Panzerfausts the following turn and suffer the same fate as their buddies on the left.

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Dan deciding weather to dismount to the left or the right of the road. The tape measure is being used to determine the angle of fire a squad inside the building might have out of the window, should it choose to move inside.

Turns 3 & 4

The mid-game was fairly uneventful on both sides. On the right once again my Howitzer rolled brilliantly firing directly at the now dismounted engineer squad (who went down), but killing 3 of them, while the Grenadiers stayed in the courtyard and continued to be a thorn in Dan’s side. In the centre Dan’s sniper team finally found the head of my Lieutenant and deprived me of my officer, while on the left the German armored advance started to swing around and bring their fire to bear. The Panzer IV and 8-rad rolled badly, failing to do more than cause a few pins, but some equally bad rolling on Dan’s part saw the two units on that side suffer from “Tiger Fear” and fluff their morale checks, hitting the deck and making them even harder to hit.

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Dan’s engineers, perfectly positioned to cause some serious damage to units in the building, but prevented from doing so by pressure and pins from the Howitzer. The units in the bottom right are my “dead pile”.

Other than these moments the mid-game consisted of sporadic pins and firefights across the table, generally causing little to no damage, but keeping the game in surprisingly close balance.

Turn 5.

‘Bolt-Action’ Happens.

Turn 5 starts with Dan seizing the initiative. The Sherman, tired of dueling the Panzer from it’s own deployment zone, charges into the centre, destroying fences (and therefore cover) with impunity and managing to put 4 casualties on the 2nd Grenadier unit (center-left) as it did so. For it’s trouble, the unit in the courtyard popped out and stuck 3 Panzerfausts into the Sherman’s rear armour, wrecking it easily. They in turn (after some debate about the nature of ‘wrecks’ and  how they effect cover/movement) were gunned down at close range by Dan’s angry veterans (center-right).

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A smoking wreck dominates the town, overlooked by Dan’s sniper team on the right and a German-dominated left. Credit to Topher, this is a great looking board and it’s a shame neither of our forces are themed to it.

On the other side of the board my Assault-rifle veterans who had been slogging through the corn-fields all game closed with the now severely diminished American left flank, charging one squad and wiping them out before consolidating into a position whereby they could deal with the other in the final turn (below), which they predictably did.

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Did Dan pass this order check? You can bet he didn’t.

Turn 6 (Final Turn)

The battle was still close at this point, and had it ended here it would have been by only a single kill-point difference, forcing a draw.

For Dan though the final turn consisted primarily of withdrawing and preserving his units. The sniper team fled the building and so remained out of line of sight, the truck and engineers fell back into better cover, avoiding the firing ark of the Howitzer while trying to cause some pins on it. Dan’s officer, still alive but now alone following a duel with an MMG team, occupied the courtyard.

For me the Panzer IV drove full-speed-for-glory at the veterans, but despite only needing 4s to hit with both the AT gun and the MMG, managed to miss with everything! The two remaining Grenadier units hung on for dear life, having been reduced to 4 and 3 men respectively, while the Howitzer, having ranged in the turn before, managed to break Dan’s second unit of veterans, forcing them to take their test at -7. This, combined with the mopping-up of the units on the left, ended the turn.

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The Panzer IV never really shone in this battle. I think (on reflection) it had failed to kill a single model, and caused very few pins. Amusingly, this has still been it’s best performance in a game to date and it did survive.

The game ended with Dan having scored 7 VPs, to my 9. A German victory, but right down to the wire.

In terms of league secondary objectives, Dan killed my officer for 1, while Dan FUBARed and I killed the Sherman, for 2.

Conclusion

It may have taken 7 games, but I think I have finally found a balanced list that works! The force is built around 4 solid blocks of 8 infantry and one of 6, supported by 3 vehicles, some artillery and a handful of support teams. It perhaps lacks a little in terms of Mobility, relying as it does on a single Hanomag and Armoured Car to cross the table at speed, but for games that don’t require me to capture objectives mobility is less of an issue.

Tactically too, I don’t think I did anything significantly different to my last 2 games. I was perhaps more fortunate with the Howitzer than I should have been, but given that the critical turning point could well have been turn 1, it was better for both of us and for the enjoyment of the game that it wasn’t.

Hell, and it feels good to beat Dan. I’m not going to lie.

Mat

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