Saturday, January 31, 2015

BA- Mechanised infantry

One thing you don't see much of in Bolt Action is mechanised infantry themed forces. Unfortunately the transport rules make "battlewagons" such as the SDKFZ 251 hanomag and the US M3 half track a tad expensive and underwhelming on table for what they do. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, they are very expensive points wise (assuming you use the points system but most people seem to), a regular hanomag costing 89 points. The second reason, related to the first, is that under the standard rules transports can only fire if they have a unit aboard, so one sees the medic eschewing saving people's lives for mounting up on a transport and blasting away with a MMG but lets not go down that particular road, eh. In game terms it far far more sensible to buy trucks and other soft transports, load them up with infantry then zoom towards the opposing force, use the order dice mechanism to leap out of the truck to close with the enemy in very ahistoric manner; armoured transports better designed for that purpose being relegated to the sidelines.

That being said I've long wanted to mechanise my force and try to make  an armoured panzer grenadier force that is sort of competitive. The net ammendments Kent and I are using (5pt LMGs and armoured transports can fire one weapon without  needing to have a team on board) makes such transports far more useful.So my plan is to upgrade my Italian Front German force from (non) motorised to armoured panzer grenadiers. It is a project that has sort of been coming together for a while now. This week my self propelled artillery support arrived, an SDKFZ 251/9 with a 75mm stummel (the some one mounted on early panzer IVs) for close support- these vehicles came from the battlaion's heavy weapons company and the 251/9 will replace the Stuh as my "tank" support. Going by the BA rules the 251/9 can transport up to 8 men which given the room needed for the gun and ammo is a tad optimistic, so I will probably use the 250/8 (basically the same vehicle but on the 250 chassis and used by aufklarung units and which in game terms doesn't get the transport option).

So what I am aiming at fielding is:
3x panzer grenadier squads
1x pioneer squad
1x 233 heavy armoured car
1x 251/9 stummel

1x 251/10 command half track (with pak 36)
2x 251/1s

So that would be a total of  5 half tracks and armoured cars which would be cool. I'd like to squeeze in another 251/1 but think that is getting  bit optimistic. I'll happily rationalise it by assuming the platoons 4th 251 is in the repair shop, which is not all that unlikely.

Last night I painted up the 251/9 but still have the crew to do. I'm still 2 251s short (including the command half track) but am looking into rectifying that shortly.

The 251/9 was a bit of a pain to put together, couldn't find an online assembly sheet for this one, and bits didn't go together as well as I'd hoped but I got there in the end,

The force so far.

 I'm not sure how it will go on the table but should be interesting to run.

While I plot to get this force on table here's a link to an AAR from Sgt Perry's Heroes where he runs a very cool armoured panzer grenadier force- great to see such forces on table!


Thursday, January 29, 2015

BA: Italian Front Germans vs US Paras

Kent popped round for another game, we decided to run the same mission as last week (envelopment) on the same table but with him attacking. We used exactly the same forces as last week.

Flak 36 set up in the field, an infantry squad with 2x LMGs in the building on the left with a mortar set up in the courtyard. I keep my two larger infantry squads in reserve along with the half track, 233 and stuh.

The mortar squad prepares for the American assault.

Turn 1 the Americans advance on mass towards the wooded hill.

There are a hell of a lot of em!

The greyhound screens the open left flank.

Turn 2 or 3 the Americans are in the treeline.
 The advance continues.
 Turn 2. The stuh misses the Sherman and my sniper has been pinned by the US sniper. The two dice are where the bazooka has just advanced and taken a crack at the stuh.

Double 6s, a hit! Luckily he rolled a 1 for penetration but the bazooka team is starting to become public enemy number one.

The 233 advances onto the board only to be shot at by the greyhound, I recce away but even so Ken rolls a 6 to hit and although only superficial damage it causes 2 pins.

Meanwhile on the left flank my infantry that started the game pinned have so far failed to unpin (or o on ambush) and the Americans are almost in sight.
 Oh crap. there sure are a lot of the. I cause a few pins and superficial damage but the American return fire decimates my troops- oh to be able to start in foxholes!

on the right the building in the distance has a squad of Americans in it but they have been hit by a mortar round and have taken considerable losses. The jeep is hidden behind the two trees just to the right of the building.

The stuh has advanced to bolster our left flank, Kent responded by sending the Sherman through the woods.

The panzer grenadiers prepare to assault.
 But the Greyhound is also lurking nearby...

 My squad in the building advances to help out on our now seriously threatened right flnak.

The Americans advance downhill on our left.

 The 233 and Stuh hope to hold the attack.

But the US infantry sweep past them towards their objective.

Advancing towards the woods our last squad is spotted by the Us mortar which ranges in with its first shot and causes 6 hits, resulting in 6 dead mean. the survivor flees!

The Stuh retaliates by obliterating the bulk of a squad- 6 men die but the survivor stands staunch!

then the bazooka charges the 233...
 And knocks it out!

The hanomag just manages to kill the Greyhound with a lucky hit.Then the US mortar again ranges in with its first attempt, this time causing 2 casualties on my panzer grenadier squad.

The the Sherman finishes off the Stuh. We roll for a turn 7 and...

We get one. He has 5 squads that can exit the table on this turn and I've  nothing that can stop him!

Result: 22-6! Yikes a real thrashing. Kent really loaded up his right flank and went for it and in the end it paid off. It was close till turn 5 and then his firepower simply blew away my troops.

I probably should have sent the hanomag and final squad to bolster my felt flank but was hoping to get some softer points with them, and they forced the greyhound to respond but int he greater scheme of things they would have been more useful helping against the main advance.

I think next time we'll try some fortifications (fox holes) to help out the defenders a bit more.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A very cool new project

There is a very cool new gaming project about to begin here in New Zealand. This year is the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign which really is the beginning of the formation of our own unique sense of national identity, and the same holds true for Australia. In WWI more than 100,000 New Zealanders served (out of a total population of just over 1 million), including both of my grandfathers and both of my grandmother's brothers. New Zealand's contribution equated to more than 40% of all eligible men of military age of whom more than 16,000 were killed and 40,000 wounded and the fabric of our society forever altered- you just need to stop at any memorial in any small town in NZ to see exactly what the impact was on the towns and villages of this country.

Given ANZAC Day 2015 commemorates the 100th anniversary of our baptism of fire in World War One there are a number of projects underway and a large number of NZ wargamers and wargaming clubs around the country are getting involved in painting up figures for a very special project. Hopefully this week our figures will arrive so we can get the project underway. As ANZAC Day is the 25th of April we don't have a great deal of time but I look forward to taking part and seeing the final result of our endevours. There will be some official blogs for this project starting up soon, so all I can say in the meantime is stay tuned...


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

BA: Italian Front Germans vs US Paras

After our last game it was back to the drawing board to tweak my force and make it more competitive. My cunning plan this week? Fight fire with fire and run the bulk of my troops as veterans. I envisioned this force representing a reinforced platoon from one of the motorised panzer grenadier regiments fighting in Italy during the autumn winter of 43/44. The core of the force being built round the ubiquitous MG42 teams- 2 defensive squads each with two MG 42s and two assault squads (armoured panzer grenadiers in a half track, and the pioneers, each of which has 3x SMGs for extra close combat omph). The rest of the force being very similar to the last game. The upgrade to veterans meant I lost the kettenkrad and the MMG team.

Craig's Italian Front Germans (11 order dice)
Vet 1st Lt & NCO
2x Vet squads (1x SMG, 2x LMG, 5x rifles)
1x Vet panzer grenadier squad (3x SMG, LMG, 6x rifles)
1x Vet Assault Pioneer squad (3x SMG, flamethrower, 6x rifles) 
1x Vet sniper 
1x Reg Med mortar 
1x Reg Flak 36 37mm AA gun 
1x Reg 233 armoured car
1x Reg Stuh 42 
1x Reg 251/1 half track
Kent ran the same force as last time with 11 order dice:

Vet Lt & NCO
2x Vet Para squads (9 or 10 men with LMGs)
2x Vet Para Squads (11 men, BAR- tough fighters)
1x Vet Sniper
1x Vet Med Mortar
1x Reg Sherman
1x Reg Greyhound armoured car
1x Vet Jeep
1x Vet bazooka

We decided to play envelopment, but decided that only troops that started on table could leave off the opponents edge. We rolled and I got to attack. Unfortunately I rolled a 1 for the bombardment.

Turn 1: I advance onto the board, with my panzergrenadiers, stuh and 23 armoured car ob my left flank, my two other veteran infantry squads on the right. The pioneers advance towards the building sin the centre. My 233 maanges to hit with its first squad a squad huddled behind a wall, killing 5 teams!

Turn 1 the Stuh races up the road, forgetting Kent had a bazooka behind the building in front of it.

The 233 armoured car moves on board.

The hanomag contains the panzer grenadiers and my officers.

A large para squad protects the US left flank.

The 233 hit the infantry in the foreground killing 5 teams.

Turn 2, I continue to advance. The Greyhound and sherman come on form reserve for Kent, my panzer greandeirs debuss and attack the decimated squad in the field, killing another man. My mortar fails to range in on a building housing a squad of infantry, likewise Kent's mortar fails to range in. His bazooka however hits the stug but fails to penetrate the front armour. I then kill the loader for the bazooka. On my left flank the panzer grenadiers assault the remenants of the infantry squad behind the wall destroying it 

Turn 2 the advance continues.

 The Greyhound moves on to counter my armoured car and hanomag. The infantry debus and pins the remains of the infantry squad defending the wall.

Meanwhile the pioneers advance in the centre.

On my right flank the other infantry squads advance towards the wooded hill.

Realising the danger Kent reinforces with a second alrge (tough fighting) para squad.

The greyhound collects pins.

Turn 3: Kent gets the first dice and fires the bazooka, knocking out the stug! The greyhound then knocks out my hanomag, killing my NCO but my officer survives the inferno. My mortar ranges in on the building pinning the troops insie, while my pioneers advance into a front yard in preparation for assualting the paras in the building. On my right flank the infantry start moving towards the centre of the table rather than through the woods. I was about to race the hanomag and my commander off the board but Kent had other ideas, he fired at the hanomag with his greyhound, destroying it. 

But still manages to knock out the hanomag.

 Kent gets the first dice on turn 3 and the bazooka team knocks out the stug,

The pioneers shelter in the front yard but lose 4 men!

Meawhile the panzer grenadiers have killed the remnants of the infantrty squad and the sniper.

Turn 4: Kent moves his one of his large (11 men) tough infantry squads towards the centre, his mortar ranges in on the pioneers in the front yeard while the paras in the building opposite them pour fire into the pioneers positon, hitting 4 and killing all of them!  Kent now contrates on pinning this unit as he is worried about their flamethrower, pins quickly accumulate. My mortar again hits the paras in the building but the shell lands in the cellar so kills nobody. The sherman hits and kills 4 or 5 men from my infantry squad advancing to support the pioneers. I manage to keep pins on the greyhound and it is again neutralised. Kent also continues to focus on pinning my pioneers.

Kent moves a squad right to reinforce his centre and right flank.

Turn 5: The pioneers are eliminated as is the remnants of the veteran infantry squad that was trying to assist them. My other veteran infantry on the left flank manage to destroy the sniper team in hand to hand combat. At the end of the urn my other veteran infantry squad moves through the woods on the rigfht flank (both Kent and my infantry in the woods were on ambush).

Turn 5 my infantry advance into the woods.

There are now two para squads holding the centre for Kent- the guys by the building and another squad in it. My 37mm Flak 36 is starting to have an impact on the visible infantry, killing 2-3 teams per turn

Turn 6, my panzer grenadiers make a run for the table edge but just fall short. This forces Kent to focus all the forces he can on them. On the right my other squad charges out into the open, killing 2 of the mortar crew but the survivor remains. If the game ends now I've 3 units in Kent's deployment zone which will give me 6 points. Kent rolls ot see if the game ends and rolls high so there will be a 7th turn- which is NOT what I wanted.  

Which doesn't end well as Kent does all he can to eliminate the squad.

Turn 7: Unfortunately at this point my camera's batteries went flat. Kent rolled for a turn 7 (I was hoping the game would end at the end of turn 6) then got the first dice so I lost the last man in the panzer grenadiers unit to be denied 3 points; then his large veteran tough fighting squad slaughtered my infantry in his deployment zone on the other flank (22 assault dice=one dead squad) . My platoon commander managed to exit the table though for a consolation prize. 

Result: 12-7 to Kent.

A bit of a thrashing but had we not had a turn 7 it would have been a draw. Another fun game and it really see-sawed, I started off well but Kent came back strong at the end. I really don't like those large (11 man) veteran tough fighter units, they are damn nasty and take a lot of stopping. 

 The last turn went against me but it was close till then. Having all the infantry as vets really helped and the flak 36 really performed well this game. Letting the stuh get taken out by the bazooka team was another mistake but a bit more luck and the result could have been very different.

Not allowing flanking forces to run on and off for easy points worked well. Don't see me making any changes to this version of the list, though I would like to include a second half track.The 37mm Flak 36 realy performed well for me tom, keeping the Sherman at bay and killing several infantry. Its 72" range and 2 dice- doing 1-2 hits each is really, really handy.