We had a big day this past weekend with John, Mike, Drew, Sean, Owen, Casey, Mike, and Geddy & Bootsie the Schnauzers all coming over for some Bolt Action action. The centerpiece of the day was the third and final game in the D-Day mini campaign that we started in the Fall. In this scenario, Drew, John, and Mike played 5th Kompanie, 2nd Battalion, 916th Grenadier Regiment as they counterattacked a platoon from B Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment (played by Sean and Owen). On the other table, the Bolt Action family welcomed a new member as Casey introduced Mike to the game with a 1946 alternate history scenario of US Buffalo soldiers going up against the Soviet Red Army.
As with the previous games from the D-Day narrative campaign, the players did not know the specific victory conditions for their teams. Each side received an order with tactical tasks (platoon level) and the commander's desired endstate, and had to plan and execute their missions using analysis of the situation, tasks, and terrain. As happened last time, the players all seemed to enjoy this aspect of the scenario, and it produced a very tactical game with almost no artificial douchy gamesmanship (with the possible exception of some cheatin' Germans maneuvering a half track out of turn!) Cheatin' Steve approves.
The force ratio gave about a 3:2 advantage to the Germans. The Americans mitigated this disadvantage by defending form the cover of the Chateau de Vaumicel. At the end of the day, this force ratio seemed to work well for an asymmetric game scenario with one force attacking a defending force in cover.
The Germans fielded three Grenadier Platoons, each with a command section and three squads. Each squad had an SMG, MG42, and 4 rifles. The German company command element included a Captain, an Artillery Forward Observer, and a 222 Armored Car with an automatic cannon. In reserve, the Germans had a squad in a Hanomag half track (to be deployed at the GM's discretion if things started going too pear-shaped)
The US team started with one platoon (command section plus two squads) and a company command element with Commander & 1SG, an 81mm mortar with spotter, a bazooka team, and a sniper team. In reserve, a platoon from A Company, 5th Rangers waited to enter the table with two squads and a US Army Air Corps forward observer team. Each us squad had one SMG and one BAR.
So here is how it all went down...
The Americans set up in the Chateau and watched as the German Grenadiers formed up to attack.
The Germans moved cautiously onto the table, unsure whether there were any US units waiting in ambush along their axis of advance.
The Germans advance slowly with platoons on-line toward a stone wall with the buildings of the Chateau in the distance.
With the entire Grenadier company behind the cover of the stone wall and the Americans starting to fire from the buildings, the German FO called a smoke mission to obscure the breach site (the windows and door along the side of the chateau near the stone wall in the photo below). Unfortunately, the shot was inaccurate, and landed too far form the buildings to obscure the breach site. This was going to get bloody at the breach.
Inside the courtyard of the Chateau, the company commander (foreground) encourages his soldiers in the buildings while the 81mm mortar (background) goes to work raining high-angle hell down on the German attackers. The mortar spotter shared the Chateau tower with the sniper team.
Along the road on the Germans' left flank, the FO's VW provided cover for a squad of Grenadies who were getting chewed-up by fire from the Chateau buildings.
The Ranger platoon started to move onto the table with the US Air Corps FO team setting up in a ruin to the north of the battlefield.
The 222 armored car attempts to suppress the Americans while the German assault element starts to mass and advance on the right flank of the German line.
The Ranger platoon advances toward the Chateau gate to lend a hand in the defense of Chateau de Vaumicel.
The German command team plots their next move.
Fistfulls of pin markers indicate an effective air strike called in by the Air Corps FO team.
Elsewhere, Casey introduces Mike to the absolute awesomeness that is Bolt Action.
American rocket launcher positioned on a rooftop!
Buffalo Soldiers advance to engage the Soviet menace.
And then I inexplicably stopped taking pictures...
...So here's the rest of the story... The German attack really started to falter under the sustained fire from the Americans in the Chateau. I elected to give them the reserve half track squad, which they put right into the fight along the road on their left flank. The German Grenadiers finally reached the breach site, where their lead assault squad was annihilated by, get this, the American Bazooka team. It happened.
Then the Americans called-in an airstrike on their own position with a bad roll, while one platoon from the Rangers incredibly failed to obey orders to enter the Chateau. The high point of the American fight was the National Guard sniper taking out the German Commander.
In the end, the Germans were able to get into the Chateau, but they were unable to dislodge the Americans.
We all congratulated ourselves on a battle well-fought, recharged our drinks, then I dug out the victory conditions and determined that the Germans had scored 3 of 5 victory points while the Americans scored 2 of 5 which, no matter how loudly those cheatin' Germans yell about it, is a draw. From what I saw, the deciding factors for this game were the offsetting air strikes, the insubordinate Rangers, and the ability of the Americans to engage the Germans from the cover of the Chateau.
Thanks to all the guys for making this event possible. I think I have a pretty good bead on developing asymmetric wargame scenarios based on what we learned from this mini campaign and I am geared-up for more. We definitely have a good group of narrative wargamers beginning to coalesce around this system. Very fun stuff!
Tune in next time as we head to North Africa for some DAK v. 8th Army action!