Sunday, 26 October 2014

Bolt Action BatRep, Nomanisan Island, Pacific Ocean

So, more Bolt Action on Sunday, another game against Rob's Japanese with my Marines. Another satisfying game, too. Only a draw, but closely fought the whole time, and the end once again came down to a crucial dice roll, on both sides.

The battlefield, some isolated settlement on a small Pacific island. I was once again responsible for the set-up. I'm a big fan of asymmetric yet balanced battlefields.

Here, for example, the centre is a long gulch/canyon, with plenty of cover and a spit of rock at the middle of the southern end, allowing for good sight lines. Opposed to that rock is a building, better cover, but more restricted line of sight—also harder to assault.

The left flank, to the north, is built up and rocky, blocking line of sight to the northern board edge from the south—but the south is completely open, offering unparalleled mobility for any forces that choose to pass through there, though they'll have to weather fire from entrenched enemies.

The right flank is once more open to the south, but through the north is a lot of uneven, broken ground, which will slow the advance of any troops without providing any real cover. There's a risk of getting bogged down while under heavy fire.

The northern half of the table contains most of the buildings—a deliberate choice—as the southern half contains most of the stronger covering elements. There's a good mix of long sight lines for snipers and support weapons; tight areas for short range infantry combat; and large paths for vehicles to roll through if they so desire.

Onto the battle.

We rolled up mission 4 this time, Hold Until Relieved. I chose to attack this time, as Rob was attacker last time. This meant a lot more of my arm started on the table, not that it really helped me in the opening stages, due to some poor positioning of certain units—and a lucky Japanese flamer team.

This was the situation at deployment, a squad of IJA infantry holding the control point of an AA battery, with a machine gun team set up in the building north of them. They were surrounded by Marines that had pushed forward earlier in the day, closing in on the vital position.

Two USMC infantry teams on the left flank, with the command squad between them. One on the right flank, with the medics. To the far north, one squad of Marines waited beneath a building, hoping to ambush Japanese reinforcements. On the north of the left flank the bazooka team too position in the rocks, waiting and watching for Japanese armour, hearing reports of contact earlier. All along the southern end of the canyon, the machine guns and mortar teams readied their weapons while a sniper team crawled into position on the right hand ridge line. Everything was set to begin the battle.

It started in disaster, my sniper missing Rob's MG, which fired back with deadly effect, driving my sniper out of the battle after his observer was killed.
Rob then pulled another dice of his (this became a theme, and was quite inconvenient for both of us at times) out of the bag. He used this to run on his flamer team and clear out my Bazooka team—clearly, he didn't want them punching large holes in the side of his tanks.
 On the eastern flank, under the northernmost building, there came a furious exchange of fire as Rob advanced an infantry squad onto the field, taking aim at my marines under the building. The Marines were lucky, losing only three men to the heavy fire. The next order dice was mine, and those marines fired back, causing a massive 5 casualties—more than half of Rob's squad. This would normally cause a morale check, and might force them off the board, however, the Japanese are Fanatics, meaning they'll fight to the last man, and never retreat.
Another infantry squad, this time on the western flank, setting up beneath the building there, hoping to draw a bead on the infantry squad holding the AA control point. Only the BARs are in range, but they manage one hit, generating a pin marker.

The situation at the end of turn 1. Rob's first wave has made it on, making a mess of my ambushing forces on the northern edge of the battle. Things are going better towards the centre, pinning the IJA squad there quite heavily, but it may not be enough in the end.

Turn 2, the end thereof. Surprisingly uneventful. Rob managed to kill off the survivors from the northern unit, and the southern unit on the right flank FUBARed, running like madmen, with only one pin— it was from a sniper though.

Elsewhere, everything advanced on the central objective, and machine guns exchanged furious bursts of fire, killing one crewman on the Japanese weapon. My Long Tom also arrived, at the south end of the canyon, while my Engineers continued their outflanking move.

Turn 3 began with Rob pulling the first order die, again. He used to move his flamer team up, taking aim at the Marines under the house on the left flank. He caused only one hit, but managed to stack three pins on the unit, and they failed their morale check, shattered by being hit with such a terrifying weapon.

Sergeant Leon ran as if pursued by the demons of hell itself. Who else could start and survive such an inferno? Private Lopez had been the unfortunate victim of the attack. The timbers of the shack above him creaked and groaned, and Leon choked on the thick, black smoke surrounding him. The Japs had a done a number on the shack, too. Maybe that's why the flamer had seemed to run out of fuel so quickly. There was a tank somewhere nearby too, but there was nowhere to hide. Leon ran, the acrid smoke filling his lungs, praying he could make it to some kind of safety. His legs failed him, tripping against a fallen beam. With a horrendous crash the building came down on top of him, burying him with the rest of his squad.

 As vengeance for the flamer incident, I tried to destroy what was left of Rob's central IJA squad. No luck, as the Long Tom missed by inches, the shell slamming through the generator behind them.
 My command team and a Marine squad advance past the ridge line on the left of the canyon, pouring murderous fire down on the Japanese infantry sheltering behind a rickety wooden bridge. The Japs are cut down to a man, choosing death before dishonour.
End of turn 3. As the last act of the turn, the Engineers moved on from their outflanking manoeuvre, taking aim at an IJA infantry squad in the open, attempting to pin them down.
 Turn 4 opened with me getting the first order die. I wasted no time in giving the Long Tom a fire order, taking careful aim at a full strength IJA infantry squads bearing down on the now clear central objective.

The Japanese infantry hit the dirt, but the blast still claimed four of them, heavily pinning the unit with an additional 4 pin markers. They weren't going to be very useful anymore.
End of turn 4. My central MG had a shot at the same squad my Long Tom hit, further pinning it, inflicting another 3 casualties, reducing the unit to 2 men. My mortar had so far distinguished itself by not managing to hit anything, despite firing at the same target for four turns. Rob managed to move up his medium tank, taking a pot shot at the Long Tom, killing one of the crew, pinning it. This would prove crucial, as the big gun would fail its next order test, making it useless on the fifth turn of the game.

At the start of turn 5, Rob elects to assault with his depleted IJA squad. This goes badly, as my command team have SMGs, and cut them all down before they reach combat, consolidating in the cover of the craters. They then load fresh magazines, firing at the IJA squad sheltering under the building just to the north of them. Said IJA squad has already taken several pins, and decides it's better to assault than hold back—as Japanese troops automatically pass any order test required to assault an enemy.

First Lieutenant Brady heard the cry of Banzai before he could see the Japs ahead of them charge from cover. He knew they were going to be overwhelmed, there were too many, wearing the insignia of the rising sun. He looked to his assistant, loading another mag into his Thompson. They would die today, but they would drag as many screaming Japs into hell with them as they possibly could.

Brady fired, taking one charger in the torso, a stray round grazing the arm of another as he rushed forward to take the fallen man's place. Another had closed enough to start thrusting with his bayonet, but Brady's assistant put a burst through the assailant's head, staggering back as the Japanese NCO drove his sword through his gut. Brady clubbed the Jap closest to him with his empty Thompson, drawing his pistol. He barely felt the blade take his left arm—but his right still held his 1911, and as he fell, he aimed up at the Japanese NCO, putting three rounds through his chest and another through the side of his face.

A Japanese soldier worked the bolt on his rifle, there was a flash, a deafening bang, and Brady fell into the darkness.

As recompense for it's earlier ineptitude, my 81mm mortar took aim at Rob's command team, hitting with the first round. The effect was devastating, and when the smoke cleared all that could be seen were scattered body parts and a smoking crater. The MG team running up ground to a halt just before the crater, close enough—barely—to contest the objective.
Turn 6 started in the centre, Rob's suicide AT trooper finally killing my medic. I had started calling him Doctor Nope, because he just refused to die, saving three people in a row this game, but alas, his luck finally ran out, and Doctor Nope was slain.

My first order die was once again spent on the Long Tom, taking careful aim at the depleted IJA squad sheltering next to the searchlight of the central objective. The resultant explosion tore the searchlight to pieces, dug a huge crater in the dirt, shook the building just to the north on its uprights, and completely obliterated what was left of the IJA squad.

The game drew to a close, as we had nothing else close enough to contest the objective, and there was no turn 7. If there had been, it probably wouldn't have changed anything, our armies were so battered.

In the end, it came out a draw, my MG team contesting the objective against Rob's sole surviving suicide AT trooper. A close game, with many satisfying moments. Next week though, Wild West.

I've got some painting to do.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Late night progress

I finished some stuff. Well, for varying degrees of the term 'finished' at any rate.
 A small pacific village, all Sarissa stuff, only base painted, need to drybrush/highlight it before throwing on the varnish.
 Long Tom, 155mm Artillery. Okay, so it was built last week, but I got into a frenzy and finished the crew in like 2 hours tonight. That includes making 2 155mm shells from a bit of rod lying around.
 Something that's actually, properly finished now. USMC squad 1, complete with basing tufts.
 Sniper team, for long range support.
 MMG team, for heavy fire support. Quite proud of the way this one turned out, looks really nice.
Commander and adjutant, because a USMC leader will lead from the front, and lead by example. (As he has tried to do so in every game so far).

Monday, 20 October 2014

1944: Japanese break through Marine vanguard

So, great game against Rob on Sunday. More Bolt Action, finally managed to get some stuff painted. USMC vs Imperial Japanese. Scenario chosen was Envelopment, with Rob as the attacker.

This was the table I set up. Coastline down one flank, plenty of dead ground along it, a scattering of craters towards Rob's side. Major rock formations towards the northern and southern outskirts of the field, providing useful MG and Sniper perches.

Broken ground and craters littered the rest of the field, but the dominating feature was the cliff running through the middle of the table, providing both good cover and an elevated firing position.

Turn 1 opened with a lot of my reserve units getting orders, and Rob's scout car/tankette gunning down some marines that had advanced up the beach.

End of turn 1 saw both sides advancing rapidly, the Japanese to try and break through the Marine encirclement, and the Marines to close any gaps in their line.

 Turn 2's opening saw the Marine squad on the beach further decimated by Rob's tanks while the Long Tom failed to hit anything. I was less than impressed with it at that point.
 Along the eastern flank one brave squad rushes through the dead ground, pouring fire into the Japanese as they go, causing severe casualties.
Turn 2's end saw the central Marine squad effectively pinned by Sniper and MMG fire from the northern hilltop, while the western marine squad survives by some miracle. The eastern squad did well, weathering the Japanese return fire with aplomb. All my other teams except the Engineers have now made it to the table, heavily weighting the western flank.

 Start of turn 3 sees Rob moving first, rushing forward with his suicide AT troops. Then the Long Tom gets a chance to fire, lowering the barrel to target the Japanese troops next to the tank. With a mighty crash the howitzer fires, and the distant explosion throws sand and debris a hundred feet into the air. When the smoke clears there's nothing left of the Japanese squad but a smoking crater in the sand.
 My sniper takes a potshot at Rob's commander (hiding just next to the tankette). He misses.
 The pinned Marine squad and Bazooka fail to pass any order tests. Saw that coming… but normally my Bazooka team can't hit the broad side of a barn three feet away, so yeah.
 Towards the end of turn 3, and a most Marine squads have pushed forward heavily, wanting to take the ridgeline before the Japanese can make it there. The eastern squad has taken heavy casualties, but simply refuses to break.
At the end of the third turn Rob's tanks have managed to advance implacably forward, mowing down the MMG team, the Long Tom's crew, the western Marine squad and the Bazooka team loader.

On the other hand, my engineers have shown up, kitted out for killing tanks, traps, and other forms of nastiness. They also have a flamer for rooting enemies out of dense cover or bunkers.

In turn 4 I got the first order die, so the Engineers immediately assaulted Rob's heavy tank, scoring just enough hits to stun the beast. This would prove critical, as Rob just couldn't unpin the beast afterwards.
 In the centre, the Marines finally make the ridge, pouring fire into the Japanese below them, causing heavy casualties and pinning them. This proves to be a mistake, as Rob decides to launch an assault, and his Japanese special rule allows him to automatically pass any order test to do so. The marines, lacking the numbers to match the Japanese fall to a man. However, as the sergeant falls he manages to put pistol round through the Japanese commander's skull. I claim a moral victory for that.
This sets up a grand melee in the centre, my commander advancing to point blank with his adjutant, both of them gunning down several of the Japanese with their Thompson SMGs. The eastern centre squad then converges on the Japanese squad, accurate BAR fire accounting for all but the LMG loader. 

 End of turn 4, with carnage all round. The Japanese have lost several units, as have the Marines. It's going to be close, but I have to stop Rob getting anything off my table edge.
 Turn 5 opens with me again, running the Engineers behind the tank, opening up with the flamer on the Japanese squad next to them. Something jams in the flamer's nozzle, and the stream of fire fails to kill any Japanese soldiers before running out of fuel. Rifle and BAR fire claims three enemies instead.

The rest of turn 5 is a mad dash for the finish, throwing caution to the winds. The Tankette nearly clears the board, and my Bazooka once again fails to unpin in order to stop it.

The lone Japanese commander (his friend taken out by sniper fire) assaults the mortar observer to finish the turn. At the start of turn 6, my commander, surviving an assault from the Japanese gunner left from last turn, guns down the Japanese leader as he tries to escape.
Rob's tankette gets the next order, zooming off the board, followed by a suicide AT bomber. Nothing else makes it past the Marine's wall of lead, and a valiant effort from the Medic and his orderly could have swung the game, but alas failed to inflict any wounds—then again, he didn't save any during the game either.

Rob won the scenario convincingly with 14 points to 10. If I'd managed to kill that last squad it would have been 12-12, and even draw, so it was very close.

We didn't play particularly swiftly, but we weren't slow either. The game felt fast paced after the opening turn of movement, and the USMC really suit my aggressive style of play. The Long Tom was useless when trying to shoot tanks, but proved so deadly against infantry that Rob couldn't allow it to get off another shot. My Bazooka proved as inept as ever, but my Sniper finally managed to win a sniper duel, which was fun.

There was plenty going on in this game, fire and manoeuvre warfare, tactical advances, assaults, tanks vs infantry vs artillery. All in all, even though I lost, it was one of the most satisfying games I've had in a long, long time. It never actually felt like I was losing—and even then it wasn't by much. It felt like a close game the whole time, and there were plenty of great moments to take away from it.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Out of place, out of time (USMC vs Japan, somewhere in Normandy…)

So let's start by getting one thing straight: I'm terrible at this blogging thing. Thank you and goodnight. No, wait—I have a BatRep for you first. Maybe I'll even remember to occasionally post y building/painting progress here too.

So, this was our battlefield. Nice open centre, good cover towards the edges. Sort of, anyway. Lots of buildings to run through as well, good for some missions, bad for others.

So, first mission playing against Rob, and his Imperial Japanese Army. #4 in the scenario list; Hold Until Relieved. Turns out the japs were holding something important, and my first USMC division had been tasked with getting it back.

Thus the game began, Rob having set up an MMG and a veteran infantry squad in the building adjacent to the objective. My Marines could deploy every infantry unit on the table, at least 18" from Rob's units and the objective. One time playing an infantry platoon is more fun.

No, I'm afraid you won't see much paint on my models. Rob, on the other hand, has put as all to shame with his speedpainted IJA.

Squads set up in a rough encirclement pattern around the objective, preparing to take the buildings nearby and fight room to room if need be. My twin MMGs were set up in forward positions on opposite flanks, while one brave (if ultimately foolhardy) USMC squad formed up behind some hedges to take potshots at emerging Japanese troopers.

This rather proved to be a mistake, as they were within 12" of the board edge, allowing Rob's troops to assault on the turn they entered. This was the second order of the game, the first being mine, placing an airstrike on Rob's MMG in the building, the only target my Forward Air Observer could see to vector in a strike.

The unfortunate Marines in the corner murdered four incoming Japs with reaction fire, and brought down another two in melee, but sadly, it wasn't enough to stop the fanatical Japanese troopers.

The next major event was my medium mortar getting a round off, managing a hit with the first shot—requiring a 6 to do so. What followed was a chain of luck so good it was almost painful. Because the mortar shell crashed through the roof, exploding in the midst of Rob's MMG team, all three members fell to the high explosive, removing the need for an airstrike. The mortar was to prove just as effective the next it actually managed to hit anything, several turns later.

A comedy of errors in sniper vs sniper warfare followed, my sniper hitting but failing to wound the Japanese marksman, the Jap sniper failing to hit at all (needing only a 2), and my MMG causing only 1 wound out of 4 hits. It was enough to remove the threat of that sniper for a couple of turns, which was a welcome change from what Will's sniper normally does.

The rest of the turn was all movement, squads entering buildings, and Rob bringing on the rest of his first wave. My airstrike turned up promptly, strafed the empty top floor of the building, and left.

The turn opened properly with Rob bringing on a couple of units, then I rallied my Marine squad in the south-central building from 4 pins. The First Lieutenant's +2 Morale bonus proved invaluable this game, helping pass six order tests at insane numbers.

The rest of the turn was once again rather uneventful from what I remember, mostly those troops that had fallen short last turn now entering the buildings to the lower left of the picture, while other pinned units rallied.

Rob managed to get most of his reserves on this turn as well, getting lucky with his reserve rolls, and even luckier with his light mortars in his grenadier squad, shelling my Marines in the north section of the long green-roofed building.

 Turn three opened with a storm of fire focused on the lower level of the central building, starting to build up pins on Rob's IJA veterans in there. If you really want to pin a unit, you have to throw the kitchen sink at it—so I did.

The bazooka, as usual, missed every shot, leaving the house with some nice new windows and open plan living arrangements while only mildly inconveniencing the Japs occupying it.
Next up was my surviving MMG team—the one on the western flank having been toasted by a sneaky flamer earlier this turn, said flamer promptly running out of fuel and running for the hills. The MMG on the eastern flank made up for the loss of its partner by plowing through a light howitzer that had the audacity to try shooting at it, killing one of the crew behind the gun shield.

For this, however, the MMG team paid the price, another IJA veteran squad entering the board in the northeast, spraying the team with small arms fire, cutting down two of them. The gunner, finger on the trigger, cares not for such trifles as dying because of bullets, and holds on for grim death.

 Sometime during the third turn my FAO, having repositioned in turn two, vectors in a second strike against Rob's IJA grenadiers, then takes heavy fire from the veterans in the objective building, losing his radioman to the fire, but remaining steady awaiting the sound of nearby aircraft engines.

Turn 4 opened with a bit of a strange move from Rob, placing his IJA vets in the open. So my squad of Marines advances from the building, putting up a murderous curtain of fire, killing five of the team, not quite enough to force a morale test.

 Following their compatriots lead, another Marine squad rushes from their building, pouring point-blank fire in through the windows of the building the other IJA vets are sheltering in. This causes no casualties, but puts down another pin marker on the vets.
The north team from that same building, having rallied last turn, also advances, opening up on the IJA that killed the gunners—the last man having been taken out by a kamikaze nutjob with an plunge mine on a stick. The depleted Marine squad, having suffered two turns of shelling from the grenadiers, take out their irritation on the IJA in spectacular fashion, killing half the squad.
Then, in the centre, I decide it's time for an objective run. Only two turns left, with the possibility of one more. Balls to the wall as everything advances on the IJA vets sheltering in that central building.

AT squad, with their tommy gun sergeant, they get some hits, but no casualties. Bazooka, predictably, fails to hit the broad side of a barn. Of course, there may be rather less barn at this point.

Then, in a fit of pique, I fire the mortar at the IJA vets…KABOOM! Straight through the building, falling through the large hole the MMG team left while busy exploding, the heavy round detonating amidst the veteran Japanese troopers, killing a terrifying six of them in one blow. Yes, yes, I think I'll keep this little monster.

Little else of real note happens, some maneuvering here and there, and pot shots all round, but the dust settles on turn 4, my airstrike having been delayed at the start… and leaving me hoping I didn't roll a 1—letting Rob take control of it—at the start of turn 5.

I rolled an amazing string of numbers for the airstrike, pinning down everything near the target, calling in a heavy ground attack aircraft (my SBD Dauntless here) that released its payload and obliterated the grenadier squad where they stood. When the dust settled there was only a large crater and small bits of tattered uniform lying around it.
Following that, my Marines assault Rob's final two IJA vets, and a after a brief, bloody, fight, emerged victorious, claiming the objective. Rob ceded the game at this point, realizing he had nothing that could reach the objective in time—and survive the onslaught of USMC fire long enough to hold it.

US Victory!