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.

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