Monday, 22 June 2015

USMC vs Treacherous Brits

So, Sunday rolled around again, and this time it was just me and Mark. Bolt Action, which is always fun. I took my Sherman out for the first time (trading my Stuart, Air Observer, and one infantry squad for it), while Mark experimented with a veteran list.

Marks new mat (shaved, painted, and sometimes slightly scorched teddy bear fur) looks awesome. The hills under it, with loose trees scattered around, really makes it great, and look like a real battlefield. I can see it getting a lot of use in the future.

We started by rolling up maximum attrition for our mission. Simple: first man to die, loses.

 So, first shot of the game goes very well, with a wonderful string of 6's from my sniper (right hand buildings, green roof) at Mark's (left hand buildings, centre, green roof).

Revenge for what he did last time we fought (at the tourney).
 My infantry advance up the centre.
 Everything rolls up through the centre, with a bit of weight to the left. Mark's forces are spread relatively evenly, with two squads focused on the river and his ever (un)reliable Cromwell on the far left.
Mark pondering if the artillery barrage will once again blow up in his face…

…it didn't. Everything nearby got pinned, but it was my commanders that ate the heavy rounds, not really anything important (like the Sherman, or the infantry squad).
 Mark's Brits rush through the open field, knowing they need to close before the MG can open up.
 The Sherman rolls forwards, despite two pins (already better than Mark's Cromwell), but fails to harm—or even hit—anything. Boo.
 My medium mortar, on the other hand, pulls a Hail Mary and lands a shot perfectly on the veteran unit aiming for my MMG team.

When the dust settles half the squad has been wiped out by one round.
 The MMG then opens up, claiming another, just barely.
 Mark's infantry rush the houses in the centre, and my boys move up, but fail to cause any damage (because of the single pin on them, actually).
 Mark's Cromwell laying into my MMG and Engineer teams. This flank was going all his way.
 This time, free of pins, and staying still to be more accurate, the Sherman actually hits. But still no wounds. Seems it knows my army's theme well then.

 The next turn started with Mark's heavily damaged squad taking heavy casualties from the MMG, but the other squad made it to the leftmost building, where my sniper was hiding.
 Said sniper decides now would be a great time to deprive the upper level squad in the central buildings of their NCO. It's the moustaches that make them such easy targets, I tell you.
 The rest of the turn goes well as Mark's two main squads FUBAR. Two FUBARs. In a row. Absolutely hilarious, though no real damage is caused other than the squad's losing their chance to act this turn, which did actually prove crucial.

To start the next turn, the squad in the lower building tried to assault the Sherman, but failed to damage it.
 The Sherman ground around on its tracks, bringing its hull MG in line with the building, and elevating the barrel of its 75mm all the way.

The explosion echoed through the top floor as machine gun rounds tore through dazed and shell-shocked soldiers. As the dust began to settle, just under half the squad began to rise from the ashes.
The infantry in the centre move up, pouring fire into the top level squad, causing further pins and a single casualty.
 Then, opening the next turn, a mortar round aimed for the top floor crashes straight through and obliterates the squad below. Sterling work, if not entirely intentional.

The Sherman finishes off the top squad with another round from its 75mm cannon. I think a heavier tank is a worthwhile investment, especially if it doesn't have to fight another tank.
My MMG cuts down the last survivor of the right hand veteran squad. At this point Mark conceded, with the USMC having 8 points to the Brits 4.

It was a good game overall, but very little seemed to go Mark's way, making the victory quite a lot easier for me. He did nail my sniper and commander, though the latter was more by luck with the artillery strike. My Bazooka did nothing, but forced him to put the Cromwell as far away from it as possible—it's quite a powerful psychological tool sometimes.

Mark's overall plan to take the buildings, vs my drive down the central road, was a good one, and could have been very costly for me if I'd been forced to assault vs veteran troops armed with plentiful SMGs. I wasn't going to play ball though, and so simply emptied as much firepower as possible into those buildings. In the end, with a bit of luck, it worked.

To round out the day we played some Munchkin, in which I scraped another win by the very skin of my teeth. If he hadn't been trying so hard to steal my hammer, he would've won. Well that, and the friendship potion I threw on what would have been the winning kill for him.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Sunday Gaming — Game 2

 Round 2 against Noel's IJA. I took more pictures this time. A lot more. Basically because there was a lot more action. The missions was Hold Until Relieved, and Noel chose to attack. My objective was once more my marker cluster, with an MMG and infantry squad deployed to hold it.
Noel started strong, with a huge 15 man veteran unit deploying on one hill (which this game we were calling rough due to its steepness, along with all other hills). Around this core of veterans were arrayed a large number of other nasties, including 3 light mortars, a light howitzer, an officer, a sniper, and a small unit of IJA regulars.

The mortars start the game by dropping smoke, with every round going hilariously off target.
 The howitzer lays a pie-plate of smoke, effectively blocking LoS to everything from everything in Noel's army. This will come back to bite both of us in the ass later.

The "Navy Brat" M3A1 Stuart rumbles onto the board, crashes its way through the forest, and in an unlikely display of marksmanship (possibly making up for not killing anything last game) promptly puts several MMG rounds through the veteran IJA officer. This begins an interesting trend…
 Here the squad defending the building rushes forward through the smoke and obliterates the MMG on the corner of the building in a withering hail of fire.
 Turn 2 sees my first airstrike come roaring in, scoring fifteen hits at +4 PEN at which Noel wisely decides to go Down against, halving it to a more manageable 7.

One 500 lb bomb later and seven IJA veterans are rather less threatening for being spread across several dozen feet of landscape.
 The team that gunned down the MMG rush forward and take out the sniper's assistant.
And then are promptly assaulted by the light mortar team and wiped out to a man.

Bollocks. I had hoped they'd put up more of a fight.
 An IJA regular squad arrives from reserve and promptly has its officer shot out from under it. Remember that theme I spoke of earlier?
 Everything I have left in reserve rushes onto the board. We need to keep that central objective out of Japanese hands.
 Everything on the Japanese side also arrives, including the tank. The "Navy Brat" has maneuvered over the hilltops behind smoke to await getting a better shot.
Turn 3 starts with another strafing run on the IJA veteran squad, scoring 14 hits, reduced by the down to 7. How wish they'd been inside a building at this point…

Thus, 7 more IJA veterans are killed by the strafing run, leaving one man who gives exactly zero fucks about all the aircraft overhead and decides that staying around will let him stick someone with his bayonet.
 The FAC, his job calling planes done, advances over the crest of the hill, and with a strong of sixes, you guessed it, takes out the IJA regulars' officer. That's now three Japanese NCO's down, and one left to go.
The mortar, firing with direct line of sight, pulls off a hail mary against the lone surviving IJA veteran, getting five hits (down to two), and finally killing off the big scary squad of doom[TM].
 On the left flank squad 3 moves up and pours fire into IJA regulars there, reducing the squad to just 2 men. Not a morale test though, because Japanese are Fanatics.
The light mortar team attempts another assault, but difficult terrain slows them just enough that they fail to reach the sole surviving MMG crewman, his friends shot up by the Chi Ha previously.
 The "Navy Brat" takes a shot at the Chi Ha, but predictably misses at this range. The bazooka team also moves up, but again misses, blowing a large chunk out of the wall behind the tank and making the tank driver rather nervous.
End of turn 3. I've lost one full squad (centre left of the picture there), and Noel's lost his big veteran squad and various attritional casualties elsewhere.
 Focus on the middle, with all the marine fireteams pushing up to keep the objective secure.
Turn 4 starts with Noel assaulting the MMG survivor, predictably killing him where he stands.
 Being marked for an airstrike the "Navy Brat" rumbles forward at full speed, and even at point blank manages to miss the Chi Ha right in front of it. Maybe I should spend the extra points on making it veteran for that gyro-stabilizer.
Squad 3 assaults the Japanese sniper, clearing the building right of centre, while the engineers advance through the building left of centre.
 The IJA regular squad assaults and kills my FAC team, but, having ensured the destruction of over 200 points worth of IJA veterans, the trade is felt worthwhile for the 85 points they cost.
 Turn 4 ends with complete control of the centre by the US Marines, and an increasingly tenuous position held by the IJA.
 Made even better when, for the second time that day, I get to hijack an airstrike. After a little vacillation between trying to murderize the mortar squad, I decide the Chi Ha really is the better target, and a cannon run begins, immobilizing the beast.
However, the "Navy Brat" pushed forward too aggressively last turn and falls to a suicide bomber. Well now I'm left with exactly one thing that can kill a tank (discounting the horribly outranged flamer).
 At which point said thing steps up to the plate, fires, and hits its mark square in the side, punching through the fuel tanks and engine block, knocking the Chi Ha out for good this time.
Having had their NCO picked off by the sniper at the end of the last turn, the light mortar teams weather a storm of fire from the engineer team and squad 3. "Toasty Jones" and his handy flamer is unfortunately out of reach, and so misses automatically. Adding insult to injury he also forgot to pack any petrol for this fight, so he's gone.
 The medic's corpsman assistant takes a carbine shot at the IJA regulars, but fails to wound. Still a pin though.
Turn 5 closes as the depleted mortar team tries to make a banzai charge, but is cut down by squad 2, waiting in ambush behind the vital objective.

The final act of the IJA is to a put a light howitzer round directly into the engineer team, cutting down three of them.
 That does it for the end of turn 5, and the IJA are looking seriously depleted, having only 1 unit now capable of even contesting the game.
Turn 6 opens with the light howitzer firing at the engineers again and killing two of them. The engineers give zero fucks about this, and advance menacingly, their rounds pattering like rain from the howitzer's gun shield.
 A lone man (the IJA FAC I think) tries to assault the medic. His buddy, armed with only a carbine, drops the threat with a single shot. Well done. The medic team then advances, luring in the other IJA squad but failing to inflict any damage on it. They are promptly assaulted and wiped out for their troubles.
This leads to a vicious counter-assault from squad 2, the Japanese fighting to the bitter until Private Walker gets the last word in with his bayonet. Thus ends the Japanese threat, and the game.
After six hard fought turns of battle, and a strong USMC counter-thrust through the middle of the sector, the objective remains strongly held by the Americans.