So on Saturday, I headed over to Craigs house for a game of Bolt Action. I was really looking forward to it as Craig not only has produced a great looking table, but has also just finished painting an entire 8th Army force, based around the 2nd New Zealand Division and some special guest stars ( some might say 'rogue heroes' ..) with their ill gotten gains from a certain Mr Stirlings night out in Cairo...
The reality is that I very possibly set myself up to fail right at that fateful decision. I normally play my own game anyway, so I really didnt need to see what Craig was doing with his deployment. I would've been better off choosing and denying him the high ground. His Medium mortar and 25 pounder -both without spotters if I remember correctly- would possibly had a harder time seeing my units. Although, the palm bases counting as rough ground, no penalty to hit firing across them, meant that the table was deceptively open in regards to shooting!
Both forces tried to dominate the centre of the battlefield from the start. I wouldnt normally try to capture the objectives so early if they were in the relative open, but on this battelefield the two flank central ones were in the wadi (hard cover) and at the ford in the centre that was hard cover by virtue of it being a destroyed bridge, with the remnants providing hard cover from the sides. With that in mind i pushed my Green FJ squad up on my left flank, initially behind the StuH that was providing hard cover from fire.
Come Turn 2 however, Craigs FAO called in fire for effect with an artillery barrage, which- well placed by craig- put pins on several units and devastatingly rolled a six for the StuH, then setting it on fire and the crew running for the hills (wadi's?!) and its knocked out! (Below) The Green FJ scarpered into the wadi and took cover behind some scrub while checking out what was inside the ammo case the DAK casualty was clinging to as his life slipped away
( Sidebar: see the objective above- not my best painted but hurriedly knocked up and painted the water to try to match Craigs stream from a photo. I was actually quite happy with it, one day ill go back and detail and highlight them!)
Not only did the bombardment play havoc, but the 25 pounder and mortar turned into sharpshooters to pay me back for my gift of high ground to Craig! with successive sixes to range in, my medium mortar and sniper team were reduced to offal over the first two turns! Craigs target and order dice allocation priorities were excellent, and swinging the order dice advantage way in his favour.
In order to rebalance the centre of the board somewhat I ran the officer on to get within range of the much- diminished FJ squads so he could balance out the pins and motivate them into action the next turn! the truck attempted to do a road-assisted long advance move and disgorge its 10 man & SMG heavy FJ squad within shooting range of the bad guys (good guys?!?) advancing on my units at the ford.
Unfortunately, after an abysmal roll on the pothole environmental effect check, the pothole spotter was clearly fighting Indiana Jones or something and the truck bumbled forward, leaving them out of position for where I wanted them...Aaaaaargh!
Heres the view down the road from Craigs side, one can see the pressure hes kept up in the centre and turn three he brought his Blitz buggy in from his right flank. Hosing down the Green FJ squad, they took a single casualty, in addition some more shooting whittled them down to two men, who rather inconveniently had stayed inexperienced. However, they got their sweet sweet revenge when they assaulted the blitz buggy at the start of turn 4, and the buggy failed its recce escape move. Being the spiteful man I am I stalled it right where it was and the FJ proceeded to slice and dice and drop a grenade in the now empty vehicle, destroying it...a solitary victorious moment for the last couple of turns for me!
Meanwhile back in the centre of the table, Craigs dice advantage and sheer number of shots in his shooting order was paying dividends. I had to try and get some momentum and swing some dice back in my favour, so I snapped to with my officer. the three man brit squad just heading into the rough ground had to go as Id unloaded into them last turn and failed to cause a morale check with less than 50% casualties. this turn I knew I had to charge them as they were sticking provocatively out into the open ground.
In addition, the large regular squad that Craig had disembarked from the truck had failed to do much damage to my large FJ squad on the ford, so they too needed to be assaulted while i would strike first on the charge.
As it turned out, I won both CQ assaults, which was great but i then had a poor regroup move roll by my smaller squad which had three men left. I was sure i couldnt reach the observer squad if i charged them because I was in the bushes at the side of the road thanks to the poor roll- bugger! However- i COULD reach his truck- until it failed an order check and reversed out of charge range...damn! What DID go well was assaulting with my (formerly) large FJ sqd vs his universal carrier with the 2nd Lt in the back, forcing him to disembark and fight and resulting in him being diced up somewhat.
But in return Craigs Veteran squad ( shown below to the left of the carrier) finally surged forward- advancing out of their cover and shot the FJ squad to bits, wiping them out!! Craig ranged in on another 6 on the officer squad in the hard cover in the wadi by the bridge, wiping them out also.
Surveying the battlefield I decided there was little I could do to stop Craig from holding the Centre and objective closest to his side. His vehicles were likely to contest at least one of the flank central objectives i held, and he had done a great job earning so many dice for kills off me, each three providing him with a VP. I did what any good opponent would do and extended the hand to shake that of the victor- Craig played an excellent game and thoroughly deserved the win!
A fantastic game on a fantastic board, thanks Craig! the amount he has achieved in such a short time in having a fully painted army and a great looking table of terrain is inspiring- keep it up!
Nice one guys my bolt action 'action' has been very limited of late, just pixies and dwarves for me. I'm itching for a 'real game' good to see you playing.