Monday, September 3, 2012

Battle Report - King Tiger Fail (Bolt Action in 15mm)

German King Tigers lead counter attack (not exactly as depicted)
Last week Dallas hosted our regular game.  We played the popular (and excellent) new Bolt Action rules, but used 15mm models instead of 25mm-28mm figures. The scenario was late war Eastern Front, set in Poland in the summer of 1944, with a German counter-attack against the Russian bridgehead over the Vistula River.  The actual counterattack included the 501st Schwere Panzer Abteilung, equipped with King Tiger tanks, so this provided us with an excuse to roll a platoon of fabled "big cats" on to the table.
Panzer Grenadiers and Mark IV-H - models from Battlefront
King Tiger platoon - models from Battlefront.  This would be most games.....
The table was 6'x4'.  The Germans had to enter on one short edge and cross the table to exit the other short edge.  The German force included a platoon of panzer grenadiers in half tracks, a Panzer IV-H, and a platoon of four mighty King Tiger tanks!  The Russian opposition consisted of a blocking force of a platoon of infantry and a platoon of T-34/76s, and off-table reinforcements in the order of a company of 10 T-34/85s and another platoon of infantry.   The blocking force was able to occupy a ruined village at the centre of the table before the game started while the Germans marched on.  The Germans would have 10 turns to make the crossing of the table.
Russian forces prepare to try and block the German advance - models from Old Glory and Plastic Soldier Company
Germans would have to enter from the left side of the photo, and get all the way across to exit from the right side (across the bridge)
 Hugh and Dallas took command of the Germans while I played the Russian side.  Historically the King Tiger tank, although fearsome, was beset with all sorts of challenges - it was slow, and very prone to breakdown.  To reflect this, we slowed the King Tiger's move pace to 6", as opposed to the regular move of 9" for tracked vehicles.  The King Tigers were also prone to a "Scottish Check" if they ever tried a run order (i.e. double move) to reflect the tendency of the drive trains on the big tanks to break.  If a "1" was rolled, the tank would be immobilized.

One other modification - the sheer number of Russian units/vehicles may have made the game difficult, so we applied a kind of "hen and chicks" rule to the Russian tanks, making them operate in platoons.  If the platoon was to fire, all tanks would have to try and hit the same target.
T-34/76s move up into the village
"I'll just race through the village - what could go wrong?"
Even though we were playing a smaller scale, we left the ranges un-changed, so both sides were getting stuck in right from the first turn.  Dallas had smoked the T-34/76s by the end of the second turn, and my off-table reinforcements started to appear in the third turn.  The fortunes of the King Tigers took a turn for the worse...
T-34/85s enter from the flank - note the pin markers starting to accumulate on the Tiger in the village...
Dallas had one of the worst bad-luck dice-rolling evenings I can recall in a long time.  "1" after "1" after "1" was really something.  The Tigers would miss their shots, or miss the penetration roll, or fail to do anything serious if they did was something else.  Meanwhile, on the Russian side, we had some pretty hot rolls, and the T-34/85s were able to score a couple of kills on the big cats.
King Tiger hammers away at T-34/76s
T-34/85s arrive with tank riders for support
Hugh sent the panzer grenadiers in for an assault into the village, with the support of his Panzer IV-H.  I sent one platoon of tanks directly in to the village, and two more up behind the village in a blocking position.  Because of Dallas' horrible luck, we were able to slow the German assault to the point where it was not going to make it across the table.  Pressed for time, Dallas took the chance on double-moving his King Tiger tanks, and when it came time for the check on whether the tank would break down, he rolled...."1"s, of course.
T-34/85s advance over a bridge

Now THAT is how you take out a King Tiger! Double sixes on two penetration rolls...
Panzer grenadiers capture a building in the village
Russian infantry continues to attack
Crumps show the withering fire endured by the T-34/85s as they approached the village
The Germans still chewed up the Russian force - they lost two and a half squads of infantry, seven tanks knocked out and two more immobilized.  The Germans lost a squad of infantry, the Mark IV-H was immobilized, two of the King Tigers were knocked out and a third broke down.  We called the game at the end of the sixth turn.
Russian go after a German squad that got a little too close...
T-34/85s hammer the village
This King Tiger broke down during the add insult to injury, the T-34/85s later knocked it out!
This was my first run through the new Bolt Action rules and I was really, really impressed with them.  We played what was essentially a massive game - over 3,100 points of stuff per side. Still, the game moved fast. Keeping track of kills to the infantry (which were based in groups) was only a minor headache, easily handled with a tally sheet, "casualty caps" or some other such approach.  If you have WW2 stuff based for "Flames of War", feel free to give Bolt Action a try - I think you will enjoy it.

This King Tiger ALSO broke down during the advance
Looking back I think slowing the King Tigers down was a little too hard on the Germans, considering how much table they had to cover. But I think a more - er - "average" outing by the Tiger gunners would have changed things for the Germans.  I am looking forward to playing the Bolt Action rules again - and I am looking at using them for my Golan Heights project too.

Immobilized and burning King Tigers

The final turn - lots of wrecked tanks, but the German advance had been stopped
The platoon-based action for the Russian tanks worked very well too - it was a good way to have a great deal of armour on the table, but still reflect the Russians' relative lack of initiative when it came to the operations of their tanks.

Thanks again to Dallas for hosting.  I can't wait to play Bolt Action again.

Meanwhile, I expect Dallas will burn those dice...


Curt said...

Great AAR, Greg. Its too bad Dallas had such a bad run of it. Those crap-dice streaks can be pretty dispiriting.

The models looked superb as well!

Dallas said...

Meh, die rolling... whatever. It was a great game nonetheless and I think that the three beers I drank during play dulled the pain a bit.

But the game looked great and worked well, I think. The Russian superiority in numbers was balanced by the fact that their tanks activated a platoon at a time... which meant that putting Pins on even one tank in the platoon of three, affected all of them. On the German side our vehicles and sections were each considered separate units so retained a good deal of freedom of action. I think that this simulated Russian C+C "issues" rather well and as an added bonus, allowed us to play a HUGE game quite efficiently!

Thanks Greg for putting that one on!

tim said...

Great report, Greg! How long did the scenario take to play out?

AWu said...

You should try and replay this scenario more historical, with T 34s hidden in haystacks and attacking Tigers up close and from the sides.

But works best probably if German player don't know it could happen :>

Dallas said...


I think we played the six turns in a bit over two hours?

tim said...

Thanks Dallas!

Admiral Drax said...

Absolutely brilliant: thanks for posting this!

Did you find the weapon ranges worked ok?