Friday, December 21, 2012

Thanks Luftwaffe!

Last week Greg put on an excellent 15mm Bolt Action game based on an action from the battle of Kursk. Greg described the scenario thusly:

"German column of Mark IIIs and IVs counter attacked by Russian reserves - T-34s, T-70s and KVs.  We can use "platoon style" Bolt Action.  Can also modify to treat each base of infantry as one "guy", so an activation for a whole platoon can cover all of the infantry, and all of the tanks.  We can bodge the crump-related penalties a bit to get things more free-flowing...I can't recall which of the numerous Panzer division was involved, but we could have the drive toward Ponyri in the north, which stalled out close to the town.  The worn down, but still powerful, German column can run into a counter attack by Russian reserves."

The German objective was to exit four AFVs off the table from the Russian edge at right above (major win) or to occupy the high ground at the middle of the table (minor win). They had access to a Tiger as reinforcement but taking it would reduce the "win level" by one. Russian goal was to prevent German victory - simple.

And brilliant! I have to say, that it's not enough to be jealous of Greg's fine brushwork; the man also knows how to design a wargames scenario. While my games are fairly often one-sided affairs, Greg's are pretty much always well-balanced and tense games to the very end. This one was very nearly that way, too - and that this one wasn't was no fault of the scenario...

Anyway, the Russians set up in defensive positions waiting for the German advance.

Here come the fascists! Panzers drive across the summer fields. Greg had implemented an "anti-parking-lot" rule that no AFV could end its turn closer than 4" to a friendly AFV.

Fire rains down on a T-34. Set on fire, crew bailed out, destroyed :-)

A few crumps (pins) landed on the Germans as they advanced. The house rule we now use for BA games with many vehicles can be summarized this way:
  • First Pin on the platoon gives a -1 to Orders
  • After that it's -1 per two Pins (e.g. three Pins = -2; 6 Pins = -3)
  • Pins still subtract from the roll to hit when shooting, but they get divided among all vehicles in the platoon (e.g. three vehicle platoon with 4 Pins - two shoot at -1 and one shoots at -2)
  • Successful Rally action removes Pins as normal but all vehicles but one may take an Advance or Fire action.

"We can also add to the terror with visits from the Luftwaffe and Red Air Force..." Greg wrote me in an email before the game. Here a Sturmovik visits some of the aforementioned terror on the German armour. Hanomags with Panzergrenadiers aboard seen in background.

The Germans begin to envelop the Russian position. Frederick and I (Germans) decided to dash for the table edge with one tank platoon and forego the Tiger, leaving the Pzkpfw. IIIs and infantry to mop up the hilltop.

Things were going "not bad"...

...despite the occasional "pwnage" by the sole surviving T-34...

... then the Luftwaffe showed up. I'm not sure what I did in a previous life (maybe I was a FOO who called down an airstrike on his own troops?) but I swear, whenever I get near a die roll for an airstrike the result is inevitably blue on blue...

In this case "own side pwnage" as the Stuka lit up one of our tank platoons. But don't worry, it gets worse, much worse...

Russian reinforcements start to appear on the far side of the ridge. No problem yet as the Pzkpfw. IVs are in control.

On the ridge itself a close-range battle is raging as the dismounted panzergrenadiers assault the dug-in Russians. We considered each infantry stand to have three "wounds" and a prescribed number of shots in the shooting phase, to save recordkeeping by individual model. It worked well.

Germans at top centre win the assault and begin to consolidate control of the high ground. The Russian infantry is in headlong flight. Achievement of the minor victory condition looks certain when...

We call for air support again! It arrives. I make Frederick roll to see the result. On anything but a "1" Russians will die. And the roll is... a 1. Confused pilot, Russians pick the target. The Germans on the ridge, obviously.

Russians roll for damage on the German infantry platoon. Was it a wound on a 2 or 3+? I forget, but the airstrike had a significant Pen modifier and the die roll you see above was sufficient to wipe out the infantry platoon. Presumably the German pilot survived the war and went on to train the Syrian Air Force in the early 1970s...

Unfortunately for the fascist vipers, that was about it for the breakout. The spearhead of MkIVs blunted against the Russian reinforcements (T-70s, KV-1s and T-34s) and the massive own goal airstrike put paid to any possibility of holding the centre.

I think we've determined that in the Bolt Action rules, the likelihood of demolishing your own side with an airstrike is just too great (1 in 6 times the plane shows up!!!) We'll likely institute a house rule that when "own goal" is indicated, a further die is rolled and on a 2+, the plane is merely shot down, never to return. If this die roll comes up "Scottish", then Hell is unleashed on your own unsuspecting troops. Makes it no less tragic an occurrence but a little rarer at least.

It was a great game nonetheless and a cool scenario. Thanks to Greg for rolling out his gorgeous toys and setting up the game!


James Brewerton said...

good write up, sounded like a great game. Agree the blue on blue need looking at
Peace James

Greg B said...

Thanks for doing the write-up Dallas!

At first the "blue on blue" incidents are entertaining (when they don't involve your own troops :) but the odds are pretty bonkers in Bolt Action. I'm not sure if that was an oversight, a preference for mayhem or perhaps a game mechanic to dissuade use of air attacks in a tactical game.

Stuka pilots - heroes of the Soviet Union!

Phil said...

Very nice table and minis, the pictures with planes are great ones!

Beccas said...

Great looking game. Darn those flyboys.