Thursday, May 8, 2014

"Domination" in North Africa-Bolt Action AAR

Last night we gathered at LABRYNTH Games in Baraboo, WI for an epic 2000 points per side battle in the desert pitting the DAK/Italian forces vs. 8th Army/American forces in a battle loosely based on The Battle of Gafsa Heights.

There were a total of four players: Jarred, Nate, Brian and myself each of us brought 1000pt forces.  Brian and I were paired up as the Axis vs. Jarred and Nate as the Allies.  Special thanks to Jim who supervised and impartially puled dice for the duration.  Extra special thanks to Corey for staying late so we could finish.

My DAK:

Brian's Italians:
Jarred's Americans:
Nate's 8th Army:

As you can see we all brought a different colored dice.  We agreed to add all the colors to the bag and when that color was drawn only that force could activate.

The scenario we picked or this event was "Domination" which is published online at bolt action.net

http://www.boltaction.net/2014/03/new-bolt-action-mission-domination.html

Domination

By Judson MacCaull (and Truck Stop Lauterbach, and Company of Heroes)

You and your opponent are fighting to dominate the field of battle.

Deployment

Both players roll a D6. The player who rolls the highest number may choose to be the attacker or defender. The defender chooses which table edge to defend. The attacker attacks from the opposite table edge. Both players start the game with their entire army off the board. Starting with the defender, each side designates half their force (rounding up) to come on as a part of the first wave. The remaining troops are placed in reserve or outflank.

Game Duration

The game ends at the end of turn six, unless the game is extended. At the end of turn six roll a die. On a 1-3 the game ends. On a 4-6 play one more turn.

Objectives

Objectives are placed on a 6' x 4' board in the pattern indicated on the map. The objectives closest to the players’ board edges are each worth 1 victory point. The objective in the center of the board is worth 3 victory points; the other two objectives are worth 2 victory points.

Both sides are trying to control as many objectives as possible by the end of the game. An objective is controlled if at the end of a turn a friendly infantry, tank, or artillery unit is within 3” of an objective, and there are no enemy teams within 3" of the same objective. Once a player controls an objective, the opposing player can capture the objective by ending their turn within 3” of the objective, with no enemy units within 3”. Until that happens, their opponent controls the objective. Transports cannot capture or control an objective.

Victory

The player controlling the most victory points at the end of the game wins. If players control the same number of victory points at the end of the game, count the number of units each side lost. The side that lost more units loses. If players lose the same number of units, the game ends in a draw.
 
Scenario Set up Map

I brought my North Africa terrain which was set up per the above map with seven objectives.

3 point center Objective is in the Building
2 point objectives are on the side hills.

The terrain was fairly sparse being a dessert map, but there was plenty of LoS blocking terrain.  The picture does not show it real well in the above pictures, but there were six hills/dunes which were placed under the table cloth to provide elevation.  We defined the terrain as follows:

1. since I only have so many palm trees they were treated as area terrain.  Units in the trees or behind gained light cover.  Basically for the hills that had trees the entire top was light cover.

2. The two large rocks were rough terrain impassible to all vehicles.

3. Hills were rough terrain impassible to wheeled vehicles.

4. The large rocks and the hills provided hard cover assuming more that half the unit was obscured.

5. All other terrain was normal.

Initially, the Allies won the die roll, but since Italians were involved we forced a re-roll and the Axis won deciding to defend and pick the board side.  Brian did not bring his defensive works, so they were not in play, but the allies were not allowed to run on turn 1 per the Italian special rules.  First wave was determined and units put in outflank.  Then the contest began.

Turn One:

Just saw initial deployment s and units maneuvering for position.  Only one German unit opened fire causing a pin.

Axis position forming on the right
Heavy mortar takes the heights for LoS

Allies bring out the big guns
American Infantry forming on the left
Turn two:

More rounds started to fly as the positions shaped up.  The Sherman arrived with a bang, but failed to produce a critical blow.  Axis mortars started laying smoke, but were not very effective.

222 started the game of cat and mouse
Smoked laid with little effect
Axis position starts to develop on the left
Turn Three:

Out flank units all came on to meet the developing threats.  The Tank battle aka "Mexican Standoff" began.  The PzIV was suppose to outflank to the left, but because the Sherman deployed deep into Axis side of the board we changed our mind which in hindsight was probably ill advised.  Had it deployed as planned with infantry support it would have likely rolled up the left flank forcing the Sherman to come to it to meet the threat.  The Heroic British medics proved their worth as the started to save the first of 12+ troops.

Pioneers come on from outflank and eliminate eight man U.S. Squad except the Medics saved three.
Allies quickly avenged their losses reducing the Pioneers
Sherman is only able to stun the Italian light tank
PzIV enters and gets it 1 and only shot off hitting, but fails to penetrate
 
Right Flank is fully developed and the Allies capture the 2pt Objective while the Axis secures the building.

On the left the German Vet and Regular squad do their best to hold off the advancing British knowing that the promised armor is not coming.
Allies launch the first of two bloody assaults at the building which the Italian defenders beat back.

Turn Four:

After the initial air strike failed to materialize on turn three the target was shifted to the 222.  The planes would not miss blowing up the target and pinning many of the defenders as well as the attackers.  The Tank battle was a none battle as the Sherman hit the PzIV, but only stunned  the crew.  On the left the German vets assaulted and eliminated a British section and then took the hill with their redeployment to begin to dig in for the long haul.  On the right more and more Allies moved to support the 2 pt objective and try to press the axis rear objective.

222 blows up and many units are pinned on both sides
Now reduced British section continue to push on the Axis left.
 
Tank Stand off lags on
Turn Five:

The Allies sense that the possibility to secure the building is slipping away, so the begin a hard push against the Axis right to capture the 1 point objective.  Meanwhile the Italian "tankettes" which are zipping around unnoticed as the giants slug it out get several kills.  Additional Allied armor arrived on the Axis left severely threatening the hold on the 2 point objective.  The U.S. Marks the PzIV for an Air strike.

With the defenders fading the Allies push hard on the right.
Italian "armor" makes its presence felt.

British armor finally arrives producing an serious threat.
 
Sherman fails to deliver a blow and the PzIV is marked for air attack

Turn Six (Final Turn) :

Due to time constraints all knew turn six was the final turn.  The Axis started the turn with a solid lead of 7-4 objective points, but were being pressed hard.  The Allies had to take the other 2 point objective and/or the Axis back objective for an win or force a draw.

The air strike materialized , but failed to kill the PzIV leaving it with 4 pins and down.  The Sherman could not produce the blow needed to knock it out, so what began as a stand off ended as a stand off. 


On the right the allies advanced, but due to a stout combined German/Italian defense they could not get within the required 3" of the back objective as the hills were rough terrain.  On the left the newly arrived cruiser tank was able to move forward just far enough to contest the 2 point objective.  The German Squad launched itself in a desperate assault against the tank which had moved.  The passed the command check and the tank fear, but could only produce one six requiring another six on the penetration roll to hope for a fire damage, but that did not happen leaving the two point objective contested.

Allies push hard on the right, but cannot get close enough to contest the objective
2 point objective is contested with no way to destroy the tank


Final score Axis 5 and Allies 4 

Despite pulling out the six turn win the axis forces were severely bloodied and reduced.  Had the game gone to a turn 7 it would have certainly ended in a draw if not a Allied win.  The Allies would have certainly contested the back objective, but not sure if they could have eliminated the 6 man German squad contesting the 2 point objective.

All in all a great game in classic bolt action style.  It did take a little long at a bit over four hours.  We liked dividing the dice, but probably should have used a multiple draw system or dived the table and used two bags.

The Domination scenario was a huge win for playability as well all enjoyed it.  It plays in true Bolt Action style.



 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Little Wars 2014


Last weekend was Little Wars gaming Convention in ST Charles IL. I had not been in three years due to my recent deployment and a conflict last year. I was glad to get back this year even for just a day.

http://www.hmgsmidwest.com/main%20LW.html

I did not pre-register a game as I had done in the past due to being gone for training the two weeks prior. I did pre-arrange to bring along a Bolt Action pick-up game (North Africa scenario) with my gaming cohorts which worked out well.

Attendance seemed a bit light as compared to what I remembered. There were plenty of games on tap though with a well stocked vendor area. The Flea Market is one aspect I always look forward to, but again it did not seem as full as I recall. Most likely because I missed Friday and I was kind of looking for some specific items which were not available. I still came away with some well priced treasures.

Hills and Building are always in need

I arrived early Saturday AM in time to hit the first flea market session and meet up with Mike and Dan. After we perused the vendors and the other gaming in progress we secured a table for an impromptu Bolt action game.

Initial set up deploying troops
We had a good location with a lot of traffic and soon had two additional Players (Jim and Mark) in addition to Dan (first time playing) Mike and myself. I had brought along my new NA terrain along with my DAK army and an American force. Mike decided he wanted to use his newly painted Brits (Most Burma Chindits and Gurkhas) which I agreed to. I only had 1000pts in my DAK force and he had more troops, so I agreed to him going up to 1500pts and we would play Point defense less the prepatory bombardment and free Arty observer. This worked out very well.

British pressing the attack with "Up and At Em" Army rule

The game ended up being three Allies (Mike, Dan and Jim) vs. Two Axis (I and Mark) which worked out perfect with each player controlling about 500pts of troops. It was 15 Allied order dice vs., 11 Axis to start with. It moved along a little slow as we were teaching new players, but they caught on very quickly and a rousing game ensued.

M3 Lee enters the fray
In the end the game concluded in turn 6 with a narrow German victory as the DAK secured all three objectives. Had the game proceeded to turn 7 the Brits would have secured one if not two of the objectives. Not bad considering we were down 500pts. As always with Bolt Action players must keep in mind what the scenario objective is and do not get distracted. The Germans staged a successful diversion with the PzII which drew the allies’ attention away from keeping up the advance and ultimately led to the German victory.
An awkward moment in the gaming hall as Mike exclaimed "I penetrated your rear!"

In the end the DAK patched togehter a defense and held out

We then took a late break as Dan and Mark had to leave and agreed to reconvene after the afternoon flea market session.  During this time I had a chance to check out some of the other games taking place.

Cool Vietnam scenario
Pre-Dreads...Always one of my favorites
Another Bolt Action Multi-player game
Full scale Normandy
Featured Game-The Alamo

I scored some really nice buildings in the Flea market during this session which made the trip worth it. My son was happy as he is eager to play with more of a city/village scape at some point.

Prizes from the Flea market
We then reset the board for the evening game which pitted 1K DAK vs. 1K Brits and we rolled for the scenario which turned out to be Hold until Relieved. The DAK were again on the defense. This time it was two on two as Jim rejoined us and brought along his friend John along who had both played a few times using 15mm.

DAK Defending the bldg with PAK 40 in support
This game was again a close one with the Germans losing the PAK 40 early on to a successful assault. The allies then became bogged down again as they took their eye off the ultimate prize of capturing/contesting the objective until it was too late and most of their infantry were greatly reduced or could not make it to the objective in time.
Brits space out and put units in ambush
DAK lost the PAK 40 crew, but successfully funneled enough troops on to support the obj.
Remaining Gurkhas attrited as they try to contest
With two full DAK squads in position and it only turn 5 the allies concede defeat as time was getting late
All in all another great day of gaming and meeting new gamers. The Bolt Action table definitely drew a lot of attention. Depending on my schedule next year I would love to see a small tournament as there was plenty of room for it.

 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A break from Gaming-American Flyer Trains

I have been a model railroader most of my life.  The past few years not so much.  In fact, I recently disassembled my N-Scale layout to make room for my gaming.  Miniature gaming is a natural crossover for me as I use many of the modeling and scenery techniques I learned building model railroads in my gaming hobby.

Several years ago I introduced my father to American Flyer S-scale trains when I made a E-bay purchase of an old AF set.  He immediately fell in love with it and shortly after we constructed a sizable layout in his basement.  Since then we have both been acquiring American Flyer rolling stock and accessories with the intent of one day completing the layout. 

My parents are aging and the basement has become more of a storage area for holiday decorations and many items that need to be sorted and disposed.  I know my father still spends considerable time there and likes to run the trains.  Unfortunately the environment is not ideal and the trains do not run as well as they could as the track was not permanently secured.  He has mentioned on several occasions that my brother and I should get together and go through stuff with him and my mother so we can organize better and maybe finish/expand the layout.

We were always adding trains, but never had a completed layout to run them on. Evey year we attend the train shows and get new ideas, but never implement them.  We always talked about plans for finishing it, but other priorities seemed to take precedence. This weekend put an end to the talk.  My father turned 71 this last year so I figured it was time to stop talking about what our plans were for the layout and put them into action so he can enjoy it for awhile.

I took Friday off and with the help of my family and my Brother and Sister in law I put our long talked about plans into action.   I put the finishing touches on the layout and then we all worked on cleaning and organizing the basement.   My parents are currently on the  way home from vacation and have no idea that this was done.

I screwed down all the track, added the shelving (store the trains) applied all the basic scenery, hung the curtains (Hide storage underneath) and we cleaned the basement better than it has ever been since I was a kid. It was a long weekend, but we all felt a good sense of accomplishment.

Shelving added to properly store trains

Shelving on the opposite side

Removed backdrop and added plexiglass to open the view

Curtains hung, thanks to my Sister-in-laws sewing, to hide storage areas

Trains set up ready to run

We still need to do a little painting, but I figure he can have a say in that. Wink   I am thinking about using American Flyer blue and yellow for the exposed bench work/shelving and stenciling an American Flyer themed name.  I will also likely add at least one more level of shelves on each side to allow for a little more expansion.

Now we can work on adding accessories together and enjoy the layout while he relives his childhood with the grandchildren.

Looking forward to seeing my parents reaction when they get home tonight.