The War Altar is happy to present another Bolt Action AAR. Once again it was the Soviets against the Germans. The players decided on the mission Demolition. A player who finishes a turn with a unit in base contact with the enemy’s objective (in this case the players used fuel depots) wins. It’s a simple mission but one that demands action by both players.
The Soviets brought:
1. Veteran second lieutenant and friend
2. Veteran medic and friend
3. Inexperienced commissar and friend
4. Regular T-34/85
5. Veteran tank riders (11)
6. Veteran squad (8) with rifles
7. Veteran squad (11) with 1 SMG, 2 captured panzerfausts, and 10 rifles
8. Free green, inexperienced squad (12) with rifles and anti-tank grenades
9. Regular M-42 45mm anti-tank gun
10. Veteran medium mortar
11. Regular sniper
The Germans brought
1. Regular second lieutenant and friend
2. Veteran medic and friend
3. Forward air controller
4. Regular Hetzer
5. Regular medium mortar
6. Regular sniper
7. Green Volks squad, 2 SMGs, faust
8. Veteran squad (8), 2 assault rifles, 1 panzerfaust, 2 SMGs
9. Veteran squad (8), 2 LMGs, 1 panzerfaust
10. Veteran squad (8), 2 assault rifles, 1 panzerfaust, 2 SMGs
The Germans player deployed his objective in the center of his table edge defended by the veteran squad with 2 LMGs and the Volks squad. The mortar deployed in line of sight opposite the Soviet objective. The truck and another veteran squad deployed behind a wood. Hidden deployment ensured the safety of the softskin even if the Soviet player got a run of early dice. The Hetzer, air controller, medic, lieutenant, sniper, and the remaining veteran squad went into reserve. The Hetzer and veteran squad executed an outflank manoeuvre.
The Soviet player deployed his objective on his left near the table edge. A direct consequence of the objective placement was the German player’s decision to outflank two of his units. The Soviet objective placement was a decision which was immediately criticized by a number of individuals. One observer commented, “Well that was stupid.” Another onlooker, an ETC veteran, demanded an explanation. Having been excoriated for his decision the Soviet player offered the following rationale. The objective placement was, in fact, a ploy to provoke a German outflank . This would give the Soviet player two turns, perhaps more, to run riot. In addition, so he contended, the outflanking forces would come on piecemeal and be dealt with by Soviet reserves which were sure to arrive a full turn ahead of any German unit. He would thus triumph with minimal casualties. The War Altar has concluded that the Soviet player’s thinking is not without some, well a very small bit, of merit. However, the objective was within a run move (12″) of the table edge which was inexcusable. A slightly greater distance may have perhaps provoked the German outflank yet required an extra turn of movement.
In any case, the Soviet player deployed his T-34/85 near the objective, the mortar on his far right with line of sight to the German objective and the building containing the Volksgrenadiers, the tank riders in the center of the table behind a building, the large panzerfaust/rifle squad in a building next to the tank riders, and the sniper on the upper storey of a house in the middle of the table. This left the following units in reserve: medic, lieutenant, commissar, small veteran squad, inexperienced squad, and the anti-tank gun.
The game commenced and the first dice out of the bag was German. The truck rushed towards the Soviet objective:
The remainder of the turn was straightforward: the Germans failed in all shooting and the Soviets shot their sniper, large rifle squad, tank, and mortar at the German truck. The result, perhaps surprisingly given the volume of fire, was only a dead truck and 1 dead German. Nevertheless, the Germans were heavily pinned and it would remain to be seen whether or not this unit would be able to activate the following turn.
Having eliminated the immediate threat to his objective the Soviet player advanced on the German objective with the SMG tank riders and the large rifle squad, supported by the medic and the lieutenant. The German player got an early dice but rolled a 10 to bring on the Hetzer. Bad luck, Hetzer! The Soviet player then put an ambush order on the T-34/85 and the infantry squad. The German sniper put a pin on the anti-tank gun and the German mortar fired and missed it. Between the sniper and the ranging in mortar it was unlikely that the anti-tank gun would contribute much in subsequent turns. Having failed to bring on the Hetzer the German player, quite rightly, decided to put a ‘down’ order on the outflanking German infantry squad. The German air controller called in an air strike on the T-34/85.
The turn began with the air strike….which failed to materialize. The Soviet player kept the infantry and tank in ambush. The anti-tank gun attempted to move, failed, and was then eliminated by the German mortar. However, the SMG tank riders and the large rifle squad continued their advance and suppressed the German LMG squads in the building. The Soviet mortar fired on the Volksgrenadiers in hiding and missed. The German player made the audacious decision to put ‘down’ dice on the outflankers. A quick calculation had established that these units would need to be able to reach the objective the turn they arrive and this would not be possible unless the outflank was executed on Turn 5. The inexperienced Soviet rifle platoon arrived and took up position near the table edge.
The crux turn. The turn begins with an airstrike…and the German player rolls a 1. The rookie pilot peppers the units guarding the German objective sprinkling pin markers generously. The Soviet mortar then fires on the Volksgrenadiers, hits, and gets a detonation on the right floor. The ensuing blast inflicts one casualty. The German player then rolls a 1 for his Green check which results in additional pin markers. The Soviet player then rolls a 6. Between the airstrike, the mortar, and the additional pins the Volksgrenadiers have 9 pin markers. They decide they’ve had enough and run away. The War Altar can’t help but note here that in two of the last three games this same German unit has rolled a 1 for its Green check and the Soviet player has rolled a 6 for additional pins. A string of Red die emerge from the bag and the Soviet player launches two critical assault. First, the SMG tank riders, reduced in size now from repeated LMG shooting, assaults the German lieutenant sheltering in the ground floor of a building behind which is located the German objective. The brave tankodesantniki slaughter the German officer and consolidate out the back side of the building. The large rifle squad assaults the medic and kills him to death (the War Altar passes no judgement) and consolidates onto the German objective:
The German outflankers finally arrive. The veteran infantry come on first and impressive shooting mangles the eight strong veteran squad. The Hetzer arrives and drives to the objective. The turn ends with both enemy units in base contact with both objectives–draw!
This was a tactically tense game; poor rolling by the German air controller certainly did not help the German cause. On the other hand, the Soviet player could have blocked the German outflankers by stringing out his green, inexperienced squad along the table edge. This, however, would have been gamey and, more importantly, visually unappealing. Remember players, in tournament play the inability of outflankers to assault the turn they arrive combined with the ability of your opponent to block the table edge limits the utility of outflanking.