Monday, May 20, 2013

Bolt Action: Gung Ho in the PTO!

We played our second Bolt Action game set in the Pacific on Saturday at The Panzer Depot in Kirkland, WA. By now our forces have grown a bit more. The Americans were all Marines now and the Japanese had a bolstered anti-tank force.

Mike Lombardi, Lewis Dorrington (a new player from the UK), and I played the Marine foot-sloggers. Phil "Blood 'n' Guts" Bardsley ran the Marine tanks. The Japanese were Dick Larsen and Jerry Tyer.

The scenario was a bunker-busting mission. The Japanese had two reinforced platoons plus four bunkers. I wasn't sure how much the bunkers would be a force multiplier for the Japanese. In the end, they were less trouble to take out, although it took the Marines until the very last turn to do it. The Marines had eight squads plus supports (bazookas, flamethrowers, a mortar, and a 75mm pack howitzer). They also had two tanks: an M4A3 Sherman and an M3A3 Stuart.

A nasty bit of concrete awaiting the Marines
Knee mortar in support of another MG bunker
The victory conditions for the Marines was to take the four bunkers by the end of the game (6 turns). We had a lot of units on the table; the full bag o' order cubes (a Crown Royal felt bag) could have knocked a bull unconscious if swung with moderate force. Nevertheless, the turns went pretty quickly with six players, each using a separate color order cube for their units.

Turn 1 was a lot of moving into place for the Marines with the Japanese shooting at everything that moved. Phil and Lewis had the Marine right flank.

An M3A3 goes into action supported by Marine infantry
Mike was on the Marine left.

Mike's Marines providing fire support
 I had the center.

Marines moving into the woods
Phil's Sherman on the line between the Marine center and right
Ready to advance with a Sherman in support
The Marine advance took it's hardest hit when Dick's wee 37mm AT gun got a shot on the Sherman's side armor and knocked it out.

Just a pea shooter...
...but effective nevertheless!
In a lucky mid-game move, I advanced my flamethrower team into position at the end of the turn hoping that I would get the first order cube in the draw. I did and whooshed Jerry's Japanese squad in the woods.

The Japanese took four casualties and two pins, but then they failed their moral test and were removed. However, the flamethrower team failed its roll to see if it retained enough fuel and had to be removed as well. Nevertheless, an advance route with decent defilade was now open.

Advancing into the recently cooked woods
On the Marine's right flank, Lewis and Phil were making steady progress.
The Stuart crosses the bridge
Jerry moved a squad forward to counter them and a firefight ensued.
Japanese in position to counter the Marines' advance
Up until this point, Phil had been using his Stuart's main gun to attempt to knock out the Japanese bunker or the other Type 1 AT gun that was shooting at him. At some point it dawned on him that 1) shooting at the bunker was a waste of a Fire order, and 2) the three MGs on his tank were a much more formidable weapon against infantry and guns. Throwing 12 dice to hit was so much better than throwing 1 to hit and then having a possible maximum of 2 casualties from the HE effect of the 37mm. Jerry's squad soon disappeared in a .30 caliber hailstorm.

After finding it to be in a useless position, I moved my 75mm pack howitzer to a position in the woods.
Ready to move through the trees to a support position 
It took a few vital turns to accomplish, but it turned out to be ineffective at shooting. It did, however, serve as a magnet for Japanese fire. Mortar, sniper, and small arms fire rained down on the gun with very minor effect. The gun took one casualty and a few pins (which it succeeded in rolling off pretty consistently) and stayed in the fight.

Although it looked dicey for the Marines in the first few turned, things seemed suddenly to turn. Their fire slackened markedly—not in volume at first, but rather in effect. My pack howitzer wasn't the only Marine unit with a charmed life. Shot after shot either failed to hit or did nothing apart from pinning. The only Marine units lost were one of my squads that imprudently advanced too far and failed a critical morale check and the aforementioned Sherman taken out by Dead-Eye Dick from across the table.

Once the Japanese started taking serious losses, the Marines had nothing to stop them and we quickly took the bunkers on turns 5 and 6.

Lewis took the first bunker with an assault from the rear.

Taking the first bunker
Later in the turn, Mike got his flamethrower team into position and whooshed the occupants.

WHOOSH! (redux)
The big bunker in the center was lost when the MG unit inside failed a morale check. The game came to an end on turn 6 when one of my squads managed to run up and successfully assault the last Japanese bunker from the rear.

Taking the last bunker 
Post mortem
As I mentioned above, despite about 50 units on the board, the turns went quickly and we finished six turns in about 3 hours of play. Bolt Action is an easy game and as the number of units decrease through losses, the pace picks up significantly.

I made all the units regular, the Japanese still seem to be much outgunned by the Marines. I didn't base the scenario on points, but I had more expectation that the bunkers would be a tougher nut to crack. Instead, after the Marines shot away the supporting units, they were free to pretty much walk in and take the bunkers with little effort.

There were no banzai charges, which might have had a good effect. There were a few occasions where the Japanese infantry had racked up a lot of pins, but could have taken advantage of the banzai rule to charge into combat anyway (and remove all their pins if they make contact).

The hero of the game (and one of the few Japanese units to survive to game's end) was Dick's 37mm Type 1 AT gun that took out the Sherman with a long shot.

Mentioned in final dispatches to the Emperor
The figures used in the game were painted by Bill Stewart (Japanese), Mike Lombardi (Marines), Jerry Tyer (Marines), Phil Bardsley (M3A3), and me (Japanese and Marines).

1 comment:

  1. Great AAR, and nice looking minis and terrain!

    I find BA to be just right for my tastes, and I'm glad to see I'm not alone!