GAJO Games

GAJO Happenings and Ramblings Blog

2012 - Number 47


British 3" Mortar in Action

Bolt Action:
World War One Mission

We tried out the excellent new Bolt Action Rules in our latest World War One mega-game, Kaiserschlacht, and they worked really well for the period. There was enough interest that I agreed to run another game using the rules.

This past Saturday we did the game. I sorted out two typical forces per side, British and German 1918 reinforced platoons, and selected a standard mission from the Bolt Action rulebook for us to play.

British 18-Pounder Opens Fire

The Whippet Clears the Tree Line

I set the action in the "Green Fields Beyond" period of the war, later in 1918 when the Allies had broken out of the trench deadlock on the Western Front. The table featured typical French / Wallonian countryside, mostly open fields with a small town, railroad and stream.

For the mission I selected was Envelopment, a very interesting mission that puts a clear onus on the attacker to get his units across the board, either into the defender's deployment zone, or even better off the defender's table edge, while the defenders focus on causing maximum casualties on the attackers.

The Main Road is Reached

Mark IV Tank Supporting the Advance

The action started with a preliminary bombardment, which inflicted a number of pins on most of the German units on the table. On the first turn, as the random order dice were pulled, the British players entered their first wave units onto the table, while the Germans focused on removing pins, and getting their units into ambush status (the equivalent of overwatch). A few initial shots were attempted, but no hits achieved on the advancing British.

As we progressed to turn two, the fire picked up. British support units, including several mortar units and an 18-pounder gun, opened up. The Germans replied in kind, with their concealed 77mm field gun dueling with the 18-pounder, while a cleverly placed 37mm AT Gun pinged away at the advancing British armor.

British Units Advance Along the Railway

German Squad Opens Fire From the Village

By turn 3 (of a six or 7 turn mission), the action was general. The British needed to cross the table quickly, so they were now well in range of the defenders. Heavy fire started to sweep the advancing infantry, and the steady accumulation of casualties and pins began to tell. The British scored a singular success, though, in the artillery duel, as the 18-pounder managed a difficult shot and hit and destroyed the opposing 77mm gun.

As turn 4 started, the British scored another success as their mortars managed to knock out the German AT gun, which pretty much eliminated the threats to the British armor. This was to be a significant factor as the mission wore on, as it allowed the armor to advance almost unchallenged.

German Infantry Flanks the Advance

British Medium & Heavy Mortars Firing

The action now focused on a rush of British units into the German deployment zone. German fire really intensified, and casualties on both sides started to pile up. The random pull of order dice got quite exciting, as each side anxiously watched for the next die of their color, and plotting which unit to activate, plus their actions.

The British armor lead the way. None of the remaining German units had dedicated AT weaponry, which made it difficult for them to stop the armor. The Whippett, which was lighter armored, looked at least somewhat vulnerable so the Germans tried a close assault as it neared the table edge. The German squad passed its "tank terror" test to charge, and the Whippett could not react by firing as they started from a wood within 6" of the tank.

The Whippett Leads the Advance

The Whippett is Hit!

The first assault had no effect, and the Germans broke off. But the following turn the Germans got their order die first, and tried again before the Whippett could move off. This time they rolled much better, and managed to stun the Whippett, halting it for the turn. Great cheers erupted from the German players.

Turn 6 was quite exciting. Neither side knew whether it would be the final turn, as at the end a d6 is rolled and another turn is played on a 4+. This meant that the mission could end, or not, on the final order die for the turn. This created a very tense situation, as both sides plotted their moves and tried to anticipate the enemy reaction.

British Firing Line Along the Main Road

German Positions Under Heavy Fire

We did roll for a seventh turn, as it turned out. A British unit was caught in the open in the German deployment zone was annihilated. The much delayed Whippett fought off its tormenters and managed to exit the board edge, as did the Mark IV male. We held our breath as the VPs were counted, and it was razor close - 14 for the Germans and 16 for the Allies. A narrow Allied win!

German Infantry Prepare to Assault the Whippett

Heavy Casualties on Entering the German Zone

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