Thursday, January 15, 2015

It's WWII Jim, but not as you know it...

Ste kindly invited myself and fellow POM migrant, Ashley, round to his mountain top pad, for a demo game of Bolt Action.

I finally arrived, having negotiated the uphill slalom course to reach his top of the world eerie, having taken the last section on foot, and despite missing my cramp-ons, did successfully attain the summit!

NZ never ceases to amaze me, and with land at premium prices to be near the 'Big Smoke', they build houses anywhere they can, even if they could be compared to the north face of the Eiger!

But the view from the top was very impressive, and well worth the effort.

Back to matters at hand, and after introductions and good bit of chat we got on with the game.

Ste had prepared a simple skirmish to give me and Ashley an easy run through of the game, on a 4 x 4 board.

Ashley took the Krauts with a Leutnant, 2 Infantry platoons or Zugs, a medium Mortar team with observer and a MG42 team.

I got the Brits who had an Officer commanding, 3 infantry platoons and an artillery spotter for off table supporting fire.

We each had an objective on our own side of the board, which we had to defend whilst attempting to capture the enemy one.

All platoons started off table and had to be brought on.

Here's the game after first couple of units move on, I am Brits from the right side.

Ashley had got a platoon up against the church wall, and pinned my platoon opposing them in the corn for several turns. I started an end around with a flanking platoon...

As the game progressed Ashley got his MG42 set up on the road, Mortar behind the Church and eventually the second platoon behind the church to reinforce the position.

I managed to get my 3rd platoon up the right flank of the corn field to support the pinned platoon. But the ace up my sleeve was the artillery observer, who called in fire, which when it arrived killed the MG42, and pinned just about all of the Krauts...

This opened the way for me to move up and stick it to 'em... they don't like it up 'em Sir!

I was successful at dislodging and destroying the platoon on the church wall as my pincer move closed in, and managed to pressure the last defending German platoon, thus getting ready for the finally assault on the objective...

But at the crucial moment on the last turn with it all set up, my dice turned to custard, and my assault was repulsed.

We called it there a draw.

I was pleased to have pressured the kraut position and kept the heat off my own.

The game play was indeed interesting, there were similarities to several games, from different aspects... it did feel a little like "WWII-40k", but then the order mechanism broke up the play from the typical IGOUGO mechanism which I liked.

The pinning mechanism was certainly interesting and seemed to be a primary part of the game, and how you managed or mitigated its effect. Assaults were very bloody affairs and resolved quickly with no messing about!

I did feel there was a lot of building up, for a final flurry of dice to decide the matter, and that final dice round I felt a tad frustrated when I exhibited my classic "Bowman-wargaming-dice-luck" skills when it mattered most... I was left wondering whether the assault phase should be better to go 'back and forth a bit' more reminiscent of FoW perhaps?

I'll still happily play it again, and see what I get from a second experience. Not sure whether I will be diving in with both feet, as I have admittedly tried to narrow my wargaming interests, rather than widen them adding another game to the list of things to buy and paint. I wasn't over awed by the figures but there are may ranges to choose from, from what I understand, but I did like the 28mm scale tanks, that Ste had on the side, though we didn't get to use.... (reminiscent of my youth building Airfix tanks...)

I was wary of the fact that this may eventually head towards some 40K-Armageddon induced arms race to buy, build and paint as many tanks as you can, and have then lined up track to track along your board edge...

But Ste assures me game play remains enjoyable enough, without getting silly, if you kept it primarily an infantry game, with the odd bit of tank support...

I'll certainly give it another whirl, and thank Ste for hosting and Ashley for being a fun opponent to play against.

I would have stopped to chat over the game afterwards, as is the wargamers norm, but
I had to leg it promptly home then however, as I had long drive home and didn't fancy turning into a pumpkin half way up the highway... glass slippers and all that ;-)


Having experienced WWII in 28mm, it was time, the following day, to get back to the period in a scale I am far more familiar with, and face my Kryptonite!

Yes, I played Flames of War again!

ValleyCon is just around the corner, and is set for 1500points in MidWar. A last minute decision by Bryan had him deciding to enter!

Bryan hasn't played in probably over a year, much like myself, and we both had probably forgotten half the rules. But I offered to host a game for him to give him a practice refresher before being dropped in the deep end of the two day tournament.

Bryan was running German grenadiers, from Tunisia, with HQ + Mortars, 2 infantry platoons, Pak38s, LeIG7.5cms, LeFH105mms, a pair of StuGs, and some halftrack AAA, and Stuka.

I don't have much Allied stuff, so just ran a Canadian Sherman Company, with some UCs and a Kittyhawk.

Bryan wanted to try out Breakthrough, so we played that mission.

Here's the game after first couple of turns...

I started in top right corner heading for bottom left (telegraph pole markers). I got a reasonably good start and in first turn ran over the leading Gren platoon, as Bryan hadn't got any AT support near them, and they didn't have any integral AT weapons.

Then things start to go pear shaped... the IGs and Pak38s opened up and I lost a Sherman. Here's where things went wrong... instead of avoiding the guns and skirting the terrain, I decided to engage the AT guns , thinking, they'd fired, would be saving on 5+ and I had semi-indirect fire, so would have a heap of shots, and re-roll misses... I just needed to get some 6's... Shortly after, and 14 dice rolls later, I was looking at my dice, just to check there were actually 6's on them somewhere...

Cut a long story short, I pressed on and eventually sorted out the IGs with the carriers and CO. But not before I'd lost a platoon of Shermans.

My reserve Sherman platoon came on, and went straight for the un-dug in grens who had just reached it, hoping to hose them off... but my dice were crap as usual and then I also realised I had just missed a chance to deal with the StuGs... things went from bad to worse...

Air support for both of us did little all game, but had the potential to be annoying...

I kept trying though, and didn't give in, and even managed to kill the kraut CO, the mortars, the IGs and a German Gren platoon and managed a do or die, last turn assault on the objective, with the CO and 2 Shermans, but my dice still were not to be and I was beaten off, with Bryan holding on for the win, Bryan taking it 4-3.

By end of the game I had lost just about everything in my force, with just the CO left... who will shortly be attending a court martial and firing squad for ineptitude...

Not too bad to get back to the game. I quickly got the hang of the rules again, despite a year long gap.

I displayed my usual tactical flare, or lack of (hindsight is great!), and marvelled at my on going "Bowman-wargaming-dice-luck" ...

I think Bryan got something out of the game, learned or remembered a few things, and gave him food for thought on list build options and things to consider for his force, and how to play them in the missions ahead for the tournament.

I half pondered attending the tournie myself, but quickly discounted the idea... that way, madness lies...


  1. It was obviously the lack of oxygen and not the poor dice rolls that robbed you off the win! Our home is indeed way up in the clouds (literally on some days!).
    I have to say you tackled Bolt Action with your usual Bowman enthusiasm and I enjoyed refereeing it.
    I think over the years you get a feel for genres and games that won't ever leave you and WW2 is one which I think I'll continue to explore. BA is a game I'd set quite firmly in the " intro" camp, easy to explain, learn and play in a night! I do think you've hit the nail on the head in that it will follow the 40k model of constant power creep which spoils that system ( It's also Warlord Games cash cow!).
    Warlords plastics really aren't the greatest however they're good value for anyone wanting to dip their toe in which is why I have them. It'll never be my favorit

    1. No worries, I'll being my O2 bottle next time I come! ;-)

      It was certainly fun to try WWII a new way, and I think for males of a certain age, WWII is always going to be an interesting and appealing period to play.

      Its certainly a game that can I think be picked up quickly for a prompt, not quite 'beer and pretzels' game; theres a bit to it with shooting and pins, but not overly so, and with practice you'd no doubt get the hang of it sharpish.

      The tanks looked cool, and I am sure there could be an appealing selection of foot models available after a little googling...

      Thanks again mate :)

  2. I suggest you have a look at Chain of Command from TooFatLardies. Same level as Bolt Action. You will get very different game play with the same toys. Same as my earlier suggestion of IABSM and FoW. Same toys, different game.
    Start here for an introduction to game play by the authors:

  3. Great post Scott and lovely to hear of bloggers meeting up even if you had to traverse the dizzy heights to get there. "I think for males of a certain age, WWII is always going to be an interesting and appealing period" I can certainly relate to this, as a boy this was the only period - airfix models and soldiers, war movies and books - I don't think I was ever really aware of much else with the possible exception of the American Civil War; then the eighties came along and it seemed to be all about the Vietnam War. For that alone the period will always be of interest, but perhaps not another collection just yet.

  4. Nice review of your BA game, Scott. I've heard others refer it to 40K also; with the activation mechanism difference. As I've only played 40K once or twice, it's not been a factor for me :) Although I admit I haven't played BA in a while, it is a game that is simple enough to pick up after the first turn. Pinning does provide a bit of contention too, as you note. I'm with you about scaling down interest - looks like FoW takes the prize for you ;)!

  5. Madness is good Scott, I thought you'd know that!!
    Great looking and sounding game too!

  6. Great looking game. I think you need some new dice. Shiny ones with nobs on I think.

    1. Unfortunately I have to claim credit there Simon as Scott used my dice. Obviously there's no divided loyalties there!

  7. Interesting review of Bolt Action. I've had a read of the rule book, but not actually played it. Your FoW game sounds brutal. Trained tanks against dug in infantry is always going to leave some burning wrecks, but 4-3 isn't a bad scoreline.

    1. Apparently, the bolt action book comes up cheap every so often on Amazon as a kindle download thingie, and pretty much contains everything to play the game... Might be worth a look see...

      Thanks, I kinda had a plan... Then got distracted, thinking a pair of AT guns should be easy to shoot up and earn some VPs, but it wasn't to be... Kept heading towards the objective and tried to kill what I could on the way... I think I have learned in FOW, you may may as well lose all of it try and kill stuff just to get the points... So 3 points wasn't to bad!


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