Thursday, 24 April 2014

Bolt Action 600 Point Armies

All Infantry force
As part of our multi player Bolt Action games we have been using 600 point armies for each player.  Initially we thought this would cramp our style, but it has worked out really well.
With an additional player or two you have allied forces who will working on your flank or flanks.  You focus your primary attention on the opponent in front of you and the objective on your part of the board.
Also, with this limited size army, there is less chance for fiddling your army.  With the minimum of a HQ and two squads, there is only so much you can get.  But there is surprising variety.
Add in a Tank and a veteran squad
Here we provide 3 examples of 600 point armies.

The Australians (8 Order Dice)

This is an all infantry force which is great for taking objectives.  The sniper and MMG provide critical support and hopefully the PIAT can scare some armour or even kill some.
Officer (2nd Lt + 2men) 1 @ 70 pts = 70 pts
Sniper (2 men) - Veteran 1 @ 65 pts = 65 pts
MMG (3 men) 1 @ 50 pts = 50 pts
Infantry Squad (NCO (SMG),LMG ,8 rifles) 3 @ 125 pts = 375 pts
Artillery Observer 1 @ 0 pts = 0 pts
PIAT (2 Men) 1 @ 40 pts = 40 pts
Total: 600 pts

The British (6 Order Dice)

This time we added a tank and a veteran tough squad.
Officer (2nd Lt + 2men) 1 @ 70 pts = 70 pts
Infantry Squad (NCO (SMG),LMG ,8 rifles) 1 @ 125 pts = 125 pts
Airborne Squad (NCO (SMG),LMG ,8 rifles)
           - Veteran Stubborn 1 @ 165 pts = 165 pts
PIAT (2 Men) 1 @ 40 pts = 40 pts
Artillery Observer 1 @ 0 pts = 0 pts
Cromwell (Med AT, Coax MMG, MMG) 1 @ 205 pts = 205 pts
Total: 605 pts
Infantry and Recce armour

The Germans (7 Dice)

A regular squad plus two Volks Grenadier squads provide lots of boots as well as the Recce Puma as a mobile MMG that can kill tanks.
Officer (2nd Lt + 2men) 1 @ 70 pts = 70 pts
Heavy Mortar (Spotter) - Off Board 1 @ 65 pts = 65 pts
MMG (3 men) 1 @ 50 pts = 50 pts
Heer Infantry (NCO (SMG),LMG,8 rifles) - Regular 1 @ 125 pts = 125 pts
Volks Grenadiers (NCO + 4 (Ass Rifles) + 3 rifles) - Green special 2 @ 65 pts = 130 pts
Sdkfz 234/2 Puma (Med AT, Coax MMG) 1 @ 160 pts = 160 pts
Total: 600 pts

Each of these forces has proved quite competitive.  Even though the Australians had minimal AT ability, as Armour can't capture objectives, the infantry has ben able to capture and control the objective while hiding or avoiding enemy vehicles.
Try some 600 point armies.  They prove quite fun.

Monday, 21 April 2014

City Fight - The battle for Central Park

We're on a roll now.  We re-organised our board for a different style of city battle. This time we have a city around a central park with plaza and fountains.
The different challenges this posed were:
  • Multiple levels with the Terrace housing, church and Stone Hotel.
  • Open areas by the roads and parks.  The distance between the houses on either side of the park is 24 inches.  Infantry can fire across the centre area, but at long range into buildings.
  • Walls around the park meant anyone on ground level mostly had hard cover - except through the openings.
  • Vehicles were unable to cross the centre via the roads or paved areas due to bollards (dragon's teeth) or the fountain.  Tanks could smash through the walls or Armoured cars could fit through the openings, but this was not as straight forward.
  • The trees provided some good blocking of sight.
As always, theories abounded, but we had to test it out.
My eldest son visited today and we showed him the board. His eyes shone and he asked, "Can we play a game?"
So we had a 4 player game. Once more, 4 x 600 point armies, using 2 dice bags.
This time the British replaced their Mortar and one squad of infantry for a Cromwell.
This worked very well as in turn one she did well and blew up the Panzer III, destroying the cover the Waffen SS squad was using.
The other German player decide to use a Puma, with one normal Heer squad and 2 Volks Grenadier units, with a MMG and Heavy Mortar.
The Recce proved a valuable benefit with the Puma zooming in and out of danger all game.
The Australian Vickers did a rush to the Stone Hotel but was caught in the open and destroyed by the Puma.
In Turn 3 two of the Australian squads advanced from the houses to the park walls, ready to claim the objective.

The German Heavy Mortar had a shot, needing a 6 to hit.  Boom! A hit, with 10 hits and 9 casualties, leaving only the NCO wondering what had just happened.
Meanwhile the German MMG was well placed in a second story room overlooking the objective and firing at will.
On the British flak, the Airborne veterans raced across, tagging the objective and killing the German HQ.  Then in Turn 5 they assaulted the German Veteran Heer squad, killing them thanks to the "Tough as Boots" British army bonus.
In Turn 6 the Waffen SS unit passed morale and was just in range and managed to defeat the British Airborne with only 3 survivors, managing to get within 3 inches of the objective using the Close Assault re-organisation.  The British last squad raced out of their houses and shot the surviving Germans.  But they couldn't move any closer so the objective remained German.
Meanwhile, the Australians managed to charge the last squad and HQ to capture their objective on Turn 6. It was a draw, but... There was a turn 7.
The British simply moved forward and claimed their objective. All the Australians had to do was hold theirs.
But it was not to be.
The MMG killed some of the Australian Squad.  The Australians killed 2 of the 3 German HQ unit. The surviving German officer charged the Australian HQ and defeated them in close combat.  The 2 surviving Volks Grenadiers (who had upgraded to Veteran) assaulted the surviving Australian squad and won the melee.
The last 3 German soldiers from the Heer squad passed morale and ran to the objective claiming it for Germany.
A draw!  But with the objective swapped in the last turn.
This was another classic Bolt Action game with plenty of "Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda" moments and cries of agony and exultation at dice results.
So how long did the 4 player, 1200 point game take to play all 7 turns?  2 hours!
This is definitely the way to play multi-player Bolt Action games.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

City Fight - Test Game Two

Today we had our second city fight game.  Six players with 600 points each.
3 x German vs an allied US, British and Australian force.

3 Objectives and 3 dice bags operating at the same time all on a city filled 4' x 7' board.

This isn't a full after action report but more reporting on highlights.
Having a dice bag for each pair of players really pushes the game along.
The Germans were the same as last time with an additional army containing a Puma, MMG, Medium Mortar, HQ and 3 regular infantry squads.
The Allies had a small change to the US replacing the HMG with a Bazooka.
The Australian Army had a HQ, Sniper, MMG, 3 regular infantry squads and a PIAT.

A laser pointer was of great benefit is proving line of sight for the Sdkfz 222 firing at the British HQ running up a lane.  We still gave hard cover considering the narrowness of the shot, but it was in range.
The Puma rushed up and fired at the Australians advancing in the open, but only getting a pin. The PIAT advanced on the Puma (who forgot to Recce away) but only rolled a 2 to miss.
The German MMG and spotter placed themselves really well in the second story of a building overlooking the objective on their side of the board.  The sniper fired, hit the MMG but failed to kill. The sniper was then killed by a German infantry squad, but he had done his job.  That one pin meant the MMG failed order rolls for the rest of the game.

The British PIAT fired at the Sdkfz 222 that was just in range across the square but missed.  The British artillery came down on the Hotel in the square, hitting everything within 12 inches - including the British veteran airborne squad which had already been hit by the German MMG and mortar. The biggest result was hitting down two floors and then getting a 6 to get a full strike against a German squad controlling the middle objective from the "safety" of the building.  Wiped out!

Sarissa Precision Fountain - turned out well.
The German Panzer IV once more controlled the objective area, destroyed the Chaffee and caused great annoyance for the US player.  But the US squads controlled the actual objective.  Too much infantry for the Germans to push out, and the Bazooka finally hit the Panzer IV in the last turn with only a stunned result.

In the end the Germans lost with the allies controlling 2 of the 3 objectives, the last being contested.  A 7th turn would not have made a difference so the game was called.

What did we learn from today's game?

1. We need more dice rolling containers.  On a board as full as this there is no safe place to roll the dice. Especially when we apply the home rule that if the dice falls off the table it is a miss.After all, if you can't hit the table, how can your guy hit the target?
2. Separate dice bags work great.  The games move fast and everyone is involved at all times.
3. Each army co-operates really well with units moving across areas all the time.  If a player takes too long to choose, he may find the opponent from another dice bag has moved potential targets before he can act.  That really helps encourage prompt action!
4. 600 point armies are great!  There are enough points to provide variety but not enough to slow things down or allow any dodgy gamey stuff.
5. Unit Cards are essential for new players.  It increases learning game knowledge greatly, minimising the lost look as more experienced players throw unit stats at them.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

City Fight - Test Game One

The Combatants - prepared for battle
About a month ago we asked the question, "How would you fight on this city board?"
The suggestions and responses were great and we have spent the last few weeks working out the various options and planning the day.
To test the game our Bolt Action playing and painting son was joined by three new players - some of his younger siblings - C (13 years old), R (9 years old) and M (6 years old).  The hats were an important part of getting ready.
R joined Peter as Germans with C playing British and M playing Americans.
We decided to try 600 point armies, based on pre-defined units with points all rounded to 5 points.  This made it relatively easy to fiddle with a limited collection of units without excess time wasting.
The game was split into two order dice bags, but each allied army could shoot at either of the enemy armies.  But we moved the turn count at the same time.
The Blue Box and two WWII British soldier statues.
This made for interesting dynamics. At one point C pulled out 4 of her dice in a row, rapidly placing ambush orders on all her troops before Peter, who was playing out of a different dice bag, had the chance to move.
The game had two objectives, one on each side of the centre line of the board. The first was near the hotel and town square - the mysterious Blue Box and a couple of historically accurate metal soldiers.
The other was the Christmas tree, with presents tantalisingly placed around the trunk.
We also made some changes to the building rules to reflect the fact most of our buildings have inner walls.

1. Movement through a building is "Rough Ground"
2. All firing within a building has hard cover defence.
3. To work out where troops can go, just measure 6 inches - up stairs, around doors, etc.
4. 2 shooters per normal side door or window.  Some larger openings can fit 3 or 4.
Merry Christmas - now fight over the presents.
5. All close combat is across a barrier - that is, at the same time.
6. Units can split across floors.  That is, a squad can have men manning the bottom floor window and door as well as top floor windows.  But they can't split across buildings.
7. Multiple units can be in the same building, but not the same room.
8. Firing is equivalent to Fixed Arc weapons - a 90 degree arc in all directions. They can see at all angles but can't fire - otherwise they are hanging out the window.
9. The LMG loader does not take up a window spot.  He can hand the ammo from beside the window, leaving two firers per window.
10. All Mortars are off board, with a spotter on board to direct all firing.  Points are just for the mortar with the spotter free.  Only Regular mortars.
11. No pre start setup of spotters or snipers.
12. The objectives had to be held by a unit of at least 3 guys.
Can my tank see you?

What were the armies?

Germany 1: (4 Dice)

Regular 2nd Lt with 2 guys
Veteran Heer Grenadiers - NCO+5 men all Assault Rifles
Veteran Waffen SS - NCO (SMG), LMG, 8 Rifles
Panzer IV H

Germany 2: (7 dice)

Regular 2nd Lt with 2 guys
Medium Mortar
Regular Heer Infantry x 2 - NCO (SMG), LMG, 8 Rifles + 3 Panzerfausts
Volks Grenadiers - NCO + 4 Assault Rifles + 3 men Rifles + 2 Panzerfausts
Sdkfz 222
But you can't see the men hiding behind.

USA: (6 Dice)

Regular 2nd Lt with 2 guys
Regular Squad x 3 - NCO (SMG), BAR, 8 Rifles
M24 Chaffee with Recce

Britain: (6 Dice)

Regular 2nd Lt with 2 guys
Heavy Mortar
Free Artillery Observer
Regular Squad x 2 - NCO (SMG), LMG, 8 Rifles
Veteran Airborne Squad - NCO (SMG), LMG, 8 Rifles
Veteran PIAT
Kaboom!  You can't hide from me!

The Game

The Game began reasonably slowly as is often the case.  M was able to bring on his Chaffee and hide behind some hard cover and shoot at the Panzer IV.  Miss.
The dual order bag system was working fine with little overlap at this stage.
Turn two began with the Panzer IV rushing up to within point blank range of the Chaffee and blowing it sky high.
Pinned out!

On the British flank the artillery was placed in the middle of the German advance. The troops quickly scattered, but some didn't go quite far enough. The Sdkfz 222 ended up with 3 pins plus some from other hits. Effectively pinned out.
The German spotter in the rush to avoid artillery fire was shot before getting to place any shots.
On the far right British flank a squad tried some movement to hit the square from the side.
But on turn 3 a German squad which had hopped into a building to avoid the artillery fire stepped out the other side and opened fire.
This ended in a multiple turn firefight, joined by a second German squad.
Where did those Gerries come from?!
The British were killed, but only after killing all the German squad. Well not quite.  The NCO was saved by a great roll by the medic.
We were finding the alleys, walls, roads and restricted observation incredibly challenging.
C thought she would be clever placing her HQ unit on Ambush.  Then she realised the angles meant it could only affect an area about 3 inches wide.  This was unanimously voted the worst ambush ever.
Meanwhile on the American flank, the German Veterans were taking hold of the objective.  The Americans had a unit in the adjacent building and had two free shots at point blank range and were able to kill a number of the guys.
A very open square surrounded by firepower.
It didn't help.
The Waffen SS (now 8 men) charged in and fought the US guys in the lower level, losing one man, then next turn charged upstairs and killed the remainder of the squad, reorganising back downstairs. The surviving 6 Waffen SS now held the Restaurant (yellow building).
Just before the German assault, an American squad was able to rush across the square and take over the Hotel.  The US now held the second objective!
At this point it was one objective each.
The Panzer IV was stuck on the US flank, but did its job of holding back all comers and thereby retaining the Christmas Tree.
The PIAT fires and HITS. Boom. One dead Sdkfz 222. 
The Germans had the Volks Grenadiers in the Cafe Gondree next to the Hotel. The US troops were on Ambush. Rather than rush in the front door and get shot by the 4 guys guarding the front, they charged in the back door and were fired on by the rear 6 guys.  They suffered a casualty, but the special Green roll resulted in no upgrade from Inexperienced.
In the resulting close combat they still had lots of dice (all assault rifles) and although dying in the effort, the US were now down to 3 men.  Just enough to still hold the objective.
We were now at turn 6.
C was able to quickly place all her units overseeing the square on Ambush.
The remaining Veteran Grenadier was moved out, trying to get everyone to fire at him.  Only one unit did so, but the rest held their fire.
A very exposed run from the Restaurant to the Hotel.
At this point the excitement and tension was pretty high.  This was becoming classic Bolt Action whereby the end result was still up in the air at the last turn.
Peter had no choice but to do the rush.
The British fired the first ambush.  In the open and point blank, the dice went well and the 6 Waffen SS became 3.
The next Ambush cut them down to 1.
Not enough to hold the objective, so the US retain ownership!
Meanwhile, the Christmas tree was actually in range of the remaining US squad, but under the close scrutiny of the Panzer IV.
Only one men made it across.  Not enough.
But turn 6 was over.
"Who wants to roll to see if there is a turn 7?" I asked.
"Me! Me! Me!" they all cried.
A 5 was rolled, so we played another turn.
The Panzer IV fired first at the US squad, getting 2 more pins.  The Americans failed morale so went down.  The Christmas Tree remained German!
The various British troops fired at the German survivors when the Germans suddenly rushed the remaining squad from the buildings and got within 3 inches of the Blue Box.  Contested!
This would mean a German victory, but there was one wild option.
This is how you do it. Tally ho!
The 3 man HQ charged the 8 man German squad.  The HQ had 5 dice and killed 3 men.  The remaining 5 Germans had 8 dice, but only killed 1.  The German unit was wiped out and the Box remained in British hands.
Phew.  A draw.
Immediately, C began the classic post game review.
"I should have done this, and these guys should have done that."
R - the 9 year old - also knew what would have been better next time and was telling me what dice she needed to roll during the game.
Eyes bright, pulses racing, cries of excitement and despair.
All run of the mill in a Bolt Action game.

So what did we learn?
1. 600 Points is a great size army.
2. Using multiple dice bags works well.
3. We need to create a dice rolling box.  There is not enough space on such a crowded table!
4. Using limited types of units allows quick creation of armies.
5. One objective per pair of opponents works well, especially considering the small army sizes.
6. Unit Cards will make it much easier.

I think this can work effectively with a larger game.  Time to test it with 6 players and see what happens.
Thank you to all the guys who provided advice and ideas.
Today's Commando Comic Moments


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