Bolt Action – Operation Lightfoot

We had a go at scenario 7, Operation Lightfoot from Duel in the Sun going for a traditional Britsh vs German 1,000 point match up.  This scenario uses the night fighting rules and it quickly became apparant that as written it was not ideal for v2 of Bolt Action.  In night fighting no unit can be seen more than 18″ away.  On a 4′ wide board the Germans start 12″ in and the British move on board.  With no vehicles available to the British in the scenario their maximum move will be 12″ leaving them 24″ away from the closest possible German and out of sight.  Prior to the game the British had 2 pre-game bombardments, one normal and the other with -1 to the dice.  The Germans fielded 12 units and took above average casualties (1 in 6 chance of a killing blow), 1 figure killed on each of 3 separate units.  2 units  were unharmed and the rest had up to 4 pins.  On turn 1 we ran the maths and skipped the order dice pulling.  All of the British units ran on and all of the Germans rallied (or tried to).  The end result was pins all gone on all but 2 German units and those were gone by the end of turn 2.  Net result, the preliminary bombardment had limited effect and all the British start turn 2 still out of sight in the dark.  Using basic maths the game would be better if turn 1 did not exist and the whole front line moved forwards.  The British move on from their edge and the German front moves forward 24″ to the table centre.  The kill zones are unchanged but the action will start 1 turn earlier.  The Germans have 3 bunkers that the British must capture 1 and at least contest the other 2 to win.  With this revised set up the German would have to put the bunkers down on the centre line to recreate the original game time to contact.  The German will gain an extra 12″ behind him on his table edge that could be used or ignored but which provides options for placing rear area support units that were not present in the original rules write.  The pre-game bombardment can be represented by rolling a die for each German unit and losing a man on a 6.

Some other minor issues cropped up and were sorted before game in the hope of making it reasonably balanced.   The British took ‘blood curdling charge’ as their special rule.  It would be silly not to as this prevents a target being charged from firing before close combat.  The ambush rule, however, allows a unit to shoot during any opponent’s move, with a stress on any.  So does ‘blood curdling charge’ trump ambush.  In historical terms the British special rule is in the British book which is later than the v1 Bolt Action rules but not as recent as the v2.  There will be more than a few of these army book rules out there.  It would not have been difficult for Warlord to stick them all in the new rules book and declare what overrides what.  We decided to allow ambush to trump the charge feeling that without it many of the German defenders would be mutton.  The problem was partly overcome by placing the 3 bunkers (these use the linear obstacles rules) in rough terrain so the British could only charge 6″ not 12″ when assaulting them.  At that distance normal defensive fire is not allowed rendering the ‘blood curdling’ rules less useful.

The British went all infantry (not that they had any choice) with some 6 man inferior squads as meat shields out in front, some 6 man regular squads to up their dice count and some 12 man veteran squads for the big assault.  The Germans were infantry except for 2 guns, a Pak 36 and a light howitzer.  Both armies were of 2 platoons in case another 2 players wanted to join in (that did not happen).  The Germans had 2 8 man veteran squads in each of 2 bunkers and the howitzer in the other (this latter directed by scenario set up).

I did not take any photos but I have re-created the set up on my VASSAL module for Bolt Action, WW2 Skirmish,  also available on this DropBox link, VASSAL 3.2.16 or better is needed to play the module.  The image only shows the German part of the board.   All the British troops come on during turn 1.  There was some terrain on the top part of the baord but this had no impact on the game so can be ignored.  The lines on the image are the table centre and 6″ in from the edge.

ww2desertmapge

The Germans sat in bunkers and behind minefields

The British tactics were brutal.  Advance with the inferiors out in front then swamp the bunkers one at a time.  The inferiors were wiped out by shooting before they got close.  With a 1st Lft issuing orders to 2 other units they both went in.  The first to trigger any ambush and take out a few Germans.  The next to go in with another assault and finish the job.  The Germans were best off shooting at the closest unit they could see and then sitting tight.  A valiant counter-attack led to the loss of an entire squad.  In close combat the loser is wiped out.  With bad dice in shooting the shooter is unharmed but probably looking for clean underwear.  The British need to take the bunkers so are going to go in, relying on withering fire to wipe out the defender is not an option.  Time is on the German side, keeping units in some sort of fighting condition will slow the British assault, so shoot, don’t assualt back.

The game went much as expected.   There was not a lot for either side to do after the initial list construction (and that was limited), terrain placement and set up.  The British rolled over 1 bunker and got close to the second in line.  The game could have run to 7 turns but ended on turn 6.  A notional 7th turn would have seen the 2nd bunker taken and a single man might have contested the 3rd (if not shot or assaulted flat) giving a German win with a very slight chance of a British win.  The tactic of rolling up the line made sense on paper but did not account for the time lost in moving straight ahead to 1 bunker then moving along the lines to the others.  To be fair to the British player there were units approaching all 3 bunkers but only 1 of the assualt groups was strong enough to push into their defences.

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