A bit of a departure from my current board game craze, but actually it's not that far removed. Warlord's Bolt Action rules - in particular - make it easy to step up from the traditional board game to this sort of wargame. I mean, if I could understand (sort of) the basics of this game, anyone can!
OK - this is a bit simplistic, but this is my brother and my very first attempt at a war game. Taking the advice of some of the Society of Gentlemen Wargamers forum members we agreed to make our Bolt Action skirmish an infantry only affair (with no indirect fire weapons and no armour)...
THE SET-UP - My brother made an excellent little 'Normandy' village for us to scrap over (we kept it tight as we were just concentrating on learning the rules)...
Our small forces - 2 rifle squads (1 NCO, 7 riflemen), a MMG team and a sniper team each - started at either side of the ville with the objective of capturing and holding the cross-roads at the center of the table. I know this isn't perhaps the most imaginative mission, but we tried not to be too clever.
THE OPENING MOVES: Saw some blatant 'Runs' to get to best position over-looking the main objective with both of us matching move for move fairly equally. My brother included lots of interesting cover so we could try out Bolt Action's 'Line of Sight' mechanics...
MY FIRST TACTICAL MISTAKE: In the rush to get into a position overlooking the middle ground I got rather too cocky and exposed my most useful unit! My MG42 MMG fire team found themselves caught out in the open by my brother's lead GI's. It was a disaster for me - a chancy move trying to steal the initiative. First blood to the Yanks!
BLOCKING FORCE: Losing my MMG left a big hole in my center where the Americans could potentially pour through. Luckily for me my Order Dice came out the bag next and so I was able to move one of my infantry squads up my left flank to try and block any enemy rush...
HALF TIME: Things are looking bad for my Germans. The Americans have already reached the crossroads and are pushing through aggressively to stop me getting anywhere near the objective. But my brother's attempt to steam-roll my Germans seems to have stalled mainly due to a fantastic bit of pinning fire from my sniper in the cemetery (to the south)! Still, at halftime the initiative seems to be firmly with the Americans.
TOO QUICK AND TOO FAR: The Americans seem to have overextended themselves. In moving up to silence my sniper team they have moved close to one of my infantry squads and as the Order Dice favour me for a change I spring an ambush!
THE TIDE TURNS: It's amazing how quickly things can change due to the Order Dice system that Bolt Action uses...I pulled a couple of turns in a row and that was enough for me to spring a flanking move on my right flank which knocks out the US sniper team and whittles away one of the American infantry squads, leaving it scuttling for cover...
CLOSE QUARTER FIGHTING: In an attempt to extricate his lead American infantry squad from my ambush the Yanks hastily move up their MMG, but with some lucky dice throws I dispatch this and then turn my attention back to the US infantry which are now counter-attacking my Germans from their rear. But my superior numbers tell in the end and I have wiped out two American squads in short order!
From having a numerical advantage of four American squads to three German I managed - by a lot of good luck - to turn that around to two German squads to one US squad! ...The poor Americans have little choice but to disengage - or be caught in a pincer movement - and retreat speedily to the hardcover of the cemetery!
It was just a matter of time now and slowly the Yanks succomed to my fire! The graveyard did indeed become the final resting place for my brother's Americans...
Conclusion: The big surprise was that all this took FOUR HOURS! We were shocked - though a lot of this time was down to us flicking back and forth through the Bolt Action rule book!
We cannot claim that we interpreted the rules correctly and there were some dodgy moves, but we did our best to be fair.
...But we made a lot of notes about things we didn't quite understand and we intend to clarify these issues over the coming weeks.
Cutting out the armour and the light mortar squads we were originally going to employ did make things a lot more straight forward, plus we decided to ignore the additional close quarters (Assault) rules and stick to simple movement and shooting rules.
All in all we had a brilliant time - it was terrific fun. Pulling out lucky dice throws was a continued source of hilarity...I still put down my turn of fortunes to one lucky sniper shot (and a roll of 6)!
It was really surprising to us how Bolt Action's Order Dice turn based system could change the whole flow of the game in the blink of an eye.
My brother suffered because of the importance of Pinning, while he had numerical superiority for a large part of the game he failed to pin my units effectively. So, I guess, while I had fewer units they were more mobile and able in the end to perform a very effective pincer movement while his units were hampered by being pinned.
...A very satisfying nights gaming. War gaming is a very cruel pastime!
A very big thank you to my brother, Ian, for hosting our game and putting so much effort into building such an excellent first game table. Cheers bro!