Friday, 3 February 2017

Tabletop Game Report - Cold Steel on the Russian Front

Another very enjoyable visit to The Scarborough Game Society saw a very exciting Bolt Action WW2 'Eastern Front' themed game. This time a bit of an urban defence/assault format, with the Germans holding a town centre against hoards of oncoming Ruskies...Would this be another Stalingrad, I wondered?

Opening action, as the German's lead makes a dash for the town centre. These
very near misses were a sign of the oncoming Soviet ferocity!
I was a spectator this evening, which suited me fine as it gave me an opportunity to follow the Bolt Action rules at my leisure (without the pressures of trying to think up tactics at the same time). I think I am going to have to buy the rule book next, so I can 'follow along' with the rule decisions. But it was nice to see that even experienced players had to refer to the rulebook regularly throughout the game.

The first stage of the game was the German occupation of the town centre, though this was done under fire, as the Soviet force (which was an ominously sizable one, with lots of armour) moved in from the south. So, the first order of the day was for the German commander to get his troops into the cover of the buildings as soon as possible...

The Germans took cover as soon as possible.

As the Germans dug in, considerable amounts of fire began to come in from the advancing Ruskies. And with the clatter of very formidable looking armour, an early bombardment from the pride of the Red Army - a monstrous IS-1 - scored a devastating blow to the south-most German defence point...

KA-BOOM! Scratch one house, care of a well placed HE shell from the IS-1!
A German spotter sees the culprit and calls for revenge!
While the Soviets celebrate this devastating early success (with copious amounts of 'vodka' and rowdy singing) an eagle-eyed German spotter in the town reports the engagement to his HQ and a counter attack is hastily planned...

The German armoured element comes into play and a desperate tank duel ensues, the trusty - but ageing - PzKpfw IV Ausf. H versus the latest Soviet technology, the fearsome Iosif Stalin I (IS-1)!

The mighty Soviet IS-1 rumbles forward, can nothing stop it?
The German Panzer IV advances cautiously from cover, but immediately starts
taking fire from the Soviet advanced units...Can it's 7.5cm gun stop the Ruskies?

Against all odds, the Panzer IV scores a direct hit and knocks out the Russian
monster...We can only assume it was a freak hit on the ammo rack!
While the first round of the tank on tank action goes decisively to the Germans - and the Soviet commander weeps floods of tears into his potato soup - the Red Army's greatest strength is its overwhelming numerical superiority. When one tank falls, another is quick to take its place and soon a formidable T-34/85  - aided by a diminutive light T-70 (played here by a T-34) joins the fray...

'Half-time' and while the Germans have given the Red Army a bloody nose,
things are still looking a little bleak.

The Soviet commander - still reeling from his loss - ponders
his next move...
Ivan decides a change of course is in order and his light tank probes the town's
eastern approaches, taking out the German's Kubelwagen in the process.
His brash frontal assault blunted, the Soviet commander now decides to take a more cautious advance towards the town centre. With his light T-70 leading the way, his armoured column moves up to engage the German armour.

As the net closes in on the beleaguered defenders the T-34/85 its exacts revenge and decimates the German armoured force...

BOOM, BOOM! Like a knife through butter, the
Soviet tanks brush aside Fritz's armour!
Things are starting to look very bad for the Germans, and sensing a devastating bombardment of their town-centre stronghold by the Russians there seems only one course of action to take...

The Germans launch a close-up Panzerfaust attack on the T-34/85. It's an almost suicidal attack but if they can just get one of their anti-tank rockets on target before being mowed down by the tank's coaxial machine gun, they may yet save the day!

Into the jaws of death!
Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat! The tanks MG finds it's prey!
It was a forlorn hope, and the German infantry crumple under a cruel hail of bullets. There is now very little left to stop the Red Army from taking the town, just the entrenched German remnants to mop up.

With nothing to stop them now, the Soviet infantry launch a direct assault on the town's main stronghold from the ruins of a nearby building...

Literally knocking on the door now, it's all over, the fat lady is singing!
Sadly, I had to leave at this point, which probably spared me from witnessing the final agonies of the German rout. It was a very tense and exciting game, the outcome of which was probably inevitable (as it was historically by this stage on the Eastern Front).

The Red Army could pour an almost bottomless amount of men and armour against a dwindling German rearguard action and the writing was on the wall for the Third Reich. Next stop Berlin!

Conclusion, Summing Up the Evening
While this engrossing game took up almost all of my attention, I must emphasise that there were a plethora of different types of board and tabletop games going on at the same time. I only got a close look at the tables immediately adjacent to the Bolt Action game I was engrossed in, but there looked to be some very exciting stuff going on...

Right next to our game was a wonderful Egypt themed Bolt Action game.
Come on, how cool is this?
Sometimes it was really hard to keep your eyes on your table as there was just so much going on that looked so interesting. I'm not a big Sci-Fi gamer but these models from another nearby table caught my eye...

I'm not sure, is that Warhammer 40,000?

This is one of the really cool things about the Scarborough Games Society, you get the chance to spot new and exciting games and get the chance to see them 'in action' and ask about them. Everyone is exceedingly friendly and keen to talk about their favourite game.

There were another dozen or so games going on that were just beyond my reach, but it was great to see traditional board games being played, a VR computer game and some I think there was even some figure painting going on! Amazing.

A big thank you to everyone at the club, particularly those whom I kept getting in the way with while I took my snapshots. Another really good Thursday night! Wow!

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