11 March 2014

Bolt Action: 2 v 2 Intro

This week Comrade James devised another of his stellar historical scenarios for a 2 v 2 (4000 point) Bolt Action game: The Battle of Breville, Normandy, June 1944.  The historical situation was thus:
In the wake of the D-Day landings, the Germans launched a series of tenacious counter-attacks on 10-12th June at a gap in the Allied line between the 1st Special Service Brigade and 3rd Parachute Brigade in the area of Breville, east of the Orne River and 11kms NW of Caen.  German attacks aimed to split the 6th Airborne Division, who had conducted the Pegasus Bridge mission on D-Day and was now screening the German approaches to the Invasion beachhead.

The hasty German attacks were beaten off with great loss and a British counter-attack restored the line, killing and capturing over 300 Germans. Nevertheless, the German 346th Infantry Division held onto the village of Breville, which still posing a threat, and repulsed a follow-up  attack by the British 153rd Infantry Brigade with severe losses.

The Germans counter-attacked twice more with infantry and tanks on 12th June, exhausting both sides but the Allied situation was restabilised by a company attack by the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, personally led by an already wounded Brigadier Hill commanding 3rd Parachute Brigade.  When the dust settled, the German advance was contained but the 858th Grenadier Regiment still held Breville.  This position had to be captured to safeguard the beachhead.

All that was left of the 6th Airborne Division reserve was a weak 12 Parachute battalion, which supported by the 22nd Independent Parachute Company and another from the 12th Devons.  On the night of 12 June, Under cover of darkness, they attacked the village of Breville with armour support from the 13th/18th Hussars.

Friendly shell fire straddled the start line killing the 12 PARA Commanding Officer and the Devon Company Commander and seriously wounding many others. Rallied by platoon commanders and NCOs the Paras advanced to eject the Germans from the village in bitter and bloody hand-to-hand combat.  At a cost of eight officers and 133 airborne soldiers, Breville was cleared and the threat to the Invasion beaches removed.
Summary compiled from a range of sources, including:
Stirring stuff indeed with great bravery and tenacity on both sides.  Surely this must make a great game!
In Bolt Action terms this would be a “Point Defence” scenario with three objectives in the German setup area which included the battered village of Breville.  Two players per side would each field 1000 points using the same multiplayer rules we devised for our previous 3 v 3 game. We were keen to try the night fighting rules too, but instead of the whole game being under cover of darkness (the historic 12 Para attack commenced at 2200) we used the “Longest day” rule for a random onset of darkness and then starting to use the rules for night fighting.
The Battlefield with the German deployment along the bottom edge
The rather obvious approach lanes to the objectives via open but rough terrain was going to make this a tough task.  More of a job for Armoured or Mechanised infantry but that’s exactly what the historical Para commanders had to face too.  What I needed was plenty of cold steel and a rapid approach.  The onset of night would hinder the use of artillery and indirect fire later in the game, and the need to advance rapidly would preclude much in the way of heavy support weapons.  As a result, I decided on the following force:

1LT (Vet)
2 x FOO (Reg) – 1 being the free one for the British force

4 x 9 man Infantry Sections (Vet): 1 Bren, 2 SMGs, 7 Rifles – no this is not optimised for Bolt Action but is the historical composition of a Para rifle squad
1 x Sniper Team (Vet)
1 x PIAT team (Vet) – not much use but handy for light stuff like halftracks, and it would distract the Germans
Churchill Mk VI (Reg) upgraded with a 75mm gun

In his best pigeon German, Comrade James adds the following wisdom:

Ze brave defenders of ze Vaterland were from ze 346th Grenadier Regiment, and consisted of:
Major +2
2 Leutnants und 1
Stuh 42 Assault Howitzer
LeiG18 Light howitzer
50mm Granatwerfer (lt Mortar)
2 x MG42 on tripod
7 squads of Regular and Veteran Infantry
1 Veteran Squad
1 Veteran Sturmpioniere squad mit Flammenwerfer
1 Unic U107 Halftrack with MMG
2 sniper teams

The plan was to open with a prelim bombardment, then use the 3 FOOs to hit the Jerries with HE and smoke before night made them less effective, and go in as quick as we could.  Accordingly, we went with the National Characteristic of “Blood Curdling Charge”, which effectively paralyses an enemy unit being close assaulted and precludes them from firing at the lads as they charge in.  With a bit of luck this should work well…or it would go horribly, horribly wrong with not much scope for anything in between.

Knowing zat ze Englanders loved ze arty, ze Deustches kept half of zere force off table und only deployed the snipers und fixed arty units, together with a few regular squads to hold ze line…

Fellow Para Commander Paul similarly took a 1LT, 4 squads of Infantry FOO and sniper team, and also a Cromwell medium tank and a pair of recon jeeps which would be very handy indeed.  Over tea and tiffen we agreed that I would advance on the right flank to take the objective in the woods, while he would attack the Manor house and move onto the centre objective.  To keep the Germans dispersed Paul would put one of his infantry squads on a flanking manoeuvre up the left flank, threatening to rush in and contest the final objective in the final turns.  Visibility permitting, our tanks would support the infantry advance by pounding the enemy until the inevitable Panzers showed up.

The Major suspected zat ze Englanders vould move up zeir right flank (our left flank) as there vas too much hard cover on our right flank zat provided us vith superb defensive positions.So, ve deployed the bulk of our infantry und ze 2 MG42’s on our left flank to shoot ze Englanders as they approached. Ve suspected zem of sneaky flank attacks und so had 2 squads of regular Schutzen deployed in the village on our right flank.
Ze Stuh und LeiG would hold the centre objective to provide HE fire support to either flank.
Ze STurmpionieres und eins Leutnant remained in ze halftrack for a counterpunch mit dem flammenwerfer….

No doubt the Jerries would setup to make us pay during the advance, try to pin us down prior to assaulting and keep a small combined arms force in reserve to counterattack after we had shown our hand.  With luck, night would fall quickly and let us get stuck into the Boche out of the darkness before that could happen…
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  1. Looking forward to the Battle report and eye candy photos of the game.