We've taken to playing 500 point games of Bolt Action recently in order to all be able to get games in and to really get to grips with the rules.
Due to the small game size we've been playing without army special rules as we've found that they can be unbalancing in smaller games
This week my newly finished Russians went up against Matt's partisans that double as Volkssturm when fighting Allied forces.
2nd Lt & 1 man (SMGs)
12 Regulars (rifles + LMG)
8 Veterans (rifles, 2 SMGs, tough fighters)
3 Tank Hunters (rifles, panzerfaust)
Anti-Tank Rifle team
45mm Anti-Tank Gun
Matt's Partisans (this might be wrong)
Officer & 1 man (SMGs)
12 Regulars (rifles)
12 inexperienced (mix of rifles and pistols)
6 Veterans (SMGs)
Inexperienced Captured Puma
I began with my sniper in the big hotel on the left and the tank hunters lurking around the centre of the table. I brought on my anti tank teams in the centre to threaten the road and hopefully tame the Puma. Meanwhile my veterans went up the left whilst the regulars and officer went up the right.
One element of the game I was pleased with was my use of 'kill zones'. The threat of the sniper made Matt bring all of his infantry on the right, bunching them together, whilst the Puma used it's Recce move to avoid the first shot from the AT Gun and never came out from behind the house in the centre for the rest of the game.
Meanwhile, Matt used his MMG to control the ground between and beyond the houses in the centre. This effectively divided my force later in the game.
In the picture above the advance of Matt's regulars caused my tank hunters to retreat to the ruin by the road, but were countered by a devastating charge from my veterans, which destroyed the partisans, but left the vets hemmed in by the MMG.
Meanwhile, despite a brief exchange of fire, the right side of the table was tensely poised. My regulars were stranded in the woods, but being on ambush meant the the first of the partisans to appear would get a face full of lead. The inexperienced unit were in the larger ruined house, with the veterans and officer behind it.
To break the stalemate I advanced the AT rifle into a vulnerable position in the ruin and the inexperienced unit duly took the bait and assaulted. Despite being successful, the casualties they took (along with some earlier in the game) meant that the inexperienced unit was somewhat weakened.
Then came the exchange. Matt got the run of the order dice but was let down by his rolling to wound as the partisan officer and veterans advanced to pour fire in to the wood, and the inexperienced unit assaulted from the ruin.
However, when the dust had settled, the Russians were still standing and began to pin the partisan veterans into oblivion. Matt fired his MMG into the maelstrom, which allowed my veterans to finally cross the road and add their weight to proceedings.
By this point the battle was won, but it's worth a brief note about my tank hunters. They'd lurked, hidden, retreated, advanced and finally found themselves within striking range of their target, the Puma. The only problem was that attacking it would expose them to both the Puma and the MMG if they missed.
But they had a panzerfaust and weren't afraid to use it. The tank hunters advanced into the open, fired and...missed. The Puma's MMG spat fire at point blank range, but also missed. The tank hunters prepared to assault but then noticed the MMG in the cornfield turning in their direction. I imagine that the expressions bore a startling similarity to those of Richard Attenborough and Gordon Jackson at the end of The Great Escape...
Overall, I was pleased with how the game went and generally things went according to plan. Matt was unlucky in the exchange of fire on the right. For the first time I made extensive use of the ambush order in a game and it served me well, controlling fields of fire and making my opponent consider their moves carefully.
Playing amongst the buildings was a cagey and brutal affair and my tough veterans were fearsome. I was pleased with the durability of my big unit of regulars, and I was particularly happy with the effect that my AT gun had even though it didn't fire. However, I'm not all that sure of the effectiveness of the tank hunters.
I'm now considering whether to change my set up for next week when I'll be up against Americans or Germans.