Saturday, February 14, 2015

15mm WW2 Bolt Action for Valentine's Day..

No chocolate hearts or roses in this post!  Just cold steel and hot lead.

The wife and little one had a play date today at a friend's house, leaving me some precious time to throw some dice around.

What a better way to do that than play some Bolt Action in 15mm?!?!?  This game featured some of my traditional Eastern Front 15mm forces.  1 Soviet motorized platoon and some support elements (2 45mm AT guns, a medium mortar, and an HMG team) and 1 German mechanized platoon of half tracks and infantry.

All troops were "Regulars."

Small village in the center which would be the primary objective.  Germans approach from the top of the picture's table edge.  Soviets from the bottom.

Soviets set up in some ruins.
   The Soviets approached with the guns leading and set up first while the Germans approached less cautiously and threw 2 251s full of infantry towards the town.
AT guns ready!

Lead Soviet squad and HMG occupying a toe-hold in the village

Opening moves turn 2.  Soviet AT guns are emplaced!  Meanwhile infantry creep up to the village.

Fortune favors the bold - the Germans occupy a "strongpoint" in the village
 The action heated up when the Soviet AT guns opened up on the German 251/9 with one shot missing and the second shot knocking it out, killing half of the platoon command group.  Not a good start!  Meanwhile the Soviets approach the wood clearing outside the village as the first German half-tracks arrive.  Both sides trade intense fire!
A burning Stummel...

And the crew who killed them!  Battle honors for these guys!

The yellow die are "pinned" markers.  Red die are crew who were killed.  Much of the infantry reach the town by now.  
 The Germans and Soviet firefight begins in earnest as the German half-track crews help suppress the Soviet infantry.

 (by the way, it's worth mentioning my Bolt Action House-Rule here.  I took 1 great rule away from the "Disposable Heroes" rules in that only 50% [rounded up] of my troops in a squad get to fire with the assumption that some of them are servicing the LMG, loading their rifle, fixing jams, etc.  This worked out nicely and prolongs the action in a game where you can usually count on 25% of your squad getting hit in 1 volley.)

This squad would get roughly handled almost the whole game - but not wiped out!

Germans creep up towards the Soviets along the cornfield

Meanwhile - a Squad forgotten?  One of the worst parts about playing solo.  I forgot about this vital Soviet reinforcing squad out there guarding the Soviet flank.  They go on "Run" orders and head towards the town!!!

and this is what they see.
 I can't believe I've forgotten a squad out there.  So the Soviet squad charges in to reinforce their comrades while the Germans start to get the upper hand in the fight.

This squad would be a tempting target for Fritz - the Germans would slowly creep up and launch a "surprise" assault against the surviving squad members.

Germans "creeping"

 By now, with the loss of an additional Soviet squad, the Germans have a good hold on the village and constant fire by both AT guns with HE shells, mortars, and HMG fire have not been enough to dislodge the Germans from that log house.  Ivan throws in everything but the kitchen sink at the Germans and only causes a pin marker or 2 and the MG34 which is KO'd when Ivan rolls a "6" for his damage die.

Then the Germans turn their attention on the advancing Soviets, wiping out the crucial members of the reinforcing squad.
 The Soviet reinforcements walk right into German "ambush fire" from the house and their vaunted counter-attack peters out.  Meanwhile the Soviet squad in the ruins rallies off 3 of their pin markers.  They're down to 2 SMG gunners.  A German squad on the left forms to over-run the rubble pile and the Soviets call it quits!  The Soviet 1,033'd Rifle Battalion Duty Log would later refer to this battle as "The Saint Valentine's Day Massacre."

Eager German Landsers about to assault the rubble pile.

Final Dispositions


I think both sides could have done things a little differently although I'm convinced the point system in Bolt Action should be followed as closely as possible.  I believe the Germans had a distinct advantage with the LMG supporting fire from their Half-tracks AND the dismounted MG34s as well.  I think they could have traded in the dismount LMG for a rifle and that may have evened things out as well.

Additionally, to make a new squad, the Soviets shortened their own squad size down to 7 and 8 from 10.  This made a huge difference as the Soviets could ill afford to take casualties.

As for the loss of the Stummel early in the game, the Germans made a grave error by ignoring the threat from AT guns.  That's one of my favorite aspects of Bolt Action - that weapon systems DO matter and you can't discount their effects.

I could have made smarter use of the half-tracks by advancing the infantry under the cover of the LMGs in the halftracks.  Having movement tied to covering fire just makes better sense.

The Soviets should have stayed together and launched assaults very quickly.  Most of their squads had tons of SMG gunners in them to provide lots of extra firepower and I feel that firepower was wasted trading pot-shots with the Germans instead of aggressively attacking.


Just like with Black Powder, I happen to like playing Bolt Action in 15mm.  It allows me more troops on the table and more tactical options given my 6 x 4 board setup.  15 and 20mm are my scales of choice for WW2 skirmish gaming and with my vehicles and troops available, I'd like to try Bolt Action with my 1/72 scale troops as well.


  1. Looks like a great game and another morning more than well spent. Too bad the Stummel had such an early whacking as it is my favorite SPW; mobility, firepower, but as you know, not so much armor! lol :-)

    1. It was a great game, David. And quick, too! That's what I like about Bolt Action. Quick games and you don't need an entire room to play it.
      I was disappointed the Stummel got KO'd so early as I had wanted to see it in action.
      I think it would have been helpful against those Ivans in the rubble. What an ignominious end to get knocked out by a 45mm ATG!!

      Thanks for commenting buddy!

  2. Good fun! If you want a really interesting comparison, go play the same game again using Chain of Command rules.

    1. Paul,
      I have Chain of Command but haven't played it yet. I have heard all great things about it. And IABSM as well.