Bolt Action Battle Report #2 - 1000pts (and 8 extra) US vs Italians

Today we have our second Bolt Action battle report, at around 1000 points, between the Americans and the Italians. Going into the game I felt that the Americans would have a distinct advantage over their European opponents seeing as they had a late war tank that most of the Italian forces would be unable to touch and also their favourable national rules allowing them to move and fire without penalty and enter from reserves without the -1.

As you can see below, the battle would be fought between two very experienced forces, both airborne focused although the American choice of two inexperienced vehicles could prove decisive.

Early/Mid War Italian Airborne

2nd Lieutenant SMG, Veteran Soldier SMG

Veteran Paracadutisti - NCO with SMG, 1x Rifle, 1x LMG, 6x SMG, AT grenades
Veteran Paracadutisti - NCO with SMG, 1x Rifle, 1x LMG, 6x SMG
Veteran Paracadutisti - NCO with SMG, 1x Rifle, 1x LMG, 6x SMG

Veteran MMG team
Regular Light Mortar
Veteran Sniper Team

Regular Autoblinda 41 (AB41)
Regular M14/41

Late War US Airborne/Rangers

1st Lieutenant, Veteran Soldier

Veteran Forward Air Observer, Veteran Soldier

Veteran Ranger squad - NCO with SMG, 8x rifles, BAR
Veteran Airborne squad - NCO with SMG, 8x rifles, BAR
Veteran Engineer squad - NCO with SMG, 5x rifles, 2x BAR
Veteran Airborne Light Mortar
Veteran Bazooka team
Veteran Sniper team

Veteran Light Howitzer
Inexperienced M3 Halftrack 
Inexperienced M4 Sherman

 The Scenario

Scenario 4 was the order of the day and the Italians came out as defenders, thanks to their national rule allowing the re-roll for attackers/defenders. This benefited the Axis forces as it allowed them to set up one emplacement and meant that they could set up two units close to the objective. The D3 roll for emplacements only saw the Italians have one, but this was all they needed.


The Hanomag at the crossroads marked the objective, and the Italians picked one Paracadutisti squad and the AB41 as their two units to start on the board.

The American infantry divided into two. The HQ, FAO, Sniper team and Airborne squad pushed on from the cornfield in the top left, while the Rangers worked their way down the road to the right.

The Italian Sniper team set up in the house overlooking the Hanomag from the "South".

Turn 1

The Americans made the first move with their sniper rushing into the house at the "Northern" end of the board. The sniper team would set up shop here for the rest of the battle, although this may not totally have been out of choice.

After this first move the momentum quickly swung to the Italian side. The Paracadutisti squad by the Hanomag advanced to the other side of the bocage and opened fire on the sniper team from within 12". While the sniper team survived, it did lose the second man and was impeded for the remainder of the game. The AB41 rolled through the bocage in the opposite direction and laid down suppressing fire on the Airborne squad hiding in the field, claiming one rifleman.

The Italian first wave was comprised of the Light Mortar Team, a second Paracadutisti team and the M14. With the majority of the American forces on the far side of the board the Rangers bore the brunt of the Italian firepower. The sniper hit the squad but failed to cause a casualty, unfortunately for the rangers the 3 MMGs of the M14 (2 hull-mounted, 1 co-axial) did cause a casualty and forced them to go down when they failed their leadership check.

The remaining American forces shuffled forwards but were unable to cause any damage. The Italian light mortar dropped some smoke in the middle of the board (which the American's placed).

Turn 2

Turn two opened up with the American sniper team again. This time managing to hit the Italian sniper, but failing to cause a casualty. But this did force an order check on the Italian sniper which it failed. The American vehicles both faced their first order checks, and both failed to roll under 8, this also pinned the engineer team off the board as they were in the M3 Halftrack.

The AB41 continued it's personal vendetta against the American Airborne, laying down some more fire on them and picking off one regular rifleman with the light auto-cannon.

While the Rangers managed to get some respite from the sniper fire the second Paracadutisti squad quickly took the place of their sneaky comrade. With the additional firepower of the M14 backing them up the pins piled up on the Rangers, and to make matters worse and exceptional MMG bullet found it's way through the squad to take out the NCO.

Two American teams did manage to enter from reserves, the Light Mortar and the Bazooka team. The Light Mortar attempted to hit the Paracadutisti team on the road, but missed and the Mortar team tried to hit the AB41, also missing.

The Italian MMG ran onto the board behind the M14, the third Paracadutisti squad arrived and the Italian Light Mortar dropped some more smoke into the middle of the battlefield.

Finally the US FAO decided to make a break from cover to call in an airstrike next turn, but was left out in the open for the first Paracadutisti squad to fire at... Also placing them within 12". The next dice out of the bag would prove important. If it was Italian then the FAO was likely to die...

Turn 3

... And the first dice was an Italian dice. The 1st Paracadutisti squad charged the FAO, wiped out the squad and regrouped back to the other side of the bocage. Getting some revenge was the American light mortar landing a hit on the Italian team and causing some casualties.

The Airborne decided to push forwards towards the objective, using the American Lieutenant's leadership bonus but the AB41 kept them back, with an exceptional shot taking out the NCO.

The American Light Howitzer arrived but, being a fixed weapon, could only sit and watch for the rest of the turn. The engineers and Halftrack failed to arrive, leaving the Rangers all alone facing impossible odds. A quick flurry of Italian dice saw the second and third Paracadutisti squads, the Sniper, the M14 AND the MMG open up on them. Needless to say, those that survived the onslaught broke and ran for home (I believe at the end of it they had to roll a 3 on the leadership test to remain in the game).

The American sniper fired a futile shot at his Italian counterpart, missing. And the Sherman finally arrived and opened fire on the first Paracadutisti squad. The American light mortar missed his target, as did the bazooka team and the Italian light mortar decided that more smoke was required so that the battlefield looked more and more like a men's toilet at a football game during halftime.

Turn 4

With the tide turned well and truly against the Americans the Halftrack finally decided to arrive... And summarily get wrecked by the Paracadutisti. The Engineers picked up 3 pin markers (MMG, 2x Paracadutisti squads) in the process. 

The M14 decided to pick a fight with something it's own size but failed to hurt the American Sherman, before the first Paracadutisti squad charged it. Unfortunately, there were not enough men left to hurt it and so they took cover on the other side of the bocage. The Italian sniper took a dislike to the American howtizer team and managed to hit them, while the AB41 continued to pick off US airborne who had barely managed to advance beyond the field they started in.

At this point, with 3 teams already wiped out, another two well and truly pinned down and no full Italian squad destroyed the American commander signaled the retreat. 


Post Battle Analysis

Well the first thing I want to do is make sure that I either 1) write up our report sooner next time or 2) take notes during the battle! While I believe I have managed to relay the story of our game correctly I can't help but feel that I have missed something or got one thing or another muddled up.

In terms of the game, we both realised just how much of a liability inexperienced units are. With the two American vehicles spending most of the game out of the fight the US forces were at a distinct disadvantage. If the Sherman had arrived earlier then there is every chance it could have pushed back the Paracadutisti squad that knocked out the US FAO, and this was without a -1 to the reserve roll!

The American sniper may also have been too close to the main battle to be truly effective. While the house did provide excellent cover for him, he ended up too close to the Paracadutisti, and was duly punished. With that -1 from losing his squad member and most targets of opportunity being over half range, his ability to hit targets was severely reduced. With only one shot per turn, you do not want to see your greatest strength nullified.

Although it may seem that I went a bit crazy with the smoke in the middle it really did prove to be a lifesaver on one occasion, as the it blocked the bazooka from targeting the AB41, which was then able to keep the US airborne stuck on the wrong side of the board.

As the Italians I knew that I had to make sure the centre of the board, and the objective were securely held throughout. If I abandoned the objective to go hunting some of the smaller American teams, which was tempting, then when the Sherman eventually turned up it could have feasibly held me back. Also, by staying close to the objective, it forced the Americans to bring their forces in close to my Paracadutisti, and with the overwhelming number of SMGs, as soon as they were in range I was able to tear apart the American squads, as shown with the rangers. Against a more effective long range force I may have had issues, but I felt that I used cover quite effectively to deny LOS and get the -1 to hit modifier.

What are your thoughts on the game, where else can we improve our tactics for our next game?

I hope you have enjoyed reading as much as we enjoyed playing the battle. 
Until next time, thanks for reading!

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