Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Stickler's Attack - A Bolt Action Solo Encounter.

Stickler peered through the early morning mist, the Reds had broken through and were threatening to encircle the entire company. Stickler's platoon had been ordered to counter attack and drive the communists back.

(Using the Platoon Forward rules, the Russians had a number of 'Blinds' these were broken down into three classes - Red (largely Infantry), Blue (Support Weapons), Green (Armour/larger supports). Each scenario has a different ratio of blinds. I deployed them across the centre of the table in a defensive formation, Reds to the front and Green in support. Giving each one of them a dice, they would fire and move reacting to the German advance as the opportunity presented itself.)

Stickler had been able to muster a few 'extras' to help in the counter attack (rolling well on the support chart) and was bolstered by a Panther, MMG and Flamethrower team. The higher ups had arranged for a short artillery barrage to cover his assault.

(I used the preliminary rules within Bolt Action which resulted in the various blinds receiving pins or kills depending on the number rolled.)

Stickler advanced cautiously towards the original defensive line and was greeted by a battered squad of Volkstrum who were falling back having been savaged by Russians over the past 24 hours. The shell shocked troops were able to confirm that the Reds had taken up positions in the vacated German trenches and were there in some numbers.

The Russians open up from a row of terrace houses at the advancing Germans.
(Two blue dice were pulled from the bag which generated a roll on the blind table and rolling high generated a MMG and 50mm were revealed,) 

On the right flank an LMG team popped up and opened up on Breslau's section, killing one of the unit who was to slow to react.
(Again a roll on the blind table generating an LMG team however two further blinds proved to be blank.)

Meanwhile Stickler was able to concentrate his forces pouring fire into the Russian defenders.

Larrs Kapp section rushed forwards to flank the buildings, 
(Two blue dice followed which triggered a B and C blind which revealed an AT gun). The AT fired and missed Kapp's speeding Hanomag however the T34 came into view and fired it's main gun destroying the 251, killing three of Kapp's section, the rest dived for cover.
(The Green, C Blind provides a number of support options ranging from an Infantry Squad to MBT)

Kapp's revenge. The next dice out is a German once and two panzer fraust rounds roar off towards the Russian monster boom...… Good job I paid for the extra rounds :-)

Meanwhile the Russians are on the move, reinforcements rush forwards from the start line. Others seeing the burning halftrack skirt the farm house on the left.
(I rolled for two A blinds and rolled up two sections of infantry, which I figured would exploit the Germans digging in behind the hedge. Meanwhile three blinds came on as reinforcements they could have appeared on 1D6 turns but I rolled a two so they soon into action, one was blank the second and third an infantry section and forward observer.)

Having killed the defenders the Germans advanced on the now empty row of houses looking to exploit the gap in the Russian line.

Mean while things were a hotting up on left as the Russians flanked the advancing Germans. I rushed the battered Volkstrum back into the line.

In the centre the supporting armour reach the T junction and swept the road with MG fire killing the MG team.
(I decided that opposing sides would retire when they lost 50% or more of their dice. The Russians started out with a potential 16 but the blanks were removed from the pool, once all blinds were revealed the Russians had a break level of 7 dice to the German 8).

Whilst I was able to bring additional supporting units to bear, the Russians advanced on the Volkstrum defenders killing a number of them as they took shelter behind the low stone wall.
Their commander urged them to return fire to no avail.
(Having a lower morale they failed their command roll.)

The home guard had had enough and ran for their lives fleeing back past Sticklers command.
(Having rolled 12 this resulted in the unit panicking and fleeing 12 inches away from the advancing Russians.)

The left flank was wide open to the Russian infantry.

Meanwhile in the centre the German Flamethrower clears out the Russians who were looking to infiltrate the house, killing another element. More Russians move into the woodland behind the buildings.

Lt Stickler grabs his MP40 and rushes forward he and his two riflemen are all that stood in the way of the Soviets.
(At this stage the Russians had lost 6 dice and needed one more to break the Russian morale.)

Stickler charges into the battered Russians and before they can react he kills the three remaining troopers wiping them out.

Meanwhile with Amour support Kapp and his men see off the remaining Russian's on the road and the attack is broken.
(End of turn 4 and the Russian's are broken having lost over 50% of their forces.)

The Russians fall back and Lt Stickler consolidates his position to await the next Russian attack.

Stickler had lost 13 men and a halftrack but had pushed back the Russian assault and stopped the battlegroup from being surrounded.

(Rolling on the fixed event chart, Stickler was recognised by the higher ups - One presumes because of his heroic charge. In terms of future games I decided on making him a Veteran for future games.
A second roll on the chart provided Stickler with reinforcements at a level of 2 men below full strength. I figured this will be off Kapp's section.
The SDKFZ 251/1 was also replaced.)

A fun encounter the blinds add a good level of unknowns for the 'home team'. Having three levels gives a good mix at the lesser level MG and Mortar teams to ease you into the encounter but rising to Armour and AT guns as you get to the 'C' blinds depending on the roll could the battle, what if the roll generated another tank or only AT guns?

There were a number of occasions where the random make up changed the various turns, the AT and Armour on the Halftrack for example or the lack of defenders in the houses in the centre.

Using the Bolt Action element of selecting dice gives you the solo general a choice of when to trigger elements in hope that troops may or may not appear. In the final round the large majority of the German dice came out first, which defeated the Russians but it could have been very different.

In summary despite playing both sides there are enough unknowns to keep it interesting and the added character elements after the battle give you a nice narrative to flow through into future games.

Next up a random roll on the battle selector of 'Defence against counter attack'.


  1. Nice stuff Stu .....I am considering a foray into solo gaming, using Chain Reaction 3, which is a set of ultra modern rules where one or more players fight "the system"...(and I don't mean the government!).

    1. I used to play a lot of Chain Reaction, I found ATZ to be a faster, a great set of rules for a range of periods.

  2. Nice report Stu the terrain and figures all look excellent!

    1. Thanks Simon, if this goes on much longer who knows the kids in desperation might actually want to play :-)

  3. Great report Stu and loved the way the blinds worked.

    1. Definitely worth a try Steve, I am working on tweaking them for a number of periods, could work well for VBCW or the ACW.
      Looking forwards to catching up F2F in October at the Cotswold bash.
      Fingers crossed.

  4. Solo gaming a great solution for hard times...

    1. Definitely worth a look Bart. Worth downloading the PDF.

  5. Good AAR Stu!
    Yes solo gaming is on the cards for a while, one under my belt so far plus got out an old SPI folio game, Arnhem gonna give that a go tonight!

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