Friday, 7 June 2013

Action at Kherson

We resume our Odessa Files mini-campaign with Bolt Action rules used for WW1. In the scenario, a platoon of the Greek 5/42 Evzones is holding a hamlet on the Kherson approach road, which a Red reinforced company with armoured cars and heavy weapons is hoping to overrun in a short, sharp attack. There are French of variable quality in reserve, who may or may not come to the Greeks' aid (depending on dice).

The sleepy hamlet, Greek Evzones are billeted in the houses on the far side of the left-right road in the centre

The Reds decided to attack in two platoon columns with supporrting machine guns along the 2 roads (running bottom right to top left, picture above)) with an armoured car leading each column, while a third platoon and field guns were to be in reserve, to be thrown in where a breakthrough was made.

Red column moves rapidly along the road, led by an armoured car. Field guns start to move into position

Unfortunately for the Bolsheviks, the Greek vedettes were alert and saw one of the columns very early, and promptly loosed off mortar rounds at pre-prepared targets, destroying a Red squad in the right-hand column at the crossroads on the Red table entrance. The Greeks also rapidly sited their machine gun and loosed off a burst, catching another squad in the Red left hand column that had moved away from the shelter of the armoured car.

The Bolsheviks, realising they were rumbled, then rushed forward as fast at they could to the give the Greeks the minimum opportunity to shoot them. The armored cars rumbled forward, trying to suppress Greek shooting positions. 

It soon became clear to the Reds that the Greek troops in the big house in the centre of the table were a major problem, so they tried to rush it with 3 squads from their left column and reserves, while their armoured cars, a machine gun and more of the reserve line moved up and raked the house. Greek casualties were high, but the Greek platoon's commander kept spirits up (at sabre point at times) and they just held out, but it was desperate times and they were still in dire straits.

Red troops, egged on by their Komissar, charge the Greek house (far distance)

 On the Red right, the column got over the shock of the mortar fire and moved forward as fast as it could, and mortar fire effectiveness reduced. They also got their gun unlimbered and began to shell the Greeks sheltering in and around a small house on this far flank. The Red armoured car pushed forward and got onto the flank of the Greek position, its machine gun enfilading them and causing them to keep their heads down and suppressed their fire while the Red artillery opened up.

Meanwhile, in the centre, a first Red assault on the centre house had only just been beaten off by the Greek 3rd squad coming up from its rear/left flank  position and shooting down the attackers, but that left the Greek right flank open, and the Red left column, seeing this, started to swing troops around this flank where they could get into the Greek rear while they massed their reserves for another assault on the house.

With their Kommissar waving the Red flag, the Reds charged again, and reached the house, and vicious hand to hand combat and point blank shooting ensued. But the Greeks got lucky - amidst this turmoil, the Greek Lieutenant coolly took aim with his pistol, and shot the Kommissar dead (seriously lucky dice!). With this, one of the Russian squads turned tail and fled. The Greeks were saved again. But more Red reserves were now in position, their machine guns were chattering and casualties were still mounting in the pinned Greek position. On the Red right the Greeks were barely holding on, and the Red left their squads were steadily penetrating forward to get around into the Greek rear.

Things were looking very tight.....but then, with Greek flag flying, Evzones were running out the woods in the Greek rear towards the centre building, and a fusillade of shots crashed into the massing Red forces. The Greek captain was leading his small HQ squad, and a squad of newly arrived French troops forward, and their shooting drove off the Reds. Greek casualties around the house had been  high, but the Reds were now much higher. The frontal assault had failed, the Kommissar was dead - but what about the flank attacks - could the Reds still take the village from the flanks?

Greek flag flying, Evzones and French poilu pour fire into Red forces attacking the beleagured Greeks in the village centre house 

The Reds had by now wiped out the last of the Greek resistance to their right column, and were getting ready to advance onto the Greek centre. The Reds were also increasingly probing behind the Greek positions on their left, forcing the Greek mortar crew to retire to safety.

At this point though, the Greeks had another huge stroke of luck - the fates decreed that not only would a second French squad come to their aid, but that it would be a squad of the formidable Legion Etrangere. These moved rapidly to counter the probing Red troops, and made short work of those Reds, and then silenced one of the Red machine guns

 The Legion to the rescue. The Red left hand column has been beaten to a halt.

At this point the rules stoped the game on bound 6 Reds decided to make a strategic withddrawal, as their victorious right hand column had still taken major casualties and was now facing the fresh French Poilu, their main central assault had been beaten back with losses, while their depleted reserves and right column was now caught between Greeks in the centre house, and a rapidly advancing Legion. The Russian commander ordered the armoured cars to make a rapid forward foray to sow discord into the Alled rear and spoil any pursuit, vowing "I'll be back!".

I'll be Back! The Red commander calls off the attack - for now

Before anyone writes to complain about the Legion, Poilu and Evzones in the same village, I must explain that we were interested in trying out the Bolt Action WW2 rules for the Russian Civil War, so we also wanted to test out all the various troops' grades. The Reds had c 50% more troops but they were rated raw (though enthusiastic), led by passionate Officers and Commissars and backed up by trained heavy weapons units. The French poilu were average but unenthusiastic (which is why the Greek captain led them into the fray!), the Evzones were tough veterans, and the Legion was, well, the Legion. 

The game was fast paced, the rules worked well, and we got a believable result in an evening. A Red "human wave" assault very, very nearly worked, as if they had taken teh central house the Greeks would have been broken. The Greeks in the central house passing a key morale test, the Kommissar being shot, and half the raw troops in the assault force running away, was what this game pivoted on. By the time the Reds had massed again, the Greeks in the house had rallied themselves and French troops were arriving. Strong houses defended by good troops and a heavy machine gun are a tough thing to take!

Bolt Action uses dice rather than the Mud & Blood cards, they have fewer options on a dice than cards and you can choose which unit to activate, rather than M&B which designates many activations so it is a bit more predictable than Mud & Blood (good) but you don't get the amazing "fog of war plus serendipity" effect that makes M&B such fun (bad ). We've played a few more Bolt Action games since,  which I'll write up when I have time.

The Red's propaganda battle reoprt is over here, with loads more pictures - but in Hungarian :-) 

1 comment:

  1. More pictures: