Sunday, 15 September 2019

An Arresting Situation in Jhamjar (many photos!)

Ockerforce is on the move again!  Vital intelligence has been received (from secret sources) that one of the leaders of the Jhamjar revolt has been located in a small camp in the countryside.  Lt Frank Ocker's platoon of British and ANZAC veterans has been dispatched to apprehend Subedar PBJ Singh Widj, of the Jhamjar Rifles.  If Ockerforce strikes fast, then Singh Widj can be captured (preferably alive) before he can escape or be rescued by other forces loyal to the Djelli of Jhamjar.

To manage this mission, Ockerforce has been reinforced.  Lt F.Ocker's platoon of ANZACs and British soldiers has 4 sections of 10 men each, and 2 of the sections have a Lewis gun to add to their firepower.

Ockerforce has been allocated two armoured vehicles.  They have been assigned a Rolls Royce Armoured Car, with a Vickers machine gun in a rotating turret (it looks like this vehicle was assigned to the Royal Naval Air Service at some point).

They've also been provided with a Medium Mark A "Whippet" light tank.  The Whippet is famous for its speed; it can maintain 8 m.p.h., more than twice as fast as the rhomboid Mark IV or V heavy tanks.  However, in Bolt Action terms, it is still rated "slow"!  The Whippet has 4 Hotchkiss light machine guns, each capable of firing into a different arc to the front, rear, or side of the tank.  While the British never actually sent any Whippets to India, they did sell 4 of them to Japan.  The forces of the Raj intercepted the Whippets en route, and "borrowed" them for the duration, at least until order was restored.

In addition, Ockerforce will be reinforce by 2Lt Peter Ness and two sections of Gurkha Rifles.  They are quite busy chaps and missed out on their pre-action closeup.  Not to worry, they will show up in the report below!

F.Ocker's platoon HQ will be accompanied by an ambulance (acting as a medic under the BA rules).


Subedar PBJ Singh Widj is joined as usual by his platoon of Sikh and Muslim riflemen, including his platoon HQ with his batman/bugler and the platoon stretcher bearer (treated as a medic per Bolt Action rules) and a single Vickers MMG.

Subedar Singh Widj knows that there is a troop of the Jhamjar Lancers nearby, lead by Risaldar Mahrm el Madhi.  The rear ranks represent dismounted cavalry, and include the two Hotchkiss light machine guns carried by these sowars.

The Djelli was even able to procure a cannon for his forces!  This piece has a slightly silly story behind it:  I have a small mountain gun which includes a mule team to transport it.  When I packed my things for the game, I managed to leave the gun at home!  Scrambling at the hall as I considered options, I made a last-minute decision to substitute the mountain gun with this renaissance cannon that I won as a door prize, supplemented with some of my 1920s pulp fiction characters as a gun crew and an elephant to tow the gun to wherever it might be needed!

For reference, here is an image of the AWOAL mountain gun and mule team!  

This game was my first experience with Bolt Action.  I was referee, which was a bit funny as three of the four players were far more experienced with BA than I!  They all signed up as their experience was with 1st Edition, and they wanted to try 2nd Edition BA.  Many thanks to Jeremy, Tim, Jim and John for make the game a success, and also to Doug for helping out with photos, dice pulling and making the occasional impartial call.

Initial setup.  In the centre, there is a small campsite where Subedar Singh Widj is resting with some of his sepoys.

Initial deployment of two sections of Jhamjar Rifles, the Vickers gun and the cannon.

Ockerforce infantry advance toward the JR camp.

The dice are useful to show which units have activated, but they take away a bit from the 'look' of the game.

An unfortunate start for the JR.  The cannon crew is shot down mercilessly by Ockerforce!  I had hoped that the cannon would provide some anti-armour capability for the JR, so I was worried for the rest of the game that things would come undone once the Ockerforce armoured vehicles came on the table.  

Frank Ocker advancing with his infantry and his ambulance.  I think I'd better find a proper medic to accompany Ockerforce in the future.  You can see that the infantry have started to accumulate livestock!  I use sheep and goats as pin markers, so when a unit starts to look like they've taken up a new career in animal husbandry, you know they are not enjoying army life any more!

JR section defending the orchard.

More JR sepoys holding the camp.

JR reserves coming on to help even the odds a bit.

Ockerforce continuing the advance.

JRs in the camp.

The lancers join the battle!

An aerial shot from mid-way through the battle

The Whippet makes an appearance.  Instead of the conventional approach, where the tank advances first to provide cover for infantry, here we see the Gurkha Rifles protecting the tank by bravely putting themselves between the tank and the Jhamjar Rifles.  Note that the tank is bulletproof, but the Gurkhas are not!

Leaving the Whippet behind them, the Gurkhas attack and clear the JRs from the camp.  However, Subdar Singh W has already slipped out the back!

On the Ockerforce right flank, a lonely Lewis gunner considers a career in agriculture.  The sheep and goats show that he has 8 pins on him.  The Rolls Royce is doing fine, however!

The Gurkhas storm the Vickers emplacement.  The camp now belongs to Ockerforce!  But Subedar Singh Widj has escaped.

End of turn 6, also end of the game.  Ockerforce has cleared the camp of Jhamjar forces, but the dismounted Jhamjar Lancers have the camp covered with their rifles and Hotchkiss LMGs.  Subedar Singh Widj has fallen back from the camp but has evaded capture.  

 I have mixed feelings about Bolt Action.  The game managed what I hoped for.  It is a nice, easy to play game that allows multiple players per side and a complete game can be played in the 2-3 hour window available for a club night.  There are a few things that don't quite feel right to me.  Maybe these can be tweaked...

  • Order dice.  They look ugly on the table.  I wonder if there's a work-around?  Relying on memory isn't a great suggestion, especially when there are many subunits on the table.
  • Figuring out what counts as a unit.  At the start of the game, the medics were separate units with their own order dice.  They seemed (to me at least) to be slowing down the game, so I removed their dice and told the players that medics counted as part of the platoon HQ unit.  I have a feeling that there are too many dice in the bag, as many turns ended up with dice in the bag and the only units that hadn't been activated were officers and medics.
  • I'm a bit uncertain about the role of officers.  I see the value of the 'You men, snap to action' rule, but it should be expanded.  A platoon commander should be able to order his whole platoon (3-4 sections plus himself), not just the 2 units that a 1LT can order per the rules.
  • Machine guns seem underpowered.  A section of 10 men with rifles has more firepower than a tripod-mounted MMG.  That MMG should dominate the battlefield (and points cost should be increased to recognise that).  LMG should also have more firepower.

I'm going to try some more games of Bolt Action.  Jim wants me to bring my Red Army to face his Germans some time, so once I feel the Soviet forces are ready, I'll set up a game with him.  In the meantime, I'll also try to get in some CoC fun when I can.

Speaking of other fun, the Jhamjar scenario was just one of three games i got in yesterday at Trumpeter Society's Call to Arms one-day mini-con.  I started the day with a Chain of Command game with Craig.  I played a French reconnaissance platoon who were trying to break away from contact with German infantry.  My force included some lovely Panhard armoured cars, and Craig's 1940, Blitzkrieg-era Germans didn't have the right weapons to hurt them.  I was lucky right at the start when my Panhards took out the German senior leader, and Craig was stuck after that as no one else in his force could bring the troops together to respond properly to the French recce forces.

After lunch, I had some fun on the outskirts of Moscow in 1941, when my Russian Valentine joined with some T-34 tanks to hold back German Panzers.    Here are a couple shots from Doug showing my Valentine in action:

Thanks to Terry and the Trumpeter team for making CtA a success!