Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Bolt Action Kursk: Large Scale Battle

Having mastered (sort of) the rules on small games, I umpired a big Kursk '43 battle down at my local club. I set up the position at the end of the GroƟdeutschland Division's run north towards Kursk when they were down to ad hoc battlegroups of reconnaissance troops. The terrain is a track running between a largely destroyed Russian town and an agricultural complex. The German objective is to blow a hole through. The Germans deploy behind low ridges and cornfields on the open steppe.

The Kampfgruppe consists of reconnaissance vehicles (armoured cars, a Pz II and an assault troop section in a Hanomag) and a well understrength debussed motorised infantry platoon stiffened by a Panther and a Stug III. They have an AA vehicle but no artillery or air support. All troops are veteran.

 The Soviet battlegroup is from a mechanised army. It is a full strength platoon reinforced with mortars, MMGs and AT-rifles, all rated as regulars. They also had a battery of dug in AT-guns and small field guns. Armoured support consists of a T34/76, and SU-76, a KV-1, a Churchill 6 pdr, and a BT7. The armour is regular for firing but green for morale.

Special rules: to keep the game under control as there were only two players, each side only had six order markers to use each turn.

The Germans got off to a bad start. The armoured cars ran onto the guns of the T34 and SU and were smashed. The Panther and Stug kept missing their shots. Tim decided to use his superior mobility to concentrate on the right flank.

The above pic shows the two commanders considering their options. Oberst Tim (left) rolled eight ones in a row to take the prize for the most dismal die rolling performance in the history of gaming. Commissar Graham showed much greater skill in this department.

 On the third turn, Oberst Tim rolled his first six and hit something. He was so elated that he insisted that I photographed the die for posterity. His roll to convert the hit into a wound was inevitably a one. C'est la guerre!

 The Stug guarded the German flank in a hull down position. It immobilised and then took out the T34, took out the Churchill, and suppressed and immobilised the KV: real Knight's Cross stuff.

The assault troops formed up behind the Panther and made a decided thrust into the village. The Panther swept the building clear of Soviet infantry but the assault troops suffered horribly from mortars and MMG fire. The surviving Russian infantry in the buildings rushed the Panther with anti-tank mines and came close to blowing it up (just one more hit). The BT charged the German infantry spraying hot lead from its machine gun - I have always wanted to write that - only to be ambushed by the Pz II.

What was left of the German infantry made it into the village but was forced to retire by unrelenting mortar fire and Soviet counterattacks. The German tanks masked their retreat then followed.

A clear Soviet win. The road to Kursk was closed tight shut.

A bigger battle removed the problem of the single over mighty tank because there was so much else going on. The German tanks chewed up the Soviet but it didn't help.

The scenario  unfolded very like the last attacks of the GroƟdeutschland Division.

Restricting the command counters worked rather well.

Neither player was familiar with Bolt Action but they picked it up straight away.

Both players and umpires enjoyed the game.


  1. Well done. I prefer my Eastern Front battles on the computer, but it looks like this went very well.

  2. Great report, the only thing I can see is the scenery was a bit light as it gives an easy advantage to shooting and not manuvering...

    1. Dear Styx
      Yah, agreed but that is what the terrain is like in that region.

  3. Yes Tim is a well known low roller. Sorry I could not stay to see it all on sunday and I'm glad it went well. All the best Clint.

  4. Great report there John and an interesting game.

  5. It looks like it was a very tough nut for the Germans to crack. Without artillery prep I wouldn't have wanted to make that attack. :(

    1. Indeed not. The Germans relied heavily on air support as flying artillery but by this stage of the battle the luftwaffe was largely grounded by fuel shortages.

      Kusk was way too tough a nut as evidenced by what happened immediately afterwards.