Sunday, 27 July 2014

Bolt Action: Operation Frühlingserwachen

Place: Lake Balaton
Date 15th March 1945
Mission: Operation Frühlingserwachen (Spring Awakening)

The German 6th Army spearheads Germany's last offensive on the Eastern Front. The aim is to break through Soviet defences north of lake Balaton and swing north along the Danube to capture Budapest. The attack is led by Hitler's Black Guards, the Waffen SS.

After nine days heavy fighting the SS have forced their way through 30km of Soviet defensive belts. Sensing a breakthrough, a small SS reconnaissance unit is inserted through a gap in the last Russian line. It consists of two squads of SS infantry supported by a light armoured car led by SS Oberscharführer  John.

They make for an, astonishingly, undamaged, villa which it appears to be abandoned. At this point a Soviet field gun reveals its position on a hill behind the villa by opening fire. The villa was my objective.

My opponent, Commissar Andy Singleton, commanded a horde of Soviet infantry supported by a maxim gun and a light howitzer.

The field gun must have been crewed by experten, or a jammy bunch of so-in-sos, because they landed their first shell right in amongst one of my sections before they could deploy and then plastered the pinned section until it was destroyed. The carnage was appalling.

I would make two observations: (i) the danger of fielding a small elite combat group is that they can be brittle - one cannot sustain losses, and (ii) artillery is unpredictable in Bolt Action but it has the capacity to cause mayhem to infantry.

On the plus side my second section and armoured car made the shelter of the villa.

Unfortunately the horde of Soviets made it to the other side and a firefight developed.

 The first order dice out of the cup was red and the Soviets made it into the villa. The SS immediately counterattacked and, supported by the 20mm cannon on the armoured car, stormed the villa killing all the Russians inside.

A vicious exchange of fire ensued. The Soviets forced their way into the villa, and were forced out at bayonet point. The SS veterans killed two or three Soviets for every casualty, the Oberscharführer personally shooting the Soviet Lieutenant and female Medic.

The bystanders, we were playing in a Medway pub, jeered at this point. There were some comments about the lack of sportsmanship at shooting a lady but I silenced the criticism by pointing out that we were the bloodstained psychotic thugs of the SS.

What did they expect?

I was eventually down to the Oberscharführer and an MG42 gunner. Eventually they were raked by the far off maxim gun and the Commissar ran into the villa to personally execute the wounded Oberscharführer with a shot to the back of the neck. The SS had gone as far as they could go. The next move was up to the Red Army.

The objective, the villa, changed hands four times.

A superb game and my thanks to Andy who made it such fun.

I would note that wargamers tend to like to cram the table with models but sometimes the best and most enjoyable games come from these tiny skirmish actions where you have to think through each move and countermove very carefully. With so few units (I had four including the officer), no one is expendable.

Hitler's last attack had failed. It never really stood a chance. The Soviets soon recaptured every metre and more. Hitler blamed his Black Guards and stripped them of their armbands.

Note: Andy is an accomplished professional painter who takes commissions. You can contact him via Facebook.


  1. Sounds a good game, that. I still have that book in the attic; it was a set-text back in the day. Aptly, it highlights the dangers of authority figures not looking out for those in their care.

    1. It was a great game. I don't think mad Adolph did care. He had the morals of an oil company.

  2. Great game - I love historically themed scenarios.

    I agree about not overly crowding the table, makes of a different type of game.

    1. I need some point to a warhammer to enjoy it. One of the reasons I have lost enthusiasm for 40k is is become more and more abstract.