D-Day in July!

We ran a large Bolt Action D-Day event at the Schenectady Wargamers Association’s monthly Gameathon this July. I tried to do it in June but work got in the way. The original plan was for six players to face off across an 18 foot long table. With the beach at one end and airborne at the other. The ground scale had to be abstracted a little bit since the Airborne certainly didn’t land only a couple hundred feet from the beaches, but not having to stick to an actual historical site allowed us to design the table and objectives for a more balanced game. We sent out some messages to the SWA and local Bolt Action groups and got a luke warm response at first. As our pre-planning turned into actual planning and sides were being drawn up several more people showed interest and we had to expand the game to 8 players and STILL turn people away. Our 18 foot table quickly turned into a 24 foot table! On of the SWA members, Ron, made the beach and cliffs, propping up one of the tables to make the cliff’s 3D and I frantically tried to build enough terrain to fill the added table.

My panoramic photo ran out before I hit the beach! Here are photos of the individual tables

The beach! Shawn’s Big Red One stormed the beach here, meeting fierce resistance from the German garrison.

The Artillery table! This was table #2, veteran German defenders played by Dave against my own veteran Airborne troops.

 

Murph’s Glider troops taking the crossroads in the face of a German counterattack by Bill on table #3

Table #4, Peter lands his glider troops and tries to hold of an overwhelming counterattack by Ron’s Panzer Grenadiers. Ron made the beach and cliff’s, then plays as far from then as possible!

 

A whole bunch of fog of war occurred during and after setup. We accidentally laid out the game mats differently than in the planning and the last table wound up being 4 feet long, and the first table 8 feet long. This had the effect of isolating the beach attack from any reinforcements (historical, but didn’t play into our plans of a balanced game), and giving the glider troops on table #4 no room to maneuver and an immediate engagement with the larger Panzer Grenadier counter-attack.

In addition Charles, the German beach garrison commander deployed ALL of his troops in the trenches, instead of half as we had planned. This wound up having a huge impact on the game as the numerically superior Big Red One was stuck on the beaches for the whole game.

 

With four tables and me playing on one of them it was impossible for me to keep a blow by blow record of the game. The beach and table #2 were attack/defend scenarios. Table #3 and #4 were meeting engagements with both sides trying to secure crossroads to deny them to the enemy and ensure that their forces could use them for rapid reinforcements. Shawn’s objective on table 1 was to break thru the defenders and off of the beach with his American infantry, the Germans simply had to stop this. My objective on Table 2 was to take two of three objectives, artillery emplacements with Nebelwerfers, 88’s and flak guns. Table #3 would be a fight over the crossroads between Murph’s Glider troops who were armed with 2 light AT guns and Bills Germans with a Sdkfz 222 and troops. Table #3 pitted Peter’s glider troops against Rons Panzer grenadiers. Ron brought a Panzer 4, a Puma and a Hetzer while Peter had one light At gun and bazookas, a bad deployment on my part unfortunately. The idea was that Murph would deploy his guns in a way as to cover the two boards he was in between, war doesn’t always go according to plan.

The Army Air Corp provided a preliminary bombardment on tables one and two and a few late releases cratered the roads leading across the boards. Repeating history the beach was only lightly hit, but table #2 suffered some irrecoverable damage even before the game started. Dave had deployed one full Vet squad, a sniper and a veteran Panzer 4 to the table. The prep bombardment hit all three! Two pins to the vet squad, killed the sniper’s buddy and nailed the Panzer 4, blowing it up before it could even get a shot off. Veteran Panzer 4’s aren’t cheap!

The game progressed from there. On my table I moved squads up to the mid point behind the hedges, positioning myself to take the house in the center and spread out to two objectives from there.

Dave moved a veteran squad into the house and started hammering me on my advance. A failed close quarters charge wiped out my unit by the started of turn 3.

 

Shawn’s Big Red One stormed the beaches under the cover of their landing crafts guns, disgorging troops and a Sherman.

We abstracted the rules a little bit so Shawn didn’t have to buy landing craft that and risk blowing up his only way onto the board. Shawn Advanced non-stop, taking full advantage of the American rules and progressed up the beach under withering fire.

 

Murph and Bill on table #3 duked it out all day, trading blow for blow.

Murph’s AT guns never seemed to be in the right place at the right time, failing to get a good shot on any vehicles if I recall correctly.

 

Table 4 saw some quick gains by the American glider troops which slowly wilted under the firepower of the grenadiers. Ron had 1250 points of Germans against Peter’s 1000, to mirror the beach’s 1250 points of American storming the cliffs. A lack of support from table #3 and aggressive moves from Ron’s bloodthirsty grenadiers prevented Peter from taking the objective. A good arty strike by the Americans stalled the counterattack for a turn or two, and Peter almost took the house that was the objective but he just wasn’t able to pull out the win in the end.

On my table Dave ran in some mid-game reinforcements and turned them on Murph on table 3. After failing to stop my advances he saw a juicy target, a squad of veteran glider troops with a clear line of sight.

Murph had been trying to gun down one of Bill’s squads on the border of our table and Dave ‘snap to action’ed two squads to try and get the pressure off of Bill. Unfortunately it’s pretty hard to kill Vets and Dave eventually turned their fire onto one of my squads and wipped it out after a couple of turns of fire. 

The tables turned later on as Murph brought some sweet sweet justice and paid him back

My table (#2) was pretty much locked down for an American win as I steadily advanced towards two objectives.

Some token resistance from Dave stopped me from taking all three and sending any meaningful support to the beach, but couldn’t really stop me from winning.

 

Table #4 was all but a route for the Americans. Peter had gotten a squad almost into the objective house. Unfortunately close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. If we progressed into turn 7 he could have taken it and quickly lost it to the near by Germans.

The beach and table #3 were the deciding factor on the overall outcome. Shawn was steadily marching up the cliff and had managed to get a squad into the trenches, knocking out the Pak40 and was poised to engage a squad nearby. Unfortunately Charles still had several squads in the trenches and a Panzer 3 roaming around. We all came to the consensus that it was a draw at the end of turn 6. Shawn had a squad and several weapons teams either in or right at the trenches, but it was obvious that a turn 7 could easily go either way.

Table #3 looked like it could go either way. The crossroads was littered with burning vehicles and bodies.

 

The last few activation’s of turn 6 could re-write history! Bill ran his command squad up and took the crossroads. Murph ran a command squad and a bazooka team in, gunning down the Germans and winning the crossroads and the game! This was another slight case of fog of war. At some point BOTH players had heard that you needed to be within 6 inches to control or contest it, but it was the standard 3 inches. The Germans had a squad that was activated right out of 3 inches, which allowed the Americans to take it.

We were right up at the 4pm time limit, with only an hour break for anyone wanting to play in the evening event slot so we decided to call the game at the end of turn 6. Turn 7 could have changed the outcome for sure. Ron would surge up from Table 4 to add long range support for Bill with his tanks and I was powerless to stop it. I had a pack howitzer and a bazooka team ready to hit the beach garrison from the rear and take some pressure off of Shawn’s advancing infantry but I’m not confident it would have been enough. As it was we had a fun game and were ready to pack up and go home.

We’re planning on making this a yearly event and I learned some lessons.

Setup: I had taken pictures and divided all of the terrain up into bins by table. This greatly sped up putting it together and we were ready almost half an hour before I expected to be. I spent a lot of time with the entire board laid out in my basement making sure there were no 12 foot lines of fire across multiple boards and the photos helped ensure it stayed that way. I think next time that I’m going to actually grid it out though since a couple of objectives were a little out of place and were either too hard or too easy to reach (I was very close to holding two objectives on my deployment).

Written rules: I should have had a written copy of the rules including deployment, objectives, terrain rules and the custom rules for several things. This would have eliminated almost all of the fog of war issues we had and would have cut down on the time I spent answering questions that only I knew the official answers to.

Forces: Ron’s three tank grenadier force was unexpected and pretty much ensured that Peter could not win the board. I gave some loose guidelines but I think next year I am going to make up the forces and then tweak them to fit with the troops the players actually own.

Force sizes: The beach landing force had 1250 points and so did the counterattacking grenadiers. I envisioned that the entrenched Germans would be more of a roadblock with half of their forces still in reserves. Even with Charles deploying all 1000 points into the fortifications the Americans still made it up the cliffs and almost broke through onto the main land. I think I can safely reduce the American landing force to 1100 if I make the garrison force split on deployment and reserves. The German counterattack on board 4 would similarly be reduced, giving that American player a fighting chance.

It was a great game and now I need to finish painting all the things that were half done due to the addition of a fourth table. I should be done just in time for our January game, four tables set up in a semicircle to defend Bastogne from the Germans!

1 thought on “D-Day in July!”

  1. Dday/beach landing and airborne scenarios are a fascination for all of us. But there are some things to consider like making a beach assault fun for both sides. Because they can quickly go one sided.

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    I love this idea of combining the tables like this.

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