Sunday, January 4, 2015

AAR: Point Defence Outside Overloon 1944

A battle report using the Bolt Action rule set depicting a
skirmish outside Overloon, Netherlands, in the autumn of 1944.


First off: happy new year!

For awhile now we have been looking into WW2 gaming and this year will hopefully feature some of progress in that field. Our ambition is to try out several different rule sets that works for platoon sized gaming, meaning that each side features about a platoon of infantry with some extra support. Chain of Command, Bolt Action, the Battlegroup series and others - there are many options out there. Our forces are close to become quite adequate for platoon sized gaming but as any wargamer know there are always additions that need to be made...

What better way to launch a new subject on the blog than an AAR? We start off our WW2 gaming with a scenario set on the Western front, outside the Netherland city of Overloon, in the autumn of 1944. The failed Operation Market Garden had resulted in a salient between the cities of Eindhoven and Nijmegen. In order to protect that corridor and push the Germans back across the river Meuse the Allies launched Operation Aintree. One of its objectives was to take the city of Overloon. The task was initially given to the US 7th Armoured Division. The Germans, mainly of Kampfgruppe Walther, which included paratroopers of the 21. Fallshirmsjäger regiment, put up a stout defence.

For our battle we had the US armoured infantry with Sherman tank support advance on a ruined hamlet outside Overloon. The US knew that German paratroopers were in the area but speed was of the essence. The Point Defence scenario tasked the US forces with seizing three key objectives close to a ruined hamlet within a limited number of turns. If no objective was taken by the US the game would be a German victory. If one objective was taken the game would be a draw. The US would win if they could take more than one objective.

After a rather weak preparatory mortar barrage, which only resulted in a few pinned German units, the Americans begun their attack. We had the game start with a rather reckless rookie Sherman crew advance unsupported into the cross hairs of a hidden Pak40 anti-tank gun. With a large explosion the Sherman tank was turned into a flaming wreck and the fight was on.

The first Sherman tank advance ahead of the infantry with disastrous result.

The opposing forces

A reinforced platoon of the 7th Armored Division (Regulars)

2nd Lieutenant and runner
Bazooka team
Sniper team
Infantry squad: 12 men with one submachinegun and one BAR
Infantry squad: 12 men with one submachinegun and one BAR
Infantry squad: 12 men with one submachinegun and one BAR

.30 cal Medium Machinegun team
.30 cal Medium Machinegun team
60mm Light Mortar team

M4A3 76mm Sherman tank

A reinforced platoon of the 21. Fallschirmsjäger regiment (Veterans)

2nd Lieutenant and runner
Panzerschreck team
Sniper team

FJ Infantry squad: 9 men with one submachinegun, two assault rifles and one MG42 light machinegun
FJ Infantry squad: 9 men with one submachinegun, two assault rifles and one MG42 light machinegun
FJ Infantry squad: 9 men with one submachinegun, two assault rifles and one MG42 light machinegun

Tripod MG42 Medium Machinegun team
80mm Medium Mortar team

Pak 40 anti-tank gun

The table

A 6x4' table.
Blue = German deployment zone.
Red = US objectives.
The US enter the table from the left.

The Game

The Germans had taken up good defensive positions in the ruined hamlet and its close surroundings. A MG42 machine gun team and a sniper occupied the central buildings with good fields of fire while a fallshirmsjäger squad guarded each flank. Yet another squad advanced up a muddy field reinforcing the German right.

The German center and right - with the tripod MG42 visible in the ruins
and two infantry squads by the muddy field and orchard at the end of the line.

The Sniper team's nest.
The end of the line. A Fallshirmsjäger squad
in the orchard next to one of the objectives.

Meanwhile, an American platoon advanced on the hamlet. One squad on each side while the third was sent on a flanking move. On the American left the sniper team and .30 cal machine gun team took up positions by the road covering the advance of an infantry squad. Having seen what happened to the first Sherman tank that travelled along the road the US commanding officer sent the Sherman 76mm tank off road to approach the hamlet from the right. Preceding the tank was an infantry squad that took cover behind a small hill. The light mortar and bazooka took a more central route towards the group of autumn coloured trees in the middle of the battlefield. 

The US 7th Armored Division arrive on the scene.

The Sniper team moves into position on the US left.
The bazooka team at the central autumn copse.
The Sherman 76mm tank supports the infantry on the US right.
Shots started to fly as the opposing forces closed on each other. In particular the German tripod machine gun proved to be a headache for the Americans as it was well protected in the ruins and had excellent fields of fire, keeping the Americans pinned and making their advance slow.

The US moves slowly under fire.
On the US right the Sherman fired 76mm shells at the fallshirmsjägers across the fields but with little effect. One of the German squad instead advanced on the Americans. Perfectly timing their attack a US squad lying in wait moved up on the small hill that separated them from the fallshirmsjäger and opened fire on the Germans in an open field. However, as the smoke cleared from the fire fight it became apparent that the US regulars were no match for the seasoned fallshirmsjägers. Most of the American shooting failed to find their mark and in return many US soldiers died while the rest were pinned. Taking the fire and movement drill to the Americans the fallshirmsjägers followed up the fire fight by assaulting the pinned US squad wiping them out.

"Over the top, boys!" The Americans moves up on the crest
firing on the Germans in the open field below.

The fallshirmsjäger veterans only take light casualties however...

...and return fire with devastating results... later move in for the kill, wiping out the Americans.

At the same time the US support teams were having difficulties in the center as the tripod MG42 continued to suppress them, the autumn trees not giving any real cover from "Hitler's buzz saw".

However, the US fared a bit better on their left were the US 2nd Lieutenant kept the advance going,  with the sniper team and .30 cal machine gun providing covering fire. Things got worse for the Germans on that side of the hamlet as the flanking US squad appeared on the forested ridge looking down on the Germans in the orchard. With speed being of the essence the US used fire and movement drill to the fullest as the two US squads now attacked. As the Germans exchanged fire with the  flanking US squad the other US squad seized the opportunity and rushed over the road to get close to the hamlet itself.

The flanking, third US unit suddenly appears on the forested hill...
...overlooking the Germans in the orchard and one of the US objectives.
With the Germans in the orchard occupied by the flanking US squad
other US soldiers rush across the road, closing in on the hamlet.

Over on the other flank the Sherman tank engines roared as it went around the small hill and opened up with its machine guns on the fallshirmsjägers who had wiped out the US squad. Even though some Germans fell they didn't rout but instead rushed the tank with grenades and panzerfausts!  Grizzled veterans indeed! However, the tank's armour held and it brushed the Germans off as it moved away towards the center of the battlefield to support the more successful attack on the US left.

The Sherman tank engages the German fallshirmsjägers with its MG's...
...but get assaulted in return.

On the US left the flanking American squad charged the Germans in the orchard wiping them out and securing the first US objective. The rest of the Germans fell back to the hamlet itself creating a new defensive line. The center US squad was not far away though and men fell on both sides in the continued fire fight.

The flanking US squad attack the orchard and kill its occupants, claiming an US objective.

The remaining Germans fall back to the ruined hamlet... more Americans close in.

The fallshirmsjägers in the hamlet were now hard pressed. They were caught in a crossfire taking fire from three sides with the flanking US squad advancing on them while the center American squad was engaging them in a point blank range fire fight. To make matters even worse the Sherman tank came up from behind with its machine guns blazing. The US were now only metres away from their second objective and victory.

Too close for comfort!
But it was too late. Time was running out. The attack was on a tight timetable and the US didn't manage to fulfill their objectives on time. All was not lost however as the Americans had gained a foothold in the hamlet. It was a draw.

In the closing moments of the battle a fallshirmsjäger hiding in the ruined hamlet aimed his panzershreck at the US Sherman tank driving by. The rocket hit home and blew the Sherman turret high up in the air.

"Steady now..."



It was a fun game. In the beginning it looked like the Americans were going nowhere but when a more decisive advance got rolling on the US left, coordinated with the flanking squad and with the Sherman tank adding its machine guns to that attack the US came really close to a win. As it turned out the US started of too cautiously to have enough time to secure a win in the end.

Our first WW2 game for the blog and with the American player not having played Bolt Action before it was a bit tentative at first. All in all Bolt Action provided a good game with its activation system giving a tense, smooth and including gaming experience through out. Some things are not as good though like troops not being very punished for being caught in the open and some weapon ranges - for example the US 60mm mortar with the rules as written has a range of a mere 24 inches. It feels like they could leave the mortar in the depot and toss grenades by hand instead. :-)

The challenge with writing semi-modern rule sets like these are that the players have a rather good idea of what "should" be the outcome from a historical stand point. A problem that isn't as pronounced in lets say a Fantasy or Sci-Fi setting or even in a setting of more ancient history. 

This is not one of those Bolt Action bashing texts however. Bolt Action is perhaps more of a "Game" than some of the other WW2 rule sets but that doesn't have to be a problem. Competitive tournament play can be a alot of fun as long as both players know what they are in for. Also, criticism is often heard towards Bolt Action for that its force selection point system encourage less historical and more competitive force selection. The way we see it such problem is maybe not so much a problem with the rules as with the players. The Bolt Action rule set could handle the "historical" line ups we used just fine, probably as well as a more min-maxed force selection.

I'm sure we will play more Bolt Action games but we are also very much looking forward to try other WW2 rule sets as well.


  1. Nice report with beautiful pictures, we are in the heart of the action!

  2. Exellent AAR and pictures !

    Glad you removed all the activation dice that are seen in Bolt Action AAR, often sopiling good pictures. ;)

  3. Great AAR. I also agree with your comments on BA. My group also try to play with historical forces. The main benefit we find is that you can pick up the rules by turn 2 if you have not played for a couple of months. Looking forward to trying Chain of Command in 2015.

  4. Love that picture of the sniper team in the rafters.
    Ticks all the boxes with period, pictures of terrain and figures, finished off with an excellent AAR.

  5. Very nice looking game and a very interesting report. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Chain of Command when you get the time to try that game.

  6. Thanks alot guys. Really appreciated!
    @Dalauppror: Yes, markers instead of activation dice was really worth it.
    @Jonas: Chain of command is at the top of our "to play-list" when we find the time for trying a new rule set.