Sunday 18th December saw a Bolt Action tournament at Leeds Night Owls. The club has an excellent venue in a modern Church annexe on the edge of the student ghetto in Leeds West Yorkshire (I always wonder why Leeds castle is in Kent). We had 9 competition gaming tables up with a 10th for admin and there was still space left for some club games (40K and zombie from a brief look). I finished about halfway up (or down) the results table which is pretty much what I expected. We all played 3 2-hour 1,000 point games I won 1, drew (but lost on points) in another and lost in the final game which was very close and came down to 30 odd kill points difference in scores. My games ran for 3, 5 and 5 turns so none came to the final turn (6 or 7 in most Bolt Action scenarios). Only the final game result would have changed much if we did have extra time as it was anyone’s game right down to the wire. The terrain was all set up before we began with notes on each terrain type stating its definition and cover. These can be seen in some of the game images. They were an excellent plan and I did not come across any of the all too common ‘who can shoot at who’ problems caused by terrain definitions.
Here are some of the armies laid out before the gaming started. Mine is the Soviet army (full list) with armoured car and quad maxim on a truck. This was all an regular force apart from 1 unit of veteran scouts and 1 unit of inexperienced conscripts. It was probably the largest army at the event. Smaller veteran armies were popular. Most armies took some sort of tank.
In all games ranking was by victory with killed enemy units breaking ties. Veterans are harder to kill plus pass more morale tests than other troops. This makes it hard to kill off the last few men in a veteran squad. They might be full of pins and have no offensive capacity left but they are still on board, pulling a die and not granting kill points. On the other hand these armies are small. This makes it hard for them to cover a lot of ground. This is needed to attack across a wide front or to defend all across the board.
My best unit was the maxim truck. 20 dice never does any harm. It tends not to last long but easily makes its points back in kills. The scouts regularly get hosed down but in exchange tie down plenty of enemy dice actions. I do not as a rule use tank hunters but had a few points to make up. By forward deploying like the scouts they are good for area denial in the early game. Being regular they cannot take much damage so tend to be just a points gift to the opposite side. I usually take an ATR instead for about the same points. Not much use but a die in the pot and the +2 penetration can threaten veteran infantry and light transports with a kill.
Game 1 was point defence. Each side has a single objective to hold. Capture the opponent’s and you have won. The strategy would appear to be hold on for the enemy to get worn out in the attack on you then move on their objective. There is not time for this so both sides need to be on the offensive from the off. In practice this scenario is often a draw and it takes some pretty gutsy tactics to win. This scenario can make a good start for a tournament as most players will pull a draw and it is not much fun to get badly whipped on your first game. With respect to the players 5 games of point defence were won outright. I fought a tricked out German army with lots of small veteran squads piled high with panzerfausts and assault rifles. I could have done without the panzer IV.
You can see the 2 objectives in the image, they are marked as grey and cream circles. We only got three turns played although we seemed to be cracking along pretty well. I got a squad up along the left flank but was still far off the objective. My scouts out in front got shot down as usual. My opponent’s panzer caused tank fear but I only had one squad that refused to budge because of it. That tank could have made it onto my objective but did not try to take on my Zis gun. With no overall winner I lost on kill points, a losing draw.
Game 2. I as the defender have to hold 3 objectives. This view shows where all three are. I am fighting against Germans again with small veteran units but an assault gun rather than a tank. The German force is not set up yet. It will come on from the board edge with a concentrated attack along the right side of the table.
Here is the key action hotting up on the flank. Right at the back are my opponent’s Hummell (or some other sort of gun on tracks) and mortar. I sent the scouts up to deal with these. The Hummell got them in the end but they kept these support weapons off my back.
Here is the core action around my right flank objective.
The quad maxim truck is giving out the damage but taking it too (red circles are my pins, Roman numeral dice German pins).
That German armoured car did not plan on missing my truck. The quad maxim had already shot up more than its points value in air attack and lashed out a good few pins so it had done its bit.
This is the last turn so some actions were made by both sides that otherwise would have been stupid. The Russian armoured car here has been knocked out. The German did get in on the objective but I got troops back to contest it so pulled off the win.
Final game was against a British paratroop army. These were veterans with the vengeance special rule. This allows a unit a 50% chance to remove a pin if there is an enemy unit within 12″. A fine example of a rule not thought through by Warlord. You cannot measure distances before shooting but use of vengeance will give the player his range to the closest enemy. My opponent here did not exploit this rule in that way although it did save him a couple of pins during the game.
Both sides had a pre-game bombardment. I lost a sniper and the British their forward artillery observer. I forgot to use the Soviet rule that allows a unit potentially destroyed by a failed morale test to roll again but I probably would have failed it again (9 base with -2 for pins, -1 last man in team). With units rallying on their un-modified morale the pre-game bombardment is not much of a threat even against British who roll 2 dice and pick the best. We both kept our vehicles off the table on deployment to be on the safe side.
My Zis piled shot after shot into the building with a British unit in it. HE only needs to roll to hit the building not the unit so makes a mess of units in buildings. Despite hitting more than once the troops inside took few hits and being veterans were able to keep on the table.
The squad at the bottom of the picture are engaged in a game of cat and mouse with a flamethrower hoping for some easy kill points while the flamethrower was out of range. In the end they missed then flamethrower got within its range and missed as well.
We started the games at 9:30 and were cleaned away and leaving the building at 17:00. There was another booking for the room at 17:30. In all it ran like a well oiled machine. Few games reached their 6/7 turn conclusions, that might have needed another 30 minutes per game. There was, however, enough time allocated to ensure that the winner was becoming clear by the time each game was called.