Deeside Defenders at the Bolt Action Welsh Nationals.
The weekend of 28-29th April, Paul J, Paul B and I travelled to Cardiff for the Welsh Nationals. The Welsh Nats are the first of three tournaments aimed at crowning a British Champion with the English nationals in August and the Scottish in September.
The three of us have a combined 4 years of experience in playing Bolt Action and we were conscious going into the tournament that we were more “social” players than the more experienced guys we were going to meet. However, the main objectives were to have fun and not get wiped.
The venue for the tournament was the South Wales Game Centre at Firestorm Games in Cardiff. An impressive model store that caters for a huge selection of games and genres. The building used to be a motorcycle showroom and the space is incredible. Throughout the weekend there were multiple games being played not just the Bolt Action tournament. Upstairs there were many Games Workshop players competing in AoS and 40/30k.
Big thanks to our hosts and organisers the South Wales Warlords, Rhys B did an incredible job of keeping games running to time and ensuring everyone knew what was happening.
Each game had a different focus and included in each round was a secondary marker that allowed a bonus point. The games played out were,
· Round One: Sectors (fight from your corner you’re your opponents);
· Round two: NUTS – a fight to control the most objectives markers.
· Round three: No Man’s Land.
· Round Four – Timely Objectives – control objectives and gain a point for every turn it is occupied.
· Round Five – Meeting Engagement – kill your opponent.
Round one games were decided in a random manner. Sadly, this meant that Paul J’s Soviets were faced off against Paul B’s Germans. Meanwhile I had the fun of facing a French horde twice the size of my own Pacific War US Marines.
As I can’t comment on Paul and Paul’s tournament – except for the last game – this blog is looking at my own experience.
My opponent in game one Dan M was an experienced play who bought an incredible list. Three medium howitzers dominated the centre and my right flank and a lack of cover meant I had little option for movement there. During the game he bought on two early war tanks and a flamethrower squad which alongside the howitzers – decimated my right flank. Fortunately for me an element of game mechanics saved the Marines I had stationed there. The “stubborn” rule means that a morale check is always made as if the squad was unhurt even through they had taking multiple casualties. Thanks to this the two squads I had on the right could hold on until help arrived. Failing to budge the stubborn Marines, Dan bought on a Camel squad to try and clear the flank and fortunately for me the camels – stubborn in another way – failed in their close assault against an engineering squad rushing to help their comrades. The left flank was another matter. I managed to bring on both of my M3 light tanks – one with a flamer – and outflank the artillery. The last turn arrived and it became down to a couple of throws of the dice. Luckily, they went my way and the engineers sitting in the open in front of three howitzers managed to survive and get the victory points, whilst the units on the battered right flank stopped Dan’s remaining infantry from grabbing any of the points. Overall, a VERY close game and one that left me exhausted and this was only game one of three scheduled for Saturday!
The best thing I can say about game two is that “I learnt a LOT!” Playing against a WTC player who had recently returned from the tournament in Spain was a lesson in how to play Bolt Action. Rich was an incredible player and a great mentor and in the other games I had I tried to apply what I learnt. Regardless on a desert map, with small village and railway siding Rich’s Ghurkha platoon walked across the board with near impunity. My flank attack was effectively blocked from progressing by tactical positioning of his units. This game really taught me the difference between knowing the rules and knowing the game mechanics behind the rules! Yes, dear reader, I was swept off the board.
Game three and the last game of the day, what a great battle! Playing against Phil with his German list – two early war Panzer tanks, vet infantry, a couple of fixed guns and annoying armoured car. The battle started well for me with, for the first time in three games, my rocket launcher hitting not just one but two targets. Wiping out both in the first turn of the game which in a game where removing units was the objective gave me a great start. However, from this point on things went very wrong for three turns. Phil parked his armoured car in front of a cul-de-sac effectively bottling up my main force. Think Urquart in a Bridge to Far stuck in an attic and you’ve got the idea! Bringing both my M3 tanks on to try and deal with the problem I lost both to ranged fire from a Panzer III and the annoying Armoured Car. At the half-way point we were tied for lost units. Then my flank attack could come in! Two engineering units and two jeeps with MGs swept onto the table and quickly forced a Panzer 3 to rout and killed a unit of veteran infantry. Phil immediately reacted rushing two truckloads of engineers and they reciprocated taking out a truck, and two small infantry units. The final turn of the game left us with a draw but both of us had opportunities to win but the dice had deserted us both. Fantastic game throughout.
So, end of day one and the Deeside Defenders had done okay. Paul B and I were on one win, one draw and one lost whilst Paul J was one draw and two losses.
After a fantastic Chinese meal and no beers what-so-ever – the wife may read this - and an entertaining Hindi movie at the AirBnB we were refreshed and ready for Day 2!
Day 2: Paul J first game was against the infamous Topher Two-Tigers who again bought his two tiger tanks. Paul’s Soviets were up to the challenge as much thanks to Topher’s hangover; clearly the Soviets were more used to fighting after binge drinking!
My first game of the day was against Mike. This was timed objectives where points were awarded for each turn you held one of three central objectives. For me this was a repeat of my game against Rich on day one. A hefty defeat. Mike bought a Soviet horde with 22 order dice against my 16 which meant that he held the initiative through-out the game. After a couple of lucky earlier strikes by turn three I had lost the game. However, we decided to play it out as we were both enjoying it. I lost one of my tanks early on and Mike’s heavy Multiple Rocket Launchers (so hard-core they had to rally after firing!) were dominating the table. Hordes of cheap infantry and armour could react to any move I made. Still a great fun game and another learning experience.
Going into the final game due to our results up to this stage, 1 win, 1 draw and 2 losses, Paul B and myself were to face off. Driving 200 miles and Paul had to play two of his five games against Deeside Defenders! This map was brilliant. Lots of Anderson shelters and tents scattered around and the scenario was to kill your opponent.
So, a final fun game where the USMC fought a hard battle and thanks to some early kills managed to hang on to the win the game. A hard battle with both sides running from cover to cover to try and get an advantage without much luck. Paul’s FIAT tank took out a squad with MGs that got stuck in a cornfield – attempting a WW2 version of Picketts charge with the same result! Both of the US tanks were knocked out with the Satan flame tank managing an effective suicide charge killing a heavier Panzer III before being hit by an Italian tank in German service. The FIAT was subsequently immobilised by a lucky mortar hit and played little part in the battle from then on. Another fun game and a close victory for the US.
All of this meant from 24 players: Paul B was 19th; Paul J 16th and Myself in 12th. A good result for our first WAAC tournament.
Overall the atmosphere and friendliness at the tournament was my biggest takeaway. Thinking that the Win-at-all-costs attitude of players would spoil the tournament I had to reassess my prejudices on this matter. Everyone was friendly, helpful and happy to teach. I’ve learnt loads from the weekend and just sitting down to prep my list for the next one…