Easter Front Round Up

The first two day Bolt Action tournament in Melbourne for a long while ran as part of Conquest over Easter. It was ace and a genuine pleasure to roll dice with gaming friends once again. Some I hadn’t seen since last Easter (or before)! Winners and pictures of the fabulous tables and armies can be found on FaceBook. Search for Cast Dice page for heaps of photos. Bravo to Leigh and Brad for a terrific weekend.

As you might have expected, running an army for the very first time in an actual tournament was a steep learning curve. Partisans don’t get quite as many toys as many other armies, so you need to consider how co-ordinate your units to achieve mission objectives.

A large squad of Nationalist Chinese militia. They died in droves but held on to secure an objective.

I played five of the six games, lost two and had draws in the other three. All but one was a close affair, but in the end I couldn’t do enough to pull out a victory. Very historic, I guess. Without support from regular troops, Partisans rarely fared well in a stand-up fight.

A Soviet T-26 Tank in Chinese service.

Brad used this beautiful Nationalist Chinese as a gumby army. We played a mission called Nuts!, where there are 5 objectives: one in the centre and one in each table-quarter. Up to half your army can start on the board.

Partisan Guerrilla fighters ambush veteran Chinese fighters, catching them in the open.

I gave Brad trouble early on, but they just kept coming and in the end contested or held all the objectives.I placed my bombs poorly and spread my army too thin to support each other. Lesson: make a plan and focus on the mission.

Ben’s Soviets are are terrific and balanced army. Top-notch painting too.

Ben and I fought to a draw in turn 6. A 50% chance of a seventh turn didn’t occur, which would almost certainly have been a victory to the Soviets.

The Soviet barrage falls on target

Half of my army spent most of the game heavily pinned and down, ceding the initiative to Ben on one flank. But while I couldn’t shoot, dug-in troops are also hard to shift.

Lesson: don’t be afraid to go down or take a rally order to keep unit in the game.

Elizabeth borrowed this fine looking Sherman from Tristan for the tournament

Elizabeth and I fought each other to a draw in one of two missions unveiled on the weekend. In Punch Through there are 4 objectives deployed in a cross 12″ from the table centre. Each player can move one objective up to 6″ (possible the same one). Every one starts off the table, with at least half your army arriving in the first wave.

The British kept on coming but neither of us could keep enough units together to secure an objective by the end of the game.

Lesson: use the bombs to control a fire lane or protect a flank; don’t just spread them out.

The only Axis power I faced on the weekend was Johnathon’s late war German list. The mission was No Man’s Land, straight from the rule book. His veterans were rock hard and steadily took a tally on my grab bag of inexperienced units, leading to my second loss in the tournament.

Lesson: use your army special rules or you just leave points off the table.

Supply Drop was the other new mission on the weekend, and one I think will become a favourite. It is a variation of the classic Kittyhawk Down (itself inspired by Thunderhawk Down from Australian 40K circles). No objectives start on the board. On turn four, three objectives drop from the sky. They land in a straight line through the middle of the board, with the angle of the line and the distance apart randomly determined.

I played long-time buddy Consto, who had a marvelous looking veteran US force (a mix of rangers and paratroopers, plus a Sherman).

Captured inexperienced tanks are pin magnets. The R35 made me laugh the whole weekend.

The objectives landed near perfect for me, taking pressure off my units as the paratroopers made a dash for their own baseline, leaving me in control of my own. A cannier player might have sequenced their final turn orders differently to grab a win. In the end it was another tight draw. Highlight was an IED taking out a veteran paratroop squad trying to dig me out of the centre of the board.

Lesson: Air Support can be random, including having it make a bomb run on your own units. But so sweet when it works.

There you have it: Easter Front 2022.

Maybe I’ll see you across a table one day soon.

delayed action

Are you sitting down folks? Actual gaming happened! As part of the Conquest gaming convention over Easter in Melbourne there was a Bolt Action Tank Wars event. Ten players participated, so it was only a modest gathering but it was so nice to see some friends again irl and roll dice together.

Tanks Wars is not a form of Bolt Action I have much experience with. I played a few games when it first game out, but it was long enough ago I didn’t remember any of the lessons I may have learnt. It was however an ace opportunity to get my Hetzer assault guns all on the table at the same time.

Led by a Stuart light tank, Chris’ US force heads straight down the middle 50cals blazing. Just the way it should be.
A Hetzer holds the cross road: hull down it stalls an enemy probe on the right flank
Chris’ Marines push forward. Vets or not they couldn’t take the objective in the face machine gun fire from the Hetzers
Last game of the day, and Django’s Soviets withstood my initial shooting to surge forward and sweep me for the table.
This IS2 didn’t do a lot of damage, but I couldn’t stop it either. In the end my guns couldn’t position themselves to pierce its thick frontal armour

I don’t think I managed my assets very well on the day. Aggressive early, I didn’t leave enough in reserve to hold on in the final turns and drew or lost every game.

Thanks to my opponents: Pedro (Soviets), Chris (US Marines), and Django (Soviets), for three fun games.

Eighth edition is a thing

For those who came in late, like me, just on a year ago Games Workshop released a shiny new and significantly revised edition of Warhammer 40K, the eighth incarnation of this now venerable franchise. Well two days ago I read the rules for the second time, which didn’t take long as they’re only 6 or 7 pages, and opened my copy of Codex Chaos Space Marines for the first time. And, today, I threw some models down with my friend Oli, as he took me through my first game of the current version of 40K.

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It reminds me a lot of the house rules that our gaming group finessed over many years of playing Apocalypse. Lots of toys, large explosions, not too much book-keeping and plenty of general dark-millennium mayhem. No doubt weird stuff will emerge, but for the moment Abaddon gives this edition 5 skull encrusted spikes.

The Mechanicus won the field today, but Chaos took it right up to them before being purged with flame.

Congratulations Oli, and thanks for coming over to show me how 8th ed works.

D.

 

Konflikt 47 Resurgence

No posts for a while, largely because there has been very little hobby to write about. But over these last couple of weeks I have managed to get my gaming-pony saddled up once again.

Even though I haven’t got my hands on the new Konflikt 47 book Resurgence yet, I have managed to play a couple of games using the new rules with my more organised friend Brad.

First up we played a game using our existing lists to give some of the rule changes a spin.

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Despite their complete lack of suitable weapons, their complete lack of moral checks meant the totencorp gave this grizzly a huge shock, and a couple of pins before being squashed

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SS Shocktroopers in a truck, with their close fire support

The verdict is a big rift-tech powered thumbs up.

I’m not going to go into the changes here, because Brad and I went into it in a lot of detail on his new post cast Cast Dice:


For our second game we tried out the new Japanese list. Because I only have Germans painted, Brad supplied both armies. I played the British (Sikhs with a Grizzly walker), and Brad his great coated Japanese.

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Grizzly hiding in forest

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Japanese abandon their truck

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Sikh defend a remote farm

Brad won on both occasions, but they were close run things. We’ll be back for more.

All the photos are by Brad. The beautiful Sikh and Japanese armies are also his.

See you on the battlefields

D.

Red on Blue

With rage and excitement (sometimes in the same person), the 40K community is looking forward to the launch of 8th edition next weekend. I see a few battle reports for 8th are already popping up , but my friends jumped the other way, as we assembled to farewell 7th in proper WATT style: with a chaos on chaos apocalypse game. We threw down two twenty thousand point armies: so 40k of 40k.  Nurgle and Tzeentch joined together to battle a coven of Word Bearers and Khorne for bragging rights at the next Eye of Terror Pie Night.
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We kept it simple: basically lined up our toys and charged forward. Apoc is such a random mess of events going on it is difficult to build a narrative out the game. Titans threw down huge templates. Successive waves of terminators, then daemons, then more terminators deep struck and the armies lost all cohesion into a one seething mosh pit. We expected this might happen, which is one reason why we sorted by colour at the start.


You know the drill, ones were rolled, sixes were rolled. Miniatures were removed by the kilo, and lone daemons managed to survive to contest objectives. High point for me was Abaddon surviving not one but two D-weapon blasts – a dude doesn’t get to run the black crusade for nothing.
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So long 7th, see you on the other side.
D.

Daughters of the revolution

Scott bought over his growing Soviet force for Konflikt 47, the joint Warlord Games-Clockwork Goblin game of weird world war. The rules are similar but distinct from Bolt Action and bring new challenges to the table along with the opportunity to field some of your more esoteric units. The fictional diesel-punk background gives motivation for the weird-science that changes the course of the war and extends the fighting into 1947.

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Armoured SS-Shocktroopers take cover in a barn as their truck brews up

What lifts K-47 above a mere campaign book for BA, with a bit of fiction and a collection of special rules that add walking-armour, flying-troops and horror-elements, is that the core mechanics also change. The main shift is adding more complexity to the assault phase, which gives room for specialist close-combat troops to participate on equal footing in the game. Close combat is still lethal, as is shooting at a distance, but the changes mean that both types of units can compete without the game being unbalanced.  The added complexity works in this milieu because of the expanded range of abilities – it allows werewolves to exist on a battlefield full of machine-guns; handled well either can win.

Players of Gates of Antares will recognise the ability to react to enemy orders. This also brings new dimensions to game and is a welcome tweak, keeping both players engaged at the table in ways the IGYG rarely can. Reactions can be great, but while they can save a unit it still surrenders the initiative somewhat to your opponent. It is not always clear what is the best decision, which is what makes it a fun addition. I think the complexity of reaction-orders could be bought into Bolt Action too, although the ability of officers to order units when they activate does fill this niche in a simpler way.

 

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The Soviet first wave emerges from the morning mist

I pretty much took my standard Bolt Action Germans, adding some Games Workshop zombies as totenkorps, and a unit of sci-fi stormtroopers as ersatz SS-shocktroopers. We played 1,000 points, so while I usually take a Tiger in the late war (not because they’re ace, but because, well Tiger), I fielded a Stug III.

Scott’s army has more of the new units, with lots of walkers, a sonic-armed tank and a unit of daughters of the motherland. His painting skills are top-notch, let down by snaps with my phone-camera. We played the maximum attrition mission from the book.

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The Germans push forward to take up firing positions

The game was evenly balanced until turn 3. The Soviet advance was beginning to stall, with the Germans taking up good positions to take advantage of their better squad based shooting, and the Stug III was giving grief to the Soviet light walkers. It felt like to me like the Germans were about to take the upper hand and start not just laying pins but start to destroy Soviet units. Sensing the weakening resolve of their inexperienced brothers, the daughters of motherland broke cover and charged towards the not one but three LMG nests. Their rush forward left them in the open and taking fire from all sides they went to ground. However their enhanced DNA saw them survive, and by absorbing fire that would have destroyed most other units, allowed the other Soviets to push forward. The Germans found their own attack falter, and break.

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Mentioned in dispatches: daughters of the motherland

The Soviets took the field with a major victory over the fascist invaders.

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Totenkorps have yet to have a big impact in any game, but they do receive a lot of firepower

If you don’t mind a bit of weird in your world war, Konflikt 47 may well work for you. It adds lots of modelling opportunities and new challenges for your gaming pleasure.

Drop me a line if you want a game and happen to be near the Republic of Northcote.

Sisters are doin’ it for themselves

Rejoice citizens of the Imperium. Those valiant warriors of the faith the Adepta Sororitas have successfully defended Imperial Shrine world WB-R-Murphy-02 from a brutal Chaos Marine invasion. Long a shining light of the Imperial Creed, Murphy-02 found itself threatened and near obliterated by the combined efforts of several traitor legions. However, the Sisters, along with steadfast support from the Mechanicus and several Imperial Knight Houses, stood firm.

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The Sisters and their allies prepare for the initial Chaos assault

Apocalypse means beer, huge templates, buckets of dice and lots of minis. It remains a favourite with our gaming circle. Big games are especially sweet if you can assemble two themed lists and play with friends over an ace looking table. In the past we have played Tyranids versus Space Marines and lots of Marines against combined daemon and traitor lists. This time we bought in the Sisters and pitted them against a “pure” traitor marine list: no daemons, cultists or dodgy alien allies; 12,000 points a side plus super heavies.

The Sisters set up the center of the table and Chaos came on from both short table edges.


The Sisters won the role for first turn and while tactics can be hard in a game that large, the Sisters players coordinated their first round of shooting well. Chaos never really came back from that opening round of shooting.  Orbital bombardments and combined Knight firepower took out our Titan and the Chaos mad, long dash across no-mans’ land never had a chance to gain momentum.

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Turns out all you need are some lucky orbital bombardment roles and 3 or 4 Knights and Nurgle’s finest Titan is a smoking, smelly pile.

Once close combat was joined the scores started to close, but Chaos never looked like getting in front. But that is not the point of Apocalypse. You just have to go with the flow, and “forge the narrative”.


A game this large, over 25,000 points on the table, is hard to take in. As a player I find myself concentrating on the part of the battlefield where my forces are and larger trends are missed or confused. This is part of the Apoc experience. Highlights for me include Abaddon and two terminators charging two Imperial Knights. And destroying both. At the other end of the table, not one, but four Saints teleported into the fray, and reclaimed at least two objectives. The stuff Saints live for, surely.

Don’t worry, Abaddon is already plotting his revenge.

It’s war but not as we know it

The safe route for Warlord Games would have been to release a weird war source book for Bolt Action. Add some rules for flying infantry, some new units and weapons, and a few scenarios, and they could have had a viable and fun vehicle for their diesel punk alternative history and the associated miniatures. Instead Warlord, in a joint venture with Clockwork Goblin,  did something much more brave: they created a whole new game, Konflikt ’47.

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Yep, these are GW zombies. But they’re in a truck, which tots makes them totenkorps

Anyone familiar with Bolt Action or its stablemate Beyond the Gates of Antares will recognise the core mechanics of order dice and random turns. But Konflikt ’47 has some distinct mechanics that really help bring this kooky new world to the table in a fun, balanced way.

It is a very clever and rather fun addition to the range. The two largest rules changes are to the assault rules and adding reaction orders. Close combat is still brutal, but the addition of a shooting round as units close to assault means that specialist close combat units like Totenkorp and Shrekwulfen do not automatically dominate this part of the game. Similarly, highly mobile flying units don’t get it all their own way as units can now deliver reaction fire and make other reaction type orders that keep generals at the table and making decisions all the time. All these rules interact in elegant and subtle ways that open up interesting new gaming possibilities.

Existing army books also work with the Konflikt rules. My friend Brad and I tried this out one evening at Games Laboratory. I took a Tiger, some SS vets in armour and a truck load of zombies. Brad took a Japanese list with no weird stuff. The game was compelling (albeit with some page flipping as we took in the new rules), and the Japanese won the day. Turns out medium howitzers can really mess up your day whether you start the day living or already dead!

It was nice to be rolling some dice again, and I think Konflikt 47 is a fun addition to the Warlord Games universe.
D.

VBAL May

Life can really get in the way of your hobby at times. I did managed to sign up for a tour of duty for the May Victorian Bolt Action League event. Three games in a day, held at the excellent House of War in Ringwood. I liked how Tristan organised the day. Rather than the usual swiss chess sort of thing, we were divided into axis and allies, so no blue on blue. He had also appointed overall commanders, who (in consultation with their team) allocated people to tables. Each table had a different mission, so the terrain matched the mission. Both terrific things to bring to an event, and greatly lowered the stress levels because there was no “top-table”.

I took my Germans, of course. They are still my only painted 28mm WWII. At 1,000 points I left my Tiger at home and gave my Stug III a run instead.

I faced Soviets twice and the US once. I didn’t win a sausage all day, but had a cracking good time.

Round 1 Loss to Rick Vaveliuk’s Soviets. I ran out of momentum (and men) in the centre, while a T34 demolished my supply dump on turn 7 to turn a draw into a good win.
It is always a pleasure to fight Rick and was a nice way to start the day

Round 2 Another loss. Soviets again. Having trouble keeping the Bolshevik hoards back today. Kittyhawk Down and a great game.
Thanks Tim, and nice to see the citizens’ militia on the table

Round 3 Loss to Chris in hold until relieved. Turn 3 just saw my Germans taking too many pins and I failed order tests across the board.
Clear victory to the marines.

D.

Operation Cleanslate

I attended Operation Cleanslate, a one day Bolt Action tournament held at Games Laboratory in Melbourne. One day, three 1,250 point games and 15 players is a recipe for a top day.

I took a Tiger supported by a lot of mid-war grenadiers (and a squad of SMG armed fallschirmjager). A minor bum note was although I had Germans, I played against Germans in all three rounds. My opponents more than made up for this historical aberration. And, it was interesting to be on the receiving end of Hitler’s Buzz-Saw for once.

For once I remembered to take photos.

Game one: Demolition, against Garret who had a German armoured company. No tanks though, it was all half-tracks with various gadgets and just two infantry squads, both veterans. Garret is a gentleman but he knows Bolt Action and I had my work cut out right from the start. It didn’t help that my Tiger got lost on the way and didn’t arrive until turn 6! Just in time to take out his command vehicle and his most expensive unit, but too late to help defend my objective or destroy his.

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Garret advances behind smoke

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Contemplating the long run to the objective

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Vets well dug behind a hill

I did OK, and thought I might get a draw but with pins piling on I couldn’t get forward as my squads went to ground. An 8-16 Loss.

Game two: Point Defence. Off to the ruins of Stalingrad for a fight against Robert’s DAK (man, they must have really pissed Rommel off to get posted to the Volga!) A wonderful board to fight over, I thought I played it well keeping the DAK at bay and keeping my units alive in depth on two of the three objectives.

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Table supplied by Battlefield Accessories

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Tiger hunts in the ruins

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MVP: Rober’s lieutenant siezes the 3rd objective

Lesson this game: read the mission. Point Defence defender only wins if they hold all three objectives. I chose to  defend two objectives in depth, largely ignoring the other one, which left me playing for a draw right from turn one. Doh! 12-11 Draw.

Game three: Kittyhawk Down! Another German armoured list, against Aaron on a very open board. While there was some line of sight blocking, there was nowhere to hide.

Kittyhawk down really starts at turn 4, when a Kittyhawk crashes at a random spot along the centre line of the table and becomes the objective. It comes down with a bang, exploding with the effect of a medium howitzer. I lost an entire squad in the wreckage and went from being in a good place to being on the back foot as truck loads of (opposing) vets poured onto the objective.

The end result was a draw, 12-13 Aaron’s way, but if we had gone to turn 7 it would have been all his.

Tigers are ace. They can take a lot of damage and they are a one hit one kill unit. But they take a lot of points and will still accumulate pin-markers. This means that the rest of your army needs to work hard to take and hold objectives.

To win with a Tiger list you need to stay focused on the mission and know your army. Actually, that is really just advice for winning with any list.

And some of the other armies:

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Tristan’s Finns (winner of best army)

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(Another) DAK army; with added 88

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I love these biker dudes

See you on the battlefield. Maybe even the next BA event.

D.