read the book!

Thinking about a different project – a topic for another day – I was looking in one of the older Bolt Action campaign books, Ostfront: Barbarossa to Berlin. In the pages I found another take on the Belski Brothers.

The Warlord Games version is for a partisan squad. The key twist is gaining the fanatic rule when opposed by SS units. Officially for the Soviet lists, I see no reason why these squads could not be included in a partisan force. Combined with my special character rules for the Belski brothers it could make a fun eastern front themed Partisan force.

So, there you go. Read those books, you never know what you might find.

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.

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.

konflikt-47-vs-scott-01

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.

 

konflikt-47-vs-scott-02

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.

konflikt-47-vs-scott-03

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.

konflikt-47-vs-scott-05

Mentioned in dispatches: daughters of the motherland

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

konflikt-47-vs-scott-04

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.