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Friday, September 28, 2012

Bolt Action - Scenario Review: Point Defense

Scenario 3: Point Defense
The enemy positions are strategically vital for the continuation of the campaign and must be seized at all costs.

Point. Totally. Defended.

The third scenario in the Bolt Action book will be very familiar to the FoW gamers out there - Point Defense. It involves one player defending three objectives while the other player attempts to take two of the three from him.

As in every Bolt Action scenario, you will have six or seven turns to take (or defend!) those points, and you start by dicing-off with your opponent to see who will defend and who will attack. The defender gets to pick which side of the table he'll defend, then has to deploy at least half of his stuff on the board.

We've probably talked a lot about Reserves in Bolt Action in the past, but it bears repeating: Reserves are a lot different than other games you might be used to. (I'm looking squarely at you, FoW guys!) You're able to start rolling for each Reserve unit that come from your table edge almost immediately, but more significant are the Outflanking Maneuvers you can have your Reserves performing. Remember, those Outflanking Maneuvers (henceforth "OM") essentially allow you to move your units across the table without being fired at. Cool!

How is this better than simply standing on the ground and firing? Oh, I know - triceps toning.

I don't think an OM is necessarily a no-brainer as the defender. He's going to deploy half his force, covering three objectives that are no closer than 6" to the table edge and no closer than 24" of each other. Yes, astute reader, if you're playing on the Citadel Battlemat we all use (or any other 4x6 area), this means they will generally be positioned similarly, game to game. The defender has to spread his forces out to cover these objectives, and the attacker needs to take two of the three to win. So putting many units into OM is risky, as you need those units near the threatened objective. Your well laid plan to OM the left flank might sound great before the game starts; before the attacker shows you he's pushing the right flank, and your OM is worthless, hanging out there on the left.

No sir, I would bet leaving the majority of those units that must be held in Reserve in good ol', boring, Reserve is what will happen generally. This will allow those units to rapidly react to the area the attacker is pushing. That being said, I could imagine a defender taking a chance and leaving one objective totally undefended, while focusing on defending two.

Lots of cover saves up in there; I would not want to attack into that.

Since the attacker needs to take two out of three to win, and the defender is at a deployment disadvantage because he deploys half his units before the attacker deploys his, focusing on two objectives could be a viable option. Three infantry units, in between two objectives (objs must be 24" apart!) are better able to focus their response. Three infantry units, each covering one objective, really offer no true defense to a focused attacker.

Speaking of the attacker, I've alluded to his deployment earlier, but to be perfectly clear, after the defender sets up his "half-on" force, the game starts with the attacker moving his units on to the board as they're given orders. The attacker is given the ability to leave up to half his entire force off the table in Reserve. Why would he do this, you ask? OM!

This is where OMs might come in handy! An attacker that leaves a small unit or two in OM on the left, for example, and pushes hard on the right, might draw all the defenders to the right, leaving the left open to the OMs advance.

The defender's really in a tight spot in this scenario, but I like it a lot. Of course, I have a distaste for defending - others might think the defender's got it easy in Point Defense. I can imagine, however, that regardless of pre-game advantage, the player that will most often come out on top in Point Defense is the one that best focuses his attack (or defense) on one small area of the table. A defender completely spread out across the table is treated very differently from FoW. There are no dug-in rules in the sense that units are more survivable when defending. This scenario does offer Hidden Set-Up bonuses for the defender, but those are lost once the unit moves or fires. You need to get out of your trenches and get after that attacker! There's no such thing as "dug-in, gone to ground" in this game, baby!

Wait! I left my Lunchables in there!

Of special note, Point Defense does offer a Preparatory Bombardment for the attacker as well, so the defender will probably start the game with pin markers on his deployed units; but he was probably waiting to see the whites of the attackers' eyes before acting, regardless.

One final thing - these objectives don't "go hot" until the game ends. The defender starts off controlling all the objectives, regardless of deployment. Therefore, in a way, both players are attacking the objectives. (Whew, thought I was going to have to defend in this one!) There's nothing that says the defenders Reserves coming on from his table edge can't push an attacking unit off the recently lost objectives.

Man, I need to get some stuff on a table and roll dice angrily!

Last time I traveled to Dano's for a BA FTX, I walked behind a Sherman. It sucked. This weekend, I'm driving!


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