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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bolt Action - Your First Bolt Action Tournament

If you've been hanging out on our forum, you've been exposed to - well, many things, thanks to Dano. Specifically, though, you've heard people describe tournaments as amazing, entertaining, life-altering events. 

Not the angry, rules-lawyering, stinky types they appear to be!

And they are! Perhaps not exactly life-altering, but if you think you're opposed to attending a tournament, one might just be attitude-altering, at the very least. This article will delve into why, and will also be a bit of a primer for you new guys out there that decide going to one might not be such a bad idea, after all.

First thing's first, you gotta' get your mind right. No, I don't mean some kind of competitive zeal frenzy - that's not how it goes at these events. This isn't your high school football team. Bolt Action tournaments are a series of games you play against guys that are just like you; guys looking to play a game they enjoy. So you have to be prepared to have a good time. Attitude is everything at a tournament.

However, there are mythical legends of bad players echoing through the different forums you've already reviewed. (If not, why haven't you gone to a tourney yet?) I suppose they exist, like the elusive Yeti Dan swore he witnessed peering into his bedroom window one night. Much like the stinky, drunken, homeless man that Yeti turned out to be, jerks at tournies are easily shooed off and dismissed by the quality Tournament Organizer running your event. So don't worry about those extremely rare bad eggs. I guarantee you they won't ruin every other game for you.

Don't panic, Dano. It's just a statue.
Now, you've picked your event, and you've got the right attitude (good times ahead) so you're ready to roll dice! Not so fast, you crazy Australian in a yellow bear suit, wearing cowboy boots! Check with the Tournament Organizer of whatever event you want to participate in first. He might require you to submit a list, or register with him in some other way, before you can join. So make sure you contact the TO before you buy the airfare to get you to Fall-In.

Shamelessly stolen from LRDG, but if you click the link, Old Man Morin' won't sue me. (Incidentally, this picture was not taken outside Dano's apartment.)
I'm almost positive I don't need to mention this, but for the sake of being thorough, you will need to make a list before you get there. Follow the TO-provided instructions, and you can't go wrong. Events come in all shapes and sizes - covering anything you're into - and all it takes is a little time or luck to find the one that's right for you. Tournaments are not all unrestricted affairs, for those of you with an opinion on what should and should not be allowed in entertaining games of Bolt Action. Look around a bit, and I bet you'll find one that's right for you; and guess what, the gamers that will be playing there will all have similar opinions, since they checked beforehand as well.

With that out of the way, it's time for a run down of what you might need. If you hadn't already guessed, I'm doing this article, in part, as a way to ensure that I limit what I forget to bring to Historicon. Note that I only say "limit", as I've come to realize over time I'll never pack everything I need.

Time to pack.

First and foremost, we need to check and double check that we've brought the right miniatures. If you're a gamer with a problem (and which of us isn't) then you've got a lot of different options to go into your transport bag of choice. I've yet to make this mistake at a tournament, but I have brought British to a game I was supposed to bring Germans to before. Check your gear!

You're also going to want to make sure that your bag is stocked with dice, order dice, pin markers, at least one tape measure, anything you can use to note what turn you're on, a copy of the rules, and something (sanitary!) to write with. It's a serious shopping list, and if you're playing out of any of the Armies of... books, you'll need to bring that as well. It's just good practice to bring books you're referencing with your force. Even if you think you've got your force memorized, your opponent might not; and while it's not your responsibility to educate your opponents on all the units in Bolt Action before the game, it's good sportsmanship to have your book in hand, in case he or she would like to see the rules for your IS-2, Hecht.

We see you, CH! Hiding behind your IS-2!
One thing you might not think to bring if you've never played outside of a home is some sort of sturdy tray to carry your force around on. Some carrying trays are decent alternatives, but really, nothing beats just a big ol' flat tray. Since table space is limited at these events, you won't be able to spread your stuff out around the room, like you do in the game room, so think about a tray. The rest of your gear's getting tossed under a table somewhere.

As time goes on, I'm sure more things will occur to me, and probably after reading this, you can think of a thing or two I've missed. Contribute to the packing list, or tournament testimonials, on our forum. I can't wait to see what everyone has to add, as I get ready to head south for Historicon. Now that I've mentioned it, Friday's article will come out late (Saturday for our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world) and will probably be a photo dump from the convention. Just a bit of a teaser/warning for those of you that won't be with us.

Now, where did I leave that Dice-Bot...

Big thanks to the Reidy Clan for all their Bolt Action innovation!


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