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Friday, August 2, 2013

Bolt Action - Anti Tank Dogs - Historicon Reflections

In both of the Bolt Action Tournaments at Historicon I brought the comical, but dreaded Soviet anti tank dogs.  Since I brought an all infantry army, these two man teams, armed with ferocious K-9 puppy bombs, made up the bulk of my anti tank arsenal.  In fact these dogs were my only dedicated anti tank weapons.  While Warlord makes their own anti tank dogs, I scratch built mine for the tournament using Warlord's celtic war hounds and bits from the Warlord Plastic Soviet Infantry box set.  Check out the conversions here.

As mentioned before, I decided not to bring any tanks when building my Historicon tournament list.  A part of me is not sold on the value of the tank.  Tanks soak up a ton of points. If you destroy your opponents tank, your tank becomes a 250 point machine gun nest on tracks.  If your opponent destroys your tank first, you lose 250 points in one shot.  While many of us have found that certain tanks can fill both a anti tank and anti infantry role, most tanks only do one or the other well.  So I figured that going into the tournament I could save points on tanks by not taking one, and then max out my infantry with the savings.

The Soviet army lists out of The Armies of the Soviet Union book are allowed to take three anti tank teams for each anti tank team selection in their army lists.  This can be anti tank rifle teams, molotov launcher teams, tank hunter teams, or anti tank dog teams.  This rule allows the Soviets, who do not have a bazooka or panzerscrek options, to load up on light or disposable anti tank assets.

Anti tank dogs have a set of special rules which appealed to me.  Unlike other weapons in Bolt Action, anti tank dogs always hit on a  4+, regardless of cover.  For those who have played Bolt Action you know that most shots taken in the game end up needing a 5+ or 6+, so an asset that is guaranteed to hit on a 4+ regardless of range or cover is impressive.  Anti tank dogs are also a Pen 5, making its fire power equivalent to a medium anti tank gun or bazooka.  The down sides to the anti tank dog are that if you roll a one when seeing if you hit, you hit your own tank; you can't shoot tanks that are moving, and it is a one shot weapon.  I mitigated the dogs short comings by taking three anti tank dogs and by taking no tanks.  Another perk to the anti tank dog is that they are cheap, 26 points for an inexperienced team.  This allowed me to field three teams, and three order dice, for 78 points, a fraction of the cost of a tank.  Also once the dog shot, the two man team ran around causing communist mayhem and drawing fire off more juicy targets.

Performance.  I have to be honest here, I was slightly disappointment in how my anti tank dogs performed.  I don't think they are a bad option to take, I firmly believed my dice worked against me.  Between the five games in the two tournaments, I had eleven chances to use an anti tank dog.  One team was killed before it was able to shoot, three teams missed all together and six hit a target.  Of those six hits one immobilized a tank,  two dogs stunned enemy tanks, two failed to penetrate and one blew up my truck in the Armored Tournament.  As you can see my hit rate was spot on 6 out of 10 and four penetrated their targets armor, my problem was I failed to make my roles to destroy the targets.

Even though my anti tank dogs did dazzle, delight and strike fear in my opponents' hearts like I was hoping, they were not as effective as I hoped. However, the points I saved to put into my infantry was well worth it.  I ended up taking fourth in scoring command points, which was a combination of capturing objectives, conserving your own force and killing the enemy.  I will definitely be taking anti tank dogs in the future, but will likely bring something along to help them out if they can't find the tanks they are looking for.

“Craig Baxter is the Director of the WWPD Northern Research center in Anchorage, AK. When he’s not contributing to and he is busy painting, modeling and rolling dice."

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