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Monday, February 10, 2014

Bolt Action - Cancon: A Russian Perspective (Anfernee Brings a BIG TANK... Again!)

Greetings Comrades! It's Anfernee here, and I'd like to have a chat about the recent Cancon Bolt Action tournament here in Australia, the list I took, and how it performed. Firstly, the main tournament at Cancon (there was also an Armour day) was a 1000 point tournament, restricted to a single reinforced platoon with five games over two days, using non-standard missions.

I decided to shelve my Germans, whom I've ran in the last three tournaments I've attended, and bring out my Soviets for the first time. I usually try and pick a theme for my lists, so I decided I wanted to do a late war Soviet unit, preparing to break-through the Germans' last desperate lines of defense on their way to Berlin. The list would be in two halves: First would be an infantry platoon that has crept up on the enemy in the dead of night before the attack, as the Russians were inclined to do. They will hold the enemy in place. The second half is the sledgehammer that'd break through.

So, for the holding force, what better then a solid base of three squads of seven veteran Scouts? Two squads had entirely rifles, the third had four SMGs. Their forward deployment rule is very useful for grabbing objectives early, and this paid off in three of five games for me. My fifth game was a perfect example, as I was able to hold all three objectives, which were along the table's middle line, and keep the enemy in his deployment zone with rifle fire until my sledgehammer arrived.

In addition to the Scouts, I had a two man Tank Hunter Squad with SMGs and a Sniper Team. Both also have the forward deployment rule and were intended to help hold the enemy back. The Sniper did his job well, including killing a German Captain in my first round grudgematch which was an attrition game based on unit's points worth, not order dice. I managed to end up winning by 12 points when I sniped the Captain on the fifth turn. The Tank Hunters were intended to hunt down small teams and support weapons, because even with two attacks each with anti-tank grenades, they have no real chance of harming enemy armour. While not an absolute waste, these guys didn't really have the durability to pull off their intended role, and if I run the list again, they will probably be dropped.

So those five units were my holding force, and the five I usually deployed in my first wave (which allowed them all to forward deploy). My other seven units, were my fast attack wedge. I had a Soviet free squad. So they were given an inexperienced truck to get them mobile. While they didn't stand out in any game in particular, other then sniping an American Air Observer midway through game four at long range and through cover, they are free! The truck was inexperienced because I couldn't squeeze out any more points to upgrade it and I felt it was fitting. This wasn't a big problem because even it they didn't come on for an extra turn or two, they were fast enough to get into position.

I needed a Lieutenant, so I went fairly cheap with a regular second Lieutenant. He also needed wheels to keep up with the rest of the assault force, so he got a regular GAZ Jeep. With two spare seats in the Jeep, and the list lacking anything other then small arms so far, I got a regular Flamethrower team. These guys paid for themselves in abundance, but is anyone really surprised? I got pretty lucky, with the unit only running out of fuel twice; but both times after incinerating at least one enemy unit. Over the five games, they killed 600 points worth of enemy units, including a squad of regular Heer Grenadiers and a squad of veteran Pioneers in game five. The mobility of the Jeep just made them that much more deadly.

My eleventh unit was a squad of five veteran Tank Riders with body armour. I really wanted to try these guys out and in my practice games leading up to the event, I was impressed with the amount of firepower they could absorb, even if they didn't slaughter everything before them. Although in my second game, they did manage to storm a unit of regular Heer Grenadiers and kill them in an assault. They didn't actually die all weekend, at worst being reduced to two men, and often held objectives for me after relieving a decimated Scout squad.

And now, the final unit in my list and the true sledgehammer of the weekend. The IS-2 Heavy Tank, nicknamed Smiling Joe in honour of Comrade Offler. This regular IS-2 has a pintle HMG on top, and not only did it not die over the course of the five games, it managed to destroy 900 points worth of entire units out of my total 2500 attrition points earned. This included a Panzer II in game one, a squad of Japanese, two support teams and a howitzer in game three, two squads of veteran Marines in game four, and two squads of veteran Waffen-SS in game five.  This doesn't count the numerous squads it left half dead at the end of the games.  It was instrumental in all my wins. While I didn't come up against any opponents packing really big AT, I definitely faced off against lists that could have pinned it into oblivion, including a Sturmtiger in round two! It weathered all the shots thrown against it, including three hits from the Sturmtiger, and even pulled off two Rally orders.

So, I ended the weekend with three major victories, one draw (my grudge match against James in round one) and one loss, with a total of 10 Tournament Points out of a possible 15. I really enjoyed the list and if I run it again, it will be with only minor changes. I didn't miss spamming Anti-tank Rifles as is the norm with Soviets, although my list was light on anti-tank overall. I felt I had the veteran infantry and mobility to just ignore enemy armour if I couldn't kill it.

It was a great weekend put on by the TO, Qman, even if I was wearing Soviet winter uniform pants in the middle of summer in a packed gaming convention. (That's dedication! - Judson) Now, it's time for a hard decision. Do I run the Soviets again at Conquest in a few months or start on another new army?

(Let Anfernee know on the forum! - J)

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