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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Bolt Action - AAR: Wintercon Grudge Match - Australians vs U.S.

Game Day
Location:  Wintercon 2015, Canberra Australia.
Players:     Patch (Australians) vs Tristan (US)
Points:      1250 using season one rules.
Mission:    Point Defence
Context:    Grudge match, Day 2 - game 4 of 6

  On a very cold Canberra day that began at a very chilly, -5 degrees C, we both crawled out of bed, both feeling slightly under the weather, and began preparing for the coming storm.  After much anticipation and sledging, the grudge match between myself and Tristan was on and it was time to meet on the table of battle.  We'd test our mettle as we push toy soldiers around and throw down some dice. Although both allies, the two forces would give no quarter, nor would any be asked for as the game would progress. It was brutal.  It was emotional.  It was tight.  What were the two forces you ask? 

Well the Australian list looked like this:

2x First Lt’s
5x 8 man Vet infantry squads loaded with SMG’s and LMG’s
2x Medium mortars
2x ATR’s
1x Artillery Observer
1x Light Howitzer
1x Bofors AA with Tow
1x Stuart Light Tank
1x Matilda CS Medium Tank 

The US force looked like this:

A Reg and an inexperienced 2nd Lt
2x 7 man Vet Ranger Squads with all the trimmings
2x 6 man Reg Engineers with Bars and rifles
1x 6 man Vet Engineer squad with smg's and a flamethrower
1x reg medium mortar
1x reg sniper
1x Vet 105mm Sherman
1x Vet Hellcat
1x reg Air observer
1x reg Truck 

  The mission was point defence and I won the first die roll of the game.  Considering the British special rule in regards to preparatory bombardment, I chose to attack.  A decision I would live to regret, well amongst many others!  Tristan deployed his required forces and we got underway.  The bombardment came in, and the immeasurable unlucky  US sniper was sniped by a heavy howitzer and relegated back to the box without firing a shot.  This was very lucky for me because he was position in the steeple of a church, had full view of my forces and would have been a nightmare to dislodge considering it would have always been hardcover + range + small team requiring 6 on 6 to just hit them.  A number of other units were hit and pinned and overall was a successful opening barrage, seemingly justifying my decision to attack.

Turn 1

  Leaving three infantry squads in flanking, I moved the rest of my forces on in the first wave a began moving up the table towards the objectives.  Tristan spent  most of this turn successfully rallying troops and calling in an Air attack, as all his other units were held in reserve until turn 2.

Turn 2

  The US Air Observer, having spent his entire training looking out the windows at the pretty birds, naturally called the air strike on his own location (rolled another 1!).  With a complete look of despair, Tristan gestured towards the table and stated “so which unit do you want to delete?”, “I will have the Air Observer thanks”.  The reason for this is that the US gets two air attacks and by targeting him it would hopefully negate that second attack. The air attack came in and deleted the observer as well as putting pins on some nearby units, in a tactical move none of the big US units were on the table so luckily for Tristan the damage was minimal.

  The US armoured might entered the table with both the Hellcat and 105 Sherman hitting the flank of the Matilda who had not quite reached cover the previous turn. With a classic “I will only fail to penetrate on a 1”,  a 1 was rolled with neither shots actually penetrating. The rest of the Australian force continued to move up and the HE support for the Australians began to zero in on targets. In the final dice pull, the Australian Artillery Observers called in coordinates to target the US left flank.

Turn 3

  “Incoming!” I rolled a 1 for the observer… It was terrible.  So utterly gut wrenching, when I saw my entire battle plan disintegrate before my eyes. I had a 1 in 6 chance with anything other than a 1 resulting in the entire flank of the US force essentially collapsing and allowing my advancing Aussies to take that objective. It was not to be, the 1 was rolled and the strike moved to encompass my center, including the Matilda and Stuart as well as the ATRs. Pins were placed which essentially put my vehicles out of action and they would play no further tangible part in the battle, having made no impact thus far.

  Tristan then had a very good run of dice and removed from the table with very good rolls, a total of 6 Australian units.  In one instance, an intact Australia squad was on the halfway line and with two successive dice, a US truck entered and moved 12” followed by the US Engineer squad dismounting, advancing 6” and flaming them.  Subsequently, the Australian squad failed it's morale roll and left the table.  The Bofors, which had done nothing, was wiped out by the 105 Sherman and various other units just kept being dismantled and removed.  In one turn the entire momentum of the game was turned around and now Tristan was on top.  In a single sliver of hope for the Australians, a mortar team on its last legs zeroed in on an infantry squad but failed to actually destroy it.

Turn 4

  With nothing really capable of hurting the US armour,  Tristan pranced around like a ballerina moving his 105 Sherman with glee to destroy more units.  The bloodlust he was showing would come back to bite him by the end of the turn.  Meanwhile the Australian squads started to come in from the flanks, with two squads coming in on the US left and wreaking havoc while moving into a position to contest that objective.  On the right flank, a single squad came in and took ownership of that objective with another squad moving up to support them.  With two vet Australia squads on both flank objectives the game was held in the balance.  Realising that he had nothing close enough to really contest the right objective, Tristan moved to support the left and managed to wipe out one of the Australian squads leaving one in a position to still contest.

  The Hellcat managed to get another shot on target for the Matilda, however it again failed to destroy it.  The Matilda, although having no offensive effect, was able to draw much of the fire and keep the Hellcat busy.  By this time I was running my final gambit, concentrating on the objectives with most of my force lying back in the box.  Essentially I was relying on 3 vet squads to hold their positions as they had little, if any support left. 

Turn 5

  Each dice pull became crucial.  On the right flank my squads managed to hold the objective giving me at least complete ownership of one and on the other flank the single squad held on tooth and nail to contested that objective.  There was just too many US units hovering around to completely own it and they could not muster the firepower to shift the Aussies.  The Hellcat finally got a good shot on the Matilda and destroyed it whilst  the 105 Sherman continued to cause havoc.  At the end of the turn we ran out of time and finished in a draw.  This was a well-deserved finish, considering the to and fro nature of the game, ensuring we have a return match to really decide who can throw random dice better! 

  There was some really interesting points from the game, when two people are very evenly matched it really comes down to the random dice pulls and rolls of the dice to decide who wins. We were both exceptionally unlucky to roll 1s on both the things that can change the game significantly and I felt that my list could very much use some tweaking when used in an open format. The Matilda, whilst very cool, lacks punch for cost and the Bofors is just too vulnerable without a gun shield. Tristan will acknowledge he had blood lust up and lost sight of the objectives which allowed me to sneak in with a final push and contest them.

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