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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Bolt Action - A Tale of a World at War

By Special Guest Seamus

On Saturday, July 30th in Chicagoland, the inaugural World at War Bolt Action event took place. World at War is a themed event where players sign up as either Axis or Allied, and build their 1,000 point single platoons from specific Theater Selectors in the “Armies of” books or “Germany Strikes!” book. This years’ theme was the Blitzkrieg period, and the Grey Tide of the Panzer Divisions rolled out to strike at the free peoples of Europe!

The Chicagoland Bolt Action scene is relatively nascent, only recently coalescing into something you could call organized. Seasoned players regularly roll dice with players that have only recently gotten the bug, and we find new players pretty often. I thought the idea would go over like a lead balloon… focusing on a much less common period (at least in our area), and limiting what people could take? Preposterous! Much to my surprise and delight, the lads signed on with rowdy cheers and many bought new forces just to be a part of the experience. I must thank each and every one of the fellas that participated because their enthusiasm not only made this groundbreaking endeavor possible, but also made it nearly a cake walk for a new T.O.

With a batch of solid guys signed on and furiously painting away, my job was to make sure I set up the best event I could. In Chicagoland, we already have two big events bracketing our modeling season. In the early spring we have Adepticon, ably helmed by the infamous Bolt Action Chef (so named because of his resemblance to Isaac Hayes). At the end of the year we have Operation Sting, which was my first ever Tournament experience two years ago. I figured that I’d need to do something different so I decided to use the tried and true “dot Rich” format wherein missions are assigned to tables, and the matches pre-ordained. This seems like a daunting task at first, but actually worked out quite well and was not entirely difficult. The tricky part ended up being the selection of missions!

I ended up taking a mix of the good rulebook missions, with a few minor tweaks, and the exceptional Bolt Action Alliance missions from the 2016 Mission Pack. To these, too, I made some minor tweaks, mainly for simplicity’s sake and game flow. Since they’d be new to a lot of players, I removed some of the special aspects of the missions to enable faster paced games with less worry about what new rules to remember.  Missions, check. Tables, check. Match ups, check.

Now there was naught left but the day itself.

Arriving the night before to set up what I could, I was somewhat dismayed to find that the tables were too small. Finally getting hold of my new buddy Jorge in Maintenance at 9pm, we added an extra table to each station to make seven 6’ x 5’ stations. I got some tables set up with the scenery I had ahead of time (thanks Aaron, Duane, and Draxtar Games!) with my kids’ help. For the winter table, I had selected a modified Point Defence mission… and quickly discovered that the tote with the essential bunkers were at home, a little over an hours drive away. My wife ended up collecting some sticks from outside which we hastily assembled into ad-hoc bunkers over which the players would fight the next day. It is important to note that my wife’s two bunkers were just fine on the day, while my own had not completely dried. Score one for the spouse team and zero for the “pro” team. The remainder of the tables arrived in plenty of time the next morning with all hands pitching in. They were set up quickly and efficiently, the remaining players arrived early, and there were no dropouts. We even started a little ahead of schedule!

Enough talk you say? I agree. Here are some shots of the action taken by myself and my co-conspirator, Aaron of Horrorshow Miniatures.

At the end of three games, we had the points tallied and the player voting counted. The Axis powers accumulated a tremendous 85 battle points! The treads of the Grey Tide had crushed… wait, no. Scratch that. The Allied players amassed 201 battle points. Across seven tables and 18 games, the Allied players had unequivocally changed the course of history and soundly defeated the Axis powers. Dunkirk was suddenly a different story than I remember! That sorted, there were trophies to hand out!

The Fuhrer’s Furor award for Best Overall went to Paul Stewart. Paul, a canny opponent, won based on a combination of battle points, theme points, Hanoswag points, and modelling points. Well done, Paul!

Next, the DeGaulle D’Or award for Best Allied went to Bruce Romanick who had driven 11 hours to participate in the event with a mighty French force (did Patch just “Whoop!” there?). Well done, Bruce!

The Golden Gerd award for Best Axis went to Ryan Miller. Ryan is part of Mercenary Miniatures, who made the superlative Airfield and Sub Pen tables you see in the pics. His score was also a composite of battle points, theme, Hanoswag, and modelling points. Well done, Ryan!

Next, the highly coveted and hotly contested Hanoswag Award went to Robert Elmer whose German force was a wonderful combination of LMG’s, regular infantry, MMG’s, and a Panzer I. Despite being from Wisconsin, there was no cheese here. Well done, Robert!

Next up, the players all voted that Dan van Hese was the appropriate honoree for the Best Army award. Dan’s army was based around the actions near Kvam in the Norway campaign, and he had a Neubaufahrzeug in his platoon! Well done, Dan! Just look at the basing on those guys!

Best Sportsmanship went to Duane Zoldak, always a great opponent, by popular consent! Well done, Duane!

After these folks were awarded, they also had access to the Swag Table and after them the remaining players were all given their turns as well. And, it is here I must mention one of the other truly amazing parts of this event. The prize support for this event was absolutely mind-blowing. I focused a lot on “the little guys” of the industry because while their footprint is smaller than some of the bigger companies their impact on our community is no less important.

Jeff from JTFM/Die Waffenkammer and Bob, who is often called Mad, contributed an astounding amount of swag for this event and I cannot thank them enough. Between them, nine of the players now have some of the best resin kits in the market in hand or on order! I offered to accept if any one of the players wanted to buy me an early production Tiger I, but I don’t think any of them took me up on the offer.

Jamie from Rubicon Models also supplied a great pile of new kits and I shuddered when our Soviet player picked up the new SU-85/122 kit, a gleam in his eye. Thanks, Jamie, for the kits… and… “thaaaaaanks” Jamie. Other sponsors included Dice of War in Australia (thanks Adam!), Black Hussar Miniatures in Germany (thanks Sascha!), Historique Pin Markers here in the States (thanks Rob!), Secret Weapon Miniatures (thanks Justin!), Trenchworx (thanks David!), and Gorgon Studios here in good ol’ Chicagoland (thanks, Jamie!). There was so much cool swag, and I wish I’d been able to play, but… someone’s got to run these things! Massive, massive thanks to our sponsors. Please check them out if you’re not familiar with their products. They all get the Weekend General stamp of approval.

For my first outing as a T.O. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better experience. The contribution of the community as far as experience, format and missions made for a great canvas. Exceptional players, willing to try something new and playing a bunch of good, clean games brought the whole thing to life. Outstanding support from some of my favorite companies made for a bunch of happy gamers. Special thanks to my wife for late night scenery making and the bases of the four trophies. Thanks, too, to the various podcasts that either mentioned or allowed me to hawk the event over the airwaves.

Many of the players are already making plans for next year’s World At War, and some new players from farther afield are also interested. Looking at you Austin, Flint…

Game on!

Seamus, often going by the nom de guerre of “Weekend General,” is a long-time wargamer and sometime contributor to various podcasts and online forums, based in Chicago. Occasionally dabbling in other miniatures games, it is Bolt Action that really turns his gears. No, REALLY.

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