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Friday, August 18, 2017

Bolt Action - Wintercon - After Event Report

Recently I attended Wintercon in Canberra, Australia for our midyear convention. For those that are not aware Canberra gets cold in winter with temperatures dropping to -8 degrees Celsius at times. Naturally Wintercon generally just attracts local gamers used to the cold however a smattering of hard core players from the warmer states did attend this year. In saying all that we had a healthy turn out of 24 players  competing in a five game 1250 open event format over two days.

I took my desert themed North African Colonial French with me and used them in an event for the first time. I am certainly no stranger to French lists however a North African themed list has some pretty significant restrictions on even a Battle of France themed force. For a start they had very few armoured fighting vehicles and what they had was terrible when placed into context of an open event.  I ditched any thought of tanks and decided I would field an anti-tank force with a strong solid core of infantry. 

 My list looked like this (13 Order dice):

1st Lt plus 2 – Vet
1st Lt plus 1 - Vet
French Foreign legion Squad – 8 men with LMG x 3 squads - Vet Stubborn
Goumier squad – 10 men with LMG Vet Tough Fighter
Sniper team – Vet
Medium AT gun – Vet
Medium Howitzer – Regular (Free Unit)
Laffly 80M Armoured Car – Vet
Citroen-Kegresse Portee with Light AT gun – Vet
Laffly W15 TCC Portee with Medium AT gun – Vet
Truck – Vet

I understand that both the portees were used only in France however for the purpose of my list they are not powerful units and can represent a bit of on the spot adaption by a resourceful force. My general thoughts on the list was that I can’t go head to head with late war lists using armoured vehicles but an AT gun is an AT gun and with two mediums and a light, along with a medium howitzer, I may be able to force them to make some hard tactical decisions. 

So how did I go? Well I ended up at two wins, two draws and a loss for the event finishing somewhere in the middle of the pack. I played against three late war German lists, a late war US all sorts list and a late war British Staghound list (pick the theme here?). Both of my wins were against FJ lists , my loss was against German grenadiers and my draws were against the British and US. 

 Rather than go game to game I will just point out a couple of interesting take always from the event:

·         LMG’s continue to be one of the most powerful weapon choices in game, the range makes rifle squads very good at projecting firepower and threatening enemy units all over the table. My infantry squads could very happily take a hard cover position on deployment and with good LOS be shooting at my opponents support units. The German players all took squads with two LMG’s and these were extremely potent mobile heavy firepower once you add in extra shots with Hitler’s Buzzsaw.  LMG’s are now a must have choice in your squads.

·        The stubborn rule is a real thing now, it is no longer a niche rule for only a few small forces to use and I came across it in three of my games (I had it as well). It is so good at keeping your units on the table, it becomes vitally important in missions were points are awarded  for taking out units. Many times both my opponents and I had units down to one or two men and they just kept digging their heels in and staying on the table forcing another round or two of firing to get rid of them. Don’t underestimate the impact that stubborn will have in your games. 

 ·       AT guns really are rubbish. In 5 games I destroyed one vehicle, that’s right in 5 games with three AT guns deployed in each game I destroyed one Panzer IV. My one success was with my static Medium AT gun which I had placed on ambush and my opponent decided to risk the chance. My portees failed to destroy anything, they managed to hit enough times but could not break through the armour. Essentially they are a really low percentile choice, nearly always you are shooting on 5’s with some cover and range thrown in and then needing 5’s to do even superficial damage.  Given a choice I would prefer howitzers, the D3 pins from a light howitzer is probably much more effective at shutting down armour than an actual AT gun.
·         Alright, AT guns are not totally rubbish. I will concede that AT guns are good area denial weapons which can force your opponents to deploy  more conservatively. This is the only nice thing I will say about them...  

 Late war veterans armies are the main stay, no matter how hard I have crusaded over the last few years I just cant convince the majority of the local scene that early war and non veteran forces can work at competitive events. I know it sounds hypocritical seeing as I took a veteran force but this is more a case of me giving up and adapting to my surroundings. It is just the meta now, late war veteran armies are here to stay and I just have to get used to facing basically the same couple of variations in lists again and again.

As far as my standings at the end of the day I was yet again a Mr average middle of the pack player. I think my tactics are generally pretty solid however I just cant seem to string wins together enough to ever finish in the top three so take any advice I give in the context that I have never stood on a podium. I did manage to pick up the players vote for best painted though which I am very proud of and a big thank you to them for that award.

I am playing currently in my local league Sealion campaign and have MOAB coming up in Sydney in early October. For that one I am just putting the finishing touches on my US Airborne force so stay tuned for an article about what I will be taking soon.


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