Part one in a two-part series covering the Chicago Dice team at the premier Bolt Action tournament in the Midwest – Operation Sting.
Built around the impressive Trenchworx Jagdpanther I themed my platoon as part of the 506th Heavy Anti-Tank Battalion. Running a 390pt tank and all Vet. infantry left me with only 11 dice. And in an event with a dice cap of 16, I was under the gun to quickly eliminate a few enemy units to try and bring the die differential close to even. I also designed my platoon to have very few ‘soft targets’ in order to keep my 11 units alive as long as possible. My overall strategy for the weekend was to keep my opponents outside of 24″ and continuously apply pins from multiple LMGs while also forcing my opponent to stay spread out for fear of the Nebelwerfer. With those pins applied, roll my Jagdpanther right up the middle and let Tiger Fear go to work. For the most part, it worked.
Drawn from Campaign: Battle of the Bulge, the US Anti-Tank Platoon selector is wildly different from your standard force in Bolt Action. Having only one infantry squad and being required to take two Anti-Tank guns (including the option for two more) means you will have a fairly static army. A static army that can hit hard. A large collection of trucks and half-tracks gives me the option to move the guns and troops around and add some firepower. But, overall, the force is flimsy if your opponent manages to get into range. Especially considering there are so many small teams plus soft-skin vehicles.
Andrew thinks he has the biggest tank? Two can play at that game, Sting will see multiple super heavy tanks. Plan A went out the window when I found a 1/48 Tamiya Sturmtiger on Amazon and boom I had an army. With that I also had the biggest gun in the game, a 4” HE template with as many rerolls as you could hope for if you can hit. Also, the heaviest armor, and I wasn’t slower than I needed to be. This would leave me with a BFT worth 40ish% of my force. I backed up my dear Sturmy with the 7th Fallschirmjager and the 21st Panzer divisions. Consisting of small heavily armed squads, recon, and artillery support (go Ft. Sill!), the list would consist of nine tiny order dice and one big one. However, I read a story during research which gave me pause about my choice. The big tank would be my cornerstone and I learned that during the battle for Remagen (Thanks Wikipedia!) two Sturmtigers were tasked with shelling the bridge, discovering quickly they lacked the accuracy to hit said bridge…
Paul – SAS
My army was based on the British SAS in the Morvan Valley, Eastern France, 1944. The background and army selection was based on SAS: With the Maquis in Action with the French Resistance by Lieutenant Ian Welsted, the operational commander of the section sent in to work with the local Maquis to destroy vital train and road links, pulling vital resources that could otherwise be sent to the front lines. The army itself was fast moving, lightly armed, and brittle to a stand up fight so hit and run was the tactic of the day. My rule for designing the army was, if there is no reference either in photo or in text, it wouldn’t make it into my army. So lots of trucks, squads and small teams, backed up with the airdropped Jeep and 6-pounder medium Anti-Tank gun, but no flamethrowers or tanks. My concern is kill point scenarios, and it turns out, there were a few.
Mission overview – Your force has received intel that the enemy is near. You order your troops to probe the opposing side to determine their strengths and weaknesses.
Andrew: The TOs were kind enough to grant my Grudge Match request and I squared off against Al and his late-war Brits. Even with Al’s limited AT assets I was worried about my Jagdpanther. Having spent 390pts on a single model the last thing I wanted was to lose it early in the game (if at all!). I slowly crept forward blasting away and missed every. single. shot. For six turns in a row this behemoth of a tank failed to put steel on target. It was a disappointing start for my armies biggest weapon. At the end of seven hard-fought turns neither of us could get an edge and the game ended in a draw.
Result – Draw
Ben: I played Game One against Gabe, who was running a German force that included a Sturmtiger as well as several squads of Regular and Veteran infantry inside a pair of trucks and a half-track. Our table had a road that went straight across the middle, with First Wave deployment requiring us to walk/drive units on. Due to the road network we were up close and personal right off the bat. Massed machine gun and AT fire plus a bloody outflank by my M16 Anti-Air half-track allowed the Americans to carry the day.
Result – Win
Dexter: Five bloody bloody turns, this game would set the tone for most of the tournament. Shit was going to die, it was either going to be me or the gentlemen from North Dakota all of Day One. My first opponent was the almost Zoldack-ianly cheerful Damen, who was rocking the only Soviets I faced. January 1944, Leningrad-Novgorod and damnit he has a tank. We fought over a factory, I had the advantage of not having many easy dice. I deployed a strong center and once my opponent split I moved hard to the left flank while slowly pulling in my right. I was able to root out four or five units on the left while not losing any in response. Ol’ Sturmy, went right down the left flank and smashed into Russian lines, that was it.
Result – Win
Paul: Game One was against Jeff and his reconnaissance style German army. It consisted of a Puma, half-track, a Captain and a Lieutenant and three squads with LMGs and various squad weapons. It was a balanced list and had a lot of firepower. The field was fairly open after half the table, so the run in with my lightly armed SAS would be a risk and it didn’t pay off. I raced two trucks forward, filled to the brim with SAS troopers, losing the trucks but putting me in a great assault position for the next turn. With my dice count at 16 compared to Jeff’s 12, I weighed that I would get at least one assault off but that was my fault and he pulled the first three dice and that was that. On Turn 6 it was looking like a loss but it was a Turn 7 game and my tournament Man of the Match was my armored jeep which killed his officer and a small squad on the last order of the game bringing it back to 7 kills to 7 and a draw. Snatched a draw from a loss.
Result – Draw
Mission overview – There are several strategic locations on the battlefield that must be secured. Your orders are to move out and control as many of these objectives as possible and prevent the enemy from doing the same.
Andrew: A Chicago Dice clash! Paul and I have always had very close games and this proved to be no exception. Playing an objective based mission I knew the match-up was in Paul’s favor and he could bring more units to contest and capture the three objectives spread across the middle of the table. With that in mind I moved hard on two objectives while only hoping to contest the third. Paul’s cold dice and lackluster assaults gave the upper hand in the back half of the game. But I simply could not remove enough units to stop Paul from swarming the three objectives. A cheeky end of Turn 7 Run by Paul’s SAS jeep contested the third objective ending the game in another draw for both of us.
Result – Draw
Ben: Game Two was against Dave. We had a fairly open table, with five objectives, and another First Wave deployment (which is rough on my army, having to tow on the field guns and limiting their options for cover). I initially had a heavy deployment on my right flank, which buckled under bad rolls and some clutch shooting by my German opponent. I then started to swing my units around the left utilizing my trucks, sacrificing the right as a blocking force to let me claim objectives on the left side and at least pull a draw, but a couple late-game failed Tiger Fear/morale checks prevented me from advancing units to where they needed to be and I ended up falling 3-2 on objectives.
Result – Loss
Dexter: The British! It’s raining men… I had a wee tiny chip on my shoulder going into this one, my opponent was Bruce a great guy from the ND delegation who I lost to the last time we played. That list on an objective mission in urban terrain is no joke, cue the Dutch road network. Turned out my original tactic of get the Tiger forward ASAP worked a second time, I deployed in spread with a strong point at each corner, Bruce put 8 million units in outflank. Turn 1 I moved 18 inches straight forward with el Sturmorino, putting Tiger Fear directly in the middle of the table and Turn 2 I slammed across the Rubicon. Unfortunately for Bruce this was the one game the tank got truly hot, slamming 4 inch templates into Paratrooper squad after Paratrooper squad. The center drive collapsed and it became hold onto as many of the objectives as possible, due to how objectives work right now it was a Turn 7 sprint/ambush etc. Ended with two objectives contested one in my hands.
Result – Win
Paul: Game Two was against Chicago Dice’s very own Andrew with his amazing German Jagdpanther led infantry force. I knew it would be a hard fought but fun battle. I was trying to play offense as I did in one of our practice games because I could see that Andrew had the same number of elite infantry as I did, and with a Nebelwerfer and Jagdpanther added into the mix, I knew I had to move fast. The first turn resulted in some hits but a German MMG in a building refused to die even when shot by a sniper multiple times, an artillery strike and a full squad of close range SAS. Andrew played great and I really had to think about the mission constantly to stop it slipping from me and a timely jeep race along the road from one side of the table to the other to contest the third objective. This cost Andrew the win and resulted in a Game Two draw.
Result – Draw
Mission overview – Units from both sides have been scattered across the battlefield – however the Allied General has secured a Key Objective that must be held at all costs.
Andrew: Final game of the day was against Gene and his very sharp looking US Marines. Gene had the luck of the draw to play on a South Pacfic table and his army fit right in. Mine? Not so much. It was an excellent game but Gene was on the back foot right from the start. I started the game with some incredibly hot dice and eliminated a Marine MMG team and forced a full squad to fall back off the objective. From that point on, Gene just couldn’t bring enough forces to bear against the units I had in the middle. The Americans fought bravely but Gene simply couldn’t catch a break. It was a fun game and I’m glad I got to play against a great opponent.
Result – Win
Ben: Game Three was against Jim and his beautiful Monte Cassino Fallschirmjäger. I was defending, with my infantry squad and an MMG team occupying buildings in the middle. This table also had a nice road network, but I was able to deny a significant area by leaving a pair of my AT guns in Ambush, preventing Jim from making a major push towards the objective. The first four turns of the game were fairly uneventful, with both sides taking potshots and a lot of cat and mouse, but he was able to make a late push to contest the objective and we ended in a draw. An excellent game!
Result – Draw
Dexter: DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN foiled me, I found out after the match over a pint or four. Upon seeing the field of play he wisely chose to play for the Draw, he dug in along a forested ridgeline, then immediately pulled back. I collapsed in with LMGs and the big gun, didn’t connect as much with the tank. Dan very skillfully maneuvered his large infantry squads into place after a slight deployment mistake. I had multiple units on the point and even though I was able to disassemble most of his forces he successfully ran one last guy in and that was it. Well done. Highlights included the 222 knocking out an airstrike and playing not shooting medics.
Result – Draw
Paul: Well into the last game of Day One. Game Three was against Cody from Dice Dojo and his fantastic infantry based German army. Before I start, Cody said he is a fairly new player but he sure played like he wasn’t! The scenario required the holding of an objective in the center of the board so I kept most of my elite units off the table, leaving the inexperienced troops to hold the objective. Cody used Ambush well, forcing me to mass my troops on one side of the table to try and cut down the withering fire shooting me all over the board as I arrived from reserve. I pushed in and destroyed the infantry on my left flank with most of my special forces but at the cost of putting me way out on the flank, far away from the objective. Two artillery strikes later (we had one FO each) I had too many pins and my units stopped moving forward to push back the attackers from the objective. Luckily Cody didn’t have enough units left to force my troops away from the center to so we both contested the objective for a draw. I have to say from a tactical point, I voted Cody as my favorite opponent, not because it was the most fun, (Andrew got that vote) but because Cody played his army so well and I look forward to what he does next.
Result – Draw
Standings after Day One
- Andrew: 1-0-2
- Ben: 1-1-1
- Dexter: 2-0-1
- Paul: 0-0-3