I headed back to the lovely Golden Rhino Games in Ypsilanti, MI for the second monthly Bolt Action Organized Play Event. The community continues to grow in the greater Detroit area and I was excited to meet new folks and reconnect with players I met last month at the April event. Three games, 1,000pts, single Generic Platoon, Campaign book units allowed (if the GRP allows the unit). We also used missions from the venerable Bolt Action Alliance 2020 Mission Pack. These missions are designed for symmetrical event play and I was excited to give them a go!
For this event, I went back to the first Bolt Action force I ever completed – the Chindits. I’ve used this army countless times. Sometimes as British Chindits, sometimes as Australians and I tried something new for this outing – Commandos. I took four units of Commandos, one with SMGs, and the rest with rifles. To boost the already potent close combat ability, I brought a single unit of Gurkhas. In support, there was a Light Howitzer, Med. Mortar, AT Rifle, Sniper, and Flamethrower. The only vehicle was a Bren Carrier (with AT Rifle) to transport the Flamethrower. In total, 13 Order Dice just under 1,000pts all Vet (except for the Mortar).
I have not run this army as a Commando force and I gotta say, wow. The rules for Chindits are solid, but the Commando rules are even better! It certainly fits thematically – Commando units with a Chindit coat of paint. I also used the Vengeance National Characteristic for the first time and if you are bringing five Vet. Tough Fighter infantry units looking for the assault, this is the pick for you! Losing a Pin for a 4+ whenever an enemy is within 12″ makes the close-combat strategy all the more viable.
Game One – Breakout vs. Anthony (US Army)
Big miss from the Chindit Flamethrower.
A twist on a long-time classic – get into the enemy Deployment Zone. Players scored 1 point for each enemy unit killed and 1 point for each friendly unit that ended the game in the enemy Deployment Zone. Note, that the Deployment Zone is only 6″ from the edge, and Outflanking is not allowed. If you wanted any chance of making it across the table, you needed to get up and go.
Anthony brought a mixed US Army force with Regs, Vets, Paras, and the big ‘ol Sherman 105mm.
Highlights from the game:
– Our Artillery Observers did the serious heavy lifting! Both bombardments landed at the top of Turn 3, both deleted a whole unit (my Gurkhas, Anthony’s Reg. Riflemen) and both placed numerous Pins on several other units. I have not seen Arty that effective in a long time.
– Anthony overextended his unit of Vet. Flamethrower Engineers and I sprang a perfect trap with my Bren Carrier. I zoomed it up, popped out my Flamethrower Team, and lined up a clear shot on the Engineers. It was perfect. Well, perfect except for missing the shot. The Flamethrower Team was quickly shot off the table at the top of the next turn but the Bren Carrier survived.
– The Bren Carrier put the team on its back and almost single-handedly held off Anthony’s 105mm Sherman. A classic David v. Goliath situation and four turns of side-armor AT Rifle hits left the 105 Pinned and relatively ineffective.
– Two Commando squads launched into desperate close combat deep on the right flank, won their assaults, and managed to sprint into scoring range late in the game. Anthony and I were even on kills (3-3) but I had 3 units scoring at the end to Anthony’s 1 tipping the score in my favor for the narrowest of wins.
Result – Win (6-4)
Game Two – Fog of War vs. Alex (British 8th Army)
One of Alex’s two Gurkha Squads.
A five-objective mission with a pretty wild deployment. The objective scoring was standard but the deployment had Alex and I splitting our forces between our own long table edge and up our own right flanks. We had the ability to deploy units way up the flank, all the way to the opposite table edge. This deployment left units spread thin across a long “L” deployment. It promised to be an interesting fight.
Alex brought an 8th Army force of three five-man Reg squads and two big units of Gurkhas. He had a Sniper, ATR, Med. Mortar, and an M3 Lee Tank in support with both a Truck and Bren Carrier as transports.
Highlights from the game:
– It was a heated British v. British battle! 8th Army versus Chindits, MTO versus South-East Asia.
– I’ll never understand folks that sleep on the Anti-tank Rifle. My Boys AT Rifle Team opened up the game with a shot that destroyed Alex’s Transport Truck, and killed the Lt and three men in the 10-man Gurkha squad aboard. All from one shot! Alex started the game with a very aggressive deployment that left the Truck open for the ATR but I didn’t expect it to be that effective.
– Alex could not catch a break with his Morale and Order Tests. Multiple instances of units failing 8 or 9 Morale, forced to go Down in the open and take massive fire. Even though one of the two Gurkha units made it into CC, they then go caught in the open and ended up wiped out by rifle fire. Alex played an aggressive gambit but the two Gurkha units were not able to secure the flank and objective.
– The Commandos held three objectives and contested the middle to secure the victory. Alex kept the aggression up until the very end with a Turn 7 Tank Assault but sadly the angle was off and the charging Lee was unable to shift the Commandos off the center objective.
Result – Win (3-1)
Swarming a Partisan Civilian Car Transport.
Game Three – Heartbreak Ridge vs. Nick (Partisans)
Third and final game. Three objectives – one in mid and one in each player’s Deployment Zone. You scored 0 points for the objective in your own zone, 1 point for the one in the middle, and 2 points for the one in your opponents’ zone. Nick brought his still-in-progress Partisan force and it was a joy to behold. Nick had a mix of Wargames Atlantic French Resistance and WWI German kits for his massive infantry horde. In support, there was a Light Howitzer, Med. Mortar, Sniper Team, Bazooka, two cars, and a truck. Nick was running some big infantry squads with a great mix of Inexp. Pistol Squads and Vet. SMG squads. Always exciting to see the Partisans on the table.
Highlights from the game:
– Nick went with the unique Panzerwerfer as his Tank choice, a vehicle I have never once seen on the table. Although it is required to be both Inexp. and Unreliable, that hardly makes an impact when firing a Multiple Launcher! My ATRs were unable to put on a single Pin and the ‘werfer had free reign most of the battle. Luckily, it only managed to hit once but it did destroy my ATR Team and put three Pins on the Bren Carrier.
– Both Nick and I had Light Howitzers in our list. As these things go, we launched counter-battery fire at each other starting on Turn 1. For the rest of the game, we fired at each other. And never once hit. That’s right. We went from ranging in on 6 all the way down to a 2 and we both rolled a 1 to hit. I suppose that it’s mathematically possible for that to happen but it was unreal. Weapons, are ineffective.
– Nick could not win a single close combat. The strategy was sound and he launched some great charges but the dice didn’t fall in favor of the Resistance. Trust me, I know how potent those 12-man Inexp. Pistol squads can be (Ben and I ran two of them at AdpetiCon Doubles back in 2017) and I fully expected to lose a squad or two. But that’s just now how it went down.
– On the flip side, my Commandos could not lose in an assault. I know that those Commandos are 8-man squads of Vet Tough Fighters but still, it was wild how they just rolled through squad after squad of Partisans.
Result – Win (3-0)
Another great event! After three hard-fought victories, I ended first overall! Although I was using a new list build I still had a solid grasp on what my units could and could not do. It can sometimes come as a shock to learn the capabilities of a new army. I am in the midst of that with my Kriegsmarine HGD Division project. But with these Brits? Yeah, I know this army well. Simply put, I’ve put a lot of rounds in.
There is already talk of next month’s event taking a more narrative approach and I am super excited. It’s been fantastic being able to play more regularly. In the past six weeks, I’ve played seven games of Bolt Action. That’s more than the past couple of years! Ian (the store owner) continues to fully support Bolt Action and you just love to see it.