Michigan GT Bolt Action Tournament Recap

Michigan GT! One of the biggest tabletop gaming events in the Great Lakes state. We had 14 players, including folk from Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin making the trip, the GT was shaping up to be a great time for everyone. Unable to attend last year and with the Covid-19 shutdowns the previous years, this would be my first foray to the GT, and boy was I excited! With beloved local TO Jeff Wiertalla and support from Warlord Games North America, including head guy Jon Russell, running the show, this was going to be a solid tournament. With Jeff’s beautiful tables, including his brand-new Japanese airfield, as our battlegrounds for the day, we approached Zero Hour and gathered around for our first pairings.

Quick event breakdown:

  • Three games
  • 1,000 points
  • 1-2 Platoons
  • 18 Order Dice max
  • Generic Reinforced Platoons only
  • No Theater or Campaign book units

Unfortunately, this is where the GT lost some of its’ charm. To me, this is a generic, boring, and uninspiring tournament structure. It leaves all of the unique and interesting unit options locked away and unable to hit the table.

The Army

As Andrew and I have been playing through Campaign: Fortress Budapest, I lost track of time for the originally planned French Army. With those plans scrapped, I pivoted to the force I have the most experience with, the glorious Red Army. My Platoon is pretty straightforward with just a few tricks up its sleeve. It’s a very defensive army and lacks mobility, but has a ton of firepower and heavy hitters. Plus, bringing four sources of HE and a plethora of machine guns, it fared well in my test games and I felt comfortable heading into the GT.

Soviet Generic Reinforced Platoon
Junior Lt – SMG – Reg – 50
x1 Buddy – SMG – Reg – 10
Guards Squad – Reg – 11 men – 110
x1 LMG – 20
x1 Panzerfaust – 5
Full Strength
Guards Squad – Reg – 11 men – 110
x1 LMG – 20
x1 Panzerfaust – 5
Full Strength
Guards Squad – Reg – 6 men – 60
x1 Panzerfaust – 5
Free Rifle Squad – Inexp – 12 Men – 0
Anti-tank Grenades – 0
Full Strength
Sniper Team – Reg – 5050pts
Heavy Mortar Team – Reg – 65
Spotter – 10
Anti-Tank Rifle Team – Reg- 3030pts
Anti-Tank Rifle Team – Reg- 3030pts
Anti-Tank Rifle Team – Reg- 3030pts
Zis-3 Divisional Gun – Reg – 80
Artillery Tractor – Reg – 1515pts
Armored Car
BA-10 – Reg – 120
Light AT Gun with coax LMG
Hull LMG
T-28c Medium Tank – Reg – 158
Turret Light Howitzer with coax MMG
Front/Left MMG
Front/Right MMG
Pintle MMG
Armor 8/Front Armor 9
Total – 14 Order Dice999pts

Game One – Key Positions vs. Tim H (German Grenadiers)

The terrain was a Warlord Games provided ruined city, with an unfortunate lack of line of sight blocking terrain. With the scenario pulled straight from the Rulebook, we both knew what to do and after settling on terrain, and everything on both sides in First Wave, nothing in outflank, the game was set!

Highlights from the game:
-Turn 1: Tim’s Flakvierling half-track knocked out the Artillery Tracker and put a Pin on the towed Zis-3, but failed the roll to kill any crew! What a lucky break for me. The Red Army struck back with the venerable BA-10 and knocked out the Flakvierling!
-Turn 2: My Soviets failed four Order Tests, each unit only having one Pin! German Pioneers capitalized on the cowardly Soviet soldiers and killed the NCO holding the left flank and critical objective, then a German Sniper killed a Soviet ATR team.
-Turn 3: The German Sniper took out the Soviet Sniper and then the Inexperienced Rifle Squad rolled a 1 on their Green roll followed by a 6 on the Pins roll, causing massive panic and two failed Moral tests.
– Turn 4: The BA-10 missed shots on a Truck, Zis-3 finally passed an Order Test but missed the 234/4 Armored Car. Pioneers roasted the left side Guards Squad and took the objective on that flank.

Time was called right as we were ending Turn 4. With the disastrous Order Check rolls and Tim’s timely advance down the left flank, he took Game One with three objectives to one, with five units killed to my one. That was a rough way to start the day off. But I was confident I could still salvage the day with Games Two and Three. Big shout out to Tim who played a fantastic game and was a worthy opponent! But also boo Tim as he is from Ohio!

Result – Loss

Game Two – Kitty Hawk Down vs. Jeff M (Finland)

I met Jeff at Adepticon 2022 earlier this year and was looking forward to playing him and catching up! This was another Warlord supplied table with a large courtyard filled with barricades and tank traps. I opted to put everything into the First Wave, and Jeff put his two Jaakari Squads on bicycles into Reserve.  

Highlights from the game:
– Turn 1: My T-28 put three Pins on Jeff’s BA-10! The T-28 had finally woken up after a poor showing in Game One.
– Turn 2: Zis-3 knocked out the Finnish T-26 Model 1931 (twin independent MMG turrets).
– Turn 3: Veteran Sissu Recon Squad on the right side failed its second Order Test of the game. Soviet Sniper lost his friend and the Soviet BA-10 knocked out a Finnish T-20 Komsomolets on the right side as well. 
– Turn 4: The plane crash! The impact of the crash hit three Finnish units with Pins, five Soviet units with Pins, and three of them took three Pins each! Soviet Zis-3 killed the Finnish BA-10 and the Soviet Heavy Mortar destroyed the Finnish AA gun.
– Turn 5: The Finnish Sniper, Sissu Recon Squad, Sniper, and LT moved into the zone of control on the Objective (the crashed plane). Soviet Inexperienced squad charged and killed the Sniper, and rolled a 1″consolidation move. The Bicycle Squad barely won the counter charge and the consolidation roll kept them from moving in range of the Objective. Two ATR teams ran in and contested the Objective tying the unit count at three each! But disaster on my end – thinking the game tied and my remaining units were either too Pinned to move or too far away to contest the Objective, move to kill the other Sissu Squad to gain more Order Dice kills. Jeffs’ remaining Bicycle Squad runs in, and is about 1/16th of an inch within the control zone of the plane crash! Jeff sneaks a win after getting mauled by the Red Army!

This was a really fun game. Jeff was a fantastic opponent and we were both laughing most of the game. Time was called after Turn 5, with four Finnish to three Soviet units on the objective. His Bicycle Squad play was fantastic and won him the game. The Order Dice score was five kills for me and one for Jeff. With two losses on the day, it wasn’t going well. But I soldiered on!

Result – Loss

Game Three – No Man’s Land vs. Ryan (German Grenadiers)

Prep Bombardment, Reserves, Outflanking, Forward Deployment, and a straight-up kill point match! The board was yet another Warlord board, with fields, fences, a few barns and sheds, tank traps, and two houses. We quickly established terrain and set about deployment. Ryan kept an Sd.Kfz 222 in outflank and I opted to throw everything on the table. I’ve seen Ryan before at local tournaments and events, but never actually played him in any Bolt Action. With both of us 0-2 on the day so far, this was to avoid the dreaded “Wooden Spoon” award. 

Highlights from the game:
-Turn 1: Multiple shots on multiple units and a few Pins, two Germans and a Soviet soldier killed but no unit kills.
-Turn 2: Guards on the left fired and routed the Germans who failed their Moral Check. Soviet Heavy Mortar killed the Light Howitzer, the ATRs and Zis-3 put 3 Pins on the dreaded Panzer IV J and the German Truck MMG killed the Soviet Sniper.
-Turn 3: ATR opened up and put another Pin on the Panzer IV, which was forced to Rally.
-Turn 4: T-28 advanced and killed a Grenadier Squad. Then not to be outdone, the BA-10 fired and killed three Germans, which failed their Moral Check and fled.
-Turn 5. Panzer IV rolled up and tried to point blank both the T-28 and the Inexperienced Squad, somehow all shots missed!
-Turn 6: T-28 killed another Grenadier Squad and the Zis-3 fired and knocked out the Panzer IV.

Final Order Dice count was five German lost to one Soviet lost. Ryan was a good sport about the game and was a genuine joy to play against. We were both pretty tired after a long drive to the convention and all day standing hunched over a table. I did get to meet his girlfriend who pulled dice for us on Turn 2, with seven red Soviet dice in a row, she abruptly stopped pulling dice, not quite sure why. I thought she did a great job 😀

Result – Win

Final Thoughts

Well even though I ended 1-2, which is disappointing for me, I still had a fun time and took pride in being the only Soviet player there. With a huge amount of prize support handed out by Jeff and the Warlord Games team (including a Tank Wars Starter Set, two Tank Platoon sets, a couple of individual vehicle kits and commemorative mugs, dice, certificates, trophies, and special character models) prize support was far and away well above what was expected by players. Shout out to Jeff Wiertalla for running a tight tournament and making sure everyone had a good time! I’ll definitely be back next year to try and redeem my poor showing.

4 thoughts on “Michigan GT Bolt Action Tournament Recap

  1. Joe as always you were a great opponent! My Finns will have to capture a lot of Soviet armor to make up for what you destroyed LOL. Looking forward to next time!

    Liked by 2 people

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