AdeptiCon 2023 – Bolt Action Combat Patrol – The TO’s Recap

I returned once again as Head TO for two events at AdeptiCon 2023. This first event, Bolt Action Combat Patrol, is a personal favorite of mine. It was the first event I ever TO’ed back at AdeptiCon 2018 and I am proud to say that it has evolved from humble beginnings into its own unique format. The high-level specifics are:

  • Three, 90-minute games played on a 4’x4′
  • 450pts, 8 Order Dice max
  • Theater and Campaign units allowed
  • Vehicle Armor 8 max
  • HE 2″ max
  • Max of 3 vehicles
  • No free units or equipment of any kind
  • No Forward Air or Artillery Observers

You can review the full Combat Patrol rules and the 2023 mission packet:

With the event format in mind, let’s take a look at the armies, the missions, how they went, and what I’d like to change for next year.

The Armies

This year’s event theme was The Rising Tide: 1939-40. The theme was not required, but highly encouraged. I am not in the business of stopping someone’s hobby and if they wanted to play Late-War US, they could! However, it was amazing to see so many Early War forces. We had a diverse field of armies. Of the 40 players that entered the event, 33 brought an Early-War army:

  • Allies – 15 – 38%
  • UK – 8 – 20%
  • US – 5 – 13%
  • Poland – 1 – 3%
  • Canada – 1 – 3%
  • Axis – 25 – 62%
  • Germany – 21 – 53%
  • Finland – 2 – 5%
  • Italy – 2 – 5%

Although we had a heavy concentration of German forces, the Axis themes and platoons covered force orgs from Early-War Fallschirmjäger to Winter War Finns to Battle of France Heer. There was a huge variety in the UK forces with Home Guard, Commonwealth South Africa, Commandos, and LRDG all making a showing. It was a shock to see not a single IJA player, I certainly expected at least a couple. One of the best parts of Combat Patrol is all the rarely-seen units that make an appearance. The limitations of the event format allow these uncommon picks to shine.

Be sure to give the armies a look in the AdeptiCon 2023 Bolt Action Google Photos Album.

Game 1
Prisoner Capture

Inspired by the first mission from Campaign: Battle of France, Prisoner Capture includes unique scoring elements rarely seen in a Bolt Action game. No points were scored for destroying enemy units, instead, players scored 1 VP for spotting an enemy unit with their Lt and 3 VP for capturing an enemy (winning in close combat and surviving until the end of the game. This was also increased to 5VP for capturing the enemy LT). This mission required extreme care with the movement of your Lt and forced a balancing act between conservation and aggression.

Players really seemed to enjoy this mission and the spotting mechanic. The only complaint I heard was players who lost their Lt early to a lucky shot – that would be a tough spot to climb out of.

Game 1 Result Breakdown:

  • 14 Wins
  • 14 Losses
  • 12 Draws

Game 2
Scattered Drop

As is Combat Patrol tradition, I had to include a mission with wild deployment rules. In Scattered Drop, each player “dropped” half their force onto the table one unit at a time (alternate deployment). These units scatted 2d6″ in a random direction. This resulted in players’ forces scattered all over the place with little coherence. Exactly as intended. The rest of the units arrived via Reserve. We placed three objectives across the middle of the table and the player who held the most objectives was the winner.

These deployment rules were adjustments from last year. Only half the units dropped in, instead of all of them, and the players had more control over unit placement. I love this concept but it still needs a bit of refinement. In hindsight, units with recce that dropped in were too powerful in Turn 1. They could react with an Escape Move but other units had to hunker down and hope for the best.

Game Two Results Breakdown:

  • 19 Wins
  • 19 Losses
  • 2 Draw

Game 3

I got to give myself a pat on the back for this one. Flare! is an awesome mission. I’ve always enjoyed the concept behind night-fighting but the rules are almost always too cumbersome and fiddly. This mission replaces all those special rules with a simple, elegant solution – the Flare Order Die. Line of sight is 12″ until the Flare Order Die is pulled from the bag. As soon as that happens, a flare goes up and line of sight is no longer limited for the rest of the turn. At the start of the next turn, line of sight is again 12″ until the Flare Order Die is pulled.

Simple victory conditions, 1 VP per kill and 3 VP per friendly unit in the enemy deployment zone at the end of the game.

The only thing I’d change for this mission is allowing up to two units to be held in Reserve with the option to Outflank. Otherwise, I am very happy with this one. I’d like to maybe push it even further and go full Fog of War rules – with that you add three special Order Dice into the bag. When all three of those dice are pulled, the turn ends! Truly unpredictable.

Game Three Results Breakdown:

  • 16 Wins
  • 16 Losses
  • 8 Draws

The Club Cup

Back for a second year, the AdeptiCon Bolt Action Club Cup was up for grabs! We took the top four scores for each Club in Combat Patrol and combined that with the top two scores for each Club in Doubles to determine the winner for 2023. After Combat Patrol the standings were:

500 max
The Cronies373
Chicago Dice368
Clown Posse164
Dice Hosers57

Heading into Doubles it was anyone’s game! The three games of 2v2 Bolt Action on Friday would be the decider. Will Chicago Dice be able to stage a comeback and defend the Cup? Will DAWG stage a late-game comeback? Will we have a new Club Champion? Check out the Doubles recap to find out!

Final Thoughts

Combat Patrol 2023 was a tremendous success. We had 40 players (with even more on the Waitlist) battling for supremacy and the results were super close! Best Overall Rob and his Germans followed closely by Brian (who won Best Axis). Cody’s Italians were narrowly edged out by just a single point! Aaron took home Best Painted with his flawless Finns and Sam secured Best Allies with his South African Commonwealth force. Josh narrowly took home Player’s Choice with his Germans including a spectacular display board full of looted artwork. Ernie rounded out the field by defending his Best Table award from Polar Vortex 2023.

I also want to take a moment to shout out the Sportsmanship scores. Each player starts with all 10 of their Sportsmanship points each game. Those points are theirs to protect and keep by conducting themselves in the manner expected of someone entering the event – gracious and courteous in both victory and defeat. I am thrilled to report that every single player walked out of Combat Patrol with all 30 of their Sportsmanship points. Not a single deduction! With 60 individual games played, that is no small achievement and I am incredibly proud of this community. I can assure you that this level of composure and comradery is not common.

Also, I cannot thank our most generous event sponsors who provided a plethora of prize support for our two events. Thanks to their incredible support, every single player walked out with a prize. And that is something truly special.

AdeptiCon 2023 is now officially in the rearview but the planning for next year has already begun. Adjustments for next year include:

  • Move forward with the event theme. We’ve just completed Early War so let’s push on to Mid War. The theme for AdeptiCon 2024 will be The End of the Beginning: 1942-43. This theme will apply to both Combat Patrol and Doubles.
  • Keep adjusting the timing. I expanded the breaks between games in 2023 and it was most welcome. The change for 2024 will be an earlier start time. I am going to move up the event start by an hour and begin check-in at 3pm with dice rolling at 3:30pm.
  • The formatting changes for Player’s Choice and Best Battlefield voting worked much better than last year. The separate voting slips are here to stay.
  • Adding stickers with each player’s name printed onto the event packet and results sheets was not only a big hit, but it also made our job as TOs much easier. That is here to stay as well.
  • Tom and I are looking into table enhancements with official, branded mats for the “dead space” between each table. In the Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000 events there is a 2′ wide mat with AdeptiCon branding between each table. This small addition really adds to the overall feel of the event and it’s something we’d love to implement over at the AdeptiCon Historicals venue.

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