Bolt Action: At NICON 2016

Bolt Action NICon 2016 This Queen’s Birthday weekend I attended my second Bolt Action tournament in New Zealand. This time it was part of NICON 2016 run by the Hamilton Immortals Club. It was an early start and a day trip down to Hamilton with David Greig from Mighty Ape kind enough to give me a lift. There were a bunch of systems being played the Saturday, with Bolt Action being one of them. Unfortunately we lost a few players along the way, so it was a fairly small turnout of 7 players. No matter! I spent a cold but clear winter’s day playing four rounds of Bolt Action with my usual DAK Germans. We were playing basic scenarios from the Bolt Action rulebook, on some very nicely laid out tables.

First Game: Hold the Line, against a well painted Soviet starter force. I managed to win this one as Attacker because one objective was largely undefended, and the central objective was reasonably easy to capture as well. The medium mortar team proved their usefulness as usual by pinning an entire squad of Russians the whole game. There was an interesting stand off between my Panzer III and the T-34/85 as well, with the Panzer III sitting on ambush for most of the late game, waiting for the T-34/85 to poke it’s nose around from behind a central barn.

Second Game: Top Secret against a different Russian force who fielded several artillery pieces, and a SU tank destroyer of some kind firing HE. This was a challenge from the outset as a heavily armed Russian engineer squad crashed their truck on the package in the first turn (after getting hit by my Sdkfz-222) and captured it. From then on the centre of the table devolved into a swirling hell of fire, with flame throwers, artillery, and tanks adding to the mix. Fortunately the Russian waves broke after only moving the package 3″ or so, and the DAK captured it and performed the usual shady congo-line operation to get it off the board. Veteran troops saved my bacon here I think, particularly in the several vicious assaults that ensued.

Third Game: This was Envelopment on a brutally clear North African table. I recklessly chose Attacker because like most folks I hate suffering under preliminary bombardment. Unfortunately that was a bad idea, as my prelim bombardment was useless and then I had to advance across an open table under withering fire. I also suffered some catastrophic damage from enemy air support, and the result was my force being tabled. My opponent did suffer some losses along the way, including their HQ, so I wasn’t too horribly crippled on points lost. For Envelopment, I think either play Defender, or simply flank your entire force if you have to be Attacker!

Fourth Game: This was the scenario where you have to hold a central objective – a bridge over a fordable river on the Pacific themed table we played on. My opponent was fielding French troops, lovely metal figures with their interesting ‘fireman’ style helmets, and he was fielding a lot of them. It felt like waves of Frenchies were constantly assaulting the bridge I was trying to hold. He also bought along some Sendgalese Tough Fighters, who I probably focused a little too much on eliminating from the table. This game was super tense, and we timed out at 2 hours on turn 5, with two squads of Germans holding the bridge. Well one single survivor of a DAK squad and the 2nd Lieut! Again Veteran troops really helped me survive this onslaught, even desperately allowing me to manoeuvre in the open and under fire from artillery and a Char tank.

NICON 2016 Best Axis General I took along my Panzer III, because I felt like I’d need some reasonable anti-tank capability since it was an open list 1000pt tournament. Turns out I probably could have got away with just the Panzer II, would of course costs considerably less, leaving you more points for another Infantry team. Mind you the Panzer III is a solid work horse even against late war monsters, and is certainly better against infantry than the Panzer II. I’ve also recently picked up a DAK Flak 38 team, which I suspect I’ll replace an HMG with. It’s less dice, but packs slightly more punch, has longer range and is Flak for waving off that bloody air support!

All in all a great day of Bolt Action and I somehow managed to come away with award for the Rommel Award for Best Axis General. Perhaps it was destiny since I was fielding a DAK force!

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