DanCon 2017

Dan, also know as El Presidente of TCOW, runs an annual Flames of War event called “DanCon”. It’s basically a bunch of the TCOW club members and a few other folks playing several rounds of Flames of War over a long weekend with some crazy tournament rules. Update: The official TCOW blog post is online.

You build a 1000pt army list and get partnered with a random partner each game, from the same side (Axis if you’re Axis, Allies if you’re Allies). You play normal Flames rules, except if either partner leaves the table because of morale failure, or because they get wiped out – the whole side loses. There’s some nice prizes sponsored by Mighty Ape and Battle Kiwi this year.

It has been running for several years, but they typically play Late War lists, so I’ve never attended. Both because I don’t have a Flames Late War army in any decent standing, and because I generally prefer Flames Mid War as it feels more balanced to me. However 2017 DanCon was a MidWar tourney, and Dan was looking for numbers so twisted my arm.

I dusted off my old New Zealanders, who haven’t seen the light of day since Flames 2nd Edition and sped read the mini 3rd Edition rulebook. I took a cut down version of my normal list because that’s all I had figures for. Updating them for V3 only required pretending a Quad Gun Tractor was a Jeep for the Portee command:

British Rifle (Africa) (New Zealand)
Infantry Company, from North Africa, page 142

Compulsory Rifle Company HQ (Africa) (New Zealand) (p.143)
– CinC Rifle, 2iC Rifle (30 pts)

Compulsory Rifle Platoon (Africa) (New Zealand) (p.143)
– Command Rifle/MG, 4x Rifle/MG (115 pts)
– Light Mortar (20 pts)

Compulsory Rifle Platoon (Africa) (New Zealand) (p.143)
– Command Rifle/MG, 4x Rifle/MG (115 pts)
– Light Mortar (20 pts)

Compulsory Rifle Platoon (Africa) (New Zealand) (p.143)
– Command Rifle/MG, 4x Rifle/MG (115 pts)

Heavy Armoured Platoon (Africa) (p.133)
– Command Sherman, 2x Sherman (340 pts)

Light Armoured Platoon (Africa) (p.135)
– Command Honey, 2x Honey (140 pts)

Anti-tank Platoon, Royal Artillery (Africa) (New Zealand) (p.153)
– Command Rifle, Jeep, 2x 6 pdr portee (105 pts)

1000 Points, 6 Platoons

Over the course of the day we played three games:

Game 1:
Italian and German Armored vs NZ Rifle and British Paras
Counterattack (Defender)

Lots of armor rushing at bunch of NZers and British Paras trying to hold a few bridges. My partner fortunately knew what the heck they were doing and guided me with wise suggestions through the game (thanks Damian C), while I struggled to remember basic rules. Several rounds of Sherman reserves clashed with the German Panzers while the Paras largely dealt with Italian armor rushing at them from one end of the bridge. NZ infantry ran through a hail of bullets to contest the second objective. Portees ambushed from the bridge road as well, to prang up a bunch of Italian Semoventes and relieve the Paras somewhat. A quick game that left us with 20-30 minutes of free time.

Result: 6-1 win.

Game 2:
German Armored and Rifle vs NZ Rifle and British Armored
No Retreat (Defender)

Fortunately we ended up defender on this table, because I recall this scenario being a pig on attack. Allied generalship was a little wishy washy as I think we were both a little nervous on set up. Things were looking shaky from the outset as a bunch of Pak 40’s and Panzers caused havoc in the British armored ranks. Mid game was looking shaky as well because by then the dug-in veteran NZers had been repelled from one objective by equally ferocious Germans. Sporadic British air support from a Hurricane was largely ineffective and armored reserves took their time arriving, but that combined with another Portee ambush saw the German armor break just before we were out of time.

Result: 5-2 win.

Game 3:
German Armored and German Rifle vs NZ Rifle and Soviet Armored
Free for All (Defender)

Absolute mayhem down the right flank as a horde of Soviet tanks ground towards an objective through a narrow valley, with much flag waving and a terrible traffic jam. Fortunately there was no artillery around. On the left flank I got involved in a horrible drawn out long range duel between my three Shermans, two Stugs (with better armor, and better guns) and a Panzer IV. Thank goodness for the British ‘semi-indirect’ rule, and a lucky shot (and poor armor save) that resulted in one Stug falling. The Portees skulking around on the central road managed to kill a second Stug. Then it was largely a game of “hide your tanks from the Pak 40’s on the hills” while trying to pick off German armor that was distracted sorting out the burning T-34’s from those that were still mobile near the right objective. This game dragged on for 7 turns, and on our side was really two generals fighting two games until the final few turns where we applied enough pressure on the right side to break the German armor and win the game. It’s just as well the Germans broke, because the Russians were about to do the same in the next turn!

Result: 3-2 win.

Thanks largely to that great first game, and three wins overall with lucky scenarios, lucky partners that seemed to work well with my force, and just plain lucky dice – I somehow managed to secure the first place prize. Yeah I was as surprised as anybody. Picked up a sweet picture (the Paras on the bridge above), some nice loot from Battle Kiwi and a gift voucher from Mighty Ape. Alas the boss indoors doesn’t like Paras, so those gents will have to live in the garage!

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!

Bolt Action: At Battlecry 2016

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Last weekend, on Feb the 20th I had the pleasure of attending the one day Bolt Action event at Battlecry 2016, excellently organised by the redoubtable David Mulder. It was four games, played by 14 players on a set of lovely Bolt Action tables, with four custom scenarios as well. Early War Bolt Action armies, with equipment allowed up to 1943. That was great as it gave many of us a chance to play crazy light/medium tanks that usually don’t appear in later theatres.

My four games were rather catastrophic, due to a mixture of poor generalship on my behalf (focus on the objectives man), and hard time limits. Even so I managed to have a fantastic day. I played the following games:

  1. My first game was against Saul’s legendary British Carrier force that the TCOW folks often talk about. I snatched a loss from a draw thanks to one squad being an inch away from the central bridge objective! The carriers were an interesting force to fight against, super mobile. I spent ages piling shots into the carriers just to pin the devils. It could have been a lot worse but my fine opponent failed a few order rolls for his pinned carriers, which meant 2-3 Carriers effectively weren’t in most of the game because they kept backing away. My Panzer II was pinned to heck and doing the same thing of course but that was my stupid fault.
  2. My second game was against the organiser David Mulder, who’s a nice guy but knows how to play Bolt Action fairly well and just murdered my Germans with his own Germans (Veteran on Veteran action is horrible, just horrible). I had around 200 points left from 1000 at the start, so I almost got tabled in that game. However there were a few moments of levity when my three surviving Panzerpioneers flamethrowered a squad and then his HQ squad.
  3. My third game was a game where I snatched a defeat from the jaws of victory thanks to the hard two hour time limit. One more turn and I would have had at least three squads on the objective, but the only squad I did have there was Banzai charged by a Japanese squad and murdered, which was a nice play by my opponent. We had at least one more turn, possibly two to play. Heather had a nicely painted Japanese force though, particularly the tanks, including an interesting Japanese tankette that was actually smaller than my Kubelwagen.
  4. Dads Army Force at Battlecry '16 My final game was a victory against British Home guard with another TCOW’er Paul Monk. He had a mad force of inexperienced old men led by the Dad’s Army metals you can get from Warlord. This one actually looked shaky mid game, but the Germans mopped up in the end and I almost tabled my opponent. His army won the ‘best themed’ force too which is fair enough. They were nicely painted and he was driving a BUS around the table, with 29 men in it! Unfortunately I failed to blow it up, and they all disembarked like a clown car, but Inexperienced troops against Veteran Germans went largely as you’d expect it, particularly since my opponent unfortunately failed to make any of their ‘upgrade to regular rolls’ when fired upon. The highlight of this game was the British arty observer calling in a strike upon himself and the nearby British mortar team and killing them handily. Alas he just managed to ping my Panzer II as well and blow it up, but it’d done plenty of damage before then.

My final result was 10th of 14, which I supposed isn’t too bad considering my mediocre Generalship! I’d definitely attend a Bolt Action tournament again too, although might tweak my force slightly if I do so – as I noticed I was the only army without a sniper team in the tournament!