Before anything else gets written, may it be known and acknowledged that rarely have dice been so unforgiving, so inconsistent and so frustrating in a game of Bolt Action.
At various points this game was genuinely painful was play.
While my opponent, Pete, certainly got the worst of the poor luck, I’m not sure either of us comes of this one looking remotely skillful.
Intro, Mission and Set up.
As I wasn’t in a position to play this Wednesday coming, I was able to get my 8th and final league game against Pete last night. As in my game against Dan the week before, we played 1250 points of Bolt Action V2 on a 6′ by 4′ board.
Apologies also for the camera quality (these shots were taken with a tablet PC) and for the fact that most of my models were not even partially painted.
The mission we rolled for was number 3: ‘Key Positions’. We rolled for 4 objectives in total, so two each. Pete put his first in the forest (top left) and behind the spotlight truck (top centre), whereas I put one of mine more or less in the centre of deployment zone and the second off to the far right, just out of shot behind a forest.
I fielded a very similar list to last time against Dan (1 German Reinforced Platoon, 11 Order Dice), while Pete fielded something very different to either (2x Japanese reinforced Platoons, 12 Order Dice).
With two vehicles each and about the same number of squads and teams, things looked pretty close on paper: neither having dominance in one area. Neither of us choose to deploy any units in reserve either, although in hindsight we perhaps should have done.
In terms of deployment/turn 1 Pete got a long run of dice out the bag at the start, forcing him to take deployment initiative. Most of the Japanese units arrived and deployed around the centre, in and along the dense terrain and thus controlling both objectives, whereas the two tanks took a flank each. I dithered about my tactics, eventually deploying only a single flamethrower team on the rightmost objective, a single unit of veterans and an MMG on the other (supported by my Panzer IV), and pretty much everything else on the left.
Turn 1 + 2
Turn 1, as above, was mainly running onto the board as per the ‘first wave’ rules. The only units that could act with any effect were those that had started there such as scouts, observers and snipers. The ‘Suicide Bomb-Sticks’ maneuvered into more threatening positions for my tanks, denying the centre to my vehicles until I dealt with them, and Pete’s sniper shot at my Howitzer’s spotter, missing, as he would in both this and the following three turns!
Other than that a few LMG shots pinged back and forth between the units, but needing 7+ to hit in most cases meant we caused only 1 or 2 casualties and a couple of pins each. Nothing dramatic.
In turn two however I was very lucky, and as most units moved forwards I managed to cause a decent number of causalities. My MMG team assaulted and killed the first bomb-stick veteran in the watch tower for no damage in return, my Panzer IV killed a couple of veterans in the satellite dish building (centre, just north of road) and my Medium Howitzer scored an indirect hit on Pete’s triple-light mortar unit in the trees, killing 4 of them.
In return Pete largely achieved nothing. He scored a hit on my unit moving up on the road to the right with his heavy mortar, but only managed to kill 2 of them.
My engineers in the Hanomag, faced with the prospect of braving AT gun fire from the Chi-Nu, hid instead.
Turns 3 + 4
The next turns weren’t much better, the highlights include:
- A failed order check from the unit that got hit by the mortar last turn, which saw them hit the deck ready to be splatted on a 2+ when Pete inevitably returned fire.
- My 8-RAD fled from the Chi-Nu’s medium AT gun.
- The MMG team and veterans in the centre barely managed to put a single pin on the unit of Japanese vets Banzai-ing toward them, despite shooting over 20 shots at them.
- My Panzer IV hit, but failed to do more than set the Chi-Ha on fire.
In the riskiest (and final) actions of the turn, my hanomag and engineers attempted a mad dash for the objective-holding units, successfully hitting and killing three men with their flamethrower but failing to cause a single wound with 6 SMGs (12 shots!) that were hitting on 3’s! They therefore didn’t break their target (always going to be unlikely) and so were now sitting ducks for two units of veteran fanatic infantry and the Chi-Nu.
Alas the Gods of the dice are fickle, and everything unraveled in turn 4. On Pete’s part, (despite getting the first couple of dice out the bag), the units on the left completely and utterly failed to remove the engineers, killing only the two and causing two pins. In return the hanomag killed 4 veteran infantrymen with it’s MMG, although it ended too close to the enemy and was destroyed by default (or as Toph and Pete would argue, incompetence).
Things got worse as we moved into turn 4.
- The Mortar that should have nailed the pinned veteran unit, hit 4 of them again but still only managed to kill one.
- The sniper finally hit the spotter on their 5th attempt, but failed to kill him.
- To rub salt in the wound my Howitzer rolled another indirect 6 and squashed half of the mortar unit yet again, despite them having moved specifically to avoid it.
- The only bit of fortune Pete had was that he managed to completely gut the MMG in combat, but even that was a half-victory as he did so for the loss of two veterans.
Ultimately, at the end of turn 4 I hadn’t lost a single order dice in two turns that Pete had lost 5 or 6.
If there was any justice at all in these turns it was that when the Engineers (who should have been dead a long time ago) tested to advance into the dense terrain and contest the objective, they FUBARed. The unit went ‘Down’ in open terrain, and wasted all their SMG shots (and all three Panzerfausts) shooting at one of my units nearly 30″ away*.
Turns 5 + 6
With the Japanese now at a severe disadvantage in both numbers and dice, the Germans ruled the battlefield and had the initiative. On the right my Panzer IV finally dealt with the Chi-Ha, leaving Pete with only a sniper team and 2 light mortars to contest the objective.
On the left though, bad rolling continued unabated.
- The Japanese infantry mercilessly gutted the stricken engineers (and rightly so!)
- Once again the Chi-Nu missed the 8-RAD.
- My unit of veterans failed yet another 10+ order check. The mortar, still needing 2+, hit them again, but again only killed 2.
- The 8-Rad got into the side armour of the Vhi-Nu through some tricksy maneuvering and despite needing 6’s, managed to cause some damage and pin it.
- My medium howitzer, for the third time this game, rolled a 6 to hit and crushed what remained of the right flank.
With nothing of Pete’s left around to contest the third objective in the centre (other than a solitary 2nd lieutenant with a rifle we both kept forgetting about), and pretty much everything on the other side heavily pinned and massively under-strength, it was inevitable that a third objective would fall to me next turn.
We called the game there, midway through turn 6, without rolling to see if we got a turn 7.
I won my most convincing victory yet, but unlike my game last week against Dan I didn’t feel as if I really deserved it.
It’s a hollow victory.
Even with the FUBAR and failed orders on my part, Pete had some of the worst luck I’ve ever seen, failing to hit with so many things it’s actually funny. A veteran sniper team, shooting 4 turns in a row at a single regular infantryman failed to do more than cause a single pin, and this wasn’t the worst performing unit.
In contrast everything I tried to do, worked. Well, more or less. I like the effectiveness of lots of veteran infantry, but I still feel it doesn’t play the way I want it to so may got back to having a greater mix of veteran and regular.
Good game though Pete, and for what it’s worth, I’m sorry.
*On the subject of FUBARs, let’s just not go there. The rules are clear and undeniable, but just a little illogical.
Basically, when you are choosing a target for ‘friendly fire’, the target’s only requirement is that it is within 12 of one of your own. It doesn’t matter that it could be 6 feet away on the other edge of the board, or even out of sight, so long as it’s within 12 of you. You can force people to shoot targets they cannot physically see themselves, fire at things they cannot hurt, and use one-use AT weapons on infantry.