Western Front – The Recap
Hey everyone Drokk here! I’ve hijacked ObSec for a summary of the latest addition to the Objective Secured war gaming suite – Bolt Action – and our first event for the system, the Western Front!With an interesting mix of historical and casual play in a World War 2 setting, I have met quite a few gamers who have considered playing Bolt Action. Largely I think this is because Bolt Action mechanics work solely on human characteristics and traits in combination with a rich historical background to draw from. You can be inspired with what you learnt during school or go absolutely bonkers on personal research.
This all comes out in the wash though as soon as war gamers pick up the dice! One very interesting mechanic to note is the turn structure. Each unit has an order die and can only be given 1 order a turn, but both players dice are all in the mix together! Once all the dice are drawn, the next turn can begin. This allows for some very dynamic play and you have to think on your feet.
Here is an example of needing to think on your feet. The grenades didn’t work!
Big shout out to those 7 other players who made the Western Front a reality by coming on such short notice! I strongly encourage feedback from the players and I’m very grateful to those that have already done so. Your input will go a long way to help shape future events.
The Western Front was a narrative event – it was set at 750 points, on 4×4 boards with generic force platoons. There were some limitations as we were encouraging a group of new players to enter as well. The match ups were Axis against the Allies for the first 4 of 5 rounds. Each player scored not only their overall victory margins, but specifically how many victory points they had accumulated over each round as a total.
Each unit in a force was worth its total point cost as victory points, or half that total at 25% left (This works well in Bolt Action because all armies run a points value that is similar for most unit types). This was used to rank players within the factions for match ups and awards, while each faction maintained a separate game score overall. The game score would also then determine who was attacker or defender in select scenarios.
Round 1 had a bonus objective for killing the enemy lieutenant model, a preparatory bombardment and reduced visibility. You could deploy up to 12” from the centre line of the board, but the main objective was pure damage output. The reduced visibility of a dawn raid (2D6 L.o.s + modifiers), essentially meant the effective range of weapons on turn 1 was between 12”-18” and most players ran forwards to get in range for turn 2.
As both players pushed to engage the other though, close combat was a serious option and turn 2 was a bloodbath on half the tables. The Allied forces dealt a more vicious blow this round and won on every single table!
Immediately stories started doing the rounds just from this first round. Matt’s German Wirbelwind – a very dangerous vehicle at 750 points that could put out 8 templates a turn – was essentially pinned out of the game by the bombardment without the opponent even needing to fire a shot. We also had a game of “Who is the real Soviet?” with my Soviet ringer force against Nathan’s Soviets. Point of note – it was Nathan’s. I think we also heard horrible screams of the dying and whispers about Japanese bonsai charges…
Round 2 continued to set the scene for the narrative as players needed to hold the centre of the table and inflict damage on the enemy. What increased the difficulty of this mission was the “First Wave” mechanic. No units are deployed before turn 1. As an order die is drawn, you can activate a unit and bring it onto the battlefield with a Run or Advance.
It proved a difficult task for the both sides to fight through and in all 4 games the overall result was a draw. In my game in particular, while I held the centre of the board and got the bonus victory points, I had lost more units. The difference was by 30 points in my favour, but the minor victory was 100+ points. This still left the Allies in front overall, pushing towards Germany.
Round 3 was designed to be a chance for the defending powers to hit back. The attacker defender scenario forced the Allies to try and run off the board without being horribly shot to pieces! The defender was rewarded for killing off whole units. The attacker could really capitalise on points by having units leave the board. There was at least one player from each side that won this scenario.
One Allied player chose to simply run everything every turn and came away with a monstrous victory point tally (somewhere up near 1700!?!). In stark contrast, my “Traitor Soviets” faced off against Eddie’s British and beyond belief of both players, my free inexperienced rifle squad held up the advance and allowed me to secure an entire flank! Although Eddie did get some revenge by using a “recce” move to escape off table, which was very cool and well set up!
Even with some victory, I think the Allies were still in the lead with 2 rounds left to play. Germany was in their sights!
Round 4 was a regular round with neither player being the attacker or defender. Players would be able to place 2 objectives. These were highly valuable but required a unit within 3” to hold them. Any given player could sit and defend, attempt to push on one flank, or attempt to take the opponents objectives at the expense of theirs.
As players could place these objectives most played defensively with them towards the back edge. While this would have been a prime mission for out flanking, I don’t believe any of us did it! Once the dust had settled my opponent questioned why I advanced my left flank, as it single handled lost me the game. Well… to be honest, my Soviets have never been one to hold back. And we were out of Vodka by Round 3.
The Axis were still well on the back foot coming into round 5.
In round 5 we pulled the players together and confirmed if they wanted to play repeat opponents, or break the faction restrictions to play different players. This lead to some interesting matchups and a very confusing round of scores when we unanimously decided on the later, as I still wanted to try and keep the faction scores separated! The overall leader board was fairly stable so changing this last round didn’t actually create too much of an upset. I think it ended up as British against Americans, “Traitor Soviets” against Germans, Japanese against Germans and British against Soviets. Confusing to say the least!
In terms of the mission, the defender (the nominated Axis player) had three objectives equally spaced in there deployment area at least 6” from the back edge. This was probably the hardest mission of the day. You needed to advance quickly, into a waiting gun line and then capture at least 2/3 objectives by turn 6! Units destroyed still granted victory points so every unit the attackers lost was really a double hit. 1st for the unit being destroyed and a 2nd as it was one less unit to capture with. Quite mixed results in the outcome of this round.
But, as was the trend of the day (and history!), the Allies triumphantly were declared the winning faction of the Western Front, having successfully pushed into the German lines forcing them to break quite convincingly.
Massive congratulations to Andrew Lovell who came out on top for the Best Commander with an undisputed tally of points and enemy dead to his name. Also well-deserved congratulations to Nathan Patrick and Matt Castles for their best in faction awards too! I can see those spots being hotly contested in the future. For all the new players and regular players thank you! You can read Emma’s wrap up of Western Front as well as the other games played on the day – here!
Drokk (that’s me in the black shirt!)