For the second year in a row, Ben and I attended Dragon Fall 2017 in St. Charles, IL. Although Dragon Fall had several events for many games systems, Ben and I only took part in the one-day Bolt Action tournament. I rolled up with my freshly painted Italian army, ready to take the field in their first event!
At first glace the tournament seems to be standard fare – one-day, three 1,000 point games. However, the event took attrition into account and units lost during your first game would not be available in your second game and so on. This twist gave each game a true sense of weight as the outcome would have a direct and significant impact on your next game.
Game one – Storm the camp
My first game was a duel in the sun against Jeremy’s gorgeous LRDG. We played a breakthrough style mission where units scoring if they ended up in the opponents deployment zone. This is an excellent mission as it forces you to close with your opponent and to commit your forces if you want to have any chance of scoring.
I was able to pin down several key units in Jeremy’s force which allowed me to make two sweeping flanking maneuvers with my cavalry, M11/39 tank and artillery tractor. With those units securely in the enemy deployment zone I was able to grab victory. Unfortunately, the game was won at great cost. I lost my forward artillery observer, medium howitzer, a squad of colonial riflemen and my lieutenant. As this was an attrition base event, with these considerable losses I was not able to bring my force back to the full 1,000 points for game two and went in almost 200 points down. Such is the cost of war.
Game two – Supply drop
My second game was against Dexter, the defending Dragon Fall champion. I knew it would be a tough game, Dexter is a great player and I was down points from my loses in game one. We played a supply drop mission with six objective markers spread across the table. In order to capture an objective you had to end the turn with one of your units within six inches of an objective, with no enemy units within six inches. You could capture an objective at the end of any turn, but they were only scored at the end of the game.
I was able to grab two objectives at the end of the first turn but Dexter had three and was within striking distance of a fourth. He cleverly deployed his Churchill ARV as the only unit on the left flank, knowing that I had no answer to the heavy tank. He was then able to concentrate his entire infantry force of four full rifle squads in the center and my spread out forces were overwhelmed. I was both unable to concentrate my units for an impact move and was too afraid of the ARV to make an significant push. The game ended 4-2 in Dexter’s favor. At this point I was starting to come to grips with the shortcomings of my army and that I would have to make fundamental changes to how I had played Bolt Action in the past to make this force effective.
Game three – From dawn ’till dusk
In my third and final game I faced Al in a maximum attrition mission with the added twist of night fighting rules coming into effect in the final three turns of the game. Because both Al and myself had diminished forces we kept our armies at a distance – only engaging with long-range indirect fire. I was able to get a lucky shot with my medium mortar on Al’s MMG team and was able to push the majority of my army up the right flank. Al tried to counter my medium tank with a PIAT team but luck was not on his side and he was unable to cause any damage. The counter fire of 15 MMG shots from the medium tank put an end to the PIAT team and I was up 2-0.
But the game was far from over. I made a bold attack on the deep left flank with an outflanking unit of eight veteran cavalry. I thought this unit would be enough to take out a two-man mortar team. Oh the hubris. I rolled in with eight attacks and killed one of Al’s troops. As Al’s unit was in cover, his troops swung and killed two of my cavalry – combat over, the entire units was destroyed. Ouch. The next turn Al took out one of my five-man inexperienced rile squads and the game was tied at 2-2.
With the night fighting rules coming into effect the last three turns of the game we were unable to engage each other at range and no none wanted to commit in fear of losing another unit. Thus, with a bit of an anti-climatic final turn the game ended at 2-2. But, because I scored the first kill of the game I was awarded an extra victory point to narrowly win 3-2.
Dragon Fall 2017 was an excellent event. The attrition format makes Dragon Fall unlike other events and adds a unique flavor. There are plenty of one-day, three-game events out there and Dragon Fall is stepping up to deliver an uncommon experience. I was thrilled to see the event grow from last year and am excited to see what comes next!