For the third year in a row the Chicago Dice Team was back at Dragon Fall  for a truly unique Bolt Action event, the De-escalation Tournament. Let’s find out how Andrew, Dexter and Paul fared on the field of battle! 


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Game 1 – Camp Attack

Andrew: It was a Chicago Dice Grudge Match in Game One! Looking back on the game, I played way too conservatively. I had three squads of twenty Partisan riflemen and I needed to push aggressively at Dexter’s smaller Vet squads. I think the de-escalation format really held me back and I was too focused on saving units for Game Two instead of making strong moves on the table. Dexter played the game like a master, he dealt out long-range Pins onto my units and used his Panther to force critical Tiger Fear checks that stalled my advance. Dexter moved his Panther into scoring position late in the game and my outflanking truck squad was just outside of scoring range.

Result – Loss

Dexter: Das Grudge Match! It was a small pool of players at the tournament this year. Andrew and I attend many events together but haven’t had a match in a couple years, it was a great treat. Andrew brought the aforementioned Partiboys, I brought more Panzer Grenadiers! Outnumbered 4-1 (in bodies, not dice) the mission was to assault across to the opposing deployment zone. I dug my two main squads into a pair of ruins with a small open area across from heavy forest. Support units to cover the right flank, a Puma and sniper supported the mid, and the Panther set up aggressively for a Turn 1 Run order straight into Andrew’s flank. With three MMGs and the option to use a 3-inch template, I had to keep moving as it was my only real chance to score. In hindsight I should have used the Puma in concert to push through to his mortar by turn three.

Having set up a defensive position I got ready for Andrew to run at me and he did. The partisans ignoring rough ground the first turn is fantastic, the whole army surges forward while you re-count your machine guns. I moved forward into advanced positions i.e. the front of the ruins and goosed the Panther nearly to the far board edge.  Then it all sort of fell apart for the noble partisans, an ambushing LMG at max range zipped the LT and his buddy, Tiger Fear checks began, and I got Pins out on his whole left flank. The partisans would make two more drives, one up my left flank with a truck and one on the right flank. Both would be turned back with Assault Rifles and LMGs at point blank range.

Result – Win

Paul: The first game was on the awesome Pacific Board supplied by the TO Chris Pawl. Having played on it a few times at local events I had an understanding of the terrain and its limitations. Tactics were starting to formulate in my brain. My opponent John, a regular at the Dice Dojo and his Russian Horde had a whopping 15 dice versus my SAS with 8 dice, so it was going to be a hard fight. To start off, my sniper missed but then my AT gun shot and killed John’s sniper Turn 1 so I got the bonus point for Alpha Strike and then he returned the favor by killing my sniper.

After that it went downhill for John, losing his Maxim AA truck to a well-placed AT shell, his Inexperienced squad was lost to newly arriving SAS and then the moment of the match was when my Churchill AVRE turned its turret to face John’s 210 point unit of Assault Engineers with body armor. John had the option of going Down but decided to stay up as my dice rolling had not been great. Needing a 5 to hit, I made the roll. The AVRE hit, killed all but one engineer and did multiple pins, and the lone survivor failed his morale test. At that point John surrendered and that was the end of Game One. Great start for my SAS.

Result – Win

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Game 2 – Kitty Hawk Down

Andrew: Wow. This was a hell of a game. It was both an honor and a privilege to face Dan “The Legend” van Hese and his gorgeous Last Levy Germans. To sum up, this game was absolute insanity. There were Partisan bombs going off left and right, a low-fuel Panther just acing long range shots, SS squads getting blown to smithereens, a mortar spotter took a flak cannon straight to the face (and lived!), last ditch close assaults and deep outflanking runs. After seven turns of bare-knuckle brawling (preserving units for Game Three be damned) the smoke cleared and the game ended with both of us having two units within 3″ of the objective.

Just a fantastic game against one of the all time Bolt Action greats.

Result – Draw

Dexter: Damn, I drew Paul.

Sometimes you win early and get paired against someone as good or better than you who regularly whips your ass. My good friend Paul is one of those guys, we have both faced off at top tables and had a team title slip through our (barely) bloodied knuckles. So, when I look down at a heavily built up town with lots of brick walls and know that the objective is going to plummet to the earth in the midst of them; SAS backed up with a bloody AVRE is the worst match up I can think of, a la` game on. My thoughts on this are to try and pull his resources to commit early, I range my armored vehicles on the flanks to try and get the damn AVRE unsuccessfully. Side note, that is my nomination for best heavy tank bang for your buck in Bolt Action. The game comes down to a brawl on top of the objectives with tanks, SAS, and grenadiers all in the fray. Unsurprisingly the thrown in Germans did not fare well! Paul played the mission to the T and even with the dice gods on my side was in perfect position turn 6/7 to take the objective.

Result – Loss

Paul: Game Two was against Dexter on a very dense terrain board with lots of buildings and ruins. I have played Dexter quite a few times and I have to say he is one of the best players we have in the Chicago area so I knew this game was going to be close. Some highlights were when Dexter’s Puma raced up the edge of the board, took a crafty shot at my Churchill holding the flank, hit it, but didn’t do any damage (Phew). In the following turn my Churchill rolled up, killing the Puma. My Artillery strike came whistling in, hitting Dexter’s Panther and light artillery causing a mighty one pin on each of them, which promptly went away with the following order check. Turn 2 and 3 were played very cautiously by both of us, waiting to see where the aircraft would crash. The aircraft arrived Turn 4 and landed nearly in the center of the board right in front of my main force, putting me at an advantage. We fought hard, even with an unexpected charge coming out of a building from Dexter, which failed to break the SAS’s determination and the game was won for the Brits with three units to two holding the objective. This was my favorite game of the day and I have to say this is an awesome tournament scenario.

Result – Win

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Game 3 – Forward On Until Dawn

Andrew: And it was here, at Game Three, when the de-escalation kicked in. I squared off against Cody who, after two tough games, only had four Order Dice remaining. It was going to be an insane uphill battle for him. Two of four remaining units were a two-man FO team and his Lt. Not much to work with! I still have eight units left and was able to close in around Cody’s forces with a combination of rapid movement through the middle of the table and an outflanking move with four units. Almost all of the action took place on the deep right flank as Cody also outflanked with two of his units on the same side as mine! It was a quick and brutal game. In the end, the Partisans destroyed the SS forces. Cody promised we play again so he could ‘give me a real game’! De-escalation, gotta love it.

Result – Win

Dexter: AHA! Night fighting and I get to bring out my North African Veterans. I use 21st Panzer Division for flavor in most of my German armies, so in theme with the de-escalation and reinforcements I brought the new Shutzen hotness. I’ll say this they are hot, I went up against John and his Soviet remains, unfortunately he was down to just ATRs for his AT. That pretty much spelled his fate, I put ~6 LMGs in the middle backed up by my specialists. Then the Panther drove straight over and through his army. I spent most of the game in ambush waiting for folks to step into the open.

Result – Win

Paul: Game Three was against my friend Dan who bought his Germans and I have to say his army is painted to such a high standard and his attention to detail on the bases really sets his army apart from most of us. The game started with both of us having 7 dice left, both of us had our main tank left, so I knew it would be who could kill the opponent’s tank first would have the best chance of winning the game. Turn 1 was spent with me placing Down orders on most units to stay alive as Dan still had his Nebelwerfer and Flakverling and I only had infantry on the table. Turn 2 is where I think I won the game when my Churchill AVRE rolled on from reserve and hit with its first shot and caused 6 Pins and later immobilized the German Panther. From there Dan’s tank spent most of the game rallying from the pins. Dan played aggressive, racing forward with two Volkstrumm units, each with four panzerfausts. He fired into my Churchill, getting within point blank range both times and then missing with three of the four panzerfausts both times. I received a total of two pins and no damage, damned lucky. Turn 5 my SAS charged in, finishing off the last inexperienced squad and into Turn 6 nothing major changed. I held on for a win against an awesome opponent, not because of my superior tactics, more just because I was lucky and Dan’s dice were failing him…..Great game that could have gone both ways.

Result – Win

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Final thoughts on the event

Andrew: For three years running Dragon Fall has offered a unique take on the Bolt Action tournament. The de-escalation format forces every player to play differently. Is the win worth it if it costs you half your units? Those units are not coming back for Game 2. It is common to see folks with only 500pts. left during that third game after taking massive losses in the first two games. You need to play tight and know when to keep your units Down to live to fight another day. It’s a great event and I look forward to expanding to more players next year.

Dexter: I really like Dragon Fall, always have. It’s a good group of people and the missions were great. We had nice dense terrain and three solid games. The Panther is a solid performer but HOLY SHIT YOU NEED AN AVRE.

Paul: I have taken part in this event three times and love the format of de-escalation as this changes how you play, especially Game One where each of the units that die are not coming back to Game Two or Three. This would have been interesting if some of my bigger stuff was killed in Game One, such as my Churchill AVRE, as that would have a big effect in later games. I like to choose a Man of the Match and it definitely goes to the Churchill AVRE. This is the first time I have took a tank for some time (I like playing infantry armies) and I have to say for 290 points, it is an awesome piece of hardware, even though it only hit three times in the whole tournament, when it did it, it was devastating. All in all I had three great games and I hope more people come out next year to experience this style of unique play and I am excited to see the event grow next year. I want to say a huge thank you to Chris Pawl who organized the tournament and to Mike the Dragonfall event organizer.

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Congrats to Paul on the win!