Dragon Fall 2019 is over, Operation Phoenix has ended, dice have been returned to their storage box and miniatures have been retired to the shelf above the hobby station. Thus, it’s time to get my thoughts of the event down on paper, well, the electronic version of paper.

Firstly, what is Dragon Fall. It’s annual gaming event in Elmhurst near Chicago that raises money for charity. All of that cash we spend to attend, goes to worthy causes, and that’s just one of the great reasons to go next year. Operation Phoenix is the Bolt Action tournament within Dragon Fall and it was run by Chicago Dice very own Andrew and Dexter.

The theme of the tournament was 1944 and you could only run Theater Selectors from that period of time. This made it a balanced tournament as there was no 1940 versus 1945 match ups. The standard type of tournament requirements was applied such as painting, theme etc. with armies at a max of 1000 points, 1-2 platoons and a 16 order dice cap.

The List

So, what did I run? With working full time and school full time, I decided not to paint a new army which is my usual plan, instead running a list from models I already owned. This pushed me to run my British Inland D-Day force with a Churchill AVRE leading the way. The only model I painted was a flamethrower team, which by the way, did next to nothing all tournament. My list was:

  • Veteran Officer
  • Parachute squad 
  • Parachute Squad
  • Commando Squad
  • Free French Infantry squad
  • Truck
  • SAS Jeep
  • Churchill AVRE
  • Flamethrower Team
  • Free Artillery officer
  • Transport Jeep

Day 1

Game 1 – Recon in Force – John M (Germans)

Game 1 was against John and his German force comprised of regular troops, a Veteran Pioneer squad, a Lorraine Schlepper and of course the Panzer IV and its Tiger fear. John is a great player in the Chicago area, having won Best Axis at the Gugeater GT in Omaha and I knew I would have a challenging game. I set out to take as little incoming fire as possible as I walked across the table, using terrain to limit the effects of Tiger Fear. 

The first turn was pretty uneventful except for the first dice rolled by John was a 6 followed by a 6 on my Churchill when he needed super sixes to hit…I thought here we go, but all told the Churchill took a few pins and lived on. In retaliation the Churchill enacted revenge on his enemy by destroying the Panzer IV and Self-Propelled gun. Win in Game 1.

Game 2 – Companies Collide – Matt (Hungarians)

This was against Matt and his awesomely painted Hungarians. As Matt was a totally new Bolt Action player, I decided to crush him, take all his hobby excitement and teach him what this game is all about (just kidding). We took our time and talked tactics and army building. The game was objective based with a preliminary bombardment. Matt rolled the bombardment on my units and scored pins with no direct hits. Mine on the other hand, hit both his platoon leaders, killing both of the assistants and then my British Artillery Observer dropped a strike directly onto his Captain, rolling a 6 and killing him (sorry Matt). Really sucked to be a Hungarian / German officer on this day. Since it was objective based, I made a run for the markers early and keep units down while racking up VP’s. Matt is from a Games Workshop background and didn’t fully realize how survivable units are in Bolt Action. I know had fun and I hope he did too. Win in Game 2.

Game 3 – Dusk Assault! – Erik (Soviets)

This game was against Erik, who I had not played before with his Russians. It was a center of the table objective scenario where if a unit from one player was touching the objective at the end of turn, it had the potential to end the game and cause the opponent to lose, so I knew I would have to make a run at it. My Commandos made a run, took a pin and then failed to run for three turns…aaaah. This game was a real slugfest with my Artillery Observer taking out a mortar and ZIS 3 at the start of Turn 2. I thought it was going to be easy from there, oh how I was wrong. I must thank Erik at this point as I was really tired, having finished a 10-hour night shift two hours before the tournament and at this point I had been awake for 22 hours. He played aggressively and put me on a back heel and most of the game I was panicking, especially when my flamethrower fired at his tank, missed, got the first dice in the next turn, missed again and then rolled a 1 for a fuel check. Eventually the might of the airborne and the firepower of the SAS Jeep pushed the Russians back and turned a hard-fought battle into a win for Game 3. 

End of Day 1

Going good so far but knowing I would to face my friend and biggest challenger John S on Day 2 meant it would be a hard next phase to keep the winning streak going.

Day 2

Game 4 – Supply Drop – John S (Japanese)

Sure enough, Game 4 was against John and his fanatical Japanese force with three large squads of infantry backed up with some fire support. It was an objective based scenario where we rolled up four objectives, of which I placed two in the center and John placed his two in the deployment zone. His plan seemed to be if he got choice of sides, he would choose the side with the two objectives, if not he would banzai across the table. He rolled high enough to choose sides and all my plans went south. I couldn’t focus on what to do, I tried to fire but couldn’t hit with the Churchill and most of the rest of my firepower was ineffective. The game was fantastically played by John. Revenge will be mine one day. Loss in Game 4.

Game 5 – Break Out – Jeremy (Germans)

This was played against Jeremy, TO of the Bolt Action Double’s tournament at Adepticon. I have played him once before at Operation Sting and lost so this is a grudge match to even the score. But first I must stop and give praise on Jeremy’s army which was awesome. It was themed with lots of inexperienced troops backed up with massed firepower of German artillery and tanks. This was a fantastic scenario for my army as it played length ways and the objective was the opponent deployment zone scoring points along with kill points. To be honest the game was going well into my favor, until Turn 5 when the score closed to only 1 which would be a draw (you needed 3 more points than your opponent). Jeremy was playing his army well and I was starting to panic but fortunately my Commandos managed to make a charge with 4 pins and the Paras were moving forward into the objective zone scoring enough points to get a win by only a few. It was so well played by Jeremy even though he had an inexperienced army. Game 5 win.

So, what were the results?

  • Game 1 Win
  • Game 2 win
  • Game 3 Win
  • Game 4 Crushing loss
  • Game 5 Win

At the end of the tournament, when the battle points plus the soft scores for theme, painting and sportsmanship were tallied up, it was announced that I won the Best Overall, this was a shocker as I thought Ben or John had won it.

Final Thoughts

This was the first year Dexter and Andrew ran this event at Dragon Fall and I have to say how awesome it was. This is a local event, ran by local community, assisted with support from the local community but sponsored by vendors across the world. I know I will be planning to attend next year bringing an axis army next time. I’m waiting on seeing if it is themed to a specific year or theater of operation before purchasing the army. If you want to attend next year, please do, feel free to reach out to any of us at Chicago Dice or the Chicago Bolt Action Facebook group for more information and I look forward to seeing you all next year.