I had the great fortune to get talked into joining this year's Operation Sting at last year's Adepticon. Initially, I had planned on completing my Siege of Budapest Hungarians for play but, due to both family emergencies and a late shipment of AFVs, I wasn't able to make enough progress. Instead, I ended up taking my Italians @ Malta and I'm so glad I did. I have to say I was a little nervous going into this with comparatively little Bolt Action playtime under my belt, but this was an amazing learning experience. I came away, not only feeling like I had the ruleset down pat, but also that I know what works and what doesn't in an Italian army and I was able to develop a sensible, cost-effective plan for expanding my Italians beyond the initial 1000 points.
This year's Operation Sting had 24 attendees playing on 12 different tables. Everyone I played was competitive without being power gamers and knowledgeable without being rules lawyers. It was well supported and well run (special thanks to event organizers Brent Sinclair and Chris Thomas).
Group 1 (clockwise from upper left): Soviets ("The Fascist Hunters" - Dan Pollert), Germans ("Sperrverband Heussner" - Dan Molla Van Hese), Americans, French (FFL at Narvik - Duane Zoldak), Soviets, Soviets (Razvedki Scout Group - Aaron Schmidt), British
Group 2 (clockwise from upper left): Germans, Canadians, Soviets (Tyler Dumontelle), British LRDG, German (Early Fallschirmjager - Seamus Hamrin), Germans, Soviets (Ryan Miller)
Group 3 (clockwise from upper left): US, Germans, Germans, Germans (Dave Godwin), Germans (SS - Matt Beatty), US, Polish
There were some truly stunning tables to play on this year. The first picture is the first table I played on and the terrain/setup made for an excellent game.
Game 1 vs. Duane Zoldak's FFL @ Narvik
Mission: Hold Until Relieved
This game is tied for the zaniest, most closely-fought game of Bolt Action I've ever played. It saw a full squad of FFL charging my Semovente, losing and subsequently being wiped out by the CCNN squad in close assault; the Semovente charging a Boyes ATR team, the team rolling away and then completely missing their follow-up shot to its rear armor (they would destroy the assault gun completely next turn); my light mortar smoking the only window of a building an Ambushing FFL squad was sheltering in, that subsequently got roasted by my flamethrower; and direct fire from an FFL artillery piece decimating half a squad of Airborne sheltering in a building!
Duane, a reader of this blog, would go on to win Best Sportsman - an award he rightly deserved for being such a great opponent.
Game 2 vs. Dan Pollert's Soviets
Mission: Take The Field
This was an extremely tough game contending with a lot of urban terrain and (IMO) the toughest Soviet tank - the KV-2. Dan's "Fascist Hunters" travelled from the far reaches of American Siberia (North Dakota) to hunt down my Fascisti and didn't leave this game disappointed. I'm not at all used to such a terrain-heavy table and I made a LOT of tactical mistakes which Dan rightly took full advantage of. This was the first of two games that were key into understanding how my Italians function tactically over the weekend. PETA supporters won't appreciate that these dreaded Commies strapped bombs to poor innocent puppies - not even Fascists did that.
Another tough game on an odd board with little cover on one side and lots of cover on the other. My strategy of using the dense cover on my left flank to outflank his emplaced gun teams quickly fell apart, but it was fun watching my Semovente come unto the board and immobilize his StuG on Turn 1...even if it was blown to scrap by the StuG's return fire. After a straightforward push up the center, Matt's Grenadier's took the objective.
Game 4 vs. Tyler Dumontelle's Soviets
Mission: Secret Intel
Okay, so I'd like to use this very public space to apologize to my gracious opponent, Tyler Dumontelle, for his probably worst game of the event.
This was not an easy mission and the board was very unbalanced, lacking any type of cover along the entire length of the table center. My Italians being a small veteran force, I simply can't take heavy casualties throwing men into a meat grinder across No Man's Land. By Turn 3, I admit I was not a pleasant opponent and it certainly showed. I tried to outflank along both flanks and walked into blistering fire that pinned and eliminated units en masse.
Not a good game but props to Tyler for being a good sport and putting up with my shitty attitude.
Game 5 vs. Ryan Miller's Soviets
Mission: Maximum Attrition
....And here's where my mouth comes back to haunt me. Ryan Miller is the man who built the table from Game 4. The table I very vocally hated. Sorry, Ryan. I still think it looks cool.
Well despite my prior disrespect of his creativity, this was an awesome "Go for broke" game. His IS-2 totally devastated nearly every unit on my right flank, but I will say that one Airborne squad took two full turns of fire and still managed to assault his Inexperienced squad before biting the dust and my AB41 skulked around and was able to survive the game. On my left flank, my brave little Semovente survived one Panzerfaust strike, a flamethrower hit, and an infantry assault - pretty good for a Vulnerable assault gun that found itself surrounded by enemy troops with no support.