Saturday, 1 November 2014

Pub Brawl!

More Bolt Action, where a bunker that I recently completed has seen the elephant.

On Sunday we had another WW2 Burma theatre game featuring Matt's British and my Japanese.  This wasn't held at our usual venue, but this time we had it at a British-style pub near Shibuya here in Tokyo.  The owner, Paul, had been a wargamer himself at one time, and kindly gave us the run of the place during the day, subject to us buying lunch there and downing a pint or two.  Twist my rubber arm...

There were two Bolt Action games in play, as well as a number of boardgames.  And having the author of Bolt Action, Alessio Cavatore, in attendance as well was a nice treat for all.  Not to mention being the ideal person to go to should we have any rule queries! 

Alessio had been staying with a mutual friend; my neighbour and the Grand Poo-Bah of the West Tokyo Wargamers, Giovanni. 
Alessio and Giovanni: La Bande Nere, a.k.a. The Torino Mafia of Gaming
So there was lots of wine, beer and gaming talk throughout the whole weekend for us, which was really fun.

Having the game at a pub had its merits from the beer and food point of view, with the best fish 'n chips I have had in many a year- certainly the best I have had in Tokyo.  A piece of succulent cod the size of my forearm.  
On the other hand, space was a little tight for setting up tables, and the lighting could have been a lot better. This was especially a nuisance as the sun started going down.

Not a huge problem, but it didn't make for taking very good photos, so I had to play a lot with iPhoto just to make them barely presentable.
Aquarium plant producers are probably scratching their heads at a totally inexplicable spike in sales.
It was a really narrow table, liberally covered with jungle, although we had a lot more we could have added had we a larger table.  Alessio remarked that it was one of the more heavily-terrained tables he had seen for its size in a Bolt Action game.  All that vegetation certainly made for a flavourful game.

Lots of greenery and meandering paths through the brush meant plenty of scope for infiltration, cautious advances, short-range gunfire and sudden ambushes- which was just our image of what jungle fighting should be like!  

In fact, at one point Matt's A/T rifle squad fell victim to my sniper team, largely because Matt hadn't noticed it in all that underbrush!
The game also featured my latest terrain piece, a large bunker.  The basic shape of the bunker was made from foam board, wooden doweling and papier-mâché.  I then coated it with layers of a sand and PVA mix to build up the earth banking.  
The top is removable, and I made it so that it will hold about five or six miniatures.  The sandbags lining the top of the weapons pit were made from epoxy putty. 

Other additions to my force included a Chi-Ha.  I had airbrushed on the undercoat, but I hadn't been able to get around to adding the tricky camouflage. Still, it was painted after a fashion.  

I could have brought a Ha-Go light tank, which is closer to completion, but I really wanted the (relatively!) heavier gun of the Chi-Ha.

We rolled for the demolition scenario, where each side had to try to take out the opponent's command HQ.  We had set our respective HQ's on the opposite diagonal corners of the table, mine in my bunker and Matt in a thatched village hut.  

A fordable river crossed the centre, and the rest was jungle with winding paths through it.  
Alessio commented that this is a tough scenario for either side to win, usually ending in a draw.  That proved to be the case this time round as well, but it was close!  we were both using the flank march rule, and as it turned out the British almost scored a coup as a result. 
The sport begins and Matt moves his troops, the illustrious King's Own Academicals.  A rare picture sans his trademark flat cap, which we had to press into service as a dice bag. Good on 'ya for "taking one for the team" there, Matt.
A ground-level view of my bunker looming menacingly out of the jungle.  You can almost smell the jungle-rot.  Although it must be said that all our club members do, indeed, bathe...
The Chi-Ha was eventually knocked out by a flame-thrower after trading shots with a nimble Daimler, which dashed in and out of trouble taking good advantage of the recce rule.  The Chi-Ha had managed to collect pins like they were hockey cards, but it succeeded in holding the road crossing over the river.
When incoming artillery was imminent, I moved my mortar out of the bunker, but artillery and mortar fire on both sides was pretty pathetic that day.
Note giant venus-flytrap-like plants, more at home in a John Carter novel.
Flank attack!  My tankette had been immobilized by A/T fire from somewhere, and by this stage of the game was no more than thinly-plated pillbox.  You can imagine my chagrin when, and at the beginning of the penultimate turn of play, Matt rolled for a successful appearance of his dreaded Grant- and as luck would have it, it emerged smack between my defensive line of Japanese infantry and the bunker itself.  

Completely impervious to whatever fire I was able to throw at it, the jungle-green, heavily-armed behemoth merrily dispatched the tankette.  It then proceeded to rake one of my infantry sections with all guns blazing, depleting our ranks dreadfully. 
Matt then had the good fortune to draw the next order dice, and promptly sent one of his own sections of infantry racing out of cover towards my bunker (now empty of troops, as I had had to commit the garrison elsewhere).  It looked like being all over for the Japanese.   

Only one thing left to do...

Out of time and options, and with the help of Alessio who walked us through the complexities, I was successfully able to mount a charge against the British troops in the rear, wiping out the platoon and saving the bunker. Being fanatics they were able to shrug off their pin markers and throw themselves at the hated round-eyes.

Next turn they of course paid the ultimate price for their devotion to the Emperor, but only after they had tried close-assaulting the Grant.  These guys were rabid!

Having the Grant perched so close to the bunker was of no avail to Matt, as only infantry could take it out, and his nearest infantry was more than a move away.  So--- the game ended a draw!!  One huge sigh of relief from the Japanese player.  

Loads of fun;  I'm really starting to enjoy playing with my Japanese army.  I'm learning that with the Japanese in Bolt Action, a really aggressive game play pays dividends.  

A visit to the Warlord Games store here last month saw me acquire some more goodies that I can use to smite Matt the next time we face each other in the steamy jungles of Burma.

But our next get together on November 16th is a return to Napoleonics.  One possibility is an all-cavalry action, or possibly a naval landing- if I can get a Martello tower done in time, which is doubtful.  We haven't played a Napoleonics game for some time now, and are itching to get back into it.  

Also on the horizon for early next year is some Wars of the Roses skirmish action, using the Osprey Lion Rampant rules. And Giovanni is anxious for us to try a Darkest Africa game, where I might run an expeditionary force using my long-in-the-tooth collection of Foundry Indian Mutiny miniatures.

Unfortunately, our gaming opportunities haven't been keeping pace with our aspirations!  Hope springs eternal, though.

1 comment:

Rafael Pardo said...

It seemas a nice and funny game!