Scottish Nationals 2018

An improved turnout

The Scottish Nationals rolled round once again and there was a small clamour, as there usually is, for people excited to play.
I would suggest that the lure of a tournament such as the Scottish Nationals is the prospect of playing and meeting players you’ve never met or played before.
This proved to be a fair guess as ten players took to the tables, half of whom have played each other before, but with new faces in the crowd, it was definitely a chance to test yourself against others.

Last year’s event was the first proper go at a V4 tournament for the Scottish guys. Given that the new rules had just been released, and that Desert Rats and Afrika Korps were the only two book available at the time, it was not entirely surprising that we only managed a measly four players that time round: three of whom returned to try to improve their standings from the year prior.

With v4 bedding in, new army books, plus the lure of a try of the new Urban Assault missions, that number doubled and then some. We may have even hit higher numbers had a few last moment personal matters not kept a gamer or two away.

Doing it for the kids (sung in the style of Robbie Williams)

Not only were we at our ‘spiritual home’ of Common Ground Games; who once again were beyond accommodating,  for the reason of playing toy soldiers; we were also there to support their 24hr Charity Gaming Event in aid of CHAS (Children’s Hospices Across Scotland), in order to raise money for the disadvantaged children across Scotland.
Our group contributed a modest sum of just over £100 towards the overall total. Unfortunately, we were unable to tough it out for the full 24hrs, but considered our attendance of just over ten hours to be fairly adequate.

Runners and Riders

Naturally, you’ll all be wondering who these brave souls were who gave up their Saturday to come along and fight across the fields of Western Russia, to the desert wastes of Tunisia. There were a few familiar faces amongst the players, with one or two newcomers.
I’ll start with three of the four players who attended last year, minus last year’s champion Bill Shiel who was sadly busy on the day, but managed to pop along later for a chat. Alongside the names will be what they fielded, with the two options being 100pt list and 50pt Urban Assault list.

  • Shaun Hartley – Mixed Tankovy Battalion | Hero Rifle Company (Enemy at the Gates) – Usually doesn’t do too badly at tournaments
  • Craig Melville – Grenadier Company | Grenadier Company (Iron Cross) – Will never forget the moment his Tiger was bailed by a bazooka, before being counter-assaulted and captured
  • Kenneth Alexander – Bersaglieri Rifle Company | Bersaglieri Rifle Company (Avanti) – Despite using Limited Edition Battlefront dice, still rolls awfully
  • Lucas Watson – Hero Rifle Battalion | Hero Rifle Battalion (Enemy at the Gates)- Excited for Red Banner and the prospect of lots of Soviet Tank Destroyers / Assault Guns
  • Peter Wilson – Grenadier Company | Grenadier Company (Iron Cross)  – Friend of Lucas’, and a relative newcomer
  • David Forrest – Afrika Rifle Company | Afrika Rifle Company (Afrika Korps) – Sticking with the older German lists, because Schleppers
  • Michael Byrne – Sherman Tank Company | Rifle Company (Fighting First) – My transport driver on the day, thanks again
  • Mark Taylor – Sherman Tank Company | Rifle Company (Fighting First) – A late signup for the tournament
  • William Burns – Bersaglieri Weapons Company | Bersaglieri Weapons Company (Avanti) – Whom I called ‘David’ the entire day, as I was in communication with his brother: David
  • Dave Hutchison – Panzerkompanie | Panzergrenadierkompanie (Iron Cross) – With his ‘Siberia’ painted Panzers, which played most of the day on Desert tables

If I had been needed to play, I would have fielded the only British force on the day, with my lovely little Death or Glory Squadron ready for action, and my ‘Greek’ White Kneed Rifle Company ready for Urban Assault.
Sadly, we were but ten.
An additional mention goes out to Phil Dalbeck, last year’s Late-War winner, who wanted to be there on the day to play some Mid-War, but couldn’t make it, and assured us that his entry fee and meal fee could be retained to donate to charity. Thanks, Phil!

 And of course, thanks has to go to the guys at Battlefront for the generous prize donations on the day. There’s a picture down below with our happy winners posing with those, but I won’t ruin the results, you’ll just have to read through and find out for yourself.

It’ll take more than an immortal Russian to help the players today!

Urban Assaults and taking the field elsewhere

 For this tournament, I decided to add in something a little different to make it stand out a bit. This idea was to have the players play one of the rounds using the new Urban Assault missions from Iron Cross and Enemy at the Gates. To do so, each player would write a separate 50pts list with the following limitations:

  • Your list must come from the same book as your 100pt Primary list, but does not need to be the same Formation
  • You may only field up to 20pts of Tank Teams in your list
  • You may only choose 15pts of Command Cards
  • The previous two rules are not mutually exclusive, so taking a 15pt Tank unit with a 5pt Command Card uses up your entire Tank allowance, but you may still take the remaining 10pts of Command Cards

As we only had four available Urban Assault tables, the players were split into two ‘Pots’: Champions League style.
One group of players were dubbed ‘The Veterans’, while the others were dubbed ‘The Beginners’, and thus six ‘Veterans’ and four ‘Beginners’ were paired up. The Veteran group were chosen to play the missions first, allowing for any ironing out of rules that may spring up from this initial run. It was hoped that this slight spin on things would make the tournament more tactical, and fun for those involved.

The set-up for the mission “The Square”
The set-up for the mission “The House”

Don’t let the ‘sparse’ look of some of the tables fool you; the Urban Assault missions are well balanced, with buildings being of great importance. Players also learned a lesson about the ‘Rubble’ rule, and the difficulty of getting tanks to actually go anywhere in an Urban Assault mission.
Not to say they were entirely useless, just some were more useless than others…

Round One

The groups were split and the draws were made with the following match-ups taking place:

  • Michael vs Craig, playing; ‘The House’
  • Lucas vs Kenny playing; ‘The Square’
  • Shaun vs Dave F. playing; ‘The Boulevard’

On the other tables, the four newer (read less experienced?), players were matched off, and, due to dice luck, found themselves nowhere near desert tables.

  • Mark T. vs William, on the ‘Sicily’ table
  • Peter vs Dave H. on the ‘Kursk’ table

I was making my rounds during this initial game, snapping pictures, sorting out rules enquiries and generally making sure people were getting along. Not to say there’s been problems at the Scottish events; It’s always been a pleasant, welcoming environment at any Scottish tournament, and I would probably put this down to the feeling that these events are less tournaments and more organised play with a points system.
Players say to me that they do feel the stress of the tournament, but nowhere near as much as they have at other events, which for me can only be a good thing.
I’m hoping that this relaxed atmosphere will entice more players to make their way along to our tournaments in the future and experience the welcoming, friendly atmosphere that the other players encourage.

The addition of red bricks to the bases of Shaun’s Strelkovy really makes them pop on the table

Craig’s slightly lost 10.5cm Artillery, wheeled from the desert to fight in Stalingrad

Kenny’s Italians, done in wonderful Eastern Front colours, prepare to fend off some very lost Americans

The Americans in question, looking for a local to ask for directions. The Italians will happily tell them where to go

Over on the other tables, it was business as usual as Bersaglieri got stuck into some Americans in Sicily, and some Panzers faced off against some mutinous Croat Grenadiers on the plains of Western Russia, under the shadow of a slightly bombed Orthodox church.

Peter’s Croatian Grenadiers look to hold back the Panzers of Dave H

Some ‘borrowed’ 25pdrs (from myself) pressed into Italian service for William

Lunch Time

 Lunch is a chance for everyone to take a moment, and reflect on the ‘What if…’ moments of the games just gone. It’s also an opportunity for me to fit in more pictures of the games from the first round.

I wish I had taken more, as the models on display were lovely, but I got caught up in rules discussions, tactics talk, and general ‘banter’ with the players.

Round Two

With lunch out of the way, i was time to return to the field. The ‘Beginner’ group now taking on the task of Urban Assaults, while the more experienced players returned to more familiar climes of open desert and lush countryside.

  • Peter vs Mark T. playing; ‘The Factory’
  • Dave H. vs William playing; ‘The House’

 The desert tables finally got a look in as both were occupied by opposing forces for this round, leaving the Sicily table bare, as the last game took place on the Kursk table.

  • Shaun vs Craig on the ‘Kursk’ table
  • Kenny vs Michael on the ‘Tunisian Town’ table
  • Lucas vs Dave F on the ‘Abandoned Desert’ table

Despite the players in the ‘Beginner’ group being branded as such, they still played out their missions in a tactical and enjoyable manner, with rooms swinging between forces as assaults went in, were beaten back, and at points units being reduced to a man before they broke.
A few mentioned in passing that the Urban Assault missions were fantastically short, frantic and bloody, and that they’d like to see them make a return in future events. This is most likely to happen when we run the ‘Firestorm: Stalingrad’ event in January.
Be sure to check back then for a breakdown of that one if you enjoyed the ‘Firestorm: Red Thunder’ event day I ran a few months ago.

More lost Americans, maybe the friendly local Croatians can help them out… or not
Some beautiful 100mm Howitzers that William fielded ‘Across the Volga
Kenny’s Italians return to the desert after the misery of the Eastern Front… but they won the last game?
Dave F’s Schleppers are probably glad to be back in the desert after their experience in Stalingrad
Americans aren’t the only ones getting lost as the Soviets try to hold a desert ruin by a stream… and a cow
he 2cm guns of the Anti-air, waiting for Sturmoviks that never came…
Terrifying KV tanks, with a slightly underwhelming gun, alas
Duel of the light tanks as M3s and M40s take each other on in the desert

After this second round, there was still a lot to play for in the last. Only five points separated the top from joint seventh place, with three players sadly essentially out of the running.
But with that in mind, it’s worth noting that two of these players were in the ‘Veteran’ bracket, and one was in the ‘Beginner’ bracket, so the idea to split them did pay off slightly, but will it be confirmed in the last game of the day?

Round Three

 Stalingrad was over, the Germans had retreated, and all games were now moved to full sized 100pts. It was now, also, that the Pools/Brackets, whatever you want to call them were disbanded and players were now facing up against other opponents who may not match their skill. Or perhaps, the label ‘Beginner’ was unkind?

  • Dave H. vs Michael
  • Lucas vs Craig
  • Shaun vs Kenny
  • Peter vs William
  • Dave F. vs Mark T.

 An interesting fixture list, with two ‘Beginners’ up near the top of the pile, playing off against each other, while down at the foot some ‘Veteran’ players were fighting it out for the old Wooden Spoon! Here’s some more in-action shots, and then we’ll wrap this up.

The Croats, fed up of Russia, move to Sicily to fight some Italians…
…but they’re being watched by an eagle-eyed AB41 Observer
A slightly cramped Sherman company trundle across the Russian steppes…
… under the watchful eye of some 231 Armoured Cars
Some Lend-Lease Lees (try saying that five times fast), support in the desert…
…against some Italians with some big friends for support.
Marders opened up on T-34s at range…
… while Stuart light tanks scouted out Panzers in the desert far away

Final Standings and Prizes

 Another successful tournament under the players belts, and definitely some stories to tell at other times, along with lessons learned; especially about the newer Soviet and German releases. One can only wonder what the players are going to make of the upcoming Ghost Panzers and Red Banner release (Which we’ll be covering right here!).

 And with that, we have the standings. As mentioned when this round began seven players were still in with a chance at the top spot. Where do we stand now that the smoke has cleared and the victors claim the spoils?

  1. David Forrest – German Afrika Rifle Company – 22pts (8-6-8)
  2. Peter Wilson – German Croatian Grenadier Company – 18pts (8-2-8)
  3. Shaun Hartley – Soviet Mixed Tankovy Battalion – 17pts (1-8-8)
  4. Craig Melville – German Grenadier Company – 15pts (8-1-6)
  5. Mark Taylor – American Sherman Tank Company – 15pts (7-7-1)
  6. Michael Byrne – American Sherman Tank Company – 12pts (1-3-8)
  7. William Burns – Italian Bersaglieri Weapons Company – 11pts (2-8-1)
  8. Kenneth Alexander – Italian Bersaglieri Rifle Company – 10pts (8-1-1)
  9. Lucas Watson – Soviet Hero Rifle Battalion – 7pts (1-3-3)
  10. Dave Hutchison – German Panzerkompanie – 3pts (1-1-1)

 Very well done to our winners, especially Dave F, who went unbeaten the entire day. Surely he must be the one to beat at the next one? Regardless, you can see how tight it was at the top, with results going the wrong way for some, and so very right for others.

Peter – Shaun – Dave, posing with their well deserved prizes

Once again, a big thank you to Steve at Common Ground Games in Stirling for hosting us. If you’re ever this far north, be sure to pop in for a look around his fantastic shop and gaming area. Thanks also to Battlefront for their support, not only for the prizes, but with terrain and of course general support in keeping this running. And finally, of course, thanks go to the players themselves who without whom events like this wouldn’t get off the ground.

 That’s all from me for now, be sure to stay tuned for more events in future, and who knows, maybe we’ll see you at one?

Bonus picture: What happens when you come along a day earlier to set up the tables, but some of the terrain is arriving on the day of the event itself?