Bolt Action WW2: Next Gen at Westchester Community College
While Next Gen has done some work with Westchester Community College in the past (1 roleplaying event using "Dread", and 1 seminar with a number of WCC professors about the integration of games into the classroom), this past Saturday, April 9th, was the first time we were in person for a live event. We had 8 total players, including students, administrators, and professors alike. Huge thanks to Scott Putorti, who runs both the testing center and the game club, for working with us to set up the event.
We had an absolute blast running the game. I was blown away by each and every player. While they as a group had little exposure with miniature gaming, their vast interactions and experience with other games was a huge factor in picking up the rules as quickly as they did. They were able to pick out the make and model of both the German and American tanks, and had a solid understanding of tactics.
The players took the game seriously, yet, were able to laugh and joke with one another as the game progressed. In terms of set up, I gave them a good sense of the scenario and capabilities of each unit. However, I avoided being too heavy handed with advice, as I wanted them to make the connection between unit capability, tactics, and the scenario on their own. This was a "convoy" type mission set during the Battle of the Bulge. German units were attempting to take and hold a series of roads positioned near the American side. While the German tanks outnumbered their American counterparts, a number of pop up bazooka teams were also available to the defenders. On an American order dice, each player could place 1 bazooka team on the board- anywhere they'd like. The rule, however, was that they could not deploy within 12" of a German infantry unit or recon vehicle. So, while the Germans did a great job covering their flanks, creating a bubble to protect their vehicles, they forgot to cover their rear! Thus, several American bazooka teams were able to pop up behind the German position, creating havoc along the way.
As we got towards the end of the game, we debriefed the scenario (a lopsided American win) and agreed that the Americans were a bit too overpowered in the battle. If we use this scenario again, I imagine we'll reduce the number of American tanks, and possibly give the Germans another STuG. In addition, we collectively noticed something that's always been a bit obvious about Bolt Action, and other games like it- players are often punished for moving their troops. Because ranges don't really matter playing on such a small board, it's rarely worth it to get moving (even in a convoy game) as the -1 for moving and shooting makes things difficult. In addition, I allowed the American tanks to be in a hull down position as long as they didn't move, which made things even more challenging. It was a very healthy discussion, and to me, a very important part of the gaming process. In the end, slight changes to each OOB might give the German an opportunity to play a bit with movement + fire. For example, rushing some tanks along the road while receiving covering fire from tanks that have opted to stay put.
Again, a huge thank you to all the players for giving up a Saturday to do some gaming, and to Scott for getting the event organized. All said, the players can't wait for Next Gen to return, and even requested a different genre- ancient and medieval warfare. We at Next Gen will be happy to accommodate!
Please check back here for future events. We have a bunch coming up, and will continue to update this blog as well as our Instagram handle, hmgs_nextgen_inc.
See you soon! Thank you WCC!