Introducing a newbie to the hobby.

I have a friend called Jason. He has Cerebral Palsy but this does not stop him from leading a fairly active life and holding down a job. He is one of the players in my long-running D&D group. Recently he's expressed an interest in giving wargaming a try. Well, who am I to disagree?

Jason wanted to try out World War 2 gaming, specifically Bolt Action. Another friend had tried introducing him to Warhammer 40K, but he did not like the way the system worked. Jason liked the idea of pulling dice out of a bag for activation. He also fancied trying the Americans as he himself has American ancestry.

I forgot my scenery box, so was reliant on my local club (the South Devon Games Club), so you'll forgive the desert scenery with 1944 Americans. I ensured both sides were evenly matched, so three squads of regulars, an MMG team, panzerschreck/bazooka team, two half-tracks and a tank. I gave the Germans a Nebelwefer and the US a mortar and a Forward Air Observer just to make things even points wise and interesting. Jason picked up the basics of the game really quickly as I took him through each stage and discussed his and my tactical options.

We played the Double Envelopment scenario (Number 4), where both sides have to move into their enemy's deployment zones. I explained to Jason what he needed to do, prevent me from taking his deployment zones while taking control of mine in return. With a little bit of beginner's luck, his Sherman 76mm drove onto the table and brewed my Panzer IV on the first turn! With only a panzerschreck for backup, I was in trouble.

I devised a mad plan, to drive a 251 half-track with a unit in it 'hell for leather' to the other side of the table and then off it. Meanwhile, the rest of my forces would have to hold up the enemy. Thankfully, the US tank started rolling badly and was at best machinegun support for the rest of the game. The loss of the 251 and squad cost me, as I was now seriously down on firepower.

My usually effective Nebelwerfer proved incapable of hitting anything, probably due to the relatively small size of the forces we were using - 1000 points. Nebels love packed tables. My crazy gambit paid off, with the half-track making a low roo to activate despite being pinned and it drove off table. Six victory points! Jason was now playing catch up, despite my early losses. However, he had the numbers to make a difference.

Jason made a last-ditch effort to copy my example and drive his half-track off the table, neglecting to see where I positioned my panzerschreck. I destroyed the M3 and the surviving passengers were finished off by a charge with my command squad. At this point, we were out of time but he'd narrowed the score so I was only two points in the lead. Enough for a minor victory but... it was a close game.

Jason really enjoyed himself, he really liked the unpredictability of the turn order as compared with the IGO-UGO he'd experienced in 40k. There was also less special rules to forget. Suffice to say we had a blast. Jason does have a keen interest in science fiction and wants to try Gates of Antares next...

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