Thunderbolt Apache Leader Boot Camp
After a long break, I finally played a game. A solo game. A game I've never played before. With all the minis painting I've been doing, it's even a game with no minis! Thunderbolt Apache Leader is a solo wargame that's been around for a while, and all the solo wargamers love it. It's a little complicated (so the reviews go) but not impossible to pick up. It's been a while since I learned a new game, but thanks to a well written manual and a handful of YouTube videos I had a decent grasp of what I needed to do.
The game has a campaigns and missions within those campaigns. Each game-day you pick enemy battalions to attack, with the makeup of that battalion defined by a card. Attack those units and units attack back. Destroy a certain percentage before you run out of fuel. Sounds simple, doesn't it?
Phase 1 is picking the campaign - I selected the introductory Iraq campaign, hoping it would be easier. Next the situation (mission) is picked, which will give the number of points available for both sides to pick forces.
Phase 2 is picking which enemy battalion to attack, which leads to setting up the map, deploying forces, and getting ready for havoc.
This leads to phase 3 - havoc.
There are plenty of rules, and I'm not going over the rules. There's rulebooks and YouTube videos for that. I picked a mission to go after an Assault Battalion. I was supposed to defeat 2 battalions in 1 (game) day for the scenario win conditions, but this is a learning session so I threw everything at the enemy. I had 1 Warthog, 4 Apaches, and a Cobra all loaded out with ordinance. I went out on the attack and things started out pretty good.
Unfortunately I didn't pay attention to enemy ranged attacks and line of sight.
The 2nd turn was horrible. My 1st 4 units that attacked, which consisted of 7 individual attacks, ALL MISSED. When flying a Warthog through hexes of 4 enemy units and you're counting on dropping bombs that will destroy everything in a hex, you should really HIT AT LEAST SOMETHING. This started a barrage of being attacked not just by units in the same hex, but usually by 1 of not 2 more hexes (since they didn't get destroyed in the last turn like they should have).
Units got damaged to the point where penalties made it impossible for them to hit enemy units. I forgot that I needed to leave the map by the end of turn 5, which meant units needed to be facing a certain way to leave the map instead of on an attack run in the wrong direction. I kind of laughed at that one, though.
While the details in the pics aren't any use below, they give a decent idea of how things move along.
The end of mission results added an extra stress on the return to base phase. When rolling the Bingo dice for the final batch of stress, poor Hammer did not fare well again, and ended up with a total of 13 stress (he's unfit to fly at 5).
The enemy force was reduced to half strength (20 or fewer points remaining on the map, there were 15) which was a moral victory as I got nothing else from it game-wise. In the campaign this would affect another mission setup though.
Under the mission scenario I was supposed to defeat 2 battalions on the first day. I deployed all of my troops after 1 battalion, leaving nothing for a 2nd attack on the first day. While I didn't lose the mission outright, I didn't win either. Granted, it was my first time to play and I really shouldn't have won, but I thought deploying everything I had would give me a better chance. Better than I ended up having, at least.
Now that I've played the game I can understand why it's gotten such good review. It's a fun game, especially for a solo game. Multiple times I said "aww, come on!" when things didn't go my way (did I mention the turn where NOTHING HIT?). There's a lot to keep up with but the game board does a good job of helping keep track what happens and in what order. After the 1st turn I was going through the motions like I'd been playing for a while.
Setup takes a while. There's lots of little chits to keep up with, sort, and assign. I've got to find a good way to store all of this so it doesn't take me an hour to go through everything and find what I need to start the next game.