Over the last weekend, in September I undertook something of an epic trek north, beyond Hadrian’s Wall, to run the 2022 Scottish Open tournament. This was my first time in Scotland – and if I do say so myself it went swimmingly!

Put on at the fantastic Knightly Gaming in (surprisingly sunny) Bathgate, the Open saw 14 of the best players in Scotland, joined by representatives from England and Denmark, duke it out over two days in the kind of open warfare not seen since the last Viking invasion! Before going any further, however, I must give the greatest of thanks to the inestimable Colin Betts for his multifaceted assistance with terrain, long-distance van driving, rules advice, and putting me up on his sofa on the way home! Colin – it couldn’t have happened without you!

Saturday saw (after some pre-tournament beverages on Friday night) three hard-fought games of Bolt Action, with the missions being the perennial favourites of Meeting Engagement and Key Positions, followed by a bit of a curveball from yours truly… Point Defence… but with no Preliminary Bombardment for the attacker, to get the action going from turn one! This led to some truly frenetic assaults, and a surprising number of attacker wins when the dust settled. At the end of the first day, the standings were incredibly close, with the top five players still firmly in contention for the top spot. Special mention must go to Johnny “Bolt Action Johnny” Ferguson, who missed out on a perfect day of results by a single point – so close!

Sunday dawned with everything to play for up and down the leaderboard. Despite a few surely rather sore heads (not helped by Scotland winning the footie on Saturday night!) the games got underway bright and early, with the players kicking off a hotly-contested round of Sectors. With the points so close across the table, there were bound to be some upsets, and game four did not disappoint. At the top the players headed into game five with two esteemed veterans jockeying for the top spot. A big win would seal the deal for Englishman abroad Paul Wickens, while Scotland’s own Alistair Unicomb could clinch the victory by winning his own game and praying that Paul lost or drew. The mission was Double Envelopment – always a recipe for high-octane carnage!

As the final minutes ticked down, it became clear that Paul Wickens had managed a famous victory, pipping Alistair to first place, but only by a single point. In third place was Johnny Ferguson, beating travelling Dane Jan Pedersen on the tiebreaker of Secondary Objectives held, and the table continued to be tight well into the midfield.

Special mentions must go to Stephen McKenna (who won the coveted Best Painted Army award with his Waffen-SS force and the rather less coveted Wooden Spoon!), Aidan Donaghy for Best Sportsman, and Max Bohme who took home the on-the-spot ‘Best Dressed’ award, being the only player to bring correct PPE (a helmet!) to the tournament!

A long march back down south left me with plenty of time to process the event, and reflect on how well it all went. Special thanks must go to Knightly Gaming for being fantastic hosts (and keeping us supplied with absolutely essential bacon sandwiches!), and of course all of the players for their effort, sportsmanship, and sense of fun.

Roll on the next one!

To find out about local events and Bolt Action tournaments near you, head on over to our events calendar!

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