Well, there it is – the Bolt Action Grand Tournament has made its triumphant return at BritCon, and the dust has settled over the tabletop battlefields of 2023. Let’s take a look at how it all went down, and break down some of the highlights and results from a fantastic weekend of competitive gaming!

First off, I’d like to thank all the people who made the event possible – the BritCon organisers from BHGS, the excellent venue staff at Nottingham Trent University, the Bolt Action Tournament Organisation team (shoutout to Gary, Colin, Steve, Russ, Mike, and Ruaridh (aka ‘Wee Man’) – legends all!), and of course all the players without whom there wouldn’t be a Grand Tournament! All showed up with a fantastic attitude, and the Bolt Action community spirit was evident for all to see – a great advert for our beloved game!

Before we get into the action, a note on the format of the weekend is required, as this year’s Grand Tournament was a little bit unusual in that it also incorporated the English Nationals – next year, the Nationals will be moved to another BHGS convention. This meant that there were two trophies available at the top of the table. The top-placed player overall would (naturally) be crowned the Grand Champion, while the top-placed English player would be the English Nationals Champion. Simple, right?

The event kicked off on Friday afternoon, with players piling in to get on with their first game. With no time limit and the venue open until midnight(!), this was a great opportunity to meet the competition, catch up with old friends, and check out all the beautiful (and scary!) armies and fantastically set-up tables. There was even a special ‘BritCon Ale’ at the bar… which was all gone by the end of the evening, wargamers being a thirsty bunch! Most people managed a sensibly early night, which meant that when Saturday morning rolled around, everyone was ready for the event to begin in earnest!

Saturday saw four intense games of Bolt Action, making up the meat of the tournament. A long, hard day, it was a real test of endurance and skill, and there were some really interesting matchups and games, including a few shocking upsets of established players, meaning it was all to play for heading into the evening. Crucially, however, the atmosphere remained fun throughout, especially as the rest of the convention filled up, and it was fantastic to see how well-represented Bolt Action was amongst the other games present. In keeping with the spirit of the game, a fair few of us headed to the pub in the evening, where a good deal more spirit was imbibed!

Sunday morning dawned with a few slightly fuzzy heads, but Bolt Action waits for no hangover! While most tournaments tend to consist of three or five games, the Grand Tournament has a whopping seven, making Sunday what would be called the ‘championship rounds’ in boxing. This was especially true at the top of the standings, with a number of players in a position to make a last-minute dash for glory with a brace of wins (and some hard luck for key rivals). With it all to play for up and down the table (okay, the Wooden Spoon was fairly well secured by this point!), and some really close games, I have to say that the attitude of all the players was fantastic, and while the competition was fierce, it always remained good-natured.

Just like that, it was all over! While the scorers totted up and double-checked the standings, the players all pitched in to clear the tables and pack up the terrain, and then we all piled into a nearby lecture theatre for the awards ceremony – I was especially keen to start handing out the goodies, as the prize table was looking a little frail under the weight of them and I feared a collapse! Here’s a list of the winners, and of course the all-important final standings!

1st Place (Bolt Action Grand Champion) – Gary Morgan, with an Afrika Korps list no less!
2nd Place – Richard Ciereszko
3rd Place – Richard Gedney

Grand Champion – Gary Morgan (we may have added some special effects to the photo…)

Best Painted – Kenny Robson, on whose gorgeous Australian force we’ll be doing a separate article in the not-too-distant future!

Best Themed – Martin Knowles, who took the concept to heart and wrote a small essay for his ‘The Eagle Has Landed 1943’ army.

Wooden Spoon – Peter Burnis. As we had a couple of players who had to miss the final game for a medical emergency, the Wooden Spoon was awarded to the last-placed player to complete all seven of their games.

Best Sportsman – Kelvin Harvey. Kelvin was sadly forced to withdraw after the sixth game due to a medical issue, but displayed fantastic sportsmanship and perseverance over the weekend. A deserving winner, who even turned up in an appropriate hat to go with his Japanese army!

The English Nationals also returned their own results, and as is BritCon tradition there was also a Juniors (U18) category for the best young player! The English Nationals turned out to be a very interesting set of results, as the top of the table was somewhat dominated by some very strong Welsh players!

1st Place (English Nationals Champion) – Richard Ciereszko
2nd Place – Paul Jones
3rd Place – Max Ayson

Junior Champion – Jamie Bucknall

Full Standings

1Gary MorganSouth Wales WarlordsGerman Afrika Korps33
2Richard CiereszkoSouth East Asia 1944 (loosely around the Kohima battles)29
3Richard GedneyLuftwaffe Defence Force29
4Russ WrightAfrika Korps/ Waffen SS29
5Paul WickensSeelow Heights / Battle of Stalingrad27
6Gerwyn MichaelSouth Wales WarlordsSeelow Heights25
7Will Champion1944 ­Normandy25
8Chris DaviesSouth Wales WarlordsSoviet Tank Platoon25
9Jonny CurranUS Marines Saipan 194425
10David Bannister1944 Market Garden25
11Paul JonesWhite Eagles1940-42 Western Desert25
12Max AysonSoviet23
13Phill ParkerSouth Wales Warlords1941 DAK Panzer Division Armoured Platoon23
14Mike ParkerWargames Association of ReadingSAS Northwest Europe23
15Kenny RobsonAustralian23
16Mike GossEMHGSSoloman Islands23
17Richard HollingWargames Association of ReadingBritish in Burma 194521
18Jamie M BucknallGenerals OutpostBritish Airborne21
19Andrew WestwoodMAWS1945 – Berlin19
20Chris WrightWhite EaglesGerman Reinforced Platoon19
21Graham HartDWARF1941/­42 ­Rommel Triumphant19
22James FaulknerBattle of Stalingrad19
23Sally HuntAfrika Korps / Late War Germans19
24Edward TomlynSAS – Western Desert19
25Dan MoodyHungarian19
26Martin KnowlesThe Eagle Has Landed 194317
27Mark WestwoodMAWS1944 Normandy17
28Tamara FordhamStalingrad17
29Stephen DanielsApocalypse Wargaming Club1945 April­/May, Berlin14
30John MacDonaldVichy France14
31Anthony Parrish1945­ Into The Reich14
32John ApperleyApocalypse Wargaming Club1942-43 ­Behind Enemy Lines14
33Chris BucknallGenerals OutpostPanzer Lehr13
34Peter BurnisBurma 194311
35Kelvin HarveyApocalypse Wargaming Club1945, Battle for Okinawa Sugar Loaf Hill Japanese10
36Ben HendersonApocalypse Wargaming ClubGerman Heer6

So there you have it – the Bolt Action Grand Tournament is back, and it’s here to stay! If you fancy seeing your name engraved on the trophy after 2023 Grand Champion Gary’s, or if you just fancy testing your skills at the premier competitive Bolt Action event, you will be able to pre-order your tickets for 2024 at 2023’s prices for a limited time, starting soon! To find out more about this, keep an eye on the weekly newsletter, where all shall be revealed!

All that’s left to say is – good games, well played, one and all! 

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