Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bolt Action: Progress

Nathan and I got in another game of Bolt Action last weekend. I was supposed to get in MOAR gaming over the weekend but Chris W was latterly kept away by dire fears of the plague (kids being walking disease vectors) in my household. Still, Bolt Action! General real life induced fatigue has cut into the speech bubble budget, sorry. It was a new mission this time: The Germans were defending, while the Soviets were attacking. Attackers get a prelim bombardment (nowhere near as cool as it sounds) and the defenders count as hidden and can win by holding objectives. Nathan is still unsure about adding armour to this game, and I lack any, so it was more infantry on infantry action.

The mission gives the defenders three objectives (circled below) to hold, while I think the attacker can win by taking 2/3 and inflicting some serious harm. I am really more of a smash in and read the victory conditions later  kinda guy when playing Soviets (usually the objective is enemy attrition ASAP) so did not read too closely into what was required. 
Being attacker meant a very slight modification from my usual plan to hold one flank with long range fire while pushing the other with assault troops. Instead, the Sniper and MMG (represented by the rightmost arrow) would provide a base of fire and then everything else would push a very narrow frontage up one flank. 
Far to the right of my lines, safely on a hill in a ruin by an apparently completly safe objective, the German Oder-Lieutenant watched the puzzling developments. At 6" or 12" to a move and potentially only six turns in a game, my boys would have to get cracking to get in range in time!
Well the middle arrow shows a squad of Veteran Assault Engineers and accompanying Flamethrower rushing toward a more central patch of brush.

Meanwhile, a second assault Squad resolves to try out a new rule: Assaulting! Assault in Bolt Action are run actions (so 12" move, and now errata'd to be permitted in rough going, though only 6" in that case. if initiated from outside 6" the enemy may defensive fire as their action. As you can see from the illustration, defensive fire was not effective. In fact, most enemy attempts to kill my Assault Engineers were not that effective. Needing 5+ to wound them was really telling, this game. Further, assault weapons like SMGs and Assault rifles double close combat attacks. The Assault mechanic is simple: 1. I declare the charge. 2 the enemy shoots (if over 6") then I run in and smack them, automatically hitting and then rolling to wound. 3. Then the defender smacks back. Whomever gets the most kills, wins. 4. The loser is completely destroyed!

That is pretty brutal.Basically I lost three guys and then destroyed almost an entire squad of Germans. Well Nathan wanted some of that action, so he assaulted with the next squad he had handy. However, he hadn't really taken terrain into account so three guys missed out on charging. I had already shot with my unit (hoping to forestall a counter assault by killing things, but killed nothing) so no defensive fire for me. Then the assaulters rushed in, swung, and failed to kill any of my armoured engineers. So even my meagre return kills won me the assault and killed another entire German squad. Assaults in Bolt Action are silly. Fun. But very variable.
Since I still had to actually take objectives, we kept at the game. The remainder of Nathan's force furiously tried to gun down my flamethrower team as it made its move. But to no avail. Here we found that flamethrowers were potentially even more awesome than we had thought from last time. Int eh debit side of the ledger: they don't actually auto-kill (though have a +2 Pen modifier...) on teh credit side though: the target unit has to take a morale test and runs completely if it fails. Yes of course the Germans failed. Flamethrowers also are also silly. Fun. but very variable.

My feedback on the game after that effort is that quality really counts. My guys weren't just lucky, they were harder to kill and more likely to pass morale. Further, they had more of the appropriate tools for the job. There seems to be a real winner-takes-all element here, more than the usual you get with turn based games. Nathan's guys have the long range pinning weapons but not enough of the short range assaulting and killing weapons to really punk my units. 

Thought for the evening (and I'm not the first to point this out): Germans, especially the Vets, can have plentiful Assault rifles which are a SMG with the range of a rifle. So all the volume and fire and close combat benefit with the added ability to get the pins at range.

In other news, as an occasional series I run reviews of online stores. Last time was buying direct from Plastic Soldier company who got me some stuff inside of a week. That's practically instantaneously in round the world terms. This week it is Caliver Books, who got me some new Westwind Games WW2 figures in a like time-frame. Awesome service guys. I like the Westwind Soviets. I got them mainly to get some alternative Camo-smock poses to mix with my Artizan guys, while I wait on Warlord to release their stunning looking effort. Since you need it under the current rules, I also got a pack of the basic riflemen to be my free green squad.
 Here they are patrolling my backyard in the gathering dusk. The two figs on the leftmost are Artizan, there to make up the numbers to eleven strong.
The Kommissar holds no position of authority. He is like the political-school-outings-coordinator, or something.

I really should be considering some LOTR at some stage but I'm quite enjoying the 28mm WW2. Also, Caliver Books have quite a nice range of 28mm Historicals and now Byzantines or Romano British (Arthurians!) call to me....


  1. Never mind the LOTR, i enjoy reading about Bolt Action. Sounds like a good game.

  2. (I see Marines encroaching on the Motherland in your future.)
    Also see this:
    yes, a glove.;-)

  3. @ Maxamillian Walker - Nevermind the lotr? Its almost so invisible on the blog these days I feel moved to at least mention it by way of apologising for not playing it! Hobbit movie is out soon :-)

    @ Adam, you are so on.

  4. Great report! I am looking forward to my first games of Bolt Action.

  5. Thanks Styx. I've just had a look at your blog - good thoughts on the game there.