09 September 2013

Bolt Action- Final part

Here we come to the final part of my overview of Bolt Action. Time for Assaults....
Like most games, assaults (close combat) is particularly brutal in BA. Essentially once a unit is given a Run order and can move into contact with an enemy infantry or artillery unit it can then execute an assault.If it started the assault greater than 6 inches from the target unit, that target gets to conduct a round of defensive fire as per the shooting rules above. All pins are ignored, and all survivors of the assaulters then get to attack.In fact as soon as a unit charges or is charged in assault, it loses all its pins automatically.
The Russians line up ready to assault the German squad in the ruin

If there is no obstacle between the assaulters and the target, then the assaulting units gets to roll its dice first. If there is an obstacle however, then both units get to roll simultaneously...so hiding behind a fence or wall is great if the enemy is charging you!
To attack, each model gets 1 dice if equipped normally, and 2 dice if equipped with an assault weapon (ARs, SMG, Pistol) Some Unit Special Rules grant an extra dice in close combat which can be very nasty (you don't wanna know about Ghurkas....)
There is no 'to hit' roll in close combat, you simply need to roll the target units Kill value (ie 5+ for Vets, 4+ for Regs etc) Every dice that comes up with this number or higher removes one enemy model.
Once all participants have had their attacks, the result are compared to see who caused the most casualties, and the loser is wiped out, regardless of the amount of models actually left in the unit. Again, some unit special rules prevent this (Fanatics for example) and allow units to fight on to the bitter end.
The winner then consolidates D6 inches (and can't re-assault that turn)

As far as scenarios go, the 6 in the main BA rulebook range from capture the most objectives, destroy the enemy base, kill everyone and Top Secret, which is a bit of a silly dash for the middle objective and then run the item off your table edge. The tournaments I have been in usually modify these missions somewhat for a more interesting game, but the basic scenarios (bar 1) are quite workable.
In almost all scenarios, you can keep some of your force off table as reserves, and can even outflank down either table edge (left or right) by secretly writing down the units and which side you will bring them on . An orders check on the turn you decide to reveal them allows you to bring the outflankers on 12 inches down the edge for every turn after Turn 1 that you held them off table for...so a unit coming on in Turn 4 will be 36 inches down the side of the table...handy for those right flank attacks! Of course, having to pass an orders check (at a -1, stand fast USA) means there is a chance they will refuse to come one (nav errors) and any units that don't make it onto the table by games end count as destroyed.....
Airpower and offboard artillery are handled by having a Forward Observer on the table (one for each) who can call in a single strike per GAME....a table is consulted and there is a 50 percent chance nothing will happen that turn, either allowing a shift in target point, or target unit....for air, a roll of a 1 on a D6 will actually cause the aircraft to mistake friendly troops for enemy, and your opponent can instead choose the target!
Arty tends to cause pins on multiple units over a wide area, whilst air tends to be more devastating but on a specific target unit....
The different nations that fight have their own Army Books, although the minor allied powers and Minor Axis powers have been grouped together into one book each. Each nation will have from 2-4 Nation specific rules, such as Hitlers Buzzsaw, which reflects the German MG36 and MG42 high rates of fire granting all German LMG and MMG an extra RoF dice, and the US Armies Better Comms which means they don't suffer -1 to leadership when rolling to come on from Reserve, nor do they suffer the -1 to move and shoot due to their M-1 Garand semi-auto rifles. The US also get an extra Air Observer for free if one is bought, hence allowing the US two air strikes a game vice 1, and the Brits have a simliar rule allowing a free Off Board Artillery observer, hence allowing 2 arty strikes per game. The British book also allows the Brit player to pick an extra two rules from a list of 4 or such as extra Assault dice, extra firepower from rifles, stubborn leadership checks etc which the player can use to represent the other Commonwealth countries fighting abilities (Ghurkas, Australians, Indians etc all get to be represented depending how a player wants to assign the extra special rules) Each army book also includes theatre specific list restrictions to reflect the historically available units to allow more accurate match-ups for that nation.
So my thoughts overall ? I come from a Warhammer 40K, Warhammer, Flames of War and some dabbling in Force on Force background. I find the Bolt Action system a lot more streamlined to play, the order dice and pin mechanics are different and really force you to think with every unit. The random alternating unit sequence makes you feel like you have a lot more control over the battle than 40k or Warhammer or even Force on Force. Whilst the mechanics are quite simple, there is still nearly everything you need to cover for WW2 action (stand fast fortifications, mines, booby traps etc which aren't currently covered) and that gives enough 'historical' appeal for a WW2 gamer. In fact a lot of Flames of War players also play BA. Its very much an infantry game, with tanks and arty relegated to almost minor players (although there is also a supplement allowing armour platoons to duke it out) and that is cool too. Model support from Warlords Games has been good although they did have many of the models for sale before they released the ruleset. I've found a number of other 28mm manufacturers who make excellent models and add some real individual characters to a force (Artizan to name one)The great thing is how cheap a platoon of infantry, a tank, arty and a transport is (under 60 pounds/80 euros/100AUD) which is a complete army.
Here in Canberra, Australia we are very fortunate that BA has attracted a strong following, especially considering the game was only released 12 months ago. There is a real community feel amongst those of us who play that we are building a strong community and that we are contributing to the further development of the rule system through constant feedback.But most importantly, Bolt Action is a fun fast playing game with a low cost entry point but high addiction point!


  1. Very useful summary of the game. It should help us make less mistakes (hopefully) on our future YouTube games.