As part of my efforts to overcome my aforementioned hobby funk, I have been taking stock of all the games I play and would like to play. With the recent release of both the Konflikt '47 rules and the Bolt Action 2nd edition rules it is time to take stock of this game and decide where I am going with them. Before I talk about these new games I think I will start with some rather dull background related to my experiences with Bolt Action and 28mm WW2 gaming in general.
28mm World War II Gaming
My love of WWII gaming began many years ago when my friends and I discovered Battleground World War 2. Most of us started off with 20mm-1/72nd scale models but one friend had Battlehonours 25mm figures. I love the look of the bigger figures but they were too expensive compared to 20mm and there was very little to choose from. Fast-forward a while and we have the release of the excellent (well for their time anyway) Nick Collier sculpted Black Tree Designs (back then they were Harlequin miniatures I think) Germans, Americans and Soviets. That first batch of figures were great and happily were 28mm and matched will with the only other line of 25/28mm figures available - Foundry.
With these new figures my friends and I began, slowly collecting 28mm forces, mostly for my Necromunda WWII conversion. This game only required 10-12 figures so it was easy to get into. As my collection grew my friend Tim and I jumped in to 28mm gaming with both feet. I sold off all my 20mm collection and invested in 28mm. This was actually an easy decision as at the time we were playing 40k and we did not want to duplicate terrain projects between 2 different scales. Eventually, we had enough stuff to play Battleground World War 2 in 28mm and that was a big step.
All good things come to an end and the Battleground guys went out of business. This would become my first experience as a gamer of having a game I love 'go away.' I know, we could have kept playing but I hate telling people whoa are interested in a game that you can't get it anymore. This was the start of The Quest - to find another set of rules. Tim and I played a lot of different games over the next 8-10 years. Some were great - Arc of Fire, and some were not so good - Rate of Fire. Eventually, I decided to write my own rules based on 4th edition Warhammer 40K. This effort took several years and we played a bunch of games. I even submitted the rules to Warhammer Historical Wargames but it was just before GW closed it down so nothing ever came of that. About 5-6 years ago I decided to jump into Flames of War for my WWII gaming and the 28mm collection was put on the shelf, maybe for good.
Enter Bolt Action
About four years ago we got wind that Warlord games was working on a set of rules for WWII. I was kind of excited as I was really liking what they were doing with other games. When it the games was released I really hoped to fall in love with it as I had a HUGE collection of 28mm armies and I really wanted a reason to get them back on the table even though I was having a blast with Flames of War. Here are the 28mm armies that I owned at that time,
Reinforced platoon of British Infantry
Reinforced platoon of Italian Alini
Reinforced platoon of British Commandos
Reinforced platoon of British Paras
Reinforced platoon of French Infantry
Company of US Infantry plus vehicles
Company of German Heer plus vehicles
Company of German Fallschirmjagers
Company of Soviet Infantry plus vehicles
As you can see I had a lot of reasons to be excited for a good 28mm WWII game but... I never really fell in love with the game. I am not sure exactly why this was. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed every game (OK maybe not every game) I played. But after I was don playing I rarely felt excited about playing again. Some of this might have been from the abysmal quality of the original rules release. There were some serious issue with the rules at first, due most to poor editing and vague wording. It was painful to play the game until the errata and FAQ were finally released.
It is not as if there was not inspiration triggered by the game it is just did not reignite the old fire for the scale. I build one are specifically for Bolt Action in 4 years of playing the game. I did add some new units and elements to existing armies but this level of output is not at my usual level for a game I am passionate about. In that same period I probably build 8 Flames of War armies. In some cases the inspiration was to liquidate items. I sold off two complete armies - British Infantry and Italian Alpini. I sold off portions of my US and Soviet forces as well as much of my 1/48th scale vehicles.
So, back to the original thesis - Where am I going with Bolt Action?
To be completely honest I was not sure what to make of this game when I first heard about it. It just did not seem to fit with Warlord's product direction as it seems to a competing product with both Bolt Action and Gates of Antares (sci-fi game and all). The idea of an alt-WWII/horror WWII game is kind of neat but not all that original these days. I was really surprised that they went with the 1st edition rules and there was apparently no connection with the 2nd edition team during the development of the game.
I also found it troubling that as they developed this game no one seems to have thought of adding in all the BA errata and FAQ information collected over 4 years of the game. It seem that they just took the original files for BA and made their changes. Basically, they phoned it in. This has led to an almost exact repeat of the first edition Bolt Action release with all of it's faults.
Many of the new units look fun and there are some neat models for the game but all things considered it is not enough to get me to play. The similarity with 1st edition is also a negative as it will be hard to keep three versions of the game straight. In the end I will not play this game, or more accurately, these rules. If I play any alt-WWII games I would use the stats and special rues from Konflikt and just apply them to games of Bolt Action. This should have been a rules supplement and not a completely 'new' game.
Bolt Action 2nd Edition
Let me start off by saying I do not have these rules yet. I have not played a game with the new rules and all I really know is what my friends have told me and what I have read on various internet forums and articles. Having said that I think I have a decent idea of the differences between the two editions and I think the new game may be more fun to play. I am a bit concerned with the de-emphasis on the pinning mechanism (by way of making it easier to remove pin markers). I have actually won more than one game by the efficient application of pins to the point of stopping attacks and even destroying units. It seems with the new edition the focus will be more on kills than pins. Time will tell, I guess.
What really has me excited, more than the rules themselves, is the opportunity for a fresh start with the game and with 28mm WWII gaming. I think the new rules will really help me get back into large scale gaming for the period. As already mentioned I have a large investment in models and I would really love to get them back on the table and work on new projects. My friends and I are already planning a large tank game for early next year.
I think another issue I have had with Bolt Action is the way I have been playing the game. For the most part I have always played the game as a point matched, tournament style game. Scenarios have been randomly picked from the 6 in the book. We have never delved into the campaign books or seriously considered different ways to play the game. The only real exception is and adaptation of the rules for 1 to 1 skirmish that we played in an event this year. One of the hallmarks of my 28mm WWII gaming in the past is a more freestyle approach to games. We generally do not use army comp, such as points, fr putting our games together. Being gentlemen, no one would dream of abusing this to gain an undue advantage. I would love to get back to more of this type of game where scenarios are more important than armies.
Armies are obviously very important to the game and this is an area I need to work on. You see I have large collections of figures, but I have really never designed an army specifically for Bolt Action. Even the one army I have build since playing the game, my British 8th Army, was not build as a specific Bolt Action force. I just bought some figures and some cool models, as I normally do, and then made a list out of what I had collected. I would really like to change this approach with the new rules and try my hand at designing a specific force with Bolt Action in mind. Of course, just getting to the point of thinking about Bolt Action armies rather than 28mm WWII collections might help with the motivation.
Another area that has been severely neglected is terrain. My Flames of War games benefit from an extensive terrain collection I have built over the years. With very few exceptions I have not added any terrain for 28mm games since Bolt Action was released 4 years ago. This lack of terrain, I think, is a big part of the motivation issues I have. The solution is to spend some money on terrain. I have already started with the purchase of the Pegasus bridge set I purchased earlier this year. The vast amount of new laser cut kits that have been released in the last few years is truly amazing and it is long past time I invest in some of this stuff.
I guess I have really just made all this too complicated. Basically, I am excited about the new version of Bolt Action. With this new version I am planning to re-evaluate my existing armies and makes some changes. I am also going to plan an army specifically for Bolt Action for the first time. I would like to expand my terrain collection for 28mm gaming. I would also like to plan some bigger games or games that are more scenario drive rather than just point matched, tournament style games.
Stay tuned to see how all this pans out. I have a feeling the Bolt Action content around here is really going to start picking up soon.
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