Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bolt Action

A couple of weeks ago I got my copy of the Bolt Action rules.  I have really been looking forward to the release of these rules for a long time.  I have been playing 28mm WW2 games for many years and none of the rules have really been what I have been looking for.  I have even tried my hand at writing my own rules.  Once I heard that Warlord would be writing rules for their Bolt Action model line and that these rules would be written by Rick Priestly and Alessio Cavatore I knew it would be a must have.
I was starting to get a bit worried about the game.  My local shop got a play-test copy of the rules and several people started trying them out.  Every time I would see a game or listen their explanations I was sure I was not going to like the rules.  Then Rick would publish an article and I would think 'what are the guys at the shop playing?'  They just did not seem like the same game.
Once I read the rules myself (the actual published rules) I knew I was going to like the game.  The rules are very straight forward and are written clearly.  Morale plays a huge role in the game and when combined with the order system provides a tense and dramatic game.

My firend Tim and I decided to give the game a try today.  We did 1000 points per side as this is what Rick recommends and the standard size game.  I went with Soviets and you can see my army in the picture above.  This is actually only 995 points.  My list comprised the following units.
  1. Vet Senior Lieutenant with 2 Vet soldiers all with SMG
  2. 10 reg soldiers with LMG, 2 SMG and AT grenades
  3. 10 reg soldiers with LMG, 3 SMG and AT grenades
  4. 10 reg soldiers with LMG, 3 SMG and AT grenades
  5. 10 vet soldiers with LMG, 5 SMG and AT grenades
  6. 11 inexperieced soldiers with LMG, 7 SMG and AT grenades
  7. 3 reg soldiers with Maxim MMG with gun shield
  8. T-34/76 with reg crew
Tim took his Germans.  To the best of my memory his army was something like the following:
  1. Vet Major with 2 vet soldiers all with SMG
  2. 10 reg soldiers with LMG and 2 SMG
  3. 10 reg soldiers with LMG and 2 SMG
  4. 10 reg soldiers with LMG and 2 SMG
  5. 3 reg soldiers with MG42 MMG
  6. 3 reg soldiers with 80mm mortar
  7. 4 reg soldiers with PaK 40 AT gun
  8. PZ IV with reg crew
For out first game we decided to play scenario #1 - Enveloment.  Tim won the dice off and chose to defend.  In this scenario the defender must deploy at least half his army on the table more than 12" from the centerline.  The rest of the army can be help in reserve and used as outflankers.  The units deployed on the table can use the hidden setup rules.  Tim chose to deploy his entire army and not use hidden setup.

As the attacker I do not deploy anything on the table at the beginning of the game.  I still have some options with what units are included in my first wave and the units in reserve.  I decided to keep my vet squad, one squad of regulars and the T34 in reserve for an outflanking action to my right.  That left my HQ, the MMG team, 2 squads of regulars and my inexperienced squad as my first wave.

The attacker gets a preliminary bombardment.  This was pretty effective as I killed three Germans and put pin markers on all the enemy units.  This ability just makes sure that on the first turn the defender is busy rallying troops rather than pushing onto the table.  It basically buys some time for the attacker and it work nicely.

I focused my first wave attack on my left using my inexperienced squad to anchor my right flank on the road that ran roughly across the table.  Tim quickly exploited this by sending his tank down the road and in 2 turns destroyed the green troops.  This is where I missed a chance to use one of the Soviet special rules - The Great Patriotic War.  This would have allowed me to re-roll the failed morale test that destroyed the unit.

Once Tim committed his tank in the center he also advanced with one of his squads on his left.  The other squad on his left would spend the entire game pinned until it was finally destroyed.  This advance my the Germans towards my open right was actually part of my plan (except for the wiping out of one of my squads) as this would draw the Germans away from their deployment zone and expose them to my flank attack.  At this point in the game, about turn three, Tim remembered that he was the defender and he probably should not be attacking.

After a couple of tries I was able to get the T34 into action and a long gun dual began between the T34 and the Pz IV.  I was also able to get my other flankers on and methodically destroyed two German squads.  By turn 4 things were looking grim on the German left.

With collapse of the German left flank two Soviet squads were able to exit the board.  The tank dual continued to the end of the game with poor shooting and failed orders becoming normal.  The battle on the Soviet left had been planned as holding action and it worked very well.  At the end of the game (turn 7) three German units had been destroyed with the loss of a single Soviet unit.  Two Soviet units had exited the German side of the table.  Final score was 9-2 Soviets.

I really enjoyed this game.  It is a very quick and easy game but like other Warlord rules, provides a dynamic tactical feel.  I am not a huge fan of the army list and army construction as listed in the rule book.  I am hoping the stand alone army books will improve this aspect of the game.  The armor seems alomost pointless and I can see that in future games the tanks are likely to drop from the lists in favor of more infantry support.

I think I may have found my go to rules for 28mm WW2.  Fun, fast and easy to learn with a nice models and future support plans, what;s not to like?  I think I will be selling off a few rule book that I will not longer need.  Anyone need a copy of Rules of Engagement or Rate of Fire?


Jerry said...

Very cool write up. I'm glad you liked the game. I really liked it myself and can definitely see it being my "main game" for a while.

styx said...

Good post, been keeping an eye on the game also. I may pick it up once the other books hit the shelf. I have Iron Ivan's stuff right now.

Scottswargaming said...

Thanks for review. Sounds Interesting.

Just a thought on force composition... I'm not really up on Soviets so cant comment there but looking at the German force (from a FoW perspective), you have effectively one platoon of basic grenadier infantry, and then attached 1 x HMG, 1x Mortar and 1x PaK 40.
Is this realistic? I would at least expect to have to field a 'section' of each which would probably be 2 of each of the listed support weapons...

Tim Kulinski said...

Scott, the army builds are restrictive in the fact for every 1000pts, you get only one option for support weapons. So the army build Robert listed for my Germans does look wonky. These list were built out of the main rulebook.

We are waiting to see what the army books will have in them and what sort of options there will be. Out of all the rules in BA, the army build is the one thing that does bug me. Hopefully Warlord will have other options once the army books come out.

Scottswargaming said...

Thanks for the reply Tim. I'll keep watching your progress with interest.


Robert said...

Scott, the army construction is one area I am not totally happy with. FOW is more of a TO&E approach to army building which can also be ahistorical. I see BA army construction as a little more focused on field strength. These forces have more of a scratch force feel to them. Either method involves compromise.