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Bolt Action blues

Bolt Action is the default 'go to' World War 2 game at my two local clubs. I have tried to steer my local gamers towards Battlegroup and Chain of Command (to name only two of many we've tried) but they like the relative simplicity of Bolt Action, so that's what we tend to play.

Russians vs Germans. Za Stalin!

Now, Bolt Action is not without its challenges for historical gamers - the main one of which, in my opinion, is that the army lists almost allow you to pick whatever you like. My local gamers tend to prefer historical matchups, although there is always that one player who insists on taking a flamethrower team in a half-track EVERY game! Then, of course, there is the elite Waffen SS... all of whom seem to be armed with assault rifles (because they 'can') or equip two 'buzzsaw' machineguns per squad. Now there is a historical precedent for two machineguns in panzergrenadier squads, but as only elites can take this option in Bolt Action, the point is moot.

A Tiger, great tank but it eats up a lot of points.

I've heard many a story of players finding elites troops unbeatable, but I'm not sure that is strictly true in my experience. While they are admittedly good, they also are expensive, costing a lot of points. Their enemies will outnumber them and consequently have more order dice, giving them the opportunity to pin those elite units down.

Urban terrain, we could have done with more rubble.

In a recent game, my friend James fielded his 'uber' Germans against a regular British force. Now I'll give James his due, he didn't take all of the nastier German weapons, there was not a flamethrower or nebelwerfer in sight, although the squads did have a mix of assault rifles. The mission we played was 'Top Secret', which meant neither side could afford to be static. We both had to move forward and grab the objective.

Operation overkill! German medic (with the plans) versus Firefly!

In the end, James simply ran out of men. As he'd gone for elites, and the mission did not allow him to let his army go on the defensive and 'bunker down', I'd been able to outnumber him and dominate the battlefield with regular troops.

When I play Germans, I generally have better results by taking regulars and a Panzer IV. This leaves room for more units, which is more 'dice in the bag' and more opportunities to pin your opponent.

Perhaps James would have better 'luck' with some of the more nasty weapons in the German arsenal, but I'm not sure that would have worked. Adding more uber-ness would have cured his blues (as he's yet to win with his elite German army). One of my tenets is 'less is more', that is less uber-ness and more basic troops. In this case, it might have given James' Germans the edge and the Brits would have had the blues instead.

One thought on “Bolt Action blues”

  • Jim McCabe

    Funnily enough I have encountered the opposite when fielding my regulars, be they German, British, Soviet or American, against my chum who regularly runs veteran forces. I am now in the throes of figuring out how to counter incredibly bad dice rolls (mine AND his; his bad dice rolls being bad for me not him) but have had no success with finding an answer or fix. I do like the more recent historical campaign books where the authors have tried to rein in the gamers who regularly plump for all the nasties they can crow bar into their forces.

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