Greetings Wargamers and Hobbyists. This is Leicestershire calling.
As we approach Easter, it seems like an age since I last sat down and typed an article for this esteemed community blog, and to be fair, it is about eight weeks since my last offering – the Cigar Box Battle mat review . Since then, I have finished assembling all the miniatures I had left to assemble, and played four games; one Kings of War, one Blood Bowl, and two Bolt Action. Not exactly setting the world on fire averaging one game every two weeks, but that’s a pace I am pretty comfortable with these days.
This post is going to be an update on where Dastardly Dave and I are with our Bolt Action experience.
Battle Report #1
At the time of my first Bolt Action article, we were a pair of fresh faced raw recruits newly arrived in theatre, but by now we are, well still fairly fresh faced, but with dirtied faces and uniforms, ears ringing from gunfire and shelling, and the smell of burning vehicles in our nostrils. Dave and I are both very much enjoying Bolt Action, and have steadily expanded our collections of miniatures, and the complexity and size of the games we have been playing.
We started out with a modest 500 point encounter, which I mentioned in my previous article, which we then expanded to 850 points for game two. For the second game we played ‘Key Positions’ from the Battle Scenarios, and we got to play it out on the Cigar Box Battle mat. The table looked awesome, although I was a little too focused on playing the game to take any in game photos. Below are two photos we staged with the only painted models we had to hand!
The slightly larger game gave us the opportunity to try out a few new toys, like snipers and light armoured vehicles, and it was fantastic fun. I felt as though introducing some of the more specialised elements allowed the balance of the game mechanics to show a little better, and I for one find the game to be very refreshing to play. The unit activation in particular is both ingenious and exciting to play, as it keeps both players involved throughout each turn, and also creates a great feeling of flow within the game. Because it is more complex than simply alternating between the players to activate a unit at a time each, there is a distinct element of risk involved, somewhat akin to the Initiative and Melee unit selection mechanics we see in age of Sigmar.
During this game we discovered the fun surrounding the use of intimidating (comparatively) armoured vehicles for the first time, but also learned that they are not game changing units, which is just how we like them. Adding spice and danger, but ultimately support units, not battle winners all by themselves, at least not yet.
We also determined that mortars have the potential to be very destructive, but are unlikely to score any hits unless you are very lucky with ranging in, so it pays to select your target carefully, and ideally it will be one that is unlikely to move very far. In the game, I had a sniper team controlling one of the three Key farmhouses that we were using as objectives, and he was able to target the enemy pretty much at will, with little danger of effective retaliation short of an assault (thanks to the fantastic resilience of infantry in buildings), but once the mortar found its range on the building, he was as good as done. Thankfully he had done his job by that point, and I had a medium machine gun team at somewhat of a loose end that took up his position in the farmhouse.
The Puma and Tetrarch had a standoff for most of the game, the Tetrarch having been immobilised, but the Puma seemingly unable to get that killing shot on it, and not wanting to expose flank armour by moving to support the German infantry without eliminating the plucky little tank first.
The game was narrowly won when a unit of my Grenadiers overcame the British Infantry in a brutal short ranged firefight to take the house on the opposite flank and make it two objectives in German hands to the one British.
Playing on the Europe game mat was totally awesome, I am so very pleased I have this to play Bolt Action on, I can’t stress this enough!
Between this game and the next, I was able to use some birthday cash I had been saving to take advantage of an offer from R K Studio Store to add the final component in my plans for my British and German forces, at this stage at least…some extra armour!
The Sherman Firefly was to finish off my British Paratroopers force with some characterful support from the Irish Guards, in a ‘what if they made it to Arnhem’ vein. The other three vehicles were to provide the Germans with a transport in the very cool (in my view) Hanomag half track, a versatile and fairly points conservative tank option in the Panzer IV, and something a little heavier that would stand up to Dave’s growing pool of British armour; the Panther.
Battle Report #2
For our latest game (some pics below!) we planned to play out a 1250 requisition point game, and I spent a bit of time preparing, but at the last minute Dave’s brother-in-law Tom said he would like to join us using his own growing collection of British infantry, and ever willing to include as many people as possible in the fun, the game turned into a 1500 point Germans vs British, with Tom and Dave splitting command of the British.
By this point in the ‘Bolt Action Expansion’, I had gone from my collection being a late war German Heer Grenadiers force, to being the 9th Waffen SS ‘Hohenstaufen’. This was the result of some research on my part into the forces that took part in the Battle of Arnhem that inspired my theme. Originally my intention was to avoid collecting an SS force, but I found that the 9th and 10th did not suffer from the distasteful records of some of the more infamous SS units, and they were the force faced by the British Airborne around Arnhem Bridge.
Being the largest game we had played so far, I decided to include the Hanomag, the Puma and the Panzer IV in the force, after some back and forth between myself and Dave discussing how heavy we wanted to go with armour, as well as the usual infantry units, team support weapons and a Motorbike and Sidecar with MMG.
This game was probably the most exciting so far, and that would be saying something after our previous battle, but there was an awful lot going on. We were playing ‘Top Secret’, with an injured spy acting as the objective in the middle of the table. I don’t recall whether we decided he was a German spy, or a British spy in a stolen German uniform. He certainly kept his head down!
We got to see some awesome confrontations take place, including the first use of a flame thrower (by Dave), my first ever hit with a mortar, a point blank engagement in the centre of the table between infantry units which got very messy indeed, and the Puma roll onto the table turn two and knock out the Sherman on the opposite side of the table with a string of three 6s to hit, penetrate and then damage. It was great for the Germans, but a shame we didn’t get to see the Sherman attack, and it left the German armoured units with little to threaten them, but also little to aim their big guns at. Tiger Fear had no impact as far as I recall, but it was a job to remember every time it generated a Leadership test! The little Daimler Armoured Car managed to immobilise the Hanomag, which then proceeded to soak up everything that the British could throw at it. The Daimler itself avoided retribution by keeping its distance from the Panzerfaust armed SS units, and keeping a low profile behind the hedges, which prevented the Panzer IV and Puma from getting a shot at it.
The game finished a draw, with the Germans controlling the objective, but being way too far away to get it off the table for the win. The Hanomag being immobilised on turn 2 was significant, and slowed the infantry right down. I think the highlight of the battle for me was when one of the Bren Carriers drove up the road towards the German positions, a unit of SS with a pair of Panzerfausts shooting at it and missing, then the flame troopers jumping out and roasting the SS unit, and then next turn another SS unit Advancing forwards and letting rip with three Panzerfausts to blow up the Bren Carrier, after the flame troopers were gunned down by the MMGs on the Hanomag and Motorbike & sidecar!
It was an exciting game, and I think my take-aways were that 1500 points is a great size for a battle, and the importance of having the right tools for the job, whatever the job happens to be.
The Next Game
The next game Dave and I play may well turn out to be my untested British Paras vs Dave’s equally untested Italians, which he has been working on for the last couple of months. Can’t wait to get a game against his Bersaglieri! I have been working on some more fences for the table, and will be ordering the Warlord Games Ruined Hamlet very soon, which I may well do a review on for Creative Twilight.