02 August 2013

Bolt Action demo pictures and first impression

Johan at our club ran a Bolt Action Demo last weekend. I didn't participate in the game but I was playing nearby so got a good glimpse of the action, asked some questions and snapped some pictures.

My impression from watching Bolt Action was pretty much what I had imagined, a rather "casual" WW2 game and a lot of "basic" mechanics that I had already experienced in other games, such as Secrets of the Third Reich a few years ago before I finally swapped 28mm WW2 for 15mm WW2 gaming in Flames of War.

The rules seemed to have simplified a few things more than I would have liked. Close combat lasts one round, unless it is a draw. In case of a winner in close combat (player who dealt most wounds) the opposing unit is destroyed. The rules for terrain are half-baked and Johan had already come up with a couple of his own fixes, such as utilizing "area terrain" over "true line of sight" so that tree lines and such could actually be used for proper cover. Movement through fields was also amended to better reflect reality.

You hit enemy units on a specific D6 result depending on their training, and weapons carried by infantry (small arms such as pistols, rifles, smg's) kill on on 5+. Heavy caliber machineguns, sniper rifles, mortars and AT weapons firing HE have an easier time to kill those that are hit. Other than that the game use a lot of D6 rolling with modifiers for short/long range, cover, prone and everything else you would expect. In case you can't hit on a 6 you can always hit on 7+ (which for some reason isn't rolling a 6 followed by rolling 4+, but by rolling a 6 as your second roll instead).

AT values and armor is classed in ways familiar to those playing many other games, such as Victory Decision, Secrets of the Third Reich etc. The order system was quite OK, using special dice is probably also a decent solution as you can combine 6 different tokens/order onto a single D6 which  in turn reduces the amount of markers you need to have. Activating units by randomly picking dice from a bag also works as an added twist to regular "alternate activation".

Overall I personally wasn't too impressed with what I saw or heard, on the other hand I could not find anything that was a plain disaster either. It's simply a "game" game, meaning it's more concerned about having a set of rules to move around your WW2 miniatures than to provide an in depth WW2 experience/feeling. You could easily use these rules for any other alternative setting and you would probably not notice that it was a WW2 game in the beginning. This may sound harsh, and it is a game that fulfills its purpose. It's just nothing that really appeals to me as I would have liked something more advanced.

I want to give the game a try myself before I have a final opinion though. I realized I have some Armia Krajowa/1944 Warsaw Uprising Polish resistance fighters in 28mm left in my collection which I could pit against Johan's late war Germans.
If that happens I'll post another report and my final thoughts.

I will however give the Bolt Action series of rulebooks/army manuals one BIG thumbs up for actually taking the time and effort dividing troops, vehicles and equipment by front/campaign/year. Finally! If you pay for an armybook that covers most if not all units used by a nation it should come divided and not be a big mess - leaving it up to the consumer to figure out the historical aspects on his own. This may sound rather obvious but not every company does this - and instead leaves it up to the players to fumble in the dark about their OoB composition. This creates a low brow competitive atmosphere of min/maxing ahistorical army configurations to beat your opponent instead of playing with the proper equipment and take that as a historical challenge.  

All the miniatures and terrain in these pictures belong to Johan. I really liked the 4Ground buildings, they look a lot better IRL than I could have imagined, especially the "ruins" since they have a lot of tiny bits and pieces littering the interiors and in general look very good. The only downside is that the edges of  the buildings show the joints of the laser cut pieces. These could easily be masked by painting them with grey paint to make it look like regular corner stone’s instead.


18 comments:

  1. I agree with you, the Bolt Action Rules take a very simplified approach, which is good if that's the thing you're looking for. Especially when using armored vehicles things get blown up way too fast.

    Personally, I prefer the Rules of Engagement - rules, which are also far from perfect but a lot more detailed and just "feel" better.

    Cheers,
    Thomas

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  2. You should take a look at the new Chain of Command rules from Too Fat Lardies they may suit you better. They have had some playthroughs on their website which give a good feel for the game.


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    1. Chain of Command is something I'm quite interested in. I just wonder if I could use multibased 15mm (FoW) miniatures for it, and if the core rules are open ended enough to allow me to play Early War (1939) with them as that would be my main area of interest.

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    2. Anatoli, either use kill markers on the bases or make up some individually based soldiers to use as "change" and it will work fine. Early war troop lists are being worked on as we speak.

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  3. I like them, but they are without a doubt somewhat simplified and a 'game' rather than a 're-creation'. If you need to organise a game quickly for a club night, they work well for that.

    There are quite a few faults though. Correspondence between infantry and vehicle weapons are skewed to the scale used and the infantry weapons themselves are somewhat odd in places. That has also been said about FoW too iirc.

    The order dice and activation system work quite well though.

    I can see why some people describe them as WW2-40K and indeed the attitudes of some players don't help this suggestion.

    The thing is though, is that they work and are quite fun to play. Weapon 'irregularities' aren't hard to fix and within a group of gamers, 'house rules' will sort out the blanket 'one of each type' support allocations.

    I have no doubt that it will become the equivalent of FoW in 28mm and it is (or soon to be) well supported with 'Army Books'. I do anticipate subsequent revisions at periodic intervals though...

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  4. Interesting. Personally, I stick to "Disposable heroes".
    Kind regards,
    Benoit

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  5. Sounds interesting - 'everyone to their own' I say. For me personally, it's Two Hour Wargames' 'Nuts!' for all things WW2; but I'm sure people will disagree ;)

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  6. I'm not really interested in the Bolt action rules, they look nicely presented but the simplicity of the systems just doesn't provide the right experience for me. I would say the rules are aimed at bridging the gap for people coming from GW rules across to historical gaming. Which in itself is not a bad thing.

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    1. This is where I think the main market is for Bolt Action. It would be a great bridge between GW games and historical wargaming, or perhaps for someone who is just getting into WW2 gaming.

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  7. How about WARLORD publishing a "page or three" of advanced rules that would address these issues for the more "advanced " gamer (as a free PDF) Do you think that would help or hurt? Peter

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    1. It wouldn't hurt. Better info on terrain, adding overwatch mechanics and defensive fire would be a start.

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    2. There is an overwatch mechanic, it's called ambush and is one of the dice options.

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    3. And even a defensive fire system. :-)

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  8. I haven't played BA yet, either, but I have the same reservations. Plus, 28mm scale seems absolutely huge to me - I'm not sure how I could paint up a whole army!

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  9. I like the fact that BA is easy to get into, Osprey have done a great job with the book. The rules arent overcomplicated, but still take into account the things I like in a game (pinning, ambush etc.), so for the most part the rules are well written. I would have liked some more rules for terrain.

    And to compare it too 40k of today isnt really accurate, as those rules are only written to sell more models, better to compare it to with the first 40k rules that came in a box back in the ninties.

    The comments on this article kind of shows the problem with alot of wargaming today for me, as I like to play against different opponents. It seems like everybody is playing their own system, with their own scale.

    The main selling points for me about BA:
    *Easy to get into the rules.
    *Once you know the rules a game can be played in acouple of hours, great for those of us with full time work and a family.
    * I really like the iniative/order system.

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