Month: March 2014

My Review of Warlord Games’ Bolt Action.

Last weekend, I attended the Crucible 3 Convention in Orlando, Florida. I took part in the Bolt Action Tournament that was organized by my friend, Patrick Ballinger. I’ve already blogged about my experiences there in my previous post. Now I’ll review the rules.
First of all, Bolt Action is a physically impressive book. Warlord Games has teamed up with Osprey Publishing and the result is some of the best looking game books on the market.
Too bad the actual rules are considerably less than impressive to me.
It seems as if Bolt Action’s rules are descended from the Warhammer Basic Rules. I didn’t care much for WH’s way of doing things. I found them to be very limited in terms of tactical decision making. These limits have found their way into the Bolt Action rules. Here are a few examples.
Usually under most rules, squads can divide down into teams with each team operating seperately. In Bolt Action, the whole squad operates together. There is no provision for setting up a base of fire with your BAR/LMG Team while your rifle team manuevers to close with the enemy.
The next one really floored me. I have a German Panzergrenadier Platoon as well as an American Armored Infantry Platoon in 28mm scale. Every rule set I have ever played assumes that each APC comes with a Driver and a Gunner. In Bolt Action, a unit is required to stay in the Vehicle in order to fire the pintle mounted MG. This leads to some bizarre situations such has having your unit medic staying behind in the halftrack to fire the HMG. It also pretty much nullifies the use of any APC. You’d be better off buying trucks and jeeps.
Snipers, in this game, are way overpowered and deadly. They can take out an entire weapons team with just one hit. That’s right…I lost a 60mm mortar team and a MMG team to snipers. Under the Bolt Action rules all it takes is for the sniper to Wound the Gunner and magically the remaining team members are also removed. The last time that happened to me was in a Warhammer 40K game as the result of a Plasma Bolter. I wasn’t aware of the fact that apparently the Wehrmacht had them as well…or at least an equivalent weapon.
In conclusion, after playing BA at the tournament, I’m going back to Disposable Heroes from Iron Ivan Games. It is, in my opinion a superior rules set. However, if you are used to playing in the GW style and have experience with Warhammer and Warhammer 40K then Bolt Action would be a good set of rules for you to get you into WWII.

Have Fun. Play Games!

Into The Crucible…

This past weekend I did something that I had never done before. I took part in a competitive wargames tournament. That’s right…my first. I have been a historical miniatures gamer since 1972 (actually earlier if you count playing with plastic soldiers out in the backyard as a kid). Since then, I have hosted and played in any number of games at events ranging from local game days to large conventions but I had never taken part in a competitive tournament. That is until this past weekend.
The problem was that I really wasn’t interested in the games that were played at these tournaments. Warhammer did nothing for me. It’s a visually beautiful game and I’ve seen some incredibly well painted armies. However, I wasn’t interested in the game itself especially when Games Workshop put out the edict that players could only use their miniatures in the Official Tournaments. I did buy the Mordheim setting book because I got it at a discount. It wasn’t a bad game but apparently not using the Official Miniatures was a big no-no.
When Warhammer 40K came out, I decided to give that a try. It was at least somewhat science fiction/fantasy. I bought a small contingent of Cadian Imperial Guard which I painted up in WWII German Wehrmacht colors. I also added a Space Marine Space Wolves Squad and a small contingent of Sisters of Battle which I thought looked pretty cool. I started playing in the local game stores. It was there that I ran into the WAAC (Win At All Cost) Adolescent Geekpunk. After a month or so of having to stifle my urge to pop their pimples with a two by four, I bailed on the whole scene. It was getting massively expensive any way and I just couldn’t see investing any more time and money into a game that I no longer enjoyed. That was about 15 years ago.
In 2012, Warlord Games in England brought out a WWII game called Bolt Action. I’d already gotten several of their rules and supplements and liked them so I got Bolt Action about a year or so ago. It mostly sat on the shelf while I played and ran Disposable Heroes/Coffin for Seven Brothers from Iron Ivan Games. Once I completed my move to Gainesville, I set up my wargames table. I took a look at Bolt Action but had little playing time with. When the opportunity came up to play in a Bolt Action Tournament, I drew up a couple of US Army lists, packed my toy soldiers and off I went to Orlando.
My tournament experience was interesting to say the least. First of all, all the other players were some of the best people I have ever gamed with. I only knew two of them from previous conventions. The rest were very welcoming and congenial. They are a great bunch of guys and I look forward to gaming with them again.
As for the results of my battles, of the eight games that I took part in I drew twice and lost the rest. As a result of this performance, I came in last and had a ball doing so. My prize was a bag of plastic Army Men. It symbolized the player who had the most fun playing with his toy soldiers.
I will most definitely be back again next year…as for my analysis of the Bolt Action Rules…that will be my next post.
Play Games and Have Fun!