Tuesday, June 17, 2014

20mm Bolt Action Learning Games Infantry and Armor

Steve Bidwell and I played through a couple of Bolt Action games to get a feel for the mechanics and rules yesterday. We played on an 8x6 table (Rat Palace standard table configuration) with minimal terrain features other than undulating terrain and a ruined factory type of building section.

Steve's and Rusty's collections are 20mm (1/72 scale).  The lines Warlord promotes are 28/30mm.  I like 20mm for this system as I really don't have have a large table to play and could host two separate games at the same time or link two separate games into a linked scenario.  Steve B. told me these rules were primarily tournament oriented. I'm going to rant a moment since this is my blog. I don't play tournaments. I don't care to put on my "game face" anymore to beat the crap out of my opponent either by outhinking them (not very likely in my case) or beating them with rules.  I found myself playing quite intensely during tournaments in the 80s and early 90s.  I've mellowed and my giveacrapometer just doesn't. I find rules that are "lighter" on complexity and allow me to carry on a conversation with fellow gamers (BS'n), and drink a couple of fermented beverages are preferable to an evening of all out total mental war on my opponent.  Crap happens when one gets older right?  Now to the games...

We played a 2v2 squad level game with the infantry. Germans v U.S.  The U.S. had to deal with a couple of Hannomags that transported the German scout team.  I was a dummy and didn't bring any bazookas. I definitely will next time.  The game was a hide and seek game for both sides.  We'd both get and give small numbers of casualities.  One thing we did learn is that pinning markers add a big toll.  One has to pay the piper to move by counting pin markers when wanting to move or do any action.  As per Black Powder, when a unit gets two or more markers (poker chips yesterday), it's time to try and rally them.  In a small squad level game, that's just not always possible.  The U.S. army has a definite shooting advantage with their high numbers of Garands, BARs and the odd Thompson.  One has to play run  and gun in support with the other squad.  I like that in these rules.  The takeaways from this infantry game?
  1. 20mm might work for me better than 28 for skirmish or small force level games.
  2. Buy some supports-HMG, Bazooka or bulk up the units to the max with grunts.
The armor game was quite different.  I am used to playing Flamers of War.  It was refreshing to see a smaller scale armor game where each tank was a separate unit.  In an FoW game, folks like to put their armored units hub to hub. Sometimes they're even painted!! Bolt Action armor is a different animal.  Tanks sighted and shot usually brewed up unless the Dice Gods were not in their favor. 
We played 7 tanks per side to get a quick peek.  The Germans crushed the U.S. in about 5 turns.  Steve Bidwell did some fast reading and most of these games are set at 6 turns.  I died in an appropriate manner.  The game was fast.  We saw a preview of Bolt Action's "Armor Only" game.  Didn't see enough to give the reader more than "it looks quite familiar". Not like FoW. Just familiar.  The takeaways from this game:
  1. Don't play armor only. Tanks and armored vehicles/softskins are meant to be brought in small bites in an infantry support role.  I've not seen how Panzergrenadiers work in Bolt Action.  They should be deadly against leg infantry.  Right now the rules for armor only are a bit boring.  
  2. Keep armor purchases real. Light armor such as Stuarts, an occasional Sherman, Mark IV, BT7 or T-34 can be offset by the AT available for the infantry (bazooka, panzerschreck and faust, AT guns of moderate calibers).  
  3. Do buy some artillery and AT guns. HE is fun 
Time to get some Japanese 20mm. I've got time this summer break. Soft plastic doesn't bother me at all. I paint 54mm soft plastics. 

Here's some pics: 
Game Table at the Rat Palace Redux

Lots of undulating terrain. I didn't put enough
woods out there.

Bidwell smokes my scouts and their scout car.

The dogfaces hit the dirt on hearing the clatter
of Hannomags and a click click of an MG34

Germans in the building. Yeah it's part of my
Stalingrad set. So sue me!

Less Krauts now

An O.S.moment for the U.S. squad

We're wondering wth we're supposed to do with
only 7 armored vehicles. FoW spoilt us.

A light/medium team run full speed for the back
side of the small hill.

Turn 2. U.S. commander (me) is poleaxed!

More of Kommandant Bidwell

Well brewed up

Jumbo's in the ruins. Dumb assed TC!

Stealthy Sherman sees his buds brewed on the left

German advance!

These guys are like a Battle of Jutland report..."they blew up"

Gladiators look on and laugh at the silly tankers

Why I like Bolt Action and dislike tournament players

Bidwell's 20mm 105 battery....coolness from Revell

105 Battery second take!