Friday, August 22, 2014

Bolt Action - First Game Summary

Last night I was able to play a game of Bolt Action (by Warlord Games) hosted/run by my friend Bill.

I was given command of a Russian force and my friend Randy took command of an opposing force of Germans.  I was ordered to stop the Germans from advancing down the road.
Russian Forces
 My forces consisted of a T-34, 3 units of regular infantry, 1 unit of inexperienced infantry, a medium MG, and a light mortar.
German Forces
The Germans had a STuG, a Hertzer, a light MG, and 3 units of veterans.

This was a game to learn some rules so we didn't worry a lot about balanced forces.  Bill just picked some units that would allow us to try out the different unit types and to have an enjoyable game.

The Germans set up on the left side of the table around the road.  The tanks both started on the road with the infantry in the open around them.

I set up mostly on the right side of the table with a few units set up at the close end in the woods.  We also ran some barbed wire across the road in an attempt to slow down the advancing force.  I don't know how much it would slow a tank, but it is all we had available.  I had my tank hidden in the fenced area behind one of the buildings and my inexperience infantry unit hidden in some trees in attempt to flank the Germans.

The Germans start advancing up the road with their tanks.  They fire at some infantry in the open, but don't do much.  Since this was our first game, we had a lot to learn.  Randy was only firing the main guns at first.  The MG could have done more damage, Randy will add their fire soon.

 I pulled my tank out of hiding to take a shot at the lead tank.  I fail to get a good shot and the round flys high.  I had hoped to take out a tank on that first shot to even the playing field a little; failing that, this might not go so well.

 The inexperienced Russians rush out of hiding trying to add their fire to the battle.  However, being inexperienced they run out in front of the German MG and come under heavy fire.  They will end of being pinned down in the open until they suffer enough casualties and get enough pin markers to wipe them out.
 The T-34 got assaulted by some infantry which added a pin marker and caused it to go "down".  Thus losing its activation.  The Germans took a couple of shots at it before getting a solid hit and destroying the tank.
 The infantry supporting the MG fire from the tree line on the advancing infantry and score a few hits.
The infantry see a unit flanking their position so are forced to leave the MG to fend for itself and deal with this new threat.
 After a few rounds of fire the flanking unit is destroyed.  This protect their position, but leaves the MG with no support.
 This unit of infantry moves in order to engage the German infantry, but get caught in the open by the Hertzer and its MG.  They take some casualties, but keep moving.
Without any AT support these Russians do their best to hold their ground against the tank while trying to do some damage to the infantry.

In the end, the Russians held off the German advance and did quite a bit of damage to the German infantry in the process.  However, they suffered heavy losses in return.  The German tanks remained undamaged, but with limited infantry support they were unwilling to continue their advance until more infantry could be brought up.

I enjoyed the game quite a bit.  Thanks to Bill for putting it together, providing all the models and terrain, and walking us through the rules.  Thanks to Randy for providing command to the opposition forces.

What I like about the rules:  
I like the activation mechanic in general.  It is a little frustrating when the Germans get activation after activation, but that means I will get a bunch later.  I like how the orders work too.  You can go "down" when you are shot at to make it harder to hit you, but then you won't get to act later in the turn.  You've got to decide if staying alive is more important than acting.  

I also like the moral mechanic.  I like that the number of pin markers make things harder for you.  I think it does a good job of representing moral and how it is harder to get your men to do what you want (or anything at all) once they have suffered a few loses.  Obviously more experience troops tend to follow orders more often.

What I don't like about the rules:
My only real complaint after this first is the shooting rules are a bit fiddly.  It will likely become much easier after a few games as we were getting better with them as we played.  We didn't really do any assaults (other than one infantry assault versus my tank), so I won't pass any judgments on those.

This game was played with 20mm models.  I have quite a few 15mm models as I used to play Flames of War so I might put together some forces using those.  Generally, this game feels like early editions of 40K with some variations.  That isn't necessarily a bad thing.  

I'm sure with a few more games under our belts, the fiddly bits will work themselves out and it will play fairly quickly.

I think these rules would work well for lots of settings.  I might do some sci-fi games using these rules. 

Have you played Bolt Action?  What did you think? 

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