Sunday, 22 February 2015

The French Dockyards 1944 - Preview

We are planning our next Boot Camp for Hawkcon on the 9 and 10 May. While pondering over the main board we saw another gamer had an interesting board with a U Boat or something similar as a centre piece. That got us thinking, so we searched for an appropriate boat.  Our first discovery? Boats are big.  Actually HUGE would be a better description. Getting most boats to scale would be larger than our standard Bolt Action 6' x 4' board. However, we were able to successfully use 1/72 scale gliders in our Pegasus Bridge game so we thought that would work here.
A little small but it'll do.

We discovered this Revell German Submarine Type IX C 1/72 Model Kit online and were enthused at our options.
At 1063mm long (42") this meant we would have to carefully work out the best way to place this on the board to get the most benefit.
Combining this with our city heights project (the planning and the result) was our solution, as you can see by the video above and the photos here.

Now we have a little work to do.
Add Boat Here
Firstly we need to add a couple of corner height sections, some beach areas and paint the foam.
Then we need a gantry to go across the boat and some walkways from the boat to the sides.
Lastly - or  firstly once the kit arrives this week - will be building and painting the whole point of this board - the submarine!

What else is there?
We then have the fun mission of working on the armies we will be using.

Naturally it will be 600 point forces, but we are considering a mix of Kreigsmarine and boat crew for the Germans and perhaps Americans, British or Commandos for the Allies.
We are considering setting this as a battle just after the Sword Beach landings in June 1944.
We'll see what response we get and how play testing goes.

More next week as we progress.

Our public playtest of this game will be at The Combat Company on Saturday 21 March.  We will also be having a second board on which we will be running our Boot Camp.

Let us know if you will be coming along.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Bolt Action 600 Point Armies - the video

600 Points of Russian goodness
Following up yesterday's post regarding how we use 600 point armies in our Demo Games, we have created a video run-through of some sample armies.
We have also provided the army lists produced at the Bolt Action Easy Army website for the armies featured in our video:
Winter British
Germany with Pz IV H and Volks Grenadiers
Russia with T34.

And now to the short video:

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Bolt Action 600 Point Armies - The perfect Boot Camp starter army

Bolt Action uses points to allow players to create comparable forces with units of high price being of greater power or value in the game. This helps us to quickly develop armies with which to play, but we have some special requirements.
A typical Bolt Action game is 1,000 to 1,250 points.  This allows for a good number of units - typically 10 to 15 or so - with some room for an army to recover from initial blows when the dice gods wreak their vengeance.
For a public participation or training game we need to have a balance allowing new players access to a variety of units, enough units to make the game challenging but not too many to slow the game down and the ability to finish the game in a reasonable time.
The other consideration is that certain weapons whilst reasonable in a higher point game are over-powered in a smaller size game.
In terms of game time and number of units we have found 600 points to be the perfect size.  Typical armies have between 5 and 8 units and they are balanced enough to provide fair and exciting games where everyone has a good chance of doing well.
Our guidelines for a Demo Gamer 600 point army are as follows:

1. Minimum of 5 units.  

Having less than 5 order dice is a too high risk strategy as each blow reducing the army hits 25% of the force. It doesn't matter how powerful the units are, if they are pinned enough, they will be of little use.

2. Reduced super powerful weapons

No Flamethrowers, Heavy Howitzers, off board artillery, air observers or planes. They have too much power for such a low point game. The 600 point limit effectively rules out most heavy and super heavy tanks.

3. Army special rule modifications:

a. British: Instead of the free artillery observer, they get an extra 50 points.
b. Russian: The free squad is 6 men
c. French: Free Light Howitzer

4. Game modifications:

a. No on board setup: This is a simplification that also reduces the power of snipers and spotters slightly to provide balance.
b. Buildings: We use our Building Clarifications to make better use of all our lovely buildings.

The rest of the special rules work fine at this scale.
Our typical game is an objective based "Capture the flag" style game. With two players we have 2 objectives, while 4 players fight over 3 objectives.
To capture an objective you need to be the last one to have been within 3" of the objective with 3 or more infantry from the same unit.  Tanks cannot hold an objective.

All these photos are for armies of 600 points and have all been competitive against each other.
The easiest way to build an army is to use the Bolt Action Easy Army site. It is a very straight forward affair to create armies that follow the army building rules and playing with all the options from which you can choose.
An example of a game with a number of 600 point armies is our St Mere Elise battle.  Check out the scenario for details of the armies we used for the US Paratroopers and German defenders and reinforcements.

UPDATE: We have now done a little video showcasing some example 600 point armies:
And we also have a post detailing some 600 point army lists that are shown in the video.

Monday, 2 February 2015

We train them young

At the Demo Gamers we need to train up our recruits so they can become Demo Gamer Sergeants, bravely going into public areas and introducing Bolt Action to the next generation. It can be a long journey so we start them young.
Zach is 4 years old and wanted to show off his knowledge.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Close Quarters are ...

Click for a bigger view.
Close Quarters assaults in Bolt Action are VERY decisive.
Attack, roll, resolution.
Basically whoever kills the most of the enemy in the first round, wins all and the losers are all removed.  That is why Lt David was able to defeat 9 Inexperienced guys in one roll.
At different times we love them and at others hate them, but you can't deny their cinematic nature!
After a short flurry of combats suddenly our assault trays become quite full and the dice bag emptier.
This comic is taken from yesterday's game.

Russia vs Germany - for the win

Forces coming on turn 1 - forest side
Today we had an enjoyable game teaching a friend how to play Bolt Action. We are grooming him to be a Demo Gamer Sergeant as our experience at Cancon means we will be needing more people helping us run demo games.
We have created a Youtube video giving a turn by turn run through of what happened, but here are some more details to help.
To show that we are not completely obsessed with buildings, today's board was a combination of fields and forest with only two small buildings.
Each army was 2 x 600 points as follows:


Infantry with Sdkfz 222 in Forest:

1 x Regular HQ (2nd Lt, with 2 men)
3 x Heer Regulars (9 Men: LMG, SMG, 7 Rifles, 1 x PzFaust)
1 x Regular MMG Team
1 x Regular Sniper team
1 x Sdkfz 222
Total Pts: 609, 7 Order Dice
Forces coming on turn 1 - fields side

 Panzer IV H and Volks Grenadiers (in fields)

1 x Regular HQ (1st Lt with 1 man)
3 x Volks Grenadiers (8 men: 5 x Assault Rifles, 3 x Rifle, 1 x PxFaust)
1 x Pz IV H (No side skirts)
Total Pts: 602,  5 Order Dice


Infantry in Forest

1 x Regular HQ (2nd LT with 2 men)
3 x Regular LMG Squads (10 Men, SMG, LMG, 8 Rifles)
1 x Regular Medic
1 x Inexperienced Free Rifle Squad (6 men, rifles + AT grenades)
1 x Regular Med Mortar
1 x Veteran Tank Hunter Squad (4 men, SMGs, AT Grenades)
Total Pts: 603, 8 Order Dice
Turn one with the Germans advancing in force

T34 and Infantry in fields

1 x Regular HQ (2nd Lt with 1 man)
2 x Regular LMG squad (SMG, LMG, 8 rifles)
1 x Inexperienced SMG Squad (6 SMG)
1 x Inexperienced Free Rifle Squad (6 men, rifles + AT grenades)
1 x T34/85 Tank
Total Pts: 601, 6 Order Dice
And the Russians moving to meet them

This was quite a lot of men to go into the fight. We had two objectives, the T intersection near the houses and the bridge in the forest.
The game worked out to be an excellent introductory game for our friend.  He had never played any wargame before, the closest similar thing would have been Risk or computer games. As we have experienced so often he had the basics worked out by the end of turn one and by turn 3 was making excellent decisions based on his options available.  By turn 6 he was seeing so many choices he could make and plans being decided on and then trashed as the situation changed with almost every order dice being pulled.
Our forest area has lots of hills and gullies, uncrossable rivers and rough ground bridges with lots of sight and cover challenges.
(As a side note it was interesting that the bridge was one we built about 10 years ago for another 28mm gaming system. This just shows you how our investment of time and effort into scenery can provide benefits for may years to come.)
Laser pointers are cool.
We use two key tools when determining line of sight and cover questions.
The first is a periscope (instructions are here)
The other is a new tool, the Army Painter - Targetlock Laser Line which was available shortly from War and Peace games but it sold out very quickly.  New stock should be arriving in about 4 weeks. This laser pointer meets Australian laser power guidelines and you hold it above the board and point down, giving yo a lovely line on the board.

By turn 2 the Russians are getting control of the T intersection
Like many games, the first couple of turns are manoeuvring with not too much firing, then suddenly the troops are close enough for much more dangerous activities.  The hard part is keeping some forces out of the thick of the fighting so they can take - and hold - the objective in turn 6.
In this game we had two very equal tanks - the German Panzer IV and the Russian T34/85. Turn one had the German player coming on first, which meant the Russian could then on come on and fire at him.  Rolled to hit and succeeded.  Then needed a 3+ to do any damage, but rolled a 1.  Tink! Just a pin.

Both houses occupied, Russians ready to charge.
Turn 2 both tanks missed each other. Turn 3 the T34 hit and once more only scored a 1 to cause damage.  Another Tink! In Turn 4, the Panzer IV had enough of this playing around and moved across to the house and decided to affect the objective.
The T34 raced across, hit and once more caused no damage. But in turn 6 - the critical turn - the Panzer IV failed morale and had to reverse away from the objective and go down.
This left the Russians in control and not enough Germans able to force the issue.
The Russians won the fields.

We win.  Move back over the hill.

Charge!! Capture the bridge.
The Germans outmanoeuvred the Russians and decided to force the issue with some frontal assaults over the hill.  Less than 6" away meant they were able to fight with no incoming fire and won the first combat, removing the Russian LMG squad.  Close Combats are great!
The next attempt was a charge against the Russians holding the bridge. Poor rolls meant the attacking Germans, even though hitting first in the Russian flank, still killed less than the Russians and were defeated.  Now there were not enough Germans left to wrest the bridge from the defending Russians.
Bah.  Charges are stupid. Until next time.

At the end of the game we all stood around and smiled at the results.
The German HQ is the only German unit contesting the objective.

But the Russian HQ has solved that problem.
"Let's do it again," my sons said and the friend agreed.  It was pretty impressive how well the new player did in the second game.  In that game the result was a draw, one flag each, and the friend lost the battle, he agreed that he had actually won.  He enjoyed the game and played Bolt Action, which is a win regardless of the score.
Now we will play more games and get him involved in some modelling and painting.
"But I've never painted before and I can't paint," he protested.
"Not a good enough excuse," we replied, "You'll learn that you can model and paint good enough for the table top.  Don't worry about how Peter paints. He has been doing it for longer and has a gift. Just remember, it just had to look good enough from about 3 foot away  tabletop standard - and that is not a difficult task."
And so it begins.


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