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.


  1. Not a bad setup for small games. Our group has a similar set of rules for 500 points: No AA vehicles (that many MGs or Autocannons just shred infantry), No Artillery observers or Airstrikes, No indirect artillery larger than a light howie or medium mortar, and no vehicles with higher armour values than 7+ (Armoured carriers). We've also ousted some special rules, such as the free units, in favour of slightly more balanced lists.
    Admittedly we haven't tested it too much with many armies, but it's a start.

  2. Hi Dave - we are rediscovering the joy of smaller games with the 500 point Patrol Scenarios from SEALION (played on a 4 x 4 board), and are keen to do more on this more intimate scale where each decision, dice and casualty really count.

    What do you do with the free US Air Observer? I assume if off board arty is too strong then Air Strikes would be too?

    I'd also be very interested in your thoughts regarding scenarios best suited to the smaller games, even narrative style ones


  3. Hi Paul
    Like the British Artillery Observer we replaced the Air Observer with 10% more points. The Russian free squad was also a % so for 500 points only 5 men/50 pts and so on.
    We are experimenting with smaller forces so a game can be done in an hour but using a rolling scenario. We'll post more after our first testing games this weekend.



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