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Bolt Action is a cracking little game and I think that is one reason why changes like the format rules (up to season 3 now) have been embraced by many players. It is a game that is almost there, it just feels like it needs a few tweaks to really make it sing, and the community of players are willing to invest the time in creating these changes. Now that edition 2 of the rules themselves are at the printers, if not already in warehouses waiting on H-Hour, any community changes are moot until we see what the authors themselves have in mind.

I’m looking forward to the new rules, although like most I could do without buying another rule book (and leaving the current one redundant). However, even without the format rules or a second edition, I would still happily play Bolt Action. I would love to see more LMG being fielded, and can see the merit of many of the suggested changes. I’ve written on that before. However, just taking LMG still works as a solution, between consenting adults, even if no changes are made.

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Another topic of conversation is tough fighters compared with other options like SMG.
My problem is not with tough fighter per se but with how they are routinely fielded. Tough fighter can be brutal, but I think it comes into play too often because units get a taxi service around the battlefield way to easily.

Units did not stay in trucks under fire. Trucks may have transported units to the battle space, but once there units had to walk (crouch, crawl, run). I think tough fighter would be less extreme if you had to use fire and manoeuvre more frequently to close with your enemy. To this end, I would like to see units receiving fire while embarked penalised even more than they are now. Pins, wounds and the risk of entanglement or cohesion (forced going down) could all come to play. There needs to be a signficant trade-off for arriving in a truck.

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Truck, for the Fallschirmjagers

I like trucks, but they appear too often, I think they are better used in specific scenarios over generic missions. Using a transport to outflank should come with risk of pins to reflect hazard elsewhere on the battlefield, and again to force a trade-off for outflanking in a vehicle. Outflank on foot by all means, your trusty sargeant has led the way.

This allows for the introduction of special rules, either for particular lists (say to represent a dominance of transports, say Normandy US or early Russian campaign Germans) or be mission specific. Flavour as well as crunch. It is also a chance to differentiate armoured personal carriers a bit, where armoured assault and a bit of protection from small arms fire was a thing (Germans put petrol in the Hanomags, they might finally get a run).

As I write this another post topic comes to mind: I don’t actually like army books very much. But boy, I do enjoy the theatre books.

cheers,
D.

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MG- you’re doing it wrong

This has been a topic of conversation in Bolt Action circles for a while, and with format season 3 not long released and BA edition two apparently about to be a thing, debate around what to do with LMG continues.

And the debate is around is what should be done to alter the squad support LMG (and to a lesser extent MMG). Remarkably for gamers, there is broad consensus that the rules surrounding these weapons require some tweaks. I tend to agree but won’t weep if no official changes occur. Of course, being gamers, we all have different ideas on what to do.heer03At this point US players just shrug their shoulders and pick up their BAR! The rest of us need to think about this.

Playing Germans, I found the change in the season format rules reducing the points cost from 20 points to 5 points, combined with Hitler’s Buzz-Saw rule, made the decision to include LMG in my squads an easy one. Although, truth be told, it didn’t change my build much as I already took LMG. What did happen is that I had extra points that avoided a decision on medic or kubelwagon. Under season 3 I can take both.

I have also heard some folk argue to not alter the points but instead increase the LMG rate of fire so the cost “makes sense”. The usual calculation is shots fired per regular dude. For 40 points you can have 4 regular guys with rifles: 4 wounds and 4 shots. Under RAW, your 40 points for an LMG  is two guys (wounds) and 3 shots. Two wounds and one shot down. To balance this at least one extra shot seems to be required. There is even some temptation to go to five shots as base, but with the risk of making the Germans too good.

Applying this sort of maths to 5 point LMG sees them now compare much more favourably, with an LMG team getting one more shot over the same two guys armed with rifles. A rate of fire increase not dramatically different to arming one of the dudes with an SMG.

Variations are possible, of course, 10 or 15 points and 4 shots, etc.

So far I have also ignored MMG, which perhaps would need to move to be suitably more dangerous than LMG. Changing rules is not for the faint-hearted.

Perhaps a more profitable way to approach any change is to consider the effect and role of squad based LMG and supporting MMG. They were common in WWII, basic squad structure was often little more than a delivery mechanism for LMG. They were feared. Squad based assault relied on a fire base built around the LMG and an assault group that pushed forward under its cover. Support weapons were also central to defence. I think any set of rules for a WWII game played at squad/platoon level needs to allow this to occur.

To a large extent Bolt Action already does this. A modest tweak may help bring this out.

However, a fundamental complaint would remain: people feel that LMG and MMG should be more common on the table. Clearly the rules writers also feel this, LMG are a near ubiquitous support option and the standard reinforced platoon selector – and nearly all theatre selectors – include an MMG choice. They want, and expect, us to take them.

Just take the LMG. They are historical and integral to the period.

In some ways it is that simple.

Commanders rarely had exactly the equipment they wanted. What they were issued with were LMG. The other stuff is cool. The other stuff may lever the rule set better. Use it by all means. But take the LMG, consider it a history tax.

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Table supplied by Battlefield Accessories

If I get a call from Warlord asking my advice, I’m tempted to say use season three format, but with this added rule: give hits from LMG added pins. Given medium mortars are the smallest weapons to potentially generate additional pins, instead of D2 pins I suggest that LMG cause 2 pins on a 6 (and one otherwise) and MMG 2 pins on a 5+.

What do you think, do machine guns need to change? Do we see them often enough?

 

 

 

Zebra Cavalry, Lee Tanks and Imperial Rome

The wargames club I attended as a teen did WWII and not much else. Fair enough and good fun, but I never had enough terrain or tanks for decent battles at home.  What I were some boxes of Airfix plastics, a mix of WWII, black powder and ancients (both kinds: Romans and Britons!).  So my brother and I made do and lined up across the floor with a sort of colonial-fantasy hybrid where columns of muskets would try to keep out sword wielding hoards!  Rarely balanced, but throw in a wizard or two and things evened out. No cannons? Doesn’t matter, a fireball will sort out those pesky Commandos trying to sneak across the river!

I wish I had some photos: Lego towns, paper roads and a beloved Airfix Roman fort.
Hills were the classic books under a blanket.  We even tried our hands at conversions. I particularly remember soft plastic zoo animals pressed into service as cavalry mounts. I’m sure they were just a bit crap, but one day my Zebra riders took out a tank!
Wargamers live for moments like that.

Of course, rules that covered such diverse situations didn’t come straight out of the box. We used a home-brew of some WWII rules lifted from a magazine (Battle maybe?) and a little tome by one Gary Gygax, Swords and Spells:

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It is basically what is says on the cover – it is the D&D combat rules expanded to deal with big armies.  Forty years on I have to say that they are just a bit shit!  I think we even knew that at the time. It didn’t allow for panzers for one thing.

They do contain some really interesting ideas though. You don’t roll dice to work out combat. It acknowledges that with that many dice you are basically averaging things anyway, so it just calculates what the average would be and then applies that.  Needless to say, we largely ignored that bit and got on with the much more satisfying task of rolling dice.

All of this is a long way of explaining why I’ve never played a game of Warhammer Fantasy. By the time Warhammer came out I was roleplaying and when I started gaming again my friends were into 40K.

Never say never though.

What about you? What rule sets did you begin your gaming journey with?