Bolt Action – Alternate Mortar Rules


One of the things that comes up– a lot– in our games is how Mortars suck in Bolt Action (by “mortars” here we really mean “anything firing Indirectly”).

They’re so swingy: when they hit they hit really, really hard and when they don’t they’re just a waste of points. When something boils down to “how good are you at rolling dice,” IMO there’s a problem.  It’s also weirdly inconsistent in terms of how mortars fire mortar shells vs. smoke: if you’re firing at the place Unit A is sheltering, Unit A moves and Unit B takes their place… you’ve suddenly forgotten where your mortar was pointing.  There’s also nothing differentiating Inexperienced Troops from Veteran Troops when it comes to firing indirectly: club members who have, in the past, fired mortars for a living have expressed dissatisfaction with that. Finally, it’s binary: you’re either trashing a unit with indirect or they could care less.

I really kind of like the way 40K handles this with the blast template and the scatter and the scatter roll being modified by Ballistic Skill… but you can’t do templates in Bolt Action. The rules avoid them, and there are some clear benefits to not having them, so they’re right out.

We chatted through a different approach at Fall In; might as well share it here. Not asserting that this is perfect, or final but this is on track with what  would like to see.  (In fact, I’ll tag the parts I’m less than certain about).


Replace INDIRECT FIRE, paragraph 2 with the following:

When using indirect fire, pick a point on the table within the weapon’s maximum range and outside of the weapon’s minimum range and place a marker there. Roll a d6*. Your opponent may move the marker that many inches in any direction, so long as the marker remains between the weapon’s minimum and maximum ranges**.

In subsequent turns, the unit may either choose a new point to fire at (in which case your opponent chooses where to place the marker, as above), or may continue firing at an existing marker: place a new marker d6″ away from a previously placed marker.  Placing a new marker does not remove the previous marker; how many markers are left on the table depends on the quality of the unit firing: Inexperienced Troops may leave only 2 markers, Regular 3, and Veteran 4.  If a unit already has the maximum number of markers on the table, remove the least recently placed marker****

If a marker is placed within 1″ of a unit, that unit suffers a hit from the weapon. as usual.  If a marker is placed within 3″ of a unit, that unit instead suffers a hit from a weapon one step down on the HE chart*****.  For example, a Light Mortar 1″ away is HE (D3) and 3″ away is HE (D2).  A unit greater than 3″ away is unaffected.

There are no guaranteed hits, but saturating an area with fire makes you more likely to hit units in that area. A unit’s quality is reflected in that they are progressively more likely to hit units in their target area as they range in.  Impact on a target unit is no longer binary: there’s a reduced impact from a near-hit.

Thoughts? Comments? Criticism?

* Maybe it should be 2d6.  It should be possible that the first shot of a mortar hits its target, but unlikely.

** Or maybe not?  Maybe it’s okay to let your opponent

*** Or possibly every unit that may fire indirectly.  It’s not like they’re not coordinating.

**** Or any of them, I guess.

***** I’m least certain about this.  Maybe the ranges need tweaking, maybe the stepping needs tweaking (down 2 steps instead of 1?), but fundamentally this is where I’m at.

Fall In!

This weekend’ll be my first Fall In. I’ve gone to Historicon for several years now and it’s probably my favorite gaming event; I expect Fall In to be like Historicon but smaller in scope.


I’ll be mostly playing things by ear: I’ll be helping with Steve‘s Sollum game (WWII), playing in Glenn (who I don’t know but personally, but know people who know him)’s Adwalton Moor game (ECW), but nothing really past that.

I’ve got By Fire & Sword, Saga, and my (unpainted) Partisans for Bolt Action with me, but no firm plans to do anything with any of it.

Battle of Amiens header

Amiens, Aug 8, 1918

Battle of Amiens header

I’m on deck to run a game for TGS in January (I’ve mentioned it, briefly, before); there’s a lot to do for it, so it’s occupied pretty much all of my hobby bandwidth for the past month or two and I expect it to continue to do so until game day.  That much work requires constant motivation, and since I’m starting to slow down on it, I might well start blabbing about it to keep the gears turning.

For starters, it’ll be the first day of the Battle of Amiens: Aug 8, 1918,  The beginning of the Hundred Days Offensive was very much the beginning of the end of WWI.  In a war where advances were measured by yards, this first day was measured in miles.

This is going to pose a challenge: the Germans are gonna lose, but that doesn’t mean the players on the German side should be there simply to remove casualties; that’s not fun.  I have a solution for this (that I’ll get to later).

I’ll be using Bolt Action as the ruleset.  Bolt Action’s great for a mess of reasons.  Also, I found some scenario/house rules for WWI Bolt Action, specifically intended for Kaiserschlacht scenarios: GAJO Bolt Action – Unofficial World War One Modifications.  I’m deviating from these a bit: the weapon rules are inappropriately fiddly (one of BA’s strengths is that it doesn’t try to differentiate between different weapons by weighing them down with rules minutia; it just says an LMG is an LMG is an LMG)  but it’s absolutely been my starting point.  I also played in a pair of Flames of War scenarios that used some house rules written before Battlefront put out their Great War rules: I’m stealing a little from these but in many places they jived with what I’ve been planning, which was a nice validation that I’m on the right track.

I’m downshifting scale, though.  Instead of running it at 25/28mm, the models will be 15/18mm.  Currently, the plan is to change nothing else save the size of the models.  Movement and weapon ranges will remain unchanged.  This might change; but until I’ve gotten in a playtest game or two it’s the plan.

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2015-10 PPMBY

Hobby Status – October

All of my momentum’s been sapped by The Crud, which is pretty frustrating.

It’d be more frustrating, though, if I hadn’t noticed the below while closing out October:

2015-10 PPMBY

2015-10 CPBY

By some point in October, I’d done more than I had all year in 2014.   This WWI project (which I need to get around to posting about in depth) is largely responsible for this, I expect.  What’s crazy is that I’m only half-counting everything I do for that; the scale’s smaller, the painting scheme’s simpler, so instead of counting 1 infantry as 1 point, I’m counting 1 infantry as ½.

So, even though I kinda feel like


I’m also really feeling a bit like

Super Saiyan

Infinity Table

Cars, Trucks


Infinity Table

I set up a table for Infinity in the basement over the weekend: this is all the Deadzone stuff I have (until Infestation materializes, which should be this twice again), plus some other stuff because even with all of this, it feels sparse.

I’d given it some thought and finally realized what the problem is: roads.  The roads look nice and all, but they’re a lot of empty space.  You can’t just plop buildings on roads; that’d be weird and defeat the purpose.

Then, the answer came to me: cars.  There need to be vehicles of some sort.  This solves the problem of the roads being empty, but will also add some realism.

So, that’s what I’m looking into at the moment: trying to source some vehicles that I can scatter.

I’d been planning on posting about it some time this week, but TMP just threw a post about Antenociti’s Workshop doing Infinity vehicles up, which might be great (perfect for Infinity, maybe, but I’d prefer something a little more generic and industrial-leaning) so I might as well do it now.  I’m also looking at some 1:43 trucks & tankers on eBay (the scale might be a little large, but any truck I used should be large enough to cart around those AT-43 cargo crates).

Any other thoughts for inexpensive vehicles that’ll work for 28mm as sci-fi industrial?

Glazed Faces


Had something of a breakthrough yesterday, implementing a takeaway from one of the Massive Voodoo seminars at NOVA.  Specifically Painting Faces.

Short version is that, when painting (male) faces, glaze the top third yellow, the middle red, and the bottom third blue.  This was my practice model from the class:

Painting Faces Practice Model

I finally took a swing at it on my own minis today, while painting some partisans. I’m less than thrilled with the overall paintjobs (and one’s still WiP), so don’t worry the total package here.  Focus on the faces:

Glazed Faces

The one on the right is from an earlier batch; my usual Anglo skin technique. The one on the left is the exact, same technique… but with a single, very thin glaze of GW Pink Horror (a rose) on the nose and cheeks and one of GW Dark Reaper (a grey-blue) on the cheeks and chin.

That’s it. The result is an incredibly more vibrant and interesting face with next to no additional effort.  And it’s really driven home for me to see it on one of my models, next to another without it.

20150930 Wednesday Workbench

Wednesday Workbench

20150930 Wednesday Workbench

Kind of a lot of balls in the air at the moment:  the first batch of Huns are done and ready for varnishing.  The next, larger batch is in progress.  Somehow I volunteered to paint another few Partisans before the end of October, and since I’m painting WWI Germans and the FoW Great War book comes out any month, now, I might as well knock those out too.