Bolt Action – Alternate Indirect Fire Rules



At one point last year, I rattled off a stupidly overly complicated set of alternate rules to “fix” Indirect Fire in Bolt Action.  The confirmation that templates are going into BA 2E has prompted me to reevaluate that problem.

Templates work OK.  In a lot of ways, they’re kind of elegant in how they handle hits against a unit and missed fire scattering into other things.  But they’re also not great: they force you to think too much about how you position your models from a mechanical perspective and not a scenario perspective. The way they work in 40K, for example, they push out models to the edge of coherency… if you’ve got a bunch of Ork Boys, you’re penalized for not carefully spreading out and positioning them.  And, frankly, that’s a waste of time.

One of the things about Bolt Action I immediately cottoned to in Bolt Action was the lack of templates.  It took the weird concern about how many models are within in a 3″ bubble out of the game.  That said: existing Indirect Fire rules suck, for reasons I enumerate in the above link.

Here’s another, better (simpler) cut at addressing them:

Revised Indirect Fire

  • The roll to hit remains unchanged (6+ the first time, then 5+, etc).
  • If this roll is failed, it may be rerolled a number of times based on the experience level of the shooter: Inexperienced-0, Regular-1, Veteran-2.
  • For each reroll, reduce the HE level by one for the initial hit.
  • Once a shooter is zeroed in, rolls may not be rerolled and further shots are not reduced.


A Veteran Unit firing a Medium Mortar on the first round gets three chances to hit on a 6+. If they roll that 6 on the second roll, it hits as a D3, on the third it’d hit as a D2. If they don’t hit at all, the next round they’d have three chances at a 5+ and so on.  Once they’re zeroed in, the unit would get a single chance to roll a 2+ and those mortar shells would hit as D6.

An Inexperienced Unit firing the same Medium Mortar would get the one chance at a 6+. then the one chance at a 5+ and so on.

I’m feeling pretty confident about the rule.  It removes the swinginess of the existing rule and replaces it with something that rewards the experience level of the unit by putting it on a bit more of a curve. The reduction in HE is key, though, because otherwise veterans are hitting with mortars 42% of the time, which is insanely too good.  This steps it down the hypothetical Veteran Medium Mortar to 17% @ D6, 13% @ D3, and 12% @D2.

(Worth noting that this is pretty much just cribbed from Flames of War.)

On that note, one comment I got in the TGS group was a desire to share fire control.  I’m less confident about this, but I might as well share it here:

An Officer given a Fire order to order any and all Indirect Fire units within command range to fire together that have not already received an order. Pull an order die from the bag for each unit and give them a Fire order.

Make a single To Hit roll (as above) using the highest HE value and experience level in the salve.  For each additional HE weapon, increase the HE by a single step.

Like I said: less confident of that one, but might as well pass it along.