Tag Archives: Bolt Action

Arnhem, September 18 1944


Back in March, during our Foy game, we got to talking ’bout some Arnhem.  A quick lookup turned up that the anniversary of Market Garden actually lined up with our regular gaming slot in September, with the actual day being the anniversary of Operation Berlin (aka: the evacuation ending the endeavor).  With six months lead-time, surely we could do a big Market Garden game by then, right?

Fortunately, we very quickly scaled back our plans from a series of linked games covering the high points of the Operation from start to finish down to ‘simply’ doing Frost’s attempt to hold onto the bridge in Arnhem.  This was the right call.


Steve, who knows a lot more about this than I do (I’ve watched A Bridge Too Far, and have read the book on which it’s based, but that’s about it), did all the planning,  John already had the Germans painted, and did all of the table, which is (as you’ll see) amazing.  I painted up the British paras.

There was an online, pre-game component where the British and German teams determined how they would deploy and maneuver.


Although the Germans responded the same way they did historically, the British did things a little differently, which resulted in 1) Frost not even getting to the bridge and 2) the British that did needing to defend it from the town and across the river.


(Would you just look at this table?)

I ended up on the German team. Because we assumed they would concentrate their forces on the buildings overlooking the bridge, the plan was to advance through the buildings on the East side of the causeway, ensuring they were clear and approaching under cover.


That didn’t last long. It turned out the British were riddled throughout the those houses.  Assaulting in Bolt Action 1E is decisive, and my rolling wasn’t so hot, so I lost 2 out of 3 assaults, which wiped out my infantry units pretty much by the very beginning, leaving me with a tank and not much else.



That’s the silver lining of playing Germans in WWII: when you’re winning, you’re winning.  When you’re losing, the Germans are losing, and that means all is right with the world.



We had a tough time pushing up that flank: both because the BA building rules, which are normally Good Enough, are especially punishing when there’s basically nothing but buildings. Needing to go room-to-room is entirely on point here, but I think we need to tweak things a bit somewhere here.


Eventually, the models I painted deigned to leave cover, which let me get some photos of them in action:




(I’m particularly pleased with that first image in the post. How cool is that?)

We eventually got near enough to the buildings around the bridge, which meant the PIATs opened up.  I did have one, brief, shining moment of usefulness when a PIAT from the top floor of one of the buildings fired on a tank: my tank returned fire and handily returned fire, killing everyone in the top floor.



At the end of the game, though, the German progress was too slow: of the six buildings around the bridge, the Germans had taken/cleared two of them, and the British still occupied four.  All pretty much agreed that the British had won the game.

1/72 Red Devils – done for now


It is accomplished. I’ve finished my (minor) contribution to this weekend’s Arnhem game.

  • 4 command model (including a Frost and, almost more importantly, a Tatham-Warter model)
  • 4 10-man squads with NCO w/ Sten, Bren, 2 Stens, 6 Riflemen (though there’s an extra Rifle to the side in case we want to throttle down and only have 2 Stens in each squad)
  • 4 PIATs
  • 3 Medium Mortars
  • 3 MMGs
  • Also ended up with 2 extra Brens

This is a hair more than we’ll actually be using, I think, but it’s a substantial step down from the original plan.  I’ve got another 5 squads’ worth of minis prepped for painting, but I’m glad this is all I needed to do in the end.  Having painted a bunch of these, I’ve decided that I hate this scale.  1/72 combines the drawbacks of 15mm (poor/difficult to paint detail, requires volume) and 28mm (sufficient detail to require attention) with none of their respective benefits (seriously who cares about detail, they’re 15mms and interesting detail enough to merit the effort), hitting a sour spot between hassle and payoff.  That’s why I won’t be sticking these bastards into the lightbox.

I’m sure I’ll finish off the rest of them at some point.  It’s a shame that they’re Paras, and so likely don’t need much in the way of vehicles, which I gather is the point of the scale.

The table, however, is going to be magnificent.

Stuarts – Completed

I finished* the four Stuarts (3 Rubicon M5A1s and 1 Company B M3 Satan)  I’d been working on yesterday.  They are a far, far, far cry from perfect (or even good), but I’m done with them and they’re easily the best vehicles I’ve painted yet.

Definitely came away with a bunch of things I need to work on.  I have miles and miles to go with weathering powders, but I feel like maybe they’re starting to make sense to me. Ditto the airbrush: I need a lot of practice with it, but it really clicked for me during this process.  Rather than focus on what’s wrong with these, I’m going to choose to simply be pleased with them. (Unlike the looted Italian vehicles I painted for my Partisans, which I’m so disgusted with I won’t photograph them.)

Stuart 1 RStuart 1 L Stuart 2 RStuart 2 L Stuart 3 RStuart 3 L Stuart 4 RStuart 4 L

And, even though there’s a ton of stuff to work on, there are definitely a couple of notes here where I think things Worked.

Stuart Detail (3)  Stuart Detail (5)  Stuart Detail (4)  Stuart Detail (2)  Stuart Detail (1)


* As I took the pictures, I realized I’d neglected headlights. Sigh

Stuart WIPs

M5 Stuart WIP (4)

I got a few hours in with the airbrush over the weekend and started working on some of the backlog of vehicles for my WWII USMC.  This M5 Stuart is one of them.

A long, long, long way from perfect, but I feel like I’m starting to get my head around the edge highlighting/constrasting (whatever it’s called) so I’m pleased.  I clearly need to work on where to use it (the LVT(A)1 I worked on is an embarrassment), but the mechanics are starting to lock in.

Anyway, progress is progress, and this feels like progress.

M5 Stuart WIP (1)

M5 Stuart WIP (2)

M5 Stuart WIP (3)

Bolt Action WWI Rules

I’ll be running Amiens again at Madicon this weekend (Saturday morning, 9AM! Be there, or be somewhere else!), so I really need to get around to posting the dang updated lessons-learned rules (“Post BA WWI rules” has been in my to-do list all February).  Then, I’ll just stick the PDF in a link on the side and that should be the last you hear of it for a while.

Bolt Action – Small Scale Rules Modifications

All measurements and ranges (formation, weapon ranges, morale, etc.) remain unchanged, with the following exception:


  • Basic move rate for infantry units is reduced to 4”. Running infantry units is 8”.
  • Vehicle movement is also reduced: 6” for tracked and half-tracked vehicles, 9” for wheeled vehicles.

This worked out about perfect. Carrying over weapon ranges feels just right, but 6″ movement felt all kinds of wrong at this scale. Stepping it down worked great.

Bolt Action – Great War Rules

General Rules

Barbed Wire

Obstacle.  Does not block line of sight or provide cover.  If an infantry unit Advances over it, roll a d6 – on a 1-2, the unit is Entangled: it must stop movement before crossing the barbed wire and takes a hit.  An Entangled unit may not benefit from a Down order.

A section is removed when a tracked vehicle moves over it, or when a unit with the Pioneer rule and two or more models in contact with it at the start of their activation is given a Run order; this consumes all of the movement of those models. A tracked vehicle may only remove one section at a time (ie: it cannot drive over two adjacent sections) but may remove more than one section in a single movement (ie: drive over one line of barbed wire and continue on to drive over a second, third, etc).

This worked out fine.  I don’t think it came up all that often, but barbed wire was an effective deterrent: the Germans used it in an attempt to control the flow of the British as much as they could.  So: as expected.

Creeping Bombardment

This is a line across the width of the table.  In the first turn, it activates first and advances from the British edge of the table.  In subsequent turns, it gets its own Activation die.  When it is activated, it will advance 2d6+6″ towards the German table edge.

Shooting across it provides heavy cover.

Any unit within 6″ of this line is Caught in the Bombardment – roll when giving the unit its order or when a unit moves to within 6″ of it.  Units may go Down in response to being Caught in the Bombardment:

Amiens - CitB - Order Chart

Exposed units may not be given a Rally order when Caught in the Bombardment.

After advancing the Creeping Bombardment, roll a die for any Barbed Wire sections now within 6″ of this line.  On a 6+, remove it.

Amiens - CitB - Consequences Chart

I had to throttle back on this table, big time. In my first playtest, even being Entrenched didn’t help much.  Although this represents a bigger deviation from basing the table on being hit by a Heavy Howitzer, I think it worked better.  


Up to 20 models may shelter in each bunker.  Units in a bunker are never Caught in the Bombardment (but might be treated as such if they exit the bunker into the bombardment). Otherwise, bunkers are treated as buildings.

This didn’t come up in the game: nobody hid in the bunkers.

Gas Masks

A unit given an Ambush, Down, or Rally order may put on or take off their gas masks.  (This applies to vehicles as well.)

A unit wearing gas masks may not be given Advance or Run orders. A vehicle may not be given a Fire, Advance, or Run order.

A model wearing gas masks is at a -1 penalty to hit with shooting and always fight last in Close Combat.

This didn’t come up in the game: gas wasn’t used at Amiens.  I’d like to give them a try at some point.

Poison Gas

Poison Gas functions as a smoke fired from a Heavy Howitzer (6″). When a model is contacted by a poison gas cloud, roll a d6:

  • The model is wearing a gas mask: The model is killed on a 6. Veterans may reroll failures.
  • The model is wearing a gas mask: The model is killed on a 2+.

If a vehicle is ‘killed’ by this roll, treat it as a Knocked Out result.

This didn’t come up in the game: gas wasn’t used at Amiens.  I’d like to give them a try at some point.


Units may not be deployed in an Outflanking maneuver.

However, units brought on from Reserves may be brought in along the edge of the table at the trenches, with an additional -1 penalty for the trenches nearest their side of the table, and a -2 for the trenches furthest.  This is decided when making the order check.  So: a unit may be brought in from Reserve along the table edge at -1 morale, the near trench at -2, and the far trench at -3.

Originally, sides could bring in reserves from trenches that they “controlled” (so, once the British crossed Trench 1, the Germans could no longer bring in reserves from that trench and the British could).  This update adds flexibility and risk-reward.  I think it’ll work out.


Units may not Run across trenches. Trenches provide Heavy Cover as if it were a building.  When a unit is hit by an HE round in a trench, roll a d6 – on a 1-4, the Extra Protection rule is not ignored (on a 5-6, it is ignored as usual).  To clarify: when a unit is hit by an HE round in a trench, on a 5-6, they require 6s to be wounded.

Units may fire at other units down the length of a Trench using true line of sight, but any model more than 6” away is always out of range.

At the beginning of the game, determine if trenches are wide.  If trenches are wide, vehicles may not cross them except across a fascine.

These worked out as expected.

War to End All Wars

The scope of this conflict ranges for miles and miles and miles along the line along the front.  When an Order Die is removed from the bag (because a unit is eliminated) it may be recycled.  To recycle an Order Die, select a dead, non-vehicle unit from casualties (or assemble an infantry squad from casualties): non-vehicle, non-team units recycle on a 3+, vehicles and units with the Team rule recycle on a 5+.

If you succeed, the unit is placed into Reserves at the beginning of the next turn.  If you fail, the Order Die is removed from the game. You do not have to immediately recycle the Order Die.

This was the big lessons-learned from the game: by allowing the players (especially the Germans) to infinitely recycle their units, effectively removing any consequences from losing a unit.  “I’ll run the flammenwerfer forward: if it dies, that’s okay! It’ll be back next turn!”  This will help keep things from being hopeless but will make using a unit, especially a Team, still hurt.

Army Special Rules


Mark V*s

The Mark V* tank had space to transport infantry; this was not done in practice because the conditions were awful.  On disembarking from a Mark V*, its passengers immediately take d3 pins and must test before being able to complete their Order.

Mark V*s were lengthened to handle wider trenches; as such they never require fascines to cross trenches.

The British declined to use these as transports, and the trenches weren’t wide so neither of these came up.


K Bullet

After June 1917, German machine guns get +1 Penetration against tanks.

This was, I think, key to the Germans not just being miserable all game. It gave them capability to deal with the British tanks.


German NCOs may not be removed with exceptional damage.

I don’t remember if it came up or not. Exceptional damage is an important rule, but could slow things down in a larger game so I’m tempted to remove it entirely.

“Long sobs of autumn violins…”

“… wound my heart with a monotonous languor.”

Partisans - Guerillas

I’ve been pretty busy on the hobby front lately, and although I keep meaning to do a Wednesday workbench I’ve wrapped whatever I’ve been working on before I remember to take a picture.   This is better than the alternative, though, right?

It’s been Partisans for the past several weeks. I picked up a bunch over the summer (right before the move, because I am an idiot with poor judgement), and with Amiens in the rear-view I’m finally able to start working on them.

Partisan Squad 1

We’re doing an Eastern Front league out at Huzzah, so I’m running them as “Partisans (The Good Kind),” which is to say they’re along the lines of the Bielski Partisans.  They’re ultimately intended to be French Resistance/FFI/Maquisards, though; I’m waiting until the league ends before going back through and painting on the tricolor armbands.

Partisan Squad 2

These are almost all Artizan Designs, with a couple of Victory Force minis in there (they’re the weapon teams primarily, and that’ll be the next batch).

I’m quite pleased with them.  I’ve been using the tri-color toning on their faces; although some have come out better than others, I’ve yet to be disappointed by the results.  Unfortunately, said results haven’t been photographing very well.  See for yourself:

Partisans (1)

Partisans (2)

Partisans (3)

Partisans (4)

Partisans (5)

Partisans (6)

Partisans (7)

Partisans (8)

Partisans (9)

I’ve also built (but have yet to paint) some objectives and IEDs (in Bolt Action, partisans get explosive markers they can place on the board).  They’re based the same way the rest of the force is, but with a bit more interest in the base with the curb.  One’s a fallen Type C container (with wires to look like parachute cord), one’s a stack of illegal newspapers, and one’s a suitcase radio transmitter.

Partisan Objectives

I’m in pretty good shape with them. One, maybe two, batches of people left to paint.  Then a trio of trucks (that want a little more work) and a couple of looted vehicles (an IZM armored car and a CV-33 Lanciaflamme tank) and I’m done!

UPDATE: Got a game in with them last night, and took the opportunity to snap a quick photo of their overall progress.  Like I said: almost there!


John Basilone

During Snowzilla (aka “Make Winter Great Again”), I painted up the Warlord John Basilone figure for the “We’re snowed in, so let’s have a painting contest” DAHGS painting contest.

John Basilone (1)

John Basilone (2)

I’m pleased with it, even if the mouth didn’t photograph particularly well.

It was a little disconcerting how few of the WWII buffs at the store knew who he was (“He’s going to have a bad time trying to fire that gun that way.” Well, yeah.)  Those guys probably should remember that it wasn’t Europe War II; I think I’ll blame Flames of War for that.

Amiens, Aug 8, 1918

Amiens - End (9)

The Amiens game (finally) went down on Sunday with, it appears, great success. Everyone had a good time, the rules held up (there were notes, but when wouldn’t there be), and things went smoothly (the game took ~4 hours, with 6 players and 43 Order Dice, so I think that counts as “speedy”).

I’ll post up the rules in a separate post, but I think they held up well; the smaller scale worked great and most of the period specific rules also accomplished what they needed to.

Casey, John, and Rhett were the Germans, desperately trying to hold off the British as long as they could; Gavin, Keith, and Steve were British trying to break through the German lines.

The Germans deployed: a lot more thought went into the placement of Barbed Wire than I’d anticipated.  Many of the German units deployed into Ambush, forgetting that the push would be preceded by a Rolling Bombardment. (Note: because there were 43 Order dice, we used regular dice and used the chart.  Black was German, White was British, Red was the Bombardment,)

Amiens - Turn 0 (2)

Between the bombardment and nearly every German unit starting the game with an Order, Turn 1 was pretty much a British show.  The Brits decided to lead with all of their tanks, holding the infantry back for subsequent turns.

Amiens - Turn 1 (2)

While the bombardment was effective in suppressing the defenders, it slowed the attackers down: advancing too far too fast killed a Mark V.

Amiens - Turn 2 (2)

The defenders fired Minenwerfers relentlessly at Tanks but weren’t able to hit a single. one. all game long.  Machine Guns, with the K Bullet, were more effective (I’m pretty sure that one died to a Machine Gun).

Amiens - Turn 2 (4)

Amiens - Turn 2 (9)

The attackers had a tough time making progress on their left, but the Australians along the right made more headway.  (Yes, the Australians were on the other side of the Somme from the British; I wanted Australian troops, so I gave them Australian troops.)

Amiens Turn 3 (2)

The “infinite reserves” rule I used kept things from being hopeless and boring for the Germans, but it made consequences too slight: it’ll be the first thing that gets tweaked.

Amiens Turn 4 (1)

The German presence along their right was solid….

Amiens Turn 4 (4)

Which meant their left was where the decisive action would take place.

Amiens Turn 4 (6)

The Brits were able to push into the second trench line, in the end.

Amiens - End (2)

At Turn 6, the Brits had established a foothold in the second trench line, and the game ended.

Amiens - End (7)

Per scoring (which also needs some tweaking), it was a blowout for the Germans: although the British made headway, their progress was too slow.

The Table:

I did most of this, but got some significant help from Steve & Rhett.  This is a concession: this isn’t what the German lines looked like in the Summer of 1918, but it certainly feels a lot more WWI-trenchy, and will, hopefully, see quite a bit of use in other battles.  They’re two 4’x2′ boards; we got clever while laying them out: the two red Xs above line up: in the future, we’ll be able to line them up side-by-side with two more boards across the front for a wider battle, and we’ll be able to spin the front line around and place a third board across the middle for a more standard 6’x4′ table.  All the trenches are duckboarded; the second line is built along the edge of a road, with hairpins, and two bunkers back by the orange !s.

I made a billion barbed wire stands: plasticard crosses supporting 28 gauge wire spun into circles. I’ll probably redo the wire: I had a marker to wrap them around, which meant they’re uneven.  I also, before game, painted up the crashed Sopwith.  Why is there a crashed Sopwith? Because I wanted a crashed Sopwith.

I’m hypercritical of myself, so all I can see are where things fell short of where I’d wanted them, but I really did hit a point where I just said, “Screw it; close enough.” Maybe I’ll circle back around and punch up some things, but there’s definitely going to be some things I just live with.

I’m going to revise the rules a smidge; I’ll run it again at Madicon  in March and then Historicon (Cold Wars isn’t in the cards for me this year).

I’m pretty glad to be done with the game, though: I’ve been working on this thing since September: it’s dominated my hobby time and I’m ready as hell to be working on something in 28mm again… as well as to be working on something that isn’t Amiens.

Here’s a photodump of some pictures some other folks took (Casey, Steve, Keith):

12651139_10208431417765350_4092109586285916807_n 12661906_10208431416965330_4988182950391481353_n 12592339_10102622084563467_2854164236262451023_n 12654280_10207144886993312_708625732686879589_n 12647380_10207144878793107_4164537040195902353_n 12650797_10207144866552801_8585733072724430317_n 12654286_10208431458086358_5886674518698590403_n

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.