Tally Ho!

Thursday 18 February 2016

Bolt Action - our first game

Now that we've managed to paint a enough figures we decided that this weeks game would be Bolt Action. As it was our first game we opted for smallish forces  (750 points) and no fancy stuff like vehicles or off-table artillery.

The Germans fielded an elite unit of Veteran Fallschirmj√§ger consisting of 2 * 10man squads supported by an MG42 and a light mortar. This gave 6 activation dice 

The Soviets had a larger, but lower quality, force of regulars and inexperienced troops. They fielded 3*10man squads, an SMG squad, an MMG, a medium mortar and a sniper team. This gave 8 activation dice

We opted for a very simple scenario with both sides trying to capture a  small farm complex and eliminate the enemy.

The Game

The two sides adopted slightly different strategies. The Germans focused most of their troops to their left and centre, using the MG42 to hold their right flank. The more numerous Soviets  place a rifle squad on each flank with the third rifle squad ad the SMGs in the centre to take the farm.
Deployment overview 

The German deployment
The early game saw the Soviets advance in the centre and on their left, using the cover to gain a flanking position. On the soviet right the inexperienced rifle squad went to ground (Going Down in the rules) under mortar fire. Casualties were light but their advance was stalled.

Soviets advance on their left
Soviet SMG squad takes the house
On the Soviet left fire from a rifle squad, the MMG, and mortar all began to take a toll on the German central rifle squad. As hits gradually built they became bogged-down and wavering.
The German left  

Soviet snipers go to work
As the game progressed the Soviet left made further progress, destroying the MG42 and flanking the Germans in the centre.
The Soviet left
 In the centre the Soviet SMG squad grabbed the farm and with support from the MMG and sniper began to ware-down the second German rifle squad.
Tussle for the farm in the centre
After about 2 hours play we concluded that the Germans position was untenable and declared the Soviets the winners.

The Verdict 

Overall an enjoyable game and the core mechanics worked well. Activation of units is done by drawing a dice of the appropriate colour from a bag and then using it to indicate what the chosen unit will do e.g. Rally Shoot, Move etc. So activation order is somewhat randomised but every unit will get a go. Depending how suppressed they are they might not do anything other than  go to ground though.

With a new set of rules you are never sure if any funnies are problems, bad tactics, or us just getting it wrong and not reading the rules properly. So the major things to look at for next time are:

1. How does line of sight work over hedges? We treated more than 1 as cover but should LOS stop at the first hedge?

2. Direct fire artillery was very hit and miss, mostly miss. The rules don't allow for accidently hitting other targets and chances of causing kills seemed pretty low. Perhaps we were nt doing it right or perhaps artillery is weak to encourage movement?

3.  Veterans are tough to hit and kill. Not a criticism as it felt right. Hard cover though did nt seem to offer much more protection than soft.

4. Are we doing suppression right? The classic tactics of a base of fire to pin the element down and manoeuvre to a flanked did nt quite seem to work as the pinning was not hugely effective.  

5. The potential for double-entendre was off the chart with units Going Down and people rummaging in their sacks (for activations dice) all over the place. Kenneth Williams would have a field day.


  1. At first try this appears to be a set where concentration of fire is key. I should say another set of rules where concentration is key. At frst he Russians were shooting at the Germans oppisite them, but being veterans the Germans were able to avoid suffering morale penalties from the light casualties caused. Once the Russians got platoons onto one target and added in fire from the maxim and the mortar the Germans started to take more casualties per round and this inhibited their ability to respond as they went down the morale ladder. By the end the Soviet central commander was havng a field day switching the mortar and mg fire around as he saw threat or weakness.
    Its really quite damaging that the Soviets had eight activation dice to tye Germans six. The units that suffered casualties had less chance of kills so it is a great advantage to shoot first. If you plan to have two or three units shoot at one opponent then yaving those two xtra grey dice gives you the opportunity to shoot first with two units on one and pull down the enemy's abilities.

  2. It will be interesting to see what a more detailed reading of the rules throws up now we've seen how the basic game works