GAJO Games

GAJO Happenings and Ramblings Blog

2012 - Number 37


A Sherman DD Catches Fire

Mega Game:
Bolt Action - First Blood

Everyone at the shop has been excited about the new WW2 rules from Warlord Games, entitled Bolt Action. They are being released this month, and are written by Rick Priestly and, Alessio Cavatore, they promise an interesting and challenging game specifically designed for 28mm figures at the "battle" level, generally at a level beyond an individual skirmish set but below a company level set like Flames of War.

We received a preview copy of the rules from our Warlord rep, and Dennis volunteered to get a trial game sorted out. Several folks contributed forces, and very quickly we had a nicely large game pulled together.

Germans Advance Through a Vineyard

US Paratroopers Close Assault

The rules is representational - one figure is a man and one vehicle is a vehicle, so the basic units you work with are infantry sections, heavy weapons and gun teams, and individual tanks or vehicles. The game uses a clever order mechanic, where each unit for each side or player has a different colored die, and these dice are pulled from a cup units essentially activate in random order. The die is then placed with the unit to indicate which order it is following for that turn.

This nicely replicates the tension of what to do when with each unit, while being simple to administer and manage. This interplay about which unit to activate with each die works smoothly and keeps the players quite involved in the game, compared to the classic I go, you go mechanic of many rules sets.

German StuG Bombards the Paratrooper Positions

More Paratroopers Holding Out

The scenario we tried out was from Normandy, with a force of US paratroopers surrounded and holding out under German attack, while an Allied relieving force pushed to their rescue. While the forces were primarily composed of infantry, the Germans did field one StuG in their assaulting force, while the Allied relieving force featured 3 Shermans, allowing us to see how vehicles worked in the rules.

Combat was joined quickly and is quite straightforward. Units ordered to fire pick an target unit, and roll to hit, needing a base 3+ with modifiers for cover, long range, etc. Any hits allow a roll to "damage" with the score needed depending on the troop quality of the target - a 4+ is needed against regular targets, for example. each damage result removes a figure, plus the unit in question receives one pin marker each time it is successfully hit by an enemy unit.

German Forces Close

While a PzKw IV Burns

The pin markers play a critical role in the game - if a unit has one or more pin markers it must pass a morale test to each activate its order, and if it fails it hits the dirt (goes "down"), making it harder to hit but otherswise doing nothing useful that turn. As pin markers on a unit accumulate, it becomes more and more difficult to get them to respond to orders, nicely replicating the difficulty of advancing into heavy fire.

It took us a while to get the hang of the mechanics, but once we did the game flowed smoothly and played quite well. We even managed to try an assault (they are quick and bloody, and definitely decisive) before we needed to pack up. The players all agreed that the rules worked well, and we're eager to try them some more once everyone secures their capy and reads through them. Well done Warlord!

German Infantry Advances Through Cover

German Infantry Counterattacks the Relieving Force

And Move up to Support the StuG

The Vineyard is Captured

Officers Play a Pivotal Role in the Game

The Warlord Dead Livestock in "Action"

Melee in the Trees

The Ruined Hamlet Set Provides Some Cover

The Allied Perimeter Holds

A Section Holds an Abandoned House

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