Getting Started With The World Of Bolt Action

January 6, 2014 by crew

Being one who is always interested in a new miniatures game system, my curiosity was peaked when I saw Warren presenting a demonstration game of Bolt Action. I have been playing Flames of War for a few years now and I was interested in learning about this system. I thought why not present this from the viewpoint of someone who has never played the game and walk potential new players through the game and its components.

Assault on Normandy

Assault on Normandy

Bolt Action from Warlord Games is a World War II miniatures game that some consider an alternative to Flames of War. Bolt Action’s mechanics work in a much different way. Instead of the classic you go, I go system it uses Orders Dice which are randomly drawn from a container and that decides who acts next. This makes the player’s strategy consistently change with each action and reaction which keeps the game dynamic and creates an intense flow. It is also based on 28mm versus Flames of War’s 15mm. It could also be considered that Bolt Action is more company and below infantry based versus Flames of War being company and larger and more geared towards mechanized warfare i.e. tanks.

I went down to my local games store and picked up the Assault on Normandy starter set. The box is packed with items: the full colour 216 page hardback rulebook, 20 U.S. Army infantry and 20 German Heer infantry miniatures, a ruined farmhouse scenery piece and eight Bolt Action Orders Dice. This was all packed nicely in a beautifully illustrated box. For the price you get quite a bit and it is nice to be able to build the miniatures and have enough for a small game for two players.

To start with the rulebook is gorgeous. Every page is printed on quality glossy paper with clear type and beautiful artwork and pictures of the miniatures in different battle scenes. It makes you want to do the same with your miniatures. From my first quick read of the rulebook the information appears to be laid out well and to be easily understood. In the back half of the book are the army lists for the Germans, United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. Other factions are available through source books.

Army of Choice?

Now comes the decision on which army to choose. I will start off with the Americans as this is one of the sets that comes in the Assault on Normandy set. I also recently picked up the American Starter Army (1000 points) to complete my army. It comes with 50 plus miniatures in plastic. A mortar team and a machine gun team in metal along with a M4 Sherman and a M3 Half-track. This I am modelling after the 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One). I will then move onto my favourite type of units: Airborne. More specifically the 82nd Airborne Division (being a former member), they can be played in any scenario whether it is a parachute drop such as Normandy or Market Garden or even as an amphibious assault such as they did in Italy.

I like being a veteran unit and the idea of quick strikes and then figuring out a strategy “to hold till relieved.” My next unit I will put together will be the British Airborne as I am a huge fan of these tough and stalwart units (I also earned my British parachute wings). I will have to build some opponent armies (Axis) so here at home we will have someone to play against!

United States Bolt Action Starter Army

The question that seems to be posed is will my force be based towards the historical or more focused on game play? While I am a lover of history and all things World War II, I have to confess that when it comes to this game I like the flow and how it plays. While I do not agree with some interpretation of rules in the game (i.e. M1 Garand being considered a normal rifle at one shot per turn, when in reality it is semi-automatic and in actual life it could be shot at a rapid rate) it was designed to create a more even and fun game without getting too bogged down in rules and reality and having to refer to many different charts.

US Infantry

I have started putting together some of the American soldiers and have painted them. My colours are more subdued than what you see in the rulebook (which are gorgeous). I did this for a couple of reasons, mine are more for game play than display and I wanted mine more based on actual uniforms under battle conditions. After slugging in mud and dirt with rain, water and sweat uniforms and equipment became darker and duller and this is what a soldier on the battlefield preferred. They wanted to blend in rather than stick out. Now I know there will be those of you that will criticize my decisions and say the colours are off, but in some of the coloured pictures I have from World War II they show a myriad of colours in uniforms and equipment.

In the next installment I will report on a more in-depth look at the rulebook. I am excited about the prospects of this game and where it can take us.

Gianna Lomax

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