Thursday, 20 September 2012

Not As A Good Deal As I Thought

I posted earlier about The Plastic Soldier Company's 28mm Soviet 'megadeal' of 57 infantry, 4 maxims (2 firing and 2 moving), 2 x 50mm mortars, 2 x 82mm mortars, 4 x anti tank rifles, 1 x 45mm anti tank gun and 1 x 76mm infantry gun all for £35. I felt it was such a good deal for Bolt Action that I placed an order.

However when I sat down to actually build a list I realised it wasn't as a good deal for Bolt Action as I'd thought. The problem lies with the Force Selection Rules on p.124. Basically although you can have a maximum of five infantry squads with two Officers you are limited to a maximum of one for all the other troop types. For example you can have

0-1   Tank, Tank Destroyer, Anti-aircraft vehicle or Self-propelled Artillery

So you can't field an AA vehicle and a tank in the same force. So I'm ok with the infantry in the megadeal but I have problems with the rest.

The megadeal contains four anti tank rifles but the most I can ever use is one. The same applies to the four Maxim machine guns. I can have either one 50mm mortar or 82mm mortar but not both in the same force so that's two spare that I can never use. The guns are ok but again it's either/or as I can't use both in the same force.

A force list from the megadeal would look something like this:

2 x Officer with 2 riflemen
4 x 11 man infantry squads with lmg's
1 x Medic
1 x Sniper team
1 x Maxim team
1 x Anti tank rifle team
1 x Mortar team (either 50mm or 82mm)
1 x Gun team (either 45mm ATG or 76mm infantry gun)

So I'm going to have three anti tank rifles, three Maxim's, one 50mm mortar and one 82mm mortar that I'll never be able to use. It's not the end of the world but if I'd realised that before I placed the order I probably wouldn't have ordered it as it's not as good a deal as I'd thought. Well we live and learn. (unless we're wargamers)

Friday, 14 September 2012

Quick Review: Bolt Action Rules

My copy of Bolt Action arrived yesterday so, as promised, here's a quick overview of what I think about them.

First up I was impressed with the quality of the book itself. It's a thick hardback book that will stand up to wear and tear well. The content is well laid out and easy to follow with lots of the usual Osprey pictures along with photos of well painted figures in action situations. Being old I particularly liked the fact that the font used is clear and of a good size making it easy to read. Although there is no index there is a good table of contents which makes finding what you want fairly easy. The rules include six scenarios (but I would expect more to appear soon either fan made or official) and points values for some British, U.S., Russian and German units. I deliberately didn't say army lists because that's not what they are. It's more of a 40K approach with all forces having to have a Lieutenant and two infantry squads which you can add to, but you are mostly limited to just one unit of each type e.g. one sniper, one tank. So this means you're not going to be facing a force with loads of armour or flamethrowers. There is still plenty of scope for variation though not least in the quality of troops you choose to take and any special rules that may apply.

The most impressive thing I can say about these rules is that I read them through in one sitting. Normally my brain gives up after reading a few pages of rules but this wasn't the case here. Everything is explained simply and follows a logical progression. There are no 'walls of text' to put you off. They introduce the basic infantry game completely and then move on to the additions needed by things like vehicles and air strikes. This means you can quickly grasp the basics before adding in complications.

I haven't had a chance to play a game yet so my comments here are based on my impressions of how things will play on the table. There's no pre-measuring which you may or may not like. It's a D6 based game with rolls to hit and then kill (although there are exceptions to this) but it has some nice extra mechanisms like the 'lucky shot'. Normally when you've killed a figure the defender gets to pick which model you've killed. But if you roll a six on a damage roll you get to roll it again and if you get a second six you get to pick which model is killed. So you can pick off the officer or the guy with the bazooka etc. The same mechanism can be applied to hitting. If you need more than six to hit after modifiers have been applied you roll anyway and any sixes can be rolled again with second sixes being counted as hits.

The other mechanism of note is the order sequence. Each turn a coloured marker/dice is put in a container for each of the units in play (say green for Brits and grey for Germans). Then one of these is drawn out randomly to indicate which side can give an order to one of it's units. Once that order is completed the next marker/dice is drawn and so on until all the markers have been drawn. Then the process is repeated for the next turn. I'm not sure I like the idea of this mechanism. You could get a situation where your opponent gets all his markers drawn before you get to give orders to any of your units. Of course all your units would then activate but by then they may have been destroyed or had lots of pinned markers placed on them making it impossible to do what you planned. For me it negates any planning and adds a large luck element to the game. But I'll have to try it out to see if it's as bad as I fear.

This brings me on to 'Pinning' which is one of the key mechanisms of the game. Basically damage taken adds pinned markers to a unit. The more pinned markers it has the harder it becomes for it to obey orders and it also reduces the effectiveness of shooting. There are ways to remove pinned markers and judicious use of officers can help mitigated their effect. But you'll probably spend a lot of time think about how to get pinned markers onto your opponents units and how to remove them from yours.

For me all of this fits very well with the scope of the game. It's a game of infantry squads with you as the shave-tail lieutenant trying to keep your guys alive while trying to achieve your objective.

So my first impressions are very favourable. I think at £17.50 from Amazon it's great value and I'm looking forward to my first game next Thursday (I'll be posting up my thoughts and a batrep soon after). I'm tempted to say they're a simple set of rules but that would do them an injustice. Better to say that they are not overly complex. More a set of rules to play a game set during WW2 than a set of WW2 wargames rules. By that I mean there aren't loads of tables for all the different weapons plotted against all the possible armour thicknesses etc. instead the focus has been placed on a fun game that requires a depth of thought while still remembering that this is a game not a simulation.

P.S. I listened to all the sensible comments about going with 20mm and agreed with them all. But I've still ordered a load of 28mm Russians because I'm an idiot and they were very shiny. :-)

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Bolt Action Rules On Their Way At Last

Just had an e-mail from Amazon saying that my copy of the Bolt Action rules have been dispatched. Now all I have to do is decide on what scale I'm going to use. I want to use 28mm but the only other player at the club wants to get some use out of all his 20mm stuff. I could still go 28mm but it would mean that I'd have to buy two forces and I'm not sure I want to commit to that amount of expenditure on a game I've yet to actually play.

I could play with Matt's 20mm stuff to see if the game is as good as I expect before I make a decision.  But I've got the urge to get painting. When I have a deadline to aim for I always get more painting done as it focuses my mind and I've been slacking off lately as I have painted troops for the games I usually play.

When the rules arrive I'll do a quick post on my first impressions which will shortly be followed by a couple of batreps as I already have games booked.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Dux Bellorum: First Games

Following on from my first look at Dux Bellorum, which can be found here, Monday night saw my first games with the new Dux Bellorum rules. I hadn't managed to finish painting up two Dark Age forces in time so I proxied some 15mm figures I use for Impetus. This meant that I had to pick armies that would fit with the figures I had available. I went with a Late Roman army vs a Romano-British army at 27 points giving us room to use the special rules or buy extra Leadership Points (LP). The lists are shown below.

Romano-British 27pts
General with Foot Companions
Ordinary Shieldwall x 5
Mounted Skirmishers
Foot Skirmishers x 2

Late Roman 27pts
General with Mounted Companions
Noble Riders
Ordinary Riders
Ordinary Shieldwall x 3
Mounted Skirmishers

Here's a photo of the initial layout. I was the defender and selected a couple of hills as my terrain choices.

Here's a close-up of my Samurai pretending to be Late Romans.

And my Arab Conquest figures pretending to be Romano-British.

I got so caught up in playing and trying to explain the rules to Matt that I forgot to take any more photos.

The rules recommend a 32 pt game but we decided to not bother spending our spare points on the special rules to keep things simple in our first games. We also decided not to use any of the scenarios that come with the game and just had a couple of knock down drag out fights. Although some of the scenarios do look interesting.

So onto the game. First thing to say is that we both had fun and managed to get in two games despite having to flick through the rulebook all the time to answer queries. Next thing to say is that the rulebook could be set out better. It was tricky to find some rules as they weren't where I expected to find them. But these are minor niggles and after a few games you'll have the rules sorted and won't need to refer to the them.

So how did it play? Well the Leadership Points (LP) mechanism worked as well as I thought it would. Having to plan out how to use your LP added a nice tactical extra dimension to the game. Having your LP reduced each time you lose a unit also makes it much harder to work out where you use them as the game progresses. The surprise for me was the effect of the Bravery rolls. Before you can move a unit it has to pass a Bravery test. Situations where a unit had defeated an opponent but taken losses and failed a bravery roll to charge into a fresh unit felt right. We could imagine a unit of knackered warriors saying 'hang on a sec, lets get our breath back first before we go charging off again'.

We did find that the Late Roman cavalry proved decisive in each game. Their speed and manoeuvrability meant they could easily get flank and rear attacks on the infantry which made all the difference. Also melees tended to develop into very messy affairs with units coming in at all angles. Missile attacks could be very effective but we found it difficult to keep the skirmishers alive as what LP we had were needed elsewhere.

The move sequence takes some getting used to (Attackers Skirmishers then Defenders Sk, A's Mounted then D's Mounted, A's Foot then D's Foot) as well as firing coming before moving. This can be a pain for archers as they can't move if they fired, unlike javelin armed troops.

Good value
Quick to learn and play
Tactical depth
Interesting game mechanisms

Poorly laid out rules
Limited range of forces (Arthurian Period)

I'm sure we got loads of things wrong in the games we played but these aren't tournament rules and lend themselves to the inclusion of 'house rules'. So when we weren't sure about something we made up a 'rule' and got on with having fun. I'll happily play Dux Bellorum again, hopefully with painted period figures next time, and I have no qualms about recommending the rules to anyone. Buy them play a game or two and have fun after all that's what wargaming is supposed to be about!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

28mm Figures for Bolt Action

I've finally succumbed and ordered the Bolt Action rules from Amazon. So while I'm waiting for them to arrive I'm trying to sort out what figures to buy. The first place I looked was Warlord Games of course and they have some nice figures, mostly metal but also some plastic. Being a cheapskate I wanted to spend as little as possible to get up and running (although if I like the rules I can see lots of armies in my future). I remembered that Wargames Factory did some cheaper plastic Germans and US Infantry boxes so checked them out.  They only do one box of infantry for each nation though. But the price is good at £14.95 for 30 figures. But I'd have to buy mortars bazookas etc elsewhere.

I'd more or less decided on going with US Marines, probably using the Wargames Factory figures then I noticed that one of my favourite companies The Plastic Soldier Company now do 28mm plastic Soviet figures with support options.

A quick visit to their site later and I think I've found my army. They do a 'megadeal' of  57 infantry, 4 maxims (2 firing and 2 moving), 2 x 50mm mortars, 2 x 82mm mortars, 4 x anti tank rifles, 1 x 45mm anti tank gun and 1 x 76mm infantry gun all for £35. Now that's a bargain! The only downside going with plastic is that you have to spend time assembling the figures which is always a pain but at that price I think it's worth it.

Hopefully that megadeal will give me all the troops I'll need for an army. There's one possible problem though, the other guy at the club, Matt, who's buying the rules is going 20mm as he has shedloads of figures already. I could use some of his stuff but I fancy doing Bolt Action in 28mm as 20mm is too near 15mm which is what I use for FoW and I don't think it would look different enough for me. Hopefully I can convince some of the others at the club to give it a go with their old SoTR or AT 43 figures or maybe I'll just have to buy some Germans as an opposing force.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Bolt Action

I've been good lately and in the last six weeks I've only spent £8.99 on wargames stuff. So my urge to buy to more shiny toys is gathering pace. Added to yesterdays mix is Bolt Action the new 28mm WW2 rules from Warlord Games.

As I do my WW2 gaming with FoW I hadn't paid much attention to Bolt Action. I reasoned that it would be pointless to redo the same thing in another scale. But after reading a few reviews I can see that it's really a skirmish game with 30-40 figures a side, not the same as FoW at all.

Part of my mind is trying to rationalise buying the rules by saying that they're 30% off on Amazon at the moment so it's a great deal. Plus I can mix and match figures for Dust Tactics/Warfare, Incursion, Secrets of the Third Reich as well as Bolt Action. This would give me a force that could be used in a range of games so it's a bargain really!

The other thing on my mind is that they're supposed to be easy to pick up and a number of pople have said that 40K gamers like them. So I'm thinking that it may be a way to get more people playing historical games and wean them off GW into proper gaming ;-)

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Things On The Horizon

I've been pretty good lately and not bought any new toys. But there's a few things calling to me and I may yet succumb! First up are the War and Conquest ancient rules. I saw them when they were released but was put off by the cover art which looked a bit naff to me.

Then I saw a review of them and got interested. I started having a look at some batreps and was impressed by what I read. They have some nice mechanisms, particularly the use of stragegic intervention points (SIP's) which adds a nice level of tactical complexity to the game. You can take a look at a review here and a pdf batrep here if you're interested. I'm not sure if I'll actually buy these as it's rare that I get a game of ancients as it is with Impetus. So it might be another purchase that just ends up sitting on the shelf unused.

The next thing I've been looking at is Dust Tactics/Warfare. I like the idea of Weird WWII and would have got into Secrets of the Third Reich but no one plays it any more at my club. Then Craig over at 'Frozen Gamer AK' did a review of Dust Warfare that peeked my interest. I like some of the models but I'm not keen on the American walkers, plus it's not cheap to get into on spec. If I can't get anyone interested in playing it could end up being stuck on the shelf as well. I'm currently looking at buying Dust Tactics as it seems like the best deal for the figures, especially as they can also be used for Dust Warfare. But it's out of stock at the moment so I don't know when or if I'll actually take the plunge.

Last up is the new Malifaux stuff released at Gencon. I think I'll be buying the new book and probably one or two new crews. I certainly want to have a look at the Ten Thunders and possibly the Rail Crew. I may add in a few other models for variety like the Rail Golem which also looks cool. As these will be the first plastics from Wyrd I'll be interested to see how they look.

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