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Posts tagged “bolt action

Alternative Bolt Action Rules

Here are my thoughts on some alternative rules for use in Bolt Action.

This isn’t me saying that Bolt Action is anything other than great fun, I just feel like it could have been something else. Maybe you’ll find something you agree with, maybe you won’t.

Alternative Bolt Action


Bolt Action – House Rules

When we play Bolt Action at our club we use a selection of house rules that we find add to the game. In case anyone else wants to see what we do and so that I can record them somewhere we can all view them easily I have decided to post them on here.

Note that this is in no-way a criticism of Bolt Action as it is played if you follow the rules to the letter, its just how we like to play it. We are not ‘competition’ gamers and we seldom if ever use the points values as a way of deriving the forces for our games. We also like to alter rules to fit how we like to play. Games with more uncertainty appeal to us more than those without and generally provide more opportunity to laugh at each others misfortune, which is how we like it. Read on at your peril ūüėõ

Rough ground

We use a random modifier of -D6″ to any movement over rough ground/obstacles.

Orders Dice

We tend to use more orders dice then there are units as a means of giving one side an advantage in command control i.e. Germans versus early war Soviet. Also we use a ‘dice of doom’ (more later…), so we don’t actually remove dice from the bag when a unit is eliminated. Instead when a player has moved/activated/attempted to activate, all his units then any extra orders dice pulled from the bag are set to one side. Every dice extra to the first spare that is pulled from the bag is then discarded.

Dice of Doom

We place one (or two) orders dice of a unique colour in the orders bag. When these have both been drawn the turn ends. Units that have not activated do not get to activate…we find this makes gaming the orders sequence a risky business. We did originally just use a single dice for the end of the turn but after trying with two we have found the added tension of knowing one of them has been drawn adds to the game.

Single figure units

When a unit is reduced to a single figure it is removed, this only applies to squads. For support weapons etc. we allow the single figure to remain and operate the weapon.

Unoccupied transports

Unoccupied transports can move freely once per turn without the need of an orders dice, providing they do so before the ‘end of turn’ dice is revealed. This is because we don’t consider unoccupied transports to be a unit (unlike the rulebook).

Dug-in in prepared positions

Troops dug-in in prepared positions count as in hard cover and as if ‘down’ for the purposes of taking casualties from indirect fire (i.e. half the number of hits), going ‘down’ does not give any extra benefits.

Barbed wire

Impassable to wheeled vehicles.

Tracked vehicles cross at advance rate -D6″ and destroy a section of barbed wire on passing.

Infantry must take an orders check to cross and treat as rough ground.

Engineers cross as rough ground without the need to take an orders test and remove a section of barbed wire.

No assaults can be made over barbed wire (that was its actual purpose).

Mine fields

Exposed when troops come into contact. Roll 1D6 (as per preparatory bombardment pg118 of the rule book).

Strikes the bottom armour of armoured vehicles (+1 penetration). Engineers roll at -1 modifier. If the unit has RUN orders apply +1 modifier to the roll.

Fully armoured vehicles count any penetrating hit as light damage only.

All movement stops at the edge of the minefield. Minefield is impassable to all except engineers which clear the minefield on passing an orders test, they cannot fire while clearing mines.

Close combat results

Instead of the looser being eliminated: The looser retreats one full RUN move and takes a pin marker for every casualty suffered in the close combat.

Indirect artillery/mortar fire

Roll a scatter dice ( 4 arrows, 2 hits) + a dice marked 2,4,6,8,10. misfire.

The result Is either a hit, a direction and a distance deviated, or a misfire.

If the shot deviates use a 2″ radius circle to determine if it still hits any viable targets. If it does continue as normal as if it were a ‘hit’ on that unit.

If the misfire is rolled then either the shot deviates widely, or is a dud or something else happens that means it has no effect.

Other notes and ideas we are playing with:

The ranges for the weapons in BA are a bit strange to us. For example: Medium mortars have a longer range than 75mm field guns when historically it was substantially the other way around. One of the ideas we are considering at the moment is making all indirect fire from artillery have an unlimited range. We would still keep the range limitations as they are for direct fire. The argument being that the actual battlefield is somewhat more difficult to see over than our table top. Mortars would be unaffected by this so the light, medium and heavy mortar would still retain their normal range limitations.

Bolt Action Scenario AAR

Finally…some months after we played this game I have got the time to update this post.

The basic scenario was a couple of inexperienced Soviet platoons racing to cut off the retreat of the remnants from a failed German attack that were trying to get back to their own lines. The terrain was an unfordable river with a single bridge that the Germans had to get over¬†in order to return to the safety of their own lines.¬†The remaining table was made up of forest. The forest was made up of impassable areas that blocked line of sight (thick clumps of trees, rocky outcrops, dense marsh….use your imagination!) and more open areas that did not hinder line of sight but provided concealing cover. We allowed infantry to move as normal but vehicles suffered a -D6″ on every move.

The Soviet forces:

SOVIET platoon 1 comprising of 5 units and given 7 red dice in the dice bag.

PHQ 1 x Second Lt (+1 to orders), 1 x anti-tank rifle OR 1 x light   mortar. REGULAR
Infantry Section 1 7 x Rifle + LMG (8 figures in total). INEXPERIENCED
Infantry Section 2 7 x Rifle + LMG (8 figures in total). INEXPERIENCED
Infantry Section 3 8 x Rifle (8 figures in total). INEXPERIENCED
Support 1   x Truck1   x Light Howitzer, 4 Crew INEXPERIENCED

SOVIET platoon 1 comprising of 5 units and given 7 dark brown dice in the dice bag.

PHQ 1 x Second Lt (+1 to orders), 1 x anti-tank rifle OR 1 x light   mortar. REGULAR
Infantry Section 1 7 x Rifle + LMG (8 figures in total). INEXPERIENCED
Infantry Section 2 7 x Rifle + LMG (8 figures in total). INEXPERIENCED
Infantry Section 3 8 x Rifle (8 figures in total). INEXPERIENCED
Support 1   x T-26 INEXPERIENCED

Note: We gave the soviet player(s) a choice of either a light mortar or an anti-tank rifle as part of the PHQ. In this game these support weapons were an integral part of the PHQ, its not quite how they are used/chosen in the BA rule book, but that’s how we roll!

Also, notice that the two Soviet platoons have dedicated orders dice of a different colour. When I thought up this scenario it was designed as a three player with two Soviet players (any extra players above three would be German…).

The German Forces: 9 units, 15 dice in the bag (all the same colour).

PHQ 1   x Major  (+3 to orders)1   x anti-tank rifle

1   x light mortar.

Infantry Section 1 1   x SMG, 5 x Rifle + LMG (7 figures in total). REGULAR
Infantry Section 2 1   x SMG, 5 x Rifle + LMG (7 figures in total). REGULAR
Infantry Section 3 1   x SMG, 5 x Rifle + LMG (7 figures in total). REGULAR
Infantry Section 4 1   x SMG, 5 x Rifle + LMG (7 figures in total). REGULAR
Support 1   x 80mm (Medium) Mortar REGULAR
Support 1   x MG34 Team (MMG) REGULAR
Support 1   x Panzer III (37mm) REGULAR
Support 1   x Panzer III (37mm) REGULAR

Special Rules:

German – 1) The units of the PHQ cannot be assigned to other units, you are too busy retreating… 2) No mortar spotter, open sights from the mortar team only.

Soviet – 1) Place one black dice in the orders bag. This represents a spotter from the pursuing Soviet force getting sight of one of the German units. A shot can be taken from any point on the Eastern table edge (the German starting edge). It counts as a light Howitzer, with range measured along the line of sight from the table edge. 2) Units from the PHQ can not be split from the PHQ. 3) Soviet platoons use different coloured orders dice to represent the lack of shared command control / radio.

Victory Conditions:

No German units exit from the Western table edge and Soviets control the bridge at the end of the game = MAJOR SOVIET VICTORY

Destroy all German ‘support units’ = MINOR SOVIET VICTORY

Germans control bridge at the end of the game, less than four units exited = DRAW

Any 4 units exit the Western table edge = MINOR GERMAN VICTORY

MMG, Mortar and 2 x Panzer III exit the Western table edge = MAJOR GERMAN VICTORY


German units move on during their first activation from the centre of the Eastern table edge.

Soviet units move on from the North or South road ends in their first activation. Each platoon must enter entirely from one road end and they can not both enter from the same one.

If the first turn ends without all units entering, subsequent units enter as reserves (i.e. orders test at -1 to enter).

How it Played:

We have played this scenario twice now, these photos are from the first game but it has been too long and I can’t remember all the details of exactly what happened on each turn. You can get a basic gist of it from the photos though.

It was a Soviet white-wash. From what I remember¬†Chris (Germans)¬†brought his usual good fortune and Nigel’s (South edge Soviet with the Howitzer) inexperienced Soviets managed to decimate the Germans in fire fights. We named one of the Soviet units ‘the squirrel shooters’ as they were clearly all marksmen!¬†The Soviet T-26¬†lumbered onto the table and spent a number of moves not quite sure where it could add any value. Eventually it rounded a clump of dense foliage to take a shot at¬†a Panzer III and¬†was promptly blown to pieces by the return shot.¬† Meanwhile at the Southern end the other Panzer III was being repeatedly hit by the Soviet artillery, but being of WW1 vintage it could not penetrate the thick (relatively!) armour, the crew were getting mightily shaken-up though.

At the end of the game the Germans had been all but annihilated in the dense forest. Both tanks were still operational but the one in the South was badly shot-up…(pinned beyond being useful!). A resounding Soviet victory.

The second game we played was identical in every way except for the result. This time the Germans went all out for the bridge and (from what I remember) took control of it. The Soviets were then eliminated in detail. Notably the Soviet artillery was overrun in fairly short order!

If you have a go at this scenario let me know how you find it.

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KR Multi-Case for BA

Normally I like to make scratch built cardboard boxes out of thick card (2mm thick…) to store miniatures. When I make thes boxes I include specifically sized compartments to match the specific miniatures/basing. However, the other guys all have these fantastic foam filled cases that are a lot less effort to make and dont need to be carefully carried or stacked. So, at long last I sucumbed and ordered a case from KR Multicase.

Wow…thats it really! I dont think I will make another cardboard box, even though I actually enjoy making them.

The first set of miniatures to get the special comfortable box were my 28mm WW2 Russians and Germans. I spent a bit of time on the KR website oooing and arring and gernerally procrastinating over making a purchase but eventually went for one of the half depth pick-and pluck trays and two 1/4 depth trays with enough compartments in to fit 50 figures.

My WW2 is based to include two-man teams on 50mm diameter bases, which all conveniently fit into the pick and pluck tray. Including the prone miniatures which could be slid in on their ends. The tray comes with all the slots filled with foam that is fairly easily cut out.

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The next tray is mostly plastic Russians:

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And the final tray is all the Germans and some extra russians that didnt fit in the one tray.

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I did slightly modify the trays so that I could put the kneeling miniatures in the right way up. This meant I could cut out the dividing foam between two sections and fit 3 miniatures in the space for 2.

My verdict though…these cases are fantastic. I have finally seen the light. Thank you KR…

28mm WW2 Soviets

Well what would you know…completed another project! This time my WW2 Soviets which are aimed at the period from the German invasion to Kursk, but mostly the earlier period.

All the miniatures are from the Plastic Soldier 28mm Russian Infantry pack, as discussed in my previous post about them. There are a couple of odd metal minatures from Crusader among them but they are very hard to spot until you pick them up (metal vs plastic)…look for rifles with bayonets.

Firstly the overview of everything. On the left are the early war armour of two T-28 and three T-26, on the right is the mid/late war armour of an Su-76. Of course these armoured vehicles should never really be fielded toghether as all the T-26 and T-28 were destroyed before the Su-76 made its appearance.

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The infantry, five sections each made up of 2 x SMG, 5 x rifle and a DPMG team (or record players as a certain person at our club calls them…)

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Mortar supports. two 80mm Mortar (medium mortar) and two 50mm Mortar (light mortar).

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MMG’s…two of, deployed and moving.

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A Flame thrower team. Including a single miniature for casualty removal purposes, or until I get another command type miniature to put with him on a base.

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Anti-tank rifle teams. Better photos in the other post about these miniatures.

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45mm Anti-tank guns

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76mm Putilov artillery. It is a current bugbear of mine that these 7km range guns are classed as ‘light howitzer’ in Bolt Action which gives them an on table maximum range of 48″ which is somewhat less than the range of a medium mortar (60″). Anyway, grumping aside, here they are with trucks for pulling them around. These guns are from the Battle Honnors WW1 range but they are (or seem to be) the 1930’s version with an elongated barrel so actually fit WW2 rather than WW1.

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Armour support, two lumbering but deadly to infantry¬†T-28 and three utterly hopelessly armoured T-26 death traps, good gun on them though…

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Not pictured sperately (look back at the overview shot) are two command groups each of three figures and three female figures that could be used to represent a medical team. And…I have three spare prone LMG teams that I don’t quite know what to do with…¬†

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¬†As usual, I am telling myself that this lot is now complete but…I know that should I come accross one I will probably get either a KV-1 or a KV-2 for that extra Russian sense of presence.

28mm WW2 Germans


I have got my 28mm WW2 Germans sorted out for Bolt Action or any other 28mm scale game for that matter.

First the entire lot:

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Close-up of the infantry Platoon, bit of a mish/mash photo but there are better photos in the other German Infantry post. Anyway, the main thing is that there are now three complete sections each consisting of 1 NCO with SMG,¬†7 rifles and a MG34 team. I know Bolt Action uses the loader as a ‘duty’ rather than a dedicated model but I just prefer to base the team together. It makes no difference whatsoever to game play but makes the MG34 much easier for me to spot on the table. And, simply, I prefer it this way :).

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Platoon HQ, in a kubelwagon.

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50mm Mortar (light mortar) and Anti-tank rifle, which would strictly be part of the platoon HQ but are independant teams in Bolt Action.

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80mm Mortar (medium mortar) and tripod mounted MG34 (MMG).

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PAK36 (37mm) Anti-Tank gun. This photo was supposed to also show the two 75mm Infantry Guns but they were horrendously out of focus so I had to cut them off. So…if you look back at the overview photo you will notice two 75mm IG behind, and a sdkfz11 half-track.

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Armoured supports. Currently a Panzer II, Panzer III (with 37mm gun) and a Panzer IV Ausf C (with short 75mm).

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All of the above is aimed at early/mid war period, roughly from the invasion of Russia to Kursk which is my favourite period to game WW2. However, it seems I am unique in this, at least at our club, so…I bought a few late-war figures with panzerfausts to spread through my existing infantry if I need to 44′ or 45′ them. Of course you can’t do late war without a Panzerschreck…or two.

 All the other miniatures are from Crusader (appart from a couple of artillery miniatures from Black Tree Designs). The following late war miniatures are from Black Tree Design.

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Close-up of the ‘tank hunters’…

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Of course I am kidding myself that any project is ever really completed. I do have plans to get a couple of Opel Blitz or other suitable trucks at some point when I come accross them. I also like the look of Hetzer tank destroyers so no doubt I’ll get one of those.

The worry (for my wallet :P) is that Chris (British Paras) or Graham (US Paras) tempt me to the dark side of¬†Western Front¬†1944-45 and I end up feeling the need for more supports that fit with that theatre such as¬† PAK 40¬†or some other late war armour…something that really makes a statement…perhaps a Tiger I.

AAR – Bolt Action Scenario British Para vs Whermacht

Well Chris finally got the opportunity to put his newly painted British Paras on the table.

The scenario was Chris’ invention based on one of the character miniatures he got from Artizan who is apparently a glider pilot that lead a mission to re-take a cross roads during Operation Market Garden. So the mission is for a reinforced platoon of British Paras to take a cross roads back from a platoon of German defenders and rescue the prisoners that were taken. You can read this AAR from Chris’ point of view on his blog here http://blog.cjsutherland.co.uk/aar-british-paras/¬† A few more photos too.

So here is the initial table set-up.


Para deployment.¬† From the glider…MMG, light howitzer, sniper,PIAT, squad with 3 SMG, Bren and 4 rifles, Command section, Cromwell, Arty spotter, Spotter for the 75mm Howitzer, squad with 3 SMG, Bren and 4 rifles, medical team. All veteran except for the Cromwell which was regular.

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Initial German deployment. Squad of 2 SMG, LMG, 7 Rifle including a couple of panzerfaust. Sdkfz 251/1 with a panzerschreck team in it. Marder III. Medium mortar with spotter in the church tower (where else??).  Command squad in the building with grey roof. British prisoners in the small ruin. Sdkfz 222. Squad of 2 SMG, LMG, 7 Rifle including a couple of panzerfaust. Panzerschreck team, MMG team.

Off table reserve of Squad of 2 SMG, LMG, 7 Rifle including a couple of panzerfaust in an opel blitz truck.

All German forces were regular and began deployed behind the road.

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Turn 1 the Para’s do a general advance on their left flank whilst on the right the MMG and sniper adopt a defensive line against the hedgerow.

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While the Germans advance to the hede row and occupy the buildings on the opopsite side of the road.

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The British MMG makes a run for the apex of the next field to bring the German squad into line of sight. We were playing that two obstacles in the line of fire blocked line of sight so from the initial position they had a very poor LOS.  The german half-track was moving to cover the open ground on the flank of the hedge line.

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The halftrack gets round the corner and shoots up the MMG team. The PIAT then jumps over the hedge and launches a bomb at the halftrack which miraculously misses. The sniper gets a pin on it though.

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The German MMG sets up in the corner of the wheatfield on the German right flank to cover all the open ground in front of the buildings.

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The Marder sneaks around the corner of the buildings and takes a pot shot at the Cromwell. The Cromwell is destroyed with the first hit! The orange marker beside the MArder is marking where the Artillery spotter is ranging the big guns in…

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German re-inforcements arrive in their truck.

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At this point, which was about turn 4 or 5 the excitement got too much and I stopped taking pictures! But the rest of the game went like this:

On the German left flank the PIAT knocked out the halftrack before it could do anymore damage to the MMG team, and destroyed the panzerschreck team at the same time. However, spotting a weak point in the line and with the Cromwell destroyed the Sdkfz 222 made a run right accross the table and took up the same position vacated by the recently exploded halftrack. A bit of duel broke out between the PIAT and the 20mm cannon which eventually ended up with the PIAT team destroyed. All this time the MMG team had repeatedly failed to act but had managed to cause a few cassualties to the German squad defending the hedge row.  The British light howitzer was being spoiled for choice of targets and after launching a few shots at the Marder changed targets to the Sdkfz222. Two direct hits bounced off! and one deviated onto the German squad at the hedge causing a few casualties. (We use house rules that allow indirect fire to deviate!).

In the German centre the Marder achieved very little before the British off-table artillery arrived. The explosions were terrific but luckily the fire was well spread (12″radius…) and none of the German squads actually got hit although everything was severley pinned including¬†the Marder which took¬†¬†5 pins! The Paras had been too cautious up to this point and were luckily (for the Germans) too far away to really take advantage of almost all the German squads/teams being severly pinned. Eventually one of the Para squads managed to get to the hedge row opposite the defending German squad which was by now quite depleted and severly pinned still from the off table artillery having not managed to shake pins off any quicker than the MMG was replacing them. However, the german Mortar got lucky and landed a couple of hits on the Paras giving them 4 pins (over a couple of turns) and reducing them to 4 men. At this point the NCO decided enough was enough and led them in a charge accross the wheat field that destroyed the opposing Germans in hand to hand for the loss of another two of the good guys.

On the German right flank the MMG had set up in a perfect position to cover the open ground and the main squad had occupied the dominating building. From here the squad poured fire into the British Para squad huddled behind the hedge at long range. They managed to keep the pin markers on the Paras but couldn’t manage to cause cassualties until…the off table artillery pinned the squad to the point of being useless. At this point the British rushed forward to the next hedge line. In the meantime the German reinforcements had driven over to the MMG and debussed along the same hedgerow. The MMG finally came off ambush orders and started laying fire into the Paras that had just occupied the nearby hedge, assisted by the squad newly deployed beside them. Fire was pasingly effective and caused only one British casualty.

And then night fell…and everyone stopped fighting and made a nice cup of tea!

The hands of the gods decended upon the battlefield and the scenery was removed before any photos of the end poisitions could be taken.

The game ended with British casualties: the PIAT team, Cromwell were destroyed and one squad reduced to two men. On the German side one squad, halftrack, panzerschreck team had been destroyed. Another squad and the Marder were severley pinned almost to the point of being useless and a few other casualties had been suffered. It was a German victory due to the failure of the British to rescue the prisoners but it was a nearer run thing than it first appeared. There was little to stop the second squad of Paras from assaulting the German squads and the German left flank was wide open. I think we all knew that the survivability of the Marder would be low once they got among the buildings and the Mortar would have been useless due to its minimum effective range.

All in all a good fun game.

Thanks to Ron and Rick – the Paras, Herr Nigel – the other German player and of course Chris who put the scenario together and then gratiously let somebody else take control of his Paras on their very first outing! Such consideration for other is to be praised…I wouldn’t have ūüôā