Back to Bolt Action

Tonight a game of Bolt Action was played between a panzer platoon with panzer grenadier support and a red army tank platoon with tankodesantniki, set ca 1943. The fight was over three objectives spread out evenly across a wide but quite narrow field of battle.

Bolt Action makes for a quick and simple game and it was enjoyable. The Russian method of riding on the back of the tanks proved far inferior to the German SPW:s which of course provide better protection. Also, the red army tank crews were quite inadequate in the gunnery department. The panzer IV on the other hand, with its powerful gun, made short work of first the heavy KV and shortly thereafter one of the T34:s. Soon three out of four Soviet tanks had been knocked out, while all German tanks were still operational. The Russian infantry was still relatively unscathed, but they were also trapped in an impossible position, and so the Soviet player (that’s me!) threw in the towel.

The German side had two panzer III:s, one panzer IV and three squads of panzer grenadiers in Hanomags. The Red army fielded three T34/76:s and a KV, with four squads of infantry riding on the tanks. In points terms, this amounted to ca 1250 pts for the Germans vs 1300 for the Soviets. However, the special rules favored the Jerries: the free squad that the Soviets are allowed in BA rules was not applicable in this case. The extra shots from German mg:s, on the other hand, gave a distinct advantage. The Germans fielded a total of 15 machine guns, either carried by the infantry or mounted on the AFV:s, all of which had an extra dice. The other special rules, i e for German NCO:s and Soviet morale, never came into play before the game’s end.

When I put together the forces for this game, I was a bit worried they would be unevenly matched and that the Germans would be outnumbered with valuable points wasted on the SPW:s, which I feared were no more than expensive trucks of little use. This turned out to be quite wrong. With so many proper tanks about, the Soviet player, in a scenario like this, is unlikely to waste tank gun shots on the Hanomags unless they are the only target. Although this meant that I lost the game very emphatically, it was nice to see all those SPW:s I had painted up to actually be useful in game terms.

But what decided the whole affair in the end was the respective performance of the tanks and tank guns of the opposing forces. With one or two lucky dice rolls, the Soviet advance would have been much more successful. Also, avoiding the pz IV might have been a good strategy, as the KV in particular should have been able to face up well to the pz III:s. In addition, a better use of the roads might have enabled the Soviets to reach farther up the table sooner.

Furthermore, a scenario involving so many AFV:s would perhaps have been interesting to play on a deeper table (the table in this case was approx 200×120 cms). The size of table meant that the tanks were within effective firing range as soon as they deployed. Also, as the scenario was meant to reflect eastern front conditions, it could have worked well with somewhat more open terrain.

2 thoughts on “Back to Bolt Action

    1. You should! Its a fun game with a dynamic mechanic. Its not a simulation, but if you make an interesting scenario and play in the right spirit, it works well enough. Rules for AFV:s are very simple and effective.


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