Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Bolt Action WW2 Rules Review

My Copy of Bolt Action from Osprey just arrived.  I've had a chance to read through and thought I'd share.  Just so everyone knows what I've done here:  Normal font is from the rules while Italics are just my opinions.  The closest WW2 rules set to this that I have played is Disposable Heros, Coffin for 7 Brothers by Iron Ivan.  Referred to as DH here.

Some highlights:
Instead of 1 player activating his entire army, each player is much more engaged.  The way this works is you put a token for each of your units into a cup and then tokens are drawn from the cut.  If its one of yours, then you activate that unit.  A bit more random than DH.  Personally I like this idea.  I do not enjoy games where 1 person manoeuvres his entire army and then its the next player's turn.

Each unit is given one of 6 orders.  A unit is a full section, single vehicle, arty piece, etc.

Advance: Move and shoot with a -1 penalty to shooting. Personally I like DH where you can move then shoot, or shoot then move.
Run: Double move
Fire: Remain stationary but fire with no penalties
Ambush:  Basically put on hold.  Shoot in reaction to something the other player does.  eg, he runs across a road.  You can ambush him and shoot as he is in the open.  Anything that survives can continue the move.  I like this.  Similar to other game systems, but huge potential to make best use of your units.  
Down:  Basically go to ground to make it easier to survive being shot.
Rally:  Remove Pinned Markers.

Starts at a fixed to-hit roll, and then modified.  Modifiers such as Range, Cover, Movement, etc...
RoF dependant on wpn.  German MGs get a higher Rof then others, M-1 Garand has no negative modifier for shooting when advancing, etc...
Pretty simple system
Once a unit is hit, regardless if it takes damage, it receives a pin marker.

Other items:  No shooting through other fr units.  Unless you can not possibly damage it.  eg, a rifle section can not shoot through an other fr rifle sect.  No shooting within 1" of other fr.  However, a rifle sect advancing behind a tank can shoot "through" it because small arms can not possible hurt the tank.  

Pin Markers:
Pinning reduces effectiveness of units.  More Pins= less chance of it moving.  Enough pinning can route a unit.  This appears to be general mechanic.  You do not necessarily need to kill everyone, just fix them so you can out-maneouver, or force him to flee.  

Weapons are grouped into broad classes.  Makes it fairly simple.  Special wpns have special rules.  
MMGs (Vickers) and HMGs  (.50) have the same range.  Range is not that great for some wpns.  I do not like this:  I actually like that in DH a MG in the SF role can dominate.  That's what they are for!  However I seem to be the only one that thinks this way, so I digress.

Very simplified compared to DH (Can't speak to Rate of Fire) and some of the other WW2 Games I have.  Vehicles all fall into broad classes: Sherman is a Medium tank, M-8 Greyhound is an Armoured car, King Tiger is a Super-Heavy.  Each class has a specific # associated with it.  Therefore King Tiger is an 11.  To penetrate it you need to beat an 11. (Not so easy)  This system reduces the need for all kinds of charts etc.  Veh Weapons are classed in a similar fashion.  Better AT wpn, higher penetration value.  So essentially the King Tiger and the IS-2 are basically the same in game terms.  Not sure if I like this.  I like the ease of play this will cause, but I'm not sure that a Tiger and a M-26 Pershing should be rated essentially the same.

The only vehs that can be damaged with Small Arms are soft Skinned ones.  (There are rules to deal with Open Topped, so it is possible to deal with a 1/2track with sect wpns.  Doesn't look too easy though...)

Very nasty.  Need to use the Run order.  1 round of fighting.  Looser destroyed regardless of # casualties suffered.  While this seems pretty harsh, it also seems pretty difficult to make a successful aslt so it may not be that bad.  Again, I like this.  I prefer games systems that are more dependant on manoeuvre and fire than on throwing a super-tooled up unit into hand-to-hand.  At least for WW2 games anyway...

Army selection:
Each force has Nation Specific rules.  4 Main Forces in the rulebook: Germany, USA, Commonwealth, and Dirty Commies.  
To make a force, you must have:
1 X HQ
2 X Infantry

You then can add:
0-3 more infantry sects
0-1 pretty much anything else.
So, max 2 fighting vehs (1 Tank, Tank destroyer, SPAA, or SP Arty AND 1 x Armoured car)
You can get transport vehs 1 per infantry and arty gun.  These can be Armoured (ie 1/2tracks) but there is a cost associated with them

Force selection is all based on points, points are driven by how experienced your troops are.  Therefore Veteran troops are more costly per man than green.  Very flexible system to add upgrades to a sect.

Some other items:
-uses D-6
-no pre-measuring
-Good rules for FOOs and FACs

Overall this looks like a very solid, playable rules set.  Looking forward to trying it out with a willing volunteer...