Copyright © 2017, Paul Scrivens-Smith

Copyright © 2017, Paul Scrivens-Smith

All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the prior written permission of the creator.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Bolt Action 1.1 - stepping away from the tournament game

Bolt Action is a fine game of an evening between friends, but I'm soon jaded with all the talk of dropping LMG's because they are not worth the points and min-maxing of lists, some of these 1000pt armies that I see being posted are rather odd. I'd much rather play realistic scenarios with historically viable units with my friends. 
For instance, if one side was ordered to probe the enemies defences and clear them off an objective they would not start with equal forces. Also things happen beyond the local commanders control and the attack can lose momentum. Based upon some of these premises I tried out some suggestions in a game yesterday evening.

Think of a mission

For or game, a British force would advance on a Japanese village and attempt to destroy or dislodge the enemy.

Balance the forces

It's not going to be a fair fight, the British are attacking so the Japanese should be outnumbered, so I went with the British attacking with two infantry platoons and the Japanese defending with one. The platoons should follow as closely as possible the correct historical organisation. Based on this, the two British platoons each comprised:
  • Subaltern (+2) with a Burmese scout
  • 2" Mortar with two crew
  • Three sections each of 9 men including NCO with SMG and a BREN gun.

The Japanese platoon comprised:
  • Rikugun Chui with a runner
  • Three sections each of 12 men including NCO with SMG & Type 99 LMG
  • One one section of 12 including NCO & three 50mm grenade launchers

Now onto the Activation Dice

In this example, the Japanese would only put five dice into the pool whereas the British would be putting ten. However the British force is two separate platoons each with their own command structure. So each British platoon has a different coloured set of dice. In this case, one British platoon had five green dice in the bag, the other British platoon had five brown dice in the bag and the Japanese had five sand coloured dice in the bag. A final dice was added to the bag - The Story Dice - this is a completely different coloured dice, red in our case, that is used to determine random events that occur during the game.

Back to those Random Events

I put together the following Random Events table for the game. I hope to eventually print off a load of cards, but a 2d6 roll is sufficient for our purposes at the moment. We used the following table, first roll a D6 to determine the type of the event and then roll a D6 to find out what happens:
Random Events Table
Roll
Japanese Reinforcements (1,2)
British Reinforcements (3,4)
Story Event (5,6)
1
Regular 50mm Grenade Launcher team in a bunker over 12” from any visible enemy or in reserve if no suitable location
Regular Vickers MMG  team in a sand-bagged position over 12” from any visible enemy or in reserve if no suitable location
On the next unit activated one of the unit members falls down a well trying to get water. Apply a pin marker, the unit can only have a Down, Fire, Rally or Ambush order if they pass their test.
2
Regular Sniper team in a bunker over 12” from any visible enemy or in reserve if no suitable location
Regular Ghurkha patrol of NCO and 7 men including a BREN gun in reserve. Ghurkhas count as Fanatics and the Kukri makes them Tough Fighters.
On the next unit activated one of the unit members desperately needs to use the toilet. Apply a pin marker, the unit can only have a Down, Fire, Rally or Ambush order if they pass their test.
3
Regular MMG team in a bunker over 12” from any visible enemy or in reserve if no suitable location
Regular Flame Thrower in reserve
On the next unit activated it’s time for a cigarette break. Apply a pin marker, the unit can only have a Down, Fire, Rally or Ambush order if they pass their test. The unit is now Motivation 10
4
Regular infantry section of NCO and 11 men including a LMG  team in reserve
RAF support, the highest ranking officer can act as a Forward Air Observer for the next three turns. If no airstrike arrives return the card to the deck.
Tinned fruit for tea. On the next unit activated, if the unit has any pin markers, remove D3 of them. The unit is now Motivation 10
5
Regular LMG team in a bunker over 12” from any visible enemy or in reserve if no suitable location
Regular Sherman V of Probyns Horse in reserve
Tea Break. The turn ends here, return all the activation dice and start a new turn.
6
Veteran Captain with runner and sergeant in reserve
Veteran Captain with runner and sergeant in reserve
Tea Break. The turn ends here, return all the activation dice and start a new turn.

Those of you who have read the books will recognise the story events are pastiches from 'Quartered Safe Out Here' a highly recommended read. I've already made a well and a toilet to place on the units so afflicted.

So how did it all play out?

Yesterday evening at Battlefront HQ we gave this a try. Steve and Matt would play the British while James and Anders took the Japanese, I would try to ensure things ran smoothly.
Initially, things did not go so well for the British, Steve left a section out in the open and Anders blasted it with with one of his, five British down and a failed motivation check and they were out of the game. The first event that came up meant that the Japanese holding a thicket in the centre of the table took a cigarette break rather than concentrate on the job in hand. Steve had soon lost another infantry section to a poor set of motivation dice and things were looking bad for the British, especially when a bunker equipped with a 50mm Grenade Launcher came into play.
However it would not all go the way of the Japanese, a Sherman V roared into action and was soon causing panic and casualties amongst the Japanese, the Infantry platoon run by Matt was also flanking the Japanese positions. By the end of about ten turns the Japanese were worn out, mounting casualties and pin markers had reduced them severely and the village had fallen to the British who after initial high casualties had suffered very few others.

We will be running a Bolt Action Burma game at Partizan on June 2nd using similar rules, pop over and say hello if you are there.