Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Back to Bolt Action

So my last post was about Terry Wise's WWII rules, some of the earliest ever published. So let's bounce back to the present and play Bolt Action, the newest WWII game.

The scenario is maximum attrition - wipe out as many of the enemy as possible. Not really a scenario at all, but still fun.

Oberleutnant and 2 men
Pak 40 AT gun
3 squads, each of 8 men including an MG42 LMG.
= 900 points

1st LT and 2 men
57mm AT gun
M4A3 Sherman tank
Bazooka Team
Two .30 cal MG teams
3 squads of 10 men
= 898 points

Turn 1: Both armies start moving on to the table, exchanging some gun fire. The Sherman blasts away the Pak 40 in one shot - one less thing for him to worry about!

Two forests, two intact buildings and two ruined ones. The first
squad on the scene is the americans at right running for the house - a
strong position they'll occupy for the rest of the game.
Turn 2: More gunfire. The bazooka team gets cocky and tries to take out the Tiger, but gets wasted by a hail of MG fire for their trouble.

The scene at the end of Turn 2. Some pin markers on the americans
near the forest.

Turn 3: The 57mm AT gun and the Sherman both have a chance to shoot at the Tigers side armour and both miss. The Tiger fires back and misses as well. In fact, the Tiger crew misses every shot this game except for their MG fire against the bazooka team! The Wehrmacht needs to train these guys better. The US infantry unit in the center takes heavy causalties.

Turn 4: The German unit in their forest takes severe rifle fire and breaks. The beleaguered US infantry in the center is completely wiped out by rifles and MG42.

Turn 5: The US manage to kill the Oberleutnant and his men.

Nearing the end; things have started to thin out a bit. The left house is
full of Germans, the right full of Americans. The germans are very much

Turn 6: Combined shooting from many american units wipes out another german unit, leaving only the Tiger and the Germans pinned in the house remaining.

Turn 7: The Tiger tank has several pin markers from being hit, but never damaged by both the Sherman and 57mm AT gun. It is able to do nothing in the final turn. The allies pour most of their fire against the German held building, coming within one pin marker of breaking them.

The End: The Americans destroyed 4 units to the Germans 2. Two points is the minimum needed to score a win, so the Americans are victorious.

The Germans in the building are so pinned they are next to helpless.
The Tiger in the background is in the same boat.

Terry Wise vs. Bolt Action

These two games could not be more different. Terry Wise's rules are a few pages long and only cover the most common situations. Bolt Action rules fill a whole book, with plenty of beautiful pictures and artwork, and the rules are extensive enough to cover just about everything, and are very tournament ready. You could never play Terry Wise competitively.

Bolt action is oriented to winning your battle at all costs, throwing your men away to reach your goal is expected. Terry Wise works better as part of a campaign. You get points for troops that survive, so throwing them away needlessly is pointless. Terry Wise even suggests ending the game after one side has retreated off the board. This changes your strategy a lot. Should I commit my reserves and gamble on a win, or fight more conservatively, living to fight another day? It's a whole different mindset.

Which is better? Up to you of course. Bolt Action is a fun game that doesn't need a ton of figures. Terry Wise's rules work better with lots of figures and can only work if played in a co-operative spirit. I'll keep playing both.