Thursday, 2 July 2015

Bolt Action Bolt Ons

Having been reading up on Bolt Action and having purchased the rules themselves I'm already starting to consider either tweaks to the standard set or simply cherry picking from this set (amongst others) and compiling my own set.

The big appeal of Bolt Action for me is the simplicity of the rule set. It's straight forward, and easy to play I also like the 'pin' rules whereby units carrying pins must pass an order test to carry out a players command.

Unfortunately there are a few things I dislike....

Points System.
I really, really, don't like any wargame that is driven by a points system. To me it's totally unrealistic and is geared totally toward tournament gaming. ... another thing I really don't see the point of.
I would prefer to generate random forces to oppose each other across the table, each player having to make the most of what he has at the time. Surely more realistic?

Table top set up.
My biggest gripe with BA is that it can't seem to make its mind up as to whether it's a skirmish game or a full blown, big battle system. The movement rates and weapon ranges are quite large and often players set up well within combat distance of each other... a case of 'line 'em up and shoot 'em down', again this isn't for me. I prefer units to have at least a chance of manoeuvring around the the table, to be able to withdraw if required, in other words something a little more subtle than simply blazing away until one force or the other eases to exist!

Figure removal.
I know, this sounds a. Little odd especially for a WWII game but I really don't like to see remnants of units dotted around the table. In BA one figure represents on man which is fine but I'd prefer to keep a squad, unit (call it what you will) on the tabletop and keep a roster to record their current combat state.

Each figure in BA as well as. Many other rule sets is depicted carrying the actual weapon it is using .... Rifleman, sub machine gunner etc. again I'd prefer my 'units' to be genericall armed with 'infantry weapons'' these having a maximum range with bonuses when in close. with the enemy to replicate grenades, sub machine gun fire etc.

There's more I could list but I won't bore you with the details.... Maybe it may be time to jot a few ideas down on paper and give them a go.


  1. Have you tried Chain of Command?

    1. I took a look at these last evening Emilio, they have some interesting points which I will be cherry picking! Notably the variable movement system which I really like.
      Thanks for the heads up.

    2. Have you read this blog entry?:

      Useful stuff for improving BA.

    3. Thanks Emilio. Interesting read.

  2. The points system is pretty easily dealt with by using the forces you have painting and then drawing a certain number of cards, each card representing one of your painted units (Or perhaps an upgrade or other feature).

    As for the rules, not my period and not rules that I have any real familiarity, but my standard advice would be to play them at least once or twice as written before fiddling with them. After that - fair game! :-)

  3. Steve,
    Just read your comments. I agree with you whole-heartedly on BA. It has its strengths as a tabletop game and there are some terrific ideas in it. I think you nailed it perfectly when you said it "doesnt know what it wants to be - a battle or a skirmish game" that is a great way to articulate BA's shortcomings.
    With higher headquarters, AA guns, air attacks and artillery, that's starting to get into the realm where there are larger headquarters involved and definitely outside of troops "at the sharp end"

    I tried playing it with based teams and tracking casualties with dice. It worked pretty well for me as opposed to individually based troops. It gives you more of the "unit" flavor to it as opposed to skirmish units.

    If you have any units like that (a Flames of War sized based with infantry, rifles, LMGs, and SMGs it's perfect).

  4. Cheers Steven, to me it's a good base set of rules to add and deduct from. As you say the likes of air strikes etc on the scale at which the rule is presumably set (I.e. Small scale squad based) is quite honestly ludicrous. I fully understand that BA is a 'game' rather than a simulation set of rules but there are quite a few things that just don't cut it with me.
    I do like a good chunk of the rules as they are written, the activation sequence, the pin rules are both extremely well thought out and put together but there's a lot to add and cut from the rules as far as I'm concerned.
    I also like the ambush rule as it can put pay to some gamesmanship that can creep into a wargame..... I hate to see AFV's lining themselves up just perfectly behind buildings etc just to be just out of sight from an enemy anti tank unit... that kind of thing.
    An idea I'm hoping to introduce is variable movement. I think it very unrealistic that a certain unit can advance / run a certain distance in a certain time just because the rules say they can. This will hopefully add a bit of 'frustration' to the game as units will not act exactly as ordered, again this is more realistic in my opinion and takes away a percentage of the control a player has over his forces during the heat of battle.
    I'm waffling again, but I could talk for hours about achieving my 'perfect' rule set!
    Please stay tuned and quip in at any time with comments or suggestions on upcoming postings Steven,it's always good to chat with a like minded gamer.

    All the best,


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