Palmer dropped by the house today and we had a small, 500 pt, game of Bolt Action using my mostly unpainted Germans against Palmer’s US troops.
We played on my dining room table. I put a piece of cardboard from our heater on the table to make it a 4′ x 5′ area. Not big enough for a full game but certainly good enough for a 500pt game.
The gaming matt and buildings are mine but Palmer brought along some roads that me had made from some roofing tiles. Very nicely made and they certainly added to the look of the table even if they didn’t get any actual use. We played the Point Defence scenario with Palmer choosing to be the attacker.
I had a two infantry squads, a medium MG, medium mortar and an leIG18 infantry gun. Palmer had three squads (two weren’t full sized), a Jeep with an MMG, an MMG team and a Bazooka team.
I started the game with all of my forces on the table except for one infantry squad and the medium mortar. Due to some exceptionally bad rolling that infantry squad didn’t come on until turn 4. The pin markers for failing to activate added up until I eventually needed a 4 or less to activate.
Palmer’s initial preliminary bombardment placed pin markers on all of my units which required me to spend my first turn trying to rally them all. Luckily Palmer’s forces all started off board so my lack of firing wasn’t a significant issue.
Palmer quickly lost his Jeep from some fire from my infantry squad and I was also able to take out his Bazooka Team with my leIG18. Sadly that was pretty much the extent of the damage I was able to do. My mortar team was really quite inefficient and I suspect that unless I am attacking I’d probably not take them again.
Once Palmer moved his infantry into close range he was able to put some serious hurt on my forces. He simply outgunned me with my second squad sitting in reserve sipping coffee… or whatever it was they were doing.
My leIG18 was quite effective but probably poorly placed and near the end of the game was caught between two American squads. I turned it to fire on one that was closing on my Lt. who was holding an objective but despite needing a 3+ to hit them it missed.
Sadly there was another US infantry squad on the other side and so their failure to hit their target was exacerbated by getting cut down.
I tried a desperate last minute assault to see if I could take out some more US troops but despite some good rolls on my part Palmer just eked out a victory and took out my last squad.
The game plays very quickly. Our game was over in less than two hours and that was with us referencing the rulebook from time to time to verify rules. The basic firing and morale rules are quite simple and easy enough to remember. After the first few turns the core parts of the game were second nature.
The activation system using the dice worked really well even in a small game and it makes it quite random and you really have no idea how the beginning of each turn will go and even if you or your opponent will be the one taking the next activation.
The pinning system works well and makes it so there is an impact from incoming fire regardless of the actual effect. At several points in the game I was forced to either try to make an attack at lower odds due to pin markers or spend an activation rallying. Even minor amounts of pinning quickly dampens your ability to fire effectively so its necessary to rally your troops and also to keep your important troops near an officer to get the benefit of their morale bonus. Nothing sucks quite so much like failing a Morale test to rally and getting another Pin marker.
Officers seemed to be quite single task focused in the game. I’m not sure if that was a problem with our understanding of the rules or just that there isn’t a lot for an officer to do. I suspect that I won’t be giving my officers an accompaniment in the next game as mine spent most of the game hidden.
Its clearly not a game that focuses on historical realism. The rules don’t support a historic usage of your troops and its clearly a system that is “gamey”. That said, it was a lot of fun, was simple to play, easy to remember and provided a good game with some interesting decisions. Its not going to give you an idea of the tactics and combat of WWII but it still appears to be a fun game that deserves some more playing.