My Review of Warlord Games’ Bolt Action.

Last weekend, I attended the Crucible 3 Convention in Orlando, Florida. I took part in the Bolt Action Tournament that was organized by my friend, Patrick Ballinger. I’ve already blogged about my experiences there in my previous post. Now I’ll review the rules.
First of all, Bolt Action is a physically impressive book. Warlord Games has teamed up with Osprey Publishing and the result is some of the best looking game books on the market.
Too bad the actual rules are considerably less than impressive to me.
It seems as if Bolt Action’s rules are descended from the Warhammer Basic Rules. I didn’t care much for WH’s way of doing things. I found them to be very limited in terms of tactical decision making. These limits have found their way into the Bolt Action rules. Here are a few examples.
Usually under most rules, squads can divide down into teams with each team operating seperately. In Bolt Action, the whole squad operates together. There is no provision for setting up a base of fire with your BAR/LMG Team while your rifle team manuevers to close with the enemy.
The next one really floored me. I have a German Panzergrenadier Platoon as well as an American Armored Infantry Platoon in 28mm scale. Every rule set I have ever played assumes that each APC comes with a Driver and a Gunner. In Bolt Action, a unit is required to stay in the Vehicle in order to fire the pintle mounted MG. This leads to some bizarre situations such has having your unit medic staying behind in the halftrack to fire the HMG. It also pretty much nullifies the use of any APC. You’d be better off buying trucks and jeeps.
Snipers, in this game, are way overpowered and deadly. They can take out an entire weapons team with just one hit. That’s right…I lost a 60mm mortar team and a MMG team to snipers. Under the Bolt Action rules all it takes is for the sniper to Wound the Gunner and magically the remaining team members are also removed. The last time that happened to me was in a Warhammer 40K game as the result of a Plasma Bolter. I wasn’t aware of the fact that apparently the Wehrmacht had them as well…or at least an equivalent weapon.
In conclusion, after playing BA at the tournament, I’m going back to Disposable Heroes from Iron Ivan Games. It is, in my opinion a superior rules set. However, if you are used to playing in the GW style and have experience with Warhammer and Warhammer 40K then Bolt Action would be a good set of rules for you to get you into WWII.

Have Fun. Play Games!

2 thoughts on “My Review of Warlord Games’ Bolt Action.

  1. You make some good points, and raise concerns that I have with BA. I prefer DH, but “everyone” plays BA around here, so I guess I’ll be playing both and gnashing my teeth…

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    1. Have exactly the same issues with the BA, WWII 40K. The core system for my club is DH. It has better (and more accurate army lists) If you go through BA it borrows heavily from FoW and DH as well as other rule systems But what really grinds is that true to the GW doctrine within a few years we now have “Second edition”. Well I’ll be buggered if I am going through all of that again. DH second edition – colour cover, FoW second edition – Free rules book with proof of original rules ownership. Yes I am sure the plastic airborne will be great and I will wait for their general release.
      Incidentally we have converted this to squad level and activation of a single figure!

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