Sunday, January 11, 2015

Bolt Action - Airborne Landing Around Arnhem

I was invited over to Adam Clark's place for a large Bolt Action game this weekend.  It was great to see old friends from the Sacramento area that I had not seen for some time.  The game was based on British airborne infantry landing outside of Arnhem.  Adam put together some interesting special rules for the scenario to add lots of uniqueness to this battle.

3 Players will each have a Platoon comprised of:

  • First Lieutenant (Pistol), Sargent (SMG)
  • Second Lieutenant (SMG), Sargent (SMG)
  • 3 Para Sections: 10 men each, NCO (SMG), 1 Bren, 8 Riflemen, 1 SMG, AT Grenades
  • Sniper, Flame Thrower, Piat

A 4th Player will have the Company HQ and Weapons Platoon comprised of:

  • Major (Pistol), Sargent (SMG)
  • 2 MMG Teams
  • 4 Medium Mortar Teams
  • 3 Six PDR AT Guns

All British Troops are Veterans.

The Germans can muster a company of infantry in the general area of the drop.  Each of the 4 Players will have a Platoon comprised of:

  • Uberleutnant (Pistol), Sargent (SMG)
  • 3 Panzergrenadier Sections: 10 men each, NCO (SMG) 1 LMG, 8 Riflemen
  • MMG, Medium Mortar
  • 2 Vehicles (First Responders)

All German Troops are Regulars.

Jump Off Points represent drop zones or staging areas and are used to deploy your forces. A force losing all its Jump Off Points cannot deploy new units.
German forces will deploy within 6 inches of one of their Jump Off Points. Deploying forces can be issued any order, so could appear in Ambush, or Fire for example.  Vehicles must enter from a table edge on either a Run or an Advance order.
British will drop 2D6+3 inches in a random direction from a designated Jump Off Point.  If a Double is rolled, or the total distance exceeds 12, the deploying unit will immediately go Down. On all other rolls, issue orders as normal to the deploying unit.
A Jump Off Point is considered Captured if there are Enemy and no Friends within 3 inches at the end of the turn.

Not all troops arrive at once.  Each player begins the game with their activation dice "out of the bag". At the start of each turn, each player rolls a D3 and adds that many of their activation dice to the bag. At the start of Turn 4, add any remaining dice to the bag.  A Player can use an activation dice drawn from the bag to deploy a unit to the table, order a unit already deployed or order an off table unit down.

Each player has one Command Wild Card.  This can be used to do one of the following special actions:
Move a Jump Off Point up to 18 inches ending within 6 inches of a Friendly Officer
Use an Activation Dice (either in or out of the bag) as if it was the next drawn - cannot be first Dice of turn, need to say "after you use that dice I am going to use my wild card to take the next dice"
Avoid one roll for Bad Stuff
From turn 3, Activate an Officer with a FIRE order to call an Allied Air Strike or German Artillery Bombardment (limited to one per turn per side)

The Germans will respond with whatever forces are in the area.  In addition to an Infantry Platoon, each German Player has two vehicle reinforcements.  When deploying a vehicle, determine what type by rolling 2D6 and consulting the table below.
2 - 251/1 (with Section)
3 - 251/10 (with Major and assistant)
4 - 251/9 (with Captain and assistant)
5 - 250/1 (with Scout Section)
6 - Horch AA truck
7 - 222, 231 or 232 (Armored car with AA gun)
8 - 233 or 234 (Armored car with medium AT gun or Light Howitzer)
9 - Panzer III L, M or N
10 - Panzer IV H or StuG III G
11 - Panther D
12 - Tiger I or II

Even in the open, an infantry unit can move cautiously taking advantage of low cover to gain some protection.  An infantry unit that is given an Advance Order that does not shoot and ends its movement in the Open can be counted as Moving Tactically. This confers a +1 cover bonus.  After the movement, change the order dice to Down to track this effect.

A Platoon can only sustain so many casualties before it becomes combat ineffective.  Each side begins the game with a Force Morale of 10.  As long as force Morale remains above 4 there is no effect.  For each point under 5, permanently remove one of that player’s activation dice. When Force Morale reaches 0, the Platoon has broken and is removed from play.  When a Company has had 3 Platoons Break, that side loses the game.

Bad Stuff No Effect -1 -2 -3
Officer Killed -1,2,3 4,5 6
NCO Killed 1 2,3,4 5,6
Section Destroyed 1 2,3,4 5,6
Weapon Team Destroyed 1,2 3,4,5 6
Vehicle Destroyed 1,2 3,4,5 6
Jump Off Point Overrun 1,2 3,4,5 6

On a 7.5 by 10 table with Jump Off Points (2 per player) as per the image below.

The game was a blood bath.  The Germans managed to drop artillery on themselves twice --- and the third time they called in artillery it hit their target, but only destroyed a nearby assaulting German infantry section ... so very bad luck on the part of the Germans ---- and it was that bad luck that swung the battle into a fighting chance for the British.  I played British and we got chewed up bad prior to the bad luck artillery evening things up.  I'd call it a very minor British victory ... the Germans really more lost this than the British winning it.

We all had a lot of fun playing and it was a great day of Bolt Action.  Pictures below.


  1. Outstanding looking game- really first rate. Love the different textures and colours in the fields etc.

    Some great special rules, well though out- will borrow/tweak the platoon morale idea myself as it is one area we've been wanting to improve the game.

    1. Thanks --- Adam does run a fine looking game and has done well with the fur approach.

    2. We found removing activation dice was unnecessarily punitive. Simply breaking the platoon by driving morale to 0 would have been fine.

  2. Hey Jay, What is the material on the last picture that was used to resemble the long grass field with the two German vehicles?
    Love the table!! Stunning setup!

    1. That is artificial turf ... you can purchase it off ebay here:

  3. Jay - next game will be a "race to the bridge" scenario followed by the classic Gräbner bridge counter attack.

    1. Sounds great ... I'm warming up to the rules merge ... perhaps some minor adjustments but the force morale is a good idea.

  4. Stunning. Nice rules mash-up between BA and CoC. I approve;)

    1. Almost:) Currently buzzing from glue fumes after putting together a box of plastic Mirkin half-apes (they're supposed to be humans, but their top half seems to be a different scale to their legs) from a popular Nottingham based company.

      BP and I are slowly playing through the "29 Let's Go" campaign from Too Fat Lardies.

    2. The Russian campaign ended or was abandoned? How's 29 Let's Go?

    3. lol ... I've been assembling a butt load of Perry ACW plastics ... so I'm right there with you ... hey ... there are no long term implications to huffing super glue every night ... right? :-)

    4. It's Villers-Bocage we've been playing in 15mm. Tom & Norm are the protagonists in that one. Trying to get them together to play round 5 has been challenging recently.

      Bill & I started 29LG in 28mm. First game was a bit of a disaster for me. Re-match soon hopefully, with even more support;)

      Ironically, I think British infantry would have fared far better in the first scenario. Smoke being the key.

    5. Oh, and I'm almost certain my head-ache today has been a glue hang-over!

    6. Norm ... that trouble maker!! I'm surprised those sea legs work on land. Say hi to Bill and Norm for me.