Last week, we reviewed the core rules of Bolt Action. In this post, we take a look at choosing a Bolt Action army.
Once a player decides to play Bolt Action, they must choose which army to play. Several armies exist, but the easiest route would be to choose one of the forces in the core rule book (German, American, British, Japanese, or Soviet). Other nations (like Finland, France, and Poland) are available, but they would require you to purchase a second book on top of the core rules to start.
I chose the British as my first army because I live in a Commonwealth Country and because I tend to play Germans in a different WW2 game. I wanted a change of armies when I moved into Bolt Action.
Which army will you choose?
Perhaps your choice is easy like mine because you want change from your other games. Others might wish to honor family that fought in the war, to represent the nation where they live, or an army based off of their favorite models. Whatever the reason, we will do a quick outline of each of the five core rule book nations below. Each army is different and each nation has their own special rules.
The United States
America is an easy choice for anyone starting out as they are easy to obtain and come with a good number of options. All of the Bolt Action Starter Boxes this far have come with an American Force of some description. The latest one (Band of Brothers) comes with American Airborne troops.
Why choose America? Their M1 Garand rifles allow their basic troops to move and fire without penalty and they have “Air Superiority” (meaning their Air Observers can call in two air-strikes instead of one). They also have the ability to take three times the number of Machine Gun Teams versus other Nations.
Options wise, America has a lot going for it too. They have access to the Bazooka, decent tanks, and larger unit squads than Britain and some other nations. They also happen to have the BAR Automatic Rifle and Shotguns too.
Ideally, for every Allies player, there should be an Axis player. The Germans give the players access to all of the largest tanks and weapons. Sure, some of the Soviet tanks can compete in size, but everyone is afraid of a Tiger. If you want the iconic tanks, powerful 88 guns, or many various troop choices of the German forces, than this army is for you.
As a nation, the German forces get extra shots with their machine guns and their is a strong chance that their units won’t take a -1 penalty to moral when their NCO (leader) is killed.
If you get the Armies of Germany book, they also get the Tiger Fear rule making their tanks even better!
The armies of Britain and the Commonwealth are all represented by the same lists. They have access to select American vehicles (such as the Sherman) as well as their own. Personally, I love their little Universal Carriers which can taxi around 5 man squads and medium sized anti-tank guns around the battle field. If you upgrade their guns, they put out a lot of firepower.
As far as national rules, the British are masters of artillery. Their preparatory bombardments work better than that of other nations and they get a free Forward Observer (who can call in artillery fire once a game) in their armies.
If you get their army book, you get even more special abilities and unique vehicles for your Commonwealth force.
The Soviet Union is the army for you to take if you want to run a horde type of army. They get a squad of extra men as one of their national bonuses and the ability to re-roll their moral checks for broken artillery and infantry units. You can take lots of inexperienced troops, heavy tanks and even katyushas with this force.
That said, the Soviet Union also has access to well trained and elite soldiers in large squad sizes too.
This is an army that I really like, but have not bought into yet. Their soldiers are fearsome. Every one of them is a fanatical fighter, meaning you basically have to kill their units to the last man. They are not likely to run away (like the other nations) when they take casualties. Their forces also automatically pass checks to assault, making them super scary.
If you are feeling particularly gutsy, you can even arm Militia squads with just bamboo spears and come charging towards the enemy without a gun in your group at all!
Once you choose an army…
Once you choose an army, you can use the lists from the core rule book to get you started. Eventually, you will want to buy the “Armies of” book that corresponds to your nation of choice. By including lists from five nations in the rule book right off the start, Warlord Games gives you a cheaper way to get into their game.
If I could, I would own them all!!! I started with a box of British Infantry and now own a British army, a German army and an American army. The American and German armies are ones of convenience as I just expanded on the contents of two starter sets (Band of Brothers and Armoured Fury) to create the armies I have. The British, I bought piecemeal slowly buying all the units that I like for the army.
Buying a 1000 point starter box would be the best way to get a full sized army for the game, but I have been perfectly happy just buying units here and there.
Many of you in the comments requested that I examine Konflikt ’47. The game is absolutely related to Bolt Action and I plan to go there in the future, but, for now, there are some very comprehensive articles about that Konflikt ’47 on my own site, Must Contain Minis. In keeping with the theme of this article, below are links to discussions about the army lists in the core rule book of Konflikt ’47.
Although I hoped to collect Konflikt ’47 armies, models for Konflikt ’47 are still on my “to buy” list. That said, normal Bolt Action armies are fully compatible with Konflikt ’47. 🙂
Wrapping it up…
Hopefully you enjoyed this quick overview of the five nations from the core rule book. For my next post, I plan to look at something other than Bolt Action (but we will return to Bolt Action again in the future).
In the comments below, please let me know what army you chose for Bolt Action and the reasons for that choice.