In today’s post, we take a quick look at the rules of Bolt Action and discuss why anyone might want to use Artillery Forward Observers in Bolt Action.
The Artillery Forward Observers we are talking about are the Head Quarter Units that call in huge bombardments from the big guns off of the board. These high point cost models come in at 100 points for a Regular rated observer and 115 points for a Veteran. That is a lot of points. If you want to take a full sized veteran squad (of three soldiers), you spend 141 points. Wow! There are so many other units you can take for that number of points. This leads to the question of why would you ever take a Forward Observer.
Why Take an Artillery Forward Observer?
If you play the British, the choice is easy. They are free!!! That’s right, you get one regular rated Artillery Forward Observer for free! You can add up to two extra regular soldiers to this group (armed with whatever guns you want) for 10 points each. That, is an easy auto-add for sure!
Now, what if you don’t play the British? The Artillery Forward Observer gets to call in a barrage only once per game. That means, that you are spending 100 to 141 points on what is essentially a one fire weapon. Sure, the group can act as a small rifle, SMG, or Assault Rifle team outside of their one barrage – but having a three person rifle team isn’t really that handy.
So what is the benefit?
The primary benefit is pretty clear. The Forward Observer gives you a one time Area of Effect attack that can harm every unit in a 7″ to 12″ radius from the point of the attack. That means, you could be throwing a 2-foot large template down on the table when and if your barrage comes in. That’s massive. Every unit under that template will take pins. Of those units, there is a 1 in 6 chance that they will also suffer a direct hit from the equivalent of the most powerful gun in the game (a Heavy Howitzer). That is huge and it certainly effects how your opponent will play.
Aside from providing a very powerful area of attack option, the Observer works as a psychological weapon. Knowing that you have the opportunity to potentially bring in a 2′ diameter attack will make your opponent think twice about keeping their troops too close together. The fact that the guns are so powerful will also add an object of fear for your opponent, regardless if they are bringing in an infantry horde or lots of armour. Your bombardment can hurt any unit on the table!
If you want something less destructive, you could use your bombardment to instead call in smoke to cover the movements of your troops and make the terrain it hits a little more difficult to cross.
Let’s face it, having a single model costing 115 points makes it more affordable to fill a 500 or 1000 point army list. If you want to use the official models, you are looking at $8 for 3 miniatures. That won’t break the bank. It’s even cheaper still if you modify an existing figure from your plastic soldier boxed set to be your Artillery Forward Observer.
- One shot
- 1 in 6 chance to back fire (not as powerful as the first edition though) vs 1/3 chance of success each turn.
- What do you use the team for after the bombardment comes in?
So What Do you Think?
So, what do you think? Are Artillery Forward Observers worth it? I generally play British and take one or two of them in each of my lists. How about you?
For people that want to min-max their games, I find that a squad two allows you to best use your observer team. It gives him the protection of an extra number while keeps him hard to hit by keeping the unit two people or less.
A note on the images in this post… Most of the image in this post are from Warlord Games. The title image of the German Forward Observer is from a Showcase Piece on my personal website, Must Contain Minis.
Thanks for reading and until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone!!!
Aside from writing great gaming related articles, I am also working on compiling a list of all Miniature Gaming Conventions in Ontario (Canada). If you are in Ontario, this list should be of interest to you!