In last week’s post, we took a look at why you should be using Artillery Forward Observers in your Bolt Action Army List. Today’s post will be similar and cover many of the same points, but instead, we are looking at why you might want to include an Air Observer in your list.
The Air Observers is a unit within your Head Quarter’s selection that you can take instead of the Forward Observer. While the Artillery Forward Observer commands large guns off the battlefield while the Air Forward Observer calls in planes for close support.
The Air Forward Observer comes in at fewer points than their Artillery Counter part. You are looking at 116 points for a full sized veteran squad or just 75 to 90 points for a single observer. Not bad compared to 141 points for a full sized veteran Artillery Forward Observer unit.
What is the difference? The type of attack the unit calls in. The Air Observer’s attack has the exact same chances to be called in as the Artillery Observer’s. The Air Observer Attack has a little more of a chance to be negated by the enemy and can back fire worse than the guns can. We will talk about that further down in the article.
Why Take an Air Forward Observer?
If you play as an American, you get to call in two strikes with your Air Observer. That makes them twice as powerful as those of the other nations and an easy choice to take advantage of your special national rules. That is really cool!
Now, what if you don’t play the Americans? The Air Forward Observer gets to call in an airstrike once per game. That means, that you are spending 75 to 116 points on what is essentially a one fire weapon. That is not nearly as expensive as the unit we looked at last week which was also a single fire unit for 100 to 141 points. Like the other Observer unit, the group can act as a small rifle, SMG, or Assault Rifle team after they call in their special attack (or special attacks if you are playing as Americans).
We won’t get into the benefits, Model Cost and drawbacks of the Air Forward Observer as it is pretty much the same as the Artillery Forward Observers. Refer back to the first article if you are curious. Instead, we will talk about the Air Attack itself.
The Air Strike
When the Air Observer takes a “Fire” order, he gets to choose an enemy unit for the planes to attack. At the start of each turn after that, you roll a d6. There is a 1 in 6 chance that things will go horribly wrong (where the unit gets to choose which unit gets attacked – even your own) and a 1 in 2 chance that the plane will come in.
When the plane comes, you place a token or plane model within 18″ of the intended target. If either side has units with Flak, they may try to shoot down the aircraft. If you have flak and don’t want them to fire, you have to make a roll. They might fire on the incoming plane even though it is on your side. So long as the plane token is within your arc-of-fire and range, you may fire. If the plane takes three or more hits, then the plane aborts. The airstrike counts as being used.
As the plane comes in, all units within 6″ of either the plane marker or the target unit automatically take d3-1 pins. This goes for both sides – friend and foe alike.
Then the plane comes in and you roll to determine the strength of the support. It could be a strafing fighter (good against infantry and gun teams), a fighter-bomber, or a ground attack aircraft (the most powerful of the three). From here, you follow the directions in the rule book to determine the result. Two of the three attacks include templates so if your opponent grouped his units too close together, you might capture more than one target!
The attack happens and the plane leaves the battlefield.
So What Do you Think?
As you can see, there are a few extra steps here than there is for the Artillery Forward Observer. That said, this is a more affordable unit to take points-wise. If your opponent doesn’t take any Flak units, this Observer can be very effective. Even with Flak on the battlefield, you can still make this unit work well.
What do you think? Is the Air Forward Observer worth taking? If you have to choose between the Artillery Forward Observer and the Air Forward Observer, which do you choose and why?
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, and painted by Dave Lamers.
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!