Saturday, 17 November 2012

Post Apocalypse using Bolt Action Rules

Monday night saw a change of scene in the shed – we moved from the verdant forests of North East America to the bombed out remains of a city in the near future.

A few months ago I purchased Warlords Games Bolt Action ruleset, not that I have any interest in setting up a WW2 project, but rather a view of seeing if they could be used for my near future skirmish games.

As a quick summary the Bolt Action ruleset allows for a small scale skirmish game fought between squads, support weapons and a few vehicles. The rule book itself is over 200 pages long, full of eye candy and copious lists on the chief protagonists in the European theatre. The rules themselves are very simplistic but in the game we played they seemed to work quite well.

Each squad, support weapon etc counts as a unit. The unit has a designation of whether it is green(8), experienced (9) or veteran (10). These determine morale dice (roll less than score on 2d6). Morale is modified by the number of pins a unit has accumulated and/or whether an officer is nearby. A unit takes a pin every time it is hit, regardless of whether it suffers casualties. If a unit is pinned it must make a successful morale check and the number of pins influence the ability to fire, move and the subsequent checks (typically -1 for each pin counter).

At the beginning of each turn all units are allocated a special dice (colour denoting the sides). These dice are popped into a cup and drawn randomly. Each die shows six actions,

·         Run (unit can double move)
·         Advance( unit can advance 6 inches and fire)
·         Fire (no penalties for movement)
·         Ambush (effectively puts unit into vigilance mode)
·         Rally (the opportunity to remove pins)
·         Down (hitting the dirt and taking cover)

As and when a die is drawn the player decides which of his units will activate and what they will do. This does of course mean that players will not necessarily move in turn. Tactical and strategic success can be determined by the order in which you move your units and recognising when/how many of your opponents troops have activated.

Combat is very straightforward – each model has a weapon with a number of shots, range etc. To hit you need 3+ on a d6 this is modified by cover, movement etc.  If a hit is achieved the target is deemed pinned, a subsequent roll for each hit is then made to determine casualties. This save is dependent on the quality of troop with veterans getting killed on a 5+. Although we had no vehicles in this game they work much the same way with armour denoting a save, AT weapons get a penetration modifier. 

Our first game was an envelopment action – in principle the attackers have to drive across the table and by the end of the game (seven turns) have either exited the opponents edge or are residing in their deployment zone.

Both forces were given the same number of units – 3 squads of experienced regulars (assault rifles), 3 squads of veterans (assault rifles), 1 officer (assault rifle), two medium machine guns and a sniper team.

The defenders could deploy 50% of forces on the board, with reserves appearing from turn 2 if they successfully made a morale check. The attackers deployed along their starting line.

To spice things up the attackers were able to bombard the area up front with all defenders on table coming under fire. As a result most defending units started pinned but a spectacular hit on the sniper team caused this unit to disintegrate in a cloud of HE and Smoke.

So the scene was set and by the end of turn one the Green Forces (attackers) had advanced across the board with a focus to attack the left flank and centre. The Defenders jostled for position in the windows of the ruined building with many opting for Ambush fire in the next turn.

Thanks to Matt for providing Green Forces his excellently painted Snow troopers & Pig Iron Multi Cam fellows.

In turn 2 the leading elements of green forces had come under fire from the medium machine gun positioned in the ruins of the left flank, four dice rolled and two hits scored with two kills. Not the start the attackers wanted. Further exchanges of fire flashed across the city district.

By turn 3 our defending forces had established a strong defensive perimeter and were freely shooting the advancing green forces. Casualties started to rack up and units were becoming pinned under heavy fire. The Green forces enjoyed some success with a squad taking out the deadly support weapon.

Turn 4 saw the game enter an attrition phase, with all the defenders reserves now in position and telling fire counting heavily on the green forces it was looking like objectives would not be achieved.

Turn 5 began with some desperate advances by green, could he seize back the initiative. Sadly his early losses and the defenders fortunate rolls had determined the fate of the game.

Turn 6 Green forces were able to charge one unit of Greys and were successful in the ensuing and very devastating melee.

Turn 7 – With Green suffering 40% casualties the objectives were never going to be achieved and a halt was called to proceedings.

So what did we learn...

1.       The ruleset is easily translated into other periods of play. There is no reason why the rules could not encompass all squad based skirmishes.
2.       The activation of units is clever – but a high degree of luck can come into play
3.       Ranges (a max of 24 inches) seemed to be somewhat limiting – maybe better to have no range maximum on a small table but count long range over a certain distance for all weapons – exception maybe handguns etc
4.       We probably had too much terrain on the table
5.       Using more than 10 units per side not recommended – nine just about worked.

Hope this is of interest?



  1. Nice batrep, I keep hearing quite good things about this ruleset.

  2. Really nice and informative blog, keep it up buddy…Thanks for sharing.

  3. Another great post- I'm putting you up for a Liebster award, thanks for the effort you put in!

    1. Cheers Barks, thank you for the nomination. Like you I am about to celebrate my first Blog birthday.