Companies in Bolt Action – Part 1

Chris Brown is bringing even more of his insightfulness from the real world into Bolt Action.

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Chris: Well…we’re total geeks who like toy soldiers. There you go; shortest article ever for the Warlord website.

Every time we take on a new Bolt Action project we aim to build a complete company and the fact that we are simply sad WW2 geeks is certainly part of that, but there are wider issues as well. To a great extent, it’s really a product of the games we like to play; our battles tend to be based on specific historical events or – just as commonly – on situations that could have arisen in particular times and locations.

Chris small space company battlefield 1

A typical game will take the form of a company in attack and a platoon in defence – or possibly two platoons on a broad front if we are using the full width of our table. The attacking company may have specific point objectives which might be obvious to the defender – a road junction, a hill, a bridge – or which are more general such as dislodging the enemy from a village of high ground.

Chris small space company battlefield 5

Battles of this sort can be played without making any amendments to the Bolt Action system, it is just a matter of applying the rules to suit the situation – the new ‘multiple activation’ rules for officers suit us down to the ground. Another consideration is the number of orders dice – the attacker may have an awful lot more of them! To some degree that is desirable; the advantage of the offence over the defence is the ability to choose where and when to concentrate force and firepower and it is generally unwise to attack unless one has physical superiority over the enemy. The ‘dice gap’ can be offset to a great degree by the defender using smaller units – in the case of the Commonwealth forces that might mean dividing sections (squads) into Bren groups and rifle groups; in fact, sections were trained to act in exactly that way. Also, ‘platoon strength’ is not the same thing as ‘a platoon.’ Units are virtually never at full strength, so our defending force may well be two separate platoons but with only 5 or 6 figures per squad. Moreover, since they are on the defensive we should expect that they will be in cover – quite possibly in foxholes and rifle pits or in buildings and that they will have been assigned to positions with good fields of fire and may well be in ‘ambush’ by the time the opposition comes into range.

Chris small space company battlefield 5

Painted by Don at Alba Studios!

We also apply the ‘command and control in built-up areas’ system more widely. The tactical considerations of fighting through a town are not radically different to those of fighting through a forest, so the ‘company attack’ may well bog down quickly as dice are deducted.

Chris small space company battlefield 4

Building full companies are the result of wanting more (and better) toys for the table top but wanting to justify them historically.

Chris small space company Battlefield 3

The German models are from Chris’ wife, Patricia collection!

Platoon commanders seldom got to call in battalion assets like the mortar, machine gun or anti-tank platoons. Elements of those assets might be assigned to a platoon position when in defence, but for an attack they would more generally be part of the battalion plan, which in turn would very often be focused on one company at a time – often as the leading edge of a battalion manoeuvre with the other companies lined up behind to reinforce or exploit as required. In those situations, the company commander is very likely to have all the assets of the battalion – not to mention any armoured vehicles – at his beck and call.

Do you have an article within you? Are you itching to show your collection to the world of Bolt Action? Then drop us a line with a couple of pictures to info@warlordgames.com or share with all over at the Warlord Forum

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