Chris Brown reveals his third instalment of his ‘Companies in Bolt Action’, a series where he breaks down the real world organisations and applies them to Bolt Action.
Can you really fight a full company on a 6-foot by 4-foot table top? Yes, you can, it just depends on the situation. We do it regularly and even do it as what we call ‘true scale’ – .that is to say that the terrain scale roughly matches the scale of the figures; one inch on the table represents two yards in real life. How can that possibly work? If your game is set on the Russian steppes or in the desert it is clearly inappropriate, but if you are fighting your way through a town or forest your units get swallowed up by the terrain remarkably quickly. If you don’t believe us, try this…
Cover your table with buildings, walls, hedges, copses of trees and bushes or small hills or any terrain pieces, just so long as there are few (if any) places where line-of-sight is greater than 12 or 18 inches long or more than 6 to 12 inches wide. Such Dense terrain is much more common that one might think when you bear in mind that the real world does not consist of isolated bits of cover, but includes masses of minor undulations and obstructions that are far too small to appear on any kind of a map, but are quite big enough to hide a jeep or even a tank, let alone a man which is moving at the crouch in an effort to avoid being seen….Paul and Harrison at the War HQ Youtube channel recently ran a segment on this topic which is well worth checking out.
Now put two full-strength platoons on each ‘long’ edge of the table. The chances are there is not one unit with a clear view of the enemy. Also, despite the fact that you have at least nine units on the table (6 squads, two platoon commanders and a company commander) there’s every likelihood that there several points where an enemy unit can approach within 12 inches or less without being seen. As squads advance toward the enemy in the course of the first turn or two it is almost inevitable that they will lose line-of-sight with their officer and with the other squads in the platoon.
‘Ah-ha’ we hear you say…’these articles are about companies and that’s only two platoons’. That is a fair point, but companies very seldom manoeuvre with all the platoons in line abreast; in fact, company commanders do their level best to avoid that ever happening, and if you try it on the table top you’ll soon see why. A company strung out in a line is not in a position to either react to an enemy attack or to reinforce a platoon that gets held up or gets into trouble and it cannot take advantage of opportunities that arise. Consequently, companies advance with one or two platoons up front and the balance coming along behind.
Going back to our dense-terrain table top, if we’ve had two turns we have probably made contact with the enemy and the fighting is raging along nicely, but we will also have made space on our base edge to get our 3rd platoon (and 4th platoon if that is the structure of our force) onto the table top and heading toward the enemy’s weak spot or turning his flank…or maybe rescuing the remnants of 1st platoon if things aren’t going too well!
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Field a new army!