Frontline Report: Fortress Budapest Design Notes

We’ve sat down this week with the author of Fortress Budapest to bring you a snapshot of Bryan Cook’s thinking behind the latest Bolt Actions Campaign book…

Bryan; The latest Campaign book for Bolt Action focuses on the Soviet offensives that swept through the Carpathian Basin into Hungary and toward the southern flank of the Reich itself in 1944-45. The 100-day siege of Budapest and the three waves of panzer-led counterattacks to relieve the city took place at the same time as Hitler’s Ardennes offensive, and so have often been overlooked in history. This book also covers Operation Spring Awakening, the last German offensive of the war in March 1945.

This book offers a lot of variety in terms of new scenarios, units and force selectors for the Germans, Hungarians, Soviets and their new allies the Romanians.

For the Bolt Action player, I feel this book offers a lot of variety in terms of new scenarios, units and force selectors for the Germans, Hungarians, Soviets and their new allies the Romanians. Although the scenarios help you replay significant battles from the Hungarian campaign, they are also a great set of new gaming experiences you could easily play using alternative forces.

Missions are varied and see bitter enemies fight over air-dropped supply canisters, amongst a maze of cemetery headstones, desperate rearguard actions holding street barricades, sweeping tank battles on the plains, and of course grim house to house fighting in Budapest itself. These are just some examples of the interesting tactical situations you can find yourself in using this supplement book.

Soviet Union

Specialised platoons offer Soviet players a new experience as neither force is your typical high order dice affair, but they gain other advantages instead.

The Soviet units assigned to the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts (the armies tasked with taking Hungary and Austria) featured many armoured units equipped with Lend-lease tanks and vehicles, so these units are now properly fleshed out and part of the Soviet army list. There are also a number of specialist units that get force selectors to help represent them. The Urban Assault Group is a dedicated street fighting formation boasting loads of close range firepower and access to many more heavy weapons than a standard platoon.

 

In contrast to this ponderous unit, there is the fast-moving Forward Detachment Reconnaissance Party. These platoons ranged ahead of the main tank units in armoured carriers such as the M3 Scout Car, seizing vital bridges and crossroads. This selector allows you to field a rapid moving platoon of infantry mounted in armoured personnel carriers bristling with machine guns. These specialised platoons offer Soviet players a new experience as neither force is your typical high order dice affair, but they gain other advantages instead.

Germany

My favourite new platoon is the 88mm guns of the Heavy Anti-aircraft Battery fighting in a ground role against Soviet armoured attacks, and a mixed German-Hungarian platoon of the Budapest pocket defenders.

The Hungarian campaign of 1944-45 was of vital importance to Hitler’s plans and he deployed almost half his powerful panzer divisions to the theatre to secure the oil fields and guard the Reich’s southern approaches. In this book you will find six new German theatre selectors, some of these allow you to field dedicated Panzer Kampfgruppe, Panzergrenadier, and Panzer Reconnaissance platoons. These feature new special rules and structures to really help capture the feel of these units on the table.

My favourite new platoon is the 88mm guns of the Heavy Anti-aircraft Battery fighting in a ground role against Soviet armoured attacks, and a mixed German-Hungarian platoon of the Budapest pocket defenders. It’s a nice way to add a few Hungarian units to your existing German collection for a bit of variety in terms of both painting and gaming. There are also six new unit entries for German players, from SS Assault Pioneers to captured Italian “Polizei’ tanks.

Hungary

The Hungarians receive a large number of new units and selectors as I felt their original army list was very basic and needed expanding. No less than twenty new infantry, artillery and vehicle units are included.

The Hungarians receive a large number of new units and selectors as I felt their original army list was very basic and needed expanding. No less than twenty new infantry, artillery and vehicle units are included. These cover all the hard fighting that the Royal Hungarian Army did to defend its homeland. There are a wide variety of new troops included in the book; light infantry specialists of the Carpathian Mountains Border Guard, tough as boots Paratroopers, Assault Pioneers, a variety of militias defending Budapest and even several rocket weapon systems produced by Hungary’s own engineers. New theatre selectors cover Hungary’s Armoured Field Divisions, Assault Artillery Batteries, Border Guards, as well as the defenders of Budapest itself.

Romania

There are a few new units for the Romanians to add to their army list, the elite Mountain Division, and hard fighting Combat Engineers.

At the time this campaign book is set the Romanians have actually just switched sides. After their country falls to the Soviet offensives they now join their former enemies on the Allied side to fight against their ancestral foe, the Hungarians. Again there are a few new units for the Romanians to add to their army list, the elite Mountain Division and hard fighting Combat Engineers. There is also a new theater selector to cover the Romanians fighting under the Soviets on the Allied side, including a new and complete set of national special rules allowing for some Soviet supporting units to be added in.

Urban warfare

Although this campaign book features tank battles on the Hungarian plain and infantry fighting in the Carpathian mountains, the central setting is the bitter street fighting in Budapest itself. This book includes a series of really unique scenarios and a new set of special rules to allow you to play out urban warfare in Bolt Action. These urban battles have their own distinct feel, with the majority of the scenarios being played on a smaller 4×4 table with dense terrain, creating a very claustrophobic experience.

There isn’t much room to manoeuvre and battles are bloody. However, this does not mean there isn’t any strategy involved!

There isn’t much room to manoeuvre and battles are bloody. However, this does not mean there isn’t any strategy involved! This Campaign book offers a set of city fighting assets that each player can choose from to aid them in their mission objective. There are 14 assets to choose from in three categories depending on whether you are the attacker or defender in a scenario, with a neutral set being available to both sides.

Each player gains one asset per 500pts in their force, but these do not cost any points themselves. The city fighting assets really add a lot to the experience, some allow your troops to infiltrate the enemy lines via the sewer system or creeping up at night, others allow you to fortify a building or set up a front line aid post.

“Whatever you choose, this added layer of strategy means you can play the same scenarios many times, but by choosing different city fighting assets it will be a very different gaming experience.”

Intelligence can be gained from prisoner interrogation and smoke screens or bombardments can cover your attack. Whatever you choose, this added layer of strategy means you can play the same scenarios many times, but by choosing different city fighting assets it will be a very different gaming experience. I feel you could use this set of rules and scenarios to play out other infamous city battles such as Stalingrad, Kharkov or Manila.

I hope players enjoy playing with this supplement for Bolt Action as much as I enjoyed making it. This book was made better by the input of a dedicated group of community members (you know who you are) who lent their skills to terrain building, miniature painting, playtesting and proofreading over an 18 month period to help make the Hungarian campaign come to life.

Bryan Cook

Campaign: Fortress Budapest

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Throughout the autumn of 1944, the Axis forces in the Carpathian Basin were fighting for their very existence. Campaign: Fortress Budapest will inspire and guide you through the entirety of this particular conflict and on to many more victories with your Bolt Action forces…

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Hungarian Army

The Royal Hungarian Army was created in 1922 after the defeat and breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the First World War. Initially limited to 35,000 men under the Treaty of Trianon, the army peaked at nearly 1 million men during the battle for Hungary itself in 1944.

This set contains the perfect Hungarian Army to begin this campaign!

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