John Stallard’s Bolt Action Germans

Lord and master of Warlord Games, John Stallard, has been hard at it building a new German army for Bolt Action. See what he’s been up to here.

John: Well after a few weeks of frantic and most enjoyable painting, I ran out of British Army bronze green paint. What to do? The more i thought about it, the more I was drawn to the fabulous early war German kit, with quirky light tanks, 6-wheeled armoured cars and the classic German look of stahlhelm and jackboots (Hugo Boss take a bow!).

With Bolt Action being a platoon level game, you can afford to take some light units as killer late war tanks don’t dominate the field in a regular 6 turn battle. Couple this with using the scenarios in the book where fast units can be most helpful, early war armies stand a good chance of getting the job done – they’ve certainly proved themselves in the games we’ve played.

My force is painted for the latter part of the French campaign and/or early Russia, though at a pinch it would do for the Polish campaign and the invasion of the Low Countries too.

I started with three sections of classic German landsers. Each squad has an MG34 and attendant loader, an NCO with MP38/MP40, and 7 riflemen giving the unit a total of ten men. I also added a command squad with a lieutenant, a medic and more riflemen.

To beef up the HQ team I added 2  of the great looking 50mm mortars which in the game can move and fire giving great fire support out to 24 inches. They can get some good kills, but are primarily there to pin the enemy and/or forcing them from cover as once you start hitting with them you just pile on the misery. I also included a tripod-mounted MG34 with its three crew, a real killer, firing 5 dice each go, and is more powerful than anything else in the Allied inventory at this stage of the war.

The German war machine was famous for use of combined arms. To represent this I painted up a Forward Observer who’s job is to call in air strikes or spot for artillery. This is a great model, and one I could not wait to paint. To make it more dramatic I drilled out his flare gun and inserted the bristle of an old brush I had handy – it even had a flare shaped  button on the end which when painted and a trail of yellow flame and some cotton wool gave a very good rendition of  a flare being fired off to interest the Stukas waiting overhead…

To stop those pesky Allied tanks I have  painted up a PaK 36, or ‘doorknocker’ as it came to be known (as it could not cope with heavy armour).

To help out the infantry in the front line I also included the much-favoured le.IG18 75mm infantry gun, which was often dragged forward into position right under the enemies’ nose.

For transport I have a couple of the classic German Opel Blitz trucks which either tow my guns or are crammed with soldat, as required. For a bit of variety I’ve also added in the Phanomen Granit truck to perform the same role.

As a contrast to the standard field grey of the German uniforms I decided to include a squad of Waffen-SS troopers, who are kitted out in their experimental and innovative, at the time, camouflage smocks. This was more of a painting challenge, but they do look great once finished. They are equipped with the Czech-made ZB26/30 light machine  gun, much like the British Bren, so they do not get an advantage as do units with German-manufactured machine guns. To beef them up I gave them a flame thrower, a truly deadly weapon in Bolt Action, as is only proper! They are best used against any guns or infantry in cover as they have no protective offerings.

The armoured fist is provided by a platoon of three Pz35(t) Czech light tanks, which provided good service in France and Russia. I always try to place a crew member on a tank, it somehow shows them to be lived in.

I added a Pz II and a Pz38(t) to give more variety to my armoured advance. Light tanks are of great use in Bolt Action, working around the flanks and vital in recce work. Even a light tank with a 20mm gun can pin down a medium tank and stop it from advancing or even shooting, with luck, and of course ANY tank is bad news if you are an infantryman!

Recce work is done by my four armoured cars – two light and two heavy. They drive down the roads where they can, discovering the enemy posts and anti-tank guns, using their recce skill roll to reverse out of trouble if they go too far. Once again, I add as many crew as I can, as it adds dash to the whole force.

To really pound the enemy you have to use the big guns and the 10.5cm leFH 18/40 howitzers the Germans well all the way through WWII – they’ve also served Kampfgruppe Stallard well in our games! I use two, as one is just never enough. A dioramic  base  makes them look just great on the battlefield.

The only way to stop those dreaded heavily armoured Matildas and Char B1s that the Allies field is to use the dreaded 88mm gun. Mine is towed by a tractor the Sd.Kfz 7 prime mover, it is best used in the rear using its awesome firepower and range to shoot down heavy tanks as they lumber forward. It also serves well as a FlaK gun should Allied aircraft stray too close…

Next on my shopping list is the newly-released 8cm mortar team and I understand a Pz Ia is also soon to be released. I really want to add in another Pak 36 anti-tank gun and Paul tells me a Pz IV ausf D is being worked on at the moment – just the job for dealing with those rugged-looking Russian tanks…