Cast the Third Reich back westwards with the Soviet Army in Bolt Action. We’re showing you how you can go about starting a Soviet force in the game.
Why collect Soviets?
Over the course of the war, the Soviet Union had become a formidable fighting force, enduring hardships hitherto unseen in their struggle against the German forces. Though not brandishing the most sophisticated of equipment, their weaponry and armour were robust and dependable – able to endure the harsh winters of the eastern front.
In Bolt Action this is represented by two Army special rules:
- The Great Patriotic War – As a result of the unimaginably terrible hardships endured by the Soviet peoples and armed forces during the war, they are an especially resilient force. As such Soviet infantry and artillery can re-roll failed morale checks that would otherwise result in the unit being destroyed.
- Quantity has a Quality all of its Own – The Soviet war machine was vast, and depended on able-bodied men and dependable equipment much more than exotic weaponry. To represent this in Bolt Action, Soviet Union armies are allowed an additional free 12 man inexperienced squad in their force.
A typical Soviet Union army will therefore typically outnumber its foes both in terms of manpower and supporting armour – perhaps the most successful tanks of the war.
For the purposes of our guide, we are not focussing on “Winter” Soviets. We will return to these in a later article.
Rules and Background
There are near limitless avenues to explore when beginning a new army. The most obvious of which is the Bolt Action rulebook, which in addition to the full rules for the game and a timeline of the events of the war, contains four sample army lists, including for the Soviet Army. The book is also packed to the brim with stunning photography and illustrations courtesy of the famed Peter Dennis.
Whilst this enough to get you playing and experimenting, the next port of call is the Armies of the Soviet Union supplement. This greatly expands upon the sample army list present in the main rulebook, and is rich with background and art to tickle your hobby inspiration. You’ll even find theatre selectors if you want to tailor your force to a specific battle or era of the conflict.
Of course, you’ll not get too far in your army building without miniatures. The basic building blocks of any Bolt Action Army are two squads of infantry and a lieutenant to lead them. There are two primary routes to consider:
Method 1: Army in a Box
The Soviet Starter Army contains the initial building blocks for a force and builds upon those with the addition of extra infantry, support weapons and the symbol of Soviet armoured might, the T-34 tank. This box is more than enough for a 1000 point army.
Method 2: Soviet Infantry Box Set
The most vital component of most Bolt Action armies are the infantry; this is especially true for the Soviet Union. The Soviet infantry box set allows you to build up to forty Soviet infantry – the box contains a wealth of customisation options, which not only include weapons but also allow you to denote command models. In essence – this box alone is enough to get the basics of an army up and running.
The next step could well be to add more infantry, and with a Soviet Union army, this wouldn’t be a bad second step. However, many hobbyists, including it must be said, us here at Warlord tend to crave a little variety in their forces. We recommend adding some supporting weapon teams, or perhaps a transport.
Once you’ve built the core of your force, you might find you want some armour to back up your infantry blocks. No Soviet tank is more famed than the mass-produced T34. Whilst outmatched by superior German armour, the Soviet adage of quantity as a form of quality applies equally to their armour capabilities. Combining just one T34 with a Soviet Infantry box set sets you well on the way to a 500 point army.
Colours of The Red Army
One of the most important aspects of historical wargaming for many hobbyists is applying paint to the miniatures and making them truly spectacular to behold on the tabletop. Luckily, there are a plethora of reference materials available to guide you in this task. Paint schemes need not be meticulous, as in reality, the logistics of available materials in wartime, combined with natural fading and the often horrendous conditions that these soldiers would be subject to, would result in plenty of variation in uniform and appearance.
To help new hobbyists on their way we have created a paint set specifically pertaining to the Soviet Union. A guide to using its contents can be found here
One Step Further
The Bolt Action campaign supplements are designed to further enhance your games of Bolt Action in historical context. To this end, you’ll find within further scenarios, history, units to add to an army and theatre selectors to pepper you chosen army with ever-more distinctive flavourings. The Soviet Union features predominantly in Ostfront: Barbarossa to Berlin, which details the events of the Third Reich’s initial drive towards Moscow and many of the major battles of the Eastern Front such a the vicious fighting around Leningrad and the furious tank battles of Kursk, through to the advance on Berlin and the collapse of the Third Reich.
Look out for the forthcoming Campaign book: Stalingrad, which details in-depth the forces and history of the stoic Soviet defenders of the city. This was the scene of some of the most vicious and bloodiest fighting of the entire war – dubbed Rattenkrieg by the German invaders…
Grab a deal
An alternative way to play Bolt Action, Tank War gives players the option to expand their games to a whole new level – armoured warfare. Recreate such great engagements as the battle of Kursk with the scenarios, army options and special rules found in this book. Whether you want to add more armour to your existing armies or build an entirely armoured force, Tank War has you covered.
You can grab the Soviet Tank War Starter bundle, and the IS-2 tank platoon box sets at a great discounted price for a limited time only: