On the anniversary of its culmination, we’re looking at the Battle of the Bulge in Bolt Action, with a focus on collecting and gaming with Winter Germans.
Operation Watch on the Rhine was the last of the great German offensives – launched to great surprise on the Western Front in late 1944. It would prove to be one of the largest battles of the war – and certainly, the largest single battle fought by the US in the 20th Century. We’re going to look at the essential building blocks of a Late War Winter German Army, and some of the more specialised armoured units of the conflict.
The Bolt Action Campaign books are fantastically detailed spotlights on specific theatres of World War Two, enabling you to imbue your Bolt Action forces with a more historically accurate slant as well as providing a host of extra variety in gameplay with the introduction of key scenarios designed to re-enact famous battles as closely as possible. From the retreat from Normandy to the massed German Offensive of December 1944, through to the culmination of the larger battle in early 1945.
The Battle of the Bulge Campaign book is no exception. In addition to 12 scenarios and detailed history of the conflict, you’ll find new units and theatre selectors to enhance the character of your German forces. Use in combination with the Armies of Germany Bolt Action book, you’ll have an exhaustive profile of all the units and theatre selectors at your disposal.
The Winter German Range
The Germans did not succeed in their initial objectives of seizing key strategic locations, such as Bastogne, quickly. The intended lightning strikes thus dragged into protracted fighting in terrible Winter conditions, where combat fatigue, trench foot and environmental hazards were just as deadly as a bullet.
Fortunately, by this point in the war, German industry had improved upon the woeful designs of winter clothing employed in the early offensives, and German troops were more suitably adorned to endure the bitter hardships of WInter climates.
Get Started Bundle
A terrific way to get started is with the German Heer Grenadier Starter (Winter) 1943-45 1000 pt Army bundle on our website. This web exclusive offer nets you a great discount and a balanced infantry heavy German Army to get started with, including HQ and a number of weapons teams.
Not only that but it also includes dice with accompanying dice bag and the Armies of Germany book, getting you well on the way to battling in the Hurtgen Forest and Ardennes.
If you prefer to build your force bit by bit we suggest looking at the following miniatures:
With the core of any Bolt Action force being its infantry, we recommend that you start with the German Infantry (Winter) plastic box set. This box set is packed with enough components to make up to 30 German infantry with a plethora of weapon and command options to make your force stand out. These are perfect to represent German Infantry in Winter gear throughout the war – be they Heer or Waffen SS.
With the addition of home-brewed solutions to keeping out the cold, a Winter German Infantry Squad may have lacked the cohesive uniformity of the campaigns of warmer climates. This rag-tag feel is encapsulated perfectly with the variation on our German Grenadier Squad (Winter) box set. Pepper these miniatures amongst your plastics to add even more variation to your squads. You can almost feel the cold just looking at them.
Our Winter German range is extensive and isn’t relegated to basic infantry. We have a whole plethora of command miniatures and weapons teams suitably adorned for the fierce fighting in The Ardennes.
Faced with the problem of capturing and, if necessary, destroying bridges held by the Allies to cut off
reinforcements, Adolf Hitler personally selected SS-Sturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny to assemble a special
team for this task. Skorzeny’s team was assembled in secret, hiding their true purpose behind the assumed name of Panzerbrigade 150.
Skorzeny’s plan was to use subterfuge to achieve surprise – posing as American forces retreating from the German advance, Skorzeny’s men would take and hold key objectives as well as causing panic and confusion behind enemy lines. Two groups were formed: Panzerbrigade 150 itself and Einheit Stielau (Skorzeny’s commandos).
As such within the Battle of the Bulge campaign book, you’ll find rules for these commandoes and vehicles- disguised as US troops in order to sow disarray behind enemy lines and disrupt communications. Attired in (sometimes hastily compiled and unconvincing) US uniforms and equipment, games involving the Panzerbrigade 150 can make for some very unique situations within Bolt Action.
A number of German vehicles were made to look outwardly American for use by Panzerbrigade 150. These
included Stug IIIs, some SdKfz 250 and 251 half-tracks and lorries. These vehicles were basically painted in US olive green and given imitation American markings, together with a yellow triangle at the rear of each vehicle to identify them to German forces. Vehicles would also travel with their turrets pointed to the nine o’clock position as another recognition feature to friendly forces.
A small number of Panther medium tanks were provided to the force, and Skorzeny’s engineers quickly set
to work at modifying them to look like American vehicles. The M10 tank destroyer was selected as
the vehicle sharing the most similar profile to the Panther. Skorzeny remained less than impressed
by the deception, and reckoned that it would make it past only ‘very green troops, at night and when seen from a great distance.’
The following great value bundles will set you well on your way to successful disruptions of Allied lines on the tabletop.
One of the many German battle groups to fight into the heart of the allied lines was a kampfgruppe under the command of Obersturmbannführer Peiper. Within the ranks were men of the 1st Battalion, 9th Fallschirmjäger Regiment, 3rd Fallschirmjäger Division, as seen in one of the most famous photographs of the period.
This Kampfgruppe is a totally legal force with the Tank War rules. You can also use the tank riders rules, from Armies of the Soviet Union page 25, to represent the supporting Fallschirmjäger. The complete Kampfgruppe Peiper comes with the heavy armour of a King Tiger, a Panther, a Panzer IV, and a squad of elite Fallschirmjӓger for you to convert into tank riders:
This bundle represents Kampfgruppe X, within this bundle you’ll get the Ersatz Panther disguised as an M10 tank destroyer, a squad of Germans in winter gear with their Hanomag transport, and an M3 half-track to carry the 5 ‘American uniformed’ disguised Germans with German weapons. Plenty to add flavour to your existing armies!
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. Build your own Panzer Kampfgruppen with the contents of these box sets. 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 German Tank War Starter bundle, and the Stug III Zug and Hetzer Zug box sets at a great discounted price for a limited time only: