HE ruleset modifications

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    Jacob Carter

    Hey guys! I admittedly don’t have a ton of experience playing bolt action but I have noticed most people tend to have complaints about the HE templates; and how some indirect-fire units, such as inexperienced mortars, can be overpowered! So, I’ve brainstormed a potential solution to that problem that I think could hopefully be implemented in a 3rd edition of the game (if Warlord ever makes one that is)! If anyone with more experience could play test I’d love to hear how it works out for you! But strap in, this post is going to be really long cause this idea makes deep changes to how HE works.

    So, just to start, the main change is what the attacker is actually targeting. I always thought that targeting a unit was odd as you’d really be shooting at the environment near a unit to detonate the shell as close to your enemy as possible. I also thought that the shell straight up disappearing on a miss was strange, as that shell will explode somewhere nearby with very little chance of missing by miles.

    To represent this the attacker targets a point on the table in line of sight of the unit taking the shot, places a marker in that spot (similar to an FAO’s artillery bombardment), and rolls to see if they hit this spot. Only to-hit modifiers that reference the attacker’s status (movement, pins, long-range, etc) are applied to this roll. If the attacker rolls the hit successfully, they take the appropriate template and center it on the marker they placed on the table and units hit are determined. If the attacker misses then they must see how far their shot strayed from their target. We’ll call this the “stray roll”.

    The stray roll tells the players just how far, and in what direction, the marker will move on the table. The dice used will be: the order die of the unit(to determine direction) and a certain number of d6 based on two factors; whether the shot was indirect and the experience level of the attacking unit. Add this roll x(d6) [x being the number of d6 rolled] inches to the difference between the needed to-hit value minus the result of the hit roll. I know this is complicated but this is a war game lol! Let me break this down a bit, though I did warn you this post would be really long!

    As I said, the number of dice in the stray roll is determined by direct/indirect and experience of the unit so those values are:
    Direct= +0 d6
    Indirect= +1 d6
    Veteran= +0 d6
    Regular= +1 d6
    Inexperienced= +2 d6

    (So for example an inexperienced tank crew would roll 2 d6, a veteran mortar crew would roll 1 d6, and a veteran AT gun would roll 0 d6. Hopefully this makes more expensive HE units a little more valuable to take instead of cheap mortar crews, but I digress.)

    After the number of dice are determined they are rolled and the resulting value is added to the difference between the needed to-hit and the result of the hit roll to get the total number of inches the marker moves. Also, the order dice is rolled to get the direction of movement. After the marker is moved the appropriate template is used centered on the markers new location, and any model within the template is hit.

    [Example: a regular tank crew needed a 5 to hit a long-range target after advancing. The roll resulted in a 2 so it missed the marker by at least 3” (5-2). The attacking player then rolls the tank’s order dice and 1d6 (because regulars) resulting in a 5 towards the left edge of the table. The marker is moved 8” to the left (5+3) then the appropriate template is used to determine how many models are hit (if any)]

    Now you may notice that indirect fire weapons don’t seem to benefit from the zeroing rule. I had to change how that works too. When using indirect weapons keep the marker wherever it lies until the weapon fires again, the player can move the marker up to 6” before rolling to hit and still apply the incremental +1 to hit. If the player moves the marker further than 6” the hit value is reduced to the usual 6. (It’s 6 to hit for indirect right?)

    Note: in order to keep indirect weapons from becoming overpowered this value cannot reduce below a 4+ if the marker is moved, even if the last shot was a hit. If the marker is not moved, the to-hit value can be 2+ based on standard indirect rules.

    Now the last change is that the wound rolls are actually modified! You may have noticed that since a unit is not targeted; Down, cover, and small teams don’t apply to the hit roll. Instead these modifiers are applied when rolling for wounds based off the marker’s location. Cover applies if there are obstacles between a model and the impact marker. Each model determines if they have cover from the explosion on a case by case basis. I have not narrowed down whether defending units can go down before the hit roll or when the shell location is determined, most likely the rules for an artillery strike can apply here (I don’t remember what those are).

    After all that, models are killed and removed from the table. Now while it seems like a lot of information, these rules should only add about 20 seconds to an HE attacks resolution, and should make higher cost units more effective/get past the template problems. Heavy veteran tanks in particular become extremely scary as they won’t miss by much! Anyways I’d love to hear from more experienced players about what they think about this somewhat complicated solution, and if anyone else wants to play test these rules I’d love to hear how they work out.

    Note: I don’t remember how pins work with HE to begin with, so some help with how that works would be appreciated. Also shaped charges like bazookas use the ordinary rules for aiming and firing as they work best when they actually impact their target. Finally indirect shots still receive the +1 armor penetration for dropping from the top, as that is a pretty good advantage for indirect weapons; although I may change that to straight up destroying a vehicle on a direct hit (so long as it penetrates) Anyways if you made it this far thank you for taking the time to read this, happy gaming!


    The HE complaints are more around lack of a scatter (Which never bothered me) and the change to templates in V2 (which did)

    Your process is rather lengthy to say the least (It’s taken around 8-10 paragraphs to explain) and subject to a lot of special modifiers, maths and so on that don’t appear elsewhere in the game.

    HE does work as is mostly IMHO, it’;s not perfect but I don’t think that your suggestion is better plus it creates interactions with things like hidden, down and recce that need exceptions/more rules.

    Can I suggest that you play a bit more before trying to make extensive changes to the game?

    Jacob Carter

    Thank you! I appreciate the feedback, but the “git gud” statement was unnecessary my friend! I’ll assume you were just trying to be friendly and it came across wrong.

    If I misconstrued people’s complaints about HE and the templates then that’s my mistake, as I am a newer player I don’t mind the templates. I don’t like how they are implemented in certain scenarios, though, such as having to center them on artillery pieces which could force you to miss the guns crew. And I have seen people talk about how cheap inexperienced mortar crews have an extremely high cost effectiveness compared to expensive tanks.

    My main goal was to buff tanks and debuff artillery a little bit; and allow for greater player tactical choices in regards to shot placement. In regards to a miss, the process is pretty similar to a bad artillery strike (d6 inches in a random direction), so I don’t understand your arguments about it being too complicated.

    Do you mind explaining what parts in particular are difficult to understand or implement? Thanks in advance!

    Stuart Harrison

    “such as having to center them on artillery pieces which could force you to miss the guns crew. ”

    This is an incorrect statement – there is no rule requiring you to center a template on an artillery piece, the only units with such a rule are vehicles. Infantry and artillery are covered by the general rule of having to place the template to hit as many models in the target unit as possible.

    Jacob Carter

    I stand corrected, took me a minute to find that single sentence in a 200 page rule book, but I did. Apparently I have wasted a huge amount of my time trying to brainstorm this idea, thanks for taking the time to look at it I guess.

    Tim Haslam

    Lol, keep up the well meant work jacob!

    I’ve been playing BA ever since it first appeared, and I’m still getting it wrong!


    There are many rules that could be explored and elaborated , but the beauty of BA is that it remains simple and fast.

    Then you always have to look at things statistically, in reality there are many factors at stake and there is randomness, it is complicated to represent everything with mathematical formulas and useless even for a game.
    BA in the end works and statistically, and represents what is happening enough, quite well.

    As a negative note that my game group and I notice is in the introduction of the templates. They complicate the determination of hits, add ambiguity and uncertainty, but at the same time they are pleasant and interesting. And when there is uncertainty and conflicting opinions, as per the rulebook, we don’t waste time and we roll a dice.

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