Soviet "Free" Infantry Unit

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    Eric T Holmes

    From the rules:


    ‘If you have more men than they have bullets, they will eventually run out of ammunition.’

    “To represent the vast manpower available within the Soviet Union, the force may include a free twelve-man strong Rifle Squad of inexperienced infantry equipped with all the options available to them. This free squad is in addition to units chosen from whatever selector is used. See the Rifle
    Squad entry page 23.”

    “…a Soviet army is allowed to field an additional 12-man inexperienced Rifle Squad for free to represent the advantage of numbers. This free unit is in addition to any units chosen from whatever selector is used, and is equipped with all available options (anti.tank grenades).”

    What is the interpretation of the word “army” since it is not defined in any of the books? I see “squad,” “platoon” and “re-inforced platoon.”

    “Army” with a capital “A” seems to imply the Soviet Army and not a purchased “platoon” or “reinforced platoon.”

    The description of the “Army List” (again the use of a capital “A,” calls out the “reinforced platoon,” so if I build two reinforced platoons in an “1800” point game as an example, I could conceivably build two free squads. I also base this information on the “Easy Army” list building pages.

    Am I correct in my assessment and interpretation?


    Roll Sixes!



    Pag. 7 of The FAQ&ERRATA:
    Does a ‘free’ unit take up a Force Selection slot? Or could a British player with two reinforced platoons field three artillery observers? If not does that mean the Russian or French ‘free’ squad counts towards the maximum number of squads per platoon?
    The free units are additional to the Selectors. In each cases it’s +1 per army, not per platoon.

    Eric T Holmes


    Stuart Harrison

    Force = your whole army.

    Your force is made up of one or more reinforced platoons (p152, Force Selection, Force Selection Rules, second para)

    Reinforced platoons are made up of units, a unit being an individual squad/team, artillery gun with crew, or individual vehicle (P35, types of unit).

    Most of these free unit rules are in the form “… force may include…” rather than “… platoon may include…”, so they are only one per force as per the FAQ referenced above.


    Its a good rule honestly. Without it, it would greatly unbalance armies with access to free units in regular games. It would also further incentise players to take as many platoons as possible to maximize the number of free units they can take and get an unfair advantage in that fashion.

    The Soviet Free squad is roughly worth 108 points. If you were to buy it from the selector. Granted, the only reason the free squad has anti tank grenades is because they are also free, but that is neither here nor there. If you could get a free squad per platoon… and you took 3 platoons (which is easily doable), you would have 324 points worth of free units in a 1000 point game. This is starting to get ridiculous.

    The same goes for other armies that have access to free units. Does it sound fun to play against a French army with 3 free Medium Howitzers in addition to whatever else they purchased with points?

    Bolt Action really starts to break down balance wise once players start taking multiple platoons. Honestly, this is why many events that I have attended limit players to taking a single platoon. Adding additional free units per platoon would only further skew the balance, in a negative way.

    Finally, keep in mind Easy Army isn’t always accurate. It is an outstanding tool, but it is not a replacement for the book. It is still on the player to audit their army lists on easy army and make sure all the choices are valid.

    That said, as a Soviet player, my Free Green Rifle Squad are shockingly often my MVPs. They are surprisingly dangerous if they can close in on enemy small teams and assault them. Even 2 veterans will usually lose to 9+ charging inexperienced riflemen based on sheer force of dice alone. The enemy also tends to leave them alone, as they would rather focus their firepower on squads of regulars with 2 lmgs, or 10 guys with SMGs…

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 11 months ago by akaean.

    Yes, i agree with akaean, a free squad (for 108 points) in each platoon is very “weird”, especially considering that the cheapest platoon costs 75 points, that is, more than a quarter cheaper than a free squad.

    On the other hand, the game considers 1000 points as the base scale of games (I don’t remember the exact wording, but ran into this in the rule book) and balanced it on that scale (for example, at 2000pts I will take twice as many MG42 machine guns). In this regard, I would suggest in my community houmrule that the Soviet Union gets an additional free squad for every full thousand points after the first thousand (0-1999pts – 1 squad, 2000-2999pts – 2 squads, 3000-3999pts – 3 squads, etc.).
    Should I do the same with the British arty observer? I do not know.

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