US Forward Air Observer and Airstrike on buildings

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    Master Chief

    I just picked up Bolt Action recently and am enjoying it very much. I have a couple of questions on US Forward Air Observer and Airstrike on buildings.

    My US battleforce consists of 3 US Reinforced Platoons. Can I do the following:
    1) Select 1 US Forward Air Observer for each Reinforced Platoon

    2) Each US Forward Air Observer can call 2 airstrikes.

    3) In any turn I can set up 3 airstrikes, one each for each Forward Air Observer, providing I get the order dice.

    Refer to the rules on page 125 for Airstrikes against buildings. Which “calibre” of HE should the aircraft use?

    Does it depend on the aircraft type dice roll on page 86? Is it 2D6 for rolling 1-2, then 2D6 for rolling 3-4 (HE3), and 3D6 for rolling 5-6 (HE4)?

    Stuart Harrison

    1. Yes.
    2. Yes.
    3. Yes.

    With the air strike on a unit in a building, there is nothing suggesting you do anything other than roll for type of aircraft as normal.

    That being the case, depending on the roll you could have:

    2D6 hits, +2 pen, no HE special rules such as ignoring extra protection;

    1 hit with 3″ HE (2D6 hits, +3 pen, HE special rules) or;

    1 hit with 4″ HE (3D6 hits, +4 pen, HE special rules).

    Master Chief

    Great!! Thanks very much for the confirmation, especially the last explanation of the airstrike on buildings. It is really crystal clear to me now. I am getting my US FAirOs ready for action next week 😁


    While the US Forward Air Observer is very good for his ability to call in multiple air strikes, I would hesitate to build a list around bombarding your opponents with crushing air superiority.

    Any type of spam list is often frowned upon, and it should be worth noting that your list can be hard countered by sufficient Flak fire.

    You might find that if your opponents start taking things like Gaz AAA Quad MMG trucks, or even a pile of pintle mounted MMGs on transports and tanks.

    What you’ll end up with is a list that is really strong against somebody without anti air, really weak against somebody with anti air, and almost no balanced match ups! So you can look at your opponents list and immediately know who will win or lose =/, and maybe have a balanced matchup if there is enough Flak to *sometimes* stop a plane.

    I would probably play either 1 or 2 Platoons in most games and take 1 or 2 at most Air Observers. It will give a more balanced list and a more enjoyable play experience for both your self and your opponent!

    Gerry Brawley

    Plenty of opportunities for you to roll a ‘1’ and drop friendly fire 🙂

    Stuart Harrison

    Good points from both John and Gerry – just because the rules allow it doesn’t make it a good idea.

    Master Chief

    Thanks for all the helpful advice.

    One more question. For all 3 types of planes on the airstrike chart, it ends with “Armoured units are hit on top armour.” Does it mean armoured units are automatically hit and we roll once on the Damage Results for Vehicles table on page 108 of the rulebook?

    Stuart Harrison

    Any unit that is the target of an airstrike is automatically hit. There is no roll to hit, just the possibility of the pilot getting the wrong target (rookie pilot on the Air Strike Chart) or the attack being driven off by flak.

    Master Chief

    Thanks Stuart for the quick reply. Sorry for the many questions on the airstrke aspect as we have not used it much to this point.

    Back to the rules on page 125 for Airstrikes against buildings. Bullet point 3 says “As with HE shots, troops and gun crew derive no protection from their gun shield or extra protection rule.”

    It seems that this also applies when we rolled 1-2 and get aircraft type “Strafing fighter”. If that’s the case I think the difference between Strafing fighter and Fighter-bomber is that the former only hits the target unit, while the latter could possibly hit multiple units that the HE template covers. So the summary is:

    2D6 hits, +2 pen, on target unit, HE special rules

    2D6 hits, +3 pen, with 3″ HE on multiple units covered by the template, HE special rules, or;

    3D6 hits, +4 pen, with 4″ HE on multiple units covered by the template, HE special rules.

    Gerry Brawley

    Don’t forget that you have to maximise on the orginal target first before you look at hitting units overlapped by the template. If it’s a vehicle it should be centred as close to the middle of the vehicle as possible. If it’s on a unit then you must cover as many models in the target unit as possble first.

    Master Chief

    Thanks Gerry. I was thinking of an airstrike on units in a building. If I rolled a 1-2, I only hit the unit in the building. If I rolled a 3-4 or 5-6, there is a chance the 3″ or 4″ template may cover some other units outside the building.

    While on the subject of vehicles, the rule on page 68 says to place the template such that it covers as many “models” of the target unit as possible. This makes sense as each model covered is a hit on the unit.

    But since a vehicle unit is a single model, wouldn’t it mean that wherever I place the HE template, as long as it covers part of the vehicle, it would have “maximised” the coverage? I don’t see where it says the template must be at or as close to the center of the vehicle as possible.

    Gerry Brawley

    Hits against buildings do not use templates they use the figure for hits against buildings.
    1″ = D3
    2″ = D6
    3″ = 2D6
    4″ = 3D6

    Vehicles are covered under ” Hits from HE shells” ( RB page 107 ) Explains how you place the template.

    Master Chief

    Thanks Gerry for the vehicle reference on page 107. It is clear now 👍

    So to get it right, the following would apply to airstrikes on units outside buildings:

    Aircraft Type 1:+2 pen, only target unit, no HE special rules
    Aircraft Type 2:+3 pen, with 3″ HE on multiple units covered by the template, HE special rules,
    Aircraft Type 3: +4 pen, with 4″ HE on multiple units covered by the template, HE special rules.

    For airstrikes on units inside buildings:
    Aircraft Type 1: 2D6 hits, +2 Pen on target unit, HE special rules.
    Aircraft Type 2: 2D6 hits, +3 Pen on target unit, HE special rules (no template for nearby units?)
    Aircraft Type 3: 3D6 hits, +4 Pen on target unit, HE special rules (no template for nearby units?)


    Pretty sure you can only call in a second strike AFTER the first is resolved.

    Also if you are a new player can I suggest you don’t take loads of air obs. You’ll not be invited back…

    They aren’t fun to play against or with as they can turn the whole game on a singe arbitary dice roll.

    Take lots of infantry instead. MArching fire is far more interesting.

    Master Chief

    Thanks for the advice Richard. I think the “after” bit applies to the 2nd airstrike for each FAirO

    So if I have 3 US FAirOs, and 3 US Order dice are drawn consecutively, each FAirO would be able to call in his own airstrike in succession. They will then be unable to call in their 2nd airstrikes until their respective first airstrikes have been resolved.

    There is a reason why I am designing the battleforce this way, and I will share my “battle report” after my game next week. For now I am focused on understanding and getting the FAirO and airstrike rules right 😁

    Thanks for all your help, you guys have pointed out many points that I missed out 👍

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