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Bolt Action Stalingrad: Statistics of Sniping

Putting faith in probabilities...

Bolt Action Stalingrad: Statistics of Sniping
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We’ve been thinking about snipers in Bolt Action recently. This may well be a result of the recent release of Campaign Stalingrad – the labyrinth of the rubble-strewn city streets lent itself to sniper warfare resulting in extended and deadly games of cat and mouse between sharpshooters, with many achieving a reputation for their exploits.

Replicating such exploits within Bolt Action, however, is reliant on the results of the dice. Fickle though the dice may be (it often feels like they’re prone to rolling ones), we can make some educated assumptions about the ideal targets for our sniper teams in the game. To help I refer to some calculations made by Warlord Community member Rob Cook.

The Maths

Under ideal conditions, a sniper has a 66% chance of hitting a target. To actually kill, there is a 50% chance, provided the target is regular. Combine these and the actual probability of making a kill from shot to damage is 33%. This probability drops to approximate 22% if the target is veteran.

Extrapolating this over the course of a six turn game of Bolt Action (assuming that the sniper a. lives that long, and b. manages to fire every turn), the odds of successfully hitting and wounding one regular infantry target is 99%. Realistically, the threat of a sniper on the tabletop will, positioning allowing – result in them becoming a target – and they may be beset by death, or the loss of their spotter or the infliction of pin markers. So 99% is not an accurate figure.

However, consider the same probability of hitting and wounded a veteran target, assuming an unimpeded shot every turn. Success is then statistically, over 6 whole turns, at 73%. With the chaos on a Bolt Action battlefield, we have to assume that these statistics will drop significantly; the lesson pick your targets – if you have the option to fire at regulars rather than veterans, don’t waste the opportunity!

Sniper Duel

In Campaign Stalingrad, a scenario is ideal to test these probabilities on the tabletop. Scenario 11: Sniper Duel represents the fighting as it had devolved to resemble a rhythm more reminiscent of World War 1 combat. Both sides dug extensive trench networks and fortified buildings into inter-connected defence networks. Large-scale attacks became increasingly difficult. Mobile warfare was replaced with frequent artillery bombardment, trench raids, and sniping. The spontaneous appearance of the sniper movement within the Soviet army led to a vast increase in the number of snipers patrolling the front line. German sharpshooters quickly followed suit, with each sniper seeking to rack up as many kills as possible. Sometimes these silent hunters encountered each other on the front lines and a deadly game of cat-and-mouse would play out, where only one sharpshooter could come out on top – or alive.

The scenario sees players attempting to collect dog tags from fallen enemy soldiers. This being a sniper duel, and infantry holding a particular vehemence for enemy snipers, these models are worth twice as many dog tags. The battle is a claustrophobic, rubble-strewn, street warfare on a 4′ x 4′ board, and each army is allowed to take for free a number of sniper teams. Players are also encouraged to experiment with legends of Stalingrad; for the Soviet player, that hero is Vasily Zaitsev. His kill shot ability makes a mockery of the statistics already discussed, able to wound many targets regardless of experience level on a 2 +.

Zaitsev is the free special edition model available when you purchase the Campaign Stalingrad book from the Warlord Webstore.

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Battle Set

One of the most striking sniper miniatures in our range is available exclusively in the Stalingrad Battle Box. A Soviet sniper picks out his target whilst his spotter brandishes a dummy to draw out his German opposite. The battle box itself is rife with content:

  • Ruined MDF factory
  • Barmaley Fountain
  • 5 resin craters/shellholes
  • 3 resin barricades/rubble
  • 3m of barbed wire
  • Sd.Kfz 139 Marder III
  • T34/76
  • Soviet Sniper team
  • 56 plastic Soviet infantry
  • 42 plastic German Army infantry


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Dan Hewitson
Dan can often be found contemplating the mound of unpainted minis building up under his desk. He has a tendency to roll lots of ones. He also has a tendency to complain about rolling lots of ones.