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Monday, September 24, 2012

Bolt Action - Can't Wait To Get My Commonwealth On The Table

I'm unnecessary-sunglasses-in-the-bathtub-excited about getting Brits on the table, everybody, and I just can't hide it!

It's all thanks to this behemoth:

Engineer One: "Hey everyone, I've got this tank that shoots fire a hundred yards. I was thinking we could call it the Crocodile, since crocodiles are pretty rad."
Engineer Two: "Brilliant!"

My first army in Bolt Action was the Germans, and I'm lovin' both their appearance and their play style on the tabletop; but I recently found myself jumping into the Brits. Everyone needs at least one Axis and one Allied force for Bolt Action, right? Dano had claimed the Americans (bastard!) and his choice left me with either the Soviets or the Commonwealth forces if I was to have both an Axis and Allied force. Of course, I could have purchased Americans as well, but what's the fun in that? Gotta' mix it up!

While I think the Soviet national abilities are amazing on the tabletop - a free Inexperienced squad and morale test rerolls - I felt compelled to go with a Commonwealth force. I could try to convince you of any number of reasons why you should pick the Brits over the Soviets, but what sealed the deal for me was the dread involved in painting and modelling an extra squad. Shameful, I know.

This image shamelessly stolen from Scary Biscuits - Soviet doctrine demands one hundred anti-tank rifles for every Panzer on the field. Yep, I made that up. Soviet doctrine in Bolt Action, however, calls for at least thirty-five infantrymen, at least.

For as powerful as a completely free squad of infantry is, I had no desire to put the extra time and bucks into purchasing and painting that free squad.

I know, it sounds crazy, but I'm just not a huge fan of modelling. I love the look of two well-painted forces clashing on a tabletop, but I don't love the work required to get to that point. After modelling and painting a FoW, 1750-point Early War German army, including kradschutzen platoon, in three weeks, I feel like I've crossed every bridge I need to on this path to mini-wargaming enlightenment. Don't need to climb any more modelling/painting mountains - all set, I'm good.

On that note, my pal and teammate, Joe, is doing some commission work for me! Just another reason to be stoked to get these Commonwealthers on the tabletop! Thanks, man!

I don't know about you, but I can't even look at this work-in-progress picture without making imaginary machine gun sounds.

Alas, I didn't come here to talk about Joe's sweet work-in-progress, nor my distaste for starting a Soviet army with thirty-five infantrymen. NAY! I want to talk about the Crocodile!

German 1: "They've got a cave troll - I mean Crocodile."

Once I knew I was diving into the Brits, the first non-infantry unit I decided I'd buy for them was the ol' Croc'. While I never played a British force in Flames of War, I did log a ton of hours on Company of Heroes as them. Man, the Churchills, and eventually their Crocodile variants were fun. Big, hulking behemoths that demanded attention on the field. They're no different in Bolt Action.

To be fair, I haven't rolled Crocodile dice in anger yet, and history has proven that I'm a poor judge of unit effectiveness without first seeing what it can do on the table; but as the rules currently stand, the Croc' is the only supported option for a vehicle-mounted flame thrower. Boy, oh boy, are they worthy of consideration.

Vehicle-Mounted Flamethrower:

  • 18" range!
  • No roll to hit - the number of hits on the unit is determined by a 2D6 roll!
  • +3 PEN! (So infantry figures die on a 2+!)
  • Infantry and gun teams take D3+1 pin markers when hit by a flamethrower!
  • After resolving the hits, the target has to pass a morale test or flee the field - destroyed!
  • When damaged, the aggressor adds 1 to his die roll on the vehicle damage chart. So it's risky carting around a giant tank of flammable gel. Who knew?
  • In the Croc's case, it's slow, so you're advancing at 6".
Also Pro
  • It. Shoots. Fire. Far. SPRAY!
The Croc's expensive - weighing-in at 305 compared to the 195 a standard Cromwell will set you back - but I think it's one of the rare instances in Bolt Action where you might get your point's worth out of a heavy tank. Of course, comparing a heavy tank to a medium like the Cromwell is foolish. In comparison, a Firefly will also set you back 305. While that super-heavy AT gun it sports is nice, I feel much more comfortable driving a heavy tank with its greater armor than a medium.

See, the name of this game, when you're on the attack, at least, is to get to the opponent's side of the table. With my Germans, I find that I'm constantly tempted to sit far from their side, firing shots with my "superior" AT guns. The Croc' is going to force me to get right in there, and supported by a couple squads of infantry, it's hopefully going to be a real headache for my opponents.

Sir Winston Churchill once famously said, "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last." I'm betting that this will prove true in Bolt Action, as well. You cannot ignore an approaching Crocodile. Your force won't last long if you allow your opponent to fire that vehicle-mounted flamethrower at multiple units. Yes, it is quite an investment, but even at 305, it possesses an incredible amount of firepower; all mounted on a heavy tank.

Those that ignore the Crocodile will regret it, but those that focus their fire on the Crocodile will leave the rest of the steadily advancing British soldiers unpinned and ready to assault. These situations, where you're not sure what the "right" answer is, are situations I strive to put my opponent in every game.

I can't wait.

Guy On Radio: "How much fuel's left? It's lunch, bro."

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