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Friday, October 12, 2012

Bolt Action - Infantry Explosion (Plus New Lister!)

In its current, one-book state, our handy Bolt Action rulebook tells us that our forces must contain one infantry platoon. So no matter what list you're making, that means you're going to spend some points on infantry - at least two squads and a lieutenant, to be precise. That being the case, you've gotta' put a little thought into exactly what your little men are going to carry into battle.

The ending battle in Saving Private Ryan taught me that I should pick the helmet as my weapon. Throw!

SMGs! LMGs! ARs! (Auto or assault type!) Maybe you just want your guys to carry rifles - but will they have Panzerfausts? What about anti-tank grenades? What exactly do you want to give your infantrymen, so that they'll make your opponent's forces go to the place little plastic dudes go when they die? This, is the question, Mr. Shakespeare!

Forgetting all about the compulsory LT you've got to take, the first question you've got to ask yourself is really multifaceted. With that first infantry squad, you have to decide if you want them to be inexperienced, regular, or veteran, and precisely how many you want. Of course, these decisions are easy to quickly sort through if you're using listers, but it's been my experience that the best way to start is to just dive in; and speaking of listers - more are coming soon! (Maybe even at the end of this article!)

Taking a regular squad means you're going to be paying ten points per rifleman with a leadership of nine. These regulars are the bar (not the BAH - right website, wrong bar) by which the other two ratings levels are measured. Regulars die when 4+ is rolled to kill, and regulars hit at a base value of 3+.

Picking inexperienced means you're paying only seven points per rifleman; and that's the end of the good news! Compared to regulars, inexperienced troops die more readily, on a 3+. These poor quality guys hit at a base value of 4+, and only have a leadership of eight.

Finally, buying a veteran squad means you're going to pay thirteen points per rifleman - 30% more than regulars! These death-dealing experts are hard to kill, as a 5+ is needed to take them down, and their leadership is ten! However, they hit with a base of 3+, just like regulars.

These guys? Definitely not veterans. The first clue - no one has a weapon.

We see what we get when we pay ten points for a soldier, what extra we get when we pay thirteen a piece, and we see what we lose when we pay seven each. The different effect each rating has on our force, from a purely list-making view, is evident if we expand it to encompass a large amount of points. For discussion's sake, let's say we're looking at taking five-hundred points of infantry.

On the tabletop, five-hundred points gets me 38 veteran riflemen, 50 regular riflemen, or 71 inexperienced riflemen. Riflemen, each firing one shot, and each worth one casualty, make it easy to see the differences between the ratings levels. You'll get 12 less soldiers at veteran, or 24% less; but they die roughly 16.5% less frequently than regulars. Inexperienced soldiers, by comparison, gain you 21 bodies, or 42% more! These suckers die 16.5% more often than regulars, though, and their shots hit 16.5% less often as well.

What do these numbers mean? I have no idea! I just roll dice, dude!

I thought this was the line for extra dice. Turns out it was just the line for extra helmets. Win/win.

So we've decided what rating we want for our first squad, right?


Yeah, I haven't either, but let's pretend we did.

Now that you've got your squad, let's give them some gear! Squads from the different nations are allowed different weapon upgrade options. An inexperienced German squad is not allowed access to the same weapon upgrades that a veteran German squad has access to, for example. However, there are generalizations that can be made, across the board, when it comes to the advantages and disadvantages of specific infantry weapon upgrades. If you'd like to see a lengthy forum breakdown of the values of different infantry weapons, please click here. I'm going to give you the quick version!

For starters, the most controversial weapon you can give your infantrymen in BA is the LMG. Every nation has access to an LMG, and it fires 6" farther than a rifle and at a rate of fire of 3, compared to a normal rifle's rof of 1. There's one drawback, however, in that one member of the squad must be treated as a loader for the LMG, thereby losing its own shooting capability. You can give your squad one LMG for 20 points, and some squads can have two LMGs for 20 each.

Oh, dear reader, it wouldn't be a miniature game without a points discussion, and no single weapon has driven more friendly discussion than the LMG. See, the LMG bonus sounds fine, until you consider its point cost. You spend twenty points to upgrade one rifleman to an LMG, yet you can buy two regular riflemen for the same points cost. So, the most easily drawn conclusion is:

Two regular infantry, one serving as mandatory loader and the other firing an LMG, get rof 3 and cost forty points.

Four regular infantry get rof 4 and cost forty points.

This is clearly unfavorable, however arguments remain, such as, "how many points is it worth for an LMG to be able to fire 6" farther than a rifle?" Another argument is, "how many points is it worth to have two extra models in your squad, for close combat and casualty removal purposes?" I know the answer to exactly zero percent of those questions, and the debate continues.

Things were so much simpler in the good ol' days, when manning an LMG just meant lounging at the beach with your buds. Pass the SPF40, pal!

I haven't even talked about SMGs, or ATGs - there's so much left unsaid! But, we all know why you came here - to peep the new lister.

So ...

Here she is!

WWPD Bolt Action American List Utility

I hope you enjoy it. Dano and I elaborate a bit on the whole list making process in our upcoming podcast. Stay tuned for more, and expect me to finish up my Infantry Explosion very soon!

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