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Monday, July 15, 2013

Bolt Action - New to Bolt Action: Judson's First 500

My pal Craig started things off brilliantly with his First 500 article last week, and now it's my turn to step up to the game table and walk-through my own process at forming that important First 500 list for Bolt Action.

A Google image search for "500" will get you an image of five-hundred euros, which will get you enough five-hundred point Bolt Action lists for your entire, twelve-person gaming group.

Craig and I will almost certainly come at this from different angles; so remember, there's no "right" way to make your list.

I've left my British forces in their case since Cold Wars, basically, and I've never played a game with them using the Armies of Great Britain rulebook. A shame, I know. So it's high time to dust them off and get them stuck back in.

While Craig's list may or may not have been made up of units he's already modeled and painted, mine's going to start off with some things I already have finished. Since the core units can be more or less the same, game-to-game, in Bolt Action, you can make a list that feels completely different by purchasing only a model or two extra. That'll be the plan this time around.

Smell that? It's still fresh. New book smell!

So, as I've mentioned before, I like to start with a driver for my lists. Something interests me somehow, and I start with that unit, then build around it. Once upon a time, it was a list with two Luchs and two 8-rads. I grabbed up those four vehicles, then built the rest of my force to accommodate them. I wanted to use light auto cannons, as I had yet to, and I thought it would be interesting to have a recon-style force.

I've got a great starting point for my list this time around. First of all, I've never taken inexperienced troops in large numbers. Only recently I'd finally tried Volksgrenadier, and while they could pack a punch in the shooting round, they were quite fragile. The raw, British recruits represented by inexperienced Tommies don't have any sort of special rule to make them better, so they seem like a logical choice to see how bad it can truly be in Bolt Action. Don't take that to mean I think they'll be terrible and unplayable, I simply mean I will be blindly exploring for a while with them on the table, until I really get a feel for how they're to be used. My gut tells me, a bunch of inexperienced dudes isn't a good core for a list; but my gut once told me I could drink that Mexican tap water without worry, so I have to see for myself what a lot of inexperienced guys plays like.

On top of that, the anti-LMG sentiment Dano and I share has been around since we first cracked the main rule book and saw the costs of assault rifles and LMGs side-by-side. Since I'm already breaking my normal list-making rules by going inexperienced, I might as well throw some LMGs in as well. I'm proud to say, I'm taking these because, darn it, they just look cool. Who knows what hidden gems of knowledge I'll get out of them after forcing myself to use them for a spell.

Leading a motley crew of drafted British soldiers is no simple task, so I'm going to have to select a gift from my pal Aircav as my leader. I thought about making him veteran, because by the looks of him, he's a pretty bad dude. However, I figure, the kind of guy that's going to lead a twentieth century fighting force with a sword in one hand and a shotgun in the other does not concern himself with his own safety. Therefore, I've decided to make him inexperienced, represented by his refusal to take cover like a sensible man, and a first lieutenant, because for as reckless as he is, his selfless acts of bravery (insanity) never fail to inspire the men he commands. I'll take him alone, because he's already vulnerable enough without having other inexperienced draftees to draw enemy fire. Besides, he just looks like the kind of leader that would charge forward all alone.

In case anyone wonders, I'd call him armed with a pistol. Yeah, he's carrying a lot more than that, but he's only inexperienced. Let's not get too carried away with the legend of Swordy McGee.

Regardless of what you have in mind for a British list - or any other that allows you to take a unit for free, for that matter - it has to include that free artillery observer. I've heard people talk about not taking them on our forums. You go ahead and do what you want to, but this is my list, baby, and I'm taking my free regular forward observer. Sure, it'll backfire once in a while, but my inexperienced troops are going to need to hope this spotter can bring the pin-pain if they're to have any hope of successfully surviving their four foot trip across the tabletop. I'm going to keep him alone, like the 1LT, though. He's a one trick pony.

Rounding out the inexperienced core of my force, I'll grab an MMG. I'm probably setting myself up for failure in both machine gun regards here, having inexperienced crews man weapons I'm already a bit prejudiced against, but I'm doing this for the right reasons. The MMG (and those LMGs) look really, really appropriate and get me into that WWII frame of mind. Not having any veteran-related, preconceived notions in my head as to how to run these inexperienced troops, I think this represents my best chance of exploring the possibilities with MGs.

I'll also take a regular Universal Carrier and have a five-man veteran squad, more or less permanently attached to it. This will be my mobile reserve, for what it's worth. Last but not least, I've got to take a 25pdr, because they're cheap, and I'm a huge fan of any dual-role units in Bolt Action.

So there you have it! I've left my British stuff at Joe's from my last weekend BA FTX, so unfortunately I couldn't throw a bunch of actual photos up. We'll keep at this "New to Bolt Action" motif in the future, after Historicon.

In the meantime, feel free to come talk about your first 500 on the forum!

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