Preparing for a Bolt Action Public Demonstration Game
In January at the Cancon convention in Canberra our group discovered Bolt Action. I first began my wargaming life many years ago when I was 12 years old after becoming hooked at a wargaming demonstration day. Bolt Action looked like just the thing to do the same.
Over the years my wargaming collection has been mostly in storage until my sons were old enough and displayed enough interest. Now they have. But unlike when I was 12, I had the funds to get some really nice figures and scenery.
I consider a public participation game to be a success if a raw beginner can join in and tell their parents or friends, with a light in their eye, how the game went. “Dad! My tank went and blew up his tank, but then it got immobilized and then blown up. But my men shot his and captured the house!” All with appropriate gun noises of course.
Bolt Action is the perfect game for getting people into the hobby. The method of determining who moves means something is always happening. Players aren't waiting around. Bolt Action is also six or seven turns so it fits perfectly in a 2 to 2.5 hour game. Plus 28mm World War Two figures and scenery look great. The only problem for beginners when putting on a new game is the rulebook having to look through carts, tables, army lists. There is also nothing worse than putting on a game where you as the GM have to flip through the rule book to find answers.
In a recent BANet article I saw Baxter's Unit Cards in action. “Perfect!” I thought and went about designing some that would look great in a public setting. With Unit Cards and the new double sided Play Sheets, players would rarely have to look in the book to play the game. The Unit Card tells the player ranges, shots, penetration and everything critical at the players finger tips.
Originally I created the unit cards in Apple's Pages software, but have re-created them in Excel for greater sharing with the general BA community. These unit cards include cells for all the relevant stats needed for a unit and I customized the cards by army.
Before finalizing the cards our group played a game to test the Unit Card theory. We used Starter Armies as these are perfect for players when you begin playing in Bolt Action.
The Scenario was “Top Secret”. Our objective was a monk who had secret information both sides needed.
Before the game all the units of each side were lined up with their relevant unit cards behind them.
As units come on the board we placed the unit cards at the edge of the board so they were handy to check when firing or moving each unit.
At this point the monk was minding his own business but must have been getting nervous at all the action coming his way. The forest was full of the British and the farmhouse was attracting Germans.
Turn 3 and the British attempted a grab of the Monk. But it was very early in the move, just asking for reaction from the Germans.
It didn't take long before the Germans reacted. By the end of the turn the squad was down to 5 men.
By the end of turn 4, the monk was on his own again.
But the Germans were close.
Turn 5 the Germans made the grab.
They ended up being wiped out and at the end of turn the Monk was back on his own.
Turn 6 the British made another go. If there was a turn 7, they would have tried the baton relay pass of the Monk from unit to unit. But the dice determined game's end at turn 6.
In the whole game, using the playsheet and the unit cards there was no referring to the rule book at all. Success!
And the boys traded war stories over what worked and what didn't for their troops. Success!
(includes starter army cards and blank cards for Russians, Americans, British, Germans, and Japanese)
To create your create cards for your army simply clear the text in the starter army cards and replace with your unit stats.