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Friday, February 14, 2014

Bolt Action - A Look At General List Writing

Welcome back BA fans.  Today I am going to discuss a few ideas to ponder when thinking about list building in a general setting.  Now there are many schools of thought as to the best way to build a list in Bolt Action.  While I have been trying to go historical lately I am going to aim for a more generalist approach this time out.  As an old school tournament competitor I build every list I play for an all comers setting.  I think a list should have the tools to get the job done in a variety of settings and against a wide variety of opponents.  Most tournaments run at 1000 points so that is where I am going to aim. 

Bolt Action is written in such a way that, national abilities aside, most nation’s lists are generally similar.  As BA is a infantry focused game, I think I will start with troops.   Now, I could write pages on the differences and options available experience wise.  I think I will skip that lengthy discussion for now.   What I will say is this, no matter which way you go… You will probably spend between 350-500 points on basic riflemen and infantry troopers (assuming that if you go large squads of inexperienced troops, medium sized squads of regular troops or small to medium sized veteran troops… or some combination thereof…. Again I am building a general list not a gimmick or one trick pony.). Bolt Action is a game where most missions involve you grabbing objectives of some variety or another.  To do this you will need lots of men or a smaller group of tough bastards to get the job done.  You do not want to make things too easy for your opponent right off the bat.  If your opponent can ignore the rest of your army and concentrate fire to wipe or pin out the objective grabbing elements of your force…  You have already lost.  You need to have enough boots on the board to get where you need to go.

You also need to give them something else to worry about.  Thankfully, everyone has access to a variety of gear that will help give your force the teeth and tools it needs to get the job done.  I will break these down into a few standard items that I rarely leave home without.

 A mortar:  Mortars come in a variety of sizes, each with their own pro’s and con’s.  I like to run a regular medium mortar or a heavy mortar in most of my forces.  Sure they are static but that is the point in my mind.  Pick something static or fixed in your opponent’s army that you need gone and start shooting.  Sure it is highly unlikely that you will hit in the first shot, but over the next few turns your chances will get better OR your opponent will have to deal with your mortar or move his asset (or loose it).  I choose to go regular and deploy in cover to offset enemy snipers and fire.  Remember, if you are firing a mortar it doesn’t ever matter if your opponent is in cover.  You will hit them on the same odds. Use mortars to get those hard to hit pains in the ass (snipers anyone?).

A sniper: Snipers are great tools for a variety of reasons.  Like the mortar they are great at hitting those annoyingly hard to hit units in your opponent’s army because they are the only unit in the game that ignores cover with a direct firing weapon.  They also get a plus one to hit that negates that pesky minus one to hit for small teams.  All of a sudden, with a sniper, you are hitting small teams in hard cover at long range on 4’s…  That is mighty handy when you need to kill an observer before it can fire or one-shot-kill a mortar trying to range in on the squad that you desperately need to hold an objective.  I also love to hit troop squads with pins to eliminate their sergeant.  That is another minus one to their pin test on top of the pin that the sniper applied for hitting.  Even if your sniper does not kill what it hits… Well, that is a pin.  Anytime a pin is applied means that your opponent might fail an order test.  That can be a huge bonus if crucial squads go down at inopportune moments.

An ATR:  The trusty anti-tank rifle is one of my favorite units in the game. Sure not everyone can take this guy but for thirty points (at regular) I ALWAYS grab one if I can.  Not only does the ATR give you a cheap order dice (which is always nice) but it also gives you the ability to apply pins to vehicles.  In a game where lots of people take light tanks, the ATR, if used properly (side shot anyone) has a chance to penetrate armour and cause real damage to your opponent’s motor pool.  They are also good at getting rid of pesky open-topped transport vehicles (which they will destroy on a 4 or more) and can be put on ambush to deal with these vehicles if you cannot afford to get outflanked by them.  Even if your opponent is running no vehicles the ATR will kill veteran troops on a 3 or better or regular troops on anything but a one.  As I said… I love these guys.

Now, I am only scratching the surface here… I have not talked about everyone’s favourite villain (flame throwers) or artillery pieces (mortars that hit better with built in cover) or machine guns or observers or… well, the list keeps goes on and on.  I will have to come back soon to address some of these other units. But if you pick up something general like 5 squads of 8 regular guys, a regular sniper, a regular heavy mortar and a regular ATR… You have only spent just over half your army’s points and you already have 8 order dice (nine once you include the obligatory LT to the force).  Plenty room to include that tank your love or… well… just about anything AND you have the tools to get the job done given a wide range of missions.  Hope this helps…  

Old Man Morin… OUT!


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