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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bolt Action - Inexperienced Troops

(Trying a little something new here, BARbarians - Patch speaks in bold and Lachlan in normal text, as the two discuss the strengths and weaknesses of an inexperienced force in Bolt Action. - Judson)

Lachlan, you and I have both run inexperienced troops as the bulk of an army before, but many people would have avoided this in favour of more reliable regular or veteran troops. What were your reasons for running these inexperienced armies?

The main factor that drew me to field inexperienced infantry was the history. Like most people that start playing Bolt Action, we were playing pretty standard, vanilla, veteran lists. That wasn't really an option for me, as I was playing Italians before their book came out. So I was running an all-infantry Italian army using the Russian book. In keeping with the Italian’s infamous reputation, I wanted to have quite a few inexperienced squads fighting with a spattering or regulars.
I fell in love with my inexperienced list straight away, mainly for two reasons. Firstly they offered (and I think still offer) something really different from what was being put on the table at that time. Lots of squads with heaps of support means you can afford to lose a few order dice to spank or suicide charges. It’s a very fun and cinematic way to play. Secondly, the list was highly effective in that I out order diced most of my opponents, and I had the capacity to out pin opponents if I played it well.

I would echo your sentiments in that I started playing them based on the history of the Battle of France. The French were caught off guard and many of the units that fought in the front line in that campaign consisted of hastily called reserves who had limited experience and training. This is reflected in the national French rule where if you buy three inexperienced squads you can list one inexperienced squad for free.

I have found that in actual game terms they can be extremely frustrating to manage but immeasurable exciting at the same time when they unexpectedly do the impossible, or survive a medium howitzer strike and go on to take an objective, for an example. How would you describe managing an army of inexperienced troops, and have you had one of those cinematic moments?

You're right, the inexperienced is a double edged sword. On the one hand the points saved from taking, for example, veteran troops, means you have more infantry and more toys. This leads to some pretty cinematic plays – as you said units can survive HE shots if they are in bigger squads, and as a player I feel more comfortable putting my sixty three point unit of inexperienced guys into that ‘charge of the light brigade’ situation, where they probably won’t survive but will get the job done as they go down.

However, I’ve also had games where two or more units, having suffered a small number of pins from a preparatory bombardment or some early small arms fire, simply failed to activate for nearly the whole game. This is extremely frustrating when it happens, but is part and parcel of the inexperienced list. Usually it is the source of great amusement for both players as well. Two other big problems I’ve encountered with the inexperienced army are firstly that they get shredded by small arms fine. Particularly against US opponents, who are generally hitting on a 5 or 6 even when you’re in cover, they get torn to shreds. Another problem I have had to tackle with is lines of fine. With upwards of 17 order dice on the table, many of them in large infantry squads that take up a large footprint on the tabletop, I found myself unable to shoot because I had blocked myself up with friendly squads that had got in the way.

There is certainly significant disadvantages to go with low cost inexperienced troops as you have pointed out, but they most certainly have their place in the BA world outside of the free Russian squad. For the historically minded part-time neckbeard like myself, they provide the ability to reflect poorly trained or motivated troops in certain theaters as well as adding considerably to that cinematic feel to the game.

Imagine having a couple of squads of inexperienced militia holed up in a building, defending against an army of hardcore veteran SS for a few turns and thwarting your opponent's entire battle plan; or an inexperienced squad pulling off the impossible and leading a charge to take that crucial objective!

Most of all though, imagine your opponents face when you beat them with inexperienced troops. Priceless. 

(Any experience with the inexperienced, BARbarians? Sound off on the forum! - J)



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