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Monday, March 31, 2014

Bolt Action - Smoke Screen: Listen to No One!

Everyone, everywhere - or on the internet, at least - wants to tell you what units you should use in Bolt Action. If not, they want to tell you which units not to use.

It's all so much smoke, though BARbarians. Just let it slide past your eyeballs without more than a quick consideration. Chances are, you have a better idea of what works for your than anyone else does!

The picture above doesn't not show a smoke screen, rather, smoke lingering over Italian mountainsides during the campaign. However, it made me think of games involving a certain friend of mine, and dude loves using smoke in Bolt Action!

I'd love to tell you that I've figured out smoke in BA, but its use has eluded me. It's not that the rules covering smoke's use are hard to grasp. They're pretty straightforward, so long as you can remember how big the puff markers are for each smoking gun. No, it's not the rules that are the issue, the problem's in the situation!

How can people, like my smoke-dropping friend, resist the temptation to fire high explosive with these smoke weapons? Generally speaking, if I can see a place where I'd like a smoke marker to appear, there's also a potential target on the other side of that spot. Sure, I might have a terrible chance of actually doing anything to the IS-2 parked there, by dropping a medium howitzer round on top of it, but a smoke round guarantees I won't damage it at all. At least there's a chance with the high explosive round of pinning the monstrosity!

My compulsion to taking any opportunity, no matter how minute the probability of success, to damage my opponent's units represents my attitude and posture while playing; but please note the emphasis on the word "my". Some other player might have discovered that it's better to saturate an area with line of sight blocking smoke puff markers, in order to get their Goliath in close, before springing the trap on the enemy's hulking, yet smoke-blind, IS-2.

Admittedly, the Goliath example is not the most illustrative of the point I'm trying to make, instead a wink to the player I had previously mentioned; but I'm sure you track my point.

This idea extends far past high explosive and smoke ammunition-capable weaponry. Players have been surprised to see lists where none of the infantry is armed with a weapon possessing longer range than that of a sub-machine gun. All of us have read - oh, once or twice - arguments from both sides over the value and effectiveness of light machine guns.

The point is, everyone's right in these little debates; or wrong - are you a half empty or half full kind of player? Take a cig break on the workbench and fondle that Bren, BARbarians! I, for one, was really impressed with the lists I saw people fielding at Cancon, speaking of Bren guns. Throw an LMG into that squad and poke it out a window somewhere! Drop some smoke markers from your howitzers instead of taking those indirect HE shots!

In case you're wondering if I'm practicing what I'm preaching, I finally "field" tested a medium machine gun team in Bolt Action over the weekend, and I'm confident that it's going to make an appearance in my next tournament list.

Let the rest of us know what your own personal smoke launchers have been in Bolt Action. Are you a fan of something many people seem to dislike? We BARbarians consider that a badge of honor in this game, so brag about it on the forum!

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