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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Bolt Action - Disposable Heroes: French army project (Part 1)

Hey guys, Bryan here and I don't feel well. For the last few months I've been feverish with a disease that many of us suffer from here in Bolt Action land. In fact, unless you're the ultra-disciplined Dave 'o War himself, I know you've had it to. NPF - 'New Project Frenzy', that's the official scientific term. Experts believe that you are at your most vulnerable to NPF as you 'finish' your current army with the exception of a few straggling units you've run out of motivation to paint. This is when it begins, something new and shiny catches your eye, and before you know it there're folders full of inspiring pics, army lists written and your Mrs is asking tough questions about all the boxes of new miniatures covering your work desk.

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My second army for Bolt Action is going to be a French one. Why? Because I wanted to paint up an army of those disposable heroes themselves; The French Foreign Legion. During the Second World War these battalions of badasses found themselves fighting for France from the ice and snow of Norway to the scorching deserts of North Africa. My army though, will be focusing on the French Colonial forces in North Africa and the Levant (modern day Lebanon and Syria). Expanding from this idea I want to collect a bunch of different exotic units that made up the armies of Frances colonies during 1939-42.

Although this force is very specific in focus, these armies saw a huge amount of action during this period, and against many different opponents. France's armistice with Germany, after being defeated in 1940, meant it's far flung colonial forces were split between the pro-Axis Vichy and pro-allied Free French. I am planing on my army being able to play as Axis or Allied. This means, in theory, I can play against Americans, British Commonwealth and even other French (The Legion itself was split between Vichy and Free French, and two Legion units even fought against each other in the 1941 Syria campaign), or as Allied Free French against the Afrika Korp and Italians.

The core of the force assembled and undercoated.
My basic plan is to build a two platoon force, with one rock hard platoon of Foreign Legion (who get the Stubborn special rule), and the other platoon being Senegalese Tirailleurs. Soldiers from France's West African colonies, they wear exotic 'Fez' hats and wield a machete called a 'Coupe-Coupe' (cut-cut) in close combat. I love the look of these guys and they make a very useful unit in the game being Regular and Tough Fighters. I have converted an Anti-tank rifle team for each of these platoons as well to give my army a way of dealing with armoured threats.

To this infantry core I have picked up several amoured cars and light 'tanks' to help put out the pins and maneuver around in support of my infantry. France's colonies didn't exactly have the latest and greatest of France's military hardware at the time, but the units they had aren't actually too bad in Bolt Action. The armoured car used by the Legion - the 'Laffly 80 AMD' - is Recce, and has an HMG and a rear facing MMG for 85pts; very useful. The Renault FT-17 'tank' is a bargain at 35pts; seriously, it's that cheap! Mind, you calling it a tank is a stretch. It's armour 7, very slow (can never move more than 6") and has the one man turret rule. In game I will be using these little guys as armoured MMG's with 360 degree line of sight because of their turrets. I am taking two of each, representing a squadron of tanks and an armoured car patrol.

Senegalese Tirailleurs, in Libya 1942.
The French aren't lacking in potential 'Spank' units either. I will most likely include a pair of Medium Howitzers, seeing as you get one for free with the Forward Artillery Doctrine rule. This will represent a Foreign Legion 'half battery' assigned from Divisional command. Lastly I will be trying out a unit of Veteran Cavalry. The French had a myriad of irregular native cavalry recruited from the fierce tribesman of their desert colonies. I see this unit being a handy assault unit or at least another threat my opponent has to deal with. Plus, most importantly, the miniatures look cool.

I have sourced all the miniatures from several different brands, so I will give a proper guide and review all these in part two of this series.

For now I have painted up the first four 'test figures' to see how the colour scheme looks. I am very happy with the result and I think this is going to work well. Using coloured spray undercoat meant they didn't take too long either. I'll write up a full painting guide for a future article.  Now, I just have to paint the rest of them before NPF strikes again!

Anyone else getting excited about a new project? Head over to the forums and tell us about it.

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