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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bolt Action - A Look At Gale Force Nine's Pre-painted Bocage, Hedges and Roads

Now if you are as time poor as this kid…  You want to spend most of your hobby time painting toy soldiers or playing games! This does not leave you with much time to get great looking terrain together to play on and around.  

Lucky for us, Gale Force Nine makes… 

BATTLEFIELD IN A BOX!!!  Today I will be looking at a few of their products (again) with a particular focus on their bocage, hedges and roads. 

Now you might think that Bocage and hedges designed for 15mm miniatures would not work for models that are more than twice as tall. I know I thought that until I saw these in action. They work literally perfectly for Bolt Action. 
 Both the bocage and hedges are sculpted and cast in a sturdy resin before they are painted. I like how they have been painted and dry brushed multiple shades of green to give the foliage depth. I also think that it is a nice touch the hedges are neatly "bottom edged" in black. It gives them a finished professional feel. Because they are single piece and resin they are easy to wrap in bubble wrap and store. They do not shed or break and though I have used mine for months now, I have yet to chip any.

As you can see (above), the hedges give 28mm models cover to about the waist level and are wide enough to look as though models behind them should get a light cover modifier. The hedges comes in two types. You can see them side by side below. There is a longer piece and a shorter piece.  When you buy a set I believe you get 4 long pieces and 2 short pieces. (I could be off though).
 Similar to, but very different from, the hedges are the bocage pieces. The bocage sections are much taller than the hedges (see below). and completely obscure  28mm models. They are also thicker and have a rock section along the bottom (explaining why tanks can't drive through them without hedgerow cutters).
 The bocage actually comes in a variety of sets with a variety of pieces in a variety of shapes (as seen below).
A few pieces are missing from this photo including one of my favourite pieces . The T junction.
While some of Battlefield in a Box's stuff is hard to come by, the hedges and bocage are available directly from Battlefront Games (Makers of Flames of War) from their webstore. I spent a fair bit of money on these but I went overboard and bought 9 feet of bocage and something like 5 feet of hedges. If you are reasonable with what you are buying, these are not too expensive, especially given what you get for what you pay for.
This photo is added to show the thickness of the bocage pieces and how they easily work together.
 GF9 makes also two sets of (non-dirt) roads.  Regular cobblestone ones and cobblestone ones that have been blown up! I will mix and match between the two (as it is fairly obvious which ones are which).
Now these were also originally created for use with the 15 mm models of Flames of War.  Which begs the question… Will they fit in on a 28mm game table?  A lot of people on various forums have said that they are too narrow for the tanks of our larger scaled battlefields, I disagree.  What you can see below is a variety of German vehicles made from a variety of manufacturers including the big cat itself, A Tiger 1.  Now sure, you are not going to get much else on the road with it on it but if you are envisioning a European theatre game, narrow roads are common place in places like France, England, etc…  And the fact that a Tiger fits on the road…  Well, THAT road is wide enough for me!
I find that roads add an interesting element to the game in that they allow vehicles to sling shot (if you will) in certain pre-paved directions that can add an interesting tactical angle to the game.  In addition, I kinda like the idea that vehicles can get a boost from a road in a game where often times vehicles might struggle to earn their points back.  Also it makes sense.  Having driven a fair bit on crappy roads or no roads at all. Roads are MUCH easier to get around on.  It is just a small touch but I like it.  I know that some of my roads have craters in them but we tend to ignore that rules wise and run the roads as normal.  Easily to play that way. Anyway, back to the GF9 roads review.
Like GF9′s other BFIB range, these roads are pre-painted resin.  The resin has some give it which prevents snapping (I quite like this btw) and in each pack of roads (the non-bombed ones) you get enough to at least cross the short side of a table easily.  Now I found a few packs of these on sale a few months back and I may have gone to town.  I bought two regular sets of roads and one set of bombed out ones.  I have found that with this configuration I can set up city blocks on at least half a board, I can set up a town in the centre of a table OR (my recent favourite) I can make a gigantic x that connects the four corners of the table.  Lots of versatility and lots of fun!
Now, I am fairly hard wearing on things but these roads are great, durability wise and they look great on the tabletop especially when combined with other pieces of terrain.  I went out and bought a few squares of grey felt that closely matched the colour of the roads to be the foundations of my buildings before using the GF9 ruined buildings.  I think everything matches up nicely…  As seen here:
Gale Force Nine also sells a variety of ruined building sets that are made for a more dark future setting and slightly larger models than we typically use in Bolt Action. Like their stuff made for 15mm... (If you are careful) It works for our needs. The ruined building pieces do not come with bottoms which works well on some gaming surfaces. On my green tabletop it looked unfinished until I bought a $1 grey felt square from a fabric shop. Quick, cheap and easy to store between games...  Score!

Below you can see exactly how tall their ruined walls are in relation to a variety of Germans here:
I am a big fan of these kits and the work that GF9 put into these products.  They are high quality AND, as stated above, pre-painted which is very important for gamers like me. But, I highly recommend these products to anyone, time poor or not! 

As you can see... Size is not always a problem...

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