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Friday, September 4, 2015

Bolt Action - Review of Warlord Games SAS Squad and Jeep

By Patch

The Special Air Service (SAS) need little introduction, most know they started as a Commonwealth force under the command of David Stirling in the deserts of North Africa. They proved their worth with lightning strikes combining with the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) in attacking airfields and other vital strategic objectives to disrupt Axis operations. In 1942 they expanded to include four Commonwealth squadrons, one Free French Squadron, One Greek Squadron and the Special Boat Section. 

The Troop all together

After operations in North Africa, Sicily and Italy the SAS units were returned to Britain in preparation for the impending invasion of France. By this time the Free French had been given the designation of the French 3rd and 4th SAS Regiments and operated within the SAS Brigade under the British Army Air Corps. At this time they were ordered to swap out the well-known sandy beret for the maroon of the Airborne. Of interest the French SAS units wore the Pegasus army badge also of the Airborne.

Two SAS Jeeps in Europe

After the invasion of Normandy the SAS Brigade, including the French 3rd and 4th Regiments were involved in operating behind enemy lines to disrupt Germans activities including the ability to reinforce front line units. The SAS units, including the 3rd and 4th Regiments would Para drop in and combine with French resistance fighters to assault German positons as well as use Gliders to bring in jeeps armed to the teeth for highly mobile operations.

For those that have followed my adventure into Bolt Action you would know I have an affinity for the French and have built a number of French armies including a late war Free French force. I have always felt that this force should include a unit of French SAS Troopers and I was recently given the opportunity to paint some up curtesy of our friends at Warlord Games. In their range of metal 28mm miniatures they have a squad of 8 SAS equipped to operate in Europe and a French SAS armoured jeep, both of which I obtained for this review. 

Warlord French SAS Jeep with some minor weapon change outs
The Troopers come with the heads separate to the main body so that you can mix them up as you choose; all the heads though come with the very distinctive beret and all but one wearing the para smock. They are armed to the teeth as you would expect with two having Bren Guns with then a mixture of Thomson and Sten SMG’s with even some US M1A1 Paratrooper carbines. All of this sets them apart from any standard infantry unit or even more elite units like the Commando’s or Paratroopers, when you look at them you automatically think ‘Special Forces’.

The quality of the casts are very good with minimal clean up required with nice crisp detail, although I find the eye sockets difficult to paint because they are somewhat sunken within the face. That was a minor issue though and was the only drawback on an otherwise very good squad of miniatures.
The Jeep and crew were pretty good and relatively easy to put together (I highly recommend you paint the troops first and separate to the Jeep as it gets a bit tight if you glue them in first). There was some issue with missing weapons as it is meant to come with 5 Vickers K machine guns in two dual mounts and a single mount however I could only find two in the kit. This did not concern me 
however as currently within the rules for this unit there is no option to run dual Vickers K in the front gunner’s seat, only a HMG, so my intention was to always place a 50 calibre there. In the rear mount I placed two excess 30 calibre machine guns just for something different.

In game terms the SAS squad is an elite unit with a number of special rules and a hefty point’s value to match. They are fanatic veterans so start at 18 points with added pistols (two attacks in close combat). You can give everyone SMG’s at + 2 points and up to two men can have LMG’s which can be upgraded to Vickers K for that extra shot. The obligatory anti-tank grenades are optional for a further 2 points per man so if you have an SMG and anti-tank wielding trooper you can expect to pay 22 points or a Trooper with a Vickers K 43 points (61 points if you include the assistant who can’t shoot). 

French SAS and FFI meet in September 1944
 The two special rules for the SAS are ‘Who Dares Wins’ and ‘Behind Enemy Lines’. Who Dares Wins gives the SAS squad the fanatic rule which means they will fight to the death with no morale check ever required to test if they flee the field of battle. Behind Enemy Lines means the squad does not get the negative modifier for outflanking so they will come on at 10 and below rather than the normal nine. 

The SAS Jeep, although stated as armoured is still only damage value 6 so is very susceptible to small arms fire. It has a multitude of weapon configurations with a combination of LMG’s and MMG’s. An example is One forward facing MMG, One forward facing HMG and two rear facing MMG’s will set you back at 87 Points veteran. You can run the MMG’s as LMG’s but for that extra 5 points you get another 6” range and an extra shot so it is a pretty easy choice. 

The Jeep fits into the armoured car slot and has Recce so it would be perfectly reasonable to run two in dual platoons giving you a real nasty combination of firepower but you will have to be careful as these Jeeps are real glass canons and will die easily. 

In my proposed list I will use the single squad of SAS as an elite unit to take and hold objectives as they pack a mean punch and can withstand significant enemy fire. The Jeep will be used to really harass units and build up pins on enemy squads with the ability to split fire three ways. Although technically coming under the command of the British I will take some liberty and have them meet up with my advancing Free French conventional forces and provide support to them, after all given the choice I am sure any unit would help out their fellow countrymen first and foremost.

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