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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Bolt Action - How My French Army Will Change in V2

Bolt Action V2 is just around the corner and the list of new rule changes have been flying around like Spitfires in the Battle of Britain. Whilst the book is not available yet we can only assume that the minds at Warlord Games have strategically released the key changes to prepare the community for some pretty big changes in how we play our much loved game. I have heard many opinions about V2 ranging from it is going to be Bolt Action Armageddon from the usual doomsayers, to some sort of Bolt Action Nirvana from the fanboys. From my personal point of view I am excited and will reserve my full judgement till I have played a dozen or so games.

There are a few big rule changes that will adjust my game play that is for sure. The new rally mechanism, the officer bubble and templates to name a few. There has been much talk about the broader game but I thought I would take the opportunity to discuss how these will effect one of my specific forces. You guessed it the Early War French. I won't cover all the proposed rule changes, just the big ones that will affect my force the most.

I generally run a variant  of the below when I roll out my Early War French to give some context on this discussion (the full breakdown on the list can be found here):

2 x 2nd Lt - Inexperienced
4 x 10 man squads, rifles only – Inexperienced
2 x 6 man Senegalese squads, 1 x SMG each squad – Regular
1 x 8 man FFL squad, 1 x LMG – Veteran
1 x 6 man Cavalry squad – Veteran
2 x medium mortars – inexperienced
2 x Light howitzers – inexperienced
1 x Medium AT gun – Regular
1 x FT 17 – Regular
1 x Char 2C - Regular

As you can see my list relies heavily on inexperienced troops and in V1 they suffered greatly when it came to pins, in particular the infantry squads. My tactic was to run one officer between two squads to at least give them a chance to activate and in another variant of this list I would run a Captain as well. The change to rally in V2 means that you test on full moral value rather than a pin adjusted one. To break it down further it may look something like this:

V1 - Inexperienced squad has 3 pins - rally score required = 5.
V2 - Inexperienced squad has 3 pins - rally score required = 8.

This is a dramatic change to this part of the game and will help my inexperienced squads in a massive way. 3 pins in V1 really meant they were out of the game, however V2 looks like they will be able to get back into the action with one turn of rallying. With the officer close by this will give them 9s to rally, so 3/4 of the time it should work. I hope this means that inexperienced squads become a more attractive option for people to take and we start seeing more of them on the table outside of the free Russian squad. In V1 there was nothing more heartbreaking than to see half your army take a few pins in a prep bombardment or early artillery strike and know they will never activate so this change is a big positive for me.

The next change is the officer mechanic where according to the seniority of the officer you can activate other units within their radius of influence. I am still a bit fuzzy on this but I think it may be that 2nd Lt's can activate one other unit, 1st Lt's can activate two and so on with the range increasing from 6" up to 12" for the most senior of officers. Seeing as though I run my officers with my inexperienced squads this will be a big deal to get those big squads moving or shooting before the enemy can do anything to them. I can see the scenario where my squads are in the open heading for some cover near an objective and are very exposed at the start of a turn,  I get the first two dice and run both my 2Lt's and two squads into hard cover giving me four units now in a good position to challenge or defend that objective. If I pay more and upgrade to 1st Lt's I could have the entire strike group of four squads and two officer teams in position with just two dice.

Alternatively if I was running 1st Lt's and an enemy squad was within range and I got the first two dice I could fire 40 rifles plus officer weapons before the enemy could react. The scenarios are endless and all very positive and will require a complete rethink on how to best use officers in my list. I will definitely upgrade to 1st Lt's and even include a Captain as well where I can, officers have just become a real thing in Bolt Action.

The adjustment to Tough Fighter, if the rumors are on target, means that Tough Fighter no longer gets two automatic hits in close combat but get additional dice on successful kills. So a single 6 man unit of Senegalese would get 12 strikes in V1, however in V2 they get 6 initial attacks, then get an additional attack for each successful kill. This will see diminishing returns, for example if my 6 Senegalese go against a squad of 8 veterans and roll two 5's out of 6, they then roll another 2 dice needing 5's again and may only roll 1. This makes for a total of 3 kills leaving my Senegalese to five return hits needing 4's to kill. All up they rolled 8 dice versus the 12 you'd get in V1, so this will make them much less effective in small groups. I really like this change (to avoid Tough Fighter spam) and my V2 French will look different in that I will run one large squad of 10 to maximize the impact of the first dice in combat.

Another massive impact will be the change in recce rules being that you can only escape when you have not activated that turn. Cavalry operate in the same way in regard to their escape as vehicles so the endless skipping around the table will no longer be able to happen. This does bring a big nerf to cavalry and makes them extremely vulnerable to small arms fire and when you couple that with the reduction in attacks from three per man to the amended Tough Fighter rule as described above I am not sure they will have a place in my V2 French force. I say this as the role they have always played is as a hammer to strike into the backline of the enemy and clean up support units however their vulnerability now will render that action essentially suicidal. I am the first to admit they were very powerful in V1 and now I just have to work out what their role is in V2 as it is not obviously apparent to me at the moment.

In my list I have five 1d6 HE units and I do not know at this stage what the change in templates will do in regard to their effectiveness. I generally use them for the first two turns to deploy smoke to cover the advance of my inexperienced squads and I do not think that mechanic will change much. V2 also makes it so that HE units will be able to target buildings over open sites with troops in them as opposed to having to hit the unit itself like in V1 so this will increase their effectiveness in that regard. Overall I cant see myself changing anything with my HE units and it will just be getting used to templates.

With an increase of 1 dice to MMG's, including vehicle mounted ones, it will make the Char 2C and FT17 even more effective. For 35 points the FT17 now puts out 5 shots instead of 4 and for 190 points the Char 2C puts out 20 instead of 16, in a game where every dice counts this is a positive for my list.

So overall how will my list change with V2? Well I will be increasing the officers up to 1st Lt's and reducing the amount of Senegalese squads to one with an increase in that squad size at least to 10. Cavalry will be gone and in its place I may add another squad of French Foreign legion or a Captain. Even with an increase in dice and range for LMG's I still wont be equipping my inexperienced troops with them however the FFL will carry one.

2 x 2nd Lt - Inexperienced 
1 x Captain - Inexperienced
4 x 10 man squads, rifles only – Inexperienced
1 x 10 man Senegalese squad, 1 x SMG – Regular
1 x 8 man FFL squad, 1 x LMG – Veteran
2 x medium mortars – inexperienced
2 x Light howitzers – inexperienced
1 x Medium AT gun – Regular
1 x FT 17 – Regular
1 x Char 2C - Regular

As you can see the list itself has not changed dramatically but the tactics will need to be adjusted and I am genuinely excited at the prospect of learning how to play this army again. Any nerfs in the French lists will easily be absorbed by the boosts in other areas and I think that the French will only get stronger overall in V2.



MrLee said...

I like that this was not an all doom and gloom article, and that you have pointed out exactly where you would change, and why. Some of those I can really see as a boost for some of my armies. Especially my IJA forces where I traditionally already take a lot of inexperienced troops, but this will just make them even stronger I suspect. And the added dice for MMGs will make those MMG Jeeps even more scarier than they are today for my USMC and Brit forces.

Roll on V2 for sure, can't wait to see it land!

Snake Eye's Sanctum said...

This is the kind of article we need more of. It's certainly inspired me to do one for my Finns!

One thing I am curious about though, has there been any change to the 'One-Man Turret'? I'm guessing it's a case of A.) No, or B.) Yes, but hasn't been mentioned as yet.

Patchimus Prime said...

There is no change to the one man turret as it is in the French and Allies book.

Thank you both for your kind words!

Admiral Drax said...

Excellent work, as ever: thanks, Patch!

I always tend toward historical platoon composition...which with Brits is pretty straightforward, if rather unexciting. As such, I'm unlikely to change my lists much, but yes: there will definitely need to be some tweaks in tactics!


- Drax.

Lord Rao said...

Great read, Patch. I'm also really stoked to field my French in the 2nd ed. Like you I'm hoping that Inexperienced troops will have a bit more time in the sun. As an aside, 2D6 rolls being what they are, rolling a 9 or less means you have a 5/6 chance of passing; much better than 3/4! :)

styx said...

Great read, I am a French player also and have been pondering the impacts to the game and my current pile of minis and what I may be adding to the future. I just about invested in cavalry but opted not to with the new edition to hold off what the impact will be. Not to say the unit would be useless, there is to me more obvious choices to field.

I am a huge fan of artillery, typically I ran two mediums and 1 light or heavy artillery (just got transports to move heavy ones about a year ago). I think the templates are not going to change them in the least really and after hearing the rules on how they will apply to buildings I think the French will be a big bad wolf of houses in the game and against opponents that like to hide in them.

I think also some of the French vehicles will also take a larger role including transports among other things.

I also plan to add a MMG squad or two to my army as well. As for LMGs I will play around with them, I think my FFL will be the ideal choice with the stubborn rule.

Also, I just heard about the Tough rules prior to reading this and got me to thinking about SMGs and the value they will soon have to units.

Keep more of these rolling.

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