Sarissa 1/56 Horsa Glider for Bolt Action

Having built up a 28mm Bolt Action British Airborne force thoughts moved to getting them a glider to play with.  Warlord and Sarissa must of been of the same opinion releasing an almost 1/56 model in MDF.


The model could be glued as 1 whole but is pretty wide and long so comes with twist fit nose and tail sections to reduce the storage space.  Coincidentally this also helps to model the glider having broken up on landing.


The wings also should come off, held in place by the wheel assembly.  I elected to glue the wings and wheels onto the main body.  There was little real choice in the matter.  The  wings are built up as left and right with 2 thin struts and a cardboard outer holding the lot together.  The wheel attachment to the under wing relied on 2 slot assemblies one of which I had to drill out having probably assembled some indistinct wing part upside down.  Gluing the lot together gave much needed stability to the whole. The frontal shot below shows a gap between the wing top and hull top that would probably be hard to avoid even with better modelling skills than mine.


MDF is by nature almost 2 dimensional and making it follow curves is fighting the laws of physics.  It is also strong in only 1 plane (no pun intended).  MDF does not make a good material for lugs to push into or through holes.  The best MDF model structures are nice square buildings.  The glider is not the most fiddly piece of work I have done.  That award would go to this paddle steamer.  The lower deck, upper deck and roof are separate and should hold together with lugs but forcing everything else into place resulted in the lugs and holes being out of line.  The wooden deck rail involved pushing MDF slots through holes in the deck posts.  I gave up by the 2nd deck and used metal rod which has rusted rather too authentically.


The glider has the same problems but to a lesser extent.  The boat instructions were logical but for the glider the images made sense but did not tie in well with the text, some guesswork being required.

The curved glider body is achieved by wrapping card around an MDF core.  This is not unlike a real glider but canvas bends better than cardboard and the real glider has considerably more reinforcing struts.  I used masking tape to support the glue holding down the open ends of the cardboard skin.  I also gave the whole a coating of floor varnish before painting to strengthen the cardboard at some cost in glossiness.  The result was a fair effect for the general bodywork but not so good for the side and cockpit windows which are formed by cutouts in the cardboard.  The windows would definitely have benefitted from being moulded on MDF strips.


This shows the glider with some 28mms.  The ramp doorway is about the right size for a jeep but I see no way to force it any lower.  The doorway is ‘fixed’ by MDF hinges, one of which broke soon after assembly.


To deploy a Bolt Action force on board using Horsa gliders would need about 3 of them.  It would be possible to get away with 2 and scratch build some bits from tubes and cardboard sheet to do the 3rd as a wreck.  Having built this one up I would not be keen to  buy another.  Plastic 1/72 Horsas are available and given the greater resilience of plastic I  might have been better off going down that route.

Bolt Action US Marines

I have armies for all the major Bolt Action nations except for the USA so inevitably I am taking the plunge.  I went for USMC rather than the other USA flavours because I have a Japanese army (used twice) for them to play with.  Warlord have a New Guinea campaign book and the USMC were at Bougainville island, part of the Territory of New Guinea.   The new USA formations in that book are, however, army rather than marines.  There is some revised USMC material in the Empires in Flames book.  There are 2 relevant lists in the original armies of USA book. This article is an attempt at the 1944-45 list keeping to the book restrictions, trying to make the force relatively historical, yet hoping for something that has some hope of winning.

Osprey have a number of books on the USMC and their campaigns in WW2. For the more thrifty there is a fine selection of official USMC WW2 documents on-line.  These were originally aimed at marines and prospective marines.  There is some discussion of small unit encounters and the images although small are useful.  Take note that the text indicates the sentiments of the times and does not favour the Japanese viewpoint.

By the latter part of the war a full strength marine squad was of 13 men with 3 BARs, able to spilt into 3 fire teams of 4 with a BAR in each and an overall commander.  The commander was supposed to command and direct rather than shoot except when all out firepower was required.   The USMC list allows this, at regular with 3 BARs and 1 SMG (to identify the NCO) costing 148 points.  Run 3 of these for a full platoon with a commander and assistant at 504 points.  Double that, drop a man and you have a 2 platoon army at 1,000 points.  Neither is a great solution as 3 platoons is too few and 6 rules out any support and pays the HQ tax twice.  The full strength platoon is an option that can be done straight from the USMC army box as that has 42 men, leaving 2 for officers and 1 to observe for the mortar that also comes in the box.  If going with the (30 man) platoon box, 2 will be needed to make up enough marines and BARs.


There should be a 13 man squad here with 3 BARs but another guy snuck into the shot

You cannot have a marine infantry squad below 7 in number with this list (the earlier marine raiders unit does) so splitting into individual fire teams is not going to work.  Even if it did units of 4 are very vulnerable to 50% losses and failing morale checks.  The 3 full strength squads could be deployed as 13, 9 (1 team detached), 9 and 8 (2 detached squads operating together).  Each of these after the 1st would have 2 BARs.  Another BAR could be squeezed in under Bolt Action list rules but 3 BARs in a squad of 8 would be against doctrine plus would reduce the ratio of ‘redshirts’ required to keep the BARs operating.  Squads of 13 veterans are a big points sink so running an understrength squad of 8 with 2 BARS and a SMG on the NCO runs to 117 points.  Any marine can carry a pistol in addition to other weapons for 1 point.  This confers assault and tough fighter.  It is a good way to soak up 9 or less left over points in an army.  It is a bonus best given to the BAR men as they are less likely to be chosen as casualties and it makes some sense that a BAR might be an encumbrance in hand to hand.

The USMC army list uses the army engineers squad which does not work out for the marine organisation.  Marines did have assault or demolition squads but these should include a bazooka and a flamethrower but have no BARs.  The best the list can do is the option to add a flamethrower and the anti-tank and minefield gear that is probably not needed.  It is a means to add another 7 men to the army without breaking force organisation rules.  A fair choice at veteran but 7 regulars is quite flimsy.  93 points at regular (with 1 SMG) with the flame guy saving the 50 for a standalone team and a slight points saving overall (93-50=43 for 5 shooting regulars).  A mortar with spotter is always a good buy in any army.  If the marines were to do a beach assault the same problem will crop up as in the real assaults.  In many cases the mortar will be too close to target the enemy you want to be hitting.  The MMG options come in the army box, historically they are a good supply of firepower for a small investment in manpower.  If running with a full company and sticking to the organisation they are a good buy.  If running with a looser army, perhaps 2 platoons below strength acting together more regular squad boots are the way to go.

The USA ‘secret powers’ are firing without the penalty for moving, the ability to call in 2 airstrikes and to bring on reserves without the -1 roll.  The first and last are OK but not up to the standard of the British, French and Soviet free units.  The airstrike rule is useful but you have to buy the observer, obvious sniper bait.  Airstrikes stick with units and move with them so need to be landed on a unit that has moved or is unlikely to move.  Otherwise units close by the target scatter and the target may even rush your own lines to try to share out the pins.  Driving off airstrikes is also relatively easy in v2 providing some sort of pintle weapon is to hand.  Even so having watched ‘Flying Leathernecks’ and seen references to air and naval gun support it is tempting not to include an air observer with a marine list.  Having paid for this a sniper is a clear buy as some way to counteract possible enemy snipers.  Other USMC sniper bait that should be bought include the Bazooka, a hefty 60 points but a mobile anti-tank asset and the war dog.  At 18 points the dog is a very cheap dice.


Bazooka and sniper teams

Several scenarios have hidden set up and the ability to remove this while staying out of sight oneself is valuable.   EasyArmy could be clearer but on checking the book the dog is a weapon for the handler not a separate model.  You can’t take a hit on the handler and leave the dog.


Dog, observers and HQ. The pooch is from Crooked Dice

Throw in the 37mm gun and 3 regular squads with flamer engineer squad, observer, mortar, war dog and veteran sniper comes to 937 points.


Mortar and 37mm ATG

A MMG and mate for the observer or stack of pistols would round off under 1,000 points.  To get a bit more flexibility will require dropping some infantry as 63 points (1,000 – 937) does not buy much.


Warlord 30 Cals, the standing guy with the MMG would make a good Sgt Rock

The USMC can choose a jeep or White scout car as recce but the scout car is really an early or mid war solution.  There were plenty of jeeps so running one with a MMG is reasonable.  This could be seen as an adapted jeep or a MMG team who jump out or fire over the side.  At 36 points this is a lot less than the team alone (50 points) and unlike the raw team would be hard to snipe away.  The only downside is that 1 shot could knock out the jeep (hit, followed by 6, followed by 4+ damage roll) but 3 (hits followed by 5+ for regulars) would be needed for the team.


This Matchbox jeep has been cut modded for 3 different armies but never used on the table

Stoking up to 1250 points allows some armour choice.  The tank selection has several flame tank options.  These are historical but are often banned in competitive play so best not go there.  Of the Stuarts there are some wrecked M3A1s on Guadacanal and The Solomons that probably date from 1943.  The M3A3 would be ending its useful life and some USMC units were issued with the M5A1.  The Bolt Action list includes the M8 Scott.  This is a cavalry howitzer support vehicle, although it was used in the Pacific it is probably best confined to the army.   The M7 Priest was used by the USMC in 1945 and being open topped saves a few points over buying a tank.  Marine armour was most likely to be Shermans.  The M4A2 or early M4A3 version is best including the howitzer variant.  The later 76mm versions were not used by the Marines in order to minimise different ammunition issue.  Those versions have a different turret and bigger gun so are not the tanks you want.  There are various M3 half track variants in the armour list but some will require modding up a vanilla M3.  There are some nice period images of WW2 armour in the Pacific on this Sherman tank site.  This does include a M8 Scott but the caption does not make it clear if it is in use with the army or the marines.  Rather more fun but not available on the list are the LVT supports that had all sorts of stuff welded on including a rocket launcher version.


LVT-2 and Sherman

The LVT route is worth going down if only for period feel.  A LVTA2 with 2MMGs is 116 points but a M3 comes out at 114.  A slight tax for the amphibious rule that is unlikely ever to be called into play.  The tank versions LVTA1 or LVTA4 look the part but were best used as fire support parked just off the beach in the surf so are less common inland.  The transports could show up either crossing small bodies of water or moving through swampy ground.  Transports are a poor buy in Bolt Action, better to have another squad and make them all walk but do add colour and the pintle guns are handy if your own planes come in on them.  You can put 18 men in a LVT2 and 30 in the LVT4 enough for a squad, a flame team and maybe a commander.   The original LVT is a soft-skin, massively over-costed at 98 points and not likely to be a popular choice in the combat role by this time in the war.

The USMC army box partly matches the army plan above.  It is one of the more expensive army boxes but these items are often discounted and may be a better buy than getting the parts separately.  It has enough infantry for the correct BAR ratio, the mortar is always useful and for an infantry only army the 37mm anti-tank gun is more use than the pack howitzer.  The 2 MMG teams are overkill, taking 1 is a luxury although they do give a correct if expensive firepower to boots on the ground ratio.  The M3 half track is the odd man out.  The marines did have M3s but no dedicated mechanised infantry units.  The M3s would be more likely used in a HQ or support role rather than a troop transport.  As some consolation M3s do show up in a couple of episodes of HBO’s The Pacific.  With some modelling and a spare 75mm howitzer (ideally the French 75mm as that was the basis of the gun used) the M3 GMC could be built as this is in the Bolt Action lists and was used by the marines in the Pacific.  Alternately Company B have a ready made one in their range.  The later version of the M3 GMC has a box canopy over the gun, it would only offer limited protection but in Bolt Action terms the vehicle loses open topped.

The M3 was probably chosen to put in the army box as it is a plastic kit and a better item to profit from in volume that a resin model.  A Sherman would have been a good choice but Warlord issued that with the US Army box and may not have wished to duplicate their efforts.  If repackaged now the best choice from amongst the Warlord plastic models available would have been the M3A1 Stuart.


The whole army awaiting allotment to billets


Bolt Action – Operation Nachteule

Another trip to Leeds Night Owls where 16 players took part in an escalation Bolt Action tournament.  500, 750 then 1,000 points with the same pool of units being used for all the games.  I took the same list as at Operation Chillstorm and cut it down for the 750 and 500 point games.

The 500 point games were played in a 1-hour slot including set up so could have been a push to finish.  I played against Italian colonials featuring a lot of inferior tough fighters including a unit of cavalry.  I kept a mortar and the quad maxim truck but otherwise went all infantry


There were 3 objectives to hold in a line like a capital ‘I’ across the centre of the table running between the 2 long edges.  To hold an objective you had to be touching it at the game end or had to be close by to contest.  The inferior Italians did not do well against the quad maxim and my regular fire kept them back.  The cavalry did charge in but despite being tough fighters still lost the assault.  We played about 3 turns with my Soviets controlling 2 objectives to 0 Italians plus the Italians were running out of units.  If the game had continued the result would probably have been the same.

For the 750 point game I dropped the Zis gun, flamethrower and some infantry to face Germans.  The Germans had a wheeled thing with a big gun seen in the woods plus a quad AAA on a big half track.  His infantry was all regular with the odd panzerfaust and assault rifle but not maxed out with either.  The game was fought with 5 objectives set out like a capital ‘N” as seen on the image.  A unit had to be within 3″ of an objective to hold or contest.  Set up was across the diagonal of the board.


The wheeled thing (all I know is that it is not a Puma and had a big anti-tank gun) made short work of the infantry unit.  I had hoped to draw an early dice and assault it before it moved (it was open topped).  The German quad AAA hung around the woods at the top of the image.  It got one good shot off on my inferior squad but I caught it with a mortar round and 2 turns of bombardment saw it take an early bath.  This game ended as a draw with similar losses on both sides.

For the final game I fought British commandos, a veteran force except for a regular Churchill tank.  There were 7 objectives, 3 across the centre line and 2 staggered back 1′ in from each side’s base edge.  In this game objectives were controlled by the last player to get within 3″ of them.  It was not necessary to keep a unit by each objective and unlike the other games vehicles could take objectives.


The British player took 2 off board forward observers.  I destroyed one in melee before he did any harm the other got a bombardment off that hit my scouts  and flamethrower team (who survived with a pile of pins).  I lost my sniper to a 1st turn sniper duel having failed to snipe off a forward observer.


The British had 1 big squad that put out 20+ dice of firepower and a Churchill tank that caused took out my faithful BA10.  The rest of his army was of relatively small units which had difficulty covering enough ground to take many objectives.  Given time he might have been able to cut through my forces one unit at a time.  As time ending was called we worked out that the key shot would be the British sniper knocking a Soviet squad member off and leaving the others not within 3″ of an objective so it could be controlled by the British not contested.  The sniper had lost his mate, needed a 4+ and whiffed it.  A narrow win for my Soviets.


In conclusion a nice session with 3 pleasant games and no serious rules issues.  We did need to look up some rules conflicts but that is the only way to really get to know the rules and there were no tears.  My most valuable unit was the scouts again.  They took a lot of incoming that allowed the rest of the army to get on with its job.

The event was well organised with prizes for everyone.  We all picked some Warlord sprues and at the end the prizes were set on a table with players coming up in turn (1st, best painted, 2nd and so on) to choose a prize.  The winner took home a nice battle mat having brought a Japanese army with maxed out squads, 2 of whom were bamboo fighters together with a Stuart bristling with guns and a dinky little tank.  I think the last player picked up some VBCW/LDV/Civilian 28mms, I already have some of these models and can attend them as a nice prize.  I picked up another Hanomag for my rarely used Germans.

Bolt Action: On the Beaches of Kent

This is the second campaign scenario from the Sea Lion book, following on from the Brandenburger raid.  The game was played at 1,000 points with about 200 points out of each side’s allowance used for special features.  The British force has a pill box/bunker, 2 6″ square minefields and 3 sections of barbed wire,  No one dared go through the minefields to find out what they did.  The barbed wire acted as an obstacle to infantry.  Most of the British were infantry.  They did have 3 universal carriers as reserves.  1 was the recce choice the others transports with a 5 man squad riding along.  The game did give a choice of whacky home defence weapons such as the Smith gun.  I did not have models for these and looking at the stats buying solid regular infantry seemed a better choice.

The Germans had to buy boats to come on.  4 assault craft at 25 points each that held up to 6 figures and 1 barge at 100 points with a much larger capacity.  The German force had to be chosen to fit in the boats so there were 3 squads of 6 and a mortar, anti-tank rifle and the HQ fitting in the small boats.  In reality the boat with the mortar and its ammo would probably be seriously overloaded.  The barge included 2 large squads, 1 of pioneers with a flamethrower and a howitzer.  Only 1 unit can debark from the barge each turn restricting its use as an invasion node.  The Germans also had a ‘swimming tank’, a PzIII in the book but I used as Pz38.  This runs along the sea bed and might turn up or might sink.  Luckily for some it showed up on turn 2.  I umpired the game with a novice player taking the Germans, the British player did not cut him many breaks.


To win the Germans need to get off the beach (the brown strip) for 2 points per unit or off board for 3 points.  The British get points for destroying German units.  The Germans start to land. Only 2 British combat units and the HQ were deployed on the board.  The German pre-game bombardment only handed out a few pins.


The Germans land over a wide front but avoid the bunker and minefields.  They begin to take losses from the universal carriers which they can only pin.


On the other flank the tank shows up, which the British cannot destroy.  The crater model represents a landing barge.  It has disgorged a unit of pioneers and a howitzer.  The British on the nearby dune are in trouble.


Meanwhile the other Germans are under heavy fire.


More infantry land from the barge.  The pioneers have taken losses and FUBAR’d.  The howitzer and tank are poorly positioned.


Withering fire sees the German flank collapse and British victory points soar.


The British unit on the dunes is wiped out.  The HQ moves to a safer distance.


The German tries to overrun the British HQ with the tank but they pass their morale and dodge out of the way.


With the tank distracted a carrier moves out of hiding beyond the dunes and causes more German casualties.


The German could of run an infantry unit and the tank off board for another 2 points but the game had timed out and it was clear that a German breakthrough was not on the cards, casualties being too high on the beaches.  The German attack is heavily constrained by their boats in this scenario.  To get ashore quickly they need the tiny assault boats.  The British can afford to concentrate fire on the 6 man units coming out of the boats.  Even with veteran status these will soon shrink to a size where they throw out minimal firepower.  A better German plan might of been to cram landing units into as tight an area as possible to prevent the British taking them out piecemeal.  Even so the classic ratio for a successful attack is 3:1 not the 1:1 of a standard Bolt Action game.

Operation Chillstorm

I dug my Russians out and headed to Chapeltown near Sheffield for Operation Chillstorm at Chillcon 2017.  Chapeltown is relatively near to Blackshaw Head, only £15 return on the train but taking 2 1/2 hours due to the train stopping at almost every station in the 2 counties.

I did consider running a Lend Lease Kursk list relying on a Soviet Lee and White armoured car with 2 MMGs and 1 HMGs.  This is a serious infantry shredding combination but at a cost of roughly 330 points.  The White is also prevented from shooting all 3 of its guns at the same target due to their arcs of fire.  Instead I fell back on a list similar to that I trotted over to Leeds Night Owls.  I dropped the tank hunters as they could never go fast enough to catch any tanks.  I put up a flamethrower although on retrospect these guys are a bullet magnet.  I upped my sniper to veteran.  Sniper duels are quite frequent and in general a veteran sniper will take out any opposing regular sniper.  I also upped squads to full strength where possible.  Full strength allows a re-roll on order tests.  Especially useful when coming in from reserve.   Here is my Chillcon list for the curious.

There were only 6 of us playing and almost everyone was a Soviet.  Oddly the v1 flavour of choice was veteran commando/paras/Gurkhas with lots of SMGs.  Also strange not to come across a German list with the world’s supply of panzerfausts and a panzer just big enough to cause tank fear.  Eventually I came half way up the field at 3rd and pulled off best painted so a good day out.  There seemed to be a strong trade showing but I managed to avoid any excessive purchasing.

On with the games, first off I faced a Japanese force in the Sectors scenario.


The board is divided into 4 quarters with both forces in opposing quadrants.  Points are gained for putting units in the empty quadrants and bonus points for being in the enemy set up quadrant.  Having bought scouts I had the advantage of forward deploy to get that unit in one empty quadrant at set up.  I also rolled well on the pre-game bombardment.  This can only kill on a 6 and will only damage 1 model.  The Japanese player had deployed a jeep with a flamethrower team in it on board.  This took a 6, destroying the jeep.  The linked D6 hits on the crew took out the flamethrower team as well.  There is a lesson in deployment here children.


Our boys did well with a clear win and impressive kill ratio, note the lack of Nips in the end game picture above.  The Japanese infantry did a lot of Banzai runs, stripping a pin as they moved towards me.  I had enough firepower to destroy the units (a quad AAA never does any harm) before they got close while also moving in on the Japanese quarters.

Game 2 was the Demolition game against Soviets.  We discussed this before starting and agreed that it is a hard scenario to win.  A unit must begin a turn adjacent to the opponent’s objective (we used the vehicles on the centre of the table edges).  This requires some very gutsy moving up the centre and taking a lot of lumps on the way down.  The other approach is the longer path down the side with a possible flank march. Any flank attack is going to need to wait until turn 4 to come in deep enough and would have to run for 2 turns to even touch an objective or rely on a vehicle.  My opponent came up the centre with his T34/85.  I had a BA10, Zis and inexperienced squad that might have taken it out.  I did get a pin (maybe 2) on it and the tank failed one order test, going back and buying me more time.


The white dice by the Zis is the opposition’s heavy mortar ranging in on me.  I took 1 more ranging in attempt (a miss) then shifted the gun.

Our boys did OK on the left flank but we worked out that the game would not run to turn 6 or 7.  In a last ditch to break through I ran the scouts at the opposition’s inexperienced squad but they were mown down by ambush fire.  We called the game on points, a draw but I had destroyed more units by about 10 points.


Things were looking up but it all went pear shaped on the last game.  This was the Manhunt mission and I had not thought the scenario out enough.  I picked the defender (1st lesson you need to be the attacker).  The defending units are set up in a 12″ diameter circle based on the centre of the table.  One of these units is the commander.  If he is captured through losing in hand to hand combat the game is lost.  It is won by keeping him alive or having him destroyed by shooting.  This scenario cannot generate a draw.  I lost on turn 2  and believe that another player had a similar lesson.


I played against Soviets again, unfortunately these pictures did not come out well.  I did not fully understand the reinforcement rules here and paid the price.  On turn 1 units can come on from their home board edge only.  On subsequent turns units can enter from any board edge that an opposition unit has not used that turn.  So if you drew the 1st 4 dice a unit could be brought on from each of the 4 edges keeping all opposing off board units out of the game that turn.  I initially placed my HQ 2′ and a bit from the opposing edge.  My opponent ran on units including 1 that entered a building.  The next turn he ran out of the building and assaulted my HQ.  Moving within a building between turns being free. We carried on the game for fun leading to several other situations where my HQ might have been assaulted.

Thinking back on the game I should have deployed my HQ about 32″ from the enemy edge and placed the scouts (who with ‘forward deploy’  do not need to deploy in the central circle) behind my HQ towards my own edge.  If the enemy came on from my edge on turn 2 they would need to assault through the scouts.  If they came from their own edge on turn 1 they could not get to my HQ on turn 2.  Both side edges would also be out of reach.  This should guarantee survival to turn 3 from when things will firm up a bit as there will be less troops left to come on.

Manhunt is a mission best played if rolled randomly as with prior knowledge there are several list choices that could help out.  Maxing out the HQ size to boss and 2 friends might help a little.  Having more units will mean more dice and a better chance of an early dice draw and closing off a board edge even if some of those units are of minimal combat use.  A defender could bring on a transport, load up the HQ then run back and forth.  Running vehicles cannot be assaulted and if the vehicle is shot at the HQ might be destroyed, winning the game.  The only defence would be to hope to pick a dice and assault before the vehicle gets to run.

Bolt Action Brandenburger Coastal Raid

This is the first scenario in the Sea Lion campaign book.  It is a patrol scenario designed for forces of around 500 points preferably made up of small size squads.  The forces here are approximately 500 points and just about equal but not exact for a number of reasons.  The book had just arrived and I had it to hand not the German or British army books.  I failed to find the minefield points as these are buried in the text not together with the minefield summary charts.  I also missed putting on a 2nd British HQ, paid for German SMGs that I did not use and used a British carrier that as armour should not have been in the scenario.

The British are all Home Guard and inexperienced apart from the carrier and the single unit holding the crucial communications hub (telephone box).  The infantry are in units of 8 or 10 giving some chance of inexperienced troops staying around but resulting in only 5 combat, 1 command and 1 vehicle dice.

The Germans are veterans, 3 combat units of 5 or 6 men, 2 demolition squads of 2 men, a single Abwehr agent and the commander.  7 combat units but the boats had to be paid for adding another 4 dice for a total of 11.  This worked out rather well as the few large Home Guard squads stayed in the game but being unable to split attacks had limited firepower.  The more numerous Germans were more manoevrable but suscepatble to losses and multiple pins.  There was not quite enough boat space so the Abwehr agent met up with the boats on the beach.  Boats moved onto the beach with their activation, a further dice would move the Germans out of each boats.  The British did take a punt at one boat as it came ashore and before it debouched its passengers but this fire had no effect.  The demolition squad members had a satchel charge each as did the Abwehr agent.  Any of these could blow up the communications centre if they began their activations adjacent to the sandbagged area and rolled a 5+.

The British start with 2 infantry units and the command on the table.  Only 1 unit can be within 6″ of the objective so this is where the best troops are.  The British do not know where the Germans will land but do have 2 minefields, discretely marked with pine trees, on the board.  The brown raised areas are sand dunes, blocking soft cover.  The British get no forward observer.  Their special rule is rapid fire, useless for inexperienced troops.  They also gain +1 on morale tests taken when a unit is in cover.  I misread this rule and instead gave the British an extra +1 on being shot at while in cover.

Germans are ashore.  The pin dials mark where the boats would be if I had brought boat models.


Turns 2 and 3 are uneventful.  The Germans move up, a few shots are fired handing out some pins all round.  None of the Britsh reinforcements make it onto the table.

This is turn 4.  The on-table dice are order dice as I only brought 1 set of Bolt Action order dice.  Dice in wheels indicate pins, shown by the wheel not the die face.  2 British units have come on table including the carrier which the Germans could only destroy by assualting or wasting a satchel charge.  They could however pin it with firepower.


Turn 5 and the Germans close in, taking losses and pins but most of the satchel charge models are still in the game.


End of turn 5.  The Germans had got 3 bombers adjacent to the objective whose garrison are pinned.  The Germans got the 1st 2 dice of turn 6 and pulled the satchel pins but neither device did any significant damage.  With no hope of a win the Germans pull back.


More Germans are cut down on the retreat back to the boats.  As some consolation the British commander is cut down in one of the last shots of the game.


The game took 1 1/2 hours.  My opponent took the Germans and although primarily a 40K man ran through the actions quickly enough.  There was less for the British to do.  Being inexperienced, ‘take activation test’,  ‘fail’ was a common action.  Several mistakes were made with the scenario rules and the points costing but the core game idea was robust enough to stand up to it.

7TV Rumble in the Railyard

7TV 2nd Edition is available as a free download from Crooked Dice or as a boxed set of rules, cards and markers.  It is set in the late 1960s but includes details for just about any period covering much the same ground as Pulp Alley.  7TV involves a little less detail than Pulp Alley so will require a few more figures.  A typical Pulp Alley league might be 4 to 6 models.  The 7TV starter sets are of 8 models rated as 30 points with a 50 point game suggested as a medium size.  While comparing both systems consider what you get for your nothing in each case.  The Pulp Alley demo set has all the basic cards and most rules but only 2 leagues.  Additional leagues can be found around the Internet and the missing rules can be easily worked out.  7TV includes all the rules and cards including vehicles and squad weapons, you need another book for that in Pulp Alley.  Various 7TV paid expansions do add more model types and rules.  There are also some free expansion 7TV PDFs if you poke around the Crooked Dice download engine (Gumroad), at the time of writing Scooby Doo, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and Star Wars cards.

It is difficult to play either game with just the computer files.  Printing the rules and cards using a cheap black and white laser printer is a minimum.  The Pulp Alley style is largely black and white and all printed acceptably.  The 7TV basic rules are clearly laid out for printing but the cards use spot colour making some parts,including the essential defence rating hard to see in monochrome.  A case for a colour printer (shudder), inking in the dark bits or making your own unit summaries.

The core of the game system are plot points, a name that has a completely different meaning here than in Pulp Alley.  In 7TV a plot point is an activation point.  Players get 2 per heroic star, 1 per co-star and 1 per 2 extras.  The unit types relate to their cost and abilities.  It costs 1 plot point to activate 1 model.  An activation allows 2 actions but in general only 1 can involve a combat action.  2 actions can be used for moving, other actions include using special abilities and solving clues.  Unless a force is made up entirely of heroic stars and co stars there will not be enough points to activate every unit independently.  Luckily some models are leaders and can activate other close by models for free.  Plot points are also spent to activate the more useful special actions (such as invisibility) and to add to combat.  Shooting and hand to hand involves the defender rolling a dice and adding to their defence value.  The attacker then rolls a dice and adds that to a combat value, winning if the defender’s score is equalled or beaten.  The twist is that for each plot point spent an additional die is rolled.  The final score is the base value plus the value of the highest dice rolled plus an additional 1 for each other dice than the 1st which scored 4 or more.  The defender will be allocating additional dice before he knows what the attacker will roll and the attacker knows the defender’s final score before deciding to commit additional dice to the combat.

Cards are used to mark the game progress.  There are 3 decks each of increasing severity but none strong enough to throw off the game.  The decks are of 15 cards each but the number used depends on the table size.  A 4′ by 4′ game uses 6 of each card.  Each player turn a card is turned over making a potential 9 double-turn game (18 cards).  Sometimes more cards will be used in a turn so this would be the maximum game length.  Possibly the oddest event is one that causes a piece of terrain to be moved or removed.  It might be sensible to mark terrain as moveable or not before the game for this purpose.  A car might be driven away, a pile of boxes collapse but a brick outhouse is unlikely to be going anywhere.  There are also gadget cards which are allocated at the beginning of the game.  The basic method is to draw 2 per heroic star or co star, examine the cards and keep half to use in the game, spending an action to do so.  A tweak might be to remove gadget cards that cannot possibly be used before the draw.  For example some affect machines or robots none of which might be present.

For a first attempt I chose figures that were close to hand facing off the villainous cultists against The Doctor, a scientist side kick, some Rozzers and a police car.  Although both sides had 30 points the police were clearly outclassed.  In retrospect some intellectual types and police armed with wooden sticks would be unlikely to do well against a bunch of rifle armed cultist nutters.  The police have the interesting ability to arrest characters.  they did eventually beat down the cultist stone golem and get it into the van but by then were all dropping to cultist rifle fire.  The police strength was further reduced by having to spend points to buy the police vehicle and setting someone aside to drive it.  The Doctor and scientist might have been good at sorting out robots and machinery but were not up to a straight fight.  Basic hand weapons inflict 0 damage but can stun the enemy, 2 stuns make a kill but you only get 1 attack each turn.  When stunned the opponent can spend a plot point to recover making any kind of fisticuffs long winded unless you can pile on at an advantage of numbers.  All this makes sense with the lesson being the forces selected need to reflect the opposition and the task involved, just picking 2 equal points teams and having it away may not work out.

Police Raid

I had another go in a 35 point game but kept to the unarmed police as the figures were out of the box and they do not get as much use on the table as they should.

Here is the set up representing a railway shunting yard.  The objective markers indicate the railway carriages that need to be searched.  There is no need to climb on top of them.


Here are the Rozzers and their police van (I have had that a very long time).  The star (in front) has a pistol, everyone else has truncheons.  The girl is the co-star.  One policeman is the sergeant and can activate nearby flat foots at 1/2 a token per figure.  The red tokens are their starting plot points.


The bad guys, a criminal mastermind, mad scientist, head thug and regular thugs.  Everyone but the scientist has a pistol.


The Rozzers set up close to 2 objectives.  All the police standing around the van are actually riding in it.


The bad guys begin close to 2 (out of 3) objectives.


The police drive up, get out of the van and approach 1 objective.  The girl secures another.


Our great detective secures the 3rd objective.


The bad guys move up, secure 2 objectives and approach the 3rd.  Up to this point much use has been made of the cover provided by the rolling stock.


Both sides inch around the passenger carriage.


In a key game move a turn card allows 2 figures to swap places.  The mad scientist and girl swap exposing the young lady to charging from the thug gang.


The police come round, too late to save their co-star but with the hope of securing the objective she was holding.


Truncheons are not a match for pistols and things look bad for the forces of law and order (note there are less of them now).


At the other side of the field the criminal mastermind and lead detective exchange pistol shots.

7tv13The mad scientist throws a nerve gas canister and weakens most of the police.  There was a rules error here as the canister should have been centred on the scientist rather than thrown (he is immune to the gas).


A game card allows the scientist to retrieve the gas canister which would otherwise have been a one-use gadget.  Having read the rules he now walks up to the weakened police and pulls the plug.  Figures that suffer the same effect twice lose a life and these Bobbies have only 1 life to give.


With over half their models lost the police fail their nerve test and the the show is over, halfway through act 2 (out of a possible 3).   Man of the match must be the mad scientist. He never engaged in any combat but drew the girl into the open and gassed the police not once but twice.

Hostage rescue

In any pulp type game the key to success is a believable scenario where there is a reason to do something other than run around and shoot things.  Both Pulp Alley and 7TV give their models statistics other than fight and run and the scenario should make use of these.  Statistic tests are built into the Pulp Alley game cards.  The 7TV ‘non-martial’ statistics are tested less often in the basic scenarios where the models run around and pick up victory locations by moving onto them.  The following game is based loosely on the scenario in the Scooby Doo 7TV download.

We have been tipped off by our contacts in the criminal underworld that the missing teenager is being held against her will by the notorious evil cult.  We have been observing their movements (the hooded robes are a subtle clue) and are sure that the hostage is being held at this location.  We cannot be exactly sure where she is but have identified the 6 most probable places.  We need to get in there and effect a rescue before the cult is able to react.

There are 6 objective tokens.  The cult do not receive any benefit from controlling them.  At the beginning of every cultist turn after their first they receive an additional ** if the forces of law and order have not gained a new objective in their previous turn.  When the opposition do gain an objective roll 1D6.  If the total is <= to the number of objectives previously secured then the hostage has been found.  Replace that objective with a bystander model representing the hostage.  The hostage is assumed to be restrained so a test based on FIGHT or MIND must be passed to free the hostage.  Extra dice may be spent on this task which requires a dedicated action.  When the hostage model is freed she can be activated for free by any adjacent model (cultist or law enforcement) if no model from the opposing faction is not also adjacent to the hostage.  No model from either side may use an attack with a range >0 that will pass at any point in its path within 1″ of the hostage base.

Victory is based on the standard victory conditions with the addition of:

+5 to the law and order team for getting the hostage off the table
+3 to the law and order team for being adjacent to the hostage
-3 to the cultists for being adjacent to the hostage
-3 to the cultists if the hostage is not found

To summarise the hostage must be found, freed and rescued. The cultists are able to grab the hostage back.  Neither side wants to risk injuring the hostage.  That would look bad for the rescuers and the cultists have other plans for her.

Flames of War 4th Edition Element games

11th March 2017 saw the official launch of Flames of War 4th.  At Element games in Stockport they had the new rules which were given out free to anyone with the 3rd edition rules, including the small softback printing.  They also had the full harback rules at £15.  The hardbackbook includes new rules and list building for mid war desert armies.  I do not have any forces to match that so left it alone for the time being.  The new free main rules are a full A4 size book.  Also given out is an A5 booklet of changes to the most recent incarnations of the late and early war army books.  This modifies many of the warrior profiles and the special unit rules from those books.  Several special rules both from the 3rd Edition main rules and the army books have been removed and not replaced.  In short 4th has less rules than 3rd but holds to the same basic play concepts.

The new starter set was on display.  This is like the older starter sets only including 5 tanks so is designed for introductory games.


There are cards for the new models, printed terrain features and a game mat.  The mat is not as durable as the mouse material gaming mats but is not thin paper either.  It is like a very thin floor covering vinyl and is about 2′ square, not too bad a piece of kit.

We had turned up with 1200 point armies hoping to get a game in with the new rules.  The organisers had also provided 4 armies ready for playing.  Luckily quite a few gamers were in the same mood and at least 4 games were up using the new rules.  No one worried too much about reading the rules first.  There were some players on hand who had already used the new 4th edition.  We relied on them and looking up rules as required.  I had brought early war Germans and got a game against late war American rangers or paras, fearless veteran anyway.  In my haste to get a game underway before anyone changed their mind we had both deployed before I discovered that Germans can no longer kampfgruppe.  We would have got no where if we reset after every rules mistake so we carried on regardless.

In this scenario the players set upon opposite table corners.  No one can set up within 12″ of the table centre.  60% of game points can be on table, at least 40% must be held as delayed reserves (start rolling to come on from turn 3). Air units are included in these points so can be availble at start or part of the delayed reserves.  Here is the German set up in the bottom left.  Objectives are the card marker for the USA and Sdfkz 7 for the Germans.


The USA deployment at top right.   One objective is off-camera at the far right corner.  The Americans also have 3 snipers set up in no mans land with views of the German squads.  I generally ignored these losing 2 stands to sniper fire during the game and picking up the odd pin.  As confident veteran I hoped to be able to shake these off.  I did drive off 1 sniper stand (on a 4+ they come back when killed) having little else to shoot at and not needing to worry too much about exposing my position (losing gone to ground status).  It is now possible to hit on a 7 (6 followed by 5,6) or 8 (6 followed by a 6) so long odds with high rate of fire units could be worth going for.


The Americans grab the 1st turn and move 1 platoon down field.  The other stays put but lobs off some mortar shells as direct fire from a mortar team.


On the German first turn 1 platoon stays put and the other rushes forward.


I forgot to roll for air on turn 1.  It should come in on a 4+ and usually did.  It then acts like an artillery barrage needing to range in and getting 3 attempts.  With each failed ranging in the chance of hitting units under the template is 1/6 less.  Artillery barrages abort if a friendly unit is within 4″, air templates abort at 8″.  I did have superior air allowing in theory 3 aircraft.  The only advantage of this is that air will only stop rolling to come in when all 3 air units are shot down.  As the USA had no anti-air this gave me no advantage.  They could no more shoot down 1 aircraft as 3.  If I had fielded machine gun armed air I would have been able to shoot with all available aircraft.

A general view showing the German mortars at the bottom of the image.  They did stirling work pounding various American units.  We missed the new barrage rules that allow any ranged in unit to range in again automatically on subsequent turns.  Also each battery can place 1 ranged in marker before the game begins, after objective set up but before deployment.  Staff team bases are no longer used and only 1 observer is allowed per formation.  It can spot for several batteries but uses up 1 of its 3 range in attempts each time.  Other units that are phased out are HQ units for guns and HMGs, a gun model is chosen as the command unit.


Turn 3 and the first American delayed reserves show up.  Right in front of my forward infantry.  Luckily that unit had been pinned by sniper fire the previous turn so was harder for the advancing Americans to hit.  The round German base is a pin marker.  USA pins are green circles.


Next turn the Germans unpin and pour some lead into the American troops, pinning them in turn.


More Americans arrive causing heavy casualties to the German unit.  Luckily the original American reinforcement failed its rally so was shooting pinned with a lower rate of fire.


At last some German reinforcements arrive.  The panzerjaeger plan on moving to just within 16″ (close range) of the dug in Americans on the objective and then shelling them.  The other American unit has been pinned by Stuka attack.


On the left flank the exposed Germans pass a skill test and do a special move to go back then use a regular move to dig in, they still shoot but count as moved.   Any nation’s unit can attempt one of a selection of special moves once per move by passing a skill test.  The German special power is to be allowed to attempt 2 of these moves as long as they do not use the same one twice with the same unit and move.  These special moves are digging in, shifting up to 4″ before movement, the old 4″ stormtrooper move, trying for another 4″ move after a regular move and moving through gaps.


On the other flank another German unit shows up and rushes to get nearer to the objective.


The Americans pass a skill test to shift 4″ before moving, then move their regular 8″ then are within 4″ of the Germans so are allowed to assault.  That’s a 16″ threat range for infantry assaults.  To get into an assault a unit must be able to touch an enemy base or touch a unit which in turn has touched a base.  This effect only goes 1 deep, you cannot chain an attack all the way back.  The Germans shoot defensively at 4″ but not enough to pin the Americans, the attack goes in.  There is also an American team assaulting the German command base in the house.


The Americans have 4 attacks and kill 1 stand.  The Germans pass their morale, move 4″ to attack back and kill 2 stands.  The Americans then fail their morale and pull back.  The Germans consolidate.  There are not many teams left but an infantry unit only checks morale to be withrawn when it is down to 2 stands.  The American assault on this flank has stalled.


Meanwhile the last German reinforcement turns up.  One unit is now contesting the objective.  The panzerjaegers sit and shoot.


The Americans behind the house unpin and try to assault the forward German unit.  They take withering defensive fire and are driven back.   Game over; the Germans will begin their turn in control of an objective in the enemy deployment zone.  Note that the other American unit nearby is pinned so could not help out.


Some other rules that we either missed or did not crop up include unit cohesion.  This no longer depends on skill but on the unit size and is measured 8″ for a unit of 8 or more teams otherwise 6″.  That may cause issues for the truely huge Strelkovy units.  Armies can now be built from more than 1 formation list.  The compulsory units must be included from each.  If 1 formation breaks the army has not necessarily lost the game.

The above is not a complete listing off all the new rules nor have the implications of those rules been considered in great depth.  Gameplay is however much the same but possibly a little bit simpler than in 3rd.

Bolt Action Soviet Modelling

Soviets are my go to army although I can also trot out British, German and Japanese.  I do not classify myself as a modeller but with the aid of my trusty Dremel I have turned out a few simple conversions that any idiot should be capable of.

Assault troops

Warlord sell these in a pack of 8 but there is a problem.  Only 5 are the basic trooper with SMG and body armour that you really want.  1 has an SMG but is also carrying 2 panzerfausts, a combination that is not obviously available with body armour in Bolt Action.  Another is a flamethower guy and the last has a LMG.  There is some validity in burying the flamethrower in an assault squad.  The +1 to kill for body armour and bunch of redshirt buddies around should keep him alive against casual fire long enough to get close enough to ‘flame on’ unless a sniper takes him out.  Unfortunately body armour limits movement to 6″ so it could take a long time to get close even by placing the whole unit in a truck then jumping out after a turn or so.  The LMG is less useful as it is a weapon designed for long range use and if used as such the 12″ range SMGs of the rest of the unit are wasted.  Both the LMG and flamethrower require a dedicated loader so the squad as sold would be of 8 (or 7 depending on your view of the panzerfaust) of which 4 are special weapons and their loaders, one kitted out for long range and the other for short. The simple fix is to use some ‘green stuff’ and model up new body armour bibs for some plastic models.  The Warlord plastics come in ‘regular’ tops and trousers but the assault models have 1 piece combat outfits but this is a price that will have to be paid.  Here the Warlord panerfaust guy is flanked by 2 plastic buddies.



This could not get much easier, buy ‘Sarge’ model from ‘Cars’, paint out white star, add red star.  I have bought 3 of these models for various deployments and found that the best way to get them apart is to drill out the 2 rivets under the model.  I also found that in typical Chinese fashion not all models are equal.  One had a separate canopy and enough inside detail to fashion seats for crew.  Another had a separate top to the canopy but its canopy sides were the same solid metal as the jeep sides making a topless conversion off the agenda.  The bottom view below shows the drilled out rivets.


White Scout Car

This comes with American crew, all seated.  I used the American driver and gave him a Soviet head then added some Soviet plastic gunners.  The provided guns are modelled to be on a track like a curtain runner allowing all the guns to be trained almost anywhere.  Some bodging and bending of the mounts was needed to match up the guns to their new crew and still keep the guns on the tracks.  The White Scout car provides 2 MMG and 1 HMG so will pump out some useful dice and might even pin light or inexperienced armour.  I plan to combine it with a Soviet Lee for a Lend Lease unit operating at the time of Kursk.  My limited research shows that both were in use at this time and that ideally a Lend Lease equipment issue would be kept within the same formation.



M17 AA

This comes with a Russian head so you are good to go but it also comes with the metal parts from the regular M15.  That means 2 30-cal and a 50-cal machine gun surplus to requirements.  The 50-cal has been based here on a tripod cut from bits of metal.  It is a bit rough and ready so the basing has been used to hide some of the faults.  This is a 4 crew model in Bolt Action.  Loose infantry models will make up the rest of the crew.  This unit would work well with the Lend Lease White and Lee but infantry teams are vulnerable to a single sniper shot taking out the whole base so in practice this model may not see much action.


Gaz Quad Maxim

This is my must have Soviet unit because it is cheap and throws out 20 MMG shots.  It does however take up a tank slot and is vulnerable to just about any incoming fire.  It is usually best to keep it at long range and if possible behind some sort of cover.  Even needing 6s to hit probability predicts 3 hits and 1 of those should take out a veteran infantryman.

Possibly the easiest solution is to buy the Company B gunner and place it in a Lledo truck.  It all depends on getting hold of the gunner model.  Alternately an entire quad maxim can be built up if you can source enough barrels.  This model is using barrel parts from Ironclad  Miniatures who use them with their steam tanks.  They only sell the barrels though, the stock and ammo supply needs to be scratch-built.  The truck to the rear has had an additional 2 wheels added to make the GAZ AAA variant.



Pulp Alley Dark Truths

This is part of chapter 2 in the ‘Tomb of the Serpent’ campaign.  I trotted out the same league as in my last report and played solo against the depicable cultists.  This scenario is set in a warehouse so I used some old GW floorplans from Dungeon Bowl and set up crates and such as perilous areas and plot points (the 3 smaller models).  The blacked off areas of the board are impenetrable stacks of filled sacks.  There is no penalty to open doors beyond being the only way to get into certain rooms.

The cultist ensemble can be seen at the bottom of the image.  One horrfiying resurrected priest, 3 middling cultists and 3 sets of gang members.  The 5 strong gangs are close to useless for fighting or solving plot points.  In a heavily built up locale such as this they were incredibly useful in spreading out and making it hard for the good guys to get to the plot points.  The scenario was played in dim light so sight was limited to 12″.  I also forgot that failing to solve a plot point does not cause a health check.  This failure saw several weaker cultist members seemingly wander off when they failed their test.  It was dark, possibly dangerous, they probably sneaked off home for an early night. In the image the 2 characters on the board are plot points as well as the 2 piles of ‘stuff’ in the orange and blue rooms and finally the pile of crates closest to the bottom edge with a green marker on it.


The key to this scenario is that there are 5 plot points but one is a trap and another is a red herring that vanishes when solved.  When a plot point is solved a reward card is drawn and the game begins with a stack of 7 reward cards.  This does not include an additional reward card that will become the artifact that both sides are looking for.  When the first plot point is solved and its reward issued the major reward card is then shuffled in.  So we know that the first plot point solved will not be the artifact.  There is also a chance that the artifact will not show up at all in this game.  No hostile action is allowed for the first 3 turns of the (6 turn) game, this will not prevent running around and trying to solve plot points.  In this playthrough a card forbade any combat on turn 4 as well so there was very little fighting throughout the whole game.

With only 4 figures compared to 8 cultist units our heroes were on the back foot when covering ground.  The situation became worse when our trusty native guide (Mazumbo) tripped and hurt himself on turn 1 leaving just 3 characters to solve 5 plot points.


Two cultists and Charles Horton, our leader, attempt to attract the attention of the warehouse guard.  Another clue might be found in amongst the chests in the blue room behind.


Classic blocking tactics by a cultist mob enable the robed cultist to move up on the chests unopposed and inspect them.  He fluffs it and in a case of getting the rules wrong sneaks off home.  In a solitaire game both sides are facing the same incorrect penalties so this should not affect the overall result.


Our hero gets some useful information from the guard but not enough to track down the artifact yet.  The cultists check out the room behind but later found this to be a red herring.


Captain John interviews another warehouse official but neither does he know where the artifact is.  I have had NPC plot points being dragged along by their new owner when they are solved.  Willingly in the case of the good guys and literally with anyone else.


Mary Williams attempts to inspect the crates are foiled by the impolite crowds who always seem to be blocking her way.


The crates in the yellow room might be useful.  There is a race to get there.  The cultist priest gets in first, he shoots, he scores, its all over.


Unaware of this our hero makes a bee line to the final artifact.  We have already opened some cases in the stack (1 out of 2 successes passed) but we hear police whistles outside (end of turn 6) and have to get out of here before they show up.  We learn that the cultists have got away with something and that we are empty handed.