Bolt Action Home Guard In Halifax

Fancying running out something different I brought a ‘Dad’s Army’ force to the Bolt Action tournament at Penine Raiders in Halifax in May 2019.  The event required 3 forces, 500, 750 and 1,000 points all from the same army theatre but not true escalation.  Full escalation requires the 750 point list to be a subset of the 1,000 and the 500 a subset of the 750.  That makes for much more interesting list choices as a unit that might be ideal at 750 can be massively under-powered at 1,000.

The 500 point game was pegged at 1 hour and was in night fighting conditions.  Points were gained for destroyed units and prisoners.  When a unit lost a melee the surviving models from the loser were kept as prisoners who could in turn be freed by another melee or the shooting down of their guards.  This works for most forces but the fanatic players found that models were wiped out in the successive rounds of melee leaving very few left over to count as prisoners.

I faced up against Japanese with some un-charactaristically small squads.  The hill here had no effect as terrain.  Both sides have advanced on from their table edges.

My Home Guard militia unit get a shot off when they would have been better off running away.

The Japanese opposite banzai forwards, stripping their pin and take our lads to the cleaners.   In the centre of the picture our lads take a building but the wily Japs shoot them up at point blank range.

The Home Guard have 1 unit of veteran commandos.  They are on the look out for some Japanese to capture but the whole army is out maneuvered.  Some clever Japanese movement has given them local superiority on the other side of the table.

The Japanese shoot up our guys in the house with 1 unit then charge in and finish them off with another.   The only consolation is that the commandos catch up with the Japanese and free some prisoners from earlier.

Game 2 at 750 points looks like the jungle but sees our lads up against late war Germans in the demolition scenario.  The German tactic is to bull up the middle with a big tank and roll onto the objective.  This would have been my plan had I not gone with a ‘winning is overrated list’.  If both players had followed that list strategy a game would probably involve some dancing around of tanks with a win if 1 could knock the other out quickly enough.  Anticipating this plan my 25 pounder is sited well back to cover the objective.  The Home Guard militia are also close by with sticky bombs having some chance to charge and knockout the tank.  Giving the tank assault bonus to the commandos would be better as they have a higher moral but that goes against the spirit of this list.

The 25 pounder takes a 1/6 chance shot at indirect fire on the tank and misses.  If it gets 1st dice in the next turn it would try again with a 1/3 chance of a hit (it did not).  On the left flank our boys move towards the German objective.  It would not take a strategic genius to work out that I have an off-board flank attack penciled in over there.  The Germans are all over their own objective like a rash

Here they come, tank supported by a motor cycle combo.  Our off-board artillery strike gives the Germans in the back line a good mashing but not enough to destroy any units.  Centre board, a German jeep and its crew are sent off for an early bath.

Our flanking force comes on.  The German unit nearing them is racking up the pins but not enough to cause a (flight) morale check.

The key moment.  The 25 pounder shoots and needing a 4+ to hit then 4+ to kill misses completely.  A net 1/4 chance for a draw and probable win on points (that tank is a big point sink).  The other part of the anti-tank plan had been to assault the tank with the militia.  They had been drawn away by assaulting the motorcycle combo.  Their alternative being to go down or get hosed down under a hail of virtual lead.  The Home Guard commander could have contested and bought another turn (together with a possible 25 pounder shot) but the Panzer got him on the way in.

So after a chain of failures our boys find ourselves built up to 1,000 points against contemporary Belgians.   A lot of the Belgian army is veteran and they have some nifty tanks and carriers.  They run the French national rule of a free gun.   Both sides start with 750 points coming on turn 1 with an additional 250 points as an outflanking force rolling from turn 3.

In the first turns both sides move up to the cover close to the table centre.  Our 25 pounder ranges in on the Belgian gun opposite but despite numerous hits rolls a succession of 1s and takes a long time to wipe out the last crewman.  Our tank arrives from the flank but does minimal damage.  The Belgians come on at the opposite flank and our boys take hits.

The Belgian tank, despite its small size and being behind a building in this shot has armour 8, making it a mini Matilda 2.  It trades shots with our cardboard armoured A9.

The A9 is hit but only takes pins (hooray) then fails its morale and backs off (boo).  Its supporting infantry take out their Belgian opposite numbers (a veteran vs veteran face off decided by point blank SMG fire).  The pesky left flank gun is also taken out.  The Belgians, however, have done a better job of concentrating on the right flank and we lose a squad.  Game credit must, however be given to the Belgian sniper who took out his British equivalent and the HQ unit.  The clear tipping point to giving a Belgian victory other losses being relatively close.  Note Jones’ van hid behind a building brought as a possible transport for the commandos but mainly because it looks the part.

Net result our lads came bottom.  With a little luck they might have squeezed 7th (out of 8) as the kill point count of the next player up was not much greater.  I had hoped to not come last but win the ‘best theme’ army.  There turned out not to be a prize for that but there was a consolation prize for coming last.  Despite the obvious gaming problems the army held up reasonably well.  The forward observer was not allowed in the 500 point game (no free units for anyone) but came in with good effect in the other battles.  The veteran commandos did well, the inexperienced militia less well, picking up a shed load of pins from their green test in game 2.  We ran with a Vickers MkVI in game 2 and an A9 in game 3.  Both are armour 7 and both avoided destruction although that meant that they needed to be used cautiously.

On an organisational front the tourney started and ended on time and there were no major hissy fits over the rules.  I learnt some new game pointers and noted some rules that one opponent had steadfastly got wrong but these would not have swung the game and at the bottom line it is all just playing with toy soldiers.


Saga Age of Magic Playthrough

Thank you to Gripping Beast who provided ‘Age of Magic’ gratis  for review and refunded your author’s original payment for it.

‘Age of Magic’ is an expansion for Saga and does require the base Saga rules to play.  Special rules from the main rulebook are referenced but not detailed in this supplement.  The ‘Age of Magic’ dedicated spell cards and dice are not required.  Designs to make substitutes are available from Studio Tomahawk.  It is recommended to re-jig historical armies as the ‘Age of Magic’ lists rather than run their original boards although there is nothing in the rules system to stop the use of boards from other books.

‘Age of Magic’ introduces 6 new factions ‘The Otherworld’ (demons), ‘Masters of the Underearth’, ‘The Horde’, ‘The Lords of the Wild’, ‘The Undead Legions’ and ‘The Great Kingdoms’ (medieval society).  The existing Saga troop types are joined by warmachines, creatures (big), monsters (bigger), the lieutenant (a mini warlord) and sorcerers.

Each faction has its own battleboard and can choose spells from 2 of the 6 schools of magic.  There is an overlap in the magic schools available to the factions and some sharing of common troop types such as hearthguard and sorcerers but beyond that there is considerable difference in the load out available to the various factions.  This will please habitual list builders but also requires some thought into what to use to model each faction.

Each faction has a variant of the lieutenant class, as well as another unique troop variant and heroic units specific to that list.  There are also 2 sub lists of each faction with a restricted choice of troop types from within the parent faction but new specific abilities.  Some, possibly all, of these specialist units are identifiable as existing fantasy models.  ‘The Incredible and Extraordinary Machine’ is a Steam Tank, ‘Destruction Teams’ could be a Goblin Doom Diver.  ‘The Horde’ have a chariot that fits into the Orc or Goblin chariots.

With the rules only recently released many players will be looking to see how the models they already have fit into the existing factions.  ‘The Undead Legions’ are the simplest approach, models should reflect the concept of ‘undeadness’.     The other factions could be modeled by just about any fantasy trope as long as there is a consistent theme.   The restrictions are troop load out and battle board rather than setting related.

Consider a Games Workshop Lizardman force.  They have a back story of swamps and forest so ought to fit with ‘The Lords of the Wild’.  They certainly could be run as that faction but the related battleboard has 3 abilities linked to models with ranged weapons.  The Workshop Lizardmen are not modeled with bows and although spears and swords are legal as warriors or hearthguard in the ‘The Lords of the Wild’ list the army would be missing out on these 3 shooting key abilities.  The smaller Workshop skink figures have javelins so can run as levy or the blowpipe models could work as bow armed warriors (although a bit wimpy for warriors).  The various Lizardmen big models would easily fit in as creatures and monsters so the list can run but is it the optimal gaming choice?  Looking at the other boards the Lizardmen could easily fit in as ‘The Horde’ or as ‘The Otherworld’.  In a world where just about anything can be a demon, scales claws and teeth are a popular choice.  ‘The Otherworld’ does, however, have an option to make the entire army able to fly which the Lizardmen could only partly make use of, only a small proportion of their models being winged.

Fielding existing models in ‘Age Of Magic’ should not be a major issue.  The rules do state recommended base sizes but these ranges are quite generous and most Games Workshop type basing should fit in with no adjustments.   Apart from the rules, dice and troops each faction will need a specialist piece of terrain.  This does not count when working how much terrain has been selected when setting up a game but can be moved as part of the set up process.  Each piece of specialist terrain has some game effect.  Some examples will have limited influence on the game as they depend on one or both sides being close to the terrain.  The most useful piece is possibly the tunnel system of the ‘Masters of the Underearth’.  This faction alone has 2 pieces of special terrain.  Models can move from within VS of 1 piece to VS of the other and then cannot be activated again that turn.

To run the game out 2 armies based on Games Workshop Empire and Lizardmen armies were drawn up.  It might be best described as a game between 2 experienced but inexpert players.

The Great Kingdoms Empire
Warlord 0 points
Sorcerer 1 point
Incredible and Extraordinary Machine 2 points
Levy 1 point
2* Warrior 2 point
2*Hearthguard 2 points 6 models
Paladin Bought with 2 hearthguard figures
The Horde Lizardmen
Warlord 0 points
Sorcerer 1 point
Monster 1 point
Levy 1 point
2*Creatures 2 points, 1 extra model from removed Warrior models
2* Warriors 2 points, 12 figures
Hearthguard 1 point

We diced for deployment order then diced for sides so the Lizard special terrain ended up in the Empire zone (good) and the Empire terrain in the Lizard zone (bad).  The mound towards the centre of the table is ‘low uneven’ the other mound is a wood (the trees are a clue).

The Empire went first and rolled 3 very middling Saga dice results. Not wanting to get any closer to the Lizard horde the dice were spent on defensive abilities but no movement.

Off to a good start the Lizardmen cast a spell at maximum effect causing choking weeds from the nearby wood to exhaust the Empire hearthguard (mounted knights). The first of several spells to be ‘shot’ at maximum effect by both sides with no adverse result to either wizard. The rest of the Lizard horde advanced cautiously.

The Empire wizard tries to heal his hearthguard with a spell but only manages to strip 1 point of fatigue.  Foolishly the Empire did not allocate dice to rest the unit, hoping the wizard would do the job on his own.  The steam tank gets off a couple of shots.  It uses a levy die so has to share activation opportunities with the adjacent levy shot.  The ‘Great Kingdoms’ board has an advanced ability to shoot with 2 units but only if they are ‘M’ apart; spot the deployment error.  The Empire general uses a manoeuvre to  fly across the board to outside ‘L’ of the Lizard rear line.

The Lizard hearthguard come in and with good use of Saga abilities eliminate the Empire opposition at a loss of 1 of their own number.  The Lizard levy take a few useful shots and the rest of the army plods forward rather too slowly.

The Empire general charges the Lizard hearthguard but an error has been made.  Warlords have pride so he must charge the Lizard wizard instead.  The hearthguard combat is ‘rolled back’  there should be 1 more Lizard hearthguard on the table from now on but this did not affect the game.  The Lizard wizard was off for an early bath.  Elsewhere some shooting and a warrior on warrior melee knocks the Lizard warrior unit down a bit.

A clash of Warlords is up next; both started the combat equal in abilities and melee dice.  The Empire decided not to take chances and activated ‘Legendary Hero’ to become invulnerable but exhausted.  The Lizard warlord cannot win and recoils ‘S’ after the combat.  The Lizard army takes a chance and charges their warriors into the exhausted warlord although those warriors are coming in with 2 fatigue.  At this point the importance of resilience and fatigue comes in.  The Empire warlord has resilience 2.  If the warriors go straight to dice rolling they will need 1 hit to kill the Warlord but the Empire spends the warrior fatigue to make his armour 6.  Seven dice needing a 6 ought to do it.  Spending a warlord fatigue would mean seven dice needing 5s.  Not one 5 but three because the warlord can take two as a single fatigue (as he is now down to 2 fatigue not 3)and the third kills.  Not only have the odds of success dropped but each hit can be saved on a 5+ so needing more hits increases the chance of some being saved.  In the end the wrong choice was made, 1 hit got through which the warlord could now spend on a fatigue and stay in the game.  The Lizardmen warriors got a good thrashing for their pains, even exhausted a warlord packs a punch.

The Empire warriors polish off the Lizardmen warriors.  This clears a path for the human wizard to ride up and strip some of the fatigue off the Empire Warlord who is then able to polish off his Lizardman counterpart.

There are still lots of Lizardmen left but their advance has been broken up.  The creatures at the back have been forgotten and should at least have manoeuvred closer to the action.  An attack on the Empire warriors by the closer creature unit is beaten off.  The steam tank would have been a better target because yields only 1 die in melee.

The humans shuffle about, tidying up the line and remove what fatigue they can.  They get off a few ineffective shots.

Lizardmen charges have limited results, the fight is starting to go out of them although they are still rolling 5 Saga dice.

The Empire wizard flies over his own troops to charge and take out the Lizardmen hearthguard.  One of the Lizardmen levy archer units finally loses a figure to shooting.  A total of 2 more dice dropped by Team Lizard.

Another Lizardmen turn was possible but with most of Team Lizard back in the changing room the game was called as an Empire victory.

The important gaming experience of this battle was of resilience and as a result of that fatigue. In the historical lists only the warlord and the Russian wagon deal with resilience.  Here it also applies to monsters, creatures, warmachines, wizards and lieutenants.  As we found out you don’t want your own resilient units in combat with a high fatigue count.  Resilience can be used to take fatigue instead of losses so the more fatigue you are holding on to the more likely you are to take losses.  The creatures have some leeway as they have more than 1 model in a unit.  Wizards and warlords have the bodyguards rule but for other troop types 1 hit that cannot be cancelled by fatigue will be the end for it.  The direct consequence of this in the battle was a lot of resting and consequently slightly less moving around by the big hitting units.  The Empire brought spells that could cancel fatigue and also inflict fatigue on enemy units.  This was an important factor in their overall victory.

Although this was an 8 point game and the players started with 6 (Empire) and 8 (Lizardmen) Saga dice there did not seem enough good dice scores to go around.  Monsters are powerful but they share an activation box with levy and war machines.  This means that an army with a high proportion of these troop types will be hard to get going.  Monsters have the added disadvantage of being unable to activate with advanced Saga abilities.  This all points to the relative benefit of creatures who although not as powerful are multi model units and activate as warriors.   Both warlords were mounted on creatures giving them a bonus in combat dice but losing the ‘we obey’ rule making shifting bodies of troops even harder.

The Curse of Dead Man’s Hand

The Curse of Dead Man’s Hand is the zombie expansion for Dead Man’s Hand.  It needs the main rulebook to play.   Although it does not need the expansion Legend of Dead Man’s Hand a fair part of the book is made up of gang experience statistics that make no sense without the Legend book.  Curse includes a campaign of linked missions together with stats for supernatural baddies and some new regular gangs.  The undead are allowed to fight battles outside this book although the text warns that some of the victory conditions in the existing scenarios are not going to work with an undead faction.

What follows is a playthrough of the full Curse campaign.  As the scenarios chosen depend on the results of previous games not all the possible line ups have been fought.  The exact details of the scenarios have been glossed over so a reader would need to buy the book to fully re-create these games.

All the scenarios are played out on the same board but increase in complexity as the campaign draws on.  Even so Dead Man’s Hand is a simple game and there is never going to be much complexity.  Here we see the town, the buildings are TTCombat.  The mat is designed for Gaslands hence the road forming a loop.

The first action sees 2 guys trying to run past undead monsters on the rooftops.  The description of these monsters include no indication of flying so we assume they can jump off the roofs taking a single hit roll as if they fell off.  The monster’s actions are largely controlled by the game.  They will try and attack then run away.  The good guys have to run past them or shoot them down.

Our lads got halfway up the street before being caught and brought down.  This is a simple scenario with few options.  If treated as a puzzle and thought through before setting off the good guys might make it.  Luck is an important factor is that a hit from the monsters has a 50% chance of doing any harm, the living are hoping for more than their fair share of misses.

Having lost the first game the living are now less strong and the undead stronger.  The rational for that being pretty easy to follow along with.  The undead have 3 evil dwarf spirits and a host of zombies to face off against only 2 living.  One side has to wipe out the other.

Another unhappy ending. 2 undead and 2 evil dwarfs are down but the good guys were overwhelmed with numbers.  This scenario and the previous only made use of a fraction of the town playing area.  The zombies here are from the Zombicide game.  These fit in well size wise with the Artizan metal figures, the same height but a good deal skinnier.

Now the good guys face zombies and a massive beast (the Batman Solomon Grundy model).  Not convinced with the effect of pistols on undead, two living are equipped with shotguns.

The living all activate before the undead hulk and pull back to form a gun line with their rear protected by the railway station.  Even with the high levels of luck in the Dead Man’s Hand combat system both barrels of a shotgun at point blank range are a major asset.  The bad guys are all down at no loss to the living.  This scenario has also been notable for only making use of a fraction of the playing area.

With the score at lost 2, won 1 the living head out to disinfect the town.  The 4 buildings (including the railway carriage and water tower) at the top of the board are infested.  At least 3 must be cleaned out.

2 Buildings purified but 2 good guys down.  The ending is still anyone’s game.  The zombies are coming back as fast as they are being shot down. This scenario is showing good use of the terrain as the living need to move and try to avoid the dead. The witch who could have been  a major threat is down giving some relief to the living.  Those oxen have been very well behaved not moving throughout any of the games.

A knife edge victory.  2 of the living are left.  Both still in combat but not down.  The models on top of the railway carriage are in ‘reality’ inside it.  The carriage has been disinfected.  The remaining dead return to dust with a victory for the living.

The final battle and the living face off against the full force of the undead.  The living line up at the end of main street.  The main body of undeads are holed up in the railway station but the witch and a handful of zombies hover at the flanks hoping to whittle down the living.

The battle does not go entirely to plan.  With the firepower of a full posse the living are able to concentrate shots into the flanking zombies.  The witch herself does not last long, only getting off 1 useful spell attempt and whiffing it.

Realising plan ‘A’ is not going to work out the undead heavies charge out.  Although still at full strength the living have been forced to split up with their best man (the sheriff) still far to the rear trying to avoid the last of the flanking zombies.

The undead hulk charges into hand to hand in a combat that he is almost certain to win but loses.  He is a powerful fighter who is hard to stop but he must stay close to his undead leader forcing the leader to expose himself to possible attack.   Just crossing the railway lines is a powerful ‘mad bear’ thingy that could do some serious damage if it gets in close.

The living player lets the evil leader have both barrels of shotgun at close range.  The leader ducks back but the shot would have missed anyway.  Another living dude moves out of the saloon, aims and shoots the evil leader (the baron) through the head, game over.

Show ‘s over with a win for the living as the cause of the undead menace is brought down.  The games illustrate the importance of luck in Dead Man’s Hand games with almost certain actions failing and eventual victory coming from a 1/5 chance of success (aim, +1, pistol at point blank, +2 , needing 19+ on 0-19) )although other opportunities would have come up for either side to win had that shot failed.

The games were played as a run of short sessions over 3 days but the whole campaign could have been run over a long-ish evening. The earlier scenarios are best seen as an opportunity to bone up on the nuances of the rules rather than a supreme test of strategy.

Curse of Dead Man’s Hand includes new cards for all factions although the card draws here tended to favour the living.  This is because some event cards favour shooting and as most undead models do not shoot these cards are unlikely to be used except perhaps to block plays of event cards by the living player.  There is certainly enough variety to play the whole campaign again with the added gaming bonus of getting the basic rules back off the shelf.  The scenarios could be adopted for other rules such as Dracula’s America or 7TV, the various special rules are flexible enough although all the shooting and melee stats would need to be re-jigged.

Bolt Action: Demolition, Soviet vs Japanese

A 750 point ‘Demolition’ scenario between Kwantung Japanese and Stalingrad Soviets.   The Kwantung list options do not include spearmen or Stuarts chock full of machine guns but they do get 2 nice shooty wheeled armoured cars.  The Soviets are almost in period as the Japanese army in Manchuria was not at the front of the weapons issue queue so all this might have happened in 1942.  A strength of the Stalingrad list is that the free rifle squad gets to be fanatic (also for free).

To win at demolition a unit must be adjacent to the enemy objective at the end of a turn.  At 1,000 points it is usually a slug fest ending in a draw as neither side can fight through the other.  At 750 points there is less stuff on the table so holding your own objective and threatening the enemy’s is tricky.  The 2 approaches are to hammer down the centre or outflank.  An objective will usually be in the middle rear field, 36″ from each side.   To outflank a unit cannot come on until turn 3 (at the centre of an edge) and infantry can run 12″ at best.  On subsequent turns an outflanking unit can come on further down the board edge.  Even so the maths is against an infantry outflanker making the objective, any terrain in the path will properly scuttle the plan.   Vehicles especially wheeled vehicles are the ‘go to’ outflanking choice.  In this game the 2 Japanese armoured cars have been sent to outflank.  The exact edge of arrival is written down on set up.  The Soviet knows the units are outflanking or in reserve but not to which side (or if they will use their friendly rear edge).

The Soviet scouts and Japanese tank hunters have forward deploy, everyone else is 12″ in from their rear edge.  That Ba10 at bottom left is awfully exposed without infantry support. On this board the woods and ruins are dense terrain, units cannot see through them from one side to the other.

Both sides move up aggressively.  Unusually the Japanese do not banzai but advance and shoot.  The Japanese squads here are without LMGs.  We must assume that the LMG teams are operating the guns in the armoured cars (10 shooting dice each).

The Ba10 is down to a suicide tank hunter.  It moved away from 1 team and tried to shoot the other down but whiffed it. In the centre massive Soviet fire has created a hole in the Japanese line.  If the Japanese go down they cannot banzai forward so have to take it on the chin.  The Soviet scouts are out of it but they took a stack of Japanese with them.

Looking across the table we see both objectives and a definite lack of boots on the ground.  The Japanese armoured cars both come on.  One to protect their own objective the other to take the Soviet.  The Soviet squad near the Japanese objective are the fanatical conscripts who have gone up to regular morale.

The conscripts are shot again and fail their leadership on activation going down.  An advance would have put them on the Japanese objective and won the game this turn.  The armoured car by the Soviet objective is having difficulty moving past the Soviet troops.  It has been shot at at point blank over 2 turns but only hit twice and passed leadership to activate normally each time.

A lone Japanese survivor clears a path for the armoured car and it drives onto the Soviet objective.  At the other side of the field the conscripts are all over the Japanese objective.  A clear draw.

Chain of Command 6mm

Scenario 3, ‘attack and defend’ featuring Carlists (attackers) and Brigadistas (defenders).  Although owning all that is needed to run this game in 28mm as well as enough Flames of War in 15mm to bodge the army lists (possibly Soviets vs Finns) I gave Chain of Command a whiz in 6mm.  This was partly to run through the rules again and partly to avoid the hassle of pulling out the 28mm models and terrain.  The figures here are Irregular 6mms based in the factory strips of 3s and 2s (support weapons) with foot singles as Junior and mounted as Senior leaders.  This basing was adequate for sections but poor for squad organisation.  Using tokens for individual losses and removing strips of 3 was the best that could be done.  In an actual game losses would be likely to be spread across a section rather than taken squad by squad.  The basing could not cope with this.

Carlist Senior Leader, infantry and jump off point.

Brigadista Junior Leader, mortar and jump off point.

All measurements were in cm so the 1.2 m square mat acted as 120″ or 10′ square.  The Carlists spent scenario points on a Panzer I, random air support and LMGs for their squads.  The random air support comes in at the end of every turn, its only a few shots but money well spent.  The Brigadistas took a 20mm autocanon and a mortar for 1 of their mortar squads (the other got left out of battle as I forgot about it).

Patrol markers moved forward as normal but with a great deal more space to shift around in.  Some markers went forwards then back again in an effort to constrict and lock down opposing markers.  Converting these to jump off points Irregular trucks have been used.  In the image below is a Carlist jump off point to the East of the village just in line with the Brigadista jump off point roughly at 12:00.  The game developed into a struggle for the village and its environs.  Not unreasonable for a Spanish Civil War setting.

Opposing jump off points were just over 6cm apart on either side of the village.  This seems legal as both were behind cover and out of sight of the other.  In gameplay terms this may not be wise as if one side but not the other gets the dice to deploy strongly around their jump off point then the opposition’s jump off point is at risk.  The Carlists found this out.  A rules error led to them deploying a single squad opposite a Brigadista section.  They were quickly outshot further increasing the Brigadista advantage in numbers prior to melee.

To the South of the village both sides duke it out amongst the crops.  The firepower advantage of the Carlist LMG will gradually tip the balance.  The conspicuous green jewels indicate losses.  Dice are being used to show shock but as both sides are aggressive and ignore the first point of shock not a lot of shocking is going on.

In the village the Brigadistas are through the houses, cut through the Carlists like ‘manteca’ and overrun the nearby jump off point.  Advantageous morale rolls see the Carlist morale drop twice from 9 to 5.

The Brigadistas see an advantage and rush on towards another Carlist jump off point to the East of the fields.  The Carlists use a command point and move it to safety.  If this had been lost it would probably have been curtains for the Carlists.  The Brigadista section behind the Western field is taking heavy losses.

The Carlists close in and finish them off.  The Brigadistas have deployed a 20mm cannon (note slightly oversized model).  It is more concerned with the Panzer I off camera that is gradually getting closer to the action than with the nearby Carlist infantry.

The Carlists still have the 2 squads and Junior Leader from the section wiped out earlier in the village.  These deploy and start a firefight with the remaining Brigadista section.   The other Carlist section charges the 20mm crew who bravely run away.  Brigadistas do not rout so the Carlists face the prospect of chasing them off the table.  The nearby Brigadista jump off point is moved to safety with a command point.

The panzer I finally comes into view although it has been taking the odd shot for a while.  It will threaten the Brigadista jump off point ahead.  One Carlist section sets off after the Brigadista gun crew and the jump off point behind.  There is only a mortar section between them and the final Brigadista jump off point to the North of the image below.

With few remaining infantry and 3 jump off points being threatened the Brigadistas call it a day.  They were outclassed in support points as they were the nominated defenders in this battle.  The initial agressive stance almost drove the Carlists off but at too high a cost on casualties: A microcosm of the governement strategy throughout much of the war.

The game worked well enough for patrol and deployment.  Less so for ranges and line of sight as the 6mm lads are too small to position precisely.  In some cases they may be facing the wrong way, it is hard too tell.  The 1.2 m square placing area was way too large although using the figure height as the ground scale it is not a massive area.  At 3mm to 1m the 1.2m would 1200*3 or 3.6km.  The figures would be better mounted as squads although this would require cutting and building up the bases. The height of the 6mm strips and the difficulty in separating models without leaving their feet (only) on the factory base makes basing these 6mms a job requiring metal cutters and a stack of basing putty/filler.  With roughly 2 strips to a base and a strip running at twice the price of a single 15mm from Irregular the cost saving by working in 6mm rather than 15mm is minimal (unless you already have the 6mm models).

Saga: Eastern Princes vs Mongols

6 points of Eastern Princes against Mongols at the club (hints of a 40K game in the background).  Desecration from the Book of Battles.  Victory is by massacre points but each side has 3 objectives.  The maximum number of massacre points that can be claimed is capped by the number of remaining enemy objectives.  We made 1 mistake treating objectives as markers that could be moved through but they should be impassable terrain.

The set up from the Mongol view.  The Eastern Princes having maxed out the terrain placement to discombobble the Mongol horse.

The Eastern Princes have 1st turn and advance cautiously.  The crossbow levy shoot at 1 Mongol objective, hit but it passes its save.  Mongol objectives have barrels on their bases, Eastern Princes’ do not.

The Mongols are off and are all over the shop.  The camel drummer’s free activation ability getting used now and on every turn.   Mongols shoot when able but casualties are minimal.  The Eastern Princes fortified wagon is already out of the fight going down to the Mongol hearthguard.  The Mongols have scorched the forest to the top of the board so it no longer provides cover.

The Eastern Princes grind through a unit of Mongol warriors.

The Mongol hearthguard bounce off the levy crossbows as ‘brothers in arms’ gives a massive defense bonus when they outnumber the enemy.

The Mongols have flattened the other wood and the Eastern Princes within are slowly taking casualties.

The Eastern Princes slice through the last of the Mongols in front of them and the warlord tries to destroy the objective.

The Mongols sort out the crossbow levy by first charging  with their warlord (who is repulsed) then finishing them with their hearthguard.

The Eastern Princess finish off the Mongol hearthguard while their warlord finally manages to destroy the objective.

Due to some luck shooting a combat bonus dice buff the Mongols also manage to destroy an objective.

The Eastern Princes warrior unit at the top of the field destroys a Mongol warrior unit that had come within short.  Sustained bow fire by the Mongols finally removes the other warrior unit.

The game ran for 5 turns and was a draw.  Both sides had destroyed 1 enemy objective and massacre points were equal.  If the game had run to turn 6 the Eastern Princes could have caught the Mongol warlord and possibly removed him.  They were however down to 3 Saga dice so that outcome could easily have gone horribly wrong.

In conclusion a solid scenario although the massacre point caps for destroying enemy objectives did seem generous.  With 2 intact enemy markers both sides were running out of enemy to destroy and hence a source of more massacre points.

The Mongol war drummer is a major bonus.  The free activation was heavily used to rest units meaning they did not need to worry too much about burning fatigue each turn.  On the other hand the Eastern Princes wagon is hard to justify.  It has slightly better defense than levy but is unarmed so fights less well.  It can slew off 2 losses as a fatigue but as it accumulates fatigue it becomes less robust.  A unit of 12 levy on the other hand can hold on for several combats until all 12 are removed.

Saga Rus vs Last Romans

A 6 point Pagan Rus versus Last Romans game at the club using the 2nd formal scenario in the Book of Battles, ‘Claiming Territory’.  To summarise the game there are 4 objectives, 2 at each of end the table.  Points can be scored by either side but only for 1 objective each turn.  This could always be for the same objective.  Those in the player’s own half only score half points.  Otherwise the point total is based on the size and quality of the troops holding it.  A model has to be within ‘VS’ to control an objective or ‘S’ to contest.


The Last Romans took 3 points of mounted Hearthguard and 3 of Warriors (half bow armed) but no Levy.  The Rus trotted out 2 points of Hearthguard, 3 Warriors and 1 Levy point.  The Rus made almost constant use of their ‘The Long Winter’ ability.  This runs on a single uncommon die face and prevents any shooting or charging by units that start their activation more than ‘M’ from their target.  The Rus had no cavalry or bows so were not affected.  The Last Romans were then unable to charge their horse in with a single activation from ‘L’ but needed to stick close to the Rus or burn several activations to move to within ‘M’ then charge or shoot (the latter being free for the composite bows).

Rus2The initial Last Roman tactic was to charge in on the Rus Levy, load up the dice abilities and wipe it out.  The Rus would have lost a Saga die and 2 neighbouring units would take a fatigue.  Close but no cigar, 1 Levy model survives and 2 Hearthguard pay the price.  The Last Romans should have pulled their Hearthguard back ‘L’ at that point.


There is the usual Saga to and fro seeing the Hearthguard take more losses.  The Last Roman big infantry unit comes up attempting to pull in plenty of points for controlling the objective.  Softly, softly the Rus Warriors at top plod towards the objective beyond the woods.


Just to the bottom of the image below the 2nd  6-model Last Roman Hearthguard unit takes out 8 Rus Warriors but only 1 Hearthguard model remains.


The Rus Hearthguard are rushed across to sort out the Last Roman assault in the centre.  12 Last Roman Warriors gone but at a cost of 6 Rus Hearthguard.


The Last Romans control the objective they first went for but with so few troops that there are more points to be gained from their own objective in the centre of the image below.


Meanwhile 8 Rus Warriors have pushed 6 Last Roman archers off the objective by the woods.  The Rus are steadily pulling in more victory points than the Last Romans and there is no hope of their catching up.  A 6 turn game but with the result clear by turn 5.  Looking at it from a traditional ‘wipe them out’ Saga viewpoint the Last Romans would have been on top as the Rus Hearthguard all took an early bath.

The Last Romans made good use of the 8 extra battle dice from ‘Strategos’.  A better load out would be to bring a unit of missile armed Levy and drop a Hearthguard point. This is a scenario that rewards big units.  After a few losses the Hearthguard units were not large enough to create significant objective control points.  ‘Massed Volley’ and ‘Disordering Volley’ aid missile Levy in shooting and defense.   ‘Outflank’ allows a Levy to be moved (albeit outside ‘M’) on the common die face not used to activate them for regular activations.

In retrospect this is a balanced scenario unlike ‘Prized Possessions’ although certain combinations of options would probably throw it out of line.  Careful choice of faction and load outs would give a decisive advantage.  The best play options being either to choose a scenario from the book and then devise a force to make best use of it or settle the troop choice then play 2 or more scenarios with the players either alternating scenario choice or rolling randomly and hoping for the best.

Saga Eastern Princes

The Eastern Princes list covers the Kingdom of Kievan Rus, its successor states and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.   The Grand Duchy of Lithuania did not exist at the start of the Age of Crusades period.  A time when it would more properly sit as part of Rus or amongst the Pagan Peoples list.  This discussion will focus on the Rus part of the list as the Lithuanian troop choices are somewhat different and any figure choices there  should reflect a 14th century armour choice.  Hoping to get the most out of the figures; options here will be restricted to those that might work in the period 1000 to 1100 AD coincidentally overlapping the Saga Vikings and Crusades books.  The charactaristic features for any model would be the shield and to a lesser extent the helmet as these would be linked to the time period when they first came into common use.  Unlike Western Europe much of the armour and headgear in use in the East could be placed anywhere from the time of the Sassanid Persians to Africa in the 19th Century.

First step in getting Eastern Princes running is the dice, a new set for the Age of Crusades book.  As yet there is no template for the Pagan Peoples/Eastern Princes/Mongols dice so here is a printable Saga Eastern Princes dice template.


It is unfortunate that these 3 nations that could historically face each other all share the same dice set.  Other plausible enemies from the book with different dice would be the Tuetonic Knights, Poles, Mongols and Byzantines.  The Volgar Bulgars are not in Saga but the Cuman list would work for them.

The Gripping Beast 4 point starter warband could be a better selection.  No complaints with the 2 units of mounted hearthguard.

2 of the Advanced Saga abilities require mounted units.  When running up to 6 points at least another 4 hearthguard models would allow more mounted units.  The 12 levy are equipped with bow.

Whilst there is nothing wrong with bow the list has the option of crossbow levy.  An attractive choice as crossbows are better against armour than bows and levy shoot at 1/2 figures, as good as warriors but at half the points cost. There is one upside to bow models.  The whole list could be run as Pagan Peoples using the bow troops as a unit of 8 Warriors.

The sculpting quality of all the models could also be better.  The bow armed levy need their bow hands gluing on, overcoming the advantage in metals over plastic in not needing any assembly.  The warriors and heathguard have separate spears.  The hearthguard have cupped hands and separate bow cases and quivers.  In the Eastern Princes army the hearthguard have no innate shooting ability but can achieve it through an advanced ability.  The warriors need their hands drilled out to hold spears.  All around the poses are adequate rather than dynamic.

Using plastic to expand the army.  Fireforge do Russian infantry in plastic which are clearly aimed at this time frame. Their dress and armour being similar to the Gripping Beast warrior models.  In the box are 3 shield types, round and kite (with round or squared top) together with an option for bow and double handed axe load outs.  For our 1000 to 1100 AD time span the round topped kite shield is the best choice.  Unfortunately there are only 10 of these in a box of 25 infantry.  The armour of the models would fit the period and beyond although the lack of unarmoured models makes the box less suitable for a levy unit.

There are enough spare heads to outfit a box of cavalry.  Possibly the best choice being Conquest Norman Knights (just swap out the heads) although the Gripping Beast Arab Heavy Cavalry (excellent torsos but robes too long) or Dark Age Cavalry (legs right but unarmoured torsos) could be pressed into service.

Eastern Princes are the only warband to feature a fighting wagon as a levy unit.  It is an odd creature with armour as good as hearthguards but is only 1 model albeit with agression 4 and determination 2.  Unfortunately it is also unarmed.  So it fights no better than levy but being unnarmed any defender is more likely to survive.  It can take up to 2 hits as a single fatigue until it is exhausted.  This gives the wagon a fair chance of survival if it enters melee with no fatigue, being able to survive 6 hits then fail on the 7th.  No sensible attacker would want to burn any fatigue it enters melee with as each is as good as it starting with 2 hits already banked.  The final kick in the teeth for the wagon is that it counts as a mercenary so cannot benefit from adavanced Saga abilities.  Those are the abilities that can really make or break a game.

There is no recommended approach to model the wagon except that the Age of Crusades book gives minimum and maximum dimensions.  Doubtless this is to avoid fielding a wagon unit that blocks off half the board.  The dimensions given are, however, an optimistic fit for a 4 horse wagon in 28mm.  This is the 28mm baggage wagon from Reiver Castings.  The horses and wagon base are metal but the body is a single cast resin piece.  The body required some filling but could be replaced by a scratch built cart on the existing metal frame.  The price is close to that charged for just 4 draft horses by other manufacturers.  The Warlord to the rear shows that this is a good size model.  To fit as a wagon in the Eastern Princes army either the 2 front horses would need to be left off or assumed to not exist for measuring purposes.

The Age of Crusades book does illustrate a wagon as a limbered baggage piece with a single guard figure.  Another approach is to follow the style of the earlier Gothic and later Hussite, Polish or Russian fortified wagon lagers with protected wagons and armed crew.  This representation uses the maximum recommended base and 4 figures from the Fireforge plastic set.  The wagon, mantlets, boxes and barrels are 3D prints from Irongate Scenery.

Moving back to the Age of Vkings book the Pagan Rus has very little in common with Eastern Princes except that it should be covering the same period.  The Kievan Rus were converted to Christianity sometime around 988 AD so are not necessarily pagan throughout the Age of Vikings book.  Troopwise they are based around infantry with no special weapons and levy with javelins.  The only overlap with the Eastern Princes being the warrior infantry units.  From a gaming point of view the Pagan Rus could be envisaged as a river based raiding party constrained by their boats from taking horses.  The later Kievan Rus being land based expanding or protecting their settled lands.  Looking for figure re-use only the 8 Eastern Princes warriors could step into the ‘Pagan’ Rus running as 2 points of hearthguard.  At a pinch Fireforge Russians could make up the numbers.

Saga – Book of Battles

The Book of Battles was promised with the 2nd edition rules release and nearly a year later is finally out.  The book is designed to work with the existing ‘Age of’ books and the upcoming ‘Age of Magic’ book.  Some of the rules specifically target mounted units that are not on a specified mount and refer to flying and teleporting giving some hints of what is to come.

A saga should be about stories and the existing battle system is little more than an excuse to fight it out within the constraints of a dice management system.  Book of Battles begins with a set of options for the existing basic scenario.  This is guided by rolling on dice tables or drawing cards.  The underlying system is not heavily affected and the changes would not justify buying the Book of Battles itself.  Thankfully the new set up cards are freely available as a Studio Tomahawk download so should not be seen as the incentive to get the book.

The only rules repetition from the basic book is the terrain set up system.  Baggage, livestock, civilians and objectives (which can be captured or plundered) are introduced but the main rules will be needed to look up some of their special rules.  The baggage rules are not the same as those used by the Eastern Princes army although one could get away with using the same model as the proposed base sizes do overlap.  New rules are also introduced for buildings (which infantry not cavalry can go into), dismounting (see buildings) and rivers.

There are 17 full scenarios proposed which roughly increase in complexity as you go through the book.  Some of these are slightly wacky others follow a traditional ‘capture this’, ‘guard that’ or ‘destroy the other’ format.  This will require the players to spend dice moving into position more than in the old ‘get there fastest with the mostest’ battle plan.  The final 3 scenarios are designed for 4 players either acting as teams or as a free for all.  These are played on a 6′ by 4′ table with modified terrain placement rules.  None of the scenarios are outstandingly clever, Flames of War is one of the best sources for clever and balanced scenarios. Another good source of thinking person’s scenarios are the Warmachine Steamroller scenarios (look at page 15 on-wards).

The Book of Battles scenarios should however work out with the proviso that certain forces or match ups might work better than others.  No guidance is given as to what armies or troop load outs to choose although the reader is warned that the scenarios are designed for narrative play and might require some thought in how to best achieve victory.

The book concludes with a limited experience system for Warlords.  By participating in battles they build up points that can be spent on new abilities for the Warlord.  If there is a disparity in experience between the 2 Warlords’ experience the low pointer gains army (not Warlord) bonus abilities for the battle.

It would be out of place to describe and analyse all the scenarios here; that would supercede the book.  Only the first and possibly simplest scenario will be considered.  One side has to get 3 baggage elements off the opposite long edge of the board.  The victory points are arranged so that the carting player will lose if neither player does anything. To get to a winning situation, ignoring other losses, at least 1 baggage element must have left the table and the other 2 not have been eliminated.

A cart starts at furthest distance of  ‘M’ in but would be better placed behind some sort of meat shield.  A cart moves ‘M’ on its first activation and ‘S’ subsequently during the same turn.  A Saga board is ‘6M’ wide so at 1 move per turn would take 6 moves to exit (this is a 7 turn game).  By going ‘M’ + ‘S’ then ‘REST’ + ‘M’ on alternate turns it could cover ‘4M’ in 3 turns, then another ‘M’ and a ‘S’, ‘S’ to push off on turn 4.  This expects there to be no terrain or enemy in the way; most unlikely.  The opposition will be looking to block off the carts or inflict enough casualties so they will win even if the carts get off board.  Inflicting casualties is regular Saga fair although some dice will be needed to get into position.  The attacking player is playing a regular Saga game with the exception of having more units to target. The cart player on the other hand will need to spend dice to keep the carts moving and to offer some sort of protection.  The carts generate no new dice but do get 1 free activation.  Any further moves or rests are going to come from the common pool.  An army with some means of distributing fatigue or reacting to moves might be a better cart protector.  The carts are mercenaries so do not benefit from advanced abilities but can use those that apply to the whole army.  Trotting out the Eastern Princes baggage to protect the carts would not work out as it does not move fast enough to keep up with the new carts.

Here we go with Anglo Danes escorting baggage with the Normans in the way.  The Anglo Danes are sporting javelin not bow armed Levy due to picking the wrong figures out of the box.  The standard terrain choosing system has been used resulting in 3 pieces of small terrain.  Things are already going awry as in order to maximise unit size and hopefully survival the Anglo Danes are running with only 4 Saga dice.  The baggage moves as far up as it dares.  The 4 priests make up a baggage element the same as the carts.

The Norman deployment seems poor as the levy bow block off the Norman mounted Hearthguard from the Anglo Danes.  Good dice rolling compensates and the 8-man Huscarl unit takes withering losses.

In the background mounted Norman Warriors face off against Anglo Dane Levy.  This struggle ties up both units throughout the game.  The Anglo Danes hoping and failing to kill enough Normans to drop their army Saga dice count.

With all his Hearthguard gone neither the Anglo Dane Warlord nor his baggage can take them as bodyguard losses in combat.

End game sees all the baggage eliminated.  The Norman Warlord duked it out with his Anglo Dane counterpart and lost.  He could have spread his losses with the bodyguard rule and survived but this would not have affected the game result.

The Anglo Dane did not roll a single rare face on his Saga dice throughout the game.  Almost all dice were used for movement, the remainder for defense.   This match up and army load out seemed doomed from the start.  Breaking into smaller units would have generated more Anglo Dane dice and probably got some of their better Saga abilities into play.   This would be at the risk of seeing combat units vanish even more quickly.

The scenario rules force the baggage side to move and get off the table.  If the victory conditions were changed to award victory if the baggage remained intact, all other losses being equal, the baggage side would tend to huddle down in a defensive box with baggage in the middle.  This would work as a game but it is not the same game as trying to get units off table.  A better Saga player might handle the baggage better but in this case the options were limited and the chance of success seems slim.

Chain of Command – España

The brave Requetés take on the Godless Brigadistas in our first Chain of Command outing somewhere in the hills South of Granada but North of Malaga and Almería which remain in the hands of the Rojos. This is the patrol scenario with each side having only 1 support point.  The Requetés upgraded a Junior Leader to Senior and the Brigadistas took a mortar for one of their mortar teams.  The other team and indeed everybody else was stuck with rifles.

Among the rules mistakes we used 4 command dice per side instead of 5.  There are some actions tied to a turn end and with 4 command dice this never occurred.  3 or more 6s on the command dice roll are needed to trigger the turn end.  With 4 dice; needing exactly 3 6s would be 1/6*1/6*1/6*5/6 = 5/1296 , that ‘not 6’ could be the 1st, 2nd 3rd or 4th dice so there are 4 paths to success 20/1296 (.0015) .  An extra dice factors in another 5/6 for the dice not rolling a 6; 5/1296 * 5/6 = 25/7776 each ‘not 6’ could be in 1 of 5 positions but they cannot both be in the same position, using NCR we have 10 combinations of ordering 3 things from 5 so 250/7776 = 0.032.  These calculations do not include the odds of rolling 4 or 5 6’s nor of rolling enough 5’s to generate a command point and end the turn.  Short summary with 4 rather than 5 command dice we had no turn ends and no collecting enough 5s to buy the turn end or do any other fancy command point stuff.

On with the game, both players started their patrol markers on a long board edge but the patrol phase swerved the markers leading to Rojos in the West and Requetés to the East.  There is a Rojos jump off point hidden behind a hedge at about 12:00 on the image below.

The Rojos rolled a slew of 3s and used 3 junior leaders to deploy the bulk of his forces, 2 big blobs of infantry and a mortar squad.  The ‘mortarless’ squad having been broken up and distributed amongst the other infantry.  Only a senior leader and friend remained off board.  Chain of Command emphasises creeping up,keeping troops back and manipulating the jump off points.  In hindsight slamming it all down makes a lot of sense if you have the dice to do it.   The Requetés deploy cautiously and advance a squad towards the enemy mortar hoping to first get within its minimum range then destroy it and capture the jump off point.

Troops have to deploy within 6″ of friendly jump off points so the Rojos spent some time sorting themselves out into neat firing lines to avoid shooting through their own troops.  Green markers are shock.  Both sides are aggressive, ignoring the 1st shock result so shock was not a major factor in the game.

The Requetés run flat out towards the mortar,rolling miserably so do not get far and take a point of shock for their troubles.  The mortar should be a small 2-man job not this big model but no more suitable set was to hand.

In a similar miscalculation of force needed to get anything done the Rojos head for an empty Requeté jump off point only to see it spawn Requeté infantry who promptly shoot up the Rojos.

The Requetés head for the mortar but are taking losses and shock.  A junior leader heads off to encourage them on.

Things do not look good for the few Requetés left behind.

The Rojos charge in, take some losses but 2 squads (teams in España), already badly shot up, are wiped out and the jump off point is overrun.

The Requetés have to decide to reinforce failure by sending troops towards the lost jump off point or even the odds by rolling over the exposed Rojos jump off points to the North of the board.

The Rojos detach men to take out the exposed Junior Leader, another Requeté moral loss and they are now down to an almost useless 3 command dice (we possibly rolled on the wrong lines of the force morale table but the writing was definitely on the wall).

If the Requetés run troops to take over enemy jump off points they are going to pile up shock, even without being shot at.  The best they can hope to do is to use 2 Senior Leader actions, 1 to run a squad flat out and another to remove the resulting shock.  That all depends on at least one 4 on the remaining 3 command dice.

If enough command dice had been used the a game turn would have ended by now seeing the loss of the captured Requeté jump off point and their morale crashing out.  Brigadista morale had yet to drop as they do not break and no Rojos unit had been wiped out.

We forgot the Requeté special rule allowing rolls of 1 against them in cover to be re-rolled (taking cover not being a manly thing).  The Brigadistas keep running until rallied but the Requetés are liable to be removed from the game when broken.  The force morale of each side drops when bad things happen so you will be unlikely to fight on until the last man.  As breaking is a ‘bad thing’ this rule made it harder to inflict bad things on the Brigadistas.

A debriefing for Bolt Action readers.  Shooting has no maximum range but apart from the dice activation systems the mechanisms for infantry combat are much the same.  Shock has a lot in common with Bolt Action pins.  Enough shock and you are pinned which pretty much freezes a units firing and moving.  Only Leaders can remove shock.  Movement is based on a roll of 1 to 3 D6s and even moving D6 will halve a unit’s firepower so there will be somewhat less successful movement and shooting than in Bolt Action.

The 2 base forces here were fixed not selected from a points budget.  There are set unit sizes but individual models can be split off.  The problem with small units is that they swiftly accumulate shock equal to their unit size which pins them or double that which breaks them. In this game each side had 2 big section units plus some command and support.  When squads were split off from the sections they only continued to activate on a ‘1’ unless a Leader was sent off to get them, leaving the rest of the section hard to shift.  Although big infantry units do crop up in Bolt Action these full sections are 15 and 18 men so it would be a more competitive model in Bolt Action to field them as 2 units, 1 with the LMG when Regulars or the full 15 or 18 as Inexperienced.  The Chain of Command model assumes full sections but the possibility of whole sections missing in the platoon.  In Bolt Action squads are often under strength but there is an activation bonus if they are at full strength so the model would be more smaller squads for the same number of models.

To summarise Chain of Command is more of an experience, in a role play sort of way.  Bolt Action tends towards a numbers game but both are games and there is enough similarity in the two to borrow mechanisms from each other.