December 28, 2016

Trench Runner Paul Buchholz Looks at Warlord Game's Bolt Action 2nd Edition Ruleset

Now that Warlord Game's Bolt Action 2nd Edition rule system is widely available at retail our Trench Runner Paul Buchholz take a look at the plus and minuses of this revamp rule set for this popular WWII game.

...Having played countless original Bolt Action games a lot I feel as if I am in a good position to give a review on the differences and how I feel they work in game.

One off the large changes was increasing the rate of fire and range for light machine guns. This now makes the lmg a decent value for the points and the make sense in a squad. Another change was a revamp to the recce rules. Gone are the days of a recce vehicle popping out of cover, killing your tank, and then hiding after it is shot at. Another large change is the amount of dice units get during hand to hand combat. Units that before got two dice now only get a re-roll on their successes. Leaa dice overall keeps combat fast and brutal, but less predictable than before. The final major change is the addition of templates for HE effects. I was not initially happy with this, but having played it I feel it really does improve the game. You can no longer hit three mortar crew for 16 wounds, assuring they will die, and you will no longer hit a clumped up squad of infantry for only 2 hits. These are the main changes. There are many more small changes but all of them seem to make sense in the context of the game. Changes were made to air strikes making them easier to drive off and making AA guns a viable choice. Snipers hit much easier now taking only penalties for pins and missing the spotter. Medics can no longer fight, hold objectives or fire guns. Transports can fire one weapon even when empty. Many other small changes were made and they are good as well.

There was one major addition that was added as well. Snap to action is the name of the rule. This allows lieutenants, captains and majors to not only give a morale bonus but they can pull extra dice from the bag to activate units when they activate. The number of dice and range of this effect varies by officer, but the effect is very dynamic on the table. Officers are now much more useful and captains and majors have a place in lists. To me it is very feasible to envision a captain gathering together three squads and charging forward into battle. 

There was one change that in my opinion was negative. It has to do with the vehicle damage chart. Anytime a vehicle is not destroyed after being damaged it must roll for a turret jam. There is a 50/50 chance of a jam but it jams in the direction the fire came from with no regard to the direction the turret was facing. This rule is clunky and unnecessary in my opinion and makes little sense. Luckily this game is easily modified with house rules and I plan to house rule a smaller chance of jam and jamming in the direction the turret is facing. That is the only change I dislike and having one small negative change in all of this really speaks to how good I feel this update was overall.

To summarize 2nd edition made many positive changes, got rid of a few of the rules and mechanics that people would question before, and added one rule that is questionable. Bolt Action  is essentially the same game. If you loved bolt action before you will probably still love it. If you didn't like it before, it has improved in a few places and might be worth another look.
Paul Buchholz

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The Warlord Games Company Line...
Bolt Action 2nd Edition Rulebook
This Second Edition of the best-selling Bolt Action World War II Wargaming Ruleset from Osprey and Warlord Games presents streamlined and refined rules, incorporating all the FAQs and errata compiled over four years of intensive gameplay. It is fully compatible with the existing range of supplements and also introduces new material. Written by veteran game designers Alessio Cavatore and Rick Priestley, Bolt Action provides all the rules needed to bring the great battles of World War II to your tabletop. Using miniature soldiers, tanks, and terrain, you can fight battles in the shattered towns of occupied France, the barren deserts of North Africa, and even the sweltering jungles of the Pacific.
Key New Features:
- Officers activate other units! Used cleverly, this creates a huge tactical shift as you can order multiple units to fire or advance in concert.
- Big Explosions! HE fire now uses templates to determine damage - your opponent had better spread out his troops to avoid carnage!
- Armed Transports! Once your squad has piled out of its half-track, the driver can speed around and unleash a hail of lead at the enemy!
- Player Feedback! We've listened carefully to the community and taken advantage of the thousands of battles you've played to improve the game in dozens of other ways.
- New Army List
- The main rulebook now includes a fifth army list - adding Imperial Japan to Germany, Great Britain, USA and the Soviet Union - giving you even more choice for your army.



  1. Great review! Thanks for doing this.

  2. I might try it, but after discovering Chain of Command, I lost interest in BA 1