Thursday, June 5, 2014

Bolt Action: Where to Start? Americans Megapost


In my quest to get guys to play Bolt Action in our group I've often been asked: "What models should I get?" The benefit of playing a historical like Bolt Action is that there are models available from dozens of companies. If you don't like models from one company, find another. If you don't like their prices, find another. If you prefer plastic, try those over there. One is only limited by time spent finding which models to use.
I'm going to list each army type that I can think of, show the companies that make models for them, and then provide a 1000 point sample army list with a price calculation. I will list Warlord Games models first. Before picking up any models, I'd recommend the rulebook and the 'Armies of' book for your chosen faction.


I'll do my best to show the most common companies I've seen on the web producing miniatures; there may be some small manufacturers out there I haven't found. Many of them are overseas, unfortunately, which makes wait times longer and everything is listed in pounds.

One thing to keep in mind when starting Bolt Action is that the game mostly revolves around infantry. You will likely want four infantry squads of seven or more models, a few weapons teams, and one tank. This is a good solid core to an army. For that reason you can build an army pretty cheaply.

This website has some awesome color guides for most common armies. The colors listed are Vallejo paints. One of the coolest parts of this game is that you get to do some historical research and find out what was carried, how it was colored, and how many were used.

This website is amazing as a gallery of minis - tons of work has been put into it.




The rulebook comes in at $35. The Armies books are $25. Both can be ordered from your FLGS. The Armies books are definitely not necessary at the beginning although they help. They're published by Osprey so you get all the amazing art that you're used to from Osprey uniform books and great quality.


The Assault on Normandy box set comes with the same rulebook, 40 models (20 Germans, 20 Americans), dice, and terrain. This is a pretty great value if you can find someone to split it with. The models are plastic. This is an excellent way to start either an American or German army and also get the rulebook at the same time.

Americans

I'm starting with Americans because there has been quite a bit of interest in them lately in our group. Americans are extremely popular as an army in other wargames so there are plenty of minis out there. Each Bolt Action 'nation' has a few special rules. Americans receive a free air strike when they take an air observer to reflect their air superiority - so they can call in two per game.

They also do not suffer the -1 to hit penalty when they move due to volume of fire from automatic weapons. This is pretty awesome and really encourages you to take as many rifles as possible. It accurately represents the weapon that won the war!







Warlord's American range is comprehensive with almost every selection present. Most of their models are the 'heroic' 28mm type, with large heads and hands. A lot of your special weapons are pewter, although if you want regular American GIs you can get those in awesome plastic models. They offer some alternative infantry options in the Buffalo Soldiers and Nisei, which is pretty cool. You can model up your army based around some special divisions that broke barriers down.

The other key 'types' of infantry in the Americans book are Airborne and Marines. 40k players might expect that these dudes are super special and have a dozen extra rules. Fortunately the Bolt Action writers kept it simple and just make them veterans, give them a few extra weapon options and a special rule or two. Everyone in Bolt Action is human - sometimes their motivation or experience is different, but you don't have supermen fighting on your team.

The pewter infantry will usually run around $10-15 for a weapons team and $40 for ~28 guys in the squad boxes. 28 guys will be enough for three squads - almost enough for a 1,000 point army.

The plastic Marines and Infantry are about $40 for 30 models. Compare that to a tactical squad that costs $40 for 10 guys. The plastics are very customizable with different weapons, arms, heads, equipment, etc. The pewter models are mostly just customizable with different head swaps.






The tanks are mostly Sherman variants, tank destroyers, or light tanks. There are also plenty of halftracks, armored cars, and deuce and a halfs. One of the coolest things I've read about so far is how much each crew did to up-armor their own vehicles. Obviously they didn't want to die and any kind of extra armor would help. Often times they put cement on their tanks! Pretty crazy.

Warlord's tanks are mostly resin with a plastic Sherman available. They have pewter parts that are glued on. They're not hard to paint and I've detailed and weathered mine quite a bit. The plastic Sherman costs $29 and most resin tanks cost around $35. Compare that to a rhino which is $37.25 or a Predator at $57.75 (Warlords tanks are 1/56, so smaller than 40k tanks, but still much cheaper, and you only need one).


The other companies I looked at are Artizan, The Assault Group, Black Tree Design, Offensive Miniatures, and Wargames Factory. The cool thing about starting Bolt Action is that you don't just get one company's models to choose from; you can choose from a HUGE set of models to use.

Artizan





Artizan is a company that produces pewter models in a wide WW2 range. They have quite a few infantry and airborne. The price is about $8 for four guys. They also have the greatcoat infantry which is pretty different from many of the other companies and would make a great snow based force.

The Assault Group

The Assault Group produces an entire range of Marines in pewter. The price is about $9 for most weapon teams or four man blister packs. I'd say that is pretty good and they fit in well with Warlord Games models - so you could purchase Warlord plastic Marines and then purchase the weapon teams from TAG at about half the price.

Black Tree Design




BTD does amazing historical pewter models for many different time periods. They have sales every so often when you can pick up some models really cheap. Even then, you can pick up 10 guys in a squad for $17, which is really affordable. For less than the price of a tactical squad you can get almost three squads. They also stock casualty markers which will make pretty sweet pin markers.

Offensive Miniatures



I've posted a ton of photos of these models from Offensive Miniatures. Simply put, they're beautiful. They're extremely well detailed and very well scaled. The detailing in the clothing will prove really nice for washes etc. 

 




The faces are super detailed and the weapons are sculpted really well for pewter minis. Often times weaposn come out stubby or looking scaled wrong but these look pretty great.



I'm really excited to put paint on these guys. I'm planning to use Vallejo paints with the guide from Artizan. I purchased enough dudes for a full army, basically.




The sculpts are super dynamic. The pathfinder above looking at his watch (to light a flare at a certain time) is amazing and definitely reminds me of a GW quality sculpt. There is also a sculpt of a dude taking in his parachute that could be an objective marker.


   
 

Overall you can see I really dig these models. They're going to look amazing on the field and really pop as an effective fighting force. I don't think I'd include any models from any other ranges as these are less heroic scale than most - they're tall without huge hands and heads.

Size comparison: Warlord on the left, Offensive Miniatures middle, Artizan on the right.
For ~$90 you can get 38 basic infantry plus a command section, or you can buy packs individually at $25 for 10 guys, which is pretty amazing for these really detailed models. They also sell machine gun and mortar teams. For an anti-tank gun I'd probably pick one up from another company and crew it with Offensive Miniatures models, then buy a Sherman and armored car from Warlord and be all set.

Wargames Factory





This company produces really affordable plastic minis. They are again less heroic scale and closer to a real scale. Lots of gamers online disparage the models due to the odd company history in the past and also because they're so cheap. I don't really see an issue with them, though. Any way to get more gamers into this historic game is good (they also make models for tons of other time periods).

Sample Army Lists

Regulars (959pts)

Armies of the United States (Platoon) Selections:

Headquarters (70pts)

  • Platoon Commander (70pts)
    2x Regular Soldier (20pts)
    • Second Lieutenant (50pts)
      Regular (50pts)
  • Forward Air Observer (75pts)

Infantry (452pts)

  • Regular Infantry Squad (Late-War) (113pts)
    2x BAR M1918A2 (10pts), 9x Soldier (90pts)
    • NCO (13pts)
      Smg (3pts)
  • Regular Infantry Squad (Late-War) (113pts)
    2x BAR M1918A2 (10pts), 9x Soldier (90pts)
    • NCO (13pts)
      Smg (3pts)
  • Regular Infantry Squad (Late-War) (113pts)
    2x BAR M1918A2 (10pts), 9x Soldier (90pts)
    • NCO (13pts)
      Smg (3pts)
  • Regular Infantry Squad (Late-War) (113pts)
    2x BAR M1918A2 (10pts), 9x Soldier (90pts)
    • NCO (13pts)
      Smg (3pts)

Infantry Support (152pts)

  • Bazooka Team (60pts)
    Crew (2), Shaped Charge, Team Weapon
    Regular (60pts)
  • Mortar Team (40pts)
    • Light Mortar Team (40pts)
      Crew (3), HE (D3), Indirect Fire, Team Weapon
      Regular (40pts)
  • Sniper Team (52pts)
    Crew (2), Sniper, Team Weapon
    Regular (52pts)

Tanks, Tank Destroyers, Self-propelled Artillery and Anti-Aircraft Vehicles (210pts)

  • M4 Sherman 75MM (210pts)
    75MM AT-gun, Coaxial MMG, Easily Catches Fire, Forward Facing Hull Mounted MMG, Gyro Stabilized, Medium Tank, Thin Sides, Turret-mounted Medium AT Gun
    Pintle-Mounted HMG (25pts), Regular (185pts)
  • Created with BattleScribe
This list uses two plastic boxes ($76) from Warlord for the infantry, bazooka team, command, air observer and sniper team. You'd then pick up a light mortar team ($11.25), and plastic Sherman ($29) for a total of $116 for the entire force. This is for 1000 points, the standard and basically the biggest game you'd play. It would be easy to start off at 500 points, cutting out the air observer, mortar, sniper team, and a squad.

You could also do an airborne list:

1000pt Armies of the United States Roster (Platoon)

Headquarters (181pts)

  • Forward Observer (90pts)
    • Air Forward Observer (90pts)
      Veteran (90pts)
  • Platoon Commander (91pts)
    2x Veteran Soldier (26pts)
    • Second Lieutenant (65pts)
      Veteran (65pts)

Infantry (378pts)

  • Paratrooper Squad (126pts)
    2x Smg (6pts), 8x Soldier (104pts)
    • NCO (16pts)
      Smg (3pts)
  • Paratrooper Squad (126pts)
    2x Smg (6pts), 8x Soldier (104pts)
    • NCO (16pts)
      Smg (3pts)
  • Paratrooper Squad (126pts)
    2x Smg (6pts), 8x Soldier (104pts)
    • NCO (16pts)
      Smg (3pts)

Infantry Support (195pts)

  • Bazooka Team (78pts)
    Crew (2), Shaped Charge, Team Weapon
    Veteran (78pts)
  • Medium Machine Gun Team (65pts)
    Crew (3), Fixed, Team Weapon
    Veteran (65pts)
  • Mortar Team (52pts)
    • Light Mortar Team (52pts)
      Crew (3), HE (D3), Indirect Fire, Team Weapon
      Veteran (52pts)

Tanks, Tank Destroyers, Self-propelled Artillery and Anti-Aircraft Vehicles (232pts)

  • M4 Sherman 75MM (232pts)
    75MM AT-gun, Coaxial MMG, Easily Catches Fire, Forward Facing Hull Mounted MMG, Gyro Stabilized, Medium Tank, Thin Sides, Turret-mounted Medium AT Gun
    Veteran (232pts)

8 comments:

  1. im awaiting my shipment of very affordable british infantry from warlord games!

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  2. There is CompanyB for vehicles in 1/56 scale, they do a lot of vehicles Warlord has not done yet. Also look at JTFM and Army Group North for vehicles. Brigade Games has a line of infantry, some of the more obscure things as add ons. Give some support for a Michigan company, check out the Battle Honors line from 19th Century Miniatures, I think the website is oldglory15s.com, their models are closer to true scale than heroic but the do size nicely with the Warlord figures.

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    Replies
    1. I'll have to check that stuff out. Thanks

      There is also another Michigan company that makes decals and accessories:

      http://aleranminis.com/index.php?option=com_jshopping&controller=category&task=view&category_id=1&Itemid=44

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    2. I forgot to mention if you decide to order any Battle Honors stuff don't order from the old glory website, order from warweb.com. Warweb is the retail store owned and operated by old glory and they discount the figs where old glory has retail prices. Warweb is the online presence of Grandiosity.

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  3. I hope Americans are the Taudar of Bolt Action Universe

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  4. GenCon had a large area dedicated to Bolt Action. It was amazing and just worth hanging out and watching it getting played.

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