Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bolt Action on Thursday afternoon

Jim's British v. Steve's Panzergrenadiers

1,000 pts Envelopment Scenario, British attacking.
The British gain VPs by killing Germans (1/unit), getting units into the enemy's deployment zone 12" from the far edge (2/unit) & getting units off the far edge (3/unit) .  The Germans gain 2 VP's per Brit units destroyed.  The Brits come on the near edge.  The Germans start with up to half in their deployment zone - rest to come on as reserves.
At the start the Germans have 2 infantry squads (left & centre) & an HMG on the hill on the right. The Brits brought on infantry on each side, support weapons on the ridge & 2 carriers (with Piat or small infantry units) though the village.
Disaster struck for the Brits on turn 2 when their artillery threw a 2 which allowed Steve to reposition it on the village.  This pinned down both carriers and their passengers so badly that they became useless for most of the game.  The Brit infantry advanced on both flanks while their supports  tried to supress the opposition.  The Germans brought on 2 Hanomags & a Hetzer.

On the right, the Brits made it to the line of trees but were destroyed by MG fire from the Hetzer, Hanomags, infantry & MMG.   The MMG was eventually destroyed by mortar fire, but too late.
In the centre, the German infantry was destroyed by the British support weapons on the ridge. On the left, the Brits advanced through the woods and charged the Grenadiers, but the Grenadiers won.
The Brits did finally get some of the troops in the village forward into the 12" zone, but it was too little too late, the Germans won comfortably.

So how does Bolt Action compare with Chain of Command?

To start with it's hard to love a set of rules that allows your own artillery to destroy your plan on turn 2.  To have a 1 in 6 chance of the enemy moving your aiming point up to 24" is a bit extreme - if the enemy throw good dice, as in this case, it can be game over.  

Putting the artillery debacle aside, the BA game played along very well - I think BA is much easier for beginners to learn & play than COC.  In general I prefer BA's systems as quicker & less complex than COC's.   For BA the un-rememberable data is usually easily found in the rules summary & most other issues are not hard to find in the book.   The COC summary sheet is badly laid out & lacking much of the necessary data, and stuff is generally harder to find in the text.   With regard to the COC fanboy's claims of it being a superior simulation, I am not convinced - there are weird things in both COC & BA.  The COC Command system is interesting and makes a good game, but I don't see how it makes for a better a simulation of real tactics than BA's system.

However, I also dislike a number of aspects of BA - in particular the fact that there are too many opportunities for bad luck to overcome good tactics - not just artillery which can be anywhere from useless to devastating to either side, with little chance of skill influencing the outcome, but every Close Assault is a huge winner-take-all gamble.  Luck is an essential part of any set of wargames rules - you shouldn't ever go into an action knowing the outcome, but the range of outcomes in some BA actions are far too extreme for my liking.  However, I haven't played enough COC to be sure it doesn't suffer the same problem.

Both BA & COC provide an opportunity to have fun with great toys, but I'm still undecided which I like best.  I suspect that if you took either one of them, tweaked the annoying bits & took some good ideas from the other you'd come up with a pretty good game. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

CoC appears to be run by the command dice early on so if your luck runs you can prevent your opponent from having a turn,one mistake and you cant compensate for it aswell asbeing able to really exploit command dice .While bolt action seems to flow easier ,I think one can tinker with the generic rules and increasing its scope to more reflect actual events and play some house rules as discussed