So the latest Bolt Action book is out. It was available from our friendly local gaming store, but supplies have been rather severely reduced. As I am one of the reducers I thought I’d offer a consolation prize, in the form of a review, to those who I trampled underfoot on my way to the checkout. I’m sure there will be new stock soon though.
Battleground Europe D-Day to Germany is the first in a series of Theatre Books for Bolt Action. These books are going to cover various theatres in which WW2 was fought, offering scenarios and units along with background information.
The first thing that jumps out about Battleground Europe is that it is quite a decent sized book. At 108 pages, those who were disappointed by the slimness of the Tank Wars supplement are not going to be let down here.
The book consists of basically three things: historical background, new units and new scenarios. The background is solid, but rather limited. In the introduction the authors have called it a tour guide to historical events. When you’re writing half a page about operations that take up entire books you’re going to leave important things out. Nevertheless they’ve done a creditable job of giving some basic background to this incredible piece of history – the largest combined operation in history, the hard slog to break out, the closing of the Falaise Gap, Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge and the final Invasion of Germany from the west.
New units are always popular for wargamers, and there are quite a few in this book. There’s good news and bad news though. The good news is that there are literally dozens of new units and individuals that you can include in your Bolt Action forces. The bad news is that many of these were already available in the Extra Units PDF from the Warlord website, or in other articles on the site as in the case of the various landing craft. I don’t want to hack on Warlord for effectively giving us these units in advance, but it is rather noticeable.
Fortunately there’s plenty here that is genuinely new. We have some of the converted French vehicles the Germans used in Normandy, Pathfinders, an array of “Hobart’s Funnies”, a Partisan squad that can be included in U.S. and British forces, the Land Mattress rocket artillery, and others. There are also entries for individual soldiers who distinguished themselves in the campaign, such as then Captain Dick Winters and Major John Howard.
There are also rules for Minefields, including ways to clear them with dedicated mine clearers or even with the Poor Bloody Infantry using bayonets (yes this was a standard way of clearing mines, and likely was as terrifying as it sounds).
New scenarios are a favourite of mine, and this book has 15 of them. They are inspired by actions from the Normandy invasion through to the end of the war in Europe. Some of them are very specific, for example the Glider Assault scenario pretty much has to be done with glider troops, but others are general enough that you can use them with all Bolt Action forces.
Battleground Europe looks like a solid addition to Bolt Action. I look forward to trying out the scenarios, which I haven’t done just yet, and will probably get some figures to model some of the new units. I look forward to seeing more books in the range.