If you go back a while, Brian wrote up this great article reviewing the Bolt Action: Assault on Normandy Review product which can be purchased at your FLGS or at the Warlord On-Line Store. I would like to continue that review with a little extra, how do you grow it.

So in the box, you have 12 Germans, a Hanomag, and 20 US troops.

Ideally built, for the Germans you end up with something like the following:

  • 1 Lt with whatever gun you like (I recommend an Assualt Rifle for in game effectiveness or a pistol or rifle if you are going historical) and 1 assistant likely armed the same
  • 2, 5 rifleman squads armed with rifles and an NCO probably with an SMG
  • 1 Hanomag – don’t bother gluing on the rear MMG.

Ideally built for the Americans, you end up with something like:

  • 1 Lt with an SMG likely, and 1 buddy to go with him also armed with an SMG.
  • 2, 8 men squads with NCO with MMG and 1 man with a BAR
  • 1 Sniper team

Of course, you can build them a bunch of different ways, but this way you end up with what will be a table legal force that you can play with for both sides. I think early on, in your games, you are going to find that the American’s have a slight advantage. You will also find that you just don’t have a lot that you can do with these models once you really have the basic mechanics of the game down. So what do you do next?

Well, let’s assume we are sticking with the core game and not adding on the “Tank Wars” supplement. Tank Wars is pretty cool, and doesn’t really add any complexity, but you are still getting down the mechanics and the next purchase I am going to recommend that you buy is going to be needed likely either way. Bolt Action, at it’s core, is an infantry game. All of the support pieces, it is the infantry on the ground in WW2 that held positions, stormed the last lines of defense and won the battles. Tanks, planes, artillery and all of the other weapons of war were there, in the end, to support the infantry and that’s the best place to start on.

For the Germans
I am going to recommend you pick up the German Pioneers box. It’s a little more expensive then then generic German Infantry box, but it has the same German plastics as the 28 man kit, and a bunch of metal bits that will let you add both character and some additional special weapons that you very much may want in your army. There’s almost no more feared weapon in Bolt Action than that of a flame thrower, and this kit lets you build one. On top of that, adding a squad of Pioneers to the army, a couple of the models using the special metal figures that are in the set, will be a great tactical addition to the unit. In my German lists, I always run a unit equipped something like the following:

  • 1 NCO armed with an SMG
  • 4 men armed with SMG’s
  • 1 man with a flame thrower
  • 2-4 men with rifles

That’s a powerful, fairly short range unit that is also very good in close combat that you can use that hanomag or pick up a truck and either zip them up the battle field or use a rule like outflank to take your opponent by surprise later in the game.

I also recommend you build a sniper team from the kit and bulk out your infantry units to 7 or 8 men. With the extra models, I would build yet another infantry unit and now you have a very solid looking German force. German armies tend to play well with Veteran troops, but you can play a little with experience levels of your troops to get the right feel for you. The big key with German armies is that you can fall into a trap of taking a lot of toys and not ending up with a lot of infantry. In missions where you have to control points with infantry, this puts you at a disadvantage and one lucky roll of shooting by your opponent or a mistake on your part and you suffer a crippling blow.

Finally, don’t forget to build some models with Panzerfausts. You are going to need them. Maybe not at this point, depending on what your American playing friend picks up, but sooner or later you are going to face armor and be thankful that you have a couple of squads that have 2-3 of these power anti armor weapons in them.

For the Americans
I have never really built Americans from the ground up, but you all ready have quite a few infantry from the starter so you can have a couple of options here. I am going to start with the option that I know Brian wished he would have done when buying his starting models, and that is the US Rangers plastic set. Again, like the Pioneers box for the Germans, this is basically the basic US infantry models but with added on bits like a flame thrower and a model you can build with Bangalore torpedos.

The US Ranger units are pretty good too with their free 12 inch move before the game starts so adding a unit or two of those chosen veteran rated troops to your list can give you some unique variety and make your army feel very aggressive. Very much, the American’s charging over a field to attack a defended German position. Seems very thematic to me!!!!

Of course, since you all ready had a head start on infantry over your German friend and he is getting to play with their Hanomag and you don’t have a vehicle, you might want to add one of those to your list. Normally, I don’t see a huge gain to putting medium armored tanks on the table, but the Plastic Sherman tank is a great kit and you have a ton of options that make it one of the best possible tanks to take at it’s points in this game. With it’s main 75mm gun having High Explosive D6 rounds and the ability to sport both an MMG and HMG to shoot, it can bring a lot of firepower down on infantry, and it’s main gun can also be turned to anti-armor work. It’s going to suck up a lot of points at this size, likely close if not more then half of your force for one model which means if your German opponent a little luck they can knock out that threat with minimal effort. However, it’s that iconic vehicle for the Americans in WW2 and it’s effective on the table, so much so that you will likely see these in the future.

Wrapping it up
From here, with these additions to your collections, you only have upwards to go and after you get a few more games with these kind of kits added to your forces you will be looking to make some of your own choices. My best advise is play to what makes you happy with your games. If your opponents are historically minded, build your army to be similarly built. If you are playing competitively, don’t get sucked into buying LMG’s for your units (at least not in 1st Edition Bolt Action!!!). Enjoy what you are working on and take the time to do a little research into the history of where your soldiers were engaged. It’s have the fun and makes for great additions of those little details to your army that add to the theme and enjoyment of both your games and that of your opponents.