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20May/170

Bolt Action Armies of Germany (2nd Edition)

The first "Armies of" to get an update is the oldest one, Armies of Germany.

Bolt Action - Armies of Germany Second Edition

Since October 2016 the book is available in english and once again written by Warwick Kinrade, who already wrote the first one. The book has slightly grown from former 96 pages to now 108 pages and of course, comes with an exclusive miniature for direct customers and pre-orders. Last time it was Otto Skorzeny, now it is an unnamed duo of german soldiers, one carrying the other.

Bolt Action - Armies of Germany Second Edition

What is it about?
The Bolt Action rule book already covers the basic lists of 5 factions, but to go into a fair amount of detail of troop choices, divisions and options, a separate supplement covering the Armies of Germany is available. The provided units with this book are far less generic, are divided into early, mid and late war as well as five different theatre selectors, including the early Blitzkrieg operations, North Africa, two-front war and the later fall of the Reich.

First Impression
The supplements for Bolt Action are kept on the same high level of layout quality than the rulebook, but are not available as hard cover only as soft cover. The new edition is a bit more colourful than the first one and profits from the in the meantime grown range of miniatures. You get so a lot of painted miniatures, some pictures you may know from the store, others are small dioramas. And of course, no Osprey and Warlord publication would be ready without extensive artwork by Peter Dennis (and Steve Noon in this case).
The Armies of books follow the clear structure of the rule set. You get a brief introduction on the armies of germany during the war, an extensive army list covering more than half of the book, followed by the theatre selectors (army organisation plans for specific time lines, operations and scenarios) and an appendix covering special rules. It is interesting to see, that some of the units, that were introduced in some of the campaign supplements now are covered in the Armies of book. That keeps the weight down for travelling wargamers.

Warlord Games keeps a sensible way around german insignia, so compared to other rule books from the anglo-american market, there are no swastikas or other "difficult" symbols used as a design element. The book got a bit more expensive, all the new supplements are now 20 GBP instead of 15 GBP. At 108 pages that is still reasonable, but not cheap.

Bolt Action - Armies of Germany Second Edition Bolt Action - Armies of Germany Second Edition

How does it play?
The german army received an update on the army special rules. They kept the Initial training (giving you a save on taking NCO casualties) and Hitlers Buzzsaw (+1 die for german lmg and mmg), but added two further rules - both not mentioned in the update core rule book. German armies now benefit from Blitzkrieg (Boosting "You men, snap to action" by 1 order) and Tiger Fear, giving enemy units an extra pin when countering some german tanks.

Beyond that, the choice of units for the germans are vast compared to the core rules. There are Infantry and Grenadier squads, Fallschirmjäger, several Waffen-SS units and even Volkssturm squads. Detailled with their troop quality and options for gear, including separation between the different stages of war. The vehicle pool is immense as well, not only covering Pz III to Tigers, but different variants and conversions as well (flame thrower tanks, etc.).

The theatre selectors help you to make a proper match up within Bolt Action. Having two army from different epoches of war play eachother might be a difficult stunt (lack of anti tank weapons and lack of heavy gear etc.), so it makes sense to clarify this before hand. But with the theatre selectors, you get a suggested platoon template fitting the said scenario. In this book you'll find;

Blitzkrieg 1939-42

  • 1939 - The September Campaign
  • 1940 - The Battle of France
  • 1941 - Operation Barbarossa
  • 1942 - Operation Blue
  • 1942 - Stalingrad, Death on the Volga

North Africa 1941-43

  • 1941-42 - Rommel Triumphant
  • 1942 - Operation Mercury
  • 1942-43 - Rommel's Defeat

Eastern Front 1943-44

  • 1943 - Operation Citadel
  • 1943-44 - Anti-Partisan Security Patrol
  • 1944 - Defence of the East

Western Front 1943-44

  • 1943-44 - Defence of Italy
  • 1944 - Atlantic Wall Resistance Nest
  • 1944 - Normandy

Fall of the Third Reich

  • 1944-45 - Operation Watch on the Rhine
  • 1944-45 - Holding the West Wall
  • 1945 - Operation Spring Awakening
  • 1945 - Last Levy

The theatre selectors cover the unit choices, so for example in North Africa there were no Tiger II, and with Operation Mercury being entirely airborne no tanks at all. In the Appendix are special rules for night fighting units with infra-red equipment, covering the Panther, UHU and Nachtjägers.

German armies have the ability to be very versatile, as you can choose from many different units and a lot of vehicles for different purposes and play styles, especially if you're into veteran infantry and heavy vehicles. Keep in mind, that the focus in Bolt Action lays upon infantry and not tanks, so even if you have a Tiger I or II, you can field an Flak 8,8 and 3 full squads of regular infantry for the same amount of points, giving you four instead of only one order dice.

Bolt Action - Armies of Germany Second Edition

What's next?
There are currently no information on further updates on the Armies of books. But the first 2nd edition supplement "Battle of the Bulge" is already available, and covers the fights between the Allies and Third Reich in the winter in Western Europe. The next supplement "Operation Sea Lion" currently being shipped is covering the plans of a German invasion of Britain in 1940. Thanks to the Osprey Games catalogue we are already aware, that there will be two more supplements in the second half of 2017, with the supplement for the New Guineau campaign, bringing further attention to the Imperial Japanese, US Americans and Australians. And to the end of 2017, around November, the Road to Berlin will be released and will most likely go into more detail about the very late years of war than Battleground Europe and Ostfront did. As with the IR troops in this book, I assume that Road to Berlin might even cover some further prototypes and what-if content.

Bolt Action - Armies of Germany Second Edition

Conclusion
If you are only playing Bolt Action on a very casual basis, the army lists from the core rules may be enough for you. But if you want more information and finer details on your troops, there is no way around this supplement.

As Bolt Action is covering world war 2 and this is a historical setting, there are no big surprises (yet?) on the content. The units are pretty much identical with the once covered in the first edition, adding a few from the campaign supplements and fixing some print errors / mistakes that were taken care with FAQs in the meantime.

The layout and design is appealing and among the best on the market. 20 GBP for 108 pages is still reasonable. Osprey and Warlord put a lot of effort into these books, so even if you're "just" a collector, the Armies of books are an interesting addition to your collection, already giving you a solid base for themed armies of the Afrikakorps, Fallschirmjäger or the eastern front.

Bolt Action is a brand of Warlord Games.

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