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8Jan/180

Bolt Action Campaign Gigant – Operation Sea Lion: The Second Front

Campaign Gigant - Operation Sea Lion: The Second Front, picks up where the first chapter of Campaign Sea Lion stopped or better said came to a hold. The german plan of invading Great Britain was spun further.

Bolt Action - Campaign Gigant

As the first chapter of the hypothetical campaign Sea Lion was incredibly successful as a product, it received a sequel quickly. As many topics of the foundation were already covered in the 124 pages thick book, the Campaign Gigant is roughly half the size with "only" 64 pages. This makes the book cheaper, as it comes with a price badge of 20 USD / 12,99 GBP, which roughly translates to around 15 EUR.

Unlike the other supplements for Bolt Action, this one does not provide a special miniature. But it is written by Dr. John Lambshead, who already covered the first book, and supported by Paul Sawyer and John Stallard (the owners of Warlord Games). As I already introduced him, with his other work for Bolt Action in the first review, I'll skip this part here but you can read it in the other review.

What is it about?
Where as Sea Lion was a hypothetical story arc, with historical plans to begin with (the plans were never put into reality), the Gigant supplement is hard to even call alternate history, as this is quite a fantasy setting to begin with. But as Lambshead covers in the designer notes, gives a lot of freedom to this book, as the author and the players have more flexibility and creative freedom to begin with. So where do we stand, in Summer of 1940, when the amphibious invasion of southern England stalls, the Royal Navy regains control of the english Channel. Leaving the german troops in a desperate situation, forcing Hitler to find another way to invade Great Britain - by air. The Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant lent the name to the Unternehmen Gigant, could carry 130 troops, or even a Panzer IV. So with the assumption, that this plane was available and the Luftwaffe could continue with air raids over Great Britain, an alternate approach of an invasion would be possible, opening up a second front and more possibilities for the rules and players. In addition, as this is no small operation, the German expeditionary force was formed, the new Deutsche England Korps (DEK, in style of the Afrika Korps).

What do we get on the 64 pages of new content? First of all, the changed situation is explained. We receive an update on the campaign, a few information on the political situation that brought us here and the foundation for the upcoming fights and battles is build. There are four new scenarios and new units for British and German players. Roughly a third of the 64 pages are introduction, 8 pages on the new scenarios and the remaining pages are used for new units (infantry and vehicles alike).

Bolt Action - Campaign Gigant

First Impression
Even these smaller projects benefit from the cooperation of Warlord and Osprey. So the quality of the book it self, the printing and binding is ace. There is a lot of artwork, among others by Peter Dennis, worked into this, including maps and some technical drawings of the Me 323 Gigant. Another thing, that gives this book a proper boost is the huge amount if well done images of vignettes and battles scenes, using the "acquired" Footsore range and Sarissa Precision mdf buildings. As there is only little artwork from Osprey to use for a german invasion (compared to the total fundus you would have at hand for any other "historical" supplement), the pictures of german troops in front of english pubs or tanks on cricket grounds, really sets the mood.
But, and that is an even bigger but than with the first supplement, it is still incredibly anglocentric. Even as the author notes say, we wanted to open up the conflict to more players, to give them this home ground feel outside of the south-east english territories, it is still strongly focused on the british. In addition to the already broad choice of militias and semi-professional soldier units from the first book, you now can even field cricket and rugby teams and such. For the germans, the Deutsche England Korps sounds fancy, but is little more than just an early war tank platoon. The new german units are IRA colaborateurs and some light tanks and lorries. The british now even have rules for the Mark IV heavy tank of world war one, as desperate times call for desperate measures. The home team covers ~ 15 pages of new units, the invaders ~10 pages.

The four scenarios are the following

  • The Air Landing Scenario
  • Magic Carpet Scenario
  • Battle of Nottingham
  • Battle of the Great Northern Road

These pick up the seperation of the patrol and battle sizes, that were introduced in the first book. Of course, there are easter eggs in here, so the battle over Nottingham (home to many wargaming companies) or the truck with the "Stallard & Co - Toy Company" sign (as a nod to John Stallard, one of the owner of Warlord Games), are a nice touch to it.

Bolt Action - Campaign Gigant

How plays Gigant / Sea Lion: The Second Front?
Even though it moves forward, it stays quite light with the early war equipment and with that gear, that even such a huge beast as the Me 323 Gigant could bring onto the british islands. Yes, there are more tanks in here, but we are talking about Panzer I and Somua R35 on the one side and lorries and Vickers on the other side. Where as Bolt Action gave a friendly nod towards the Very British Civil War community with Operation Sea Lion, Operation Gigant is a seductive wink with clear intentions. It may not be the missing link, but narrows the gap clearly.

Bolt Action - Campaign Gigant

What's next?
As this review is released post-poned, the next to supplements of New Guinea and The Road to Berlin are already available and will be covered shortly. But what is coming beyond that to Bolt Action? In february of 2018 the next supplement goes back to the western front with Campaign Market Garden, covering on the extensive airborne action along the dutch-german border. Warlord now covers all of the airborne units in plastic (especially with the british paratroopers box covering british and polish units), so this will be interesting. Currently are no further information available on what we can expect in the summer as the next supplement, as the plastic kit releases are not always coherent with the supplements / book releases.

Bolt Action - Campaign Market Garden

Conclusion
The quality of the book is convincing, it is a bit cheaper compared to the other books, which is good as it is only half as big. A bit sad to see, that they didn't went with a special miniature. My conclusion of this book is not that far away from the first chapter. Even with the addition of Campaign Gigant, this campaign is still very anglocentric and therefore most of the content, may not appeal to somebody who is not from the United Kingdom or anglophil.

The question is, where do you draw the line. If where already in an alternate history or fantastic history, why not add a few pages of a hypothetical victory, to open up the book and make it about more than just the british. To be honest, this book is neat, but that's it. What it brings to the table, can easily be done with the rules you already have from the first chapter and the rulebook / army books. Play the already available scenarios, just with different forces, done. There a few new inexperienced units in this book, but with the broad choice you already got with Sea Lion, the argument that you need this book is unfortunately rather weak. To sum it up, you will only need this book, if your gaming club insists of using "official" rules and will not let you be a bit more creative with what you already have available via the "Armies of ..." and other supplements, already available for Bolt Action.

Other than that, if you like the idea of "modern" conflicts on british turf, focused on light(er) gear and smaller battles, the setting of a Very British Civil War by Solway Crafts and Miniatures may suit you. The books are available among others via Northstar Miniatures and matching miniatures are available via Footsore Miniatures and Warlord Games.

Bolt Action is a brand of Warlord Games.

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