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26Jun/150

Bolt Action Ostfront

After covering the western front with Battleground Europe, Warlord Games adds with the Ostfront campaign book, the battles beginning with Khalkyn Gol, and the Winter War until the fall of Berlin.

Bolt Action - Ostfront

Warlord Games picks up the theatre selectors, that we know from the "Armies of ..." books, again for this campaign book. With 112 pages Ostfront is slightly thicker than Battleground Europe (108 Pages) and covers the conflicts between the Soviet Union and its neighbors. The price is set at 19,99 GBP or 29,95 USD (~ 25 Euro).

The responsible author for this book is Andy Chambers, who wrote the Armies of Soviet Union book as well, and spend the time after working for Games Workshop among others with Dust Warfare and Blizzard. And of course, direct and pre-ordering customers receive an exclusive miniature with Ostfront, Steiner from Cross of Iron.

 

Bolt Action - Ostfront special model

What is it about?
Though Ostfront states on its cover from Barbarossa to Berlin, the book starts earlier in 1939, beginning with the Winter war (Soviet Union vs Finland) and Khalkin Gol (Soviet-Japanese border conflicts), followed by Operation Barbarossa and the counter offensive by the Russians until Berlin. The focus, as you can see, lays upon the soviet troops and their changing opponents, the Japanese Empire, Finland and the German Reich. The chapters are self-contained and can be played individually, but it is worth mentioning that Barbarossa, Case Blue and Citadel along until the fall of Berlin make sense as consecutive chapters. Never the less, the scenarios can be played separately. Beside the campaign, Ostfront covers wide special rules for snow-, night-, and city fights along with mine fields.

Bolt Action - Ostfront

First Impression
The eastern front is a similar epic part of World War 2 history, as the western front. Warlord Games has set the expectations quite high with their previous releases and stays faithful to themselves. By cooperating with Osprey again, the combination of background, rules, and layout is well done and pleasant to read, without being to dry. Ostfront is packed with content without being bloated and in combination with the platoon lists from the Armies of books the space is used with sense.

This book is divided into introduction, 6 campaign chapters and an appendix covering the special rules for scenarios. The campaign chapters are the following;

  • Khalkyn Gol / Soviet-Japanese border conflict
  • The Winter War / Russo-Finnish War or Winter War
  • Operation Barbarossa / Invasion of the Soviet Union by the German Reich
  • Case Blue / First Part of the summer offensive 1942
  • Operation Citadel / Battle of Kursk
  • Bagration to Berlin / Counter offensive of the Red Army towards Berlin

Different from Battleground Europe, that is more linear, the chapters are in the historical order but they jump from the conflicts of the soviet Army against the Japanese, the finish, and the German armed forces. Ostfront brings new "Legends of" Rules, special or famous characters of specific battles. For example Simo Häyhä (the white death) is covered. Beside that, there are new units, but most of them are rather generic, as Ostfront is more focused on the harsh conditions of the battles. The new rules give the player the opportunity to play more challenging, complex scenarios that not only bring the hard winters onto the tabletop but cover rules for the city fights of Stalingrad and Berlin as well.

Bolt Action - Ostfront

Ostfront gives you "only" 12 new scenarios (compared with the 15 in Battleground Europe), but has more extensive special rules.

  • Scenario 1 – Cavalry Clash (Khalkyn Gol)
  • Scenario 2 – Stormy, Stormy Night (Khalkyn Gol)
  • Scenario 3 - Assault on the Mannerheim Line (The Winter War)
  • Scenario 4 – Pocketed (The Winter War)
  • Scenario 5 – Bridgehead (Operation Barbarossa)
  • Scenario 6 – Hedgehog (Operation Barbarossa)
  • Scenario 7 – The Volga Crossing (Case Blue)
  • Scenario 8 – Block Busting (Case Blue)
  • Scenario 9 – Pakfront (Operation Citadel)
  • Scenario 10 – Olkhovatka Heights (Operation Citadel)
  • Scenario 11 – Breakout (Bagration to Berlin)
  • Scenario 12 – Battle of Berlin (Bagration to Berlin)

Bolt Action - Ostfront

How plays Ostfront?
Bolt Action stays a slim rule set. The scenario rules and certain units are spread over several books, but with the exception of the German Armed Forces, the most armies should be fine with carrying their "Armies of..." book and perhaps a campaign book. Thanks to the straight forward profiles and dice roles in Bolt Action, the new units have a good fit into the whole concept. The rules make the game thougher, but that is suiting for the eastern front. They did a good job to catch the effect of an unfriendly environment into rules and scenarios. Most of the units and rules are for the late years of war and give the player new options. Those are Bolt "Action", so not that historically correct / authentic but still historical. The players now have the chance to put night hunters with vampire sights, rocket launchers, bend rifles and IS 3 tanks into battle. If you want to use them is your choice, but you have official rules and not just some fan made addition.

My personal opinion about Bolt Action; it works quite well as a competitive game, especially if you talk about the conditions (late or early war, maximum dice and restriction of flamers), but still I see this game more for an entertaining campaign weekend instead of a regular tournament.

 

What's next?
The next and third campaign book for Bolt Action will be Germany Strikes and covers the early years of war, the invasion of Poland, Denmark and Norway and later Blitzkrieg in the west. After that Empire in Flames – The Pacific should be released, covering the conflicts in the (south-) East Asia. In 2016 there is going to be Konflikt 47, a Weird War / Alternative Events spin off. This isn't going to be a classic expansion, more of an independent rulebook, based upon Bolt Action. The cooperation between Warlord Games and Osprey should be extended with Clockwork Goblin for this project. In the long run, expect another book for Bolt Action covering Africa and the Mediterranean (Italy, Greece).

Bolt Action - Ostfront

Conclusion
Warlord Games did a good job with Ostfront. The huge amount of new content and possibilities is a really nice addition to the game, but we slowly reach areas, that it might be too much. Especially for players of German armies, which were involved on a lot of fronts and conflicts, the units and rules are spreading quite wide. Never the less, the book is fairly priced with 20 GBP and covers a lot on 112 pages, packed into a really appealing layout and lots of ideas for the next games. Thanks to Andy Chambers, who wrote the Armies of the Soviet Union book as well, we receive a compact insight of the conflicts.

It is clear, that you can't go too much into detail on 112 pages with 3 major conflicts, but it has the advantage, that you don't get overloaded. If you know the Flames of War campaign books, you are probably used to more information and maps, but it costs you a lot more than the 20 GBP, that the Bolt Action soft covers are priced. Bolt Action wants to be beginner friendly, and they make that happen. If you want to know more about the conflicts and campaigns, you will find numerous information online or at Osprey.

Bolt Action is a brand of Warlord Games.

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