Bolt Action Germany Strikes!

With the Pacific Expansion right around the corner, Warlord Games makes a jump back to the beginning of World War II with "Germany Strikes!", Early War in Europe.

Bolt Action - Germany Strikes

At 104 Pages it is slightly thinner than the other theatre books (usually 108-112 pages), and follows the already known concept with theatre selectors and scenarios bound into campaigns / sections. In this case the book covers Fall Weiß, Operation Weserübung, Fall Gelb and Fall Rot, and even brings a new army list - the Danish - with it. The price is set at 19,99 GBP or 29,95 USD (~ 25 Euro).

The author, John Lambshead, is not new to this task, as he has written several novels as well as the Warhammer Ancient Battle expansion Fall of the West and the Britannia expansion for Hail Caesar. And of course, no new Bolt Action book without a limited release miniature, being in this case „Mad Jack" Churchill. The "brave" Lt. Col. carried a longbow and Scottish broad sword into battle.

What is it about?
The title gives it away; this book covers the early acts of aggression by the German Reich. Beginning with the attack on Poland with Fall Weiß, the following Operation Weserübung taking Denmark and Norway, and the Low Countries in Fall Gelb, leaving France with Fall Rot for the last. These four section make up the majority of the book, and 16/17 scenarios (scenario 14 is divided in two parts), that can be played consecutive as well as individually chapter by chapter. In addition to the 4 campaign chapters, the book covers the Danish armylist in chapter 2 Operation Weserübung, along with new rules for armoured trains and mine fields (which were already covered in Ostfront).

Bolt Action - Germany Strikes

First Impression
I was impressed, that this book is not all about "Blitzkrieg", "Blitz" here and "Blitz" there. The layout and style is appealing as usual and benefits from the combination of text with artwork and dioramic images. Germany strikes has even something very unique to it, as it covers 4 pages of reflection about the "current" situation (by the participants of the conflicts in the early years of the war), if this situation means victory or if Germany was even capable of winning this war in the first place.
The book takes time to explain, how and why the Wehrmacht made their early victories, and that it wasn't the lack of bravery on the underlying troops, but a combination of tactics, war engines and a good portion of luck. If you have read the Osprey book about tanks in the Spanish civil war, it covers some of the problems with mechanized warfare that influenced many of the situations and outputs of the early years of war. But back to the content, and its four main chapters

  • Fall Weiß / Poland
  • Operation Weserübung / Denmark and Norway
  • Fall Gelb / Low Countries
  • Fall Rot / France

Similar to Ostfront, the chapters are chronological and appear counter clockwise on the map, beginning with the east, turning to the north and later toward west beginning with the Netherlands and Belgium 'til France. In these chapters new "Legends of" are covered, as well as new units for the players to put into battle. There are rules for the polish tank ace Roman Edmund Orlik (some of you may know him from the World of Tanks medal), even Erwin Rommel (not yet the Desert fox, but the Battle at Arras / Allied counter offensive) and of course Mad Jack Churchill (for whooping 195 pts!). As for the units, you can find the polish Black Brigade, Cavalry /Dragoons and even a Neubaufahrzeug V, among others.

Germany Strikes gives you a great length of different Scenarios, beginning with the famous raid on the polish post office, over the first larger tank battle at Orp and ending with the building of the Axis, the Road to Milan. The total of 16/17 scenarios covers:

  • Scenario 1 – The first shots (Fall Weiß)
  • Scenario 2 – Armoured train (Fall Weiß)
  • Scenario 3 – Cavalry Charge (Fall Weiß)
  • Scenario 4 – The Black Brigade (Fall Weiß)
  • Scenario 5 – Roadblock (Operation Weserübung)
  • Scenario 6 – Landship (Operation Weserübung)
  • Scenario 7 – Eben Emael (Fall Gelb)
  • Scenario 8 – The Battle of Orp (Fall Gelb)
  • Scenario 9 – The Battle of Stonne (Fall Gelb)
  • Scenario 10 – Frankforce at Arras (Fall Gelb)
  • Scenario 11 – Cruiser Tanks Attack (Fall Gelb)
  • Scenario 12 – The Battle for Cassel (Fall Rot)
  • Scenario 13 – Hedgehog (Fall Rot)
  • Scenario 14 – The Maginot Line (Fall Rot)
  • Scenario 14 Part 1 – The Battle for Cassel (Fall Rot)
  • Scenario 14 Part 2 – The Battle for Cassel (Fall Rot)
  • Scenario 15 – The Battle for Cassel (Fall Rot)
  • Scenario 16 – The Battle for Cassel (Fall Rot)

How does Germany strikes play?
Well, if you look across all of the expansion books, you get quite a lot of options all together. But never the less, as the game characteristics stay the same, with the compact unit profiles, the new units and few additional rules keep it straight. Alessio Cavatore edited this book and made sure, that there are no "stray bullets". One thing I particularly like about Germany Strikes! are the many player notes. Those are mentioned along the scenarios, and give you hints on what to keep an eye and not to forget the mission briefing. The scenarios aren't just head-to-head battles, frontal clashes, and those player notes point this out. They show the asymmetry of the battles, and that there are other ways to win a battle, besides crushing your enemy. And I like this strategic component, and that they highlighted this in Germany Strikes!
Beside that, the army lists / theatre selectors cover a lot of light tanks, armoured vehicles and tankettes that add a mechanized or more mobile part to your armies. But not in the same dominating way, like the late war lists do with the possibilities of heavy Tiger tanks and Pershings, as we are talking about ~ 100 points vehicles and not 25-33% of your whole army values.

What's next?
The next book for Bolt Action is going to be Empire in Flames, and covers the battles in the pacific and far east. In February of 2016, there will be "Duel in the Sun", covering the African and Italian campaigns. How far these will cover the Mediterranean area, is yet unknown, but towards October, when Empire in Flames will be released, we will know more.
For the alternative history interested, there will be Konflikt 47, as a Bolt Action spin off, covering a weird war setting with Mechs and more odd things.

The early years of World War 2 are an interesting part of the war, and are something left behind by the players, as you don't have all the "cool" inventions, weapons and units that you have in the late war. But Germany Strikes! shows this part of the conflict in such an attentive way, that you forget about all that. This happens quite charming and gives you with all the smaller nations, an interesting way of constructing a niche force, something more unique compared with the hundreds of Airborne, Waffen-SS or Afrikakorps armies.
That the player notes are so present is a really nice touch that I hope will continue in the following book. In the same way, as the reflection of the early years of war in the last pages. It is a nice addition, and makes the book more than just a set of additional rules.

As usual with the Bolt Action books, the depth of background information is compact and easy to read. If you want to know more or get more into detail, I suggest Wikipedia or the matching Osprey books.

Bolt Action is a brand of Warlord Games.

Posted by Dennis B.

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