Bolt Action Duel in the Sun

The Bolt Action supplement Duel in the Sun covers one of the most well known campaigns of the second world war, the African and Italian Campaigns. And we want to share it with you in this review.

Bolt Action - Duel in the Sun Bolt Action - Duel in the Sun - Early Cover

Next to the final cover, we see the early cover shown in some of the Osprey newsletters. The duo of two soldiers storming from right to left marks it clearly as one of the First Edition supplements. The books of the second edition show a single soldier looking from left to right. Never the less, Duel in the Sun is still valid for Bolt Action 2nd Edition and it covers 17 (!) missions on as much as 136 pages, bringing it right to the top of the thickest campaign books, even bigger than the recently released New Guinea campaign. This supplement attracts players of quite a broad selection of factions, as you of course find content for the iconic Deutsches Afrikakorps of the Germans and 8th Army / Desert Rats of the British in here, along with Italians (as well as post-armitice Italians), US Americans and even Indian and Maori troops for the Commonwealth. As such the book covers beside the 17 new scenarios, quite a lot new units and legends, as well as elaborate extended rules for desert fighting, night fights, airborne, multinational armies and captured vehicles. Pricing is set at 19,99 GBP or 30 USD, which translates around 25 EUR.

Duel in the Sun was written by Dylan Owen and, the master himself, Alessio Cavatore. Mr. Cavatore should be well known among the Bolt Action players, but the duo of him and Dylan Owen took care of the Deus Vult ruleset for Fireforge Games as well. As usual, direct customers and pre-orders receive an exclusive miniature along with Duel in the Sun. If I had to guess, I would have bet on Monty or Rommel, but they went with Sydney "Digger" Robinson, who can either be build as a Tommy or as a Digger. Tends to be on the large size scale wise.

Bolt Action - Duel in the Sun Bolt Action - Duel in the Sun

What is it about?
The German high command never intended to spill the war into the Mediterranean. It was more or less forced to expand its activities after the Mussolini decided to open another front for the war. After the initial success of German campaigns, he thought that Italy had to prove its strength and value to stay on eye-level with Hitler and to prove Italy was a resurgent european power, on the way to a reborn Roman Empire. But when the Third Reich started their offensives, the italian army was far from ready for aggressive action. The first advances of the Italians were rushed and not the success, they were planned to be, forcing the german armies to join in by the Pact of Steel. This was a welcoming event for the British under Churchill, as the Mediterranean was an easier battlefield for the Allied troops, later joined by the Americans, as the "Fortress Europe". Duel in the Sun covers the battles from 1940 to 1944, with the initial battles in Libya, the epic tank duels in North Africa up to the landing of the Allied troops in Sicily and mainland Italy. These are seperated into 5 chapters with an additional appendix, covering roughly 20 pages itself with special and scenario rules.

Bolt Action - Duel in the Sun

First Impression
The contents of this book cover some of the most iconic parts of world war 2. And these are very well presented. As the battles fought in the Mediterranean were distinctive, already ahead of the specific scenarios, we are handed suggestions how to catch this in our own battles. The scenarios are very versatile, as you would expect. Because, when I think of the Mediterranean battles, I think of tank battles in the african desert, I think of Fallschirmjäger landing in Crete and of course Operation Husky / Monte Cassino. And all that - and lots more - is in there. This is such an high contrast to the often seen fought over french villages of "regular" world war two games. And it gives a lot of variation and ideas for your armies, that are more relateable for Europeans compared to - let us say Burma or similar.

The book is divided into introduction, five campaign parts and an appendix with special rules for the different campaigns and multinational forces. The chapters are divided like this

  • Mussolini Strikes
  • Greece and Crete
  • Duel in the Desert
  • Operation Torch and Tunisia
  • Italy Invaded

Inside these chapters, which are in chronological order, cover from the first actions of the Italian forces, the Germans joining in the Mediterranean and North Africa, to the counter offensives of the Allies until the invasion in Italy. There are quite a lot new legends for Axis and Allied forces, among others Cpt. Charles Upham, Paddy Mayne, Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke, Otto Skorzeny, Mad Jack Churchill (already introduced in Germany Strikes), Charles 'Commando' Kelly and Daniel Ken Inoyue.

Bolt Action - Duel in the Sun

The scenarios are the following

  • Scenario 1 – The Jaws of the Trap - The Battle of Beda Fomm (Mussolini Strikes)
  • Scenario 2 – The Capture of Kufra (Mussolini Strikes)
  • Scenario 3 – Delaying Action - The Battle of Tempe Gorge (Greece and Crete)
  • Scenario 4 – Maleme Airfield (Greece and Crete)
  • Scenario 5 – Skirmish in the Sand (Duel in the Desert)
  • Scenario 6 – The Siege of Tobruk (Duel in the Desert)
  • Scenario 7 – Operation Lightfoot (Duel in the Desert)
  • Scenario 8 – Blood on the Beaches - Amphibious Invasion (Operation Torch and Tunesia)
  • Scenario 9 – Carnage at the Kasserine Pass (Operation Torch and Tunesia)
  • Scenario 10 – The Battle of El Guettar (Operation Torch and Tunesia)
  • Scenario 11 – Control the Heights - The Capture of Longstop Hill (Operation Torch and Tunesia)
  • Scenario 12 – Bridgehead (Italy Invaded)
  • Scenario 13 – Assault on Altavilla (Italy Invaded)
  • Scenario 14 – The River Runs Red (Italy Invaded)
  • Scenario 15 – Backs to the Sea - Anzio (Italy Invaded)
  • Scenario 16 – Monte Cassino - Attempt on Monastery Hill (Italy Invaded)
  • Scenario 17 – The Gothic Line - War of Attrition (Italy Invaded)

How does Duel in the Sun play?
You could go so far to say, that this supplement is the most versatile of the Bolt Action supplements. You have tank battles on open plains, you have the airborne landing of paratroopers in Crete, airfield raids at night and siege battles over desert fortresses and monasteries. That sounds pretty wild, and it most certainly is. All these are covered with matching scenarios and special rules including climate conditions of the desert, rules for airborne landings, fortifications and fox holes and a lot more, even covering captured vehicles. Why is the later in this book? Well, as the supplies in Africa from Europe were a tricky deal for both sides, you had to make work with the things you had. But especially the Deutsche Afrikakorps used a lot of captured gear under Rommel. He had a squadron of M3 Stuarts, a couple of Shermans and Crusaders, they even captured the AEC Dorchester command vehicle and used that.

There are quite a few exotic new choices for some of the armies, but as these are to be rated mostly mid war, there is no heavy / super heavy gear for the majority of these conflicts. "Only" the final chapter of Italy Invaded goes into late war regions, but stays civil as we are talking about Tiger Is and Elefants, but no Pershings or King Tigers here. So all in all, it keeps to the idea of Bolt Action of being a platoon sized wargame with the support of a few vehicles. Even the tank battles are not over the top, as they cover mostly medium tanks of the mid war era.

Duel in the Sun is very rich on ideas and impulses, as each of the five chapters would give you enough material for at least a whole campaign weekend. And like mentioned before, the missions and operations are richly varied, and cover a broad selection of different armies. From the British Indian troops, to Gurkhas over italian Paratroopers, to the iconic 8th Army and Afrikakorps, a lot of different themed and styled armies were involved.

Bolt Action - Duel in the Sun

What's next?
As this review was written post 2nd Edition release, the next book is the recently released Road to Berlin. I had the chance to take an early look into it and it is going to be the biggest supplement so far with even more pages than this one. Road to Berlin covers the very late phases of the second world war with focus on the eastern forces. Contrary to my previous expectations, the book doesn't cover the western Allied forces, so no late war allround care, but the late Soviet army along with Polish AK and czech forces. 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. As now all of the airborne units are available in plastic, it is going to be exciting.

Bolt Action - Campaign The Road to Berlin Bolt Action - Campaign Market Garden

Duel in the Sun covers some of the most memorable fights of the second world war. There are a lot of books and movies on the 8th Army, the Deutsche Afrikakorps and iconic battles of North Africa, Greece or the invasion of Italy. This is quite a lot of ground to cover in a single book, and I would have expected this book to just cover the african campaigns, but it did incredibly well.

Like mentioned before, the content of this book is very versatile and diversified. As such it has a lot to offer and inspiration for excisting and upcoming army projects. At 20 GBP it is a real bargain for the lot it covers. Compared to the other supplements, that mostly follow a specific campaign, this one is far less linear and jumps around the Mediterranean and switches between the protagonists, who face eachother in battle. So you got a great value for your money. It shows the multitude of options you get with a game just within the setting of World War 2, with tank battles, airfield raids, sieges and airborne landings. What is not to like about that?

Bolt Action is a brand of Warlord Games.

Posted by Dennis B.

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