Bolt Action Campaign Market Garden

After covering the battles in the Pacific, the Eastern front and the Ardennes, the next Bolt Action supplement moves to North Western Europe with Campaign Market Garden. An instead of whole years of war, this battle has its eye on very intense 9 days in late September '44.

Bolt Action - Campaign Market Garden Bolt Action - Campaign Market Garden

This campaign supplement covers the story of Operation Market Garden, the unsuccessful allied military attempt to take 9 bridges along the Dutch-German border. The military operations between September 17th and 25th are covered on 116 pages. Warlord Games charges the usual 19.99 GBP or 30 USD for the book, which is roughly 25 EUR. I've covered both the final cover (left) and the early cover (right) in the first row of pictures. We've often seen changes in the artwork between the first announcement and later publication; it was similar with The Road to Berlin and Campaign New Guinea.

Author of this supplement is Chris Brown and he holds a PhD in medieval military history from the University of St Andrews (Scotland), and it is his first book for Bolt Action. He has published a couple of historical books, among them Arnhem Nine Days of Battle or Battle Story: Arnhem 1944, so you could say, he knows what he's talking about. Beyond that he has written several books on the Scottish military history.

As usual Warlord Games treats the customers with a special miniature, in this case a wounded British Paratrooper "Never Surrender".

Bolt Action - Campaign Market Garden

What is it about?
In early September 1944 the first Allied troops entered Belgium and managed to free many cities, later that month they want to continue their pressure to liberate the Netherlands and defeat the withdrawing German units. The Allies planned for that month the largest airborne operation up to that point in World War II. Its goal was to take a series of nine bridges along the area between Arnhem and Eindhoven to give the Allies an access to the North Western / Ruhr Area of Germany. The Allied Airborne forces of Market Garden consisted out of US Americans, British and Polish soldiers. The operation was split into two parts, with the airborne assaults to capture the key bridges (Market) and the supporting ground attack (Garden).

As some of the raids were successful and they managed to liberate some cities and capture some of the 9 bridges, the overall operation failed. The German counter attacks cut the supply lines of and to the airborne units, forcing them to withdraw after heavy battles on September 25th.

The whole operation is introduced with a timeline and guides you through the nine days along the scenarios. Similar to Battleground Europe, Campaign Market Garden covers special rules for airborne units and drop offs, along with some special rules applying for certain scenarios on withdrawal and casualties.

Bolt Action - Campaign Market Garden

First Impression
I had to check twice, to see if I didn't read it wrong. There are 26 scenarios in this book - 26! And even rules for solo play, in case you're short of another player. It is quite detailed for a campaign supplement, as the other books usually cover month and years of combat and this book "only" covers nine days. But that is not a bad thing, if you take a look at the "product development" or product life cycle, this is something we will see more and more in the future of historical games that are around for a longer time. More detailed, covering deeper information, supplement for the main rulebook. And with Market Garden, as I'm familiar with the setting due to movies and video games, it was easy for them to pick me up. With Airborne drops being something difficult to calculate, while covering elite paratroopers units on the one side and a mixture of German late war units, incl. infantry and tanks, on the other side, this is a good starting point for some serious action.

Some theatre selectors or armies are a bit unusual for Bolt Action, interesting and odd or cool, but still unusual. For example 3 Jagdpanther or 4 Flammpanzer B2(f) is not what a regular Bolt Action or most other 28mm scale world war 2 would have in their miniature collection (a few Panzer IV, Shermans, you know rank & file tanks sure,). So that might be historical correct or orientated around historic accuracy, but went maybe a bit overboard. Other than that, most selectors are made out of reinforced platoons, Airborne forces of the US Americans, the Brits and Polish, the British XXX Corps (Guard division) and a lot of German second line or training units, along with a few more experienced and heavier units as the situation became more fierce. Of course these selectors come with new units, so we have Allied Airlanding Infantry, even pathfinder, Dutch resistance fighters and Dutch Waffen-SS along with German patrol units.

With 12 Legends, this book covers quite a high amount of new legends for the rule set, some of them were already covered in other books, like Captain Richard 'Dick' Winters or Colonel John Frost from the Battleground Europe, but beyond them new entries like General Robert 'Roy' Urquhart, the Polish Major-General Sosabowski or Hauptsturmführer Gräbner with his captured Humber AC and SS Hauptsturmführer Euling.

Bolt Action - Campaign Market Garden

There are a total of 26 different scenarios in Campaign Market Garden jumping between September 17 and 25. These are sorted in chapters of American, British and Polish scenarios, along with a more chapters covering a small self-contained campaign, Hell's Highway / Road to the Reich, Oosterbeek and space saving scenarios for smaller 2 by 3 ft. games.

  • Scenario 1: Pathfinders at Overasselt (American Scenarios)
  • Scenario 2: Heeswijk Castle - We're in the wrong place! (American Scenarios)
  • Scenario 3: The Bridge at Son (American Scenarios)
  • Scenario 4: A hot drop zone! (American Scenarios)
  • Scenario 5: Crossing the Waal (American Scenarios)
  • Scenario 6: Resupply at Groesbeek (American Scenarios)
  • Scenario 7: First In! 21st Independent company hits the ground (British Airborne Scenarios)
  • Scenario 8: The 'Coup-De-Main' gambit (British Airborne Scenarios)
  • Scenario 9: Successful Coup-De-Main (British Airborne Scenarios)
  • Scenario 10: Frost's attack - Follow the Brolly! (British Airborne Scenarios)
  • Scenario 11: Gräbner's attack (British Airborne Scenarios)
  • Scenario 12: KOSBs on Ginkel Heath - Clearing the drop zone (British Airborne Scenarios)
  • Scenario 13: The Road from Renkum, 20 September (British Airborne Scenarios)
  • Scenario 14: Crossing the Utrechtseweg (War in a Small Space: A Campaign Game)
  • Scenario 15: A Street in Arnhem (War in a Small Space: A Campaign Game)
  • Scenario 16: A Hard Day in the Suburbs (War in a Small Space: A Campaign Game)
  • Scenario 17: Get a Move On! (On to Oosterbeek)
  • Scenario 18: Where the hell are we? (On to Oosterbeek)
  • Scenario 19: Trapped against the river! (Driel: Polish Airborne Scenarios)
  • Scenario 20: The Breakout from Neerpelt (Hell's Highway: The Road to The Reich)
  • Scenario 21: Holding the road (Hell's Highway: The Road to The Reich)
  • Scenario 22: Reclaiming the road to Logtenburg (Hell's Highway: The Road to The Reich)
  • Scenario 23: Incredible in defence (Hell's Highway: The Road to The Reich)
  • Scenario 24: Fighting patrols (Hell's Highway: The Road to The Reich)
  • Scenario 25: Slipping away (Space-Saving Scenarios)
  • Scenario 26: Rearguard action (Space-Saving Scenarios)

Bolt Action - Campaign Market Garden

How does Market Garden play?
Usually in this part of the reviews, I talk about on how the scenarios or setting focusses on specific parts of warfare. With Bolt Action being platoon based, this commonly strays between lighter or heavier equipment, use of vehicles and such. Market Garden is clearly late war, but due to the nature of the operation, it is quite diverse. First of all, in addition to the regular, this is your scenario with a suggested theatre selector, Campaign Market Garden goes for a more cinematic / scripted approach. You have scenarios with clearly determined squads. For example the first scenario gives the allied player three 6-man squads and the German player two 5 man patrols with later reinforced patrol teams of 4. But not played on a small 3 by 3 table, but a regular set up. Along with these come matching victory conditions and a pre-determined game length. Of course not all of the scenarios are written likes this, but there are a few in there, applying the special rules for Market Garden (Airdrops, drop zones, capture equipment etc.) as well as regular sized battles and even some odd tank battles (Oosterbeek with 4 Flammpanzer B2(f)).

As this was an Allied operation, the forces of the Allies are often mixed, with American soldiers alongside the British and / or Polish. These Airborne troops are often enough veterans along with the special rules for British armies, so they are tough as nails. On the other side, the Germans are a much more diverse and mixed bunch, from some inexperienced second line units to SS Units and even some heavy tank hunter divisions. Beyond that, playing these missions will require a good amount of terrain, beside the generic forests, hills and rivers, you'll need a couple of European houses and bridges.

Bolt Action - Campaign Market Garden

What's next?
There used to be Campaign Burma on the schedule, covering the British / Commonwealth in the Pacific (so I expect a lot of Chindits and Gurkhas) was re-scheduled / dropped for now from the current schedule. It was rumoured to be released in August. For September there are already the pre-orders for the Campaign The Western Desert, narrowing down the Duel in the Sun content from the Mediterranean in general to Africa, along with the Battle of France announced as well for November, focussing on the early years of war and giving more detail to the Germany Strikes! content. Recently two more books popped up on the release schedule, but these have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Fortress Budapest for March 2019, covering the siege of Budapest by the Soviet Union, and even later in 2019 a Korea supplement. Why Korea? This would be the first step out of World War 2 by Bolt Action, but it makes sense, a lot of the gear that Warlord Games offers for the US American range was used beyond WW2 in the Korean War (1950-53) like Shermans, Pershings and Hellcats. But this opens up another question, you can't fight a war without an antagonist, so will they sculpt these ranges as well, will / have they acquire a new company or will they team up with somebody like in the past with Empress?

Bolt Action - Campaign The Western Desert Bolt Action - Campaign Battle of France Bolt Action - Campaign Fortress Budapest Bolt Action - Korea

If there ever was a supplement for Bolt Action, that called for a campaign themed weekend, it might be Market Garden. Grab your pals for a Friday evening of A bridge too far, ignore the Leopard I stand-ins for Wehrmacht tanks, enjoy a pint or scotch to get in the mood for a day or two of gaming.

Some people weren't happy about the way, Campaign Market Garden felt, but I guess, that is due to the way it differs from the other books. Some scenarios are rather specific on how they want to be played. But I don't have a problem with that. If you buy this book, you don't give them your brain in return. See these as an inspiration for your gaming. You can do it like they suggest you to do, but nobody is keeping you from modifying it to your like. Don't have 4 Flammpanzer B2(f), substitute them with similar gear that would be part of a second line tank training unit (other captured French tanks for example) and so on. The only thing that actually bothered me, are the errors in writing / typos. Some German names or designations are rather irritating, for example they keep on writing Panzerbüsche (tank bushes) instead of Panzerbüchse (anti-tank gun) and similar errors, where I'm not sure if they do not know how to properly write it or if it was a careless mistake.

Beyond that, I like the ideas of the Solo play or the campaign like games, with waves of reinforcement and other triggered events. Those are things, that I'd like to see (and used) more often, because I think it inspires the more story telling part of the game instead of just a competitive gaming idea.

On the last page they suggest a couple of Osprey books, Campaign #24 Arnhem 1944, Warrior #174 British Paratrooper 1940-45, Men-at-Arms #234 German Combat Equipments 1939-45, MAA #139 German Airborne Troops 1939-45, Elite #122 WW2 Infantry Tactics and Battle Orders #25 US Airborne Division in the ETO 1944-45 along with a couple of books on the Operation itself and more focussed on the battle of Arnhem.

Bolt Action is a brand of Warlord Games.

The reviewed product item was provided by the manufacturer.

Posted by Dennis B.

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  1. Nice review! I think I have a good impression of the book now. Tnx!

  2. Thanks for the nice review! Sorry about the panzerbusche thing – my fault entirely.

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