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Forces of the Fatherland: Armies of Germany for Bolt Action Reviewed

Game Name: Bolt Action – Armies of Germany

Publishers: Warlord Games and Osprey Publishing

Designer: Warwick Kinrade

Year: 2012

Genre: World War Two miniatures army supplement

Pages: 96 Pages

MSRP: $25.00

Well, I finally had an opportunity to sit down with the first supplement for Warlord Games’s Bolt Action, Armies of Germany, and I can say it’s certainly a welcome addition to the core rule book. Written by well-known miniatures game designer Warwick Kinrade, the book clocks in at 96 pages and is chock full of photography and illustrations. Because of Warlord’s partnership with Osprey Publishing the artwork is all from previously published Ospery titles. You’ll find the quality of the soft cover is very reminiscent of what Ospery normally produces as well as what we previously saw within the main hard cover core rule book.

I make note there isn’t an index but the opening table of contents is extremely detailed so the lack of an index isn’t too big of a deal. The supplement begins with an overview of the Germany army throughout the Second World War beginning with the initial blitzkrieg on through the fall of Berlin. I’ll assume much of the provided info will be pretty redundant reading for those intimately familiar with the history of WWII but seeing Bolt Action is designed as a quick playing, easy to get into skirmish level game I can understand including the overview for those out there who may be rather new to gaming the period.

Following the overview comes the general Army List. In the Army list the number of German units increases from fifty in the core book to one hundred and eight. About half of the units are carried over, obviously, from the core rules but there are many new inclusions for infantry, artillery, vehicles and so on. I’ll guess some grognards will be disappointed the army book doesn’t include anything and everything Germany ever deployed (Kreigsmarine squads are included but those from the Luftwaffe aren’t?) yet there’s a lot of depth and most WWII gamers should be pleased. Infantry is tackled, from the feared early war Waffen SS all the way down to the mostly unmotivated Osttruppen from occupied countries. Each squad description also allows for multiple options and quite a few have special rules which effect gameplay.

Plenty of artillery is included in the book as well with field artillery being designated as light, medium, or heavy with recoilless, anti-aircraft, and anti-tank units receiving more specific and specialized treatment. The depth of vehicle information is impressive and there’s plenty of tanks, tank destroyers, self-propelled artillery, armored cars, as well as transport and support units to choose from.

Armies of Germany PagesWhat just about anyone playing Bolt Action is going to be excited to find here is the Theatre Selector section. One of the knocks some folks had about the core rules is the fact all of the armies included were all late war but now with the selectors to be included in the army books, players will now be able to fight battles anywhere from 1939 to 1945 – at least if they have the appropriate supplement for that particular army that is. Eighteen campaigns are broken down into five areas: Blitzkrieg 1939-42, North Africa 1941-43, Eastern Front 1943-44, Western Front 1943/44, and the Fall of the Third Reich 1945. The eighteen campaigns include such well known actions such as the invasion of Poland and Operation Barbarossa as well as other possibly less gamed operations such as the invasion of Crete and the Lake Balaton offensive.

I will make note I was a bit surprised to see the inclusion of an Anti-Partisan campaign as that contained truly horrific atrocities perpetrated by German troops in occupied countries (especially against the Slavs and Czechs) and, although there’s a designer’s sidebar discussing the campaign, I still think the inclusion is pretty sticky even if the designer was simply looking for historical completeness. Granted, I understand gaming scenarios with ambushing German troops or assassination attempts against Nazi generals could be exciting but taking on the role of the Germans in any WWII game requires a lot of disassociation from the diabolical evil of the Final Solution and other tenants of the party but the anti-partisan actions hit a little too much iffy territory in my book. Just my opinion…

Each theater and campaign include specific army lists as well as special rules which may come into play such as early production Panzers breaking down and fuel shortages.

One thing which may be surprising to not find in Armies of Germany is a painting guide for the units. Normally supplements for miniatures games come with at least a few pages of painting info including specific color schemes, tips on better painting, and so forth. This isn’t a deal breaker by not having this section as there’s plenty of photos of miniatures to be found, plus we have the uniform plates from the Osprey books (every historical mini gamer has a library of Osprey books just for the uniform plates alone) but even a few pages devoted to painting and detailing your fighting forces would have been a welcome addition.

All in all Armies of Germany is a must have for anyone playing Bolt Action. Even the minimal downsides with duplication of units from the core book, lack of an index or painting info, or not receiving game info on every sort of man and material utilized by the Germans shouldn’t deter you from getting your hands on this book. Now German units from all six years of the conflict are at your disposal, making this a very welcome addition to the world of Bolt Action!

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Armies of Germany is a much have for anyone playing Bolt Action. Even the minimal downsides with duplication of units from the core book, lack of an index or painting info, or not receiving game info on every sort of man and material utilized by the Germans shouldn’t deter you from getting your hands on this book.
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Jeff McAleer

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