Stones River Wargaming Bolt Action House Rulings

Just a small list of our house rulings used in regular pickup games.  This list is non exclusive and will also include a small list of “advanced” / “optional rules” from the rulebook.  Some of the rules listed in this post are already in the rulebook but are not made clear in final ruling sections, more explanations to come.

 

HQ Small Teams

For far too long players have been running two man HQ teams because running the third man just didn’t make sense, losing an additonal minus 1 to hit was pretty terrible therefore we’ve ruled that HQ TEAMS should be counted as small teams even when they include a third man.  This also gives you the added benefit of not being forced to take a moral off the first casualty of the game.

No Turret Jam

This one is pretty obvious, no turret jam.  I couldn’t even quote you the rule because it is that bad.  We just don’t use this rule.

1 Observer Team per Army

To further clarify this, it is one observer team per selection slot allotted to your army per army, not per platoon.  A few weeks ago our group had the absolute pleasure of playing a team pickup game out of town (the first two turns were amazing, after that I found myself eating a sandwich waiting all day for another game).  Myself and Timothy picked Germans (axis forces) and faced down something like 3 US players who rightfully stated when the game started, “Hey, just a heads up, we’ve got 4 Air Observers”.  Umm, okay.   Some might say that with proper AA this would not be a big deal.  Sure this may be the case however we were limited to something like 1000 points (maybe less) and it just wasn’t a thing that we brought.  The rulebook does state that Air and Artillery Observers were something of a rarity .  I’ll further clarify to rule that observers should be 1 per 1500 points to clarify the term army (or your platoon’s allotment).

Tiger Fear

Tiger Fear will ONLY apply to ALL German Heavy and Super Heavy Tanks.  The player must also be playing a German List selector to get this bonus.  Therefore no Panzer IV Tiger Fear, a bit too powerful, especially in the mid war.  Also completely cuts out Stug, which is not okay.

Smoke Scatters

Smoke will scatter a D6 instead of your opponent simply moving the smoke where they please.

Snipers Exceptional Damage

Snipers do not do exceptional damage they simply kill a model outright when rolling to kill successfully.  It was determined that having snipers killing entire weapons teams outright was a tad to powerful so we adjusted this to a single model off a stand to be killed.  Obviously this still knocked out 2 man weapon teams but it saves MMG teams .  Officer teams and NCOs still take a blow but remain combat effective and can hide to spare their points loss.

Shotguns

Shotguns ROF is adjusted in ambush and defensive fire to be ROF 2 when firing within 9 inch range.  This makes Shotguns serve their high points costed purpose.  Simply being an assault weapon didn’t justify the points cost.

Roads

When building tables it is highly encouraged to build a road from at least one table facing to another table facing.  This enables a route of travel for wheeled vehicles who often get overlooked and stuck in areas of the map due to not being able to cross rough ground.  The road doesn’t have to cross to the opposite table corner, just to another table edge.  This one is a strong suggestion and not a highly enforceable rule.

Higher Command Teams

A platoon may include a higher command team in place of a junior or senior platoon leader.  This ruling is covered in the rulebook but does not accurately reflect in the platoon selectors for regular play.  Pretty self explanatory here.

Die Facing

When rolling dice try to roll on a flat surface, if the die just so happens to land non flush with the table to expedite the rolling process we’ve been counting all dice by their facing to the player that rolled the die.  There will still be some instances where the die is very unclear.  This ruling must be strictly enforced as opposing players have the mindset of forcing re-rolls of well rolled single dice , this cannot be allowed .  Either use the current die facing all the time or buy a dice tray, there is no in-between.

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My NSFLGS (Not So Friendly Local Game Store) and Bolt Action-ing

Things that Game Stores do that I find are just wrong.

No Direct Support

I’ll start with this point because it is blatantly obvious when you arrive at a game store that you would like to frequent.  More often than not the display cases are littered with CCG (Magic 145% of the time) and the crowd is in on some usual Wargaming GW style – as some stores even have a shrine dedicated to the Wargods that originally ruined my wargaming career in the form of a huge display case showing off Warhammer armies or my personal favorite, an entire side room dedicated to a huge selection of GW product.

Why would I chose to wargame here when I will be looked at like an outcast who doesn’t play Warhammer 40,000 (40K from here on out)?  My favorite thing is when a store patron will ask me how close to 40K Bolt Action is.  To this question I can draw no comparison.  It is a 28mm Wargame, yes.  Bolt Action is based on historical events and the units and “factions” are direct pulls from the history of WW2, albeit not entirely accurate but close representations, their stats and equipment are closely in line as well.  40K in my opinion is a mess of different Sci – Fi ideas ripped from various other sources and sold as 2nd line stolen ideas for the highest price possible.  This blog isn’t designed to rip on 40K but at the same time 40K is part of the ever growing problem that exists in this divide.

Let a game store tell me that they don’t want to invest in “another wargame” or “we don’t carry random games”…I’ve got news for you, the buy in on Bolt Action would cost you half of your Age of Sigmar space.  You don’t have to carry everything, just some starter armies and some plastic vehicles…for starters.  I feel like with the amount of crap that litters a game store shelves it takes a conscious decision not to carry Warlord products at this point in the game.  It’s been around for a while and has a proven player base.

Not the “In Crowd”

Oh man, not in the in crowd.  Heaven forbid you game at a given store a whole ton or just aren’t liked due to your being a veteran in the hobby. Some game stores don’t take kindly to your presence, some will even view you as a threat to their “way of life”.  How do you become part of the in crowd as an outsider?(Generally you don’t because you weren’t born there. Or at least your armies weren’t).  You’ve been around the block and now their “newbies” in crowd favorites have taken to Facebook for the first time to try and boost their numbers.  To their dismay, people actually responded and showed up whom might have had more experience in Bolt Action than the poor souls running it.  Now this isn’t always the case and this is not a direct lack of showmanship from the game store, however, the conduct of such persons is a direct reflection of the game store (as most groups tend to claim a single game store as their turf).  Pissing off said ring leader by making educated motions within a group like ,”Hey team games are a bad idea for new players”, or “Rules call – back there was wrong” will make waves.  It will be followed with statements like, “This is how we do it”, and “The group has decided to do it this way”. Cool, also know this, anyone that decides to show up is part of “your group”.  Out of towners  should never be made to feel as such, this is just wrong.  Just because I drove 2 hours to play in your group doesn’t mean that a) I will never be back , or b) I could care less about the games I am playing.  I always strive to play the game correctly and in a manner that shows respect to those around me.  90% of gamedays I’ve driven to I have planned to return to within 2 months time.

When I show up to a game day, league, open play, or whatever,I don’t intent on running anything,but I do intend to be fully included in your operations and should have input welcomed, not dismantled based on simply not being part of the group.  My intentions for showing up to “your” group’s game day was to play games and enrich the community by establishing solid games with players people don’t normally play against.

Not Enough Space

Run out of space on me or simply don’t allocate any space to Bolt Action and you will become my newest entry on the blacklist.  Huge, huge, huge peeve is tournaments.  There is no way in hell you are going to host a tournament and then say “Oh shit, we don’t have enough tables / terrain”.  Umm, okay fix it.  Don’t run other events that day firstly, literally have had to play flanking a 40K tournament which was horrible, or worst to boot is a magic event where a hoard of card gamers show up and start moving your wargaming bags.  Terrain, okay I get that.  Maybe you don’t have a ton of it.  I will always offer to help any TO or store by bringing terrain to help out.  If you simply didn’t plan on using the correct amount of space by misallocating it to other games, that is where the problem lies.  If your store is small, okay, you can’t help that, if you chose to play small and not maximize your space, then we need to fix this.  Also on game days, don’t intentionally limit tables (say we can only have 3 tables) when there is clearly room for a fourth or even fifth with some effort put in.  Players not being able to participate and just sitting around is beyond a waste of resources.  Squander these and you’ll lose your players.

No Sales

Please FTOG run a damn sale.  It does’t have to be as obvious as 10% retail all the time (however that would be nice) but at least run some sort of sale on a tournament day.  If the store is well established and you’ve had solid stock in Warlord product, run an occasional one off sale, or better yet, at least follow suit with what Warlord is running sale wise.  It is hard to buy stuff at retail when the online market is kicking your ass.  I am way more highly motivated to buy stuff in store when the this article doesn’t apply to your game store.  Most stores simply leave me with a bad taste in my mouth upon leaving.  I will say this though, I make a hardened effort to buy product in every single game store that I play in, just to show that store that I do appreciate them selling Warlord products.  Even if it is just retail pricing.

Bad Customer Service

This leads into another point as stated above; no sales and my wanting to purchase something at every store I play at.  I do this as well to gauge that store’s level of customer care.  So many times I get stuck waiting for employees to get done with their 20 minute conversations or even better, it doesn’t appear anyone is working at all…

You want me to buy stuff from you just because you exist?  It doesn’t work this way and thanks to a free economy I have choices as to where I can purchase my products and will continue to do so.  Show me it is hard to purchase stuff in your store and I will show you how easy it is to buy elsewhere.

T.O. Failures

This one kills me every time when going to a newer store who has hosted their first Bolt Action tournament.  I completely understand that we all have to start somewhere however please start it out on the right foot.  Reading the rulebook and knowing the Errata / FAQ will be a huge help.  Also be very clear on list restrictions and make yourself available on social media outlets that you have posted to for players that may have questions.  Make the tournament fresh and keep the atmosphere alive.  Please don’t be late running your own event.  Please greet players once they arrive.  Please make educated rules calls.  Please don’t be a 40K nutjob who part times as a Bolt Action player because you have some strange WW2 fantasies that get fulfilled rolling dice next to Swastikas (or having dice with Swastikas on them…even better).  Please don’t tell me about your 40K career or your obsession with Bolt Action list creation that involves your ideas of “broken” units that fall right in line with all other units in the game that do the same exact thing.

Store Policy

Store policy freaking kills me.  Obviously every store is different but some stores just have a horrible way of dealing with new customers by coming up with policies that are down right abrasive for business.  Some key examples that make my personal list would be the inability to start a tab.  If I don’t game there very often and you are going to nickle and dime me to death for drinks, I don’t want to wait in line or at your counter for five minutes just to buy a damn soda every time.  Please allow me to hand you my ID and grab what I need when I freaking need it.  Pair this with insane drink prices or shitty choices and you’ve got me fucked up.  I’ve been to some game stores that are literally charging $1 USD for a can of soda…umm hell no.

Back everything I just said up with stores that post a “No outside food or drink” sign up and we are about to have a problem.  Sure I get it if you are a restaurant or cafe as well (we’ve played at one of these) then sure, I can see why a gas station pizza could pose a problem for your overpriced sandwiches.  Still though, I always bring my own drinks and have a cooler with me.  This is in case you don’t have what I like or I simply don’t want to be micro-transactioned to death.

Debit and credit card minimums being set to high, I understand a $5.00 limit (which is hard to fathom with no tabs and food) but I have been to some stores that have set this number as high as $15.00, I mean holy shit!  The most reasonable I have seen for the debit/credit limit is anything under $10.00 incurs a fee of .35 cents.  I can live with this no problem.

Rude store owners falls into this category as well, I don’t need to define what being rude is or the experiences that I have had, needless to say I have had some store owners that I wonder about.  Enough said.

The Money Grab

This mainly has to do with tournaments again.  The money grab is when players show up to a tournament, play their entry fee, place high in the tournament only to win meager prizes.  For instance a tournament that me and a friend went to we paid $15 USD each to play, he won and I placed 2nd.  His prize was a mere $36 and mine was $23 out of some 6 to 8 players that played.  This of course was store credit for shit that I didn’t need.  Another perfect example was paying $50.00 for a tournament and getting no prizes for placing top half, this is insane!  I call this a money grab because a store is using this to make money off of players (which isn’t fully wrong) but often times being offered nothing up in return by the store, a store that often did nothing to promote or run its own tournament.  Which leads me into the next point…

I Don’t Work For Free

This one more upsets me from Wargaming organizer standpoint.  Any given game store that I attempt to help out with Bolt Action events, gamedays, or anything else of the likes, places sole responsibility on me with no regard to my time and experience.  Often times game stores will add their much unwanted and unwarranted input on how to run an event or not dedicate any resources to a Bolt Action event or game day.  They expect me to do all of the work with no compensation to offer up whatsoever.  Some game companies get it right and offer the T.O. some form of prize support but game stores have not a care in the world.  They literally think they have earned themselves a free employee for the day.  I generally have to bring terrain, answer emails, build scenarios, and deal with the player base to organize an event.  All the game store wants to do is collect the money and offer up sub-par prize support and by sub-par I mean I have walked away from a Bolt Action tournament with some deck boxes…

Needless to say show your T.O.s some love.  I don’t work for free.  I guess if I was one of the game store fan boys that hung out there every day I would do anything for free but I am not one of those guys, not by the least.  I have no ties to any game store and a game store has yet to show me they support the Bolt Action hobby to boot.

Climate Control

My last and most draining peeve.  I know what Al Gore said about global warming but that doesn’t mean it has to be 105 degrees in your store (either F or C -we’d be dead).  I am talking about it being hot as hell while you are trying to play.  I have literally seen store owners turn off the air and for what reason still escapes me.  Players end up drenched in their own sweat and it becomes hard to concentrate.  Same can be said about the cold, not as common though.  I have played in a store where I could see my own breath, to me this is a tad ridiculous.  Please either fix your shit or at least turn it on.

Ten things tabletop gamers need to stop doing and/or saying

Hey guys, Timothy from Stones River Wargaming. This is something I have been wanting to talk about for a while now, so we will get right into it.

Nothing can turn a game bad, or possibly an entire stretch of gaming, as having to deal with people that do these things. And I am not saying anyone does these to be malicious, I don’t think they are actually aware of them. But hopefully this sheds some light on some habits and sayings that just really ruin your enjoyment of a tabletop/board game.

In no particular order:

1. *Rolls dice, misses…* “Well if you add them together it hits…” I hear this at least two – three times at a gaming event/tournament. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t so often but DANG. I get you wanted to hit, and maybe this is supposed to be funny. And it was.. The first time. Five years ago. Please stop, if just for my sanity

2. Distracted gaming. OH MY can this be an issue. If you have an important text/call, that is understandable. But if you are spending your time on a phone/tablet instead of paying attention to the game that I am pouring my attention into we are going to have a problem. If the phone turns sideways (aka video viewing) you might be asked to leave. There is a time for that and gaming is not the time. If you want to do that sort of stuff and be present that is fine, but please not while playing a game!

3. So what can lead to distracted gaming… Losing interest. OK I get that no one likes to lose, and if you see it going that way then you might become less vested in the games outcome. But with the time involvement of tabletop and board games have the courtesy to your fellow gamers to give it your all, no matter your standing.

4. What is the base of losing interest? Poor sportsmanship. I get that no one likes to lose, but this can go either way, either because one is losing or winning. Be gracious on either end and people will enjoy playing with you to the point you will actually get follow up games. Sore winners are quite possibly worse than sore losers, though I honestly have a hard time telling the difference. It can be easy to fall into the bad sportsman category but it really is the first thing one must master for everyone to have an enjoyable gaming experience.

5. Paint snobs. If your army/models/little plastic men and women are painted beautifully, good for you. That gives you no right to criticize anyone else’s paint job or lack thereof. At least they are willing to play a game with you, and that is worth more than them taking all the time to paint everything and thus not playing.

6. Touching my models. This might be ok if you are my opponent. I get wanting to be helpful and handing my a model that died. But you should ask permission. But person who is watching, not playing anything and decides to waltz over and put your dirty mitts on my miniatures that I have taken hours to assemble, paint and modify? NO. NO NO NO. Maybe if you ask permission, but more than likely it will be a no because obviously I am in a game, I need to pay attention to the game and the likelihood of you dropping my models is disturbingly high. Just look, touch with your eyes. Or I will end you.

7. Watchers, hangers on, general wastes of space. I understand if you don’t have models yet. I get it if you are just getting into gaming. But if you are distracting, annoying and generally a piece of crap, don’t be around my game table. If you come to a place of gaming with NO INTENTION of gaming, why did you come? And if it is a one off time, I get that. But I have been to events where the same people show up and never play anything.

8. Dice handling. There are several aspects to this, mostly from input I got from other gamers. Please don’t throw your dice all over the place, no one wants to pick those up. When you do roll, – and please, make sure you actually roll,dont just set the dice down – take away the misses, not the hits. Just makes it easier for everyone. While we are at it, you are a gamer. Bring your own dice and definitely don’t touch mine.

9. Little annoying sayings. “just don’t roll a 1” I then immediately roll a 1. “anything but a…” as well as, “close but no cigar.” There are plenty more. If you say something a lot when your opponent messes up, maybe look at it and think about how it comes across to them. I know I am guilty of this and so have changed things I may say to try to keep it an enjoyable gaming experience for everyone

10. Rules interpretations. There are multiple points to this as well. Please, know the rules for the game you are playing. I get that we play different systems and some bleed over happens, but when you try to run through something that is always an advance or walk, I know you know that isn’t real. If you are going to cite a rule from the book, that is fine. But hand me the book so I can read it too. Punctuation and writing is vitally important to proper rule interpretation. And finally, if it goes for me it goes for you and vice versa. Few are blatant enough to try this but I have seen it. If I was out of range you are too, and so on.

I know some of these may be splitting hairs to some while to others it is a huge issue. The overall point to this is think about how the way you game and the things you do affect other gamers, and be considerate of the time and effort people are putting in to play with you and you with them!

V4 Flames of War Afrika Korps thoughts

Hey guys, Timothy here. So I finished playing my second game of v4 Flames of War tonight, and it has taught me a lot. Both games I have played Afrika Korps, and I am really looking forward to giving Desert Rats a shot at some point. I don’t have any interest in Fighting First so doubt I will play them unless I decide to try out AJ’s army at some point just for fun.

Anyway, so I won my first game but more importantly, especially for me and learning things to do and not to do, I lost my second game which I played earlier tonight.

Of course no one likes losing but it does teach you way more than winning does and so I take times that I lose to really look at what I need to do, whether that be list wise, strategy leading up to the game and especially during the game. So first here is the list I ran. I won’t go through the entirety of the battle report as that will be on YouTube but here is the list:

 

Single Formation

Infantry HQ – 2 points

Rifle Platoon + sHMG, 6 stands – 8 points

Rifle Platoon + sHMG, 6 stands – 8 points

Rifle Platoon + sHMG, 6 stands – 8 points

5cm AT Gun platoon with captured 6 pdr card, 3 guns – 9 points

Tiger with extra armor Pz III – 37 points

222 and 221 scout platoon, 3 points

231 armored car platoon – 2 points

10.5cm howitzer platoon, 4 guns – 14 points

JU87 Stuka, 2 planes – 9 points

 

So I built a very defensive list, and this was really the game that I realized that Afrika Korps is not well suited to defend, at least not the way I built it. This list had too much mobility/points spent in mobility to be a good defensive force and too many points spent in defensive aspects to be a mobile/offensive force. My list building failed tonight, and that laid the groundwork for a loss.

Can Afrika Korps defend? I am sure they can, with the amount of 5cm AT platoons available as core and the solid infantry I am sure it could. But several things I learned the hard way this game:

Put a lot of thought into what you are putting in your list and what function your list is going to serve.

So going through this a bit at a time, I wish I had had at least one more rifle platoon, maybe two. Is five rifle platoons overkill? I definitely don’t think so. The equipment Germans bring is amazing and you need to maximize that in whatever you do. So probably 40 points of rifle platoon to form a solid defensive line.

The 6 pdrs I have no complaints about, only that I should have taken at least another platoon of them. The fact you can take up to three platoons as core for your infantry formation is awesome and should be exploited. Also the 5cm guns are decent against infantry if they lack a better target.

The Tiger and Pz III is going to be reserved for larger games, in excess of 100 points, it just isn’t a realistic expectation for it to earn it’s points back. So that will have to go.

The two platoons of scouts are great but for a more mobile force, that was a solid waste of five points. They also earned nothing back during the entire game. If I was running something more mobile, a tank formation or the like, these would have been perfect. As it was they were just a bit of a waste in this list.

The 10.5cm guns were good, but only a good start. I should have brought more artillery or possibly just none at all, but instead these ended up being more of a stopgap measure and they performed decently but when my opponent, who brought more artillery to the table, realized how much of a threat they were he focused his fire to make them ineffective.

 

So I have learned a lot, especially to change up my list building. I had aspects of a defensive force as well as offensive and it doesn’t work.

 

Things that I definitely enjoy about Afrika Korps in general:

The MG attachment to rifle platoons is awesome, I don’t really miss MG platoons and while they would be nice to have the way they did this is great.

Awesome equipment. Having an AT rifle in every platoon is great to help balance out your anti tank need in an infantry formation.

Solid tanks. I know what do you expect from Germans, but still this is something that attracts myself and other to play Afrika Korps.

Now, some of my gripes about the way Afrika Korps is designed specifically after having played a couple games:

The inability to take a mortar platoon by itself is very frustrating. I don’t know a lot of the historical aspects of the Afrika Korps but to me adding a single mortar for two points to a rifle platoon is expensive and not worth it. I really want dedicated mortar platoons and I hope they will be added in future theatres.

The weird points cost of a tiger. I understand it is powerful but the 29 points is really prohibitive in a 100 point game, especially when it doesn’t really do all that much for the points. Is it iconic? Yeah. Should be cheaper or have something else going for it? Absolutely.

Overall I enjoy Afrika Korps as well as V4 FoW, I learn more all the time and while I wish it had a bit more complexity to the game I also understand the need to get away from the overwhelming force that was the previous versions rules.

Hope you guys enjoyed this little rant and maybe it will help you with some of your games and/or lists!

Who we are

Hello gamers and non gamers alike! 

This being the first post we have done I thought I should let you know just who we are and what we do. 

Stones River Wargaming is a group of board,  tabletop, and to some extent, video gamers located in Middle Tennessee, specifically in the Murfreesboro – La Vergne area. Led by veteran gamers AJ Lancing and Timothy Collins, we play and host a variety of games for those gamers that are looking for anything from casual meetups to tourney events.

Having a combined experience pool of more than ten years gaming and countless days spent rolling dice, we are attempting to bring you the reader (and possibly attendee/member) information about game systems, battle reports, product and game reviews as well as our opinions about a wide array of all things gaming. 

Currently we game in La Vergne, everything from Eldritch Horror to Bolt Action and Flames of War. We have a specific focus on historical miniature wargames though our interests vary far and wide. 

I will make no promises as far as posting frequency as we both stay busy with full time jobs and unfortunately gaming is second to that, but we will be bringing you content as often as possible. 

Thanks for being with us for our kickoff post, and stay tuned for more!