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I'm new here ... Anyone play Bolt Action or Cruel Seas?

DocShoveller

Godwin's Lawman
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Bolt Action is a game I would love to get into, but can't bring myself to commit to a new period.
 

Scutarii

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Cruel Seas got loads of people excited about WW2 naval combat but we pivoted to bigger ships before buying into CS. Ended up playing Victory at Sea at 1:6000 scale.

Bolt Action gets some play locally too, people often flit between Chain of Command and Bolt Action as they’re both platoon sized skirmish games in WW2 so the models work for both without issue. CoC is more historical though so sometimes a force designed for one game is a bit hopeless in the other.
 

Cessna

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I play a decent amount of Bolt Action, but often use the figures for other systems like Chain of Command as well.

I've just started getting into Cruel Seas; I've bought a bunch of British ships and am in the process of painting them. At the rate I paint I will be ready for a game in 2025!
 

komradebob

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Is Chain of Command worth picking up? I watched some company demo videos, but I'd like to hear from some actual players.
 

Scutarii

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Is Chain of Command worth picking up? I watched some company demo videos, but I'd like to hear from some actual players.
It is good, I like it quite a lot. The focus is on command and control between your officers. While the troops are the fighting elements they don't get to activate and do very much without their officers nearby but in turn for the officers to be effective they have to put themselves into more dangerous positions.

It's a very fire and move style game, being in the open sucks but you have to cross over at least some open ground to win missions or attack an entrenched enemy.

Unless there are crazy mismatches in who has what troops facing off against each other what tends to happen is both sides infantry digs into cover and starts exchanging fire, whittling away at each other slowly until someone feels the tide is turning against them and has to do something desperate to break the deadlock OR they have to bring in additional supporting units to give them a different capability to break those deadlocks.

Effective use of things like suppressing fire as one team covers the other as they dash over open ground, then the team that moved provides the covering fire for the other half to catch up are common. The big risk there is that the junior officer commanding them has to sit between both groups to and is thus vulnerable. Or you have to commit multiple commanders to the same area to get tat move to work and then somewhere else is order starved.

It won't do a rivet counting style of play, but it definitely makes for entertaining games.

Unit and funky weapons types are decently supported as well. While every nation will have a core set of units they'll bring there is a set of additional units you can buy out of a supporting points system to tailor your force to deal with the mission and what your opponent has brought.

For example the 1940s French list is here


It has a Force Rating of Regular +1. Which means you get all the default units, then roll for a bonus number of points and get a flat +1 points. You spend the result of the die roll+1 (from the +1 mentioned above) to buy units in the support column. So lets say I get 3+1 = 4 points.

Core units are

PLATOON HEADQUARTERS
Lieutenant, Senior Leader, with pistol
Sergeant, Junior Leader, with rifle

VBCOMMAND
V.B. Coporal, Junior Leader with pistol
One V.B.launcher with one crew

SECTIONS ONE TO THREE:
- Sergeant, Junior Leader, with rifle
- LMG TEAM
-- Chatellerault M24/29 with three crew
-- Three riflemen
- RIFLE TEAM
-- Four riflemen
-- One V.B. launcher with one crew
Then I get 4 points to buy things...hmm, the mission requires me to delay the advancing Germans while I blow up a bridge. So I'll spend one of my 4 points on an Engineer Demolition team and 3 points on an anti-tank gun and crew.

One of the advantages of being forced to bring a mostly infantry focused force for everyone means that you don't get crazy mismatches where one side is super armour heavy while the other side simply can't bring enough AT weaponry to bear. There will always be infantry to fight so infantry weapons are always worthwhile.

It's got a semi-random turn order and dice based activation system. It reads as quite frustrating, like it would lead to some awful results but on the table in play it's far less of an issue. Simply the way dice rolled tend towards the averages make it work well and injects risk. Though a common house rule is that players can't get more than 2-3 'turns' in a row.
 

A2A

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Is Chain of Command worth picking up? I watched some company demo videos, but I'd like to hear from some actual players.
It's really good, and my go to game for presenting a close approximation of actual WW2 combat at platoon level. Lardie games have a big emphasis on friction, morale and command and control, and CoC is one of their best implementations of that - the way Junior and Senior Leaders work seems to me to reflect actual accounts of small unit combat very well. The pre-game Patrol Phase is also a really nice touch - not only does it mean that with a bit of luck and skill you can try to get your force to deploy in a way more advantageous to you than just lining up at the back edge of the table, it also helps ensure that you start off at the point of first contact with the enemy. The Jump Off Point deployment system is also a really good way of creating a bit of a fog of war and giving some value to recce elements as well.

Where the game really shines, however, is with the "At The Sharp End" campaign supplement, which gives you the campaign rules for taking your force through a series of linked battles, dealing with casualties and the impact of those battles on the opinion your troops and your CO have of you as the platoon commander. It also has some good guidelines on building your own campaigns, whether they be generic or based on specific historical battles. Once you've got a campaign to give you context, the game takes on a whole different aspect where you're having to worry about keeping your platoon intact to fight another day while trading space for time (as a defender), or trying to meet a deadline (as an attacker), for example. There are plenty of campaign packs (known as Pint Sized Campaigns) available, both from Too Fat Lardies and third parties, covering all sorts of actions throughout WW2. They each provide historical background, battlefield maps, relevant special rules and force lists and support options relevant to that campaign (which also makes them really good as a guide to collecting a platoon and support options). I'm currently building both sides for the Kampfgruppe von Luck campaign, which has the British 6th Airborne Division defending against counter-attack from elements of 21st Panzer Division on D Day, and it really helps focus my collection.

If you haven't already, I'd recommend the videos on Lard TV on YouTube where they start playing through the Gembloux Gap campaign (Germans attacking the French in 1940). Aside from being a good example of play, it also shows the extra considerations the campaign aspect of the game demands of the players.
 

Cessna

Gritty AF
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I'll agree that Chain of Command is very good.

I will also caution that the rules aren't the clearest, and there's a bit of room for interpretation as far as how things work in play. As such it might be a good idea to talk with any potential opponent first about how to resolve disputes.

I will also point out that the Lardies designers believe their own hype and do not take well to any critique of their rules. They're infamous for kicking people off their forums for asking reasonable questions. This has not happened to me, but it is a bit off-putting.
 
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