of the Bulge
Bolt Action Campaign at EndGame,
August - December 2017
Beginning on August 27, we will be running a Bolt Action campaign based on the historical events of the Battle of the Bulge, the epic clash between the U.S. Army and the German Wehrmacht in the winter of 1944 – 45.
After several months of planning and secretly building up the last of his forces, Hitler launched his last great offensive of the war. In an attempt to cut the Anglo-American Allies in two, the Germans sent a massive armored thrust through the Ardennes forest with the objective of reaching Antwerp. Though beset with major logistical problems that ultimately doomed the effort, the Ardennes offensive caught the Allies by surprise. Only through determined fighting would the Americans eventually hold and finally turn back the German assault. When it was over, Germany kept fighting for a few more months, but with their best units destroyed, the Soviets closing in and reserves spent, defeat was inevitable.
For this campaign, we will run a series of game days that will represent the Battle of the Bulge. Scenarios will be drawn from the Battle of the Bulge campaign book by Warlord/Osprey, the main Bolt Action rulebook, and special custom scenarios designed for the campaign.
Players will use historically based lists that will reflect the conditions the armies faced during the actual campaign. Participants should endeavor to collect a range of models representative of the U.S. Army or the German Army or SS in the late-war period December 1944 - January 1945. The general list value will be 1,000 points. However, this may vary depending on the scenario. For example, the Germans may have a significant point advantage at the start of the game (1,500 or even more), mainly to allow for lists including heavy armor. Specific list requirements and restrictions will be sent around before the game days. It is also fine if you have a smaller force, around 750 points.
I know the Brits were involved toward the end but this was an American fight, so I will only allow one player with a British army.
To sign up, send me an email at mike.endgameoakland.com and indicate which side you will play, U.S. or German. If you have armies for both sides, that can help when we have an odd number of players or an imbalance to one side or the other.
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Campaign game days will occur once a month, starting in August and running to December. The current schedule is below:
Game Day 1 - August 27
Game Day 2 - September 17
Game Day 3 - October 29
Game Day 4 - November 19
Game Day 5 - December 17 (73 years since the start of the battle)
Doors open at 10 a.m. Scenario briefing at 10:15 and games begin at 10:30. There will be a lunch break around noon and we will normally finish around 5 and no later than 5:30.
Lists MUST be built with the following historical selectors, no exceptions. However, you can use the generic Reinforced Platoon list BUT it must conform to a historical unit TO&E that you have researched that is not covered by any existing selector, and your list must be approved by me.
For the Americans, this means:
* 1944 Bastogne
* 1944 Battle of the Bulge (includes Airborne, Infantry, Engineers, Pathfinders)
* Late War U.S. Army Anti-Tank Reinforced Platoon (from the campaign book)
For the Germans, this means:
* 1944-45 Operation Watch on the Rhine (includes SS, Heer, FJ, and Strafbattalion)
* Kampfgruppe Peiper Reinforced Platoon (from the campaign book)
* Panzerbrigade 150 Reinforced Platoon (from the campaign book)
All new units and characters in the campaign book can be used as well.
So, commit to one side or the other (or both) and you can start working up an army. If you already have a U.S. or German army, my suggestion might be to simply build the opposing force.
There may be opportunities for both sides to field Tank Platoons from the Tank War expansion. I will indicate when games will involve tank platoons and arrange for players to use these lists and scenarios at the appropriate time.
You should do your best to assemble an army in winter uniforms with the appropriate equipment. No proxies. The models in your army for this campaign should be WYSIWYG and representative of this period of the war. That said, not all troops, especially on the American side, had winter clothing, so if your models don’t have winter gear, it can be okay. Just ask me.
American players will probably benefit from having a halftrack or truck model in their collection, along with any armored vehicles.
German players, this is your chance to roll all the cool heavy tanks! You’ll want at least one of the Big Cats (Panther, Tiger or King Tiger) but if you only have MkIVs that’s fine.
And please, get your stuff painted to at least tabletop standard, meaning three colors and properly based! Get some snow on those bases! Fully painted is not required but expect to be mercilessly paint-shamed you if you play with grey or primed plastic.!
We will use the Bolt Action 2nd edition rules. We will also use the Battle of the Bulge campaign book. You should familiarize yourself with all the rules regarding winter – the effects of snow, fog, and of course the biting cold – as these will all be in play.
I’ve done a lot of campaigns. The one thing I’ve learned is to keep it simple - no one reads the rules. But hopefully, you will read the next few paragraphs because this is all there is to it. There will be a map. There will be large formations represented on this map. But, as players, the only thing you will need to decide is where to fight.
I will say is that roads and bridges will be extremely important. Almost all movement is on roads in this campaign – the Ardennes was an extremely rugged, hilly and heavily forested area - cross country movement will be very limited. If you haven’t got a road to move on, you have to find one. And if you hit a river without a bridge, you have to wait for the engineers to build one or find another one. Also, roads get backed up and can only pass a certain number of units through at any one time. Controlling roads, crossroads and bridges will be very important.
Supply was an extremely important factor in the Battle of the Bulge. However, there will be no supply rules to contend with. Everyone hates supply rules. Supply issues may come about because units are cut off or for other obvious reasons. Most of the time, I will simply look at the situation on the map and make a judgment call as the GM. The effects of supply problems can easily be built into the lists (such as the Germans being required to used fuel-starved tanks) or with scenario special rules (like low-ammo, etc).
At the start of the campaign, I will set up a map and place a markers to represent the starting positions of the units involved.
One side or the other will have Operational Initiative for a given set of games (usually two per game day). This is based on which side won the last round (the Germans will have it for the first game day, obviously). Players on the side with Operational Initiative may each choose an area on the map where they will move to as the Attacker, depending on where they have friendly formations at the start of the round. Then players on the opposing side are paired up, a scenario is assigned and the game is played. Whoever wins gains control of the area, forcing the other side out.
That’s it. It’s not a lot, but as the GM, I’ll make any needed judgement calls about movement, etc.
The Germans have a timetable – and it is a very difficult one to keep. The challenge for the Germans is to do better than they did historically. The original (ambitious) German objective was to be on the Meuse by the third day, and seize Antwerp by the fourth day! Each game day represents a certain amount of time.
Game Day 1 – December 16 – 18 (Initial German assault, bad weather grounds all aircraft)
Game Day 2 – December 19 – 20 (Allied defenses begin to re-organize, siege of Bastogne begins)
Game Day 3 – December 21 – 22 (German advance continues but supply lines stretched thin)
Game Day 4 – December 23 – 26 (Weather lifts. Farthest German advance reaches within 4km of the Meuse River. 4th Armored Division relieves the 101st Airborne at Bastogne)
Game Day 5 – December 27 – January 1st (Hitler orders the advance to halt. By February 7, all German gains in the offensive have been erased)
How well or poorly the Germans do indicates how much time has passed. Winning more games than they lose on a game day might mean only a single day has passed in-game. Losing more games might mean two or three days pass.
On the last game day, we’ll take a look at the campaign map and see where things stand and determine the victor. If the Germans are on the Meuse in significant force or by some miracle have actually made it to Antwerp, history has been altered!