Warlord Games heads into new territory with their latest Bolt Action supplement, Campaign: Sea Lion. Unlike the previous Warlord releases that are all rooted in historical events, Sea Lion explores a “what if” scenario, the German invasion of Britain. Although Operation Sea Lion, or Seelöwe, was a real operation, it was planned and resources were allocated, an invasion of Britain never took place. Thus this book lies in the realm of historical fiction and provides Bolt Action players is a host of new units, rules, and scenarios to fight battles that never took place.
The book is divided into four parts; history, British selectors and units, German selectors and units, and scenarios.
A History of Seelöwe
The opening section of the books is a fictitious overview of the German invasion and a timeline covering the events of D-1 to D+15. Even though these events did not happen Warlord provides extensive detail for the overall invasion plan and each major battle along with the forces involved. Without the clear disclaimer on page eight, a careless reader may think this is a historical account.
British Anti-Invasion Forces
The next 50 pages cover new theater selectors, units, weapons, and fortifications for the British defenders. Selectors include British Army Reinforced Tank, Anti-Parachutist “Light Infantry”, Costal Defense, Airfield Defense, Local Defense Volunteer (LDV) Patrol, Urban and Shire Militia, Water Patrol, Women’s Federation Toxophilite (Archery) Club and Home Guard platoons. Just to be clear, you can now play a game of Bolt Action using a platoon of women armed with longbows – amazing.
New rules are also provided for dozens of new units. Also new are the ‘patrol’ units. These units only have two to seven models are meant for use in the 500 point patrol scenarios. With these units, Warlord has taken the first steps towards a ‘combat patrol’ ruleset and I am thrilled. The new vehicles rules include a number of improvised armored cars and trucks including (to Ben and my) delight, the 35 passenger Civilian Bus. Looks like the partibus has official rules!
German Invasion Force
This 20-page section provides rules for new German theater selectors, units and invasion equipment. Selectors include rules for Beach Landing, Fallschirmjager, Brandenburg Infiltration Commandos, Airborne Raiders, British Union of Fascists, and Gangsters platoons. You now have the rules to create a Nazi cell fighting a ‘resistance’ war against British forces in England – awesome. Also included are rules for various invasion barges and assault boats. One thing is clear, if you want to use this book to its full potential, you are going to need a beach terrain table.
Following the new units is two pages of new special rules. These rules cover fantastic rules ranging from Dangerous (if you roll a 1 to hit, roll again; on a 1 the gun explodes and kills the crew) to Infinite Range (has no upper range limit). The tone of the special rules make it clear – this book is truly for battles of make-believe.
There are ten new scenarios and campaign rules provided to fight out the invasion and decide the fate of Britain. In another difference from other campaign books, the scenarios in Sea Lion are either Patrol of Battle scenarios. Patrol are meant to be played on a 4×4 table with only 500 points per side. Battle scenarios are your standard 1,000+ point games played on a 6×4. The patrol scenarios combined with the rules for small patrol units provides a great warbands-style feel and opens up Bolt Action for new ways to play.
The book also includes a page on how to play the missions in a linked campaign with a running campaign score. This campaign would be amazing for a group of players. You could easily form two teams of two. One side playing the Brits (one player Home Guard, one regular army) and the other team playing the Germans (one player regular army and the other Fallschirmjager) or any other set of combinations!
Campaign: Sea Lion is excellent. I am impressed with the sheer amount of new selectors and units in this book. There are so many options to choose from. Too many of the Bolt Action selectors are just a list of restrictions, these selectors provide flavor and special rules for players.
Even though Sea Lion leaves the realm of historical recreation it provides all the tools to play out alternate history. Sea Lion puts the “game” in “historical wargame” and is not afraid to do something different. I do hope that Warlord dives back into historical fiction once again.