Campaign: Stalingrad has been unleashed! We got our hands on a digital copy (physical books are not shipping to the US just yet) and we simply couldn’t wait to dive in.

Hot

  • Storm Group – One of the new Soviet Infantry units, the Storm Group will join the hallowed ranks of S-Tier infantry (Gurkhas, US Marines and Mongolian Cav). These fiends can be taken as Reg. or Vet. The base squad size is four with the option for an additional four. The Regs are 14pts a pop and the Vets are 17pts. Why the extra 4pts over base? Well, all the models come with an SMG (3pts) and for the insane bargain of 1pt the unit has the Armed to the Teeth Special Rule. This rule means the Storm Groups ALWAYS attack first in close combat if they initiate the assault. Enemy units cannot benefit from the Defensive Position rule. In a standard game of Bolt Action, that’s a hell of good rule. But if you are playing on a heavy urban table, my lord, that rule creates an unstoppable infantry assault unit. – Andrew
  • Sniper Detachment – Sniper Teams are a staple of Bolt Action, often seen in as Veterans at 65pts for most nations. This new entry, the Sniper Detachment, fills the Sniper slot in your Platoon Selector and starts off with 5 Veterans at 65pts armed with rifles. You have the option to take up to two sniper rifles in the unit at 30pts apiece, which gives you the option to either fire five rifles normally, or fire two sniper shots (targeting the same unit, but potentially different models). While the unit is pretty pricey at 128pts if fully kitted (including an NCO SMG), I like it because having five Vets in the unit makes them tough to dig out if you put them on a backline objective, and having two sniper shots available makes it much more likely you can take out high priority infantry or weapons team targets. –Ben
  • Tractor Factory Reinforced Platoon Theater Selector – I am sucker for unique and thematic Theater Selectors. I am always disappointed to see Theater Selectors that do nothing but restrict unit choice. Luckily, that is not what we have here! This Theater Selectors is a masterpiece in thematic choice. You have the option of taking not one, not two, but three Tractor Factory T-34s! To be clear, this is not a Tank Platoon. This is a standard Reinforced Platoon that you can pack three tanks into. To be fair, those tanks can only be Tractor Factory T-34s (another new Soviet unit) but having three Armor 9, fully enclosed armored vehicles in a 1,000pt list is nothing to sneeze at. Even if all three of those tank are Inexp. and must include a defect. – Andrew
  • Frontnik Commissar – A new headquarters Commissar for the Soviets and I really like the potential with this one. The Frontnik Commissar was a newer trend in the Soviet Army at Stalingrad, putting more emphasis on the morale of the men along with trying to improve the quality of the newer recruits. At 40pts Regular, a Frontnik Commissar can be joined by up to two men, and includes both the “Not One Step Back!” rule from the standard Commissar as well as Inspiring Rhetoric, which removes the -1 To Hit penalty from Inexperienced units within 6″. This provides a fantastic option for anyone thinking of rocking the Soviet Inexperienced Horde army. Additionally, the next entry down is the Politruk, providing the same Inspiring Rhetoric rule but without Not One Step Back, providing you with a slightly cheaper (if less effective) way to improve those Inexperienced men. – Ben

Not

  • Alarm Unit – One of the new German units is the Alarm Unit. This infantry squad represents the desperate ad-hoc units that were formed to hold the line. The unit special rule, Ad Hoc Equipment, is an interesting attempt to provide some real flavor for this unit. Before Deployment, you roll a die for each Alarm Unit to see if they managed to scourge up any additional weapons besides rifles. Unfortunately, the math off for this unit options and I can’t see why you’d ever take this squad over a different Inexp. unit. To explain, each man costs 8pts (1pt more a standard Inexp. trooper). For that extra point you are granted the role on the Ad Hoc Equipment table: 1-3 – no change (keep the riles), 4 – SMGs, 5-6 – LMG. Seems cool. Except the for the SMG roll, you remove three riflemen (-24pts) and add back to models with SMGs (+22pts). It’s costing you more points to get the SMGs, on top of the up-charge for the unit to begin with…strange. Very strange. It’s a fun rule but it’s far too costly. – Andrew
  • Zaichata Squad – Thematically this unit is very cool, as it brings a ‘master’ sniper together with a pair of recruits in a true trial-by-fire method of training. In terms of gameplay however, it’s like a terrible entry. Clocking in at 120pts, you get three Regulars, each armed with a sniper rifle. If the Master Sniper (who counts as your NCO) dies, the squad is downgraded to Inexperienced, or if both the trainees die, the Master Sniper is upgraded to Veteran. When they fire, either the Master Sniper fires a single sniper shot, or the two Zaichata trainees fire a sniper shot each. So you are paying 5pts less than the fully outfitted Sniper Detachment to get 3 three Regs, who will fire 1-2 sniper shots, or pay 5pts more for five Vets with more overall firepower and the same sniping capability. Unfortunately, it seems like a fairly useless unit. – Ben
  • Rattenkrieg Reinforced Platoon and Into Hell Reinforced Platoon – These are two new German Theater Selectors and at first glance they seem pretty standard. However, lurking in the Tank section of the Selector there is the option for 0-1 Tank from a whole list of vehicles (as usual) or the option for 0-2 StuGs. That’s so cool! To really get the flavor of combined arms in these urban assaults you can roll up an army with two StuG assault guns. Sadly, there is no Infantry option for StuG Riders! The German Begleit StuG Escort Infantry Squad was introduced in Campaign: Road to Berlin and this would be been a perfect opportunity to let this unit shine. Building a list around a pair of StuG assault gun, each with a squad riding is just too cool! A sad missed opportunity. – Andrew
  • Romanian Cavalry Troop – This Selector at first glance seems awesome, and could have gone on the Hot list except for one glaring problem. Looking at the positives, we have 2-6 Infantry Sections (2 have to be cavalry, and then 0-4 Cavalry or Motorized Infantry), along with a fairly normal selection of weapons teams, an Artillery piece, and then 0-2 Armored Cars (which is awesome!). And being a Cavalry troop, you can mount your HQ teams on horses for 5pts a man as well. Seems lovely, cavalry is fun! Unfortunately, looking at the Romanian Cavalry unit entry in Armies of Italy and the Axis provides us with our problem. Romanian Cavalry cannot move into contact with the enemy while mounted, which eliminates one of the primary reasons to bring a cavalry unit in Bolt Action, a highly mobile unit with the option of a powerful 18″ Tough Fighter assault into the enemy. Sadly, while the Selector provides some cool options and the Motorized Infantry squads are a solid choice, the Romanian Cavalry unit itself drags this selector down into the Not category. – Ben

The Takeaway

For these initial impressions we did not dive into the multitude of scenarios or the new campaign system (it looks solid). But we can say this latest book in the Campaign series is a hefty entry filled to the brim with interesting missions, thematic units, unique Theater Selectors and gorgeous artwork. If we get a chance to play any of the missions, we will be sure to let you know! – Andrew & Ben