If you like a gentleman's approach focusing on maneuver not minutia this is the WWII rules set for you. Bolt Action focuses on WWII infantry fights with a wide array of supporting weapons from heavy machine guns to calling in air strikes. Game play starts by selecting an infantry platoon or company reinforced by supporting guns or tanks. The game is usually played on a 4ft x 6ft game table with about 40 to 80 miniatures on each side. Though focused on the infantry platoon the rules are clean enough to easily fight large battles with hundreds of models in a reasonable amount of time.
For each unit you and your opponent select (each squad, gun team or vehicle etc) you place a marker or colored die in the orders cup/ bag. Players draw at random and whoever's color is drawn that player selects a unit and issues an order. Units fire, advance (move and fire), run (move twice), ambush (overwatch or opportunity fire), rally a pinned unit, or down (take cover). Selecting who and when to fire and advance or ambush is critical. As units are shot at they can be pinned and take casualties. Pinning reduces a unit's effectiveness. So, as in any good infantry battle, the object is to pin down and attrite your opponent before assaulting and seizing your objective. Units then close assault their opponent. It is critical to pin and damage your target multiple times and reduce their combat effectiveness before closing. Though not as highly detailed as other rules sets, Bolt Action allows for differing rates of fire, different armor penetration and covers a wide range of infantry weapons, AT weapons, artillery, guns, machine guns, and a broad variety of tanks, vehicles, and air support. Bolt Action also covers assaulting and fighting within buildings and fortifications. Though it may not satisfy the needs of the gamer or enthusiast who insists on differentiating between every variation of armor, weapon, unit etc Bolt Action fully captures the flavor and pace of WWII infantry combat. Bolt Action, as with most of the excellent rules developed by Warlord Games, the gamer spends his or her time playing and maneuvering rather than rolling dice, consulting tables and sorting through long multi-step simulation processes to get to a result.
Do not be intimidated by the thickness of the book. There are not a lot of complex rules. The bulk of the book is pictures and diagrams, discussions about the hobby, and unit construction. The clear open outline format of the book makes the rules clear and not dense on the page. The production quality is excellent. Well constructed, well written, lots of beautiful pictures, excellent clarifying diagrams, very good tables. The rules are well structured focusing on the basics in the beginning chapters and expanding on the various supporting equipment in the second half. The rules are meant to showcase colorful eye catching terrain and 28mm miniatures and favors moderate to dense terrain. Though it will play well for infantry clashes in North Africa or the Russian steppes, as in real life, the team with tank support will dominate the battle on open ground. Bolt Action fits well with the tone and intent of Warlord Games other rules, Hail Caesar!, Pike & Shotte, and Black Powder. The emphasis is on relaxed simplified fast friendly play and not fussy awkward and tense tournament style rules.