Bolt Action

Late to the Party

According to my mother, I’ll probably be late to my own funeral.

She told me this when I was a kid, mainly because I tended to be slow and meticulous with things that didn’t need that kind of attention.  She was right, mind you – I can be ridiculously slow (and slow-witted) at times, and only Goodness knows why.

I mention this because I’ve only recently developed an interest in Dust Tactics.

Go ahead and laugh.

On the off-chance that you’re not familiar with the game or the game-universe, Dust Tactics (and its various incarnations) depict a world where the Second World War follows a very different path than what happened.  After Hitler is assassinated in 1943, a disgruntled Wehrmacht sees an opportunity for Germany to achieve an honorable peace.  The Soviets, however, are left out of the loop, and due to a misunderstanding, they’ve now declared war on the remaining Allies.  Along the way, the Chinese and the Japanese get involved, Florida is invaded, and everyone involved has unleashed new armaments developed with newly discovered alien technology.

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Sadly, I don’t own the core set, which is kind of a blessing – I’ll explain that later.  I had a chance, about two years ago, however, to snag a copy of it on a clearance table that was going for about $60; I thought it was too much for something that I knew nothing about, so I put it back on the shelf.  In fact, I remember the incident as if it were yesterday – “I’m going to check and if it’s legit, I’ll be back tomorrow.”

If that were only true.  “Tomorrow” never really comes, where I’m concerned.  I can’t begin to count the number of regrets I have because I’d talked myself into “coming back tomorrow.”  Too many to count, that’s for certain.  Anyway, I left that store and soon found other adventures in which to involve myself, quickly forgetting about the box that caught my eye.  In fact, it wasn’t until last September before I’d even given Dust a second thought.

Visiting another gaming store, I came across another clearance table.  Price-wise, this was nothing to write home about: Many of the “sale” items were only a few dollars down from list, so it was no wonder that the own had so much inventory still on his hands.  But I did see two of the Dust Tactics books on hand: The Core Rule Book and Operation Zverograd.  I remembered my earlier interest, and perhaps foolishly, convinced myself to research the game again, before investing any money.  There were several copies of each, and given the pricing, I was reasonably certain that none of them were going anywhere.  Worst that could happen, frankly, was that the shop could close its doors before I came back, thus time was of the essence.

Two days later, I was back.  I’d done some cursory research on Dust Tactics, and knew enough to say that it was something I’d definitely find interesting, giving its alternate historical timeline.  I grabbed those two books – by now, the materials were half-off, so if it proved to be a bust, I was only out of $30.  I could live with that.

But now I’d been bitten by the Dust Tactics bug.  Another visit (and twenty bucks) later, I had a couple of boxes of game figures.  Just before Black Friday, Fantasy Flight Games, which marketed the game, began a massive sale of Dust Tactics accessories, figures, and books.  This was cool from my perspective, because another $40 investment netted me nearly $150 worth of merchandise.  I was on my way!  That sale on Amazon?  Wow – two more add-on sets for $25!  A building set here, and Quonset huts there?  I’m on it!  I spent weeks reading what I could find, downloading various manuals, books, and add-ons; following Dust related blogs and websites . . . I was in full-blown addiction mode, and I hadn’t even played a game yet.

That store with the core set?  Of course, it was gone.  No one could get it for me, either.  When I did find a copy on Ebay, it was nearly $300, and that was used.  All while this was going on, I was curious as to why none of the local stores carried anything Dust related.  It never occurred to me to ask them about it.

When I finally approached a store manager about the game, he gave me the skinny.  Told me about how he’d refused to stock Dust after that “Kickstarter incident.”*  How he’d simply boxed up his armies and put them in his basement.  How his friends, who’d likewise supported the game, did the same.  How he felt there wasn’t a lot of interest left in the game because things had gotten too expensive and bizarre.

This is why I’m glad that I didn’t buy that core set.  Because while I’d have a few more figures and terrain tiles than I have now, I would have simply stared at that box and thought, “Sixty bucks, and for what?”  I had to know that I’d never get anyone else interested in zombies, werewolves, killer gorillas, and walking tanks.

Seriously – what was I thinking?

I could pursue it, he told me, but I’d just be wasting money.  I didn’t tell him that I’d already come to the same conclusion.  All said and done, I probably shelled out $150 on Dust Tactics.  Strangely, I don’t regret this – not one bit.  When I learned about Dust Adventures RPG, I reasoned that my investment could still pay off, just in a different way.  When DrivethruRPG put the volume and its add-on adventure on sale some months back, I went ahead and purchased it.

Do I feel bad about my time with Dust?  No, not really.  After all, a similar game – Konflikt 47, by Warlord Games – was released about a year ago, and since that game is a reworking of Bolt Action, I see some interesting possibilities ahead.

 

* I know little about that incident, so I’m only repeating what was said to me.

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Useful Finds

While I’m working on other projects, I’ve been taking stock of things on store shelves that might be of use at some future date.

I was at JoAnn Fabrics this weekend and found a number of interesting things.  Apparently – I didn’t know this – “fairy gardens” are a thing.  From the way it was explained to me, people have these small gardens wherein they create small diorama style themed settings for “fairies.”  Gnome villages, beaches, 1950s Americana – you name it, chances are you can find small components with which you can create a miniature park.Resized_20170602_151306.jpeg (2)

What first caught my attention was this set of “concrete” planters; it was probably their size, as they’d be perfect for a table using either 28mm or 54mm figures.  I’m guessing they’re either ceramic or resin, because they do have some weight.  Although marked at $13 for the set, JoAnn’s had marked them down significantly; I think I shelled out just over $5.  Given what’s here, it’s almost worth it.

My problem, as you can see, is the rather pathetic looking greenery included.

Let me get you a better view:

Resized_20170602_151343.jpeg (2)Yeah, that’s some hopeless looking vegetation.  I’m guessing that there were limits on just how much of this green colored lichen (or sawdust, I can’t really tell) was used, because no one  planter has more or less than the next; it’s like each was specifically measured out and that was that.

 

I could have left them alone, but then I’d have nothing to discuss.  That’s when I brought out my secret weapon:

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Ten minutes later, it would seem that I’d developed a green thumb:

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I’m not completely satisfied with how they look – I mean, this foliage is really just shredded foam – but at least now the planters have something that resembles a bush.  These might make some interesting hedgerows if I use them with Bolt Action, or they might factor into some other tabletop game.  In fact, they might work nicely with something else I found on JoAnn’s shelves:

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I picked up resin naval cannons, which are a part of a pirate themed set.  While none of the other naval items were to scale (or applicable) for me, the cannon – with all of it’s imperfections – just called out to me.  Frankly, I think it was the fact that they were about $3 each (down from $7).  I’ve yet to do a more scientific comparison, but they appear to appropriate for 28mm to 54mm use.

Which is good, because look what I just happened to come into?

I’m Back, Pt. 2

With the whole Star Wars/Trek thing currently on the back burner, I’ve been dedicating myself to some new interests, specifically, the idea of wargaming.

I’d gotten into wargaming some years back, but it was never serious.  Rather, I should say that I never got the chance to get too serious about it, as components were rather expensive and rule sets were (at least in my neck of the woods) hard to come by.  I did manage to piece together a really nice set of expensive 15mm US and Soviet vehicles, but I never got to use them, as my lovely nephew discovered them one evening, and thought they’d make wonderful projectiles to skip across a nearby pond.

Yep, I’m still ticked about that.

Anyway, I hadn’t had much to do with wargaming until recently, when I was intrigued 81oeiWfuyhLby the release of the 2nd edition rules for Osprey’s Bolt Action (BA).  I’d heard about it in passing, but knew nothing else.  Virtually no store in my area carried BA products (save for an occasional supplement book), and I knew no one who’d had any experience with the system.  But once the updated rules were released, I was curious.  I did some investigating and research, and eventually decided to just order a copy of the book.  I should add that what really got me motivated to act was my curiosity about a companion rule set, Konflikt ’47 (but that’s another post entirely).

I got the opportunity to watch the game being played at a local store and immediately fell in love with what I’d seen.  My only problem was in the costs, as fielding a basic force can be a bit expensive.  With me wanting to try the game at home (and possibly recruiting others into it), that meant I’d be paying for at least two armies (so double my prices), as well as all of the books, accessories, and who-knows-what-else would be involved.  What am I talking about dollar-wise?  The starter kit for one force runs about $120, and that’s essentially a collection of 28mm scale soldiers (between 25 and 40, from what I’ve seen), a copy of the rule book, and several smaller accessories needed for the game.  Vehicles could run another $25 to $50 each, and then there’s the costs involved in creating a realistic looking playing area, and that depends on what one is trying to do – but it can be pretty expensive, not to mention time consuming.  By the end of the day, I’d determined that I’d probably shell out several hundred on a game that might get used, and that was a bit rich for my blood.

Then, as they say, something happened.

Resized_20170523_094627.jpeg (2)I remembered that a few years ago, I’d gotten bit by the modeling bug.  There were a couple of really good hobby stores in my area – now since gone – where I’d gotten some basic 54mm scale Tamiya models on the cheap.  Some had been assembled, others sat waiting for action.

I’ve been questioning whether or not it is possible to play Bolt Action with figures larger than the 28mm scale.  Without a lot of table space, I’m guessing that it’d be near impossible to conduct large scale actions, but I’m wondering if one limited oneself to smaller, squad based activity – would it still be feasible?

I have so many models that would work that it seems almost silly not to try . . .