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Ten-Hut! Speed Painting a Bolt Action American Army

Bolt Action is a World War Two miniatures game designed by Rick Priestly (creator of Warhammer), and published by Warlord Games and Osprey Publishing. It's a lot of fun, and a well-designed set of rules that appeals to a wargamer who doesn't do much historical stuff such as myself. Rather than being an in-depth review of the rules, or the models, I'm going to instead talk about the process of speed-painting an American army (around 650pts) in two weeks. This force is made up of just three purchases: a box of infantry, a tank, and a weapons team from a blister pack. I used primarily Contrast paints from Citadel Colour, and I followed a video tutorial done by Sonic Sledgehammer on YouTube.


Berlin or Bust

I chose an American army for Bolt Action for a personal reason: my grandfather fought for the Americans during World War Two. Beyond that initial choice I picked what would make up the army as I usually do: I start with a leader and a box of line infantry, and go from there. In the case of Warlord Games' plastic sets, I was able to construct both (and more) out of the same box. Now, the box of Infantry I used to build this force is actually an older kit, and is no longer sold by Warlord Games. Instead, they currently have a better-looking box with more miniatures in it, so anyone taking inspiration from this post is in a far better position than I was when I first bought these models. Because I purchased these models right when Bolt Action was first released in 2012 (or thereabouts) my models might be different than what is currently offered by Warlord Games. Yes, these models have been hanging around in my to-do pile for over a decade.


Mustering the Troops

I'll say, right off the bat, that what I don't know about armies during World War Two could fill a warehouse. I love history, but I always concerned myself about big picture stuff, rather than what uniforms soldiers wore, or what their guns were called. If you quizzed me about American army structure—past or present—you'd find my knowledge lacking. Which is why I was glad to see a pretty simple breakdown of terminology and general practices in the Force Selection section (try saying that ten times fast) of the Bolt Action 2nd Edition Rulebook.


Equipped with this knowledge, I found out what the minimum I needed for a playable force was. There are army speicific force books that provide more detailed army lists, but to start out I opted to stick with the army list from the core rulebook, at least until I have some games under my belt and can figure out how to modify and expand my army. The reinforced platoon is the example they give, which says that the minimum required to play a competitive game is one lieutenant (first or second) and two infantry squads.


Seeing as the box I bought only came with twenty-five models—now they come with thirty—I opted to not go full-strength for my infantry squads. I have another box floating around somewhere in storage, so I can always beef-up my squads later. I built three models for my first lieutenant, and nine models each for my infantry squads. I should also mention that I decided the experience level of my army would be regular across the board. As I'm learning the game, I can adjust this down or up as I see fit.


With four models unbuilt, this allowed me to build some other units such as a sniper and a bazooka. After all, the components were there... Why not build them?


My next purchase, of course, was a tank. Tanks are big, flashy, and cool, and for the United States at the time, the most common tank was the Sherman. When I first bought this Warlord Games offered resin tanks, but now they appear to be plastic ones designed by Italeri, which makes me a little jealous. All the more reason to try and shoe in another one for bigger games, I guess.


Finally, I decided that it might be good to have some more support in the form of a machine gun. Now, the army list only has one entry for a .30 CAL M1919 machine gun, whereas I appear to own a .50 CAL M2 HMG. Perhaps my FLGS' distributor only had these in stock at the time, or perhaps I was planning on grabbing the American force book when I bought it. Regardless, I threw it in the list, and decided I'd worry about it later. A more historically-minded gamer might also cock an eyebrow at the fact that I stuck all four models on a single 60mm base, whereas the Warlord Games site now displays the same product with three men to the gun base, and an ammo porter on his own. Again, this is something I'll worry about later.


A Uniformed Approach

So how the hell do I paint these things? I don't have access to my grandfather's uniform, so I have to rely upon the knowledge of the Internet, which as it turns out is pretty extensive. Honestly, the hardest part is just figuring out which paints correspond to which colors on the uniforms. There is a bit of an information overload when it comes to historical miniatures painting. Besides, I wanted a fast method for painting this army. I'm not the quickest painter, and I didn't want these figures languishing any longer than they already have. A simple YouTube search yielded me a video done by the YouTube user Sonic Sledgehammer. His video had a really easy guide, that only used thirteen paints, many of which I already owned. I substituted Black Legion for Abaddon Black, and P3's Boiler Black for Iron Warriors, but that's it.


In fact, I was so impressed by how great his infantry guide was, that I went and looked up to see if he had any guides for painting Sherman tanks, and sure enough, he did. I deviated a little bit from his guide in this instance. I see that I had already primed my Sherman with a can of US green from Battlefront's discontinued spray paint range, so I just found the closest P3 paint (Thornwood Green), and added Rucksack Tan for the highlights. I also used Typhus Corrosion instead of Stirland Battlemire, which utterly annihilated the brush I was using, so grab a cheap-o one.


Reporting for Duty

So there we have it, a 650 point platoon (well, 646 points to be exact) painted in two weeks! I could cut that down to 500 points for games where it might be a hassle for my opponent to meet 650, and gives me a starting point to find out what I need to do to get up to 1000, which is the standard size for Bolt Action games. Now if I can only find my order dice and pin markers...

Note: I apologize for the sub-par pictures. In fact, I sat on this post for months because of the quality of the pictures. I decided to go ahead and just post them, and learn for next time. Photography is an aspect of the hobby I'm still working on.


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I'm On A Roll!

Carmin Carotenuto is a man about games about town. 

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