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" Bolt Action or Chain of Command. " Topic


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Action Log

16 Feb 2004 10:28 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Northern Monkey29 Sep 2017 2:27 p.m. PST

Both get talked about a lot here, but which would you choose for WWII games?

Choice if two, please no alternatives.

blank frank29 Sep 2017 3:27 p.m. PST

Well I've played a lot of both games and continue to do so as some folks down my club prefer one to the other. Both give a good game but CoC has a slight edge in it's tactical play and the players management of the game. CoC has an innovative pre-game (Patrol phase), and the jump off points where your sections and teams enter the table create some surprise and fog of war. I also like the 'Bad things happen table' here your forces morale is slowly eroded by events on the table.

Finally with CoC all your army lists are on line and the 'pint size' scenario supplements are just that, the cost of a pint.

If I was was you I would ask someone for a game of both and then decide.

BA has some wonderful artwork in, I just love Peter Dennis' paintings.

Frothers Did It And Ran Away29 Sep 2017 3:47 p.m. PST

There's nothing wrong with Bolt Action but its mechanisms seemed a bit arbitrary to me. Chain of Command is excellent and really feels like something designed around WW2 tactics. Unfortunately for me BA is much more popular at my local club that CoC…

badger22 Inactive Member29 Sep 2017 6:16 p.m. PST

Chain of command because it rewards WWII tactics.

Neal Smith29 Sep 2017 6:23 p.m. PST

CoC

nsolomon9929 Sep 2017 7:36 p.m. PST

Bolt Action gives a fun game but you could swap out the figures for Imperial Storm Trooper's and it wouldn't matter.

Chain of Command feels much closer to what we know of World War II combat. And we know quite a lot because we could talk to WWII veterans when we were younger and so many of them left us detailed memoirs.

shelldrake29 Sep 2017 7:43 p.m. PST

I have both rules and have played both.

I found Chain of Command to be the better rule set, and I have a lot more interesting and fun tacticle games with CoC.

Bolt Action has a lot of eye candy in the books, but felt it was more of a Warhammer type of game.

Microbiggie29 Sep 2017 7:50 p.m. PST

The breakdown of players at the local game shop seems to be along the line of historicals-only gamers play CoC. And BA is played almost exclusively by the I'll play anything, as long as its has points, and a traditional GW-esque look to it, guys.

torokchar Supporting Member of TMP29 Sep 2017 8:16 p.m. PST

Bolt Action- hands down!

JLA10529 Sep 2017 8:27 p.m. PST

CoC gives a much better feel for WWII. Bolt Action feels very similar to 40K.

christot Inactive Member29 Sep 2017 10:29 p.m. PST

Chain of command hands down
It's a war game based on ww2 infantry tactics not a war game based on a business model

Northern Monkey29 Sep 2017 10:52 p.m. PST

Wow. I'm surprised that this isn't a more even balance.

Torokchar, can I ask how you think BA trumps CoC?

PMC31729 Sep 2017 11:37 p.m. PST

Chiming in to support Chain of Command too. BA is fun, but it's not a WW2 wargame. It's 40K in fatigues with a few tweaks.

Nick B30 Sep 2017 2:07 a.m. PST

COC – no comparison for me.

Bezmozgu7 Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2017 3:02 a.m. PST

CoC without a doubt.

uglyfatbloke30 Sep 2017 3:27 a.m. PST

CoC is – broadly – probably better history, but it's very easy to give BA more historical flavour and it's easy to pick up for new players. We use a field-stripped version of BA for company (and bigger) games and it flows very well.

PMC31730 Sep 2017 3:41 a.m. PST

The other thing in BA's favour is that Warlord are better known than Too Fat Lardies I would imagine.

FusilierDan Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2017 4:16 a.m. PST

Blank franks advice on trying both out is solid.

I've played a couple of BA games and about a dozen CoC. The cost of getting in to either is about the same. I would say the learning curve is longer for CoC and I'm a slow learner. I picked CoC to focus on based on the historically accurate comments most often posted. I'd say they are valid comments and hold true in my limited understanding of WWII combat. I'm not sold on CoC as being my game of choice for WWII.

The guy I've played most of my games with plays a lot of BA . He was instrumental in getting me to play CoC. I know he's busy this weekend at a Con but if he chimes in could give a good comparison of the two.

Dynaman878930 Sep 2017 6:07 a.m. PST

I'd play either. CoC tries to be more accurate while BA is more easily adaptable. In BA I would not allow "crafting" an army according to the points lists however, I would setup a scenario and let the other player choose sides.

Tony S30 Sep 2017 6:47 a.m. PST

I've played both, and if you like history Chain of Command is far better. Actually, CoC also gives a better game in my opinion; more tactical thinking required by players.

Chain of Command also have a lot of superb "pint sized campaigns" available. This is somewhat subjective, but the ground scale is about 1:100…which is 15mm wargaming scale. I don't know why, but playing a game where the figures scale is the same as the ground scale is awesome!

Blutarski30 Sep 2017 8:07 a.m. PST

Chain of Command for me.

B

Pizzagrenadier30 Sep 2017 9:07 a.m. PST

Neither :)

advocate30 Sep 2017 10:48 a.m. PST

+1 to Chain of Command. It feels so much more like a game of WW2

Andy Skinner Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2017 5:10 p.m. PST

I have not played BA, but probably would like it as a system.

But I do like CoC a lot, because of the patrol phase, the command dice, and the jump-off points. I think these things add so much excitement and interest. These things are more interesting to me than the specifics of the rules, or fine details about historical feel.

andy

fabambina30 Sep 2017 9:38 p.m. PST

Chain of Command is far superior to Bolt action.

Bolt Action gives a fun, light game. But CoC gives a much deeper, more subtle, more realistic, more satisfying game.

CoC rewards historical tactics. In Bolt Action it is impossible to utilize historical tactics.

CoC is a WW2 game, Bolt Action is a game with a WW2 skin.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Oct 2017 1:56 a.m. PST

Wow, I'm surprised at the results here: 95% in favor of CoC. I've read the CoC rules and they are intriguing, but I haven't yet played a game. I've played quite a few BA games and I'm not a fan of it (but that's what my game group plays). I agree that it is "a game with a WW2 skin". It does not feel at all historical to me. OTOH, it's a lot easier to learn than CoC. CoC has a lot depth and aspects I'm still trying to grasp. I really need to play a few games of it to be sure I'd like it.

uglyfatbloke01 Oct 2017 3:19 a.m. PST

Best not to get focused on historical validity BA encourages unrealistically small squads for some armies, OTH does CoC allow you to turn a British platoon into just two squads, one with mostly rifles and the other with three Brens? Maybe it does, but I'd guess not.

BobGrognard01 Oct 2017 3:30 a.m. PST

Actually, CoC allows you to do precisely that. If you want to reorganise your platoon you can. In a campaign setting, and CoC had lots of them, such as hoc reorganisation is essential and a really interesting challenge for the gamer as platoon commander.

Neal Smith01 Oct 2017 9:30 a.m. PST

Scott – There will be a few CoC games at Fall In! this year. Check it out.

uglyfatbloke01 Oct 2017 10:30 a.m. PST

Bob – cool; I 'd just expected otherwise.

basileus66 Inactive Member01 Oct 2017 1:50 p.m. PST

Gamed both, and prefer Chain of Command. Something in Bolt Action doesn't feel right. I mean, it is fun, but it lacks WWII-chrome. Too generic ruleset for my tastes.

nazrat02 Oct 2017 8:41 a.m. PST

CoC without a doubt! BA is a GW style tournament game and as such is pretty awful. It can be fixed but why waste your time when CoC is perfect as is, and a fraction of the price as well?

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP02 Oct 2017 7:22 p.m. PST

I enjoy Bolt Action for skirmish scenario games set up by the GM with historical organisations rather than points-driven set-up (my preference for all WW2 games).

I also enjoy different set of rules for larger unit battles.

GGouveia02 Oct 2017 7:54 p.m. PST

You want a realistic tactical situation go for chain of command. You want a more popular game for the masses go for Bolt Action. I do both depending on my mood.

Personal logo Jlundberg Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2017 7:45 p.m. PST

I will play Bolt Action since it is what the local group got into.
I tried one game of CoC at Historicon a couple of years ago and was left cold. It could have been the GM or the scenario, but I left with the "I don't wish I could get those hours back, but meh" feeling. My favorite remains DH1

oldnorthstate05 Oct 2017 9:03 p.m. PST

I have watched CoC played several times and have played myself a couple of time. I find the pregame patrol feature rather tedious and doesn't seem to produce results that would be much different than implementing a random placement protocol in BA…the CoC game mechanics create too many situations where a player may just sit and get to do one or two actions in the entire game. It is a game designed for 2 players on each side. Any more players than that and chances are somebody is not going to do much during the course of the game. As far as better "realism", whatever that means, I'm not convinced…in the end in both games you roll a bunch of dice based on weapons, get hits, throw save rolls and assign lost morale points. Nothing unique about either one as far as that goes.

BobGrognard05 Oct 2017 11:09 p.m. PST

Oldnorthstate. CoC isn't designed fur two players a side. It, and Bolt Action, are like most games with just thirty odd figures a side, designed for ONE player a side.

There does seem to be a trend at US Cons to overload games with more players than they are designed for and obviously that will leave people with little or nothing to do. That's not a fault of any rule set.

If more than one person is playing, you should be using the Big Chain of Command amendments so each player has their own platoon. Then there is no down time and plenty to do.

TacticalPainter0106 Oct 2017 1:02 a.m. PST

CoC wins out for me. Lots of friction that can best be tackled by good leadership and historical tactics. That ticks all the boxes for me. Oh yeah…and I have a ball playing it.

uglyfatbloke06 Oct 2017 4:09 a.m. PST

X2 for Minimo. We don't use points at all, we often have several players on each side and it works fine – we do have a mechanism to save people haning around waiting for a dice pull though.

Personal logo 22ndFoot Supporting Member of TMP06 Oct 2017 6:30 a.m. PST

Chain of Command is definitely a game which tries to encourage and reward historical tactics. This is in itself quite a departure for a lot of gamers who prefer, or are more used to, Jominian certainty over Clauswitzian friction – whether or not they would themselves draw that distinction or describe games that way.

The effect of this is that many players have not only to learn a new set of rules – which is often a challenge for me – but also adjust to a rather different way of playing and, wargaming being a broad church, this may not work for everyone.

It works for our happy band but that's us and reflects what we're trying to get out of a game. This certainly doesn't mean that others may prefer something else.

I would suggest giving Chain of Command a go, preferably with someone who knows what they're doing and has figured out how many players the game is designed for. If you can't find someone to put on a game for you, the author is very active in his support of all his games and there is an active Yahoo group as well as a lively forum where you can find plenty of support.

oldnorthstate06 Oct 2017 6:35 a.m. PST

BobGrognard…while they may be designed for one player each side they are generally use with multiple players, as you pointed out, unless used in a tournament, which I don't do. BA can and does bog down unless the GM keeps things moving. In BA, while it might be a while before your dice comes up you have an expectation you will get to do something in a relatively short time. I have watched several CoC games where either a units move once or twice or worse, never get on the table, depending on the scenario.

For multiple player games in BA the trend now is to allow one side to activate multiple dice at a time. One solution that I think works for CoC with multiple players is to have each player in sequence take their turn commanding the entire force.

As you suggest CoC seems to be a great game for two players whiling away the evening over a couple of beers.

As much as I read about "historical tactics" in CoC I just don't see how CoC produces that over BA.

uglyfatbloke06 Oct 2017 6:51 a.m. PST

Oldnorthstate – that's what we do. Players have their activation dice in front of them; a card is drawn- Blcak means all the axis players deploy a die, red for the Allies. It's simple and quick. I'm going to have a harder look at CoC, but I think you're right – 'historical tactics'may well be more to do with the players than the games. If more history geeks play CoC it will tend to produce 'more historical' games. If more '2 squads of Marines, 1 squad of Gurkhas, a mortar, a 25 pounder and a Comet' players go with BA that will produce 'less historical' games. We use BA all the time, but with conventional force structures (no lonesome howitzers unless a historical scenario justifies/demands it. Do we get historically credible outcomes? Yes we do.

Personal logo toofatlardies Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Oct 2017 7:30 a.m. PST

oldnorthstate

Why not play Big Chain of Command, where each player commands his own platoon?

To be honest, you can play Chess with 32 players, each controlling one piece, but why on earth would you? The more you dilute a game, the more you move away from what it should be. Having played BA, I think changing the system of pulling dice to just allowing everyone to take a go would really risk spoiling what the game is designed to do and actually remove a lot of the fun. Pulling the dice and the uncertainty of the order of play is what the game is all about. Take that out and you may as well just go to IGO-UGO.

With Chain of Command, a big part of the game is deciding when to commit your troops to battle and when to keep them back as a flexible reserve. If you have a game where each player controls one squad, you are naturally going to get players all deploying immediately and some players getting a lions share of the command dice, either because they happen to have the squad that is doing the key task or simply because they shout the loudest. The whole idea of the game is that you the player are playing the platoon commander and deciding how best to command your force as a whole. It is not a game about being a squad leader and playing it like that is a bit like knocking in a nail with a paint brush.

As I said, play Big Chain of Command and everyone gets to command their own platoon. Problem solved.

Cheers

Rich

fabambina06 Oct 2017 10:45 a.m. PST

As an author who has worked on Bolt Action (my work has been published by them) and is delving into writing scenarios now for Chain of Command, the difference in being able to play realistic tactics in Chain of Command and in Bolt Action is like the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it. (thanks Larry Miller!)

Regardless of the player and their intent, their knowledge, and their grognard status, Bolt Action begins, from the very go, with units and "army" compositions that only barely resemble historical reality. This leads to a domino effect whereby you have no way to use real world tactics, because you don't have the correct tools. In fact, you often have the wrong tools completely, and then you use them. This throws the whole simulation out of whack.

It's like trying to play baseball with a bat, a glove, a football, and a basketball hoop to shoot through. It may look like baseball if the uniforms are right, but it isn't.

From there, the attempt to use real world squad tactics is moot, because you are already playing baseball on a basketball court.

fabambina06 Oct 2017 10:49 a.m. PST

Bolt Action is a fun, light WW2 style game. But it is not in the same league as Chain of Command when it comes to realistic tactics or tactical depth.

I prefer Clausewitz to Jomini.

uglyfatbloke06 Oct 2017 11:10 a.m. PST

Toofatlardies the trick is to not let everybody go at the same time, just that each player on ones side deploys a dice assuming hey have dice left. If they've had heavy casualties or used platoon commanders for activation they may not. The possibility of having two or three (or more) draws in succession is just the same.
Of course it's only fair to accept that we don't use BA as it was intended no points, historical units only, no 'exceptional damage', 2 pins for taking fire from MMGs…another thing is if a unit has more pins than people it legs it and we don't use the 'national trait'rules either.
We like games with a 1:1 figure scale that pretty much matches the terrain, so we don't have ranges for most weapons, but we do pack in an awful lot of scenery so there's seldom that much LoS anyway.
Does it turn BA into a simulation? Absolutely not. Can we get a good company level game for 2 people in an evening and get a historically-convincing outcome? Yes, absolutely.
Occasionally weird stuff happens, but then weird stuff sometimes happens in battle. My ability to throw a near-endless succession of ones and twos and make poor decisions may conceivably be a factor. Is our game better than somebody else's? No it's not, but we've not seen anything else that facilitates the level of game we want to play…Crossfire comes a bit close and we sometimes use it for games with our 54mm kit.

redmist112206 Oct 2017 12:35 p.m. PST

Again???

Another plug for Chain of Command…hands down.

P.

Garth99 Inactive Member14 Oct 2017 1:48 p.m. PST

COC is miles ahead of BA in so many ways. Firstly there's the cost. BA is about three times more expensive to start playing than COC before you even buy any figures. Next there's the fact that in BA there's no fog of war. Sure they say there is but you always know where the enemy are hiding. In COC you can get caught out by enemy troops popping up when you least expect them, either behind a wall, a hedge line or in a building. You really need to be thinking in COC about where an enemy may deploy an ambush. Then there's tactics BA is purely about drawing dice from a bag and as such you cannot really come up with a plan where units work together. COC allows one to move forward with a tank and have the infantry follow on behind to keep under cover. This can only be done in BA if you are lucky enough to draw two dice out together, or wait till theres only two dice in the bag and you know they are yours. Next theres the fact that in BA you have loads of dice all over your nice games table. In fact after a round theres about 15-20 dice on the table as well as the pinned markers. Sure every game has markers but those dice sure do spoil the look of a games table. If theres anything that knock downs COC its the army lists. In BA you just put a 1000 point army together, go to a club and put it on the table and your opponent does the same with his 1000 points. However in WW2 armies were very rarely equal so its possible that an attacking force will have more equipment, but then that was doctrine for most forces when attacking. It means of course you need to do a bit more organising, but it is more realistic but then of course unlike BA you are not putting all your tanks on the table, and lining them all up ready for a battle like its a Greek Phalanx. Lastly for me BA is like glorified chess. You are simply moving figures and tanks around the table. Theres no explanation in how the commander is doing that. In COC there really is an element of command and control that doesn't exist in many other games. Personally I think when Richard Clarke put COC together as a rule set he was thinking about tactics and strategy of WW2. When Warlord Games put BA together as a rule set they were thinking, how can we sell figures. This is why you see Nebelwerthers and artillery on a BA table, but only light mortars on a COC one. The nebs and Artillery would scale wise be about 60 foot back from the table (Like in the kitchen if your playing in the living room, or the bar if your playing in the games club) if not more.

Travh20 Inactive Member15 Jun 2018 2:41 p.m. PST

Another vote for CoC from me as well. I play both games quite a bit. I play BA these days as my group plays BA, but when I am at home gaming with just one or two friends it is almost always CoC. CoC has so much going for it that makes it feel more realistic and tense.

Wolfhag15 Jun 2018 3:39 p.m. PST

CoC

Wolfhag

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