With the shortly-to-be-released new plastic French infantry as well as the new early series Panzer IV (three-tank Zug out now!), we’ve naturally been on something of an early-war kick here at Warlord Games HQ. We’ve recently featured the British Expeditionary Force, early-war Germans, and (of course) the French, but they weren’t the only nations involved in the opening stages of the conflict. Today, we’re talking Belgians, and why they’re a great choice for Bolt Action, either as a standalone force or an allied contingent!

Belgium had suffered greatly in the early 20th Century simply by dint of geography. The most strategically convenient way for Germany to launch an invasion of France was through Belgium – this had already caused enormous destruction during the First World War, and the Allied powers (of which Belgium was initially a determined partner before political concerns saw them declare neutrality) were resolved to prevent this happening again. Such was the importance of Belgium to the defence of France that the French even considered an invasion of their own to bring it under control! In any event, the Belgians had built up a considerable network of defences, including the line of fortifications along the Dyle river, and the mighty fortress of Eben Emael. When the German invasion did come in May 1940, Allied resistance lasted only 18 days in the face of co-ordinated manoeuvre warfare, with the Belgian King Leopold surrendering on the 28th of May, much to the fury of the British and many of his own subjects and troops.

Belgian and French troops move through a shattered village.

While that’s by necessity a very brief account of the Belgian campaign that misses enormous swathes of detail, we’re here to talk about Bolt Action! Let’s take our own look at exactly why a Belgian army is a cool thing to collect.

First up are the models! The Belgian range is relatively compact but packed full of everything you need to field these underappreciated soldiers, and they have a really distinctive aesthetic. A lot of early-war armies tend to be greatcoat-heavy, but the Belgians combine a distinctive short ‘battledress’ look with the distinctly continental ‘Adrian’-style helmets, making them a snappy alternative to fielding hordes of men in very big coats!

For fans of large hats, there’s also the option to bring the beret-sporting Chasseurs Ardennais, who display excellent fashion sense alongside combat ability – the best of both worlds!

As befits a major arms-producing nation (Liège being one of the major centres for European gunsmithing), Belgian troops are well-supplied with modern small arms, including the excellent BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) and M2 heavy machine gun, normally the preserve of US forces, while VB launchers and light mortars abound in often frankly concerning quantities – let’s take a look at what you can do with all of these goodies in terms of rules!

The elite Chasseurs Ardennais make good use of the dense Belgian woodland as they await the German advance.

The Belgians have what can be considered the ‘typical’ set of early-war national special rules – Hurriedly Conscripted Reserves encourages bringing plenty of Inexperienced infantry, while Forward Artillery Doctrine gives you a free artillery piece – who doesn’t love a freebie? Communication Breakdown does give your opponent a chance to re-draw the first Order Dice of the game, but to be honest that’s certainly not the end of the world! Moving to the army list itself, the Belgians have some interesting and useful options to play with. The elite Chasseurs Ardennais have the potential to become quite tasty indeed (an 11-man squad of Tough Fighters is pricey, but nothing to sniff at in close combat!), while the Cavalry Troop can also provide some mobile nastiness. The Regular infantry section is an interesting beast, with one per platoon able to take a trio of light mortars, providing some serious HE output at short to medium ranges. While lacking many later-war toys such as flamethrowers or heavier infantry anti-tank weapons, they have good access to artillery, including the excellent FRC 47mm anti-tank gun, one of the very best of the period. Good job you can bring two guns!

While not possessing any particularly notable armoured vehicles, they do have access to the venerable Renault FT-17. At a mere 35 points for Regular, it’s one of the best ways to get a medium machine gun onto the table, even if it’s basically a static pillbox! There’s also the rather faster T15 light tank, which fills much the same role with the added bonus of actually being able to move reasonably effectively! Other armoured vehicles are pretty thin on the ground, but you don’t play early-war European armies to have good tanks, just fun ones!

A Belgian army is a great challenge for new and veteran players looking for something just a little different (just ask Andrew Batchford, of Warlord Customer Service fame, whose Belgian army was recently in the spotlight!) and they also shine as part of a themed Anglo-Franco-Belgian alliance force, something I always like to see on the tabletop! Get out there and show those German players that Belgium is no pushover!

Belgian infantry dug in and prepared to blunt the German thrust.

Essential Reading

From the army list itself to theatre-specific selectors and additional rules and units, these Bolt Action volumes are essential for any fielding a Belgian Army on the tabletop.

Armies of France and the Allies with free webstore exclusive Nicole Minet special miniature
Germany Strikes! with free webstore exclusive Fighting Jack Churchill special miniature
Campaign Battle of France with free webstore exclusive Captain Pierre Billotte special miniature
1 comment
  1. The Belgians are a great little army whether you take them as Inexperienced or Regular or by taking the Chasseur Ardennais veterans for which you should always make them tough fighters! A medium mortar conversion using a German 7.5cm minenwerfer looks great and of course you can go HE heavy with the extra free artillery piece, 3 DBT light mortars in the Grenadier squad and the VB launchers in the rifle squads – you’ll have to scratch build the VB launcher. The recce light tank ACG1 is a great bit of kit too although Warlord have yet to produce one – there are 3D options available. We need to see some T13B3s, FN Tricars and a FN 12a SM motorbike with sidecar to really round out the Belgian options. One of my favourite armies.

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