No one’s ever accused the Germans of not getting enough love in Bolt Action – they’re one of the best-represented factions in the entire game, and practically everyone has a little German force stashed away somewhere, just in case. With that being said, there are a few areas of the German army that don’t see the table as much as perhaps they should. While everyone loves the great big tanks and ‘Gucci’ gear of the late war, camouflage-loving masochists flood the internet with hordes of beautifully painted smocks and Zeltbahns, and extreme weather enthusiasts blow hot and cold in Africa and the Ostfront, the opening months of the war are sadly often underrepresented on the tabletop. This is a real shame, as the iconic ‘Blitzkrieg’ Germans (so beloved of classic Hollywood!) are a fantastically cool army in their own right, and a great painting and modelling challenge to take on. Let’s see why!

Blitzkrieg – German forces advance at pace.

Just a quick note – when we’re talking ‘early war’ or ‘Blitzkrieg’ here, I mean the European theatre from the war’s inception through to roughly late September 1941. Though an early-war German force lacks all the fancy late-war kit and huge armoured vehicles, that doesn’t mean it’s bad by any stretch of the imagination. Let’s look at the strengths available to us.

Right off the bat, both German special rules are in play for the early war. Initiative Training is always useful, especially when using large numbers of Regular units (an early-war favourite of mine), and Hitler’s Buzzsaw gives you the best LMG in the game, which can be a real difference maker when you’re only fielding one per squad. It also applies to your vehicle-mounted MMGs, making some of those really early tanks (looking at you, Panzer I and II!) quite efficient anti-infantry ‘lawnmowers’. When playing Germans in any period, I always assume that I’m going to be outnumbered (be that by French, Soviets, or even British!), so any boosts to my standard infantry are gratefully received!

Panzers lead the assault on a small French town.

One of the issues that is so often bemoaned in early war armies is the lack of really good anti-tank weaponry, meaning that even a 9+ DV medium tank can become a serious problem. Not so during the Blitzkrieg! From the opening day of the war, German players have access to the dreaded ‘Flak 88’, arguably the best dual-purpose big gun in the game. While pricey in terms of points, the ability to wield a super-heavy AT gun this early in the war is a massive force multiplier, and don’t forget – it has the Flak rule, and counts as a medium howitzer as well! These weapons were used to great effect during the Battle of France and beyond and really should be in strong consideration for every Blitzkrieg German army.

Last among the key strengths of an early war German list is its armour. From the aforementioned Panzer Is and IIs mopping up infantry, to the anti-tank punch of the Panzer III and howitzer support of the Panzer IV (now available in plastic!), German players have a wide variety of excellent tanks and armoured cars available to them. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the Panzer II/Sd.Kfz 221 combination, combining anti-infantry ‘dakka’ with a surprisingly dangerous anti-armour punch, but there are plenty of other options out there – and that’s before we get to all the Hanomag variants! While often expensive, these can provide useful fire support and get your Landsers to where they’re needed on the battlefield, favouring a very aggressive playstyle.

Panzer I Ausf. B
Panzer II Ausf. A/B/C
The new plastic Early War Panzer IV kit can make either the Ausf. B, C, or D variants. Pictured is a Ausf. B, painted as a vehicle of the 5th Panzer Division in Poland, 1939. The new kit is first available within the great-value three-tank Zug boxed set.
Sd.Kfz 221 Armoured Car
Sd.Kfz 251/1 Ausf. C Hanomag

Moving onto the modelling and painting side of things, an early-war German army just looks cool. The steingrau trousers contrast nicely with the feldgrau tunics (don’t forget the early-war bottle-green collars!), and the helmet decals, while a touch fiddly at first, can really elevate the look of your army from ‘tabletop standard’ to ‘wow!’. Our plastic Blitzkrieg German boxed set will do a fine job getting your Heer on the table, but the possibilities don’t end there! The Winter German boxed set (still my all-time favourite infantry kit of ours) is perfect for the early war in chillier climes (September in Poland can be a touch nippy, I’m told!) – just remember those dark green collars – while for hotter action the Afrika Korps and German Grenadiers sprues have plenty of rolled-up sleeves, perfect for depicting your troops in the thick of the action. Kitbashing opportunities are always rife when it comes to Bolt Action! There is also (naturally) a great range of metal and Warlord Resin sets to bulk out your infantry with all the special weapons they need to roll through Poland, France, and Russia!

Plastic Blitzkrieg! German Infantry
Plastic German Infantry (Winter)
Blitzkrieg German Support Group
Blitzkrieg German Weapons Teams

An early-war German force can be a really rewarding army to collect, simply because you don’t see too many of them out there! Any time you beat a later-war force you can claim serious bragging rights, and for themed games, there’s nothing quite like being able to match the correct Germans against your mates’ French or Poles – no need to pretend your StG44s are invisible here! I’ve been an advocate for Blitzkrieg armies for a long time, and have actually had a project on the go for a little while, though the new French plastics are sorely tempting…

The Blitzkrieg! German Starter Army contains 36 plastic infantry, a plastic Sd.Kfz 251/1 Ausf. C Halftrack, an 81mm Mortar Team (metal), a LeIG 18 light artillery team (metal) and a Panzer IV. Ausf. D (resin and metal).
German light machine gun teams lay down suppressing fire.

Remember, as in life, so in wargaming – don’t be late, be early!

  1. If playing early war vs early war, germany is a powerhouse army. Well led, well diciplined, well supplied troops.

    Understandably when everyone else upped their game to match them, the early war armour was then out matched which meant it really struggled, But infantry doesn’t degrade the same way and so keep the panzers supported.

    1. I 100% agree, although most players you come across tend to play late war armies so you are up against lots of panzerfausts and flamethrowers…. which is why like you said keep the panzers supported with lots of infantry.

  2. I have a Battle for France set which allows me lots of options. It includes tanks, aircraft, artillery, vehicles as well as multiple infantry choices. It also avoids the reliance on the big cats which to me can unbalance a game. It also allows some real “Blitzkrieg” scenarios bases on manoeuvre more than sheer strength.

  3. If you want a serious ‘anti-infantry lawnmowers’ spend another 15 points and get your early war Panzer III the TWO coaxial MMGs it’s SUPPOSED to have. Combined with the bow-mounted MMG, this would give you 18 dice of firepower! Hopefully this mistake will be corrected in the NEW Armies of Germany in 2025….

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