With a brand new Bolt Action starter set, A Gentleman’s War, just around the corner, it’s an exciting time for the game. The new boxed set pits Rommel’s Afrika Korps against the doughty Desert Rats of Montgomery’s 8th Army, with an aim to recreate the famous battles of North Africa where brave men on both sides fought not just each other, but the gruelling environment and scorching sun.

The North African theatre is replete with iconic battles; as such it provides a fascinating canvas for wargamers. There’s plenty of supporting material to tailor your Bolt Action experience to the theatre. We’ve already talked about Campaign The Western Desert, which hones in on a period of time from September 1940, when Mussolini’s Italian Army invaded British-held Egypt up to the retreat of the Afrika Korps in October 1942, but there is so much more to discover, such as the debut of United States forces in North Africa, and the subsequent hard-fought battles of Tunisia. Enter Duel in the Sun, this Bolt Action theatre book takes an overview of the Mediterranean theatre, covering the earlier battles for Greece and Crete, and the Allied push up through the ‘Soft Underbelly’ (itself the subject of a campaign book) of Europe via Sicily up to the final assaults on the Gothic Line.

But who better than to give detail on what to expect within each section of the Duel of the Sun theatre book than Bolt Action developer Alessio Cavatore? Fortuitously we discovered his introduction to the book article in the archives…

Mussolini Strikes

The first section of the book concentrates on the early stages of the war in North and East Africa, introducing additional/alternative rules for Italian, French and British forces in those theatres, as well as unique terrain special rules. You’ll also find several scenarios to refight Operation Compass and the daring small-scale raids by the Free French and Long Range Desert Group (LRDG). Additional units are introduced like camelry and there are rules to field an Indian Division reinforced platoon.

Greece and Crete

This second section depicts the bitter fighting in the mud-logged ravines of Greece and the retreat of the Allied forces onto Crete, finishing with the massive German airborne assault on the island. There are scenarios and additional rules to recreate the battles of Operation Marita and Operation Mercury – specifically the battle of Tempe gorge in Greece and the assault on Maleme airfield on Crete. Also included are rules for Maori infantry sections (and the hard-as-nails Kiwi Cpt Charles Upham, VC & Bar) as well as a complete German Fallschirmjӓger reinforced platoon. It is battles of this period where Axis players should enjoy complete air superiority, possibly for the last time on the Western front.

Duel in the Desert

This is, I believe, the ‘core’ of the book, focusing on the alternating fortunes of the Afrika Korps and its Italian allies against the 8th Army, a force of mixed nationalities hailing from both Europe and the Commonwealth. Operation Sunflower, the siege and fall of Tobruk, Operation Crusader, Operation Theseus, and finally the decisive battles at El Alamein are all covered. The latter in Churchill’s words, might not have been the beginning of the end, but certainly were the end of the beginning.

Special rules for Rommel’s command, night fighting, minefields, limited supply etc. will allow you to fight either static battles like the ‘Siege of Tobruk’ scenario or dynamic ones like ‘Skirmish in the Sand’ or ‘Operation Lightfoot‘. In terms of additional units, the most exciting are certainly the SAS infantry sections (including rules for “Paddy” Maine – our Open Day miniature for 2022, incidentally) on the Allied side, and the Ramcke Brigade (led by Ramcke himself) on the Axis side.

Operation Torch and Tunisia

The US enter the war! This section deals with Operation Torch, from the first rehearsal of an amphibious landing against an enemy-held coast with the invasion of Western African territories held by Vichy France, to the steep learning curve of the Americans as they faced the battle-hardened Axis forces in Tunisia – Kasserine pass, El Guettar, Longstop Hill… a series of scenarios where the Allied forces fighting their way to Tunis will suffer a taste of what to expect in the broken, mountainous terrain of Italy. Also featured are the rules for the Hermann Göring division, both in its African campaign and its Italian campaign incarnations.

Italy Invaded

Starting with Operation Husky, play through the invasion of Sicily, and then Operation Avalanche into mainland Italy, the fighting in Salerno, Anzio, against the Gustav and Gothic lines, the bitter struggles at Monte Cassino and the remorseless resistance war in the North of the peninsula. Fight with American or British forces as they race up the Italian peninsula against the stiff German defence. There are rules for veteran US infantry, late war Italian paratroopers, as well as characters such as ‘Mad’ Jack Churchill, Otto Skorzeny, Charles ‘Commando’ Kelly and Dan Inouye. Importantly, in this chapter are guidelines about how to collect Italian forces after the surrender of the Italian Kingdom – choose to field either Allied-equipped Italian troops on the Allied side, Repubblica Sociale troops alongside the Germans, or Italian partisan armies.

Additional Rules

This appendix collects generic rules for minefields, both airborne and amphibious assaults and night fighting, as well as new rules that are far more specific to this sector, like multinational forces and desert warfare (both terrain and environmental effects).

A Gentleman’s War

This Bolt Action starter set pits the forces of the British 8th Army (more commonly known as The Desert Rats) against their Axis foes, the Deutsche Afrika Korps. Containing two opposing plastic forces set amongst the conflict across the arid desert war of the North Africa campaign, A Gentleman’s War contains the Bolt Action rulebook as well as a theatre booklet that guides you through your first steps in the game. It’s everything you need to get started with Bolt Action,

A Gentleman’s War contains:

  • A5 Bolt Action rulebook
  • A Gentleman’s War – Bolt Action Starter set booklet
  • 24 Afrika Korps plastic infantry
  • 1 plastic Sd.Kfz 222/223 armoured car – exclusive to this boxed set
  • 24 8th Army (Desert Rats) plastic infantry
  • 1 plastic Humber Mk II/IV armoured car – exclusive to this boxed set
  • Waterslide decals
  • Plastic Bolt Action templates & tokens
  • Plastic Pin Markers
  • 6-sided dice
  • Bolt Action Order dice
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