After a frantic week of building, an even more frantic night of painting, and a solid half-hour of sleep achieved, the day of days dawned for my brand new US Rangers army – the Warlord Games HQ Store D-Day tournament! With army case in hand, and only slightly bleary eyes, I was (at least theoretically) ready to rock and roll! As a reminder, here’s my list:

Unit TypeUnit NameOptionsCost
Infantry (Headquarters)Regular 2nd LieutenantExtra Man60
Infantry (Headquarters)Regular Medic23
Infantry (Squad)Ranger Squad5 Extra Men, BAR M1918A2 Automatic Rifle145
Infantry (Squad)Ranger Squad5 Extra Men, BAR M1918A2 Automatic Rifle145
Infantry (Squad)Regular Engineer Squad3 Extra Men, 2 x BAR M1918A2 Automatic Rifles, Flamethrower110
Infantry (Team)Regular Medium Mortar TeamSpotter60
Infantry (Team)Veteran Sniper TeamSMG67
Infantry (Team)Regular Bazooka Team60
Armoured CarRegular Reconnaisance Jeep40
Self-Propelled GunRegular Mortar Jeep40

750 Points, 10 Dice

Duncan Wasdell had very kindly agreed to lend us his beautiful and widely renowned Band of Brothers-themed boards, which were actually fresh off the boat from their recent visit to the Overlord Museum in Normandy, meaning that this was going to be a D-Day event on arguably the best D-Day terrain in the world – that alone was worth the sleepless night for me! In addition, this event also featured a donation box collecting for Duncan’s longtime association with kidney disease charities – a worthy cause indeed, and one all were happy to give to! You can learn more about Duncan’s efforts here.

Note – As I was busy playing the games themselves, I wasn’t able to get any photos of the fighting! Fortunately, other attendees stepped up to the plate with cameras in hand, so whilst there are not many shots featuring my US Rangers, you can at least see Duncan’s boards in action!

Game One

Bolt Action - Ranger Danger! Marcus builds and paints a new army in a week - D-Day themed Bolt Action tournament
The boards are modular, and designed to be put together in a number of configurations.

My first game was against a familiar foe, but one I’d never actually played Bolt Action with – Warlord Staffer Andrew Batchford, with a lovely British Airborne list featuring a Tetrarch and plenty of Universal Carriers. We were scheduled to play a Meeting Engagement on one of Duncan’s boards, featuring a LOT of bocage, and only a very few roads, which looked like it was going to seriously hamper Andrew’s tactical mobility and play into my hands, but I knew I’d need to be wary of all of his Bren guns! The game started well in my favour, as I was able to funnel Andrew’s vehicles into a convoy on a single road – with the Bren carriers being open-topped, they weren’t able to fire past each other, which greatly reduced his firepower early on! Unfortunately for me, Andrew then (a) remembered that his tracked vehicles could push through the bocage per the special rules for this table, and (b) proceeded to roll the best series of dice in his life. Everything that could possibly have gone right for him did, he got every single activation he needed right out of the bag, and I was failing rolls left, right, and centre. In a single turn, I was staring down the barrel of defeat! Just as soon as it had come, Andrew’s luck deserted him! While he was set up in a really strong position to take the game away from me, I experienced almost exactly the same dice luck as he had the previous turn, which decisively swung the game in my favour. Andrew put up stiff resistance until the bitter end, but this was a game very much decided by the confines of the table and the fickle whims of the Dice Gods rather than player skill or mistakes! Result – Big win for the Rangers.

Game Two

Next up I faced off against James, who brought a really nice Waffen-SS list to the fight, including a lesser-spotted Panzer II L ‘Luchs’. The mission was Sectors on one of the more ‘normal’ boards (every player being guaranteed at least one game on Duncan’s awesome boards to ensure nobody missed out, with a couple of standard tables to ensure there were enough to go around), which suited my Rangers down to the ground – I had a plan! Both James and I went for a pretty cautious ‘refused flank’ deployment, with one exception – I deployed one of my big Ranger squads basically right in the centre of the table, right on the limits of my deployment quarter, and then used my Rangers Lead The Way pre-game move to get within 6” of one of James’ SS squads… I was gambling on the first dice out of the bag – if I didn’t get it, those Rangers were toast! Luckily, the first dice was mine, and the Rangers promptly stormed forward, obliterating an SS squad in close quarters! First blood was mine, but James gave them the expected pasting, reducing them to just one man, who somehow managed to pass his morale check and stay in the fight as our forces took potshots at each other across the board. Deciding to ride my luck, with the first activation of the second turn, I charged this absolute maniac into James’ officer team… and killed them, too! Sadly the story of ‘Solo BAR Guy’ ended shortly thereafter in a hail of gunfire! Elsewhere on the board, our forces jockeyed for position, with James keeping my left flank pinned down with his Luchs – while I couldn’t reliably kill it, he didn’t have enough effective firepower to kill my Rangers who’d hunkered down in a building, either. It proved to be a tightly matched game that came right down to the wire as we both broke cover on turn 6 and dashed as many units as possible into the scoring sectors. With the game not going to turn 7 on the crucial roll-off, James had managed a narrow victory – had we gone the full 7 turns I might have been able to claw out a win – but that’s Bolt Action, and it was a fantastic, hard-fought contest throughout! RESULT – Close loss for the Rangers.

Game Three

Bolt Action - Ranger Danger! Marcus builds and paints a new US Rangers army in a week - D-Day themed Bolt Action tournament
My Rangers advance, precariously out in the open.

With one win and one loss, I knew I needed to end on a victory to have any chance of finishing in a reasonable position, and found myself drawn against another German army. This one was more of a ‘mixed bag’ list, commanded by Simon, and the mission was Key Positions – my absolute favourite! Honestly, by this point the lack of sleep was starting to catch up with me, and I didn’t recognise the danger signs until it was too late! The game started well for me, with my plan seeming to work perfectly as I advanced across the table, inflicting casualties across Simon’s army. While I’d seized one objective and planned an advance on another, Simon’s hard-bitten SS dug in on the crucial third point, in a thick copse. At this stage, I started making mistakes! Rather than biting the metaphorical bullet and sending a unit of Rangers in to clear the Germans out in close-quarter fighting, I dilly-dallied and ended up trying to shoot them out with half of my army – never a smart move against Veterans in good cover! Doing this meant that Simon had all the time in the world to consolidate his position supporting both his objectives, and I’d wasted valuable game time to get on the objective! At this point, I made my biggest mistake, and instead of concentrating my forces on taking one of the remaining two objectives, I tried to go for both at once – splitting my forces. Simon played the perfect response to this, sticking to his guns (literally – despite having killed his spotter, his howitzer wreaked absolute havoc on my army over open sights as I desperately tried to rush the objectives) and allowed me to march into his perfectly-laid ambushes. Before long, I was forced to concede that I’d been completely outplayed, and surrendered the field to Simon. While a really enjoyable game, it was also a salutary lesson for me – concentrate, concentrate, concentrate! RESULT – Big loss for the Rangers.


Having gone 1-2-0 I figured I was looking at a bottom-end finish, so was surprised when I ended up 8th out of 14, which is almost a respectable bang-average! Setting aside my competitive hat for a moment, I have to say it was a fantastic day out enjoyed by all. The atmosphere was fun and friendly, with plenty of good-natured banter, Duncan’s boards were an honour to play on, and all three of my opponents were excellent – even Andrew! I really enjoy our HQ store’s events, as they always embody the essential spirit of wargaming for me – a bunch of like-minded people having fun and rolling dice on beautiful tables!

For final analysis, I actually found this list worked pretty well given the competition. The one thing I really found myself wanting was a howitzer of some variety, as well as something to reliably kill Veteran infantry at range – perhaps some kind of Stuart covered in machine guns… My MVP was probably the Ranger squads which, while only one mission allowed me to make use of their special rule (the risks you take when missions aren’t announced until after list submission!), managed to do everything I asked of them in all three games, including that turn one charge, while I found the Engineers did… basically nothing all tournament, other than drawing fire. I was expecting them (and their flamethrower) to get in the action more on these smaller boards, but a combination of truly awful dice rolls and the tactical situations meant they spent most of the day standing around looking pretty. The Mortar Jeep, however, was worth its weight in gold, merrily slinging high explosives around the table and managing a surprising number of sixes – it even managed to start ranging in a couple of times before movement inevitably put paid to that little scheme. Definitely one that’s on my radar going forward for my ‘tank’ slot with lighter forces!

With that, we come to the end of this mini-series (and I can go and have a lie-down!). There’s one more Second Edition tournament being held in-store in the next couple of months, and I’ve got something really weird and wonderful planned for this one – keep an eye out for a future article or two on that! Want to get some more tournament action in before Bolt Action: Third Edition arrives in September? The Grand Tournament takes place at BritCon in August, in the heart of Nottingham – get your tickets HERE!

US Rangers Boxed Set

This plastic boxed set forms the perfect core for an army of these tough-as-nails troops, giving you thirty Rangers who can be assembled into a wide variety of squads and weapons teams – including Ranger infantry squads, Officer, Sniper, and Bazooka teams, to name but a few –  to create a truly unique Bolt Action force. Each sprue is absolutely packed with detail and options, from the dynamically posed bodies and multiple arm variants, to the multitude of combat equipment, including knives (lots of knives!), entrenching tools, ‘Bangalore Torpedo’ and ‘satchel’ demolition charges, and more! A huge variety of heads ensure that no two models need look the same, with a collection of them inspired by the legendary Saving Private Ryan – a firm favourite of wargamers everywhere!

The New Plastic Bolt Action US Rangers Boxed Set from Warlord Games
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