Soldier of Fortune is back for August 2023, and leading the way for this new crop of exclusive, limited edition miniatures is none other than the founder of the Special Air Service – the ‘Phantom Major’ himself, David Stirling! With a fantastic model and brand-new rules, he’s a must-have for any Western Desert SAS force, but he’ll only be available until the end of August 2023 – after that, he’ll disappear back into the desert, and won’t be seen again for at least two years!

Having listened to your feedback, Soldier of Fortune now works a little differently from its previous incarnation. Now, each month, a different unique special figure will be available to purchase, exclusively through The Warlord Games Webstore – for that month only. At the end of the month, a new special figure will take its place. Once gone, those figures will be unavailable for a minimum of two years, in any way shape or form.

You’ll notice that the first of these new figures is titled Soldier of Fortune 001. All subsequent Soldiers of Fortune will follow this naming convention. Remember that each figure will only be around for a month, so don’t miss out on building the complete collection.

David Stirling

David Stirling in 1942.

So who was David Stirling, and why is he ‘special’ enough to spearhead the return of Soldier of Fortune? A Scottish aristocrat, descended from royalty, he had joined the British Army pre-war, and was training to climb Mount Everest when war was declared. Serving with the early Commando unit Layforce, Stirling ended up in Egypt when Layforce was disbanded, and would go on to conceive the idea of a small, highly-trained unit of parachutists who could be covertly inserted into the desert to wreak havoc in enemy rear areas. Reasoning that with the war in the desert so dependent on motor vehicles, any sabotage to trucks, fuel dumps, and aircraft would have a disproportionately great impact, Stirling envisaged a highly-trained, motivated, and dedicated unit that could operate independently for long periods of time, striking at night and fading into the desert. This would come into being as the Special Air Service, with Stirling in command, initially comprising 66 men, most of whom were comrades from his Layforce days.

Following an extensive period of training in Egypt, the SAS’ first mission was a disaster due to awful weather conditions, and could well have seen the unit disbanded. The Long Range Desert Group, however, provided recovery for the failed mission, and thus began a period of co-operation that would prove vital to the future of the SAS. Switching from parachute insertions to a fleet of jeeps and trucks, with Stirling often leading from the front, they embarked on a series of lightning raids on Axis airfields; machine-gunning and burning aircraft and supplies to great effect. Ably assisted by men such as ‘Paddy’ Mayne and ‘Jock’ Lewes, Stirling and the SAS embarked on a reign of terror across the Western Desert, proving frustratingly difficult to get to grips with for the German and Italian troops.

Colonel Stirling with an SAS jeep patrol in North Africa, 18 January 1943.

Stirling’s biggest success came on the night of 26-27 July 1942, when he raided the airfield at Sidi Haneish with eighteen jeeps, destroying 37 Axis aircraft and getting away into the night with only two casualties suffered. His elusiveness was a source of endless frustration to the Axis commanders, with Rommel nicknaming Stirling the ‘Phantom Major’. Eventually, Stirling’s luck ran out, and he was captured in January 1943. After multiple escape attempts, he was sent to the infamous Colditz prisoner-of-war camp, where he would spend the rest of the conflict.

Our exclusive new Soldier of Fortune miniature depicts Stirling about to kick off one of his night-time airfield raids. Clad in a warm coat against the cold desert night, with a Thompson SMG in one hand, he brandishes a flare gun in the other, ready to give the signal to unleash mayhem! We’ve provided rules for David Stirling below, but this model could just as well be used for any British force, whether in the Western Desert or North-West Europe (depending on paintjob), as an Officer, Spotter, or Forward Observer – there’s a ton of potential!

David Stirling, The Phantom Major

David Stirling is a Veteran Major for the purposes of the SAS Reinforced Platoon –
Early: November 1941 – May 1942 and Independent: June 1942 – April 1943
 theatre selectors in the Western Desert campaign book.

Cost230pts (Veteran)
Composition1 Officer (Major) and up to 3 further men
WeaponsSubmachine gun, Anti-tank grenades
Options-Stirling may be accompanied by up to 3 men (Veterans armed with anti-tank grenades and submachine guns, pistols or rifles/carbines as depicted on the model) for +19pts each
-One man can be designated as the Team Medic for +5pts
Special Rules-Tough Fighters
-Behind Enemy Lines
-Tank Hunters
-Team Medic (if option taken)
-Mad, Quite Mad: Field Marshal Montgomery once famously described Stirling as such, and Stirling was certainly a bold man, often to the point of recklessness. Every time David Stirling passes an Order Test, he is treated as having rolled the Insane Courage! result. Additionally, he is never subject to the We’re Doomed! rule, no matter how many pin markers he has.
-The Phantom Major: Stirling was given this nickname by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, whose troops he terrorised in the desert. Before deployment, roll a D6 for each infantry unit of at least five models in the enemy army. On a roll of 4+, one model (of the controlling player’s choice) is removed from the unit – this represents the significant amount of manpower deployed to both search for and guard against the ‘Phantom Major’. Models removed in this way do not take any part in the battle, and do not count as casualties for determining if a unit is At Full Strength or for any other reason.

Well, he doesn’t come cheap, but what are you getting for all those points? First off, a Veteran Major is nothing to sniff at in the leadership department, and given how small SAS armies tend to be, there’s a good chance he can activate most of yours in one go with his You Men Snap To! He’s also a powerful force in his own right, with three mates (one of whom is also a Medic), providing a capable little fireteam. As his Mad, Quite Mad special rule makes him very very difficult to Pin out of usefulness, he can be used very aggressively without too much fear of being bogged down. The Phantom Major is a fun little rule that can remove models from enemy infantry units before the game begins – while one Inexperienced chap isn’t likely to change the outcome of a game, having an expensive Veteran with plenty of kit not take part can be very inconvenient indeed for your opponent, particularly if you can roll well and get a few of them off on guard duty!

SAS: Rogue Heroes

The origin of the SAS and its exploits in the Western Desert campaign were recently depicted in the BBC’s historical drama, SAS: Rogue Heroes, a hugely uproarious and wildly entertaining show that had all of us here at Warlord utterly captivated (and gagging to play some Western Desert-themed games of Bolt Action!). In the series, Stirling is portrayed by Connor Swindells, with his madcap personality front and centre!

It’s fair to say that SAS: Rogue Heroes had more than a small influence on our choice for the first of our new Soldiers of Fortune. We’re eagerly anticipating the show’s second series.

Playing the SAS

Of course you’ll need some troops for The Phantom Major to lead. We’ve got you covered with these fantastic Bolt Action miniatures!

  1. I really have to question if copying GW’s tactic of exploiting FOMO is really the correct move here? Especially with it being one mini among many of a public figure?

    Its a nice mini but given the paucity of releases for certain games, its hard to justify the postage on one mini alone which makes things awkward for anyone wanting it or maybe not having the funds this month?

    If you’re gonna release a mini, just release it, this kinda stuff puts me off supporting your business and i like your sculpting style.

    TL DR: Come on warlord, stop trying to copy GW, you are better than that (I hope).

    1. That’s a low blow, throwing out the insult of a comparison to GW. The two businesses are worlds apart! For starters, here you are complaining on their website. Your comments have not been removed and your ‘opinion’, is still respected. Head over to the PLC Gamesworkshop and try complaining there and see how you get on.

      Thank you, Warlord Games for continuing to support a product much enjoyed by your customers and giving us the option to buy it.

      1. If the shoe fits and in this case it does, it is FOMO tactics (and not the only toxic business practice of GW’s on display) and to address your point about commenting:

        Given how extreme/threatening some GW fans can be I totally get why they shut down comment sections and really, warlord allows you to complain…so what?

        Like GW, I don’t see it springing into action to engage with complainants.

        1. -Which is a shame, warlord imo produces some of the nicest sculpts about, should we penalise people that might not be lucky enough to have the funds on this month?

          I’ve missed out on a few past minis that i’d happily buy now, I liked the old points system, reward people for using the online store.

  2. Wow. Totally disagree with the above. It’s a terrific model and I like the idea of their release schedule and the Soldier of Fortune plan. Keep up the good work, you great people across the pond.

  3. I like the special models and plan my (don’t tell the wife) shopping around it.

    However, it would be nice to know the release schedule so I can plan accordingly.

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