A long while back I introduced some house rules for Bolt Action that I use for my games. Just some tweaks to a few odd things I find a little quirky with the rules. One thing that I’ve stewed a bit on however are the ranges. I understand why they are so truncated. For a wargame to be played on the dinner table and trying to encourage maneuvering with squads, you can’t have ranges covering the entire play area.
Now a lot of gamers have a beef with this and cite it as a huge flaw with Bolt Action. I’d totally agree for some weapons it throws all simulation out the window playing the rules as written, especially with tank guns that were actually reaching ranges of a kilometer or more. So a lot of folks lean towards other systems where ranges are longer distances or simply cover the entire table. However for infantry weapons there are a few documents which claim field manual distances were fairly exaggerated. Actual combat engagements were much closer, having rifle fire up to ranges of 300 yards, with truly accurate and effective fire being at only at 100 yards. With short distances like those, 24″ rifle ranges might not be too far off from what was actually seen on the WW2 battlefield.
There was one thing that stuck out for me when reading Battlegroup (another great set of WW2 miniature rules). That was the idea of fire at extreme ranges which could only be used for suppression. Battlegroup has effective ranges for all weapons that can inflict casualties or damage armor. However there is no max range and players can freely fire at anything on the table top that they can see. However these long ranges are limited to area fire only. It’s hard to land a hit and if you do, you only get to put a pin marker on your target. It is for suppression only and you need a ton of firepower but it’s an option.
This is certainly something I could use for my Bolt Action games. A fire mode that was difficult to achieve hits beyond maximum range and would only result in pins. I still wanted to cap out ranges though, but stuck at simply doubling listed ranges. Even for armor this could be used, but like rifle fire, could only potentially pin a target. So I decided to incorporate this into my own house rules. You can find a detailed explanation of the rule below.
Extreme Range – On a fire order, all weapons can fire at targets up to twice their listed range. Weapon fire at this extreme range only hit on 6s on 6s as per Nigh Impossible Shots (pg 37). All hits do not inflict casualties or vehicle damage, regardless of their penetration value. The target will only suffer one pin instead if hit (suppression does not apply). Armored vehicles, whether they are open topped or not, ignore all small arms fire at extreme range. Vehicles hit from weapons of +1 pen or greater suffer a pin as per the Tank War vehicle rules (veterans ignore hits if the weapon cannot penetrate their armor, inexperienced units gain a pin, etc.). Note that weapons which can cause more than one pin such as HE weapons still only inflict 1 pin at extreme range. Flamethrowers and indirect fire weapons firing smoke cannot use this rule.