It arrived to no fanfare - the courier from Wayland dropping it off with little fuss. Upon opening the box, I discovered that the starter set was meaty and compact, like a tin of corned beef, and yet, despite this low key delivery, I want to shout about this starter set from the rooftops. Why? Because it's bloody brilliant!
I am of course referring to Bolt Action's latest starter set: Armoured Fury, brought to us by those good people at Warlord Games. Armoured Fury allows you to use armies of tanks for those who want to go beyond the platoon level battles of Bolt Action, where excessive use of armoured vehicles is constricted by the rules structure.
So what do we get? Well, as always, it's been a ritual of mine to open the box and breathe in that brand new smell of fresh miniatures, rejoicing in this geek nirvana. As pleasing as it is, nothing prepared me for what lay within: probably the best value for money starter set I have ever seen. I've waxed lyrical about Judge Dredd, Maelstrom's Edge, and even Star wars x-wing miniatures game, but the Armoured Fury starter set goes above and beyond even this.
You got a mini-rulebook, 5 tanks, expansion book, dice, quick reference sheet (yeah!) and a beginner's play sheet that introduces you to some small scale battles and gradually gets you to build up your forces for bigger battles. You also get assembly instructions on the side of the box, which I think is quite innovative.
The mini-rulebook is small, compact, sturdy, and well laid out. I've banged this drum before, and I'll do it again, but unlike the Flames of War mini-rulebook, Bolt Action's offering doesn't disintegrate at the first touch. The addition of two complete army lists included within the mini-rulebook for normal Bolt Action games, is a welcome bonus, and again, its ability to stand up to rough handling is to be welcomed.
The dice, with the exception of the unique order dice, are what you would expect, and the expansion book also follows the same style as the mini-rulebook, being study, but not mini, as it's a normal size book packed full of gaming goodness: rules, scenarios, background history etc etc.
One minor gripe is the tokens and the range rulers that come with the box. Well, the problem is that technically, they're not there, being cardboard cut outs that you have to, er, cut out yourself. It feels a bit low budget compared to Warlord Games' usual high standards, and was quite a surprise considering the high quality of everything else in the box
But I quibble, and the above was merely the starter for the stonking main course: the tanks!
Brilliant! Bloody Brilliant! That's all I can say. High quality, highly detailed, and the price? Absolutely stonking, out of this world, value for money. You get three American Sherman Tanks, and two German Panther tanks.
To buy these five tanks, plus mini-rulebook, plus expansion book individually, is worth more than the price of the starter set. I feel bad, guilty, as though I've stolen it from a shop. To buy this starter set with Wayland's discount has me thinking that Christmas has come early. Either that, Warlord Games are in a charitable mode, the likes of which has never been seen before in a long time. It's that good.
Naturally, of course, value for money isn't the be all and end all. There's no point having a cheap game that plays bad. Luckily, I have no fear here. I've played the normal game of Bolt Action, which I enjoy, plus, this expansion is written by war gaming legends Rick Priestley and Alessio Cavatore, so I have no fears about its playability or the quality of the new expansion rules.
Bolt Action is a great game to play, but this starter set, crammed full of geek goodness, has to be one of the greatest starter sets I have ever encountered. It's a steal!