Bolt Action second edition changes

Beasts of War posted an excellent video covering an entire game of Bolt Action second edition. I’ve combed through the video and compiled all of the second edition changes mentioned in the video.


When you assign the Rally order you ignore any pins on the unit when taking the order test. This is a huge improvement to the game and the makes the Rally order a viable choice when a unit becomes pinned down. In first edition, the Rally order was a forlorn hope, in second edition, you will be able to get your troops back up and at ’em.

The Down order has the added bonus of giving all incoming fire a -2 to hit modifier (previously, -1) and if you choose to have a unit remain down you can remove an additional D3 pins from the unit at the end of the turn.


All machine guns have an additional shot. That puts both LMGs and HMGs at four shots each with MMGs getting five shots. The German national characteristic, “Hitler’s Buzzsaw” applies as well, meaning German MMG teams will fire six shots!

The range of LMGs has been boosted to 36″. With the extended range and an extra shot, LMGs might be a viable option. For 20 pts you’ll get four, 36″ range shots. A considerable buff from first edition.

Assault rifle range has been reduced to 18″. Hopefully, this will cut down on the massive amount of assault rifle spam in the current meta.

Flamethrowers now roll to hit. When rolling to hit you ignore any cover modifiers, much like a shot from a sniper, and the damage remains the same as first edition.

Hits from HE weapons now use a template to determine how many hits are caused on the target unit. A Medium Mortar hits with a 2″ template. In first edition, a Medium Mortar hit with D6 HE. The 2″ template will allow for more consistent results but there is no way you will hit six enemies with a 2″ template. You can also hit multiple squads with one template, as long as you hit the most models as possible.


When an officer activates, it can also activate a friendly unit within 6”. That is increased to 12” for captains and majors. Captains and majors can activate up to two units. When activating your officer, you take out an additional friendly die from the bag, assign them to a friendly unit in range and resolve in any order you like.

If a one is rolled when calling in the artillery, the marker moves 3D6″ in a random direction. Previously, your opponent got to choose the location of the marker during the misfire. Now, with a scatter die there is the chance that the bombardment will still hit the enemy.

Special rules

Huge changes to Flak. To counter the overpowered Forward Air Observer you now have the chance to stop the airstrike from happening. When an enemy plane comes in, you roll for all of your flak units in range of the chosen point of the attack. You need  5s to hit and need three or more hits. If you hit with three of more shots, you drive the plane off and no airstrike takes place. Keep in mind the additional shots that all machine guns have. Incoming fighters will be dropping a lot fewer bombs in second edition.


A new terrain type, dense terrain, provides rules for terrain features like woods and large piles of rubble. Units can see into and out  of anything deemed to be “dense terrain” but cannot see through it. This is a major modification to true line-of-sight and I am thrilled for the change.


Empty transports now act as weapons platforms and fire one weapon. However, empty transports that end their turn close to an enemy than a friendly unit are destroyed (just like in first edition). I am excited to see transports become more useful however I completely disagree with the empty transports getting destroyed when closer to an enemy unit. That rule makes it difficult to justify spending almost 100 pts. on a German armored half-track only to have it get destroyed by a lone U.S. GI running up to it.

Vehicles with recce cannot make a recce move if they have already activated that turn. This rule was in place as a house rule for many events and tournaments and it is good to see that is now officially included.

I cannot wait for the second edition of Bolt Action. For years BA has been one of my favorite tabletop miniatures games and watching a quick game using the second edition rules has only increased my level of excitement. Most of the issues I have with first edition are being addressed and changed for the better. It is clear that Warlord listened to the community and make changes to enhance the game. Mid-September cannot come soon enougth!

9 thoughts on “Bolt Action second edition changes

  1. Great summary. I have already watched the BoW video twice. My club is playing BA this weekend and we will be incorporating the changes. I have already pre-ordered BA second and am looking forward to it.


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