Official and Glorious Blog of the Inglorious and Officious Warheads Gaming Club

Month: August 2014

Unit/Model Review: Warlord Games Soviet Maxim MMG

We recently received a Warlord Games Maxim MMG as a gift from a well-meaning spouse devoid of any concern for or knowledge of optimized list building.  It’s available here.

[note: ignore the HMG designation.  This appears to be an error.  The only Soviet HMG is the DShK which currently lacks a Warlord Games model.  The Maxim above is a MMG]

We’ll be conducting a review of this unit and model.  It’s our fourth in the series where we attempt to provide an all-around assessment of a purchase both in terms of its gameplay characteristics as well as a model to be assembled and admired.  We evaluate:
1.  Functionality
2.  Kit characteristics
3.  Value (a judgement which considers the price in reference to the unit’s funtionality)

1.  Functionality
The maxim is a MMG.  As such it has a range of 36″ and a rate of fire of 4.  It is a team (3 crew), fixed weapon.  A maxim rated “regular” comes in at 50 points and a gun shield can be added for an additional 5 points.  As a MMG the maxim has no damage bonus.  It cannot damage or pin fully armored vehicles.  It will struggle to destroy soft-skins but is quite good at adding a pin to such vehicles.

2.  Kit characteristics
More fantastic sculps from Warlord Games.  Assembly is straightforward, although our crew did require a bit of tidying.  The mmg itself goes together without any trouble.  No base is supplied, but embrace the freedom this gives you as a hobbyist.  Build up a nice rubbled window-sill for your maxim; or perhaps you want to surround it with downed trees to use as cover!

3.  Value
Would you take a maxim over a medium mortar?  Would you take a maxim rather than a truck with MMG?  There is, in short, a lot of competition for the 55 points you’ll spend to field a maxim.  We do not classify the maxim as an optimized unit.  Normally we like to use a unit at least six times before we make even a tentative judgement.  However, in the case of the maxim MMG we must admit that we have never played a game with it.  On its face we never considered it a good use of points (knowing the truth of something without having to experience it is called a priori knowledge).  As such, we’ll conclude with a few thoughts regarding how we intend to use it in the next few weeks:

1.  When you need a pin.  Leroy Hoard, a running back for the Cleveland Browns once said, “Coach, if you need one yard, I’ll get you three yards.  If you need five yards, I’ll get you three yards.”  And so it is with the humble but reliable maxim.  It has a long range and four shots. Even shooting at distant concealed targets it has a good chance of landing a hit.  It might not kill much, but it can be relied upon to put a pin on a unit.  Later in the game when units are attrited that extra pin from a maxim could make a big difference.  Sure it’s not going to red mist infantry squads like a medium mortar, but it will perform more consistently if less spectacularly.

2.  Ambush.  Four shots with a 36″ range can make an effective ambushing unit, particularly against outflanking team weapons.  For example, our own nosediver loves to outflank a flame-thrower team in universal carrier.  The carrier drives on 9″ with an advance; then the flame-thrower team debuses with an advance order, moves 6″ and roasts a squad.  A maxim set to ambush would stand a decent chance of killing one model, maybe both, in that unit (remember, moral test if you pop one member of two-strong infantry unit).  In addition, if it is able to take advantage of hidden deployment the maxim has a good chance of living until turn 3 or 4.

3.  Harass recon units.  Many recon vehicles are open-topped and thus vulnerable to being pinned by the maxim.  If targeted by a maxim the player controlling the recon unit will have to decide if they really want to burn their one recon move to dodge a MMG.  This frees up your AT assets to go after other units.  The 36″ range means the maxim will always have good table coverage too.  Now unfortunately this strategy demands that the maxim receive an early order dice.  Tactically this may not always be a good idea.

This is a great model and as a unit we’re going to give it a few games.  We would certainly recommend it as a necessary addition for any collector. It’s only €9 and looks damn good.  Here’s our maxim painted up and eager to prove its value:

Unit/Model Review: Warlord Games ZiS-3 divisional gun

The unit/model under review today is the Warlord Games ZiS 3 divisional gun.  It is available here.

The Soviet Union produced over 60,000 of these guns.  They played a decisive role at the Battle of Kursk where they formed the backbone of anti-tank strong points.   Versatile, rugged, and beloved by its crew, from 1942 until the end of the war the ZiS-3 was a key ingredient for the success of the Red Army.

We can assert apodictically: this unit belongs in any Soviet list.  Nevertheless, propriety demands that we conduct a formal review.  This is our third Warlord Games model review.  We previously reviewed the Warlord Games SU-76M and their 2 1/2 ton truck.  As before, our goal is to present the reader with a guide to assess a model in terms of gameplay, hobby elements, and value:

1.  Functionality
2.  Kit characteristics
3.  Value (a judgement which considers the price in reference to the unit’s functionality).

1.  Functionality
In Bolt Action the ZiS-3 is a medium anti-tank gun and light howitzer.  It has a gun shield and follows the rules for fixed, team weapons (4 crew).  A ZiS-3 with a regular rating costs 80 points.  The gun is a good source of HE (d6) firing either directly or indirectly.  It can fire smoke, and its medium AT gun has a range of 60″.  It is not immobile and this affords it protection from repeat indirect fire as well as giving it the chance to deploy on to the table from reserve.  The gun takes an artillery slot and is a nice compliment to another AT asset.  Bolt Action tracked vehicle rules allow for only one 90-degree turn with an advance order.  In addition, the front armor arc is significantly narrower than in Flames of War.  Thus, with two anti-tank assets carefully deployed you can make it difficult for an opponent to keep his front arc facing all the AT threats.

2.  Kit characteristics
This is a metal kit.   For an experienced hobbyist assembly is straightforward but not easy.  It contains a number of thin and spindly pieces: the gun barrel, two towing trails, and gun shield.   Beginners will have to be careful straightening any pieces that may be bent.  The pieces may also need to be cleaned up with a hobby file.  There are three metal crew figures.  These are outstanding sculpts.  Interestingly, Warlord Games crew models appear to be unique for different guns (or at least the four–ZiS-3, 81mm mortar, 45mm anti-tank gun, and maxim MMG–that we possess).  This is a real mark of class.  Our only complaint is the lack of a supplied base.

3.  Value
This model costs £16/€20/$26.50.  A relatively pricey blister, the sting is lessened by quality of the crew models and the utility of the unit; the ZiS-3 is an “auto-include” for the Soviet player.  For a mere 30 points more than a medium mortar you get a unit that can fire indirectly or directly using either AP or HE, possesses a gunshield, and cannot be one-shotted by a sniper. Soulless monsters can use the Seelow Heights theatre selector to construct a list with four of these potent guns with plenty of points left over (the War Altar fully endorses the use of generic, single platoon forces for tournament games).  A ZiS-3 combined with a SU-76 provides two sources of direct-fire d6 HE as well as two medium anti-tank guns for a mere 210 points.  Add a medium mortar and you have three units that can fire d6 HE–that’s going to red mist a few infantry squads!  Below is our assembled and painted ZiS-3.  Next week we’ll review the Soviet maxim MMG.

Unit/Model review: Warlord Games SU-76

Today we are reviewing the Warlord Games SU-76.  It can be found here.  The SU-76 was the second-most numerous AFV produced by the USSR.  It was easy to produce, light and fast, and possessed a versatile gun.

We’ll be conducting a holistic assessment just as we did with our review of the Warlord Games 2 1/2 ton truck.  We’ll thus consider
1.  Functionality
2.  Kit characteristics
3.  Value (a judgement which considers the price in reference to the unit’s functionality).

1.  Functionality
In Bolt Action the SU-76 is has a damage value of 8+ (light tank).  It is open-topped and comes equipped with a forward-facing light howitzer (that’s d6 HE).  A five point upgrade removes open-topped and another ten points allows it to fire both AP and HE rounds.  An enclosed, dual ammo SU-76 with a rating of “regular” costs 130 points.  With the ammo upgrade this tank can thus fire d6 HE either indirectly or directly, or shoot as a medium AT gun, and even fire smoke.  We are impressed with the versatility of the main armament, which is good because it does not come with any machine guns.

In game terms, we also find that it is better to go big or small with points spent on tanks.  For 130 points this SU-76 has a good chance to penetrate medium tanks that cost 235 points, and it’s d6 HE will decimate veteran squads.  At 130 points, it doesn’t hurt quite as bad when an American air observer calls in a Thunderbolt to obliterate it.  The light armor and lack of machine guns means that you’ll have to play this tank defensively.

Finally, at just 130 points for a medium AT gun this vehicle can potentially be “spammed” in the new Tank War games.

2.  Kit characteristics.
This a fine kit.  It come as a resin chassis with metal components: gun, tracks, and crew.  The quality of casting and the level of detail is impressive, as we’ve come to expect from Warlord games.  After a wash with a mild detergent the kit was assembled easily.

3.  Value

This model costs £22/€28/$37.  Although we find this to be on the pricey side, we also think this unit has great potential on the table top.  In an effort to more rigorously quantify the utility of the model in terms of its points value and actual price we appealed to our very own Maynard to devise a formula.  We’re happy to say that he has provided us with a straight forward formula to discover theta, θ, of any given unit.  The formula uses a sum totaling model over all n, where n is each count listed.

Unit Weight, x

Reiteration Congruence, µ
Unit Cost Production, a
Unit Impact, ζ
Painting and assembly Weight, ψ
Using the above you can see that the SU-76 greatly outclasses the T-34/85 especially if used in a army list of 12 or more dice.  Below is a photograph of our assembled and painted SU-76.  It may soon be going into battle at the Welsh Open.

Warheads Episode 009

Beloved listener(s), welcome to Episode 9. We had a plan, we wandered off-message but as you only half-listen while painting anyway, you’ll never notice.

00:01:12: We announce the winner of the competition. But only after debating the terms of the competition and considering whether we should just keep the prizes.
00:08:22: Our brief look at the ETC runs a little long and wildly off-topic but what harm? Nerd Olympics ahoy!
00:32:36: Our after-action reports deal with our recent painting and the joys of decals.
00:46:35: A chat about upcoming projects morphs into a chat about that awesome FoW Cold War fan-mod: Stopping the Red Tide.
00:50:45: Childhood traumas are laid bare as we discuss the joys of NetEpic.
00:56:57: We discuss our generic gaming since the last podcast and indulge in a brief hate.
01:10:11: The joys of three hour round tournaments are exholled in reference to Nordicon.

Check out this episode!

Bolt Action Review: Warlord Games ‘Deuce’ 2-and-a-half ton truck with .50 cal MG

The model under review today is the Warlord Games ‘Deuce’ 2-and-a-half ton truck with .50 cal MG (http://store.warlordgames.com/collections/us-army/products/deuce-2-and-a-half-ton-truck-with-50cal-mg).

The U.S. produced over half a million trucks during the war.  They shipped thousands upon thousands of these to their allies as part of the lend-lease program.  Indeed, two-thirds of all trucks used by the Soviets were of American origin.

We’ll be assessing the model using the following categories:
1.  Functionality
2.  Kit characteristics
3.  Value (a judgement which considers the price in reference to the unit’s functionality)

1.  Functionality
This is soft-skin transport.  In Bolt Action as a regular U.S. truck with a HMG it will cost 76 points.  As a truck with MMG it’s 66 points.  I’m using it as a regular Soviet lend-lease truck with MMG for 54 points.  It is an important and useful addition to a Bolt Action force.  First, it contributes a relatively inexpensive order die.  Crucially, though, it delivers my unit of Assault Engineers with body armor and a flame thrower 12″ onto the table with an advance or 24″ with a run.  This works fantastically when deploying as part of the first wave in a mission using the last/first strategy.  Try to give the truck the last order die out of the bag so it can come on at a safe spot away from enemy big guns, then give the transported unit the first die out of the bag the next turn.  Finally, the pintle-mounted MMG provides either my medic or kommissar with a useful purpose (forgive me).

2.  Kit characteristics
Once assembled this is a solid chunk of resin.  The War Altar approves categorically of two things: resin vehicles and metal infantry.  The cab and chassis form the two main components of the kit.  You glue these together easily enough and then glue on the metal wheels.  The canvas cover is also resin.  The mudflaps, steering wheel, lamps, and other details are impressive.  The only fiddly bit is the frame for the pintle-mounted MMG.  It was easy enough, however, for even my caffeine-riddled hands to manage.  All told, the vehicle was assembled in under an hour.

3.  Value
The Deuce costs £20/€25/$34.  The War Altar is torn about spending money on transports.  In general, the editorial team resents paying for models that spend little time on the table-top.  Yet we also recognize that they are essential for some broken units (e.g., 12 M3A1 scout cars with .50 cals at €9 a pop to pull 12 ZiS-3 guns in Flames of War).  The truck which provides essential transport for slow units and allows a medic to blast away with a MMG is an “optimized” unit in terms of list building.

  This is a great model.  It was a pleasure to assemble and paint.  There are other units you may wish to consider before spending the money on a transport.  For example, I’d recommend purchasing a Warlord Games ZiS-3 (review forthcoming!) before getting a truck.  Nevertheless, we recommend this vehicle as an addition to a collection that is already well-rounded and intended for use in a competitive setting.

Here’s the truck completed and ready for action:

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