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

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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.

Conclusion
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.

Contents
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.

Conclusion
  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:

Warheads Episode 8

Episode 8 is upon us. We wander all over the hobby discussing our own plans, dreams and hopes and how best to crush the plans, dreams and hopes of others. There was a plan, we did wander on topic at times, great success.

Contents

00:00 We inaugurate the “No Brian” intro to much rejoicing.
01:10 In the first section of our AAR, we discuss our Early War games and the hard-won knowledge gained in our first bumbling steps into the era.
10:45 Tying into the previous section, we run through new Early War army plans and argue plastic vs metal.
18:40 A celebration of Hail Caesar rapidly derails into a chat about historical gaming.
21:33 We run through our experiences in the Warheads Summer League, warmly congratulate the winner and discuss some pitfalls we encountered.
41:06 Floody gives a review of the Remagen book that is, in no way, totally biased.
58:03 We remind ourselves of the imminent Nordicon and briefly pine for Tankfest/The Hobby Shack.
59:51 The glorious day arrives, we have a Competition! You, yes, you, can win two boxes of PSC PzIIIs by doing the thing we mention in the podcast!

We’d like to thank Plastic Soldier Company for donating the prizes for the competition and for the ease of our listeners, here’s a link to the thread: http://warheads.ie/index.php?topic=633.0

Check out this episode!

Hail Caesar: First Battle of Holchester

The Romans had long assumed that their holdings in Britain were safe but a great barbarian conspiracy has proven otherwise. Near-simultaneous invasions from north, west and east have broken the back of the Roman defenses as Saxon, Pict and Irish raids devastate the colony. Worst again, many “loyal” tribes have seized at renewed hope and risen against our rule. Roman Britain is utterly shattered by a year of conflict. Those surviving Romans and loyal Britons are trapped in fortified settlements awaiting assistance from the mainland. Outside those enclaves, the land teems with invaders, raiders, bandits and deserters.

The great manor at Holchester avoided the initial wave of attacks and its local militia, leavened by the survivors of several legions, have created a safe haven. Unfortunately, the peace has proven fragile as a large Irish raiding force has been sighted in the area. The magistrate has requested the assistance of the field army and they have dispatched what forces they can spare.

(I’d open with an apology for the quality of the pictures but as the game wasn’t intended to be a battle report, my remorse is limited.)

Records indicate that the armies clashed at dawn, near an unnamed and unlamented village of hovels. The scribes do indicate that the Church of Saint Elesbrius the Inconsiderate was nearby but burned in the conflict. The small northern wood acted to split the battleground into two portions.

On the right flank, near the village, Holchester’s militia units and heavy infantry march against an outnumbered sub-clan. The veterans march to the fore as the less-trained men follow close behind. Their Irish enemies are a mix of regular warriors and a core of nobles.

In the centre, the field army’s heavy cavalry and scratch cavalry formations aim at the heart of the Cuachraige force and their general. This is the primary enemy clan and a heavy blow here could eliminate most of the ruling order and spark infighting amongst the raiders.

On the isolated left, Saxon mercenaries of the Hendrica tribe and their bow-armed “minders” prepare to sweep west of the forest. The second Irish sub-clan lurks ahead on the hillside.

The opening blow falls on the centre as Roman horse crash into into the middle of the Culraige. The heavy cavalry roll over the first line of Irish infantry with relative ease. However, the nobles waiting in the second line coolly close into melee as their kinmen rout past them.

Below the church, the Saxons begin to test themselves against an entirely new foe, the Irish.

The right sees only brief skirmishes as both sides slowly advance. A plucky units of skirmishers manage to rout and disorder two units of militia before drifting behind the lines. Both sides haltingly move against each other but the forces have barely clashed before the Roman commander orders a fighting withdrawal.

The cause of his concern becomes clear as despairing horns sound in the centre. The cavalry have bogged down in a mass of infantry and are being slaughtered in a swirling combat. The few, ragged, survivors ride free and start to make for Holchester as quickly as their blown horses will allow.

The left has degenerated into an utter bloodbath. Both sides, driven by thoughts of honour, pride and presenting a brave face to new foes, slaughter each other in waves. Commander after commander lead their men on fatal assaults and fall. Their subordinates step forward only to die in turn. By the end only the Irish remain standing. They are exhausted and every man of note is dead or wounded.

The Irish take the victory. They have been bloodied but their men are undefeated. Even if exhaustion slows their advance, they can be expected to renew the attack. On the other hand, the Roman forces are badly reduced. The militia have managed to extract themselves, some of the regular cavalry have survived but the Saxon mercenaries have been entirely eliminated. They won’t need paying but they will be missed.

Warheads Episode 7

We’ve hit lucky number seven. The episode runs through the Warheads Club League, the Road to Rome book, the Bolt Action FAQ, upcoming Irish events, ETC preparation and hints at things to come.

00:00:00- Brian opens the podcast with some unfortunate jive talk before we segue into a discussion of the first half of our club league. Several people who are not the reigning All-Ireland FoW Champion™ have the damnable gall and temerity to doubt the reigning All-Ireland FoW Champion™ as he dispenses knowledge and wisdom.

00:30:40- We briefly run through the Nordicon rulespack and conduct a quick headcount of interested parties. The traditional infantry-hate segment is gotten out of the way.

00:34:04- We discuss the Border Bash, an European Team Championship warm-up event. Ireland will be playing Northern Ireland to test lists and practice under ETC conditions. Some of the hosts are involved, others are persisting in hanging out in the fresh air instead and we all detour slightly into a paean to that most glorious of wargaming events, ze ETC.

00:46:12- Floody roundly condemns the Road to Rome books before backtracking faster than *insert historically inaccurate joke about French tanks*. He does completely miss the tank list that can field NGFS. Shameful.

01:06:12- Brian gets to talk Bolt Action as our brutal campaign of repression comes to an end. Does the new FAQ bring the re-birth of heavy (read:cool and iconic) tanks as a competitive choice?

01:12:03- The crew suggest that we will be giving good stuff for free if you do something which we will specify in the next podcast. Its mystery is surpassed only by the clumsiness of its announcement.

Check out this episode!

Warheads Flames of War League, Week 1

The annual Warheads Flames of War League began this week.  At stake: bowls of schadenfreude and an engraved name on the Warheads league plaque.

This year the league is short, just four games.  We’re playing two Fair Fight missions, Fighting Withdrawal, and the new mission Breakout.  It’s a 1780 point Late War league.  Players are restricted to one briefing for the duration of the league but can alter lists from week to week.  NGFS is banned.  Scoring works this way: 3 points for a win, 1 point for a loss.  Small points (traditional FoW scoring) are tie breakers, with enemy platoons killed as 3rd tie breaker if needed.  In addition, you get 1 bonus big point for using the same list for four weeks, and another generous big point if you are fully painted for the whole league.  The lists and rules are on this thread: http://warheads.ie/index.php?topic=530.0

Nine Thursday night regulars reported for duty and names were drawn from a hat (actually, a Samsung phone) for pairings.  The mission was Free-for-All.

Baz’s Tankovy and Floody’s 2ID landed together on table 1.

Padraic, the league kommissar, drew Grant.  How would Grant’s Aufklarungsschwadron fair against 2ID?  On table 3, John’s trained Panzer Kampfgruppe faced off against Ulick’s Canadian infantry.
Table 4 pitted Daniel’s Canadian Armoured Recce list of Sherman ninja tanks against Brendan’s Independent Tank Company.  Brendan looked over his Stuart spam and concluded: Worst.  Match.  Ever.

This left yours truly with a bye.  Sad face (Although the bye point win and the fact that Woody and I went for a few pints provided some consolation):

The games were of a high standard.  Everyone save Grant is a tournament veteran.  The armies were nicely painted too.  Check out the detail on Floody’s staff team maps:

Padraic’s Sherman platoon took cover in a tree line while the infantry in the background dug in.  Grant attacked aggressively, quickly lost several platoons and then Padraic cleaned up for a major win.

Daniel’s land mattresses were ready for action:

Brendan’s 11 platoon Stuart spam list suffered mightily at the hands of the Canuck ninja tanks and Daniel came away with a decisive victory.





The bloodiest game of the night was between John and Ulick.  John’s FlaKs put some fear into Ulick’s two Sherman platoons.  John’s jagdpanthers inflicted kills until a single Typhoon wiped out the unit.  The guys traded a good few platoons before time was called and they limped away with a mutual loss.
Ulick’s two units of Shermans, backed up by fin and fur boys, lined up for battle:

 Baz and Floody both played aggressively.  A risky flanking action by T-34s put serious pressure on Floody.

Floody, however, was able to sneak a unit of Stuarts and recce jeeps onto one of Baz’s objective.  Unfortunately for Floody, they ran into Baz’s commander who had paused for a brief looting pit stop.  The lone matilda contested the objective and the game finished with a mutual loss.

It was a good night and the four games were enjoyable to watch.  The table after Week 1:

1.  Daniel, 3-6-6
2.  Padraic, 3-6-6
3.  Brian, 3-6-0 (bye)
4.  Ulick, 1-3-5
5.  John, 1-3-4
6.  Baz, 1-3-3
7.  Floody, 1-3-3
8.  Brendan, 1-0-0
9.  Grant, 1-0-0

Warheads Episode 6

Welcome to Episode 6 of the Warheads podcast. Vile aspersions are cast upon all involved as we run through our recent games, recent army books, not-so-recent history and upcoming Irish events.

Contents

00:23 Pop Quiz! Baz is covered in shame. Shame….

03:35 Brian tells us of his participation game in which we discover that centralised control is a real and ongoing problem.

10:16 We run through our own AARs and what we’ve learnt since the last podcast. Very little, in Pádraic’s case.

17:14 Like a reverse AA meeting, Baz shows us how to recover from a gaming tailspin and dive back into the throes of plastic/resin addiction.

33:44 Like a olde time prophet, Floody emerges from the deep desert holding a book and preaching news of Italian theatre Axis lists.

47:15 To round out the show, we talk about upcoming events. The focus falls heavily on Clash of Steel and we discuss possible tank lists and the strange but refreshing restrictions.

Check out this episode!

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