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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bolt Action - Review: Warlord IS-2, Best Tank in Bolt Action?

Having just finished up my Warlord Soviet Iosif Stalin-2, courtesy of painter Brien “Dulanis” Dulaney, for my Soviet Strelkovy army, I decided it was high time someone talked about these behemoths. I am excited with the performance of this tank from my runs with it during the Cold Wars 1k Point Tournament, and am ready to feature it as the centerpiece to my army.

The Model:

The IS-2 in Bolt Action is easily one of the most versatile options in any army, and the model itself is fantastic and beautiful. The IS-2 came in with a broken rear fender and slightly warped tracks, nothing that couldn’t be fixed by heating the track and flattening it out, and Green/Gray Stuff-ing and using some plastic card to fix the fender. I cannot speak to the painting as it was not my work but that of the previously mentioned Mr. Dulaney of Games Workshop fame. A fairly easy model to paint with loads of nooks, crannies, and details, this model is fieldable with a simple base coat and washing, but offers so much more. Taking it to the next step with the addition of the Polar Bear on the Red Star, the 434 numbering, and the Russian Cyrillic inscribing on the rear help to add character, individualism, and flare to the tank to make it stand out and become the centerpiece to any force.

The History:

The IS that I have chosen to use, IS-2 434, “The Combat (Girl)friend”, part of the 7th Independant Guards Heavy Tank Brigade, reached the southeastern Berlin suburbs as part of Chuykov's 8th Guards army on the 24th/25th of April 1945. They had the red star with the polar bear painted on both turret sides as a memory of their participation at the Karelian campaign in late 1944.

In December 1944 the brigade switched to the heavy IS-2 as the ChKZ plant at Tankograd was finally able to deliver significant numbers of the new tank.

On April 16,1945, they were fully equipped with 65 tanks in three regiments (104-106), each one carrying 42 122mm rounds instead of the usual 28.

During the attack on the Seelow Heights and the following approach to Berlin, 105th Regiment lost 10 tanks and 106th Regiment 6 tanks while the Brigade as a whole destroyed several German Tiger, Panther, Ferdinand and Pz.IV; as well as lots of guns.

The next days once again showed the vulnerability of tanks in street fighting as the Brigade suffered heavy losses from close range guns, Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck.

In Game by the Numbers:

In Bolt Action terms, the IS-2 not only has the typical Heavy Anti-Tank Gun, and Heavy (+10) damage value that you would expect from the a machine like it, but a few surprises that added together, make this a go-to tank for myself in almost all lists I build. Weighing in as a fairly major point sink of 320 points for Regular, the IS-2 awards you with the aforementioned D25-T 122mm Anti Tank gun with a co-axial MMG, a rear-facing turret mounted MMG, a hull mounted MMG, and an optional pintle-mounted HMG for 25 additional points.

The D25-T is no ordinary Heavy Anti-Tank gun. Due to it’s famous use amongst Soviet forces as a Heavy Breakthrough Weapon System, designed to shell German positions into non-existence, it gains a formidable 2d6 HE ability over the typical d3 that normal Heavy AT weapons have. This puts two weapon systems into one barrel, a Medium Howitzer and Heavy AT gun all in one! The downside to this is that the IS-2 does have the special rule of Slow-Load where the tank cannot be issued an order if it fired the previous turn until another unit in your force has been issued an order.

Dice wise, this tank is hard to pass up, while I have not used the rear-turret MMG yet, it is a valid option, but it has more H/MMGs than a Sherman! With the upgraded HMG, the IS-2 has the option of targeting 4 different units for maximum pinnage, or focus fire on 1-2 units for maximum damage. With the extra H/MMG dice, on the move this tank is a deadly bear, but once you add in the potential of the 2d6 HE main gun, it becomes the most feared asset on the battlefield. To date, I have eliminated several platoons with single shots from the main gun including killing a tank and actually destroying a building (see building rules in the Main Rulebook, I rolled double sixes when firing at a squad inside a building with HE). The IS-2 can do it all!

The Conclusion:

While I hate to call it a must-buy or no-brainer, I am willing to say every Soviet player should own one, if nothing else than to give the option if desired to field one. For me, it will easily be used in my armies for many games to come due to it’s versatility and ability to tackle and challenge. It is hard to find a better tank for the point cost than the IS-2!

If you agree, or think I'm missing something, come tell me about it on the forum!

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