Charging forward in search of prey, her mere presence brings dread and fear to a beleaguered commonwealth army. In the hands of a crafty desert fox the Allies are now out-armoured and out-gunned by a newly arrived technological marvel of the battlefield. En garde boys, the cats come out to play!
Yes comrades, I’m indeed here to talk about Warlord's plastic Tiger I or Panzerkampfwagen VI (If were feeling particularly hairy under the neck). First off, you might be asking why I own a Tiger or even why I would use it in Bolt Action.
Well to start, being shallow and abundantly stupid, I’m a sucker for aesthetics - I do indeed think some tanks are “prettier then others” and whilst I generally favour the ugly step children of the tank world (early Soviet armour), I do have an intractable proclivity for German hardware. In this respect I do love the work Warlord/Italeri have put into this kit. Their model is sleek, well detailed and ridiculously easy to assemble. Coming straight off the sprue, this number took about 30-40 minutes to assemble, but also presented none of the usual challenges I face with plastic kits (one by one track assembly can take a walk!). I did opt to remove the antenna as I found it to be a little vulnerable during transportation. I can proudly say however that this puppy (or should I say kitty?) is rugged. I'm particularly clumsy and managed to already drop the unfortunate thing on my hardwood floor - result? No damage! Good outcome as this is both financially beneficial and historically accurate - Thumbs up Warlord!
Going beyond mere looks and assembly, the Tiger I is undoubtedly iconic. When harking back to my childhood reading commando comics, watching war movies with the old man and playing computer games like Close Combat, Commandos, Medal of Honour etc. the Tiger tank unfailingly took centre stage at some point, striking shock and awe into my very soul. I always admired the David and Goliath struggle between a menacing Tiger and the plucky allies throwing everything but the kitchen sink at a seemingly impenetrable beast! I would hazard a guess and suggest that many people share similar feelings, with this machine being a major focus of nostalgia and interest. For these reasons alone any Bolt Action player with a German Army really should have a Tiger on show.
But whilst it’s great reminiscing and infinitely staring at a beautiful model on the hobby table it’s another thing to actually play with it. So, how does the Tiger rate on the tabletop? Reading into the history of the Tiger tank alone might get you excited about the possibilities for this tank. With a gun taken from a Flak 88, almost impenetrable frontal armour and a propensity to make any opposing force soil its proverbial trousers on sight, leaves me buzzing with feigned apprehension!
Whilst I could carry on at some length with the above BS, I’m quite incapable of burying the lead, so here it is straight. The Tiger I is sadly not that great on the tabletop. First off, whilst she does possess a devastating super heavy AT gun (+7 pen) and sits deservedly in the heavy tank category (10+ armour), you will be paying the princely sum of 474 points (veteran) for the privilege. As a result, in a 1000 point list you will be sinking 50 odd percent of your points into a solitary order dice that can (and will often) miss, fail order checks, be pinned out or simply destroyed by one lucky air strike (or two for our American listeners!). For these reasons bringing any of the big cats into a game of BA is an enormous gamble.
With the severe points drain, high chance of failure/ineffectiveness or simple destruction you may still be asking why the Tiger is worth the taking. Surely, with 474 points you could buy a Panzer III G, a Flak 88, tow and even a medium mortar with points to spare! There is just one problem with this amazing plan... you won't have a Tiger! So, will I run this tank on a table top in every German list I run? Perhaps not, it’s just too much of a points sink. Will I run this tank when I’m having the friends over for a historical match up or theatrical game? - Absa-flippin-loutley!
To sum things up Tigers are brilliant, beautiful and deserve a presence in Bolt Action. Whilst a new edition of BA hopefully brings a more accurate and nuanced representation of this iconic piece of German ingenuity to our beloved game, it’s a pleasure to see that warlord already has a great kit available. For now I guess I'll continue to bring my desert cat out to play where possible and keep on rolling dem sixes!