Well, it’s time I lifted the lid and had a rummage around Warlord’s Battle for Berlin Bolt Action set. After reading the rules and weeks of pondering where to start, this is it, and I’m beginning to think I’ve thrown myself in at the deep end, Let’s see…
Lid off, the box is crammed full of stuff, and I mean crammed.
Lots of sprues, so let’s see what’s first…
Two bags, each containing a Soviet IS-2 Heavy Tank. The detailing is good, as expected from Warlord, and they look to be made up of around 50-pieces, though some will undoubtably be optional. One thing I do notice is how clean they are, and other than the sprue mark, there isn’t going to be any unnecessary cleaning up to do for paint. Thick armour with a big gun, these bruisers come in at 320pts each for regular, though they are slow loading. Whilst this doesn’t mean much to me yet, just starting out, I’m sure it will to someone, so I’ll keep throwing the odd titbit in here and there.
Next bag out is also a tank, this one the king of them all, the German King Tiger – Tiger II. Only 489 of these bad boys were made, seeing service in the last throws of the war – they come in at a whopping 555pts for regular! There are three sprues in this pack and there are a good few options, such as the ‘Porsche’ or ‘Henschel’ turrets – what’s the difference? As far as I know, it’s just the shape, though both turrets were actually designed and built by Krupp. Which one ill I go for? Well, I’m a Porsche man!
Three sprues of bases follow the Tiger out of the box. These are all plain, recessed, 25mm bases and there are seventy in total.
Continuing with sprues, I pull out 3, all identical, containing Soviet infantry. There are 8-torsos on each and a plethora of arms, legs, heads, and equipment, so no two soldiers should ever look the same. There are no weapons on these so I’m expecting to pull a sprue out with all those on shortly. If you’re new to Bolt Action and Warlord figures in particular like me, then you’ll realise that assembling these may not be so straightforward – getting those arms in position to take the weapons is going to be fun.
The detail is superb, but they are going to need some cleaning up prior to paint – a few mould lines and a little flashing here or there, nothing major. I have noticed a head missing; I’m sure it will be rolling around the bottom of the box when I get there!
Sure enough, here are the four sprues of Soviet weapons, each identical. These look fab, with some fine detailing and the options they present mean plenty of thought needs to go into squad building before assembly begins. There are SMGs, rifles, pistols, LMGs, frag grenades, field glasses, anti-tank rifles, and so much more, even a Panzerfaust, which Soviets used whenever they could get their hands on them. I like the fact some weapons have slings attached and some of the rifles have bayonets – there’s a lot of choice here.
It’s the turn of the Germans next, and I find two sprues each of Grenadiers and Waffen-SS. These differ to the Soviets in the that the majority of weapons are pre-moulded to arms. This will have a big advantage when it comes to assembly but will cut down on the number of options available in terms of posing the figures, though there should still be plenty of choice.
There are a total of 12-Grenadier and 12-Waffen-SS torsos, and if anything, these are cleaner than the Soviets; I really like the Waffen-SS uniforms, especially the camouflaged helmets, I’m looking forward to painting them.
There are a few more infantry sprues wedged in at the side of the box; more round bases (10) and three more sprues of Soviets. These, though, are the winter infantry and they look great in their big, heavy coats and Ushanka hats. 8-torsos on each sprue, one of which is prone, and again, the weapons and arms are separate. These aren’t as clean as the Germans with a few mould lines knocking around.
I’m going to start opening some of the little, bubble wrapped packages next, and there are plenty of them. First up, one that says ‘Scenic Pieces on the label. Inside there are two items, a burnt-out Sd. Kfz 250/1 and a shattered German Eagle. Both pieces are resin and look superb, especially the Sd. Kfz 250/1, which has a lot of fine detail. I thought it looked a little on the small side, especially when you compare it to the size of a standard infantry man, but when I compared it to the Tiger II on the sprue it was in proportion (the Tiger II was almost twice the length of the Sd. Kfz 250/1). Getting the dimensions up on the web, at 6’3″ wide and 5’4″ tall, the dimensions were comparable to the infantry, so I guess these things were just smaller than I reckoned on in real life!
Shell holes and craters are next. 5-pieces, all different. In terms of craters, they aren’t of the size that you’ll be able to hide in, but they will be nice and easy to paint and look good on the battlefield. Again, these are resin and a couple have a bit of flashing to clean away, nothing too taxing!
Borgward Wanze Ausf.C. That’s a bit of a mouthful! The Borgward Wanze is a tracked vehicle with a six-barrelled rocket launcher mounted on it – nice! This is another resin kit but with a few metal pieces – a crewman, the drivers head, and what I believe to be the exhausts. It’s a really simple kit; the hardest part is going to be joining the drivers head with the rest of his body – a pair of tweezers will be in order methinks. I can see now why the vehicles feel out of proportion with the infantry, me being new to Bolt Action and all that. The infantry are beefed up, while the vehicle crew are of more realistic proportions – In terms of height, they’re about the same.
The vehicle damage markers are next. These are three bits of coloured wool and come with MDF bases to glue them to. I suppose they’ll do the job, but I reckon I could do better with my airbrush and some cotton wool!
A bit more interesting are the two resin barricades. These are 14com long and full of detail. One is a line of sandbags laid over a dilapidated brick wall, with a couple of crates thrown in for good measure. The other has a small truck covered with debris and what appears to be a large rug! There’s a bit of flashing to remove, but once painted they’ll look great.
This next bit I’m really looking forward to painting; it’s the Soviet Flag Vignette. Made up of resin and metal parts, it portrays the raising of the Soviet flag over the Reichstag. The detail has been well captured, even down to the fact that Senior Sergeant Abdulkhakim Ismailov is wearing a watch (He was actually wearing two, one was edited out of the original photo as it was thought it could have been looted, though later claims were that one was an Adrianov compass).
The 5-metal, Hitler Youth figures are going to need a bit of cleaning up before paint – mould lines and flashing – but will bring something a little different to the battlefield with their mixed dress breaking up the uniformity. They’re predominantly sporting Panzerfausts – 3 out of the 5 – and one is lying in a pile of rubble.
Last small bag is the Volkssturm. 10-metal figures that require a little assembly, well, they need their heads putting on at least. These were the Militia, the old, the young, and the unfit, and this lot look it. There are a miss-mash of uniforms and weapons, as one would expect of a unit thrown together with whatever was at hand. The detailing of the heads really caught my eye – there’s one wearing glasses, another bandaged up, and they all look really pleased to be here… not! A few are a bit bent from being squashed together but that’s easily corrected.
With all the small bags out of the way I can now lift out the buildings. Two identical Berlin Houses, and they look gorgeous. They are two-storey with divided interiors, so they can be entered by units, providing you don’t glue it all together that is. The externals are nicely done, with plenty of detail including bullet holes. It’s all sturdy plastic and looks very good quality. There’s no internal detailing, which is a shame but the norm for this kind of thing, and the scale looks right compared to the infantry figures.
In the bottom of the box there lies various bits and bobs, including the missing head, hurrah! There are another 20-round bases and 6-oval ones for the prone figures. Decal sheets, 6-off, and oh boy, are some of them small! It’s been years, and I’m talking 30+, since I last had anything to do with these, let’s hope my skills have improved because I was never any good at putting the damn things on!
There is also an A5 printed sheet containing posters, signs, and flags, which will make good dressing for the scenery. It isn’t sticky backed so things will need cutting out and gluing into place. It’s a thoughtful addition and saves hunting the internet or making posters and signs yourself.
Three stat cards, one for each armoured vehicle, are included. I’m the kind of person who makes stat cards for each unit, especially when I’m new to the game, so these will save me some time. Each side of the card shows the vehicle in a different paint scheme and also includes details such as points cost, weapon range/shots/penalty/special, special rules, and suitable periods for use.
Finally, The Battle for Berlin booklet. Scanning through I find the first 4-pages full of history, then we move onto some additional rules, such as moving and shooting in rubble. Then there are 3-scenarios, which are based on specific setups of units, for example: 1 Rifle squad (12 men), and you’ll need the appropriate army selectors to equip them, rather than a points total with suggested unit types. The scenarios are all played on a 4′ x 4′ surface and cover everything in the box.
There are a few pages given over to identifying everything on the infantry sprues and there are plenty of pictures to show how they can be assembled. There are instructions for the tanks, as well as the Berlin Houses. There are no painting guides, however, I find it odd that it lists the paints used for the houses but the only indication of where you’d use these colours is by looking at the images on the back of the box! Talking of images, there are plenty here to wet your thirst. Some lovely painted forces nicely posed in action – you don’t have to look far for inspiration!
And then, bringing up the rear, we have the units themselves. Basically, a breakdown in simpler terms of the reinforced platoon selectors for the nations, as included in the 2nd Edition rulebook, but only covering the units included within the box.
The Battle for Berlin is packed full of good stuff. We’re talking three heavy tanks, a tank hunter, 80+ infantry, a couple of large buildings, and a few other bits of scenery to boot. It all ties together nicely and can be either a booster if you’re already invested in this theatre, or a starting point if you’re not. If, like me, you’re just starting out in Bolt Action it may not be the place to start, as it could be a little overwhelming with all that assembly and painting to do, let alone trying to figure out troop selection. Personally, whilst it was a little daunting when I first lifted the lid, I love this kind of thing and can’t wait to get stuck in.
Is it good value? Well, it retails at £241 at time of writing, but there are deals to be had if you stray from Warlord’s website – £175 on Amazon for example. It does sound steep but when you start to consider that the Berlin houses are £30 a piece, the King Tiger £31.50, the IS-2s £22.50 each, and the Borgward £20, we’re already coming in at £156.50 and that’s before we add all the infantry and other scenics, so yes, I’d say it is good value… if it’s stuff that you actually want, of course.
Well, it’s time I reached for the glue and started making inroads – I’ve a feeling this isn’t going to be a quick job!!!