Soviet Steel – A First look at Ursus Infantry

So, recently (last night) a big box of hobby goodness arrived from the Boss, it contained (amongst other things) a couple of boxes of the Ursus Infantry from Warlord.    The concept of big Russian bear men really appeals to me from a thematic view point and fits with the slightly bonkers sci-fi/horror b-movie vibe that I get from many of the K47 units.

These figures also really make me smile and again a great many inappropriate comments have been made about my vision of an army of bears (which will be all sorts of fabulous!).   I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that I was slightly taken aback with the pack price of the Ursus.    I’ve become used to the excellent prices for Bolt Action / Historical games figures and seeing a list price of £24 for 3 models I had second thoughts about buying the models.      Even with the Boss’ excellent pricing and free postage (thanks to a combined order from the whole of our gaming group) I was still a little perturbed at sinking £40+ on 6 models.

When the box arrived however, I forgot my concerns as I felt the weight of these models.   They’re solid metal and have that wonderful refreshing heft of old metal models from my youth.  This is good as they remind me of all that I loved about wargaming in the 90s and bad in that converting these will be a pig, especially given the thickness of limbs and waist.

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The Contents of the Ursus Infantry Box

The Ursus Bodies come as single piece sculpts of the torso, legs and upper arms.  They’re at least twice the height of a “normal” human in K47 and three times the girth.    These things are very big and imposing.   I’m already excited about the prospect of painting them as there is lovely deep detail, in a similar manner to the Shrekwulfen sculpts that James discussed in his blog here.

Somewhat cleverly, there’s a coded system for arms which whilst again, discouraging different poses does make it easy to pick out which arm goes where.   On the back of the Torso you can see some of the upper arms have either 2 bumps, 1 bumps or 0 bumps.    The arms match this system making it easy to ensure that the join between torso and arm is hidden by the straps which are designed to mask the edge of the joins.

You will have noticed that the head join is more a recessed cavity, into which the head slots.   This again means that the join between head and torso will be hidden to a great extent and can be masked by either a clever paint job or a tiny amount of greenstuff.    Clockwork Goblin and Warlord have done a great job here.

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The arms are similarly detailed and again have some lovely little touches.  I particularly like the hand with the finger pointing down, in true WWE style our Warrior is clearly telling someone that they are going down!

I would love to see some different heads to break up the monotony of poses and arm positions (bears in gas masks please!) and I hope that at some point we get a bear with the two handed maul (Axle and wheel!) from the concept art in the book.   I hope that these are things that come at a later date, preferably before I start buying more units for my fabulous Ursus Warrior Army.

 

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This is a Hint.  Where’s that Russ fella when we need him?

In Game

The Ursus are a regular infantry choice in a Soviet Army.    They’re 66 points for 3 and additional Ursus can be added at a cost of 22 points per model to a maximum of 6 models in a unit.    Ursus warriors have the following special rules;  Large, Horror, Strong, Tooth and Claw, Resilient and Tough.

The Good.

  • At 22 points a model for a tough, resilient, horror model they’re very well costed, 132 points for 6 makes for a very economical choice in a list.   They’re under 180 points even with a truck delivery system!
  • Three attacks in close combat at +1 pen make them a very good choice for taking on heavily armoured units or other units of horror close combat specialists
  • Strong makes a full strength unit of these scary to any vehicle, even a fist armed walker.    Especially if these get in before the Walker or vehicle has had a chance to move.  (Adding +2 to penetration per hit on 18 attacks hitting on 4+ guarantees some serious pain from a full strength unit)

The Bad

  • They’re a regular unit.    Be wary of multiple pins.   If it can’t activate, it cant hurt the enemy
  • Considering Resilient doesn’t work in close combat, they’re a surprisingly glass cannon if anything can survive long enough to hit them back, or attack simultaneously
  • A unit size of 6 (whilst theoretically being the maximum that you can take anyway if you want to put them in a vehicle) makes them very vulnerable to casualties from massed fire

The Ugly

  • You should be very wary of leaving your Ursus anywhere near any sort of HE under the current ruleset as even a light howitzer is capable of taking three out in one shot if you’re unwise with your placement thus leading to grumpy bear general syndrome!
  • Avoid tar-pits like Totenkorps.   They’ll quite easily soak up your 18 attacks, losing maybe as many as 10 or 12 zombies in one turn and then still have the volume of attacks to take all of your bears off in one round of combat by virtue of hitting simultaneously AND your damage value of 4 as a regular unit.

TL:DR

These won’t win you the game.  They’re not unbeatable and if you just throw them in a truck and charge it over the table you will be giving your opponent the opportunity for a relatively easy collection of order dice.

These are, however a very solid and points efficient unit.   Like most things in a soviet army their real strength lies in the strength of the Soviet Army itself,    numbers.   One unit of Ursus infantry isn’t particularly scary.   A unit of Ursus working with Heavy Infantry and Siberian Terrors with a KV-ZP pushing forwards and anti-tank rifle teams sniping anything in the open is going to be a real pain to stop.        It’s easy to fit that along with a little more into a 1000pt list.

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