Army Building With The T-34 Starter Box

With John Lee

With the launch of the Bagration: Soviet release, I thought I would look at both new starter boxes to see what sort of force you can put on the table.  This article covers the T-34 starter box.  This box is ideal for someone either starting out or for the veteran player who needs to add some iconic tanks to their existing force.  For the new player, it opens the door to playing Flames Of War without needing to buy, assemble or paint too much and get into playing the game quicker.

So, if we look at what we get in the excellent value starter set (T-34), that will help decide what Formation(s) to run.  The starter set contains the following:

  • Complete A5 Rulebook
  • 21 x T-34 or T-34/85 Tanks
  • 2 x Decal Sheets
  • 10 x Unit Cards

The bonus here is that the rulebook is included in the box – so the new player makes a saving right away.  The benefit of the T-34 sprue is you can make both the 76mm and 85mm variants as both turrets are on the sprues – just swap out the turrets when you need.  Now if we look at what T-34 Formations are in the Bagration: Soviet book, we can see what we can maximize from what we get in the starter box.  The best Formations to maximize this straight out of the box is the T-34 Tank Battalion and T-34 (85mm) Tank Battalion.  Let us look at what units comprise the T-34 Tank Battalion Formation first:

  • 1 T-34 Tank Battalion HQ
  • 1-2 T-34 Company
  • 1 T-34 Tank Company or 1 T-70 Tank Company or 1 Valentine Tank Company
  • 0-1 ZSU M17 Anti-Aircraft Platoon
  • 0-1 82mm Mortar Company
  • 0-1 45mm Anti-Tank Company or 57mm Anti-Tank Company or 76mm Anti-Tank Company
  • 0-1 SMG Company or Hero SMG Company

Looking at the Formation and what we get in the starter box, we can use all the T-34s!  This means we can use everything in the box for our list.  Now we need to look at what else we need to round out the Formation.  Some infantry and intrinsic mortars would be useful.  So how does this look from a list building perspective:

So, a relatively strong Formation with 21 tanks and infantry and mortars.  Heavy tanks for high end AT and assault monsters!  BA-64s to get the Spearhead to gain an attack platform for your horde of tanks to be attacking and assaulting on turn 1 or 2- the T-34 is a fast beast and can move through terrain on 2+!  Make Your Own Luck Command Card to round it out – use it for a Last Stand Test at the crucial moment in the game.  NB: You can also take a few less T-34s by upgrading some of them to T-34 (85mm) for 2pts each up to half the company.  Play round with the numbers based on your preferences.

To buy this army you need only to purchase the following for under $300:

1 x SUAB12 Soviet T-34 Tank Battalion Army Deal $100
1 x FW266 Bagration: Soviet Book $20
1 x FW266C Bagration: Soviet Command Cards $10
2 x SU781 82mm and 120mm Mortar Company (Plastic) $27
1 x SBX80 SMG Company (Plastic) $54
1 x SBX62 IS-2 Guards Heavy Tank Company (Plastic) $45
1 x SBX76 BA-64 Armoured Car Platoon (Plastic) $18
TOTAL $274

Now if we make a few tweaks here to the list, we can get more value for our choices.  If we look at purchasing the other starter box (Heavy Assault Group) we get a lot of support options that we can swap in and out for what list we might want to run and save money at the same time!  Getting this starter set gives us the IS-2s, BA-64s, 57mm or 76mm guns and infantry straight out of the box for less than the cost of buying the individual boxes and you get ISUs and SU-76s on top of that too.

To buy this army you need only to purchase the following for $220:

1 x SUAB12 Soviet T-34 Tank Battalion Army Deal $100
1 x FW266 Bagration: Soviet Book $20
1 x SUAB13 Soviet LW “Heavy Assault Group” Army Deal $100
TOTAL $220

Let us look at the T-34 (85mm) Tank Battalion Formation:

  • 1 T-34 (85mm) Tank Battalion HQ
  • 2 T-34 (85mm) Company
  • 0-1 ZSU M17 Anti-Aircraft Platoon
  • 0-1 82mm Mortar Company
  • 0-1 45mm Anti-Tank Company or 57mm Anti-Tank Company or 76mm Anti-Tank Company
  • 0-1 SMG Company or Hero SMG Company

We can use most of our T-34s and if we utilize the other starter box (Heavy Assault Group) we can provide flexibility with our lists.  Here is an example of what we can take:

This Formation has more firepower with the T-34 (85mm) having AT12 and no longer has the overworked rule that the 76mm version has.  The ISU-122s pull double duty of high-end anti-tank duty of AT14 and provides an additional artillery bombardment giving you options.  You can play around with providing different support options and with how many T-34s you want on the table!

There are also two other T-34 Formations in the book – the Hero equivalent of the above.   These Formations tend to be smaller and get the crafty tactics rating making them 3+ for tactics skill checks such as Blitz.  The Formations themselves are like their regular equivalents except the tank companies comprise of 3-4 tanks instead of up to 10 tanks.  Cost ranges from 9pts for 3 x T-34 (76mm) to 18pts for 4 x T-34 (85mm) – so still gives you some flexibility but due to their size, you need to be more careful with them.

There you have it.  For as little as $220 you can field four different T-34 Formations that allows you to get into Flames Of War, that is great on the budget and gives you the most bang for your buck starting a new force and the foundation to expand upon your Soviet force.


Chris’s Syrian Army

with Chris Townley

When we first started working on the original Fate Of A Nation booklet I spent a lot of time reading about Israeli actions in the Golan Heights during the 1967 and 1973 wars. Before then I knew very little about the Syrian side of these wars and I found it particularly eye opening. When we published the hardback version of Fate Of A Nation we needed a Syrian Army painted for all of the photos – I of course jumped at the opportunity because the fixed deadline meant I would get a lot of models painted in a relatively short period of time (I love a hard deadline when it comes to hobby projects).

The release of Oil War has meant that this project gets a second life for a relatively small amount of extra painting. Now I am sure you are thinking “Syrians in Oil War? I thought it was just Israelis, Iranians, and Iraqis?” Well that was the plan originally, however when Wayne was working on the book, he found that the Syrian forces in the mid-80s were sufficiently similar to the Iraqi forces that with a few rules you could fit the Syrian forces too, giving the Israelis a traditional foe to go head to head with.

Reviewing what models I already had finished I don’t have enough for a whole army (yet) but by expanding what I have already and adding in some new units I’ve come up with a fun list.

I started out with a T-62 Battalion with a total of 11 tanks. To give it some extra sticking power I added a Mech Company mounted in BMP 1s along with an attached SA-7 AA missile team. The AT-3 Saggers on the APCs significantly add to my Formations firepower. To round out the Formation I added a pair of ZSU-23-4 AA tanks. With this Formation coming in at a total of 24 points I then turned to…

A T-55 Battalion. This Formation has a total of 16 tanks (3 platoons of 5 and an HQ tank). Like the T-62 Battalion I added platoon of infantry in BMP 1 APCs and a pair of older ZSU-57-2 AA tanks. This Formation comes in at 23 points and if I had more painting time, I would be tempted to duplicate it and add the same again to my army.

Rounding out the Force is a Scout Platoon of 4 BRDM-2s – this is primarily (okay, solely) because I want a unit to help me Spearhead across the table. Next up is a platoon of SA-8 Geckos. These are some of the coolest (or perhaps oddest) models we have ever made and I have been looking for an opportunity add these to an army but never found the right option. This seemed like a good chance! Completing the army is 8 Gazelle HOT helicopters – I chose these for a few reasons, one, HOT missiles are the business when it comes to cracking open enemy tanks thanks to their AT 23 missiles, secondly, I already have some Hinds in progress for my Czechs and wanted to build and paint something different, and thirdly, Syrian Gazelle helicopters proved to be a thorn in the side of the Israeli forces in ’82, making them flavourful choice.
Now as it stands my army comes in 80 points (you can see why I mentioned the idea of duplicating the T-55 Battalion to bring me up to 100 points) but I think this is a nice starting point to aim for. Right now, I have just under half of the army painted (32/73 teams) by taking my existing troops from Fate Of A Nation and rather than creating a project that is bigger than Ben-Hur I think keeping it sensible and aiming for a finished 80 points is better than a “never completed” 100 points!