As I mentioned in a previous article I don’t have much to do for my Soviets under Enemy at the Gates so I’ve chosen to use the Live Launch as an opportunity to chip away at my M3 Lee Tank Company from Fighting First.Like a number of my colleagues I was quite taken with the US forces in Fighting First and there is something appealing about applying a large number of yellow decals to a tank. I am sure Soviet players get the same feeling when adding big red stars to their tanks.
My army is completely painted, excluding detail work like stowage, tools, wheels and vehicle interiors – so using the term completely is probably a little misleading? Over the launch I’m working in finishing up the decals – each Lee has something like eight different decals that need to be carefully attached. Next up is tools and stowage. I can never be sure how much I’ll actually achieve during one of our Live Launches as I seem to spend more time behind a computer screen than behind a paint brush.
I am really excited to get the army finished and on the table. It has been spending too much time sitting in limbo slowly being painted rather than running around the table shooting up Panzer IIIs (or whatever else my friends choose to throw at me).
(or, Phil talks about his On Again, Off Again Relationship with the Red Army’s Tanks)
One of the great things about Enemy of the Gates is that it’s finally given me the impetus to finish a tank force for the Red Army!
Long Long Ago…
My first Soviet tanks were five Valentines – the original sculpt from very long ago. I don’t recall the reason for painting them (it might have been a game against Pete using Battlefront’s infantry to bulk out the force), but for a long time they remained my only Soviet tanks, in fact my only Soviet forces at all.
Then, about five years ago, I built a bunch of the brand new plastic T-34 tanks in a big rush for a Kursk campaign at CanCon – during which I seem to recall I lost an entire tank brigade’s worth of tanks!
This was never really a complete force, as I borrowed bits and pieces to make up the numbers whenever I used them.
A New Beginning
With the arrival of Enemy at the Gates, it was time to finally commit to the Red Army and the liberation of the Motherland from the hated Fascists! I’ve always had a fascination with the odd mixed tank brigades that formed the Soviet Union’s tank forces in the darkest days of 1942. Each battalion combined KV heavy tanks with T-34 medium tanks and T-60 or Valentine light tanks in an attempt to simplify the assignment of tanks as the Red Army relearned how to conduct sophisticated operations after the disasters that had destroyed the pre-war army in 1941. With every battalion essentially the same, there was no need to decide what type of tank should go where!
The new KV-1 kit made that part of the force and easy decision – this just so big and ugly, I had to have as many as possible! While personally, I have a preference for the later, sleeker, and faster KV-1s, I decided to make mine the earlier KV-1 themed for the fighting around Rzhev.
The KV-1 has plenty of armour and a deadly 76mm gun, so it’s a bit of a beast. My only concern is that they are so slow that they need to keep rolling forward as fast as possible if they are going to get anywhere, and even then, they will be out-paced by my light and medium tanks, making coordination tricky.
When Red Banner (the Kursk-era Soviet book) comes out, I think I’ll make some KV-1s as an alternative choice to my KV-1s for a later version of the force (I don’t need many, and they are an easy kit to put together and paint, so it won’t be any drama). The KV-1s is much faster (it’s speedier than the German Panzer III or the American Sherman!), but still has thick armour and the same 76mm gun, with improved layout giving it a better Cross rating and more accurate shooting on the move.
Since the early T-34 differs from the later ones I already have, I just painted the turrets of the new ones to go with my existing hulls to get my force into action quickly. Once everything else is done, I’ll paint up the hulls as well to double the size of the T-34 force!
I really like the T-34. It looks sleek and fast, and it is. It has the same 76mm gun as the KV-1, and almost as much armour as the KV-1s. This combination gives it plenty of options. Against light tanks (up to and including the short-barrelled Panzer III!), they can shrug off the enemy shooting while sitting in an advantageous position and blowing them away. Against heavier opposition, they can use their speed to overwhelm a part of the enemy force, flanking them if necessary to punch through their thinner side armour!
The final part of my force was planned to be the T-60 light tanks. These are an amazing piece of engineering. They are the size of a British Universal Carrier, and like them are powered by a truck engine (based on the famous Ford Model A!). Unlike the open-topped Universal Carrier, they are a proper tank with a turret mounting a 20mm gun and co-axial machine-gun, and for something so small, quite decent armour.
The role I have in mind for the T-60 is similar to how I use my Universal Carriers with my British. They’ll probe where the enemy is weak, either drawing enemy forces away from the main battle, or potentially taking an objective and winning the game!
Help! I Can’t Stop!
At this point, I should have moved on to painting my force, but the new Valentine models are so great that I just had to replace my old Valentines as well to give me more options.
The first tank I ever saw and climbed inside was a Valentine, and I’ve always had a soft spot for them. NZ had 255 Valentines, and used them to equip its Territorial armoured regiments until 1960, as well as using them in the Pacific during WWII, so there’s a connection there too.
With the Valentines, I can either replace any other the other types. While the idea of replacing the T-34s to create a mix of KV-1 heavy tanks and lots of light tanks is popular, it doesn’t appeal to me as I view the T-34 as the mainstay of my force. Replacing the T-60s with Valentines is a better idea, but the increased cost means that I have to reduce the number of heavy and medium tanks to do this. The trade off is good in some ways, as the Valentines can stand up to a lot more punishment (their armour is thicker than a T-34!), but it changes their role as they have to achieve more to justify their points.
My personal preference is to replace the KV-1s with the Valentines. This gives me more tanks and frees up some points for a bit of support.
One of the lists that I loved from Ostfront (that was the old Eastern Front Compilation from V2 ~editor), but never got around to making, was the Mixed Tankovy Battalion. The main reason I never built the list was that I was always too busy painting infantry. Since I don’t need to paint any infantry for this release, this is definately an army that I’m going to collect and add to my painting queue.
This formation gives you a way of fielding a little bit of everything, which is how I like to field tank armies. It helps that all of the tanks in the army are tough as nails as well. Its an unusual formation, in that it doesn’t have a Battalion HQ, however what it does have are some of the toughest tanks in the game.
KV-1 Tank Company
5x KV-1 tanks 40 points Running total 40 points
The KV-1 is one of the toughest heavy tanks in Mid-War. With front armour 9 it is almost immune to all but the heaviest dedicated anti-tank guns. This comes at the cost of some speed, as its also one of the slowest tanks as well.
The other option is the KV-1s, which gives up some armour to gain a bit more speed, making it a heavily armoured medium tank, rather than a heavy tank. It also has a better designed turret, meaning that it shoots better on the move than the KV-1.
Either way you go, the KV is an assault monster. With top armour 2, an assault buff (due to its turret rear machine gun), and a good morale rating, this tank is going to roll over any infantry it comes up against. I’ve chosen to go with the KV-1 as I prefer armour over speed.
T-34 (early) Tank Company
7x T-34 tanks 37 points Running total 77 points
The T-34 is the workhorse of the Soviet army. They have good mobility, motivation, and armour. The only drawback is that it has a two man turret, so has the overworked special rule, making its shooting less effective on the move. The plan for these tanks is to move them into position and blaze away with them.
Valentine Tank Company
7x Valentine tanks 17 points Running total 94 points
The third option box has Valentines, Stuarts, and T-60s. While the T-60s might be the most common option historically, I’ve gone with the Valentines. The main reason I have gone with the Valentine over the T-60s or the Stuarts is the armour. Those tanks are cheaper, however, the lighter armoured vehicles just become a soft target for the weapons systems that can’t hurt the KV or T-34 tanks. It also means that the lowest armour in my force is the 5 side armour of the T-34s. I’ll be using the Valentines as dedicated assault tanks rather than as gun tanks. I’d actually like to take more than 7 Valentines, however the points are adding up quickly.
Hero SMG Company
7x SMG teams 6 points
1x Komissar team Total 100 points
I like to include infantry in every army for flexibility. In this army their main purpose is to dig in on an objective to free the tanks up for attacking.
Like all paper lists, it will be interesting to see how the theory plays out on the table. I’d like to add some artillery or anti-tank guns, that would mean dropping one of the KV-1 tanks. The other thing to concider is missions with reserves. The easiest thin to do in this situation would be to have the KV tanks in reserve, at which point it may be better to replace them with the KV-1s tanks that will get into action faster once they arrive on the table.
So now that I have fully completed painting my 100pt Mid-War Soviet force, I figured it was time to sit down and have a little look over what happened to me in my terrifying journey of hordes of infantry and tanks.
I say terrifying as I have never played Soviets before so had no idea what I was doing from the off. My thesis for building the army was ‘What looks cool? And how much cool can I take?’
Well a lot for my money it turns out…
I had to have T-34s as they epitomise Russian armies for me, especially in Mid-War. Before the big guns such as the KV1 really came into their own and the mobile assault guns became prevalent in the Late-War (Kursk) period, T-34s were the one trick Soviet battlegroups had up their sleeve. From the initial battles at the start of Operation Barbarossa when German commanders were shocked at the hitherto unseen T-34 and it’s revolutionary armour design, to the victory at Stalingrad the T-34 was there and fighting for the Motherland.
Initially I wanted as many as possible. LOTS and LOTS of tanks! Theoretically I could have taken 21 T-34s, although points wise this would have put me severely over the limit we were working toward. So regrettably, I had to reduce the amount, as also having just one formation with 2 platoons would have been fairly unworkable in a gaming sense. I still managed to fit 14 into my list however, split between the HQ and two companies, one of 6 tanks and one of 7 tanks.
At the start when we were building our lists, whilst looking at the support options and what was allowed as optional platoons in the T-34 list, I was planning on taking a full SMG company of 22 stands of infantry in true Soviet Horde fashion. Added to this was going to be x2 Flamethrower teams for maximum attack in assaults.
It was only after fixing together the first 9 stands that I realised the enormity of the task before me. I quite wisely chickened out and reduce my options to a Hero SMG platoon at 7 stands and a Kommissar stand. By using the command card to upgrade them to being a Soviet Naval Battalion, this gave them better stats as regards to motivation (with the Kommissar’s motivation secondary bonus not unlike the 6 million bayonets for Avanti forces).
By doing this, I managed to reduce my model count considerably which overall meant that I was able to speed up the painting process from a few months to a little under a week. Further, I now had 17 points to play with (after taking out the 4pts for the Naval Command Card) What perfect way to round out my list with more tanks? And rather than a third platoon of T-34s, I went for the ‘more bang for your buck’ Lend-Lease tanks in the form of a platoon of Valentines, 7 strong. Although slower than the T-34s after looking at the stats they can form a much better screen for my SMG troops who will be holding objectives and generally assaulting buildings and dug in infantry that the tanks haven’t managed to squash.
So although the list wasn’t quite as I earlier envisaged, I did manage to take a total of 21 tanks (yippee) as well as infantry, that although wont be game winning against certain other lists, is thematic and looks cool as they stream toward the enemy. AND with the Kursk books slated for release soon, all I have to do is add a few more cool tanks and a platoon or two and drop the valentines to have a (probably) game winning force in the future.
Plus for the first time in 2 years I have a fully painted army that I am proud of and is ready to take on the enemy in 100pt games (and could be reduced if needed for 80pt games if required).
Enemy at the Gates has arrived and I thought I’d have a go at making a force from models I’ve already painted from my previous spin on the mid-war Eastern Front roundabout.
Over the years I’d built up a reasonable collection of Soviet models I’ve used in various forces for mid-war. So having a look through them I thought I’d make a Mixed Tank Battalion (see page 19 of Enemy at the Gates).
The Mixed Tank Battalion does not have a Formation Commander, so it’s straight on to selecting my Formation’s Units. This unusual formation consists of three tank companies, each of a different type of tank. The first compulsory option (black) contains either a KV-1 Tank Company or a KV-1S Tank Company. I’ve gone with the KV-1 Tank Company because I prefer the higher armour of the older KV-1 model and feel I don’t require the extra speed offered by the KV-1S tank. Another reason to take the KV-1 is that I have a box of about 10 of them painted (don’t ask me why, I don’t want to talk about it). I can take 3-5 KV-1 heavy tanks. I’ve gone with 5x KV-1 for 40 points.
The second compulsory (black) choice is either a T-34 (early) Tank Company or a Valentine Tank Company. I’m not a fan of lend-lease stuff, I feel if you are going to do a Soviet force, take Soviet equipment. I’ll be going with the T-34s. The option is for 3-10 T-34 (76mm) tanks. I’ll go with 6x T-34 (76mm) for 31 points.
The Formation has three other unit boxes, all shaded grey as optional. One more tank option, an infantry option, and a mortar option. For the last tank option you can take either a Valentine Tank Company, a M3 Stuart Tank Company, or a T-60 Tank Company. I’m taking the T-60s because they are Soviet and I have all but one painted. I’ll take 7x T-60 for 6 points.
I will take one more formation unit. I’ve decided to go for the infantry option with a SMG Company. I’ll get the smaller option with 15x PPSh SMG Teams and 1x Komissar Team for 15 points. My last Unit will be from support. I’ll take a 122mm Artillery Battery with 4x 122mm howitzers for 8 points.My Expectations
With the only modelling require to field this force being to paint one T-60 to go with the six I already have I will get this on the table top quite quickly. I think the T-34s and KV-1s will prove pretty resilient against most forces. However, my key problem may be my lack of air defence and an observer. The Mixed Tank Battalion does not have a formation commander, so no one to spot for the artillery other than the artillery themselves. This is the reason I went with the 122mm howitzers rather than the Katyusha rocket launchers, as the howitzers are a bit less vulnerable to enemy direct fire. To observe their fire the howitzers will have to have direct line-of-sight to their targets, I just hope I can occupy the enemy enough with my infantry and tanks to allow the artillery to bombard uninterrupted. As for enemy aircraft, I’ll just have to hope they don’t turn up too often.
Anyone that has talked Flames of War with me for longer than 10 minutes has been regaled with various stories of horses thundering down on the enemy. Cossacks were my first army in 2004, and you never forget your first army. Cossack players are a small, fanatically loyal group to the army type. Anyone can play a tank, mechanized or straight-leg infantry army in any nation they choose. There’s only one Cossack Cavalry army.
So, when Enemy at the Gates arrived, I grabbed a copy of the book and cards and immediately went about re-creating my favorite army. The stat lines have changed a bit, but we’ll see how they play out when I get them on the field. Here’s how I went about it:
The Cossacks are basically mounted infantry, so start with either a standard or hero rifle formation, the you need to choose the proper card: either Cossack or Hero Cossack Regiment, which gives you the build information for your formation.
I chose the Hero Cossacks although I was truly tempted to be able to make a massed cavalry charge with 29 bases using the standard unit. I want to make an army that will be fun and unique to play and compete against.
Now down to nuts and bolts:
HQ: I Have chosen to let the HQ unit remain dismounted : so 1 point there.
First Company : 10 + 1 stands with the Cavalry upgrade makes for 9 points. First assault group.
Second Company : 10 + 1 stands plus a PTRD attachment, this will be my holding group. 8 points.
SMG Company : 7 + 1 Cavalry = 8 points. Second assault group.
MG Company : 9 MG’s for 6 points? A great unit to stack with the holding company. Perhaps if my player unit card comes out for Tachanka’s I can switch this over to a more mobile unit.
45mm AT Company : Cheap, decent AT. 4 long guns at 8 points.
So 40 points for all my Formation units, time for the support!
Artillery #1: The venerable and versatile ZIS-3 gun for the win! Let’s take four of them for 8 points.
Artillery #2: Repeat success! Especially handy if there’s a lot of tanks and armored cars running around.
Artillery #23: let’s add some real punch now, Katyusha’s for the pain! 4 for 8 points.
Anti-aircraft: How to protect all these from air attack, or just for additional infantry defense (also such an iconic soviet unit) DShK AA Trucks for 3 points.
Anti-tank: More guns! I need something to kill the heavies, 57’s are the key. A whopping 18 points for four, but look at the stat-lines both for the guns and the crew.
Scouts : Usually I have taken Cavalry scouts, but the BA-10’s just make more sense in this listLeft: Here you can see the Cavalry card, just add the two points to the Hero Rifle Company and the Hero SMG Company to turn them in to Cossacks and hit the 87 points the David mentions
Click on the image for a larger version…
OK, that’s the troops, rolling in at 87 points. A little of everything and a minimum of motor-ized/armored units as I have historically played a heavily horse-mounted army. Not only is it a change to most players forces, but it’s ecologically friendly as well.
Seriously though, I now have 13 points left over to play with, and these might explain why I chose this build. Time for the command cards.
Beginning of the game, time to throw off the opponent. Reposition one of their Ranged In markers with Maskirova, and one of mine with Recon by Combat. I plan on doing a lot of assaulting, both mounted and dismounted. This might come in handy. Yes, I’m hoping for a bailed Tiger within range (Captured Tank). Lastly, because I think it would be fun. The armor finally catches up to my glorious horses…maybe (Fresh From The Factory).
So that’s it, my first attempt at reviving my beloved horsemen in V4. I’m sure I will tweak this army as time goes on and games are played. In the meantime, I might not win but it will be a memorable fight.~David
The first book that I worked on when I first started working at Battlefront was Stalingrad. Consequently my first army was a Soviet infantry Battalion. 14 years, and a full infantry regiment later, we’re back where it all started.
Like a lot of people I already have a large Soviet force (I have painted a lot of Soviets in my time at Battlefront), so the release of Enemy at the Gates is an opportunity to dust off some old models, add some of the cool new plastic kits, and play some games.
Since most of my Mid-war Soviets are infantry I’ll have a look at those first. There are 2 options for Strelkovy, either the Rifle Battalion or the Hero Rifle Battalion.
The army I used to run was very Infantry heavy, here is the equivalent force out of Enemy at the Gates.
This is very similar to what I ran under previous versions, but I expect the army will act differently in V4. The infantry are harder to hit (3+ instead of 2+) but have a worse save (4+ instead of 3+) so I expect they will have a similar life expectancy as they used to.
The Scouts and BA-10s have spearhead, so the infantry will start closer to the enemy meaning there will take a turn or two less shooting. With that in mind I’ll have to play a few games to try it out. I may find that I don’t need the third infantry company any more, and that the force might be better served if those points were spent on some tanks to help shoot the infantry onto the objective (Valentines I’m looking at you).
The other Infantry force in the book is the Hero Rifle Company. These are smaller, better trained units. However these units are the remnants of larger companies that have seen a lot of action so have a lower Morale.
Any force I build using this list will be more of a combined arms force. The good thing about this force is that since the units are small, they are also cheap, so you can fit a lot of support in. The other benefit is that the combat platoons go back to having a 3+ save.
I think this force will give me a bit more tactical flexibility. I am not convinced othat I need all 5 KV’s (4 would probably be enough), or the scout platoon when the BA-10s already give me spearhead. Those points would probably be better spent on a platoon of Valentines or some sneaky 57mm guns to give the army some anti-tank better than 9.
I have never been a massive fan of Artillery under previous versions of Flames Of War, it didn’t suit my aggressive play style as it took too long to be effective; my infantry had already bade it to the front line before there were enough casualties from artillery to make artillery worth it. Now however, I’m trying to find ways to add even more artillery. The Katyusha has got an even bigger boost as its firepower has gone up from 5+ to 4+. With the pre-ranged in bombardment and the salvo template I’m tempted to find a way to add in another battery.
The good thing is that I can use my Shtraf Battalion to field most of this, however I’m still going to paint up some new KV-1 tanks and Katyushas (despite already having some) because the new models look so good. I guess now I’ll have to play some games to find out how it works.
The other formation that has captured my interest is the Mixed Tankovy Battalion, but more on that later.
In part one I shared with you how I came around to choosing Soviets for the Enemy at the Gates army book release.
Here I am going to go into more detail about how I decided what units to take, how I arrived at my points cost and some of the reasons for including certain units and reasons for not including others. So, without further ado…
My first unit had to be a unit of T-34s. In the army book, there is a formation whereby you can, in theory, take two platoons of x10 T-34’s, and a HQ unit of x1 T-34 for a total of 21 T-34s. However, this would be 109 points, and so well outside the range for the brief we were given.
With the idea firmly rooted of taking a horde of T-34s, I scaled back the units, so that I was still formation legal, and I could keep some points free for some troops as support. My dubious calculations made for a total of 14 tanks. That’s 1 for the HQ, a platoon of 6 and a platoon of 7 T-34s.
Looking at the stats for the T-34, I was further tempted by the 76mm main gun, which has a fairly decent range and an AT rating of 9. Added to this the T-34 has a cross rating of 3+ which reflects it’s wide tracks and decent size crossing rough terrain. Furthermore, it’s higher than average speed for the class, allows me to close with the enemy fast and start pinning them down with shots.
Coupled with my ideas for support choices this could come in very handy.
So up to now, I am at 73 points, and realistically, it is an easy army to paint being 14 tanks. But, my plan of churning out an army over the weekend somewhat failed with my next choices. On the formation diagram, your support choices for the T-34 Battalion can come from Anti-Tank, Infantry or Artillery. I need infantry. To have a balanced army that can be vicious in the attack, but also hold objectives and make effective assaults, there is no other choice than a SMG company.
Not one to do things by half, I’ve decided to take a full SMG company of 22 stands of infantry with their appointed Komissar. This comes to 22points, and an army total of 95points. 22points seems a lot for a support choice, but in the assault, these dudes will be invaluable and allow me to clear any enemy infantry away from objectives and strongpoints.
With a measly 5 points left to me, I looked through the command cards, however for the time being decided to buy an upgrade for my SMG team. As I envisage a lot of our Eastern Front battles taking place on built up city boards with lots of buildings to clear and rubble to hold, I needed something that can further chew up enemy infantry.
I can add up to two Flame-thrower teams for 2pts each to my SMG platoon. That’s a nice 99points that is well within my 100point goal.
All I need to do now is gather and assemble my army and put down some basecoat paints on them to get them table-top ready. Once I’ve managed to get a couple of games in, I will re-evaluate my army composition. I can always reduce the amount of SMG teams in my platoon, thereby freeing up quite a few points to build a support mortar company or buy in some command cards.
And some of the command cards do look rather juicy…
Since the launch of V3 and the subsequent army books, I have always been drawn to German armies. This theme continued in V4 with the war in the desert, where I have built a sizeable DAK force.
However, when the UK Sales office decided that we were all to design and build new armies for the Eastern Front books, the way for me was clear – мать Россия! Mother Russia! Going from the German Wehrmacht Army to a Soviet Red Army force, presented some interesting shifts for me; in terms of colour schemes, military doctrines and sheer numbers of models on the table. But mostly importantly (and the crucial swing vote) was the formation organisation charts in Enemy at the Gates army book.
The force which grabbed me as soon as I was able to flick through the book, was the sheer numbers of T-34 tanks I could fit into an army list. I would be the first to admit that I’m a bit of a ‘tread-head’ when it comes to AFV (armoured fighting vehicles or Tanks!) and like nothing better than collecting, painting and looking at rows and rows of iron beasts. However, playing a German force, quite simply there is never enough tanks! And in the T-34 formation, I can take lots and lots of tanks to crush my enemies before me. As with any new list I’m planning on taking, I write out a list without points. This is my wish list. This allows me to go through and like a kid in a sweet shop, choose everything I want that I think looks cool and I think will work to my plans for the theatre.
The Eastern Front is amazing as it has some seriously awesome potential fights ahead of me. From sweeping tank battles around Kursk and Operation Citadel, to city fighting block by block in Stalingrad, and even with the new book, snipers duelling it out amongst shattered buildings. After I had added up my list and realised that there was never a hope that I could paint 22 tanks, with 44 stands of SMG-packing infantry, 4 Anti-Tank guns and a sniper team, I conservatively reduced my list down, mainly to fit within the 100pt force limit the office had set, and also my own painting time-constraints. That’s not to say that I didn’t manage to fit in 14 T-34 tanks, 22 stands of Red Army troops as well as some flamers in lieu of the snipers (I think Jonathan or Gareth wanted to be all heroic and sneaky, whereas I prefer all-out assault) Further I picked up a box of the Valentines for some Lend-Lease tanks for the times that the T-34 wouldn’t be able to match the likes of the specialist German support options. My excuse is we have the Germans on the run and can choose what units to deploy and when… The factories were all uprooted and moved East to ensure The Soviets didn’t lose the manufacturing capability after all.
I planned to paint all the tanks in one batch, so as to ensure some degree of consistency between them as a finished article. Then I plan to tackle the infantry, which are my least favourite part of painting, however something which when done correctly, really stands out. Tune in for the next article, where I plan to outline my exact army, and the reasons for my choices, followed by my method of painting my Soviets, from idea conception to actually putting paint on the model.