Big Four of Late War: Casey

Casey “Comrade” Davies has built more Soviet models than anyone can count, with an astounding seven complete Strelkovy Companies to his name. After some debate, he grabbed the new Soviet Army Deal whilst making noises about wanting to try his hand at building a new Hero Company. Like Victor, he spends his days creating the books, cards, and imagery that you see whenever you play a game of Flames Of War (or Team Yankee).

You can follow Casey’s Big Four journey here…

Phil’s Move to Late War

with Phil Yates

I’m looking forward to the new late war books and trying out my various armies to see how they perform. I have nine mid and late-war forces that I could use, so let’s see how they go.

Late War British
Let’s start with my biggest collection, the Desert Rats in Normandy. I have a Motor Company and a Cromwell Armoured Squadron.

The Motor Company is fairly straightforward and can easily be built from Fortress Europe, although I’ll have to wait for the D-Day: British book next year for the specifically Desert Rats version with slightly different ratings and the command cards for their transport vehicles. My company has:

  • Motor Company HQ
  • 3-inch Mortar Section
  • 3x Motor Platoons
  • 3x Carrier Patrols
  • Vickers MG Platoon
  • 2x 6 pdr Anti-tank Platoon
  • 2x M10C 17 pdr SP Platoon

In Fortress Europe that comes to 94 points, so there’s room to add my Typhoons (using the Kittyhawk card for the moment) to take it to a round 100 points. For comparison, the same force from the old Overlord book comes to 1610 points* without the Typhoons.

With my Cromwell Armoured Squadron, I have two choices: field them as Shermans in the meantime, or wait for the D-Day: British book. I’d rather get them onto the table and have a few games, even if my Cromwells won’t be as fast as I’d like (but then again, the extra speed will be an exciting bonus when the Cromwell arrives!).

  • Sherman Armoured Squadron
  • 4x Sherman Armoured Troop
  • Stuart Recce Patrol
  • Motor Platoon

That comes to 97 points, so I might take the opportunity to throw in a Daimler armoured car troop as well.

Late War German
My German forces are a bit smaller with a very small Tiger SS Tank Company and a FHH Panzergrenadier Company.

My Tiger SS Tank Company is normally commanded by Michael Wittmann for a tiny, but elite force. Using Fortress Europe, I can field this six-tank company without Wittmann (I’ll have to wait for D-Day: Waffen-SS to add him). The company has:

  • Tiger Tank Company HQ
  • 2x Tiger Tank Platoons

Six tanks for 72 points, so that’s a better deal than before (it would have been 1300 points previously*). To bring the force up to 100 points, I could add a Panzergrenadier Platoon from my FHH Panzergrenadier Company and finally get around to adding some Sd Kfz 7/1 quad 20mm AA to my collection (although I could use some of my single 2cm AA from FHH in the meanwhile..

It will be a while before we get to the Lorraine battles where the Feldherrnhalle (FHH) panzer brigade fought, so meanwhile I’ll just field them as a normal Panzergrenadier Company. It would have:

  • Panzergrenadier Company HQ
  • 2x Panzergrenadier Platoon
  • Light AA Platoon (using my Sd Kfz 251/21 AA half-tracks)
  • Armoured 8cm Mortar Platoon (using my 12cm mortar platoon)
  • Armoured 7.5cm Gun Platoon
  • Armoured Flame-thrower Platoon
  • 2x StuG Assault Gun Platoons (using my Panzer IV/70)

That comes out at 96 points in Fortress Europe, so that’s pretty good. I’ll have to ponder what I might add to use those last four points.

So far then, it’s looking good for a conversion across from the old books to the new. I’ll have to wait a little for a perfect translation for a couple of my forces, but they’ll be fun to play in the meanwhile.

Mid War Forces
So what about my Mid-War forces? How will they fare? I have a Grant Armoured Squadron, a Panzer III Tank Company, and two variants of Soviet Tank Battalions.

My Enemy At the Gates Soviet mixed tank battalion isn’t really a good fit for Late War as both the KV-1 and T-60 are pretty much long gone by then (there were apparently a handful of KV-1 still fighting around Leningrad though!), although if I used the T-60s as T-70s and ignored the odd organisation, I could probably make a small 60-point force.

On the other hand, the Red Banner version transfers over nicely (especially if I get that SMG Company painted!).

  • T-34 Tank Battalion HQ
  • T-34 Tank Company
  • Valentine Tank Company
  • T-70 Tank Company

That all comes in at 51 points under Fortress Europe, so I might need to invest in another T-34 company to replace the T-70s, and possibly model some of the new tanks as up-gunned T-34/85. That would give me 28 tanks for 100 points!

My Grant Armoured Squadron really doesn’t cross over to Late War. The Grant was already on its way out at the Battle of El Alamein where my force fought, so it would be optimistic to expect to see it in battles nearly two years later. On the other hand, if I didn’t already have a late war armoured squadron and I wanted to give a mate a game, I’d probably consider fielding them as Shermans while I worked on a new Late-War force.

My Panzer III Tank Company would translate across a bit better as Fortress Europe has a Mixed Panzer III & IV Tank Company. My models are much earlier marks than you’d find in early 1944, and are painted in desert sand camouflage, but they’d do at a pinch, but it would have to be a small game as my whole force wouldn’t be much over 60 points – even proxying them as later model Panzers!

All-in-all though, if I didn’t have any Late-War forces and wanted to give it a go, I could certainly try out a few games using my Mid-War forces while I built up my Late-War collection.

What About the Romanians?
I also have a Late-War Romanian Panzer IV Tank Company. If I field it using the German Panzer IV Tank Company formation, it gets a bit of a skill and reliability upgrade, but works fine. Just focussing on the tanks, I’d have:

  • Panzer IV Tank Company HQ
  • 5x Panzer IV Tank Platoon (3 tanks each)
  • Grenadier Platoon

Since they are relatively better, and hence more expensive, I’d need to drop some tanks to get my 100mm howitzers in there, and even more to field a small infantry company. Or, looking at it from the bright side, I can field nearly 150 points for a really big game!

And the Score is…
Well, out of nine forces, five transfer over almost without a hitch, although I would need another ten T-34s to get to 100 points with my Soviets. Of the other four, I’ll need to proxy my Cromwells as Shermans to make that one work, and the other three Mid-War forces could be transferred across in some form, even though they are 1942 forces, but since I already have Late-War forces, I don’t think I’ll bother.

All-in-all, transferring over to Late War using the new books looks like it will be fairly straightforward for me..   

*The old books used a different points scale with typical forces being 1500 to 1750 points rather than 100 points.

Fortress Europe: Soviet Spotlight

with Phil Yates

Through 1943, the Soviet Union has gone from victory to victory, throwing the Germans back almost to the borders of Russia in a non-stop series offensives, never giving them time to recover before the next blow falls. These successes have bought time for the Red Army to sharpen their tactics, and despite high casualties, keep formations intact long enough to retain these new skills.

The unrelenting pace of these offensives has led to a dichotomy between formations freshly rebuilt with new conscripts ready for the next offensive, and the heroic survivors that remain after each bloody battle, pushing on as they have time after time. So desperate is the need for troops that even obsolete equipment like the M3 Lee and the KV-1 are still found fighting on the flanks of the latest equipment like the T-34/85 that form the spearheads. The question is simply which of the many options will you field?

T-34 Tank Battalion

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Big formations with up to 25 tanks for less than 50 points.
  • Extremely fast medium tanks.
  • Upgrade with 85mm guns for extra anti-tank capability.
  • Big units of up to ten T-34 tanks for maximum staying power.
  • T-70 and Valentine light tank companies add numbers cheaply.
  • Integrated SMG and mortar companies for combined arms attacks.
  • Outnumber, outmanoeuvre, and outfight the enemy.
    • Field twice as many tanks as the enemy.
    • Use speed to unbalance the enemy and get flank shots on their tanks.
    • Greater numbers give greater firepower to overwhelm the enemy.

Hero T-34 Tank Battalion

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Smaller units – the survivors of many battles. More skilled. A rapier rather than a sledgehammer.
  • Still using the same doctrine, so still Aggressive.
  • Extremely fast medium tanks..
  • Upgrade with 85mm guns for extra anti-tank capability.
  • T-70 and Valentine light tank companies give flexibility.
  • Integrated SMG and mortar companies for combined arms attacks.
  • Give the Germans a taste of their own medicine using movement orders and speed to keep them off balance.

KV-1s Guards Heavy Tank Regiment

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Fast tanks with heavy armour and excellent assault capabilities.
  • Ideal for infantry support, clearing out enemy defensive positions and driving off enemy tanks.

Churchill Guards Heavy Tank Regiment

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Slow, heavily-armoured assault tanks.
  • Cost effective infantry support.

M3 Lee Tank Battalion

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Obsolete medium tanks with thin armour and limited mobility.
  • Hull and turret gun can shoot at different targets.
  • Cheap and cheerful fire support for infantry attacks.

Rifle Battalion

  • Similar organisation and equipment to Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Huge formations with up to 29 teams in a single unit.
  • Unstoppable assaults with big, hard-to-pin down, easy to rally units that charge 6”/15cm to get masses of troops into combat.
  • Komissars improve motivation.
  • Submachine-gun units for assault firepower.
  • Integrated weapons at all levels.
    • Machine-guns, anti-tank rifles, mortars, and flame-throwers in each unit.
    • Massed machine-guns, anti-tank rifles, heavy mortars, and anti-tank guns to soften up the enemy as you charge.
  • Expect high casualties with only a 4+ save – you can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs!
  • Quantity has a quality all of its own!

Hero Rifle Battalion

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Smaller units – the survivors of many battles. More skilled and deadly.
  • Komissars still improve motivation.
  • Better rate of fire as higher proportion of automatic weapons amongst survivors.
  • Still using the same doctrine, so still Aggressive, but fighting smarter so 3+ save.
  • Still have integrated weapons – high ratio of heavy weapons to riflemen. These are duplicated from the Rifle Battalion for ease of reference.
  • Tough, aggressive troops.

Motor Rifle Battalion

  • Sameorganisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Huge formations with up to 35 teams in a single unit.
  • Unstoppable assaults with big, hard-to-pin down, easy to rally units that charge 6”/15cm to get masses of troops into combat, then hit really hard with excellent assault ratings.
  • Komissars improve motivation.
  • Submachine-gun units for even more assault firepower.
  • Integrated T-34 or light tank company for speed and firepower.
  • Integrated weapons at all levels.
  • Expect high casualties with only a 4+ save – you can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs!
  • Quantity has a quality all of its own!

Hero Motor Rifle Battalion

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Smaller units – the survivors of many battles. Extremely skilled and deadly.
  • Komissars still improve motivation.
  • Better rate of fire as higher proportion of automatic weapons amongst survivors.
  • Extremely deadly in assaults.
  • Still using the same doctrine, so still Aggressive, but fighting smarter so 3+ save.
  • Still have integrated tanks and weapons – high ratio of heavy weapons to riflemen.
  • Really hard-bitten troops. Deadly up close and clever tactics.

Reconnaissance Company

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • Elite infantry mounted in armoured transports.
  • Integrated light tanks or armoured cars, anti-tank guns, and mortars for combined arms.
  • Deadly highly-mobile shock troops.

Support

  • Same organisation and equipment as Mid War, so easy to transfer across.
  • SU self-propelled guns for any purpose from light to heavy. Dual-purpose weapons – ideal for blasting the enemy at point-blank range, back-up role as artillery.
  • Elite, highly-skilled, tank-killers earn their triple pay – a long gun, a large salary, a short life!
  • Lots of cheap artillery, light 76mm guns, powerful 122mm howitzers, and Katyusha rocket launchers for saturation fire.
  • Deadly Il-2 Shturmovik armoured ground-attack aircraft armed with cannon and anti-tank bomblets!

How Do the Soviets Play?
The victories won by the Soviet Union in 1943 — Stalingrad, Kursk, Donbass, Dneiper, Smolensk, and Kiev amongst them — showed the increasing skill and power of the Red Army and threw the Germans onto the strategic defensive. As 1944 begins these hammer blows continue without respite.

A Wide Variety of Styles
However, by 1944, the Red Army was running out of people to replace casualties, so they created several tiers of formations. At the bottom of the pile were the rifle divisions who were usually desperately short of riflemen. To solve this problem, they’d conscript any adult males from the areas they liberated straight into the ranks. The result was renewed strength, but very limited skill, so they are rated Confident, Green, and Aggressive with a save of just 4+. These massive formations were quickly attrited down to the same old band of heroes who had fought their way back westward since Stalingrad. These heroes are rated Confident, Veteran, and Aggressive, reflecting their crafty tactics and brutal hand-to-hand combat skills, while retaining their aggressive tactics that put defeating the Germans above personal survival.

The tank battalions follow a similar pattern, with the tough heroes of a dozen battles rated as Confident, Trained, and Aggressive with their ‘Crafty’ tricks reflected in a better Tactics rating. When rebuilt with conscripts fresh from training, of necessity their tactics become simpler and their skill rating drops to Green, although their determination to take ‘Not One Step Back’ gives them a better Last Stand rating.

The motor rifle brigades that supported the tanks were given priority for the available manpower as they were seen to be the key to ultimate victory. With almost as many officers and NCOs as soldiers, even freshly-raised units fought with skill, so are rated as Confident, Trained, and Aggressive, although still have the speed and lowered save associated with massed tactics. Once they get battle-hardened, the heroic survivors are rated as Veteran. Like most Soviet infantry, their aggressiveness and high proportion of automatic weapons give them an improved Assault rating as they fight ‘For the Motherland’.

The Sledgehammer or the Rapier?
As you can see, there are two distinct sides to the Red Army, the units brought back up to strength or the next offensive with raw recruits doomed to a very bloody and usually very brief introduction to combat, and the battle-hardened survivors, the heroes of many battles who had seen recruits come and go many times.

These two play very differently on the table. The huge units of new recruits are a sledgehammer, swung with maximum force at the key point in the enemy line, smashing through with devastating speed and crushing strength. They will take huge casualties, so you need to be bloody minded and focus on victory above all else. You must win quickly while you have the strength to shatter your foe, or watch your forces bleed away to nothing.

The heroes of many battles still need to fight aggressively, as their strength will also bleed away quickly, but they need to use finesse rather than massed numbers. They must use their superior speed and skill to gain local superiority in numbers, firepower, and position, then cut the enemy apart.

No matter what their level of skill, Soviet troops have lots of firepower, often from larger calibre guns than their opponents, and are deadly up close. The key to victory is using speed and aggression to overwhelm a section of the opponent’s force at close range, before exploiting their success to win victory.

What to Expect in Bagration
As you’d expect, when the Bagration book arrives, it will expand on the forces in Fortress Europe with bring new equipment like the powerful IS-2 heavy tank with its 122mm gun, thick armour, and the speed of a medium tank, the ISU self-propelled versions mounting guns as big as 152mm, and the deadly SU-100 tank killer that can easily make short work of a German Tiger or Panther! The book will introduce new formations such as specialist assault troops, ideal for breaking through German defences and clearing out fortified towns and cities.

However, we won’t get to Operation Bagration and the Eastern Front for a while, so to keep Soviet players going until then, the Soviet component of Fortress Europe is pretty beefy (easily the biggest in the whole book). It’s got lots of stuff to help you build the core of your collection and start playing.

T-62M: A Welcome Addition

with Chris Allen

If you read my article Hell on the Highway: A Soviet guide to the BTR-60 then you probably figured out that I have a love for second line kit. So when the venerable T-62M plastic kit came out lets just say mistakes were made, my wife had many questions- Why are there so many tanks? Where did all these tanks come from? Why do you need this many tanks? A battalion of tanks later and I had the opportunity to put together and play second line Soviet troops the way they were meant to be, aggressively. Battlefront had put out an interim list on their website, but with the introduction of Oil War, Soviet forces are getting another list and unit to add to the arsenal.

The T-62 was born out of the early 60s as a replacement for the T-54/55. While it was not as popular as an export due to expense it did replace the T-55 internally within the Soviet Union. What the T-62 brought to the table was a smoothbore gun, the first of its kind in Soviet service and would be game changing on the battlefield with an ability to reach out and touch someone unlike other tanks. Modernisations to the Soviet tanks were constant and in the 85 period we see modern features like laser range finders on the older tank, but what hadn’t changed was it still had a hell of a gun.

The T-62 is a beautiful kit, and my favourite to date, giving you the option to build the T-62 for use in Fate of a Nation, in Team Yankee with forces like the Iraqis and Iranians, or the modernized T-62M with Soviet forces. While I’m a huge fan of the T-72, the visual appeal of the T-62Ms turret instantly made me want to paint up these beasts, and in Soviet fashion, in great number.

So what do you get with a T-62M? We’ll look at 4 features of the T-62, firepower, armour, maneuverability, and cost. Bottom line up front: you get a glass hammer.

This tank is all gun. With AT 21 with a range of 32” the T-62M packs the same punch as the T-72M, capable of running and gunning and being a threat to almost anything on the table. While AT 21 isn’t the scariest sight to front armour 18 and 19 tanks, remember quantity has a quality all its own. Many armies have learned this against the BMP-2, but the BMP-2 can’t move and shoot against targets and cunning NATO opponents will use that against you to devastating effect. The T-62Ms ability to manoeuvre while firing will help put opponents on the back foot and I would argue this is what it excels at. The gun is only ROF 1 like other Soviet tanks and this will limit the damage per turn you can inflict but when used appropriately can threaten tanks but just pull apart support units and really unbalance the field for the rest of your army to exploit. The 115mm 2A20 gun doesn’t have the brutal characteristic Soviet tankers are used to with the T-64 and T-72 but the supporting machine guns do a pretty decent job of digging out enemy infantry if push comes to shove.

The T-62M also has the option to take the AT-10 Stabber missile which can reach out to 48”, a whopping 4 feet but can only do so stationary. What makes this a great option is the sheer number of tanks you can get and supply with these missiles for the bargain basement price of 2 pts. A single unit of these in ambush is not only cheap but can threaten an entire table with AT 21 missiles and be a really bad day for an advancing enemy force. So if you’re building a force made to defend with counter attacking tanks with one company in ambush the T-62M can provide a terrifying and cheap option. But more on tactics later.  

The T-62M does have armour, it does, just not much. This puts it in an odd place, it has enough armour to protect it from IFV fire and the lightest of man portable anti tank weapons, but even light tank guns like the 105mm found on older models of NATO equipment are more than capable of ripping through the T-62M. Tanks like the Leopard 1 or the AMX-30 are perfectly equipped to take on these tanks with both the number and the gun to do the job where as heavier more modern tanks like the Leopard 2 are over equipped. With side armour 9 the tank is more heavily armoured than the T-72 but is still vulnerable to a great variety of weapons. With Bazooka skirts this is a little better bumping up to side armour 10 against HEAT but with weapons like the Carl Gustav and the RPG-7 on the table this is of little benefit. You can’t depend on the side armour to save you so make sure you can’t be hit in the side where possible and you’re doing great.

While the T-62M can move and shoot, it doesn’t do it as well as more modern tanks like the T-72, Leopard 2 or Abrams. The terrain dash of 14 inches combined with a cross value of 4+ makes it hard to really depend on the tank in rough terrain. Moving through woods and other complex terrain is not where the tank is at it’s best, and it is more adept at moving around terrain, keeping in formation and putting fire down range. I wouldn’t overlook the Cross Country dash of 20” that can be used to quickly re-position and threaten flanks and objectives. Moving that many tanks on that many angles can quickly force your opponent to make some bad decisions.

So lastly you have cost, and these tanks are going cheap. At 5 points for 3 tanks and 29 pointe for a full company of 10, they start out really cheap and don’t finish off too far away from that. A Headquarters tank and 3 minimum sized companies will only set you back 18 pts, so the T-62 is the Soviet tank that can fit in any and all Soviet lists, or be the list with all sorts of room for support.

T-62M tactics aren’t that dissimilar to other Soviet tank tactics but have some interesting nuance in the sheer weight you bring to the fight combined with their lack of protection. As discussed above the T-62M hits hard but doesn’t take a hit well. This tanks survivability comes from numbers not individual tanks staying power, and the numbers bring about a new level of mobile offensive output. So with this in mind crafty commanders should keep a few key concepts in mind when performing basic Soviet doctrine.

Know what you want to do, and try and do it as best as possible. This is easier said than done but one thing that makes designing and playing a list a lot more fun and easier is using the battle plans mission selector in the more missions packs. This lets you design a list to play the way you want it to and have it turn out that way arguably more often than not. It helps offensive minded players play offensively and defensive lists get dug in. It can be used against you but that’s half the fun of the pregame fight. If you haven’t tried it out I highly suggest it. So figure out if you want to attack, defend or something in the middle and design the list to play how you want to fight.

Soviet attacks generally come in three flavours, frontal and flanking attacks and the envelopment. Now for obvious reasons Soviet planning at all times attempted to avoid frontal attacks as they were the most costly and tended to get bogged down in defences and played to the enemy’s strengths. On the table we see great similarity to this and I would argue this is why ‘alpha striking’ or using your ability to shoot first is often the worst choice for Soviet players and specifically Soviet tankers. With all the advantages at play for a defender, concealment and being gone to ground, most NATO targets will require 6s to hit. While the T-62 does come in great number it doesn’t overcome the low rate of fire of our tanks and so opening fire on your first turn is often a mistake, as it can make the hunter become the hunted, with muzzle flashes identifying each and every tank for NATO forces to then engage in brutal return volleys.

So then what’s a Soviet tanker to do? Move, move fast, move often, keep moving, never look back. While flanking movements and envelopments don’t really make sense in their conversion from tactical and strategic actions to the table top in TY their base principles remain the same and give really good guidance for Soviet tanks. The whole point of either of these at their fundamental level is to force your opponent to react and move from a position of advantage to a position more exploitable. A flanking attack is about attempting to limit the amount of a force that can defend, and put it in a position where it is least suited to act offensively. It uses superior speed and violence to rapidly force an opponent to do something. Getting tanks up table quickly and when possible to the side of units often has this effect. It can allow a Soviet player to mass tanks along a relatively short frontage and do some damage.

“But I can’t just drive up, they’ll shoot me!” you say, but this is where smoke and the planned fire comes into play. With smoke to cover your advance to the enemy you can arrive up table with little to no damage and be in a position to really threaten the enemy hopefully forcing them to move to react. If you have a second artillery group you may even be able to cut large platoons like British infantry in half if you look to assault with larger platoons of tanks on subsequent turns or just again cut the field up letting your tanks do the work.

Where envelopment comes into play is repeating the flanking idea across multiple parts of the table. Once you get an opponent moving it opens up shots from other angles and this is where multiple platoons of tanks really comes into its own. Driving the majority of your force up the right flank may make the enemy reposition and become highly vulnerable to shots from the left and vice versa. This is where keeping them moving and forcing NATO tanks out of their prepared positions pays off for the patient Soviet tanker. You create situations where you give your opponent more problems than they have solutions.

Creating a defensive tank list are words that I’m sure set many folks’ hair on fire so we won’t call it a defensive T-62M list, but rather a counter attacking list. Soviet tank formations have an infantry company organically and can take a second as support. This is more than enough to hold for a few turns and can buy your tanks the time and space to show up and do the real work. The beauty of this is that NATO forces have to come out of hiding to attack and lose many of the advantages they hold sitting back in terrain. They are forced to come out and expose themselves in the open and this is where large units of tanks in ambush(along with the pre discussed missiles) can have a hay day. Add in large units coming in from reserve on all sorts of angles and you create beautiful killing fields. Where this succeeds is the sheer number of tanks you can bring to the fight and it is a lot of fun flipping the script on NATO forces this way.

However you choose to play them incorporating the T-62M into Soviet lists is simple and I would argue a fun if not a great decision for Soviet players. There are three basic ways to incorporate the T-62M into Soviet lists, individual companies, full formations and multiple formations.

First and simplest a single company of T-62M can replace a company of T-64 or T-72 in an Infantry formation, this option lets players pick up a single box and try the T-62M out for themselves to figure out how best they can work for them within an established list. Think about all the fun of having a cheap run and gun unit that can cut down a Leopard 2 in a BMP-2 list.

Second you can field a single formation based around the T-62M, 3 bulked out companies of T-62Ms is still cheap and will allow you to fill out your army with support options for a combined arms approach. This type of list will have resilient units and the ability to take loses while continuing on, using the cost effectiveness of the T-62M to give you a balanced but tank filled army. This is the approach I’m taking and I’ve been loving how it’s been working with BTR-60s and a ton of artillery in support, it looks the part of a second line unit pushed into service. A little bit of research done and I found a unit that retired in the 90s with mostly T-62Ms filling the ORBAT.

Lastly the T-62M due to cost is a prime candidate for platoon level operations and can be run with multiple formations of minimum sized units. While these don’t have the staying power of a full formation, they make up for it in minor cost savings, and more importantly direct support with units like infantry companies artillery and air defence becoming even more available and present in your force. This option also enables players to take a T-62M coy as a supporting formation to an allied force, making your Warsaw Pact list more flexible and interesting.

The T-62M is a really fun and exciting addition to Soviet lists. What it lacks in top end ability it makes up in numbers and the ability to hit like a freight train. The T-62M really epitomizes the Soviet design philosophy of bringing more and bigger guns to a fight at the expense of everything else, combined with the continued development and use of equipment in service. Combine that with a turret so ugly only a mother can love and you have the visual interest and playability that has players like me hooked. The T-62M will be taking the fight to NATO and sympathetic forces in the Middle East and Europe with the introduction of Oil War and I for one can’t wait to show my friends how much work this glass hammer can do.

Andrew’s Speedy Assaulters

with Andrew Haught

With another launch event I once again get a chance to dust off one of my old favourite armies and give it a bit of TLC and V4 update. This time I am going to dive into my old Rota Razvedki reconnaissance company.  I originally built the list for V3 Late War using the Red Bear book.  With their inclusion in the Red Banner book, I feel that I need to re-tweak the army so that I could run it in both Late and Mid War.

The Images in this article are in progress shots of my old list, I did the math and I think I painted this army originally seven years ago. I am planning to do some plastic updates to my army, over the release I will work on the ZIS-3 guns. After the release, I have further plans. First I am going to update the SU-85s to plastic and then I am going to rebase the infantry as some of the old basing has started to separate from the base.

Full warning: I love Universal Carriers, and will use any excuse to put them on the table. There is just something about their design that clicks with me. Thanks to the Red Banner Command Cards I get to use Carriers in my army, and I am going to get as many as I can.

It’s All About That Speed
When I am running an aggressive list the first thing I think about how long it’s going to take to get my troops to the objective, and how many turns will my opponent get to shot my troops along the way. One of the features of the Reconnaissance Company is that their combat platoons all have Spearhead. This rule is massive, getting a free move before the game means that I can get a full turns worth of movement without risking any enemy fire.    

Deadly Assaulters
Now speed is worth nothing unless you have some sort of payoff. The Infantry units in the Reconnaissance platoons have a massive 2+ to hit in assaults, meaning that if they can get into an assault they will kill almost anything in their way. The formation does have a weakness you need to be prepared for—they are really small—so you do not have the ability to take on heavy losses. So getting the extra movement form Spearhead is critical to your aggressive strategy.

To make my troops more of a threat I added two Command Cards to my Company Commander, the first one, Tenacity gives my HQ and any platoon he is attached to counterassault 2+. The second card I added was Ferocious Valour, this card allows my Company Command team to roll two dice in assaults. These two cards make it worth it to risk my Company Commander in assaults, and on top of that the HQ will add two more deadly assaulters to my assaults.

Universal Carriers Are Just Too Cool Looking
Like I stated above I love Universal Carriers, but apart from looks there is a good reason to run these awesome transports in your list. When using the US or German halftracks you have two stands of infantry in each transports, so each time one is destroyed you may lose 1/3 of your platoon. If you take the extra Carriers when you lose one transport you are only risking one stand of infantry, only 1/6 of you platoon. Also they just look cooler, so yeah why wouldn’t you use them?

Support
My troops are good at one thing: assaulting and shooting infantry. This leaves a big gap in the form of Anti-Tank (AT), so I really need to add some AT assets. I could also use an artillery battery to help get my assaults to go in. Luckily, the Soviets have a unit that can multitask as artillery and anti-tank: the 76mm Artillery Battery. The flexibility of the 76mm Artillery Battery makes it ideal for my list. But I don’t think  that will be enough AT, I think I want to add some mobile AT. First off I want to add the cheap and efficient SU-76s to my list, they have a great gun and are cheap enough to allow me to take the more expensive SU-85 option as well. SU-85s are a bit pricey but worth their points, they have a higher to hit stat as well as a massive Anti-Tank 12 gun, giving me the ability to threaten both Tigers and Panthers.

Andrew’s Speedy Assaulters
3 pts Reconnaissance Company HQ
1pt Tenacity Command Card
-Ferocious Valour (3 Point)

Armoured Reconnaissance Platoon(9 points)
– Universal Carriers 6x Universal Carriers (3 points)

Armoured Reconnaissance Platoon (9 points)
– Universal Carriers 6x Universal Carriers (3 points)

Armoured Reconnaissance Platoon (9 points)
– Universal Carriers 6x Universal Carriers (3 points)

Support
76mm Artillery Battery (8 points)
-4x 76mm guns

SU-76 Light SP Battery (13 points)
-4x SU-76

SU-85 Tank-Killer Battery (36 points)
-3x SU-85

Tactics
This is not an army that wants to sit back and defend objectives, it’s all about forward movement, a win fast or die fast kinda army. I plan on always choosing Maneuver or Attack when using More Missions to make sure I am never fully on the defence.

In games I plan to blitz my infantry towards the objectives, while having my SU tanks provide covering fire. The 76mm Artillery Battery role will be determined by my opponents forces, if they have a lot of infantry and gun teams I will be bombarding them as much as possible, if they have a massive tank army then I will use my spearhead to get them into a good position and use them to help thin out the opposing tanks.

Final Thoughts
I love the new life that V4 is giving my old armies, with the V4 formations I feel like I have more freedom to create the exact army I want. I am a really big fan of Build Command Cards, they let me as a designer add more interesting options that did not fit in the book while at the same time I get all the weird and wonderful things that I want. It’s a simple card pack but it adds so much to the game.

What eastern front armies interest you? How would you build a Soviet Reconnaissance Company? Why not tell us and join in the global discussions on our Facebook Flames of War group.

~Andrew

Chris’ Red Banner List

with Chris Potter

You may have seen some of my articles on the last live launch about how I chose my army for Enemy at the Gates and some of my ‘rationale’ behind why I took what I took.

For those who didn’t it went like this:
I wanted a tank army, but realised that Stalingrad wasn’t the place to deploy hordes of T-34’s. So after painting 100pts of T-34, KV-1 and Valentines, I switched and painted up 100pts of pure infantry (ok with a little support from Valentines and 76mm guns)

For Red Banner, I clearly didn’t learn from my mistakes, and like a kid in a sweet shop, took all over the best looking units and then thought about how well they would work.

Someone likes painting lots of tanks and infantry!

In a brief respite from the madness, some clarity resumed and I decided to use some of my Enemy at the Gates minis that were already painted. At least this meant my painting queue was considerably shorter!

Thankfully with the amount of models I already had completed, for me my list did include things I was really excited about.

I had to take my main formation as T-34’s. I had fallen in love with these plucky little medium tanks – and what better way to honour this love than by upgrading them to Hero status?

Better skill rating (+4 instead of +5) and also a better hit on rating (+3 instead of +2) meant a much hardier and survivable unit.

So I took a T-34 Hero Tank Battalion consisting of:

8pts T-34 Hero Tank Battalion HQ, 1x T-34
24pts T-34 Hero Tank Company, 3x T-34
10pts Valentine Hero Tank Company, x2 Valentine 2pdr & x1 Valentine 6pdr
10pts Valentine Hero Tank Company, x2 Valentine 2pdr & x1 Valentine 6pdr

Total 56pts

This was a great start to the army. Me being me, despite my clarity of the previous day, took the plunge and decided to paint up my new tanks individually, as befits their Hero status. Each T-34 and Valentine would receive distinct details, damage and even specific decals.

The infantry…

I had to take a Storm Group. These were invaluable in my games amongst the ruins of Stalingrad. Their 4+ hit on score meant that they were a lot more survivable than your average Soviet soldier. Combined with the ability to add flamethrowers  and PTRD AT rifle teams for a moderate score meant they became an all round unit, that could assault (Fearless 3+) and hold objectives.

Plus, with them being a compulsory (black box formation) from Enemy at the Gates meant I could take them with my Red Banner force as a support formation. Urrah!

Support:
19pts Storm Group, x7 PPSh teams, x2 Maksim HMG, x1 PTRD AT rifle & x1 50mm mortar
6pts x1 PTRD AT rifle 2pts & x2 Flamethrower (optional).

Total 27pts

At this point I have two solid choices that can, crucially, support each other (and one of them is even fully painted…)

Now to flesh out the remaining 17pts…

Easy!

After looking through the Red Banner book the old me popped up and wouldn’t relent until I took another support – this time artillery. SU-76 at just 10pts for x3 meant I was able to add some direct fire (AT9) and some artillery template that is survivable.

My remaining 7pts were spent on:
IL-2 Shturmovik Company x2 for 7pts

That’s a 100pts dead on.

Now to paint them up and play a game, work out my weaknesses and re-evaluate my choices!

Dave vs Brian – T-34s vs Panzers Battle Report

with David Griffin

Dave’s Forces:
6pts T-34 HQ
23pts T-34 Tank Company, 3x T-34
13pts T-70 Tank Company, 10x T-70
30pts SU-152 Heavy SP Battery,  2x SU-152
14pt Light Tank-Killer Company,  4x Long 45mm
9pts Heavy Tank-Killer Company, 2x 57mm

Brian’s Iron Cross Panzer III Company with Ghost Panzer Support
16pts Panzer III (Uparmoured) Tank Company HQ, 2x Panzer III
15pts Panzer III Tank Platoon, 3x Panzer III (short 5cm)
15pts Panzer III Tank Platoon, 3x Panzer III (short 5cm)
10pts Panzer II Light Tank Platoon, 5x Panzer II
39pts StuG (late) Assault Gun Platoon, 3x StuG (late 7.5cm)

We decide to try out some of the new lists and threw together an interesting Free For All.  I positioned the SU-152 in the middle with both AT gun groups on the left in cover facing the PzIIs and StuGs, both tank groups on the left facing his PzIII tanks. 

The 45s moved up through the trees with no problem on the left while the tanks moved forward to get shots on the right.  There must have been a brisk breeze because nothing hit on the first turn. Brian then blitzed every unit he had (successfully) and returned fire much more effectively, killing both 57s on the left, one T-34 in the middle and two T-70s on the right.


The 45s then blitzed to the side and engaged the Pz IIs killing one and bailing one.  The T-34s killed a Pz III in the Hq and the T-70s on the right moved forward to get side shots but missed entirely.  My SU-152s moved to the left side and engaged the Stugs, missing both shots.

 

Brian then, in true form, killed one and bailed one with his Stugs. His Pz II attempted to get in the woods and assault the 45s, but only succeeded in getting one before breaking off.  On the right his PzIIIs kill three T-70s and bailed two.

Needless to say, with my luck, my SU-152 ran away, leaving two poor 45s all by themselves on the flank. Time to try to kill some platoons and break the company.  The 45s kill a Pz II and Bail another while the T-70s get in and bail one of the HQ Pz III. The T-34s move forward and kill two Pz IIIs in the send platoon. Return fire is substandard this time, but succeed in bailing all T-70s.

 

 

The T-70s run leaving only the T-34s on the field with a couple 45s, which drive off the Pz IIs. Unfortunately Brian makes all the rest of his morale rolls and the company stays intact with his Stugs on the objective.

 

 

 

8-1 victory to the Germans.  It will take some work to get used to the overworked issue on all the units, although the better save on the AT guns are a relief and kept them in the fight.

I don’t think I will let Brian use my dice again.

Human Waves to Storm Groups (Part 2)

with Alexander Nebesky

Following on from Chris’ handy article during the Enemy at the Gates launch (which you can find here), we’ve put together an addendum article to help with the new Soviet infantry units from Red Banner. Red Banner brings with it three new Soviet infantry battalions for players to field, bringing the number of mid-war Soviet infantry formations up to five. This addendum to ‘Human Waves to Storm Groups. What to Buy’ will cover what box or blister you’ll need to put together the infantry formations in Red Banner.

SBX50 contains 18x DP MG & M1891 rifle teams, 4x Command teams, 2x Komissar teams, 2x PTRD teams, 2x 50mm Mortar teams, 5x Maksim HMG teams, 2x Flame-thrower teams, 16x Unit Cards—all the things you need to put together the following units:

Motor Rifle Company
The Motor Rifle Company is much like the ubiquitous Rifle Company apart from the fact that a motorised battalion had no horses and anything not carried by the soldiers themselves was moved by trucks. On the table the Motor Rifle Company has a higher skill rating than the Rifle Company, but carries a more streamlined selection of weapons.

Hero Motor Rifle Company
Hero Motor Rifle Companies are made up of those men who survived long combat long enough to learn the hard lessons of war. As such, the Hero Motor Rifle Companies were afforded more machine-guns than their greener compatriots to match their comparatively higher level of tactical skill.

Reconnaissance Platoon
Reconnaissance Platoons were employed by the Soviets to advance until they crashed headlong into the enemy. At that point, they would overcome and destroy the enemy and allow the advancing columns behind them to continue uninterrupted. Reconnaissance Platoons use rifles and machine-guns, with the option of a flamethrower for urban combat.

SBX51 contains 21x PPSh SMG teams, 2x Command teams, 2x Flamethrower teams, and 8X unit cards. SBX51 is used to make the following units from Red Banner:

Hero SMG Company
The Hero SMG Company, like the Hero Motor Rifle Company, has seen enough action to be whittled down to a battle-hardened core. Armed with the impressive PPSh SMG, the Hero SMG Company is called on for fearsome hand-to-hand combat.

Armoured Reconnaissance Platoon
Mounted in lend-lease armoured cars or half-tracks, the Armoured Reconnaissance Platoon is the main assault element of a Soviet Reconnaissance Company. The Armoured Reconnaissance Platoon is Tasked with closing the ground and assaulting the enemy ahead of the main Soviet forces.

These options make up all the new infantry additions from Red Banner, and hopefully this additional piece will help make choosing your infantry purchases straightforward and simple.

Bonus Launch Content… Plastic Katy Speed Build!

We grabbed some of the writers and graphic designers of the Auckland Studio team and gave them the new plastic Katyushas to assemble.

This was the first time any of these guys had built the model.

We also gave the old metal and resin version to Evan (who sculpted it many many years ago) to build at the same time.

Can the veteran modeler and sculptor beat a group of people building the new plastic Katyusha for the very first time? Stay tuned for the drop tests at the end…