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…

Tanks at the Door (Part 2)

with Phil Yates

Picking a Force
My basic force will be a 100-point Mixed Tank Battalion:
KV-1 Tank Company – 5x KV-1 tanks (40 points)
T-34 (early) Tank Company – 10x T-34 (early) tanks (52 points)
T-60 Tank Company – 9x T-60 tanks (8 points)
With fifteen 76mm guns, and twenty-four tanks in total, this force has a lot of firepower, as well as a lot of armour. It’s more suited to attacking than defending, appealing to my more aggressive side.

If I have to keep some reserves, they will be the KV-1s. That puts two big units on table at the start of the game, and hopefully, the KVs will arrive where and when they are needed (although historically, their slow speed and tendency to break bridges with their immense bulk made that a dubious proposition!).

This force doesn’t have any HQ, but I’m not too fussed about that. My tanks all have a reasonable Remount rating and a good Last Stand rating, so even if the enemy does smash through my thick armour, my tanks will fight to the end anyway. If I need to launch an assault to clear infantry off an objective, the big KVs are both motivated and equipped (with their turret-rear MGs) for the job.

Going a Bit Lighter
If I feel like something a bit speedier (well not that much speedier, the Valentine’s still pretty slow!), I can also field a T-34 Tank Battalion:
T-34 (early) Tank Battalion HQ – 1x T-34 (early) tank (5 points)
T-34 (early) Tank Company – 10x T-34 (early) tanks (52 points)
Valentine Tank Company – 10x Valentine II tanks (24 points)
T-60 Tank Company – 10x T-60 tanks (9 points)

That’s only 90 points, so there’s room for a bit extra. Some of the things that appeal are:

  • An SMG company – get rid of one T-34 and I get 16 teams of close-combat infantry.
  • A 76mm anti-tank company – four 76mm guns for fire support fit perfectly.
  • A Katyusha rocket battery – the new model is awesome, and a bit of artillery would be good, especially with a Salvo template.
  • A Shturmovik assault company – armoured aircraft dropping anti-tank bomblets, what’s not to like.

I’ll work out which of these (or perhaps go for all of them!) once I’ve finished the tanks.

What I like about this force is that it has a whole 31 tanks, most of them heavily armoured, to simply roll over the enemy. Having faced it in playtesting, it’s a scary lot of tanks to see coming at you. What I need to watch out for though, is a disciplined opponent who avoids letting me pick on part of their force, and focuses their fire on knocking out one of my units with focused fire before moving on to the next. Once I lose the T-34s, things get a lot more tricky as they have all of my big guns.

Preparing For Battle
My progress from concept to the battlefield is still progressing as I write this, but here’s a quick photo survey of my progress so far.

Stay tuned for a complete army photos on the Flames Of War website (once everything is done).

~Phil

Human Waves to Storm Groups. What to Buy

with Chris Townley

Enemy at the Gates has a wide variety of platoons for a Soviet player to field. Nowhere is this more evident than the range of infantry options you can pick from. To make it easier for new players looking to build their armies I thought it might be a good idea to write a short run down of each of the platoons, and how to build them.

Rifle Company
These companies are the backbone of the Soviet army. Each company can have up to 28 DP MG and M1891 teams, along with a Komissar. You can also add in a variety of support weapons including Maksim HMG, PTRD AT rifle, 50mm mortar and Flame-thrower teams.

The Rifle Company Box (SBX50) comes with enough DP MG and M1891 teams for a minimum strength company (that’s still 18 teams), along with all the Command and Komissar teams you need. It also has Maksim HMG (x5), PTRD AT rifle (x2), 50mm mortar (x2) and Flame-thrower (x2) teams. With this box you have enough teams to build an entire Rifle Company, or multiple Hero Rifle Companies (more on this later).

Penal Company
Filled with ‘soldiers who have been guilty of a breach of discipline due to cowardice or bewilderment’, the Penal Company is always in the thick of the action. Like the Rifle Company these large units are filled with M1891 rifle teams and a single Komissar. To build this you are going to use the same box (SBX50) as the Rifle Company.

SMG Company
Armed with PPSH-41 submachine-gun these teams can lay down a tremendous amount of firepower. A company can have up to 22 of these teams, along with a Komissar and a pair of optional Flame-thrower teams.

To build this company you are going to want to look at the Soviet SMG Company (SBX51). This box contains enough models for a full-strength company along with the optional teams.

Hero Rifle Company
The Hero Companies in Flames Of War have benefitted from their previous combat experience with the survivors learning some cruel lessons. Each company is much smaller than their non-Hero version with only ten DP MG and M1891 rifle teams and a single Komissar. Like their larger brethren though they can be supported by Maksim HMG, PTRD AT rifle, 50mm mortar and Flame-thrower teams.

Looking back at the Rifle Company Box (SBX50) that we talked about above, you can make two full strength Hero Rifle Companies, each with ten DP MG and M1891 rifle teams and Komissar. You also have enough support weapons in the box to almost max out your options.

Storm Group
The Storm Group is an SMG Company but with a lot more punch! To make it easier to build these specialist platoons there is a single box (SBX52) that has all the options you need inside.

Hero SMG Company
Just like the non-Hero version the place to go to build your company is the SMG Company (SBX51). This has enough teams in it to build your Hero SMG Company and still have teams left over for a Scout Platoon.

Hopefully this short article helps you to work out what you need to build your army.

~Chris

Friday, Friday, Gotta Get Down On Friday

It is Friday morning here in NZ and as usual there are a few odd jobs that need to be taken care of before we get fully in to the swing of the launch. The guys have been busy though…

  • Mike continues to live the StuG life, making good progress. He may have been heard mentioning that assembly lining 10 of them was taking a toll on his sanity,
  • Phil is chipping away at his T-34 turrets,
  • Andrew has gotten distracted by something shiny,
  • Chris has started his pin washing (in between trying to cough up a lung),
  • Victor is experimenting some some seriously high contrast highlighting, and
  • Evan quickly spray can painted some buildings for our Sniper game.

Almost time for lunch…

~Chris

Tanks at the Door (Part 1)

with Phil Yates

(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!

KV-1
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.

T-34
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!

T-60
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.

Stay tuned for part two….

~Phil