A few weeks ago I did the last article in this series which takes a look at lists outside the established “meta” and tries to get the best out of them.
The last Soviet article was the IS2s, so this time we are looking at Hero T34/85s. Frankly I think Soviets are in a tough place at the moment hence the extra focus on them.
As always, these articles aren’t about creating an amazing tourney winning list. Instead it’s about taking a potentially fun formation and wringing out the best we can from it; in a sense, providing some competitive lists from new angles.
First off let’s look at the T-34/85.
Its a pretty good all round tank [Some may say its the best of the war – Lee]. FA6 means you need a decent AT to stop it, a 12 inch tactical move and massive dash makes it super zippy on the table and its 3+ tactics means you can pull of some useful blitz and shoot & scoot moves when you need to. Personally I rate these far higher than the vanilla T34/85s. While fielding platoons of 8-10 is great, they are just a bit too big. They tend to get in each other’s way, lack skill and struggle to use cover (four hero T-34/85 can hide behind a hedge much easier).
Points wise four hero T-34/85 will come in at 18 pts. Firstly, this is basically a price drop from Fortress Europe, where the 85mm upgrade cost 2pts. Now it is 1.5pts. Still, the Hero T34/85 is in a fairly tough spot, point wise. It’s a point cheaper per tank than a PzIVH, but lacks that all important cautious rating. As always the best armour in the game is a 4+ to hit!
That said, with AT12, it packs a serious punch, ignoring most medium armour and being a real threat to FA9 at close range.
The hero T34/85 formation looks like this.
As you can see, it allows all the core components you need for combined arms, all within the formation, making it more more versatile than its British, US or German counterparts.
I am going to start with the maximum of three platoons of four T34/85s along with a HQ, which comes in at 59pts. That is a solid base of 13 AT12 tanks.
Next up, artillery is a must. While I do like the Katyusha rockets, the ability to have core mortars is a god-send and, with six tubes, I can re-roll misses, and suffer four casualties before last stand (remember, they are infantry not gun teams). At 4pts they are a bargain.
Equally the Hero SMGs are rather useful and also good value at 7pts. With a 2+ assaults and fearless (while comrade Commissar is alive), they can mop up what the tanks can’t. Additionally, when backed up with guns, they can hold an objective.
Now here is where thinking differs and I am going to present two options. The first uses the mighty IS2 which provides an excellent assault option as
T-34s are vulnerable to the, increasingly common infantry anti-tank weapons like, panzerfaust, etc. Plus the IS2 brings AT14, if it can hit with slow firing, which is useful for anything FA9 and up.
Alternatively you can take three captured Panthers which are incredible value at 21pts and with spearhead. Six AT14 shots is just what this force needs.
The reason I have done two lists is that the captured Panthers is a bit cheesy so I will let players decide which way they want to go.
Thus far we have a core formation of:
With a company of three IS2 that brings us up to 92pts leaving only 8pts to get us some recce and something to help hold an objective. Fear not! Three BA64s (with two PTRDs) are only 2pts and provide that really useful spearhead move. The PTRDs can also help deal with pesky scout vehicles.
Finally 6pts gets me four 45mm guns. Now, they don’t seem a lot but they fulfil a function. They are AT8 and FP 4+ with a 3+ save. Sitting behind your infantry they can make an objective rather hard to take and will make medium armour pause for thought before assaulting. That means your expensive armour isn’t left on objective babysitting duty.
Again we start with our core formation from above and to that we add a platoon of three captured Panthers to bring us to 91pts.
Due to the Panthers having recce, I am not buying BA64s and instead taking 4 x 57mm guns. These have a 28 inch range and AT11; even an assaulting tiger needs to make sure these boys are pinned first!
If that isn’t enough the infantry also gets RPG6, providing them two AT10 FP5+ attacks in assault each round. This really locks down an objective and gives some more anti-armour options.
Here are my top tips when using this formation.
- T34/85s are great in numbers. Don’t spread them out too much; concentrate your force. Pick a threat, eliminate it and move on. FA9 is hard to deal with but with enough shots you can pick them off. Whereas four wont do it, 12 will!
- Use blitz a lot. You pay for a 3+ tactics and its vital. Linking to point one you must bring shots to bear, risk that blitz to get 2 shots and even better if it brings you into close range.
- Talking about range, unless you need to penetrate high FA stay back a bit. Your aggressive stats make you easy to hit. I like to fire at long range and then, next turn, blitz in close to finish off the enemy.
- Make the enemy move. Due to your aggressive nature you will take casualties. You don’t want to be stationary duking it out too much, especially against cautious tanks. Get into a position that forces the enemy to move or, at least, present a bad choice. Eg, do they close to close range or stay back? Just making them move halves their ROF and even making them blitz risks half the ROF and a plus 1 to hit. Dictate the game!
- Speed is your friend. We can get fixated on shooting but remember you can move fast. Dashing for a turn to be in a better situation next turn is often better than firing. Threaten objectives fast, it makes your opponents change their plans and means you dictate the game.
- If you have the IS2s don’t just sit back and shoot! You are paying for an assault tank so get stuck in and go for that objective.
- Your infantry is great for picking off remaining tanks once your T34/85s have softened them up. Shoot them, bail some and then assault, hopefully capturing those expensive beasts.
- If you have the Panthers, then remember that, while FA9, they are aggressive so can die quicker than you think. They are good for sitting at long range (providing FA10 and 4+ to hit) picking off high AT enemy tanks with AT14. They are not there to get ‘stuck in’.
I hope this has rekindled some thoughts on running your T34/85s (or starting a new army). They are great fun to play and honestly they bring a lot of satisfaction when you win with them. I still think they are the coolest looking medium tank of the war!