Building a Better List; The IS-2

Welcome to the latest in a very sporadic series of articles I write looking at how to get the most out of a particular list, especially one which is viewed as sub optimal/non meta.  Today we look at the mighty Soviet IS2 Guards Heavy Tank Regiment.

First off let’s look at the IS2 itself.

With FA10 it’s a beast to penetrate, only beaten by the upgraded Churchill (Churchill VII) and Crocs, and packs an excellent side armour 8, which makes assaulting bazookas pretty reliable and pinned panzerfausts will only get two penetrations a quarter of the time.  Unlike the Churchill it is pretty zippy and can pull off an 18 inch assault (tactical move, follow me, assault) for a turn 1 ‘surprise!’.  Its morale is so so, only being confident, but it will stick around with 3+ last stand and fight on once engaged in close combat with its 3+ counter attack.

Unfortunately the good points really end with the gun.  On paper it looks great, with high AT and FP.  However it has a short range and, worse, is slow firing ROF1.  Therefore, when you move (which these guys will be), they struggle to hit a barn door!

One neat thing about the formation is that one platoon can field the IS-85 with its ROF2 AT12 main gun and therefore partially mitigate this issue and be well placed to deal with medium armour.

A platoon of Hero SMG is also core and very useful at 7pts.  They can hold a buildings and be sacrificed to clear a minefield (historic too!).

The issue with any heavy tank list is numbers and low numbers means a risk of a formation break.  Therefore I am going to aim for a list with five units, including the HQ.  To be honest, if the enemy can take out all that then they deserve to win.

With only a few units in the force it’s vital that they can be positioned to best effect and that enemy movement can be shut down, therefore a unit of three BA64 is the next purchase.  Note that you could make this a Fortress Europe army (albeit with a IS-2 formation) and take the BA10 which is the same pts but with a AT7 cannon, and rather useful against enemy recce.

Finally we need to be able to dig out pesky gun teams, especially Pakfront 88s which is massive in the meta.  For this I go with the Katyusha Guards Rocket Battery and a battery of 122mm guns.  The idea here is that the rockets are a great deployment denial weapon while careful placement of the 122mm guns can avoid danger close issues when you assault with the IS2s (rockets have a 6 inch danger close).  I know some people like double Katyusha to deny two objectives and that is a nice option as well.

The List

HQ IS2
3 x IS2
3 x IS2
3 x IS85
7 x Hero SMG stands

Support
3 x BA64s
4 x Katyusha
4 x 122mm artillery

That is 100 pts on the nose.

Playing The List

Firstly I must stress that this isn’t a “uber take all” list.  Like everything, it has it’s achilles heals.  However, with 10 FA10 vehicles, recce, infantry and double artillery it ticks most boxes and will ensure a good game vs almost everything.  Here are a few thoughts on how to get the most out of them

  1. Don’t get into a dual with Tigers!  While sometimes this is unavoidable, use blitz to mitigate the slow firing.  That said, remember that moving to negate their cover is the same as shooting through cover for rolls to hit, but you now force them to consider if they need to move next turn.  Get inside their decision making process and control the battle.
  2. You will lose units; FA10 is great but AT14 will deal with it and the Germans and Brits have loads.   Achilles can’t be helped, but must be killed as a priority, the 122mm guns can help with this combined with the IS85s that don’t suffer slow firing.   Concentrate fire, hammer them with everything then move on.
  3. Assault!  The IS2 is not a gun tank, it’s an assault beast; get stuck in and be aggressive. The key is balancing thinning out potential defensive fire versus getting on the objective before enemy reserves come on.

Over To You

Well, there you have it; a solid and optimized list ready to bring death and destruction to the Axis forces.  Let us know how you get on.

Category: Article SeriesBattlefrontBuilding a Better ListEastern FrontFlames of WarLate WarList DiscussionSovietsTacticsV4

4 comments

  1. Mark nice analysis and I agree with it. I have been running ISII, ISU122 and Tiger companies along similar lines in competitions here this year with some success. For ISIIs I prefer to take an ISU122 unit as the artillery. The key is to get plenty of heavy tanks if you take a heavy tank list – never take the minimum as it is too quickly broken. I have also written an article on my experiences and will send it to Ben to see if he wishes to publish it.

    1. Thanks Scott. For me I find them too expensive and think you need the 2 templates but it will be interesting to hear your experiences when you email Ben

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Article by: Mark Goddard