Today Lee follows up on pt.1’s unit preview and looks at the formations that Red Thunder brings to the Soviet forces.
Pre-Red Thunder, Soviet forces had just two formations (T-72 and BMP Infantry), plus the Afgantsy stuck out on its own. Compared to the assorted types available to the non-US NATO players, or even the East Germans, it was a bit inflexible.
Red Thunder has the following formations, all integrated into the same force tree (Afgantsy no longer alone!):
- T-64 Formation
- T-72 Formation
- BMP Infantry Formation
- BTR Infantry Formation
- Afgantsy Formation (was hoping they’d change it to a more generic “Air Assault Division”)
Ultimately the formations can be grouped into Tank, Mechanised Infantry and Air Assault as they share certain similarities.
The two tank formations, representing a battalion sized force, have identical structures so I’ll group them together. You have a HQ, 2-3 Tank Companies of what ever flavour you have chosen, then 1 each of the following non-mandatory choices; Infantry (BTR or BMP), Recce (BRDM or BMP), SAM (SA-9 or SA-13), up to one Shilka platoon and up to one Carnation battery.
You can’t mix the two types of tank, which makes sense in that one, the T-64, equipped the East German forces whilst the other, the T-72, was mostly based in Czechoslovakia. There is an out in that you can have multiple formations (you can have up to three T-64 formations AND up to three T-72 formations) or add a company as a force support choice, so it is feasible to mix and match, even if it was unlikely to occur in real life.
The inclusion of the BTR Infantry company, along withe BRDM and SA-9 as options is one of the big boons. Whilst cheaper than their NATO equivalents, the Soviet MBT still suck up points quicker than any other formation in the Soviet force. Being able to add recce, anti-air and infantry at a cheaper points break can help a lot.
All in all, the tank battalion formation gains from the inclusion of the less Gucci kit, allowing flexible combined arms whilst still fielding the numbers that Soviet doctrine requires to overwhelm, but it remains to be seen if it is enough to sway people away from Spam-drel BMP swarms.
Talking of which…
Mechanised Infantry Formation
The BTR and BMP mounted infantry battalions share a similar lay-out at a formation level, even if their company “unit” compositions differ greatly. In some ways its a flip of the tank formation, with a mandatory Infantry HQ, then 2-3 company of Infantry, with the tanks replacing the infantry in the formation support and a Spandrel ATGW platoon being added as well.
As with the tank formations, you can’t mix BTR and BMP mounted infantry in the same formation, although you can mix BMP types in the same formation. You can, however, take multiple formations (3 BTR and 3 BMP) and also have an infantry company of either of the three flavours in the force support section so the two can easily be in the same force.
The BTR battalion, and to a lesser extent a BMP-1 based battalion, really benefits from the inclusion of the Spandrel platoon, lacking as it does the organic anti-tank capability provided by the BMP-2. Combined with the points saved by adopting a BTR based force, one can easily load up on some Spandrel, Storms and then get some T-64 and/or Hinds to further provide AT firepower whilst the Infantry hold ground or clear out other infantry and light AFV.
Looking at the BMP (almost certainly -2 but the -1 has its fans in the forum) it, like the tanks, can focus its points on the core fighting units whilst using SA-9 to provide a serviceable anti-air screen and BRDM to provide the ever situational Spearhead (unless the extra Spandrel of a BMP-2 recce platoon is required). The Spandrel ATGW platoon is maybe less required but everything counts in large amounts so I’m sure more Spandrel will always be welcome!
‘Afgantsy’ Air Assault Formation
The Afgantsy benefit a lot from being combined into the main force. Their force support is no longer limited to a few choice units, although if you take the Afgantsy formation you can’t take the independent Hind company – just the Hinds you get in the Afgantsy formation, oh well! 12 will have to do!
Interestingly the Afgantsy formation is limited to a single formation in the force, rather than three – presumably so you can’t just spam out Hinds!
I think the Afgantsy, like the British Air Mobile formation, provides some interesting options, either as the solitary formation in a force or as a supporting formation. By my calculations a formation HQ, two minimum sized Air Assault Company and two maxed out Hind company equals 33pts, leaving plenty for another formation such as BMP or some armour whilst still being useful as a coup-de-main force in some missions. The only real counter to that is the requirement that Air-Assault company can never be put in reserve, making them a little inflexible.
Support options to the force resemble the Team Yankee lists with a few additions:
- A new Divisional AT box with the Spandrel and Storm
- The SA-8 and SA-8 join the SA-13 in a SAM box
- A new heavy artillery box brings the Acacia into the game
- Interestingly, the BRDM is not a divisional recce asset, just the BMP1 and 2.
- Hinds are still present as a divisional asset but can’t be taken if an Afghansty formation is in the force.
- Tank (T-64 and T-72), Infantry (BTR and BMP) and Shilka boxes also appear as divisional assets.
So, there you go. A quick whirlwind tour of the formations that make up Red Thunder.
It will be interesting to see what Warsaw Pact players do with the options provided and if we finally see some move away from the BMP-2 emphasis of most current lists.