Fighting the Beast

After Mark gave us his thoughts on fielding the IS-2 in Flames of War, new writer Søren Peterson gives his ideas on facing them in a very practical manner!

With the new Soviet Bagration Late War book lurking on the horizon and the IS-2 unit card leaked in the Battlefront Twich-stream, I have been wondering how tough a nut, this Soviet Tiger will be to crack.

If a player goes all in, he can field 13 IS-2’s in a 100point list, with a HQ with an IS-2, four platoons of three IS-2’s and still have five points to spare. The best way to find out how to beat this heavy-spam list, is to get some games in!
I asked my club mate Jökull, if he would help out and without hesitation he said yes, using the occasion to  field a IS-2 Battalion for the first time.

The weapon of choice

IS-2 Unit Card

The IS-2 looks to me, like the perfect assault tank. Top armour 2 makes it immune to normal infantry assaults and front armour 10, side armour 8 leaves only the panzerfaust as a real threat of all the handheld AT-weapons.
The IS-2 has skill 3+ and counterattack 3+, so should both be lethal and keep counterattacking. The biggest drawback of the IS-2 seems to be the range of the main gun and the slow firing rule. So, like much of the Soviet equipment, it is meant to be driven straight towards the enemy, crushing anything that gets in the way.
The 3+ skill also allows the Soviet player to use the fancy movement orders Blitz and Shoot and Scoot, but having the disadvantage of shorter range it might not be the better option.

Red Army – The Soviet List

IS-2 force with friends

Jökull’s Soviet list was an exact copy of the list Mark had posted in his article IS-2 – THE BEAST FROM THE EAST. The list consisted of:

HQ – IS-2
3 x Platoons of three IS-2’s

In support was:
3x BA10’s
4x Katyusha’s
4x 76mm Artillery
Full Hero SMG Platoon

Making the antidote – the British list

I have recently been working on my British LW army and thought that they might have a decent chance at stopping the IS-2 list. The British can field a healthy amount of AT14, without having to make too many compromises. One of the things I wanted to try out, was to see how an all round tournament list, would stand up against such a hard hitting one trick pony.

My list consisted of a Sherman armoured squadron with Typhoons, M10C’s, AVRE, a short Desert Rat Rifle platoon, a short US Paratrooper platoon [very Market Garden – Lee] and a Universal Carrier platoon all in support.

British List

The plan behind the list is to attack and have the Desert Rats platoon to guard one objective, if necessary, and use the rest of the force to push for the win. The Shermans, Fireflies and M10C’s for anti tank duty, the AVRE and Typhoons for templates and the Paras for the final assault on the objective. In case of reserves, I will have two Sherman platoons, the Typhoons and the AVRE or Paras in reserve depending on mission and terrain.

The Battle – Operation Unthinkable

For this battle we decided to play the mission counter attack. The Soviet force is an Attack list and so is the British but I wanted to test my Brits so I chose to be the defender. This meant that the Soviets started with everything on table, but the British defenders had 60% on table, an ambush and immediate reserves.

As the defender, I got to pick a quarter to defend and Jökull a quarter to attack. I picked the quarter with buildings, to have somewhere to easily defend with my Desert Rats and could then focus the rest of my force on holding off the inevitable Soviet onslaught. I set my Uni Carriers on the right, to threaten the soviet artillery and the rest of my force in the train station ready to move. I put Typhoons, AVRE and two platoons of Shermans in Reserve and the Achilles in ambush.

The Soviets spearheaded the BA-10 into no-mans land and placed all his IS-2’s in the bubble. The 76mm guns seized the ridge to the south acting as guards for the Katyusha’s, with the Infantry in the centre ready to move either left or right.

Turn One

Soviet

IS-2’s and SMG platoon ready to rock

Right from the start Jökull pushed all his tanks forward, with seven IS-2’s forming a gun line against my forces and the remaining three heavy tanks acting as rearguard against my reserves.

Heavies on the move

The Soviet artillery, all being Trained in LW, ranged in right away,  but failed to hurt anyone.  However, now the threat of repeat bombardment was hanging over my head.

Soviet arty range in on turn 1.

British

In the British turn one, everyone was moving into position. The US Paras stormed forward to secure the free objective, the Desert Rats moved forward as backup, I revealed my ambush as there wasn’t any good postions and the M10C’s moved into firing positions, together with a Sherman platoon and it’s single Firefly.

The British AT assets get into position. 

Despite getting a couple of hits, none of them were able to penetrate the thick armour of the IS’s at  long range.

Turn Two

Soviets

In Soviet turn 2, the IS-2’s got the last tanks into position and moved the SMG platoon through the forest closer to the objective, getting ready for an attack.

BOOM! FP 2+ leaves no room for failure.

One of the IS-2’s scored a hit on an Achilles and with AT 14, FP2+ the tank-destroyer blew up into a thousand pieces, making its team-mates know, that it was kill or be killed.

Turn 3

[Soren’s report seems to skip over the British Turn 2 and Soviet Turn 3 so we can only assume they were uneventful!]

British 

In British turn 3, ground reserves arrived (I got the Typhoons in turn 1, but they didn’t show). I chose the AVRE in an attempt to distract the waiting IS-2’s, sending the AVRE against the Katyusha’s and 76mm guns. The Typhoons also showed up. With seven IS-2’s cramped together on open ground, everything was lined up for a British grand slam.

The AVRE’s enters, using the MG’s to wreak havoc among the  Soviet artillery
Does it get any better? Clear sky and open ground.

But no. Three attempts to range in on a 4+, was not enough for the Trained typhoons, so no help from the Royal Airforce that turn.
The Universal Carriers did what they do best and started machine-gunning the Soviet infantry in the woods, causing a couple of casualties.

Carriers and 2IC go for the SMG platoon in the woods

Turn 4

Soviets

But Soviet Fearless infantry isn’t easy to stop, so in the following turn they rallied and moved forward towards the cornfield and the objective.

The fight for the Objective is getting bloodier

Turn 4 saw the single remaining Katyusha staying and bailing an Achilles, despite having to re-roll hits, and another Achilles died to the concentrated fire from the IS-2’s. Even though the M10C’s had scored ten hits on the IS-2’s by this point, not a single one had penetrated the armour of these heavy beast.

British

At the start of British turn 4, the battered Achilles turned and ran. Not even having the CiC in range helped them to remount or helped them pass their last stand test!

The Achilles are done.

But not all is bad. The newly arrived Sherman platoon flanked the guarding IS-2 platoon and managed to get three hits and unbelievably killed two, causing the  last to run the next turn!

Side armour 8 hurts

Turn 5 – The end is near

Soviet

Turn 5 and both armies was manoeuvring to get the upper hand. The Soviets returned the favour against the newly arrived Sherman troop, blowing up one tank.  The SMG infantry then launched an assault against the US Para that were contesting the objective. The 76mm had done their best to help and bailed 2 out of 3 Carriers, but it wasn’t enough. Five hits with seven dice pushed back the SMG platoon, leaving them unprotected in the corn fields.

2 out of 3 wasn’t enough.

Having seen the Carriers stop the assault, the Soviet commander sent his BA10’s to deal with them and so they did.

One kill and two bails, caused the recon to run
The Shermans attracts some unwanted attention 

British

Bottom of turn 5 and the Typhoons returned, along side the last Sherman troop. This was it, if my Brits should stand any chance of stopping the Soviets heavies.

The newly arrived Sherman troop followed in the footsteps of their brothers and killed an IS-2 and bailed another. The Typhoons now had to shine, but no, once more they failed to range in, resulting in two turn ups, with six failed range-in attempts.

Another IS-2 is destroyed from flanking fire.

Turn 6 – Objectives are live!

Soviets

With the Soviets having the BA10’s within 4″/10cm of the objective,  the only thing the Soviets had to do was push the contesting US Paratroopers away and what better unit to use, than 3x IS-2’s accompanied by the HQ IS-2.

With no integrated AT alive, the Paras had to hope for the IS-2’s to fail their counter-attack, but after the first round of assault, where the tanks killed two stands, the US Paras failed their 3+ counter-attack, leaving the Soviets to claim the objective and the  day.

Soviet Victory 7-2.

Closing thoughts

This was my first time facing IS-2’s in V4 and I must say, I am quite impressed! Front armour 10 is a tough nut to crack, but not impossible. Every AT14, FP3+ hit on long range has a 21% of resulting in a kill and on short range, the chance of a kill when hit is 33%. What really makes them tough is that they require dedicated heavy AT guns to deal with and at the same time almost can ignore AT12 and below.
With their top tier assault skill and morale they are made for acting as the tip of the spear. Fielding 10 or even 13 in a list, is maybe a bit too much for my taste, but it is definitely a list every tournament player will have to prepare for. Most important of all, Jökull and I had a fun evening, throwing some dice and trying out the IS-2.

Thanks for reading this and please leave a comment below

Regards Soren

Category: AARBattle ReportBritishEastern FrontFlames of WarLate WarSoviets

6 comments

  1. great battle report. thanks for sharing. When you ambushed the Achilles and they didn’t kill anything, it was decisive. In addition, the typhoon does not usually cause casualties haha. I would reinforce the infantry with a formation instead of two platoons without HQ. anti-tank fire you have enough.

  2. Thanks Valendune. I think you have a good point, with a formation of infantry instead. Maybe a small formation of British Paras could do the job. The Typhoon not causing any casualties was not a surprice and at least it showed up, wich often is the biggest problem with planes..

    1. Hi Recce103c,

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. The terrain is Jökull’s so I can’t take the credit for that. most of it is from Cresent Root.

  3. Great article Soren, I’m really working on my AT 17 guns at moment, just to be sure I can handle the though skin of this IS-2’s. US lists are out of the question from the trournaments at this point and that is a sad… and it will remain so for a year and more. Time to finish painting my remaining German armies! Looking forward in chatting with you guys!

    1. Hi Teo,

      I am not sure you need AT 17 to deal with Soviet heavies, but US Tank lists might take some skill to get to work. The thing is that if you go Soviet heavies you probably will have 7-10 tanks. That isn’t that many shots. 76mm Shermans should have a field day flanking these beast in combination with some M10’s. The stabilisers, smoke and speed, will surely make it harder for the Soviet player, then he will enjoy.

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Article by: Soren Petersen