Fun With (reluctant) Friends – Czechmate

The past few months have seen three new forces appear for the Warsaw Pact; Soviet T-62M and the Czechoslovakian and Polish People’s armies. So it seemed a good time for Lee to re-visit the “Fun with friends” series on TY allies.

Introduction

Let start the article by looking at the latest Soviet formation to consider, the T-62M.

Soviet T-62M Battalion

Released as a web freebie; The T-62M provides the Soviets with a cheap low-end main battle tank to complement the more expensive T-64. At front armour 14, it’s not going to last long in a stand-up fight with NATO, but its low cost means it can bring a lot of AT21 firepower and, thanks to the missile upgrade, it can dispense this at long range.

The T-62M is almost the greatest counter to the need for the Soviets to ever take allies. Whilst a T-55 MSU can provide more hulls for fewer points, it has the issue that an allied formation doesn’t contribute to your army’s ability to stay on the field.
By comparison, a T-62 formation still counts for keeping the army on the table. It also outperforms the T-55 in direct firepower and mobility. The only real counter is that the Czech T-72M is cheaper (thanks to the price discount for the low 5+ remount and 4+ morale) and provides better protection and mobility than the T-62. Interestingly the East German and Polish T-72M is also cheaper at the three tank break but quickly ramp up.

It’s probably harder to make the case for the T-62 as support to the Warsaw Pact allies, outside of justifying buying what looks like quite a nice model! It’s only marginally cheaper (exceptions above aside) than the T-72M all three Pact members use, has worse skill stats so struggles to utilise orders other than follow me, and the missile capability is nice but not essential, as the Spandrel largely replicates it.

Warsaw Pact

As ever, we will be looking at each of the nations in terms of acting as a base for the force, and each of its formations for providing support to another force.

The Force

Czechoslovakian People’s Army

Low “courage” (as a stat header, calm down Czech and Slovak readers) and “remount”/”rally”. Why take the Czechoslovakians as the basis for your force?

Big

‘king

Guns

The Czech industry has produced some excellent artillery pieces over the years and artillery may be on the verge of a useful buff come v2 Team Yankee. The Dana provides a high firepower barrage that has the advantage that it’s autoloader adds +1 to hit enemy teams, making it more reliable and hitting and, at a minimum, pinning the enemy. With artillery likely to gain the ability to force non-tank teams to re-roll saves, it makes for a tremendously deadly weapon system. The unit is also skill 4+ so has a reasonable chance of rolling a range in to, making it less reliant on pre-ranged targets than Soviet artillery, especially paired with an OP.
Additionally, the Czechs have the armoured RM-70 version of the Hail. The armour has a marginal increase in cost over a Hail but it does two three things:

  1. It makes the unit invulnerable to being pinned
  2. Increases resilience to artillery, small calibre cannons (including those pesky “gunslinger” Gazelles) and small arms fire (although marauding M113/FV432 should become less of an issue in v2)
  3. Makes for a really nice looking model.

You can get a six strong Dana battery, six strong RM-70 battery, OP and a Gaskin SAM battery in one of the formations to babysit them, for a quarter of a 100pt force.  This still leaves plenty of points for a strong core formation (maybe sporting its own Carnations) and an allied T-64 company.

We still also have access to Hinds, albeit a four-helicopter flight, and Frogfoots, along with Spandrel AT, Recce and SA-8 Gecko SAM.

Is the morale/remount a concern?  I’d say its really dependent on the unit in question.  A six strong Dana battery probably cares less about it than a three strong one!  The important thing will be to use the low cost of the units to drive higher quantities and offset that as an issue.

Polish People’s Army

The Polish feel like the reverse of the Czechs; they generally have a high courage/rally/remount/counter-attack, but at a cost premium over their Pact stablemates.  Sometimes those stats are worth the cost (high rally and counter-attack being great for Infantry) and sometimes they are not (high Courage for tanks with stabilisers is less useful.  Arguably high re-mount can be a waste if facing a lot of 2+ firepower tanks!).

Plus white stripes are so 1968…

Whilst the Soviet afghansty are the best Pact infantry stand for stand, the Poles can arguably rival them outside of the assault, benefiting from not having to sink a large chunk of points into helicopters.  This leaves more points for Dana and other artillery to support the assault, or defence, as well as anti-tank assets.  The high rally and counter-attack mean that the Polish infantry can be relied upon to hold ground whilst the 5+ firepower means, on the offence, it can dig enemy infantry teams out without needing to assault.  Skill 4+ means it can also blitz ATGW or dig-in reliably too.

All in all, whilst its hard to recommend a Polish tank force (high premium for little gain), a Polish mechanised or motorized infantry army can really benefit from the improved stats and the support options available.  

Formations as allies

In general, I think it’s better to take the Czechs or Poles as the core force and get those lovely Dana, but should you want a Soviet core force with an allied formation, here is what to consider:

T-72M Formation

The Czechoslovakian take on the T-72M is by far the greatest bang for your buck if you want to add the T-72M to a force. Sure, remount 5+ and morale 4+ is somewhat problematic, but if you have nine friends then who cares if you don’t get back in. Let’s face it, T-72M are usually binary; dead or alive. 
Forty points get you an HQ, two seven-tank companies and some change for SAM or recce.  Not bad!

By comparison, the Polish one is a bit harder to recommend.  You are paying a premium for a high “courage” on a fairly mobile tank (thanks to stabilizers) that doesn’t really get much from it.

T-55AM2 Formation

It’s hard to recommend either T-55 formation over the East German equivalent.  The Czech one is cheaper, but I think I’d always want my one allied formation, if Czech, to be the superior T-72M.  The Polish formation is more expensive, but better “remount” always feels redundant in a world where FP2+ is so prevalent and better courage for a more reliable “Follow Me” is of less use on tanks than infantry.  
Both the Czechs and Poles also have to contend with a minimum size of five tanks, not three.  I was never a fan of the whole MSU play style, especially with T-55, but that will no doubt be a factor for some players to consider.

Mechanized Rifle Company

Continuing the theme, the Czech BMP formation is a good deal cheaper than its other Warsaw Pact equivalents. This can be useful for providing a relatively cheap infantry component to bolster a T-64 force. The lower morale of the Czechs can be partly offset by larger unit size, but should be considered before doing anything too aggressive, less the infantry suddenly find their rides disappearing back to friendly lines!

The Polish mechanised infantry struggle to be attractive as they are quite pricey for very little gain, sure the boost to Courage and Rally can be handy for the infantry component but, unless you are going for a break-neck charge to try and shove some 30mm fire in the flanks on following turns, the bump in stats isn’t as useful for their mount. Instead, it just makes the relatively expensive IFV even more so. They also have the diminished morale to worry about which, having had more than a few games where my German BMP unit was briefly on a morale check as everyone was bailed by Scimitar fire, is something to worry about!

Motorized Rifle Company

Finally, a Polish formation that feels like its worth considering!  This is primarily because its the only Polish formation that doesn’t pay a premium over most of its peers; a Polish motorised company matches its East German equivalent.  Now, this is probably because the Polish AKM stands lack a secondary anti-tank capability, and so are reliant on their RPG teams, but the RPG-18 was only really a threat versus “bazooka skirt” tanks or worse. 
It’s not a huge loss and you get a great short range firefight unit as it can cover the distance quickly with “follow me”, reliably rally and counterattack, all on 3+, all whilst still having skill 4+ for finesse stuff like blitzing or digging in. It’s a shame, really, that its assault is only 5+; regular readers will know the low assault value of pact infantry is my pet peeve and I hope v2 sees some “Enemy at the Gates” re-evaluation of Soviet/Pact assault values.

Of course, the Poles do have a lower than USSR/East German morale of 4+, but a big twenty-three stand company can limit the impact of that!

Continuing the flipping of expectations, the Czech equivalent is probably the worse of the motorised formations.  It’s only a couple points cheaper than the others, but has the courage/rally/counter-attack 5+ to consider, as well as the lack of a 5+ firepower assault rifle stand.  We know Pact can’t assault, but they can normally dig enemy infantry out with 40mm grenades, an option not available to the Czechs.  If you want cheap infantry, take the BMP formation (BMP-1 company only being a point more expensive!) and at least get some extra anti-tank platforms.

Summary

With the three most recent releases, the Warsaw Pact has gained some interesting twists on existing themes.  The T-62 gives the Soviets low-end armour without needing to take allies, the Czechs give an alternative source of cheap T-72 and the Poles can almost rival the Afghansty in infantry quality.

Category: CzechList DiscussionPolishRamblingRed ThunderSovietsTeam YankeeVolksarmee

One comment

  1. Nice analysis. Seems I am doomed as I have 25 T-55AMs and a bunch OT carriers for my Czechs. Maybe they’ll lower the costs of the Czech mech. 🙂

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Article by: Lee

Wargaming since Rogue Trader in 1990; I made the move to Flames in 2006 and have been with it ever since! I play at the Brighton Warlords most weeks.