Bagration Axis Allies – Finnish Preview

Ben has briefly lured Coxer out of retirement to look at an old favourite of his; the Finns.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything about Finns, this army has always been my favourite ever since I chronicled building it back in 2013, to cover all three periods in the war – and now they’re back.

The book starts with a brief but well written look at Finnish forces in 1944 and, from there, plunges into the rules. The national rules are very thematic.  Hunters, for example, allows Finnish infantry to treat snow and woods as cross country when dashing, greatly improving manoeuvrability and, to a degree, survivability of the infantry. 

They also have access to the panzerfaust we know from the German books. Finally Armoured Reserve, presents a small disadvantage where even the low armoured T-26 has to stay in reserve.

So what are the formations? Well the book has three and the command cards provide an additional two. It’s also worth noting that the rules here have a “backwards compatible” card for the Germans to ally in a Finnish unit and formation, whilst the Finns can access an allied German unit/formation. 

The Panssari 

The first formation is the mighty Panssari – armoured company sporting a fearless vet stat line. It brings back the eclectic mix of captured soviet armour in a very compact formation; a HQ slot and three armour slots are all you get!

In terms of units for it, firstly you have the reliable and obsolete T-26, with its paper armour and an AT7 gun on an overworked chassis. Whilst it’s not going to win vs modern tanks, it still can pick on infantry and ATG’s effectively.

The next is the T-34, both the 76 and 85 version.  These are still only in platoons of three but you can now field up to seven in a formation; I guess I need two more! I’m thinking the points are pretty good when compared to a Panzer 4 with an SS upgrade. 

The next two options are some of my favourites, the pair of KV 1’s with their hardened armour are made even more lethal with a 2+ assault! 
Also with a 2+ assault is my favourite ever tank; the T-28. 
By now the armour is woeful, but with Top Armour 2, infantry are not going to want it getting stuck into them, after a very slow and ponderous advance!.

The final option here is to upgrade a T-26 unit to Panzer 4’s from the command cards to represent the forces used to eject the Germans from Lapland. Again, with good crew stats and a solid gun, these are priced in keeping with German equivalents.

All in all you can field a decent medium armoured force but pay a premium for its fearless nature. Or alternatively a mix of chaff and deadly assault to work as a ‘distraction carnifex’

The next formation is the StuG or Sturmi. This is a similar set up to the force in the German books, but a bit pricier with improved counter attack and remount. Not certain if the bonus makes up for the bump in points but we’ll see on the table. There is also an intrinsically link command card – ‘log and concrete armour’ that replaces bazooka skirts with a straight 5+ to ignore a FP 5/6 shot to the side armour. 

“It’s log, it’s log, it’s better than bad, it’s good.”

The Jalkaväki

Then we come to the real meat of the book, the infantry company; the Jalkaväki.

The troops are all Confident Veterans but anyone with an SMG gets a 2+ assault which is a nice touch.

The compulsory choices for the formation are an infantry platoon or an SMG platoon – please see previous comment on SMG’s! The units are 9 stands strong and for a few extra points can get pumped with Panzerfaust, Panzerschrek/lahti AT rifles and HMG – points wise these are compare to the standard German grenadier platoon, I think.

The rest of the formation comprises HMG’s, 81mm medium and 120mm heavy mortars (heavy mortars were brilliant with smoke and 3+ FP so glad to see that’s continued!) alongside the ‘anti tank slot’. I use quotations there as there are two AT options; a choice of obsolete 37 or 45mm anti-tank guns or a Panzerfaust infantry platoon.  The PaK-36 does have steilgranate upping the AT to 12 but, generally, with low AT for contemporary side armour and only two guns in a platoon the guns are a risk. Conversely the five stand “Close Defence” Panzerfaust unit is the clear winner as they do not have the limited rule for their panzerfaust!

As an aside all the gun teams have assault 4+ improving their chances up close (clearly a less than ideal situation if you need this)

The final unit is the scout platoon, similar to the infantry unit with scout and spearhead, only a Faust upgrade, and inferior counter attack and assault, though still not shabby!

A couple of command cards have a role here too, firstly is pioneer both as a  platoon and a company. This has the traditional bonus to minefields and digging in as well as access to flame throwers. 
The next is the light infantry company card, jääkäri. For a modest points increase, the motivation jumps to fearless and you lose the options for Panzerschreks and HMG’s. It also has versions of both the SMG platoon, Panzerfaust Close Defence platoon and a 50mm mortar platoon. You also now have a couple of other formation tweaks such as a choice between SMG’s OR Scouts, and also exchange the 37/45mm gune of the existing AT units for the beefier 50mm or 75mm options – more on those later.

The final card to alter your formation applies to every unit in the force – not just formations; the Lapis card.  This reduces the unit cost but drops unit’s counter attack, unless already lower, reflecting the less than motivated Finns that had to eject the Germans from Lapland as part of the Soviet peace agreement.

Suomi Support

For support, the Finns have some great options.

Extra armour comes from the ugly duck BT-42 with its marriage of a BT7 and a British 4.5″ howitzer, but they add some mobile direct smoke and an extra bombardment.

The alternative is the sole ISU-152 the Finns captured, which I’m so pleased to see again as it provides Finland’s only high end (>AT12) AT shot…

For recon you have another scout platoon, or the BA10 armoured car. 

Now back to the ‘high AT’ options of the 50mm and 75mm guns. Again these are only in pairs so are fragile, but they do give that extra offensive AT punch. There is also the 75 PSTK/97-38 card to upgrade your 50mm to have HEAT and a 3+ firepower.

Artillery wise the Finns can have the antique 76mm (Russian 76mm obr 1902) or the German 105mm. The 76mm gun was always amazing in EW as it can pin, it can dig people out and drop smoke. 

You do though have a couple of upgrade cards here that provide the captured soviet 122mm and 152mm howitzers.  The 122 doesn’t seem to offer much more to my untrained eye but the 152 offers extra firepower. Alongside these options is the ever popular observer on foot.

The box which is most important for style comes next – AA. It has the frankly super sexy Landsverk but, alternatively, you can take German 20mm AA or use a card to upgrade it to a 40mm bofors.

Finally air support comes from the German Stuka with bombs, though us old hands probably still have our Fokker cx to take its place.

The remaining command cards have some old favourites like lucky and machine gun nests (no soft skin transport! What do I do with my stalinet tractors?) and also close defence to upgrade the AT of an infantry unit. 

Then the characters. Börje Brotell is new and gives a sturmi a chance to reroll hits. Adoft Ehrnrooth improves last stand and rally to a 2+ for nearby units. Toivo Ilomäki continues to reroll hits and also automatically passes rally tests for his 75mm AT unit (increasing how long they stick around!), And finally the man, the legend, Lauri Törni returns. He is no longer the one man wrecking ball of V3 but does help units blitz on a 2+ and pass last stand on a 2+ too.

So there you have it, Finns in V4 once again positioning themselves as the aggressive infantry force with obsolete AT and captured vehicles. I think they’ve come into this pretty well – they’ll be tough to play but rewarding to use. Do you have the Sisu to play them?

Thanks Coxer 

Category: BattlefrontEastern FrontFinnishFlames of WarLate WarList DiscussionReviews

4 comments

  1. I am so excited for this book! As expected, everything being streamlined, which is why I chose to build armies that are both usable for v3 (flavour & fun) as v4 (tournaments). I have most units already in, but might be looking to buy some more resin/metal Panzer IV’s. I hope I remember correctly, but the Finns used the J version right?
    And I am also happy with the Sturmi upgrade kits! I just hate it, that it doesn’t include the correct machine-gun. I am not that great in making my own at that scale. XD Maybe Breakthrough Assault has a great idea to make these? 😉

  2. Great and interesting review! Might have to dust off my V3 Finns for this. One big regret is not having had Axis Allies for MW, like a V3 favorite, Eastern Front. After seeing the movie “Talvisota” (Winter War) multiple times, the close defense unit is a must as far as realistic for me.

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Article by: Ben Davy