Building a better Soviet list

Following on from his Team Yankee State of the Union article, today Mark looks at how to build a better Soviet list.

Mourn the T72

A few weeks ago I took stock of the TY meta in the State of the Union article.  Having run a couple of Tournaments and listened to feedback from regular players it’s obvious that Soviets are having issues.  However, I think this is only in particular builds.  Long story short, its T72 tank companies.

Now don’t get me wrong, I really like the T72 and wish it had more of a place.  The issue is that you are paying quite a few points for FA16 that in a world of AT22 (I’m looking at you Chieftains and Leopard 2s), they might as well have no armour (well almost).  Rather than bravely advancing, soaking up kills, but getting onto an objective what you tend to see is a load of burning wrecks.

Realistically you can look at about 15 T72s in a tank list assuming you want 6 platoons, some infantry and good AA too protect against those pesky harriers.

A reasonable tank list could look like

15 T72s

Medium BMP-1 platoon with Gremlin

4 Gophers

4 BMP2 recce

4 BMP2 recce (over some arty)

Now on paper that is quite respectable; but from what I am seeing, it struggles.  The ROF1 and 3+ to hit means that as they attack they will get chewed up by Milans and tank fire, while their AT22 gun is facing FA18/17.

Long story short vs a optimized NATO list (well certainly Brits and Germans), you are really up against it.  So lets look at what can be done better.

Cheer the infantry

When TY first came out I remember some gnashing of teeth about infantry.  The outcry was that they couldn’t kill MBTs in assault due to their TA2 and good side armour.  While this is still true for Abrams and Leo2s, they can massacre the Chieftain and Leopard 1.  Also every one of their teams has a RPG18 which will kill light stuff like Marders and Scorpions.  That’s a lot of RPGs!  Top that off with heavy machine guns and SA-14s and its a swiss army knife.  The icing on the cake is the BMP, with the BMP2 being a real star with ROF3 (2 on the move) plus an AT21 missile which, in enough numbers, will kill those expensive MBTs.  The final and massive plus for this combo is that all that inf and all the BMPs counts as a single choice for deployment and can deploy in 2 different locations.


An obviously non posed picture..

So working on the assumption that infantry is the way to go, and BMP2s if you can afford it, lets look any how else you can smash the NATO scum.

Well, first off lets look at arty.  Ask yourself why arty.  I mean, really think.  What is it doing?

“Pinning!” you shout.  Okay I’ll give you that, but there are other options with masses of machine guns and auto cannons to do that.

“What about smoke?” I hear you cry.  Now you are talking, smoke is amazing as you advance.  However its one use only and with your skill rating can’t be relied on [pre-planned markers can mitigate, if tipping your hand, somewhat – Lee].  A few wrong dice and your army is in the open, getting ripped apart.  Although to be fair you can use a pre-planned ranged in marker to mitigate this.

Personally if I am going to spend the points its going to be BM-21 Hails.  They can hide easily (there is no fire in the sky rule), have a massive template, smoke and a receivable firepower.  I don’t need the AT as arty is not there to kill vehicles.  Also if you are going to do it take an OP that 5+ to range in is a killer, 6 hails also helps you to hit the targets which is always nice!

So where should the other points go?  Look no further;

Air Power, kicking butt since WW1

The Soviets can pump out a scary amount of aircraft, even without going with the Afghan list.  6 x Mi-24 Hinds and 6 x Su-25 Frogfoots can be devastating; however target priority is key.

Repeat after me…

The air power must kill the enemy AA first”.

Those Hinds are there to primarily take out the Rapiers, Gepard’s, Vulcans and other nastiness.  Most people hide there AA in woods, or behind buildings where their squishy shells cant be hurt.  The upside of this is that you can normally place yourself to get concealment as well due to the tall terrain in the way.  That +1 to hits really makes the difference to survivability.

Lets take Rapier, worst case.  You in the open and him concealed.  He shoots first, 8 hits, 4 saves and lets be generous and say 3 kills (actually its 2.64).  So you come back with 9 shoots, 3 hit and results in a kill and a bail. That’s a morale check right there.  Time it with your SU-25s and you now kill the rest of the platoon.


Not quite sure if its crop spraying or if its a evil Communist Chemical weapon dispenser?

Its about the long game.  Kill the AA and even if you have a few planes left you will still whittle down the enemy MBTs.  I say MBTs because those BMPs and infantry can rip pretty much everything else apart.

Yes you could try this tactic with just 6 Hinds but you need the redundancy and 6 SU-25s is definitely a redundancy!

So with 2 x BMP2 platoons, a HQ (BMP1 as I need to save points), 6 Hinds and 6 SU-25 you are at 77pts

Padding it out

At 100 pts you now have 23 pts left to uses up.  Given that you have already bought the expensive stuff, you can still really go to town.

First of you have to shut down the enemy air.  Harriers and Tornadoes will ruin your day and you can field 2 platoons of AA for less than the cost of 4 of them.  Therefore I go with 4 Shilka and 4 Gopher.  Shilkas are also nice late game for hunting light vehicles and digging out infantry.

BMP2 recce is a treat as well, so 4 will go in.  They are another steal at 6pts.

Finally with the spare points I have decided on 8 Hails and an OP.  While I am not the biggest fan of arty a massive template, can really stop enemy infantry moving around and pin those pesky Milans (looking at your 8 strong British air mobile platoon).

So at 100 pts we have the following:



Or forgot the fancy support and go for 30 BMP2!  It still has enough AA to nobble those Harriers.  The only drawback is it’s only 6 platoons, so tougher to manage in defence.  However you can soak up punishment long enough for the air support to arrive and save the day.


Finally a balance with 8 platoons (great for ‘Dust Up’ and defence).  It means even when half on, without deep reserves, you can put down 20 BMPs, 2 massive infantry platoons with integrated AA, and double air.  If the enemy has aircraft or its deep reserves you get the Gophers and the Hinds/SU25s. What’s not to love?


Forward comrades

Well there you have it, what is, in my humble opinion a few list options to strike fear into the NATO players.  Forget the T72.  Just stop feeding fragile tanks at AT22 guns.  Let them waste that AT on BMPs while your airforce rips them apart.

NATO players go buy more Gepards and Rapiers.  US players, sorry, that’s all I can say!


13 thoughts on “Building a better Soviet list

  1. “nato scum” ?
    “Imperialist oppressors” surely 🙂
    I know it’s allowable but the BMP1 Bn HQ with BMP2 Companies seems awfully unhistoric to me
    Nice article though, gives me lots to think about for Ribble Rumble – and possibly lots of IFVs to buy 🙁

    1. Yep, you have to set up a unit and its attachment at the same time, but they have no requirement to be in the same place.

  2. Look well and good on paper, but taking 12 air assets and no tanks is going to be a liability against West Germans. I bring 4 Gepards and 4 red eyes at the minimum. The Gepard number seems to be creeping up after Panzertruppen came out. I don’t think you will be able to trade effectively and the Redeye teams will be a persistent threat. I think the Alpha strike of Hinds is viable against the British and Americans though. Surely the Brit players will start buying blowpipes after your frogfoots have their way with them the entire game.

    Another issue when fighting West Germans is the armor of your BMP-2s and AA assets. The little Luchs scout cars can poke at you and cause some big damage.

    Soviet infantry are a bit trash on the offensive unless you have lots of cover to maneuver them. With your company size most NATO lists will have a lot of MGs to deal with you and 5+ assault is bad.

    Anyway, not saying it’s a bad list. I agree about the T-72. You may just run into issues with certain matchups. I think Volksarmee may make the T-72 relevant again as the lower price makes up for the worse armor and gun. T-55s may also be nice to throw into the mix as a decently armored distraction.

    1. It really isn’t that scary. You have to bring both in at the same time however with 12 targets you cant statistically deal with that many targets. Target those gepards on side armour or if you are only facing 3 Leo2s on a inf company then you could risk going straight for them. After that you have 3 inf platoons and 30 BMPs to mop up.

  3. Our 20 player event was won by a T72 player. T72s are OK, and seem to be getting better as NATO focuses more on killing BMPs. The E German option might be the best way to take them though, so the Soviets may have to wait for the T64 to see if their tanks are relevant again.
    One thing I don’t like about the big nasty template is the 6″ safe zone you have to have, especially when your infantry are rushing forward.
    Air saturation does seem to be the way to go with mech lists, but if playing T72 you just need a few hinds to force the enemy to deploy AA (one less AT unit on table in reserve missions).
    Right now I’m looking at balancing an E German T72 list, looking at roughly 20 T72s or 15 T72s are some T55s. This includes a medium BMP-1 platoon and 4 Hinds. I don’t fancy playing Soviet mech as it is the “hot” list for Soviets. I’d rather get better at running T72s.

  4. How about “Capitalist Reactionary Alliance”? 😉 Great article there. I think the BMP Motor rifle platoon es extremely well thought out. The only concern I would have are dealing with Cobras. I like how you did not max out the infantry platoons. I think I have to get some BMP’s now.

  5. Sort of lost interest in TY when it became clear that they were just going to one-up the last release every time to get people to buy the new stuff. Not interested in GW’s sales tactics thanks.

    1. I disagree – The Russian and US lists in the original book were weak. But I’d say the British are no more powerful than the West Germans – they just specialise in a different aspect (Infantry over armour).

      Similarly, it doesn’t seem like the East Germans are massively over-powered but I guess we’ll see what the player base is.

      The real issue is that the T-72 just isn’t sitting right in the game. it’s either under power or over pointed (I’d argue the latter) so its making Soviet players resort to BMP spam.

    2. Not even true. US and Soviets still very competitive. Their lists will also be fleshed out again this year (to expand on the initial release)

      1. No they dont. The US has no competitive list, they are under gunned and struggle to put out high AT, Their aircraft are over costed and the M1 is the only MBT not to go straight through a T72. The inf also lack high AT. the 4+ morale on a platoon for tanks costing 32 pts is very dicey.

        A armoured force lacks the staying power and the inf has little punch.

        Also it has a single AA choice which is FP 5+ and range 32. Facing the US with these lists above is a cake walk.

        However yes their lists are going to be fleshed out.

  6. That ‘crop duster or chemical weapon’ part reminded me of this old Soviet joke I once read where Chinese forces on the Sino-Soviet border launch an unprovoked attack against an tractor peacefully plowing some fields… only to be forced back by the tractor’s retaliatory barrage.

    More than anything else, my favourite part about this article was that it is the first time on here (that I have seen at least) that did not use that damn 1-syllable word starting with ‘h’ at all to describe Soviet forces. Well done!

    I do think however that the central theme here of ‘well at least the BMP-2 infantry are still good’ is very cold comfort to the Soviet tank players out there. Personally I have no problem with using infantry-focused lists, and while I’m not happy with the Afgantsy list (not enough Mi-8s and 2B9 Vasilek mortars for my exact liking), it does still work in a pinch for the time being. But I’m also well aware that infantry lists aren’t for everyone, and that a lot of people really want to play Soviets and use tank lists for whatever reason (maybe it’s what they’re genuinely most interested in, or maybe they just don’t like the idea of painting lots and lots of tiny 15mm figures), to say nothing of anyone who shelled out good money for a T-72 list only to find that it’s suddenly not really that viable (which is never a good feeling). To effectively say ‘oh well better luck next time’ doesn’t quite sit right with me, and I’d be interested to see a future article on how to make the most of a T-72 list – just for the tank afficionados out there (especially without using 6+ strong units of T-72s, since promoting Soviet lists that DON’T rely on numbers to win is a bit of an agenda of mine).

    Other than that, good article. I’m always pleased when the Warsaw Pact gets some love in TY-related media.

  7. dunno if i fully agree about the t-72. it is a mobile and reliable way to hit enemy tanks and knock them out. the bmps have to stay still or hope for a lucky blitz move to fire there missiles while air has to go through the nato air defences which is at worst american vulcans and tons of 50 cals and at best ridiculous west German gepards rolands and redeyes. while im sure the firepower of the motorised rifle company should not be underestimated, the t-72 still has its uses in lighting fast mobile warfare.

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