For the Motherland – Soviet Infantry

Today Mark looks at the 2 flavours of Soviet infantry in the Enemy at the Gates book and ponders what his first list will look like.


Soviet infantry has always been an iconic part of FOW, due to the sheer number of light brown stands covering the board, gallantly crashing into your frontlines.  I have always feared them although some of my most fun and rewarding games have been against them.

With the release of the new book, the Strelkovy now come to MW and in two ‘flavours’.

First of is perhaps the stereotypical Strelk, the fresh conscripts thrown into the vicious battle with little to no training and poor equipment.  Forced to advance by their Commissar…’not one step back comrades’.  Think the Russian Infantry in the clip below:

Of course, this is Hollywood but it gives you an idea of what these new troops faced.  These troops have massive company-sized units which swamp the enemy, however, this mass comes at a price.  Their need to advance makes them unable to effectively take cover and act as smaller groups, covering each other’s advance hence they expose themselves to effective fire more, reducing their save to a 4+.

Next up we have the Hero Strelkovy, these guys are the survivors, troops that have learnt to fight in the crucible of battle rather than months of training.  They have seen the casualties and know what running headlong into MGs can cause hence their more reluctant nature.  These still aren’t elite veterans but they are moving in that direction.  Obviously, due to the previous casualties, their units are smaller, representing them not being at full strength and these guys keep the normal 3+ save.

This week I shall be looking at the basic Rifle Battalion as we flood the board with brave Soviet troops.

Rifle Battalion

The humble Rifle Battalion is the backbone of the Soviet Army, what they lack in skill and experience they make up for in bodies!

Here is what you can take, and what the basic company looks like,

So let’s make a 100pt army and see what we get.

The thing with these massive companies is that they get pretty pricey very fast, with every attachment you could have they are almost 40% of your army in 1 unit, albeit an amazing unit!  I am going to start with the smaller option, it’s still big but I think a bit more manageable on the table, 37 teams, some of them on big bases is a bit cumbersome to move.  These units benefit from ‘For the Motherland’ increasing their assault rating by 1 and also ‘Urrah!’ which allows them to assault 6.  Yup, that’s pretty rapid with an 8-inch move, a 4-inch follow me and 6-inch assault.  Yes 18-inch assault, you have to watch out for these guys.  That 6 inches also makes getting that magic 12 teams into contact for QoQ much easier, in order to overcome the defensive fire.  Just be prepared to take casualties.

I want these guys to have lots of toys as they will be the centre of my army so I’ll add,  2 flamethrower teams as they make this a brilliant attacking unit and I think 2 are needed to get one to the front line, as well as 2 x PTRDs.  These guys are great, ROF 4 and AT5, they will deal with even medium tanks if they get to the side of them and will murder armoured cars.  I am skipping the mortar, as you will see I have plenty later on and also the HMGs as I have Flame Throwers for pinning and lots of rifle shots for defensive fire.

I considered a penal unit for my second compulsory platoon, however, while they have a 2+ motivation with their Kommisar intact they can’t take objectives and are slow firing due to lack of weaponry, they also can’t take the nice additions like ATRs.  Therefore I’m taking a second rifle company of the same size but with only  1 flamethrower.

Next up are the Mortars, they come in an 82mm and a 120mm variety, with FP4+ and 3+ respectively.  Due to only being rated green they are tough to range in and players will need to consider carefully where they place their initial ranged in marker. Due to the likelihood of less time ranged in I’m taking both and want to re-roll misses so 6 of each fits the bill nicely.

I considered the mighty Zis 3 AT guns, however, I prefer the support version which sacrifices a 3+ save for a 4+ but gain bombardment and a nice point break.  Therefore some AT8 47mm guns will give me some punch vs anything less than FA6.  Also, they have a 6-inch move meaning they can move up supporting the attack.

The core of the formation is finished as I want some points left for more AT and some mobility.

So core to my formations is

19 Rifle stands, with Kommisar, 2 x flamethrowers, 2 x PTRDs,
19 rifle stands, with Kommisar, 1 x flamethrower, 2 x PTRD,
6 x 120mm mortars
6 x 80mm mortars
4 x 47mm long guns

That comes in at 61 pts.

With my 39 pts, let’s look at support choices.

One of my favourite things in the previous version was the Zis3 – a great AT gun that can also bombard. I’m definitely taking a platoon of these to bolster my AT and that gives me 8 x AT9 shots at a bargain price.  I also want something to really worry my opponent and to come to the rescue when using reserves.  That is perfectly filled by the mighty KV 1 tank, I’ll take 3 of these FA9 beasts.  Even Pak40s and Marders need to respect these guys, especially at long range.  They have to be used carefully but they are great on the attack as mobile pillboxes and if they get into combat have 4+ to hit and 3+ counter.

I always want to be able to spearhead, but I don’t want to spend too many points as its quite situational, BA-10s are the answer, cheap and effective, plus a little more AT.  Remember when you can spearhead you can get 16 inches from the enemy deployment.  If the enemy has deployed within 4 inches of the edge then your potential 18-inch assault with your infantry allows you to get stuck in turn 1!  Yup these guys can take you by surprise.

Finally, I want to reach out and hurt the enemy on their back line and help add some AT.  For this one of the coolest models in the game is called for, the IL2 Sturmovik.  While his bombs are hard to range in they pack a mighty punch and at least offer something vs. Churchills (something Soviets really struggle against if you do play what if blue-on-blue) as well as the fearsome Tiger.  However, their cannons are the star with AT6, which will rip though Marders and even expensive Panzers.  Perhaps unreliable but a lot of fun!  The flying tank rule makes them easier to hit but gives them an impressive 2+ save.  With that, I can attack pretty much where ever I want.  They just have to turn up!

So as we come to an end we have,

19 Rifle stands, with Kommisar, 2 x flamethrowers, 2 x PTRDs,
19 rifle stands, with Kommisar, 1 x flamethrower, 2 x PTRD,
6 x 120mm mortars
6 x 80mm mortars
4 x 47mm long guns
3 x KV1
4 x Zis3 Artillery
3 x BA10
IL2 Sturmovik

This is a force that can hold on in defence daring the enemy to assault, but with enough counter-battery to shut down the enemy arty digging you out.  The big platoons punch a hefty sting with flamethrowers and the awesome ATRs and have 3 of the toughest tanks in the game so far (barring the Tiger) ready to counter-attack plus an IL2 to help keep enemy armour and Marders honest.

On the attack, you can strike fast with spearhead and massive platoons that can assault a great distance as they press home their assault.  Flamethrowers will ensure you pin the enemy while 3 templates deal with HMGs.  All of this backed by 3 x FA9 tanks.  Who cares that they are hit on a 2+ with those stats.  This is definitely an army to get stuck in with!

Whether attacking or defending I see this as a lot of fun!

Next time

Next time I shall be looking at the Hero infantry which allows smaller but better-trained units, plus access to the vicious veteran, swiss-army-knife-of-a-Storm group.

Until next time comrade.