The way I understand it, the Russians are sort of a combination of evil and incompetence… sort of like the Post Office with tanks.
Mixing it up
The infantry component is due for release this month, so I have started with the Zis guns and tanks. In fact I got my 1st battery of ZIS-3s and my KV-1s in the Russian starter set. As I assembled these and the T-34, my first box of Valentines arrived.
So far so good.
Once all assembled I thought ‘hey these are pretty nice, I do like tank armies’, and started to play around with lists in Forces of War.
What this has now lead to is a Tankovy army on order!
This article will look at my thoughts and choices, and how I see the army working.
To Mother Russia with love!
As I formed my ideas together, there was one thing I wanted in my list and this was to theme it around lend lease.
For those not that familiar with the term, lend lease was the scheme whereby the US, Canada and the UK supplied the Soviet Union with supplies, tanks, planes, basically weapons of war. This was to sustain them during their huge losses as their economy and manufacturing reformed east of the urals to continue the war effort.
One of the lend-lease tanks in the ‘Enemy at the Gates’ book is the mighty Valentine. Supplied in the 1000’s, and used by the Soviet Union long after it had been retired by the British, the Valentine proved a firm favourite with the Soviets thanks to its thick armour, mechanical reliability and ‘good for class’ armament.
One of the key reason for going lend lease in my army is that I’ve painted a lot of T-34s in my time, as well as a lot of soviet green tanks for Team Yankee, and I want a change in colour scheme. Thankfully the British were going through a Khaki phase during the Valentine’s production and the Soviets did not tend to repaint the kit from overseas.
Lets have a quick look at the tank in game.
First off you will notice that this is a heavily armoured beast.
Front and side armour 6 means that those light guns (such as 45mm) will just bounce off it. Not until AT9 do you really have to worry and even then only really at close range. Just like other mid-war tanks, its Achilles heal is AT12 and there is plenty of that about these days. On the other hand, I can pack ten of these in a platoon for less than the price of five Panzer-III shorts which, at first glance, is incredible and helps mitigates the losses that it’s “reckless” rating creates.
Its other down-side is that it brings an early war gun (the 2pdr) to a mid-war fight! However, I am not too worried about the AT7 main gun; it will do the job vs most medium armour and rip apart those light armoured cars which seem so popular.
The final big draw back is speed, or a lack of it! With an 8″ tactical move and 10″ dash it isn’t going anywhere fast by MW standards.
But, throw in a few “follow me!” moves and it will be assaulting in no time.
It’s assault where I see these guys shining, SA6 will get it into combat through most defensive fire and, while a green skill wont kill that much, I just need to push the enemy back off the objective to win.
I have chosen to form my Tankvoy as a mixed one mainly because it allows me to have 2 x Valentine companies as well as using my KV-1s from the starter set.
The mixed tankovy is an interesting beast.
The first thing you notice is that there is no HQ unit, therefore this means you have no formation commander and cant re-roll last stands or re-mounting which is a big draw back.
It also means you have one less unit when looking at good spirits. For that reason I want to get lots of core units. As such, I am going to back up my KV-1 company and two Valentine companies with a Hero SMG Company and 6 x 80mm mortars.
When you consider that the tank companies have to be reduced to one active tank to start testing last stand (on a 3+) you have a very survivable force. Before I look at numbers of tanks I also need to look at support.
One of the issue Soviets suffer from is lack of high end AT. Yes the KV-1s have AT9, however its overworked and I am likely to be on the move. Therefore I need some more guns. I would like four ZIS-2s due to the AT11 however they are super expensive (due to the 4+ to hit rating) and to be honest its a lot of points on non mobile assets for a mobile army. Therefore the old faithful ZIS-3 artillery battery it is. It can fire a FP4+ bombardment (dealing with those pesky Pak-40s, 17-Pdrs and 88s) as well as delivering two AT9 shots each and at a great price.
Now its time to look at tank numbers.
The first choice is easy, one comapny of ten Valentines. Then for KV-1s, while I as tempted with five its just too many points for one unit so I’ll settle for four. That leaves 23 points which could get me nine more Valentines in the second armoured slot. Instead I am going for eight to leave me enough points for some BA-10 recce. The recce helps to mitigate the tanks slow speed by allowing me to spearhead them.
That leaves three points for cards which will be enough for recon by combat (move one of my ranged in markers….right onto their PAK-40s!) as well as Maskirovka which allows me to move an enemies ranged in marker and thus protect my own ZIS-3s!
Into the fray
Well after force selection I have ended up with the following list;
The focus of this army is unsurprisingly attack and, within that, assault. Its a brutal anti-infantry list with two templates, one of which can start ranged in after deployment and re-roll misses. In some missions sprearhead will be a really big advantage, allowing my tanks to get close enough for a second turn assault. Moving fast (well, as fast as a slow tank can) will be important; with a reckless skill I’ll be taking hits all the time, and while I can take punishment, I can only do it for so long.
I have to see hitting stuff while on the move as a bonus, due to the overworked rating of my tanks. Against armour as long as its FA5 or below I can trade blows, I am think crusaders and M14s here. They just can’t hurt me as fast as I can hurt them. Against anything above that i’ll have to be careful to bring my KV-1 guns to bear or get them in range of the ZIS-3.
Speaking of ZIS-3, I could be tempted to drop the mortars and the recon by combat card to get another battery. Yes it makes my formation strength less however, it also adds more AT9. The key reason for this thought is defense. With the KV-s and infantry the minimum 40% reserves is met, meaning everything else can be on table. 18 tanks, recce, and 8 guns can happily hold a line until the KV-1s (slowly) ride to the rescue. Mortars just won’t be that helpful in these situations.
Of course there are some lists I don’t have much of answer to, A Churchill company will cause me a lot of headaches, with very little that can hurt FA8 and SA7. Equally British Valentines are tricky as well, although they will equally struggle to hurt me. I do worry about how well this will face with the release of Ghost Panzers (battle of Kursk). Panthers scare my KV-1s… a lot!
However that’s the future. For now, I have painting to do. I am still stuck in the desert for another 3 months, so unfortunately batreps will have to wait. However, Ill be ready to rock in the new year as the Red wave advances.