Hello everyone, below you’ll find an article from our guest writer Etienne, on how he build his successful Soviet midwar force. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did. (Soren).
So, the ETC 2023 is now truely over !!!
It was one of the greatest events I’ve been to and I wanted to share with you how I created my army and how I made it work. I will not be explaining to you, all the battles I’ve been playing, Etienne.
To summarize, The ETC was played in mid war, 101 points, and the tournament was in Hasselt, Belgium.
18 teams of six players showed up, and I have to say that the level is still increasing year after year.
As a Swiss team member for a few years now (2011- …), I had the chance to play and test quite a lot of armies last season with Jérémi Guerra and Raphael Bosson.
The goals were simple: find out which armies are working the finest, and then work on how to counter them.
Here are some elements we took into consideration to create the list :
Everybody will agree that KV are one of the toughest units during this period but are very vulnerable to high AT (Anti Tank). Also, they are pretty slow, and clumsy when moving and shooting at enemy targets. Their 24″/60cm range is not an advantage, and forces them to move to be within this distance. Basically, they are excellent at charging, but not really efficient at shooting stuff.
Second element was, how to use infantry in mid war ? With the new point release, Battlefront did not change the close anti tank cards and it’s making infantry super expensive compared with a load of little tanks.
Third element was made for a single event, specifically the finnish GT. What battleplan is played the most ? For me it was clear after some Swiss and French events that most of the trend is to play attack.
Considering these elements, I decided it would be fun to play something more into defense and try to spam the opponents with tiny tanks and infantry. Who else than the Soviets to fulfill this task 😀
I went to the Belgian GT with my idea of a defensive list in manoeuver and after the weekend, I knew not to give a win to my opponent was achievable with a large number of tanks and infantry. I met some good players and I gave them a hard time during the games.
Back home, in between writing my master degree and working on the house, I was working on a list that had more infantry and only one platoon of tanks, all that IN DEFENSE !!!
First of all, when I talked about this idea to my teammates, they found me tired, and crazy. And even more when I told them the Soviets didn’t have any big AT to counter other KV lists….
We did test lists around the same base I played in Belgium from January to mid march. Nothing was really working as the reserves were too slow and too numerous. So basically I was not losing any game, but the enemy was within the 8″/20cm of the objective on turn 6 and then I did not have the power to take him out of it….
The reason was, lack of medium AT, and the guns I put were taken out too fast. The infantry was composed of two units and could not deal with the opponent on large tables. But we discovered that they were ok on long scenarios like no retreat.
Considering that, I tried to go full infantry, and instead of putting my KV into the reserve and one large unit of medium tanks on table.
I swapped the Lee’s for T-34, added an extra company of BA and added an infantry unit.
With the experience of the Belgium GT, I knew the Lee’s were good at shooting a lot, but could not manage to move through terrain…. The T-34 was the solution with terrains and cross check.
I got the list to try, seven days before Helsinki….
A company of 3 units, with PTRD, a unit of PTRD, HMG, Mortar 120mm, then a full company of BA-10, BA-64 (5 tanks, to have more MG), and finally, 3 KV-1, and 6 T-34.
I played against Jeremi for the 20th time this year, and on a no retreat scenario. He played a list that was supposed to go through it. After turn 3, we knew that list was impossible to break if you are not going in turn 1….
We tried another game with this technique… Turn 4, he lost all the power units that could force the line… and I was still far far away to lose even a platoon of Infantry….
In fact, to play KV in ambush was a clever idea as big AT units can’t reach them asl they are not on table, and basically, you can’t really try to charge as long as you have AT 7 in defensive fire with the BA….
So you are stuck trying to destroy them with all you have, the artillery in the front lane to create a hole here and there, and when you can do something you charge. You get in 50% of the time, cause there, it’s a dice game with the counterattack moral. And if you get in, you are still surrounded by infantry, it’s turn 4 or 5, and then you have KV that shows up next to you to destroy or to bail you letting the infantry take the zone control again…
And as it’s turn five, you have finally your reserve coming from an edge. They move at dash speed really fast…. Like really fast. So basically, you move them right in the good position to be able to give 12 shots the next turn. And the story starts again for the opponent… you need to kill them to try to get closer to the objectif…. And it’s turn 6… and you realize that you can’t reach the 20cm, and it’s over….
That sounds maybe too simple, but going to Helsinki, I was not sure at all if players would just go into my lanes with KV or KV8, and basically just push me back, once, twice and so on….
The result was 6 wins… the list was even OK to make offensive play.
When we received the final Rules pack, with 101 points, I was even happier to have one more minefield… It would lead the player to the open part of the table, where I want to play.
Into cities, into ruines, or in the open. I was trying to cut the opponent to give him a field or a wood where he could just sit freely and shoot me the time my infantry would die.
A little change, as I was not convinced with the BA-64, I swappped them for T-70, more armor, bigger shot, and I took my stuff and went to play a major event in Milano. The event was organised by Livio and Paolo.
Same lists, same tactic, but other meta, other players and sceneries. Basically, Italians love high front armor, flames, and medium tanks….
I played my first game against a Soviet army, with 3 kv 1 and 4 KV-8…. I’ll sum up like this, because all the army couldn’t go too close because of the PTRD and BA, and I needed to keep away those big boys…
We played bridgehead. I placed myself into the middle, the minefields on the woody part of the square, blocked the spearhead extension with my BA-10, and as written above, put the KV in ambush.
I played them in ambush just to know where the KV-8 would go, when I knew where they’ll move, I just put the KV as a wall in front of those flame tanks. My opponent lost time, and could not use his flame tank during the game. First win.
And as Italians love KV-8, I had to played them 3 time during the week-end, using the same simple wall technic. And when it was not my kv as wall, it was my BA-10, or even infantry sacrificing themself in front of the demonic tanks…
The tactic was to give away things to avoid coming too close, avoiding charges as much as I could. Force the opponent to choose between one or two options. I mean, I did not give only one platoon at a time to shoot at, but maybe 2 or three. Like, I placed the KV ambush when and only when my T-34 was ready to shoot. So the player has to deal with two threats and not only the KV or only the T-34… same with BA, same with PTRD.
When you match with 10 units on the board, the blocking techniques, the two or three threats to shoot at, plus a knowledge of where to put things, then you start to be a good defender in mid war.
On the point basis, the infantry cost is less than late war, but they have only two ways to play them. Armour saving, and counterattack test to pass, because they will not do damage to tanks and they have not a good capacity to charge against loads of MGs.
With those three techniques, I won the global Milano event.
I knew the list was ready to be placed at the etc…. Italian event was at the end of May if my memory is correct. I’m saying it, cause, when you have a good list, you need to paint it… most of my friends asked me, why I wanted a new army, as I was playing with one painted for the last six months… And I just replied to them, I wanted something similar, and I wanted to use my FOW objectives as base for my future PTRD. I know, you’ll say, is it a strategic text or painting guide now ? and I would reply to you, it’s both…. I wanted to propose a city base army, which looks like chaos, similar to all points, and try new painting techniques…. So I’ve started the project in December already, and as all projects, it can have many delays… And by the end of May, I had painted, one platoon infantry, one platoon mortar….. So from that very late moment, I spent nights painting models to be ready for the final season event in early August.
Time passed, the painting ended, and we arrived in Hasselt to play the ESC first. Final test against the ETC meta…. ETC is based on 3 games in one day. Results: I won 2 games, and lost the last one. I got pushed away on breakthrough as my opponent changed his ETC battleplan to avoid minefields… He was right as he took the game to the last minute (thank you Keith for the really good game by the way). End of the day, I won the event with 2 points ahead of Keith and 3 from my team mate Stefano Regazzoni.
Happy with the first day, it was time to get ready to play our friends, Ireland on Friday. I’ll not comment on the pairing process, and all the lists we had created to manage the ETC system. But I played against another defensive list (thank you Ulick) on breakthrough… but I was the attacker this time. He had on paper everything to crash KVs but he could not manage that I could be on the objective turn 1 and he needed to take it back…
It was the only game I needed to attack, the other games were played against manoeuver for 4 of them, and only one attacking list.
I had the chance to play defensive scenarios which included minefields and to give the set up I wanted.
And after six really good games, I can say, I won them all…. We played experienced teams, such as Italy, England, USA, Germany, Poland, and to win against each of them was challenging, exciting, and rewarding for all the work done during the first year semester.
I didn’t win the best general as not one, but two players did better small battlefront points as I did even if I did score 41 points in 6 games… Paolo did it with 44 points, being the best general overall.
Maybe frustrated with the best general prize, I was fortunate enough to win best painted army.
Probably the best quality event I played in, the tables were excellent to play on and tons of excellent players.