Second Steps, How to Grow Your Starter Sets: Berlin Soviets M4 Sherman Forward Detachment

Товарищи! Welcome back to Second Steps, the article series where we help you take your starter armies to tournament levels. The standard rules are still in effect: I won’t recommend two player starter boxes, I’ll try to use as much of the box as possible and we will be aiming for the new Battlefront recommended Late War tournament points of 111. Now let’s get ready to storm the Reichstag!

Battlefront has been on a roll lately putting out another solid starter box. This box gives us 5 units in formation, which is fairly rare for Battlefront most of the time we get 3 maybe 4 units in formation and have to spend a fair amount to stop our armies from falling apart. So let’s see what plastic we get in the box:

  • Two PPSh SMG teams (our HQ)
  • A Small Hero Guards Motor Rifle Company with two HMG stands
  • Four M4 Sherman tanks (75mm or 76mm)
  • Three T-70 tanks
  • Three SU-76 Assault Guns
  • Three ZSU M17 AA halftracks
  • Three SU-100 Assault Guns
  • Two Katyusha Rocket Launchers

So let’s start with the biggest question; “Why would I want to run Shermans instead of T-34 85s?”
Well we get a few subtle upgrades for 2 more points per 4 in the hero companies.

The 76mm Sherman has an extra point of front armor, an extra 8 inches of range, and improved Last Stand and Remount tests at 3+. They do however lose 2 inches of tactical movement and much more on the dashes, making it harder to get those flank shots you might find yourself needing against the sheer amount of late Panthers, Crocs, and AVREs that are all over the meta at the moment.

The infantry has the same rock solid stats from Bagration but with a nasty extra surprise. For 3 points we can give them Limited 2 Panzerfausts. Considering the sheer size we can run Soviet infantry in they’re going to be VERY nasty.

The T-70s are dirt cheap and perfectly fine at swatting away armored cars.

The SU-76s give us an in formation artillery template and now they have a hero version making them Veteran making ranging in on units if terrain much more feasible.

The SU-100s give us AT 15 firesupport while being hit on 4s making them solid threats to Panthers and Crocs. The ZSU M17s might seem like a dud considering most people don’t run aircraft but they’re rolling boxes jammed full of .50 cal machine guns making them a threat to infantry and armored cars.

Ok so the Katysuhas provide a big salvo template to pin down infantry but the 5+ firepower can leave you dissatisfied. On top of that Battlefront only put two in the box and I just don’t like running artillery that has to reroll hits, we need those auto pins on infantry. 

Infantry HQ2
Small infantry +2 HMG10
Sherman 76 x420
ZSU M17 x33
Hero SU-76 x312
Hero T-70 x33
SU-100 x319
Katyusha x23
What’s in the box

The box provides us with 72 points and that gives us plenty of room to add toys to the 111pt mark I am aiming at.
So, let’s start by filling out the last couple of slots in the formation with a second platoon of 4 more 76mm Shermans. I just don’t see a place for 75mm shermans in this meta anymore; if the Soviets got the smoke rounds this would be a dramatically different conversation but sadly they don’t, so we’re sticking with the 76mm.
We’re also going to add a 6 stand 82mm mortar squad, they’re cheap and cheerful and you always want multiple templates. I’m also spending the 3 points to give the infantry Panzerfausts.
The Hero SU-76 is very tempting but with how much cheaper the standard version is and with the amount of light vehicles running around I’d rather run 5 standard SU-76s instead they’re just so damn good and wrecking light tanks and armored cars.
The SU-100s are a bit pricey but I’m going to leave them as is. I just can’t see myself leaving home without high end AT anymore.
The T-70s and ZSU M17s also get a pass; like I said earlier, they are cheap and quite good against certain units.
The Katyushas have to go. The Salvo template is unwieldy, I am constantly disappointed by 5+ firepower, and with only two we’re getting the bad kind of rerolls. In their place we’re going to add four 160mm Mortars.

These are in my opinion the best new unit in the book. A big 56 inch range and a 2+ firepower all for 6 points make these guys the most cost effective artillery in the Soviet arsenal.

Now I’m not a huge fan of aircraft in FoW, I just find them a touch too unreliable but the standard Soviet IL-2 is just built different; 7 points for an AT5 artillery template is a danger to even the heaviest German tanks out there and the AT6 cannons are great at causing problems for SPGs and light vehicles. Combine this with the “Make your own luck” Command Card and now you get to guarantee you get to bring them in on the turn you really need them or your opponent has put a vital unit out of position. 

Infantry HQ2
Small infantry +2 HMG + Panzerfuast13
Sherman 76 x420
Sherman 76 x420
ZSU M17 x33
SU-76 x513
Hero T-70 x33
82mm mortars x34
SU-100 x319
160mm Mortars x46
IL-2 x27
Make your own luck1
After the updates

So with our list finished let’s take a look at the monetary costs. Now there are actually two to get out SU-76s to 5 from 3. If you plan on running multiple units, maybe a SP light artillery formation from the command cards, you can buy an additional box for $50. If you’re only going to run the one formation you might want to consider picking up the individual World of Tanks SU-76m blisters for $13 each. Certainly more expensive per unit but they are official Battlefront kits. These are the Battlefront pre-order prices so remember to check your friendly local game store for deals or if you’re in the UK Breakthrough Assaults enchanting sponsor, Battlefield Hobbies

  • M4 Sherman Forward detachment $110
  • 82mm and 120mm Mortar Company $15
  • 82mm and 120mm Mortar Company $15
  • M4 Sherman Tank Company $50
  • SU-76 Light SP battery $50
  • 160mm Mortars $22
  • IL-2 Shturmovik Assault Flight $35
  • Berlin Soviet Command Cards $15
  • Total $312

Good luck everyone and I’ll see you on the roof of the Reichstag

5 thoughts on “Second Steps, How to Grow Your Starter Sets: Berlin Soviets M4 Sherman Forward Detachment

  1. Your repeatedly say 5+ firepower for the Katyushas but they have 4+ firepower. Don’t get me wrong, they are still garbage.

    1. I’m play a lot of Americans and I got them mixed with American Xylophones which are 5+. Both are bad.

  2. Great article. Thanks for expanding on that starter box.

    Your example list only shows three x 82mm mortars, while the text, shopping list, and points allocated says you’re wanting, six .

    Glad to see the two Katyushas not making the cut.

    Surprised to see that the IL-2s do.

    1. That is a typo on my part three 82mm mortars is 2 points and it’s 4 points for six. I go over an article multiple times but I’m no English major. I actually quite like the IL-2s given the difficulty a Soviet player has getting high end AT where they need it to be, but to be honest I would probably not be such a fan if it wasn’t for make your own luck guaranteeing me an appearance when I need it.

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