Halloween has been and gone, the clocks have gone back, (a thing we do in Britain to make sure our evenings are extra dark and depressing,) and people are starting to legitimately talk about Christmas.
In short, it’s dark, cold and miserable, but fear not, for I am here to warm your hearts by venting forth my opinionated ramblings about toy soldiers.
So sit in a comfy army chair, grab a cup of cocoa….. or a gin and tonic, I’m not judging, throw another log on the fire (and watch it burn along with my hopes and dreams of ever being a proper writer), and enjoy as I venture into a Romanian Tank Rank.
You know how it works by now
As ever, I shall discuss the various tank options available to the Romanians, giving my opinions of the pros and cons, and this time round I suspect there will be a lot more con than pro. Also, this article will be similar to my Finnish tank rank, as you get the extra bonus of me covering both the Late War and Mid War options in one article. Mostly because a lot of them are the same and nothing to do with the fact I’m lazy, honest.
Anyway, on with the show.
R-2 – Making the T-26 look good
Where do I begin with the R-2? Its speed is so slow it’s got the same tactical speed as infantry; granted it’s marginally faster than a guy walking when it’s using cross country or road dash, but I suspect that’s just because it’s so embarrassed about how awful it is that its trying to runaway and hide. Hiding will be the only way it will survive, as with a front armour of 2 and side/rear armour of 1, this thing will die to just about anything more powerful than a sharp stick. Its low side/rear armour means that infantry firing rifles can bail it within 16”. Lastly, the gun is so underpowered, with an AT of 6, that even the Finnish T-26 laughs at it. Even things with armour 0 will get a save against it.
It does get 4 MG dice, which will probably be more useful than its main potato gun, but just remember that if you’re within MG range of them, they are within MG range of you, and they can bail you if they get round the side. Other “plus” points are that it’s got the Protected Ammo rule, meaning you’ll remount on a 3+ even if you don’t make the peasant army roll, but that’s not much comfort as this is LW and there’s plenty of good firepower weapons out there, so chances are you’ll just be a smoking wreck.
This leads me to the last redeeming feature, the one all crap tanks have: it’s dirt cheap, in fact it’s the cheapest it can be without using fractions but, to be honest, there’s plenty of other stuff in the army that doesn’t cost much more, so unless you really want to, I wouldn’t bother.
Is the R-2 any better in Mid-War? No, no its not. It still has all the draw backs. Even the fact that the tanks it will be fighting against are now more likely to be AT 7-9 rather than LWs, 10-12 won’t save it as they will still punch straight through. I suppose if you get lucky you might bail a Panzer 3, but I wouldn’t count on it. All that happened is that the R-2 got slightly more expensive.
R-35 – oh God it gets worse
You get two flavours of R-35 in Late War, the standard R-35 with 37mm and machine gun, or the “upgraded” R-35 45mm, which was officially called the R-35 VDC, (which to me sounds like either a type of electrical cable of possibly a strain of venereal disease). Both versions are even slower than the R-2 with a tactical speed lower than infantry-yes you can walk faster than this tank. Now the armour is 3 all round, which means you are immune to rifle and machine-gun fire, so the enemy will actually have to put some effort into destroying you, but not much. Like all Romanian tanks, they come in a unit of 3, and unless you do well in your Peasants Army roll, then your last stand is 5+, meaning a good chance of running away if you lose a couple. They also don’t have protected ammo, so if you get bailed there’s a good chance your tank is just going to sit there the rest of the game not doing anything.
As mentioned, the weaponry on the R-35 comes in two types. The 37mm is pointless, as it has an AT rating of 4 and a range of 20”, meaning it won’t kill anything, and anything it could kill can just stay out of range and pull faces at it. This version does come with an MG, but with the tank being so slow, getting into range to use it will be an issue. The other weapon option is the 45mm. This has a whopping AT of 7, so might actually scare a lightly armoured vehicle or two, but it’s still only range 20” and is overworked, so the enemy can just dance around you, and if you do mange to move into range, there’s a good chance you’ll miss. The 45mm also lacks the MG.
The only way to get a full unit of 37mm/MG is as the HQ in a R-2 light tank company, all other R-35 units can either be all 45mm or 2 45mm and 1 37mm/MG, which strikes me as even more useless than just units of 1 or the other, as you’re getting the worst qualities of both.
Points wise, these things are the same as the R-2, with no difference between the 37mm/MG or 45mm version. So again, they are dirt cheap, but truly terrible with it.
Nope, you don’t get the option, the Romanians had withdrawn them from service by this time and not yet upgraded them to the 45mm. This just shows how truly desperate they got in 1944 that they started using them again.
T-38 – at least it’s better than the R-2
The T-38 is a brilliant tank…… or it would be if this was Poland in 1939, but its not. It’s the Soviet Union and Romania in 1944. It is marginally better than the R-2 in most ways, it still has the AT 6 main gun, which will be about as useful against a T-34 as a damp sponge with the word BANG written on it, but you are now slightly faster than infantry, and have a side/rear armour of 2. The last bit is a big one as it means rifle/MG fire can no longer bail you.
This tank might have a use if you squint a bit. It’s now fast enough that it can actually get somewhere useful, and whilst its main gun is pathetic, its 4MG dice might be of some benefit.
Cost wise, it’s only 1 point more expensive then the R-2s and that’s for the full unit. The down side is that to field them you can only get one unit in an R-2 formation, so you need to take at least a CHQ and 2 units of R-2s or R-35s or, if you use a command card, you can get a full company of them. But that company can only have T-38s in it, and at minimum is 11 tanks in a 2/3/3/3 formation.
Everything said above still applies. Its armour is still paper thin by MW standards, and its gun is still underpowered. At least in MW they are a support choice, so you can get one unit without having to take R-2s.
T-4 – The Germans average is your best
Ah, the top tier tanks of LW; the Germans get the Tiger in numbers, (and soon the Tiger 2,) the Soviets get the IS-2, with Bulge coming out the Americans have access to the M26 Pershing, and the Brits get the late model Churchills, and soon (ish) the Comet. But what do the Romanians get as their boss level tank? Why it’s the basic LW Panzer IV of course.
Yep, along with the Stug, the Panzer IV, (which the Romanians called the T-4,) is the best you get – sorry, spoiler alert. There is no hiding the fact that this is the best tank you have, so the question becomes is it worth it in the game? Now I have covered the German flavoured Panzer IV in another article, but here are my thoughts on it in Romanian service.
The armour is reasonably acceptable in LW, standing at 6/3/1, so you can survive the lower end of the AT spectrum, but as the average AT in LW is now creeping towards AT12 you need to be careful; the side armour is a serious risk, and even light things will get through. The speed of the tank is average-you’ll get where you need to go, but you won’t be able to zoom around the table, so that I think is acceptable. Lastly, the main gun is a respectable AT 11, so it will do reasonably well against other nations medium tanks, like the T-34 or Sherman, but you’ll struggle against the big cats, or even the slightly bigger than medium cats. Basically, your standard house tabby is fair game, but anything like an ocelot or higher will be an issue, and I think this analogy has gone a bit wonky, so let’s move on.
As usual, it all comes down to points, and here the T-4 comes into its own. They are quite cheap when compared to other nations tanks, as like all Romanian vehicles, they have fairly poor soft stats, unless you roll well on the Peasant Army roll, but you’re still hit on a 4+ and have protected ammo, so will always remount on a 3+. A minimum company of 7 tanks is only 28 points, and if you go all in and have a full company of 18 tanks, it’s still only 72points.
Which brings me to a side note on Romanian company and Platoon structure. In all cases, Romanian tanks come in 3s, it’s your only option, it’s 3 or nothing. This makes the platoons quite brittle, especially when you take into account their dubious last stand rating. However, the companies get a lot of boxes; the Panzer IV company mentioned above has a CHQ and then can have up to 5 Platoons of Panzer IVs. It’s also worth noting that nearly all Romanian tank CHQs can be up to 3 vehicles, so if you want to just take one and hide at the back, it’s not too much of an investment, or if you want to take 3 and try and do something useful you have that option as well, (although that’s only in LW, in MW your Panzer IVs and III CHQ are only 1 tank).
Anyway, back to the ranting…
Your Panzer IVs just got good. True, they have lost a point of front armour, so are now armour 5/3/1, but this is MW, so you’re more likely to be facing AT 9 or 10 than AT 12, and your main gun is now AT 10 and that’s still good for MW, so you will be able to do some damage. The points have obviously gone up and your Panzer IVs are now double the price, but still 20% cheaper than the German version. In short, these might actually be considered good, but don’t get used to it.
Sorry. Did you want some ranting? I apologise, normal service will now be resumed…
T-3 – Sawn off T-4s
Nope, they’ve all gone…. Despite the fact that in V3 you could downgrade your T-4 CHQ to be T-3s. Should have been a command card but it isn’t. Grumble grumble
Take a Mid War T-4s, knock off 1 point of AT, 8 inches of range, 1 point off the cost and give it the HEAT rule. Ta-da, you now have a T-3, or as it’s most commonly known, a Panzer III with a short 7.5cm gun.
Does the minor points decrease make up for the reduction in the gun? Well in my opinion, not really. The swap from AT 10 to AT 9 HEAT isn’t too bad, as the HEAT negates the enemy armour bonus for long range, but the loss of 8 inches off the range is quite a big deal. Eight inches is a lot. It’s the length of a large banana, the wingspan of a common sparrow, (I did google what’s 8 inches long with some trepidation,) but more importantly in when playing on a standard 6×4 table it’s a sixth of the width of the table. The MW T-3 isn’t terrible, but I do think it’s slightly too expensive when compared to both the MW T-4 and the German version of the Panzer-3. A 2 point reduction per tank might have been a bit too much, but since you can only buy them in 3s they could have done 19 or 20 points per platoon and it would have been a bit more palatable.
TA – who needs a turret?
The TA is what the Romanians called the Stug III assault gun, and as you know I’m very loose with my interpretation of a tank, so I will of course cover it here. Anyone that’s offended by this will want to skip to the conclusion at the end, because it’s only going to get worse.
Anyway, I’ve covered the differences between the Panzer IV and Stug III a lot on the German Bagration Tank Rank, (the one where I spend most of my time ranting about the Panther and how terrible it is,) but basically it’s a Panzer IV with 1 point more of front armour and the gun fixed forward. In this case it also costs 2 points more for the entire platoon.
Are these changes worth it? In the German list I put them at the same level and sad it was personal choice if you wanted the front armour or the turret more, but here I’m going to say a definite yes, it’s worth it.
Front armour 7 means that when facing off against the AT12 of LW you’ll bounce the shot on a 5+ at long range. Whilst that might not seem brilliant in the grand scheme of things, it’s the best a Romanian player is going to get, so you might as well grab it with both hands.
No, like all Axis Allies, you have to wait until you get to LW before you can have Stugs.
Mid credits scene
That’s it for the main show folks, those 6 tanks represent al the tank choices you’ll get in both MMW and LW, but there are a couple more armoured fighting vehicles lurking in the support section in LW, so it would be rude not to mention them. Afterall, they are possibly the most iconic Romanian armoured vehicle of the war. I am of course talking about the TACAMs.
Both of these are only available in LW so I wont bother doing a MW = nope heading. Afterall my typing is finite, and I’ve already wasted a load of it writing this sentence.
TACAM R-2 – budget tank destroyer
Take one of the terrible R-2 tanks and slap a nicked Soviet anti-tank gun on the top, that’s the TACAM R-2. It’s still got the same slow speed of the R-2, but the front armour has actually gone up….. slightly. It would actually be more accurate to say the armour has been rearranged; you get 1 more point on the front and 1 less point on the roof, making you 3/1/0. Possibly not a great trade off, as what ever was penetrating a front armour of 2 is still probably going to make a mess of front armour 3, whilst the reduction to armour 0 on the roof means that enemy artillery just got a bit scarier.
Of course, as this is a tank destroyer, the big question is the main gun. It’s 28” and AT 10 so not brilliant by LW standards. It’s still not going to do anything that the T-4 can’t do, but at less than 9 points for 3, if you have space in your list, there are worse things to spend the points on.
TACAM T-60- the best you’ve got
The TACAM T-60 is a captured Soviet T-60 tank with a different nicked Soviet AT gun slapped on top. It has the same soft stats and armour as the TACAM R-2, but is faster and with a much better gun. The speed increase might be handy, as you never know when you want just want to go 2 inches further, (stop sniggering,) but the big difference is the gun. It’s AT 12 with a 32-inch range- that’s the best vehicle mounted gun you can get in the Romanian list, the only thing that beats it is the M43 anti-tank gun, and that can only move 2 inches a turn. Also, the TACAM T-60 is only 3 points more expensive than its TACAM R-2 cousin, so if you can afford those extra 3 points, do it.
Right, that covers everything in the Romanian Mid and Late war lists that could even remotely be called a tank, and no before you ask, I’m not covering the R-1 command card for mid war, it’s only got a machine gun.
The Romanians don’t really have much choice. Their light tanks are truly terrible. It is conceivable that an R-2 might get round the sides of an enemy Panzer IV and destroy it, but in that instance the German player would probably die of shame, so the game would be null and void. The only hope the Romanians have is that they can field enough tanks to swamp the enemy and rely on the TACAMS and anti-tank guns to do any heavy lifting. You’ll probably lose horribly, but there is a chance, a very, very slim chance that you might win, and that my friends will give you enough bragging rights to make it all worthwhile.
That leaves just one final thing to do, actually rank the tanks.
Insert drum roll noise here
1) TA (AKA Stug)
2) T-4 (AKA Panzer IV)
6) A potato with Tank written on it
8) TACAM T-60
9) TACAM R-2
12) R-2 and R-35 (both versions)
1) T-4 (AKA Panzer IV)
2) T-3 (AKA Panzer III)
5) Shouting “look a bear”, then running away when your opponent turns round
7) A well-trained hamster or other suitable rodent
That’s all folks
That’s the Finnish and the Romanian Tank Ranks done for their mid war booklets and Bagration Axis Allies, so that only leaves one. The monster that will be the Hungarians, who if I remember correctly get 12 tanks, tank destroyers and self-propelled guns in Late War alone. I might need a stiff drink for that one. Then at some point I guess I might have to do the boring armies like Bulge America.
Until next time
A post credits scene
Now you may think I have been a bit harsh on the Romanians, but frankly they make a terrible tank army. Their strength is in their infantry and anti-tank guns. That’s not to say you can’t have fun trying, I’m a sucker for bad tanks.
I personally own the following for Romania
9 x TA
3 x T-4
10 x T-3 (for when I want to play Mid War)
11 x T-38 (with the potential for 3 more)
3 x R-2
6 x R-35 45mm
I’ve also got more R-35s on back order and intend to get some TACAMs soon.
Just because something isn’t good doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play with it. Unless it’s a Panther of course, in which case, you are just plain wrong.