When it comes to the minor Axis powers, I always feel that Romania never quite gets the credit it deserves. Loads of people talk about Finland; a small nation standing firm against the might of the Soviet war machine, with nothing but a sack full of Molotov cocktails and balls of steel. Or Hungary; with their home-grown arms industry that built some semi-reasonable tanks.
But poor Romania fielded more fighting men than either of those other two combined.
So, let’s see if the Romanian section of the new Axis Allies book does them justice.
The peasants are revolting
Romanian units get a few special rules, the main one being Peasant Army, which applies to nearly everything in the army list; basically, it’s Italy’s 8 Million Bayonets rule by a different name. After a unit has been deployed, but before the first turn, you roll a die and if you get a 5+ you get a slightly better motivation and/or skill rating. This can be quite a big deal, as many of the units in the army are skill and last stand 5+ as standard.
Infantry also gets the Defend the Homeland rule, which gives them an improved Assault rating. Tanks get a rule called Armoured Reserve. This one is not so good, as it means even your light tanks count when playing a scenario with the deep reserve rules.
Are those the only choices?
The book only includes four formations for the Romanians, which doesn’t sound like much, but it does cover the basic options. Also, before anyone kicks off, there are several more formation options in the command cards which I will go through later.
Tanking like it’s 1940
How do you like your tanks; good all-rounders, big and powerful, light and nippy or none of the above? Do you in fact like your tanks under armoured, under-gunned, slow and hopelessly obsolete? Well good news, do I have a formation for you?!
The R-2 Light tank company has two tank options that you can freely mix and match between the HQ and two mandatory platoons. These are the R-2, (more commonly known as the Panzer 35t,) and the Renault R-35; both designed in the 1930s and hopelessly obsolete by 1944.
Mind you, those R-35s are not just your regular R-35s, but have been “upgraded” to carry a Soviet 45mm gun. This means that whilst they are a borderline acceptable AT7, they’re now completely lacking in any form of a machine gun, and are still so slow that they will have difficulty keeping up with your infantry.
Both tanks have their good points and bad points… or at least bad points and slightly fewer bad points. But they do have one redeeming feature: they are dirt cheap.
Like really cheap.
I’m not allowed to say how cheap in this article, but I think they are now the cheapest tanks in the game.
The third unit in the formation has the option of being T-38s, (better known as the Panzer 38t,) which is just a marginally better version of the R-2 with an extra point of side armour and slightly more speed for a very small increase in points.
The last optional box in the formation ruins all the fun by letting you take T-4s (Panzer IV) or TA Assault Guns (StuG IIIG).
Decent medium tanks, where is the fun in that?
The Sensible options
If you would rather have a more useful tank formation in your army, then you have two options: the T-4 Medium Tank Company, or the TA Assault Gun Company.
The T-4 is just the Panzer IV by another name, so is the good all-round tank we all know and love, but as these have Romanian soft stats, they are distinctly cheaper than their German counterparts.
If you pass your Peasants Army roll, then you have a perfectly serviceable 4+ across the board, except for the remount, which is 3+. If you don’t pass the roll, however, you get a last stand and skill of 5+, which does make doing stuff like Shoot and Scoot or simply just not running away slightly trickier.
The formations mandatory options and the first grey box are all T-4 platoons of three tanks. It’s also worth mentioning that all Romanian tank formations can have between 1-3 tanks in the HQ. The second grey box can be either T-4 tanks of TA assault guns, and the third grey box can be T-4s, R-2s or R-35s in case you’re feeling like the rest of your tanks are too good and want a bit of dross on the table to liven things up. Your last option in the formation is a unit of Armoured Infantry. These are fairly sizable infantry units riding around in German half-tracks and are not too shabby, even if you fail the Peasants Army roll.
The middle is the new top
The TA Assault Gun, (StuG III,) is the most powerful armoured vehicle in the Romanian section of the book. Most people consider the StuG III to be a good middle ground armoured vehicle, with a nice combination of armour and strength, but when your other tanks are front armour 2 and AT 6, it makes you think of the StuG as more like a heavy tank. You just need to remember it’s only a medium before you start charging them at the enemy.
Anyway, the cost for three StuGs is just a couple of points more than the cost of three Panzer IVs for the benefit of gaining a slight increase in front armour and losing the turret. But as we all know, real tankers don’t need turrets, so the cost increase is well worth it in my opinion.
This formation is very similar to the T-4 one above, with the first two mandatory platoons and the first optional platoon all platoons of three StuGs, with the HQ being a choice between one to three Stugs.
The second optional platoons can either be three StuGs, three R-2s or three R-35, and the last optional platoon is three StuGs or three Panzer IVs. There is no armoured infantry platoon here.
So those are the three armoured formations for the Romanians, and I think its safe to say the two real options are the T-4 or TA companies. The R-2 light company is frankly ridiculous but could be hilarious to use in the right circumstances.
That just leaves the Motorised Rifle company as the last formation in the book for the Romanians, and I think this is probably where the strength of the army lies.
With HMGs, two units of mortars and two units of AT guns, this is an excellent defensive formation that provides some nice supporting units to the big infantry blobs that the Romanians use as their rifle platoons.
The maximum size of nine MG teams with optional 60mm mortar, Panzerfausts and Panzerschrecks means that you can have a nice big unit, with plenty of firepower, that can dig in and sit on objectives, daring the enemy to come near. The last stand of 5+ if you fail your peasant’s army roll isn’t great, but the assault of 3+, no matter what, is good for taking the fight to the enemy.
The two units of AT guns really round out the defensive nature of the army. The 47mm are AT 8 and range 24”, so just scrape into the “useful for late war” category, and the 50mm are your standard German PAK 38s, so a bit more punch and a bit more range. Three of the 50mm guns is the same cost as four of the 47mm guns, but the good thing here is you don’t have to choose and can have both in the same list.
Big Guns Never Tire
One stand out thing from the support units is the large number of big guns you can get. Between the TACAMs and the 75mm AT guns, there should be plenty to keep some of the heavier armour at bay. Although, be warned, you do lack any truly high-end AT. The most powerful gun here is the M43 75mm at AT 13.
Another unit worth mentioning is the return of cavalry to the game. That’s right, the donkey wallopers are back and ready to charge at the enemy machine guns. Or perhaps just use their faster movement to get a good board position.
One last thing I’ll mention about support is the fact that, thanks to Romania switching sides in late 1944, you can either get Germans or Soviets as allied support; although the book is keen to point out that you can’t take both at the same time.
There are also two command cards in the deck that allow you to field Romanians as allies for either the Germans or the Soviets. Now I’m getting temptations to field a horde of R-35s backed up with some IS-2 to go from the sublime to the ridiculous (I’ll let you choose which is which).
Speaking of command cards…
Command Card and Conquer
There are five further formation options in the command cards. These are:
Rifle Company – yes, that’s right, company; you will no longer need the several thousand infantry teams required to field a battalion!
- Mountain Company – like a rifle company, but hilly
- Pioneer Company – like a rifle company, but with better spades
- Cavalry Squadron – I hope you like painting horses
- T-38 Tank Company – it’s nothing but T-38s
Plus, there’s a couple of cards that take the Rifle company and make them either guards or new recruits.
Next stop, Transylvania
I feel like a Bagration: Romania army in Flames of War has its own niche; it’s the army out of time. With the combination of units you will have, you will be playing with what is effectively a Mid War army in Late War. This could be a bit of a struggle at times, but will hopefully be rewarding when it works. It will be like playing with an Italian army in the desert, but where you’re fighting against Sherman’s and Grants/Lees.
If you really wanted, you could play them as an Early war army and just use a combination of R-2s, R35s and T-38s, but that would be a real challenge. I might have to try it at some point. Also being able to take either Germans or Soviets as allies does open up some interesting list building possibilities.
Does it do the Romanian army justice? Whilst I would have liked more of the formations from the command cards to be in the book, it’s still a decent attempt, and covers all the things I will want in my army.
That’s my overview of the Romanian section of the Axis Allies book, but more content will follow in the coming weeks. I’m just pleased I managed to make it all the way through an article about Romania without making bad vampire jokes. Anyway, I’m off to count how many StuG I’ve got spare.