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Soviet Tankovy is on the frontline - battle report part 2

Battle two was a Free for All scenario. I faced it off against a fellow people's commissar, commanding a Soviet Strelkovy Batalon (Guards). For those who did not read the previous battle report, my company composition was this. His force setup, as far as I can remember was:

Big Strelkovy (around 20+ bases), with 45mm guns attached
Small Strelkovy - barebones, with only a commissar upgrade
Small Cossack platoon (5 bases)
2x SU 76
6x T-34 (F/C)
4x 152mm howitzers
Sporadic I-153

We both deployed our forces covering the objectives. I immediately noticed that the only units able to effectively hurt the KV 85s were the howitzers and his airplane. This is why I was extra careful to spread out my precious heavy tanks and hide any remaining ones so that they would not be an easy target for the artillery. I also moved my recon a bit to hide it behind a large patch of woods, well out of line of sight of any significant anti-tank. Since I won the 'who goes first' roll, I moved my guys up to concealed or out of LoS positions with the exception of the KVs which rolled onwards to glory through a centrally located bunch of crops.

My first turn did no damage to the gone to ground Soviet infantry but I gained enough ground to concentrate my T-34s (including Mariya) and KVs on the small infantry platoon covered by his medium tanks and howitzers.
In response, my opponent also failed to do any damage, since even after a successful hit on one of the KVs with the 152mm rounds, the top armour of the heavy tank was strong enough to deflect the hit.

Turn two, the real part of the assault began: both my KVs and T-34/57s moved into positions from which shooting at the enemy T-34s was possible. I fired the full salvo, and.... got a bail! Wow. Not a whole bunch of damage. Fortunately, at the same time, my regular T-34s took a couple of pot shots at the howitzers and managed to eliminate one.
His turn two was similar to the first one, although the results were a bit different. He was able to get his aircraft in on my positions, which killed one of the T-34s and a howitzer round hit Mariya, killed her tank and she was forced to switch to a new one - this time a KV!

Now I got a bit frustrated but succeeded with my own motivation roll and decided to go on with the overall plan. The good thing was, that now I had a really powerful KV tank and still all of the T-34/57s left. It was time for revenge.
The truth is, revenge was not coming :) I shot from stationary positions at his howitzers and tanks and only managed one or two bails. His response was devastating though - he hit my T-34/57s 4 times at long range and with only 1s to penetrate, I rolled 3x1. With this salvo, two of my tank killers were dead and another one bailed. What was even more annoying is that on the other flank, my BA 10s were in a duel with the assault guns and winning, until a single die plane, with re-rolls of successful hits managed to wipe out 4 of my cars, forced a morale check and they fled the battlefield.
Seeing what was happening, my opponent decided to put some pressure on the flank that was not covered by the KVs. He only decided to do it with his Cossacks though, which were not a difficult opponent for my T-60 tanks.

A bit later, also on the main axis of attack the tide was turning. Finally, I got a good round of shooting and managed to eliminate all but 2 of the T-34s which was enough for me to give orders for an all-out assault.
This meant that while I was grinding his howitzers and infantry to dust with the KVs (one of them hitting on a 2+ !), my T-60s were machinegunning down his isolated cavalry. The results were pretty obvious - I killed all of the advancing Cossacks and in the end, managed to wipe out the defending infantry to the last man, capturing the objective.

Since the opponent was not an experienced general, I was helping him a lot in this battle so that he would understand at least the basic limitations of certain types of troops. This combined with a round or two of lucky rolls, meant that the battle was very far from being one-sided. A good start for a new Soviet commander I would say! There was nothing he should have been ashamed of! :)


Soviet Tankovy is on the frontline - battle report part 1

Hello, after a series of rants, I thought I would do a couple of battle reports. So here it goes:

Last week I went to Wrocław (Breslau) to refresh my Mid War skill. Like I mentioned before, I decided to go for a Soviet Tankovy this time. Reason for this being that I do not think my Romanian Cavalry is enough of a competitive force for the ETC environment (which is what I am aiming at in the end). Also, this gave me the chance to assemble and paint some of the models that were waiting for their turn for a long time and to purchase some new ones :P Unfortunately, my old, clumsy airbrush failed so I did not get the Chance to do a proper paintjob on those Soviet beauties :(

For those that did not read the previous articles, the list that I used went like this:

HQ Mariya in a T 34 + tank escorts
CP 3x T 34, 3x T 34/57
CP 10x T 60
SP 3x KV 85
SP 8x BA 10M

Since this was supposed to be an ETC list built to be more of an all-rounder than an anti-tank force, I decided to check it against one of the possible opponents for an all-comers company: Remer Gepanzerte. The scenario we played was Hasty Attack, which was pretty balanced for the rosters we played. My opponent's lineup was:

HQ + Remer

2x Infantry platoon with panzerknackers
2x Panthers
3x Pak 40s
2x 8-rads
3x Nebelwerfers with a 5cm gun

The table was pretty heavy with ruins, which we decided for simplification were LoS blockers. We placed the objectives and he decided he would start with the following forces on the table: Remer + an infantry platoon supported by the Panthers on the central objective, Pak 40s on the flank. Pretty standard, solid anti-tank setup. Good for him!

My choice was the T-34s and BAs. I was counting a bit on the possibility that I can push the flank objective and force him to move his Panthers and while doing this creep my T 34s up to get side shots on the value 5 armor of his tanks.

The first turn went without anything major happening. I moved my forces cautiously so that he would not be able to shoot them on their way forward.

On the second turn, I got all my reserves ready to arrive on the table, so I split them up, pushing the KVs on to the flank objective, and T 60 rushing down the middle of the table. In the meantime, his Panthers began to hid behind the infantry and closed in on his Pak 40s.

Turn three saw me assaulting a lonely Nebelwerfer observer with Mariya's tank escorts and trying to shoot Pak 40s with 3 shots of KVs while lifting gtg with the armoured cars. Unfortunately, this turn I also began to loose some BAs and made a fatal error of sticking out my KV commander who got hit on a 5+, failed his 4+ to save and died on a 3+ :( This was also the turn where I realized I would not be able to take out the Panthers most probably and needed to concentrate on killing other stuff.

Turn 4 I put my plan into practice. Since he revealed his Pak 40s in his shooting phase, I moved up my 6 remaining armored cars to do some serious shooting. My T 34s approached the positions of his infantry, screened by the T 60s as the follow-up wave. I rolled the dice for shooting... and scored zero kills with around 8 hits :( But this was not the important part. The important part was T 34s assaulting a ruin full of Germans. I formed a line next to Mariya and used tank escorts to draw them out. One kill by the 2+ skill tankodesantniki made them counterattack and go base to base with my tanks. After several rounds of tough hand to hand, Mariya died but the Germans were down to only Remer, who returned to his starting position.

On turn five it was revenge time for the Soviets as the newly arrived Nebelwerfers deployed in an unprotected corner of the table and were wiped out with the T 60 MGs. At the same time, Remer got what he deserved and a salvo of 76mm shells ended his misery. On the right flank however, history was not developing so good for the Soviet Tankovy, as after another canonade of Pak 40s and Panthers, most of the BA cars were dead and the remaining ones fled.

Remaining several turns were all the same: Soviets trying to avoid the Panthers and Panthers hunting the Soviets :) Until... my opponent decided to finish off the immobilized KVs. He did manage to kill one, but the last remaining one passed the morale roll and shot back at what turned out to be an exposed side armor of one of the killer cats! The Panther exploded and all of a sudden, this mistake by the Germans became a big opportunity for the Soviets.

With only T 60s effectively active on the battlefield, I rushed them towards the flank objective, occupied by 8-rads. Bad placement of the opponent's troops meant that I could have wiped out the Pak 40s with a charge to the rear only if I could pass the defensive fire of the 8-rads. Since this was the only way I could win, I went for it. Unfortunately, my opponent's shooting was good enough to stave off the assault which effectively costed me the game.

In all honesty I was expecting such a result but I needed the physical evidence. And I got it. Now I can say for sure: my build of Tankovy vs Remer is a no-go :)

Congrats to the opponent (first time we played against each other), who also turned out to be a really nice person and a promising general!


KV - The Soviet Steel Colosus in Flames of War

Hello, today I would like to share with you some thoughts on what I have been playing around with a lot recently - the KV tank in Flames of War. As the preparations for the ETC/GT continue, I have been thinking a lot about what type of list should I bring to these tournaments and was also painting a lot of models. Since one of my current hypes are Soviets (right after Romanians of course!), naturally the KV was quite often one of the subjects of these preparatory activities :)

While fiddling with the tanks I thought it would be nice to see what is their impact on the game throughout the 3 periods. I did some analysis and here are the results:

Early War

As far as I know, the only types available to the Soviet player are the variations of the KV-1 itself and the KV-2. In this period, this tank is like a mobile fortress - with frontal armour of 8 or 9 and side armour of 7 or 8, it is impervious to most shooting. The only guns I can think of that can penetrate the tank from any distance are the German 88s or heavy howitzers like the Czech Skoda 150mm. In Early War, the KV goes wherever it wants and kills whatever it wants dead....slowly :)

There are some downsides to this choice in an Early War Soviet list though: cost, skill rating and the Hen & Chicks rule. Effectively, your tank might be invincible, but it will be unable to cause any real damage to the enemy because your cost to effective firepower ratio (including the H&C) is so poor. Also, despite its turret-rear machine gun mount, this steel monster is still vulnerable to some infantry assaults (e.g. pioneers, panzerknackers, some anti-tank rifles) so you have to be careful who do you pick your fight with.

A separate story is the KV-2, which is one of the most useless point sinks I have ever seen in this game. With a huge 152mm howitzer mounted in an armoured turret, this tank has seemingly amazing
 hitting power. It will never use it though :) The RoF of this weapon is only 1, which means that in a regular game, it will only shoot several times tops. Apart from this, there is the Bunker Buster rule coupled with Hen & Chicks, which effectively prohibit it from shooting other tanks. Overall, I think there is no tactics that can mitigate these issues. It will simply not pump enough accurate shooting to have any real effect on the battlefield. Still, It will almost never die, if that makes you happy :)

Mid War

This is the Golden Age of the KV. Don't get me wrong - it is not nearly as invincible as it is in Early War but the impact to cost ratio is significantly higher in my opinion. This is mostly reflected in the popularity of the Soviet Mixed Tankovy Batalon for which the main source of strength is the Heavy Tankovy company that can comprise of up to 7 KV-1e/s tanks for a fairly decent point cost.

In Mid War however, hard counters to the might of the KV start to emerge. For starters, you have the Pak40 guns, that can be really dangerous at short distance (especially considering the basic score needed to hit the conscript Soviets is 2+). Also, Germans have access to heavy tank destroyers like the Ferdinand or the Hornisse and medium tanks like the Panther. All of these can get rid of the KV horde in a blink of an eye making the Mixed Tankovy vulnerable to unfavourable pairings. With a correct pairing however, the heavy tanks will roll forward and trash everything in their path until the enemy cries for mercy :)

Another fact worth mentioning is the appearance of the KV 85 in this period. For a really hefty price of over 600 pts you can get a mere 3 of these tanks. Why are they so expensive then? Well, for starters, they are still a KV! Their front armor is still 9 and although their side armor is reduced to 7, their gun gets a great upgrade to what is effectively a copy of the Pak40 (AT 12, rof 2, fp 3+). What is more, the 85s are rated as Guards, meaning their skill is trained and they are no longer limited by the Hen & Chicks rule. Compared to the conscript tanks, I think their role changes from anti-infantry to anti-tank heavily - you just do not get enough of them to survive at a close range and with better training and no H&C sniping becomes a valid tactic.

Oh, I forgot to mention the KV-2! It is still crap :)

Late War

Now, this is where it gets interesting. The main list where you can use the KVs in Late War is the Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy. Normally, you would think: well, up until Late War there are so many counters to these tanks that they are no longer a valid choice. But hang on... When talking about them in isolation, this might be at least partly true. But when you consider the full picture of the list, then it might turn out that prospects for this list are not so bad as they seem. First of all, you will no longer be able to field the KV-2.... NOOOOOOOO. Your choice is limited to the KV 1e, KV 1s or KV 85. An additional model is also introduced, in the form of the KV 8s flametank (which is a very good tank in the end!). Since this is a Guards list, the core companies are not subject to H&C any more and are rated fearless/trained - not so bad. Another good news is that the tanks are fairly cheap: 3 KV 85s are about 330 points, whereas KV 1 of any type are around 250.

Adding 2 and 2 together we come up with a combination of tanks that can fight infantry (KV 1s, KV 8s) and medium tanks alike (KV 85s). Downside is that you cannot take both types in one company. Still, you can pick and choose whatever suits you best. But what about heavy armor - how do you deal with this? Well, in this case, the list itself offers some options and, in my opinion, the best one you can get are artillery batteries. The really good thing about Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy is that you can field two confident/trained batteries of Soviet guns: 122mms (AT4/fp 3+) and 152mm (AT5/fp 2+). They will help you to take out the tanks that you do not want to duel with. You just need to make sure that they are well hidden, only sticking out their observer (coming at 15 pts per battery :( ) so that they cannot be sniped.

Overall, whoever trumpets the death of the KV in late war is plain wrong. You can still build a strong Late War list based on this tank.

Ok, so this is it from my side - do you have any experiences running KV lists?


Preparing the Tankovy Batalon for Mid War hell

Ok, so I tested my Romanians (Romanian Cavalry) a few times so far in relation to the ETC setup. The tests were not so promising to be honest. There are some glaring weaknesses about this list that can only be avoided with a good pairing. With the ETC pairing mechanism however, you can not really guarantee that you are able to avoid your obvious counters. The lists need to be a bit more balanced and built so that they can handle all-comers with a slight tendence to either: anti-tank, anti-infantry or utility.

This is the reason why I took up another challenge: to build up and test a Soviet Tankovy Batalon. But why not go the obvious way and play Mixed Tankovy? Well, there are two main factors:

1. It is too obvious for me.
2. The list is vulnerable to bad pairings.

With the second factor, I figured that any pairings against anything that has 2+ panthers in the list plus maybe another anti-tank platoon (like the Pz IIIs or Marders) is pretty much the end of the line for Mixed Tankovy. Its biggest advantage is in how it handles infantry lists - and in this area it really shines. The issue is that with ETC pairings nobody will ever let their infantry be attacked by the Mixed Tankovy. This is why I decided to build a more balanced list. I did check the possibilities with Mixed Tankovy - don't get me wrong. But my personal feeling is that there is not enough decent anti-tank in that list to be able to build a nice all-rounder.

So how did I manage to switch the balance towards utility with Tankovy? The main mechanism was to give the anti-infantry role to big, cheap tank units while the heavies work as the primary source of anti-tank. The really good thing about Tankovy Batalon (Red Army support) is that you can get Medium Tankovy companies equipped with up to 3 T-34/57 tanks (AT 11, Rof 3, FP 4+) in your combat platoons, which is not possible with the Mixed Tankovy briefing. Also, the Guards Heavy Tank companies, although substantially more costly than the Heavy Tank companies of the Mixed Tankovy, give the possibility of using KV 85 tanks (AT 12, Rof 2, FP 3+) that are not subject to Hen & Chicks rule. This is a massive change in the role of the tank. What is normally percieved as an infantry mincing machine now becomes a mobile Pak 40 pillbox. And personally, I can't wait to see how the tests turn out.

Also, like mentioned before, the primary source of anti-infantry power comes from big units of light armour. This is why I used a full company of 10x T-60 tanks, which costs less than 200 points and 10x BA-10 which are probably the best recon element you can get in a Mid War list. So as far as assaulting goes, I still have the power of 10 cheap throw-away tanks, 10 armoured cars, 7 T-34s or as a last resort - 3 KVs.

In the end, the list I am going to test looks like this:
HQ: T-34
CP: 3x T-34, 3x T-34/57 (balanced unit)
CP: 10x T-60 (anti-infantry unit)
SP: 10x BA-10 (balanced unit)
SP: 3x KV 85 (anti-tank unit)


The Fighting Girlfriend and her driver :)

Hello everyone, today I will say a few words about my recent favorite Flames of War warrior - Mariya Oktyabrskaya. What I found interesting about this hero and why I decided to write this article was:

1. The moving story of her participation in World War II
2. FoW rules that represent her on the miniature battlefield

The story of Mariya

So for anyone who does not know this, Mariya Oktyabrskaya was a tank driver in the Red Army between 1943 and 1944 (she died as a result of wounds sustained in battle). For her outstanding service, she was posthumously awarded the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union.

What was so interesting about her participation in war was that she volunteered for the tank corps as a way of exacting her revenge on the Germans for killing her husband. After she learned of his death, she sold all her possessions and donated a T-34 tank to the Red Army. There was only one condition related to this donation: she is allowed to drive the tank into battle. The Soviets, realizing the propaganda opportunity, granted her wish. She was sent to a 5 month training and she named her tank the "Fighting Girlfriend". After the training, Mariya was sent to the frontline where she served showing extraordinary heroism until her death following the battle of Vitebsk.

Mariya in FoW

In Flames of War, Mariya is represented as a warrior team (retaining the rating of the company/battalion she is a part of) that can be fielded as a part of a Medium Tankovy company or a Battalion Commander driving a T-34 tank. What is so cool about her when she is a part of a company is that the tank that she will drive can be of any type (T-34, T-34/57 or uparmoured T-34). The sad part is that if you select her as a Battalion Commander, you can only use a regular T-34 :(

Her rules changed a bit since they were published in Forces of War and with the current wording they mean:

- she passes skill tests on a 2+
- she passes all morale checks on a 2+. This extends to Company Morale checks if she is your HQ and Platoon Morale checks if she is the command team (in the previous version I believe it was only for her tank).
- she can move and shoot with full rof, obeying the H&C rules

So far, I can see at least 3 decent options of fielding her:

1. Battalion commander - assault monster:

This build incorporates Mariya in a T-34 with an upgrade of Tank Escorts. It means you will have a lone wolf tank that can skirt the enemy flanks and assault units with weak a-t capability using her two 2+ attacks per combat round. Also, her 2+ re-rollable motivation check to counterattack means that she will fight until every enemy team is destroyed or she dies a glorious death.

2. Company (platoon) commander - assault monster:

This is a build similar to the first one but has slightly different advantages. First of all, in Tankovy Batalon lists it releases your HQ slot to be filled in with a different type of tank when necessary. Secondly, it boosts the morale of the platoon from 3+ to 2+ for the purposes of platoon morale checks. And finally, she is still the assault monster herself! :) This can be coupled with a unit of uparmoured T-34s that can be a real pain to get rid of. Downside is that if you want to use Tank Escorts, you need to upgrade the entire unit :(

3. Company (platoon) commander - anti-tank role:

With this build you let Mariya drive a T-34/57 tank and utilize her ability to move and shoot with full rof. This option however, is not possible in a Mixed Tankovy list. Such a pity....not :P

Ok, so this is it regarding the female tank hero Mariya Oktyabrskaya - I will be testing a Tankovy list with Mariya soon enough and will let you know what the outcome was! :)