Battle report Strelkovy versus British Tanks (LW)

Time for another battle report. This time I wanted to test some Soviet infantry. Winston Churchill, the Khorne Berzerker of the Allies, decided that Operation Unthinkable was thinkable and unleashed his troops on western Poland in May 1945. Spearheading this advance would be the dashing reconnaissance tankers of the 11th Armored Division.  First line of defense consisted of Kapitan Dwellski of the 52th Guards Rifle Division, a gang of rear echolon brigands who spent most of the war drinking, gambling and black marketeering. They will under no circumstances let a rival gang move in on their turf, no matter if it is the local authorities, politruks, Polish partisans or Limeys.

Fluff text aside, I haven’t been able to make Soviet Infantry work at all in this game but I need to play them if I am ever going to learn. I’ve got about 5 games with Soviet infantry since the summer and all have been losses. That is a bit of a shame because I love the modelling aspect, Battlefronts Late War metal Soviet miniatures, are the best line of 15 mm infantry on the market I’ve seen.

Army composition

This one isn’t easy, my collection of Late War Soviet infantry is still quite small. Lets go trough what was available from the Peoples Arsenal. I decided not to use my Katjushas because I was to play infantry and there is no way an slow Strelkovy army can protect them. Usually they survive by hiding and there being more important things to shoot at. In a static army, my opponent can just close in on them at leisure and pick the Little Katies apart. I looked at what guns I had available and there were only 4 45mm AT guns and the  4 76mm battalion guns fully painted. Soviet gun teams have great rules so I decide to take them all and make my army Guards so they would survive getting shot.

Next up was the infantry. I decided for Sappers in the HQ for some antitank capability and two small Strelkovy companies with just one platoon each. Next up were the armored choices. I had SU-122, ISU-122s, T-34/76s and KV-1e to pick from.

I picked the SU- 122 instantly because they are a cheap unit, that can do a lot of damage. I then went with the ISU-122 because they have some serious direct AT fire. At least in theory. To round off the list, I picked the Il-2 Sturmovik in limited support. I think planes are horrible but in case I needed bombardment, the firepower 6+ battalion guns wouldn’t do it. I could hopefully put pressure on my opponents heavy cats but for 200 it is still way to expensive. I think T-34/76s are light tanks and aren’t really suitable to hunt tanks nor are the KVs. My opponent decided to play his British. The final army composition was:

 

Overall, not a company which I think is really effective but successful Marxists  ply their trade from actual material conditions and not ideal ones.

The Mission: Hasty Attack

A mission that should favor a defensive infantry army. I picked the side where I knew I could put my objective in woods. I put my home objective to a bit to the side and the one in his quarter, close to a wood so I could advance to it concealed.

After deployment I was a much more of a passive participant in the game than usually, I only had the Sturmovik and the ISU-122s that could deal with his tanks. Instead of writing about every possible move and detail, I’ll just post pictures and short comments. I put all my guns and the SU-122 in reserves because they could do damage with flank shots and arrive where needed. I put the ISU-122s in the immediate ambush.

 

2015-11-29 11.55.59
View of the deployment and the beginning of the first turn. The red block marks the objective my opponent removed.

 

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A view from the left flank. Yes those armored cars are unpainted.

 

Turn 1

My opponent doubles up toward the middle and carefully advances into the village. I move up my ISU commander to unleash the fury but the rest of his units stays put to avoid presenting side shots. My shooting does jack shit and our planes intercept each other.

2015-11-29 11.57.36
British tankers advance at the double.
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My ISU commander moves up and takes two shots but they are widely off mark. A pity, since the first hit would have been allocated to the Cromwell within 40 cm, in this case the platoon leader.

Turn 2

His reserves show up. It is a Sherman platoon with an Firefly and the target the ISU. The Cromwells on the right flank start shooting the Strelkovy in the woods. A shooting match between the Shermans and the ISU is about to begin.

 

2015-11-29 12.18.48
A platoon of Shermans with a Firefly arrive from reserves. I move the ISU-122 commander back to get some shots off at the nasty Shermans. Unfortunately, their firing results in some spillt tea at best.
2015-11-29 12.18.53
The Cromwells and the armored cars attack the left flank, undisturbed.

Turn 3.

He gets more reserves, some CS Cromwells who double up towards my left flank. The Cromwells and the armored cars make a mess out of my Strelkovy in the shooting phase and he decides to assault. The assaults results in two destroyed tanks, the surviving tank crew passes their morale test. I rearrange the Strelkovy on the left flank to better secure the objective. This means they aren’t dug in. The Firefly targets the ISU-122 platoon and blows one of them up.

2015-11-29 12.40.42
One ISU-122s destroys one of the Cromwells while the infantry attacks concealed, blinding the lead tank and taking it out. The last one flees and the platoon is gone. The two other ISU-122s target the Shermans but fail to produce results.

Turn 4

The firefly blows up two ISU-122 and the last one runs away. The Strelkovy in the woods are shot down below the morale threshold. They flee the battle. My only chance was to have reserves come on the right table edge.

2015-11-29 13.33.17
The armored cars and the Cromwell CS tanks fire indiscriminately into the woods hurting a lot of trees and local wild animals such as the Homo Sapien Sovieticus.
2015-11-29 13.36.43
The Strelkovy in the woods surrender their hopeless position to the British but have made a showing by destroying two tanks.

 

2015-11-29 13.33.11
The ISU-122s are blown to pieces by the Sherman Firefly. Yes, a single Sherman Firefly destroys about 500 points of Soviet tanks in case somebody is wondering.

In my turn I pass a reserve roll and the SU-122 come in. They could try to reclaim the middle objective as the CS Cromwells are weak against tanks. I roll a 5 on the scattered reserves roll (they come in on the far right side) and I was what military historians like to call “totally fucked”. They still manage to take out one tank before I lose the game.

Result: A very solid 5-2 To the British Armored Recce.

Analysis

That was pretty fast, the British tanks swooped in and took the position just in time for tea. I might have mixed the turns up, maybe it was over at turn 4 or 6, can’t remember. The main thing that went wrong was that the ranged AT capability of my army totally collapsed. Once my opponent decided to avoid infantry assaults, I was in no position to improve the board state. The 200 points of Sturmovik intercepted the Typhoons twice but took otherwise no part in the game. Not a good investment. The ISU-122 were also ineffective. Their shooting doesn’t hit anything and slow speed means they can’t respond to threats either. I should have placed them more centrally so they could reach both objectives quicker but then they could have been flanked Cromwells. Together these two units are almost half of the points I used and contributed very little.

My opponent applied a lot of pressure where this army couldn’t handle it. He was a bit careless when closing in on my infantry which meant I could assault his lone tank without it getting defensive fire, but played a solid game otherwise. I should never moved those Strelkovy out of their foxholes, in turn one. I didn’t expect them to fail to dig in and take such casualties. This game demonstrates quite well  why many people favor tank companies in Flames of War, they can punish bad armies and bad tactics quickly and severely. A good choice if one is playing a tournament with 3+ games per day.

 

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