Onwards to Berlin!

Another Flames of War tournament-style event coming up, this time Late War defense of Germany themed. I am talking about Tank Factory in Copenhagen taking place the 27 of Februari and is probably over once this posts gets up. I’ve tried convincing MacDe to come along, on his blog there is a very impressive win/loss ratio against us locals. Hopefully his heavy German tanks will fight new interesting opponents and more importantly, I can steal his nice pictures. In this post I will discuss how I put my army together and in the next will be a traditional 4 game battle report.

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I’ve managed to complete ZiS-2 Tank Destruction platoon for the event. A welcome addition in the peoples arsenal.

List construction
From the get go I decided that I must play Soviets. I can’t take Americans to every single Flames of War tournament. Looking at the schedule, its 4 games 1750 point games in one day so playing infantry is going to be exhausting. Good thing coffee is included in the tournament fee.

A difficult challenge was management of painting time, I spent most of the available hand-to-miniature hours on SAGA demonstration games which meant FoW-painting had to be kept at a minimum, aiming to complete more than two platoons was not realistic. I set to take the Strelkovy from my earlier reports which I played another 3 games with that have been successful. Ever the optimist I settled to paint 3 units, Heavy mortars, ZiS-2s and SU-100s and aiming for tabletop quality. I even had some success with the 1500 point Strelkovy since last time with 3 victories.

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Game 4 was us trying some of the night fighting rules in Breaktrough. The Germans attacked at dusk giving them shelter from Sturmoviks as time went on but darkness also hid my ISU-122s from the massive cannon of the King Tiger. The infantry supported by 45 mm guns cleared the objective and closed the deal.

I couldn’t run the crap-duo of ISU-122 and the Sturmovik together again. These units have shown themselves to be overpriced garbage, especially the ISU-122 is remarkably useless against anything that moves or shoots back. I’ve ran them in 5 games so far (only two are on the blog) and while the Sturmovik has achieved mixed results the ISU-122 did not. It’s tabletop awfulness was very consistent. In my experience the ISU-122 brought one important thing to the Strelkovy, a perceived threat factor. They won’t kill the opponents entire army but he will act like they will. But since I actually need to kill the opposing army perhaps the SU-100 with Cat Killer rule would help. They seem weirdly effective at longer ranges and where the Soviets are usually at significant disadvantage. And whats more, they are a lot of cheaper than ISU-122s.

sturmovik
Game 5. The pilots of VVS are tougher on hub-to-hub parking lots then all the grognards at TMP and Meeples & Miniatures combined. In this game I played Pincer against Remagen American tanks, the Sturmoviks accounted for 6 very expensive ones. SU-122s and 45mm guns won me the game by flanking and punching trough the soft side armor.

Since we are playing late 1945,  the Soviet Berzerker SU-122 had to go out. These are a quick mobile unit that can threaten medium tanks but can cause hell for infantry and artillery. I decided to switch them for ZiS-2s and up my antitank capability a few notches.

This is the list I settled with:

list
Here is the final recipe. It is the most casual army I’ve brought to a tournament.

It is in my opinion a bad list, heavily tilted towards defense and it surrenders initiative to the opponent. The Berlin Exclusive Strelkovy does not have vehicles without hen and chick or Rate of Fire 1. This means a severe lack of mobile anti tank capability allowing the opponent to outmaneuver it easily.

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The army is built on a strong foundation of two Strelkovy Companies. The supporting players are there to clear areas where the infantry will do their job, smiling like the guy in the poster all the way.

The Big Bold Game Plan
The plan so far is to play on time outs. Not by slowing my turns down but by holding fire, sitting tight on the objectives and luring the opponent to run out of time by trying to whack everything. Attacking is the hard part of Flames of War and easy to screw up. My army does not have any mobility to exploit a screw up unless the opponent is kind and does it in assault range of the Strelki. The Su-100s may move but with a +2 modifier to hit, their marksmanship will be outclassed Imperial Stormtroopers.

For increased effectiveness, I would ditch the plane to include 6 160mm mortars, some SU-76s and the 76mm battalion guns. The anti tank capability still won’t be anything close to what my Americans can get but the 160mm mortars combined with the SU-100 would be hard to deal with. The Su-76s and 76mm battalion guns are excellent bench-warmers in reserves, allowing for more powerful players to start on the pitch.

Right now I want 4 out 6 platoons starting on the table. Against tank companies I will have make due with the ZiS-2s, SU-100s and the big infantry company on the table. The SU-100s are there to suck up all the incoming shots, making maneuvering bothersome and generally eat up a lot of the attackers most valuable resource: game time. With some good rolling, the Sturmovik can harass long range assets making the SU-100s even more survivable. By the time my tanks and the ZiS-2s are wiped out, the game would be in its last half hour requiring a final assault on my near to full strength infantry. With good morale, sappers loaded with antitank grenades and panzerfaust teams, the Strelkovy can make such an exchange very unpleasant.

Now many readers especially those in America and elsewhere, who have a reputation of playing hard but fair, may think that planning to win on time outs is seen as cowardly, cheating and dishonest. I would not call them wrong. So why should I do it? Well, mainly because the Strelkovy seem to be designed that way.  With units becoming more resilient the larger they get combined with great difficulties in projecting power around the table, what else can you do? The Soviet army was among the most powerful ones in modern history but it is assigned the noble role of bullet sponge in Flames of War. Will this sponge be a contender in Tank Factory or will it remain a punch line? Stay tuned for the next update.

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