Stumbling Colossi: Tankovy versus Hohei Chutai (Flames of War)

Cover
Somewhere on the eastern front, a pack of T-34s rumble forward.

Played a couple of games with a Soviet tank company in Early War (EW) and thought I’d write some battle reports about it. I will do a short introduction to the force I picked, describe the games and finish up with my thoughts on the force. I always had fun with EW, so decided to give it a go with painted models. I decided on a company that kind of looks strong on paper and has bad ass looking tanks. Two out of four platoons are Soviet Big Cats which seem immune to most EW weaponry, making this company hard to break. The accompanying sappers have terrible stats but they are cheap and come in large numbers. The T-26s should be able to destroy most opposition with their impressive 45 mm cannons. Hopefully, the units should be able to support each other on the table and win through combined arms.

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A detailed overview of the Soviet tank company I was using. It ended up being 1470 points to match what my opponents brought. I would throw in a Sapper Supply Wagon for 1500 points games.

I have the tanks available from a Mixed Tankovy finished ages ago. Quite happy with the end results. Since the models come from a Mid War army pressed into Early War, I will ask for forgiveness for the crime of proxying later T-34/76s and KV-1s as earlier types. On to the first game.

Game 1 – Japanese Infantry Company (Fearless/Veteran)- Counter Attack

First up was against a very nasty Japanese army. We used some kind of hypothetical scenario. Japanese forces attacked in the winter of 1941 occupying several villages. It was up to the steel colossi of the Red Army to take the righteous land back. The Japanese force had:

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The opponent brought the Japanese. Their special rules, make them powerful even without any vechicles.

A very nasty army that has no problems with heavy tanks. It can either go for quick knock out punches with the self reliant infantry, or play the attrition game with heavy artillery and the unmatched survivability of dug in fearless veterans. My plan was to somehow avoid the heavy artillery while advancing, sending the infantry supported by T-34s towards the far objective and the T-26s supported by the KV-1 towards the closest. Splitting the army is usually a bad idea, but it is hard to have so many teams in a limited space. As for the objective, I tried to put it  in the open and away from difficult terrain.

Start
Overview of our objectives and the battlefield during deployment.

My opponent puts his heavy artillery in a forest where their AT13 can cover both approaches to objectives. All while staying hidden from direct attacks behind the church. They were going to cause me a lot of trouble. The ice lakes are impassible to tanks and so is the rocky side of the hill. Craters are very difficult going while the railroad and woods are difficult going and concealing terrain.

Early Turns

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I had to spread out to protect the tanks. However, against 3 platoons of artillery weapons, my infantry got the raw deal.
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With no vehicles in mobile reserves, I have to fight the entire Japanese army on the table. They move at the double towards the far objective. The Japanese commander has his 37 mm Antitank guns in ambush. The church tower is filled with various Japanese spotters.

 

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The tanks rumble slowly forward. The Japanese artillery take out some infantry and bail a tank. The Japanese heavy artillery only manages to bail my soviet heavies. A little luck here doesn’t hurt.

 

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The Japanese quickly secure the far objective. My tanks are too slow to oppose them.

 

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The T-34s and T-26s split into two groups trying to attack the Japanese heavy artillery from two directions. The HQ T-34 stands near the sappers and drives them forward through heavy indirect fire.

 

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A T-26 company rolls forward with sappers protect the flanks. The sappers are shelled mercilessly, with up to 3 templates a turn but soldier on unfazed.
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Supported by the worlds cutest biplane, the Soviet gunners wipe out the Japanese heavy guns giving a sigh of relief. The artillery command team and staff team stay in the battle.

 

Late Turns

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The Japanese unleash their ambush behind the rail road, the 37mm guns take aim at the T-26s. One tank is knocked out and two are bailed out.
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The T-26s fail to retaliate and I pull down the T-34s for support while the Japanese gunners and infantry rifle fire take down more T-26s. The Japanese infantry from the far objective, starts to run towards my sappers.

 

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The Japanese battalion guns join in. Having AT3 does not stop them from blowing up T-26s. The T-26s flee the battlefield and take my HQ T-34 with them. On the other flank, the Japanese cut down a lot of sappers. Things start to look very grim for the Soviets.

 

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I use my T-34s to push the Japanese back but they are relentless. The Nikuhaku teams have no problems with top armor 1. The KV-1 is much more survivable up close because of the rear turret MG and high top armor.
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I should have given up at this point but decide to send in the Chaikas to reap more Skulls for the Skull Throne. The Japanese AT platoon lost both its guns, but the Sword Command team passes every fearless roll and stays in the battle.
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The Japanese unsheathe their Katanas made of glorious steel folded a trillion times and run them through my tanks, killing everyone inside. Stalin and workers everywhere start to weep.

Result: A very painful 1-6 loss.

Is it possible that the idiots at Scattered Dice played another shitty Soviet Flames of War army and lost horribly? You bet. And this time I even had the favor of the Ol’ Dice Gods. In hindsight, think I could’ve made a couple of things different. First was the terrain, agreeing on so many pieces of impassible or difficult terrain was a bad move. It would either mean clustering my army, letting the heavy artillery have a field day or taking about 5-6 turns just driving to the objective. I dealt with the artillery, but never got in a position to really threaten objectives. I prefer nice aesthetic tables to featureless fields, but there is no need to screw yourself harder than you have to.

Secondly, since I planned to attack the undefended objective, it would have been better to switch places with the sappers and T-26s in deployment, that would’ve been a shorter drive. It was so disappointing to see the Japanese infantry could consistently bail out T-26s and force morale checks with just rifles and machine guns. After I lost the T-26s, I should have kept the remaining tanks together with the KV-1, to mass defensive fire and let the out of position sappers die horrible anime deaths to Katanas folded a million times. The Japanese could probably get through a screen of 12 MG shots with their banners but not 16. Better luck next time. I hope.

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They most powerful asset of the Japanese are their tough, numerous infantry platoons armed with Katanas of mass destruction. Don’t underestimate them!

 

Shout outs to Macde for the solid trashing and nice pictures.

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