There is hardly anything more iconic about World War 2 more than the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The biggest and baddest conflict in human history erupted when two legendary shoot firsters – Stalin and Hitler, came to blows. This time two tyrannical neck beards will attempt the same on the tabletop. The mission we rolled up was Encounter, which could represent a German armored breakthrough colliding with a Soviet counter attack aiming to restore the line. As both forces get entangled, reserves are thrown in and the battle escalates.
The Germans assembled their army on the spot and had:
Leichte Panzerkompanie (Confident/Veteran)
1 Panzer III E
2 Panzer III E
2 Panzer IV D
3 Panzer II F
Infantry platoon, 7 teams with panzerknacker
Limited StuKa air support
Result: 2-5 to the Panzers!
I am not really sure why this army fails spectacularly but two things stand out. It lacks options in a given situation and response times are too long. It become outmaneuvered by an infantry army in the last game, and the German tank mobility gave it no chance in this one. Once it is deployed, it moves very slowly like an infantry army. It lacks the attentiveness typical of a Flames of War Tank Company. Making sweeping maneuvers like dashing from one flank to the next to exploit holes in the defense, is not possible.
Next challenge were the negative special rules combined with ratings and point costs of the tanks. Every unit I brought to the table had some kind serious defect that made it quite passive in the game. The T-34s don’t do enough damage and the T-26s don’t survive getting shot.
As for the Germans, I’ve heard opinion that anything heavier than a Panzer II is too expensive to be playable. In this game, that turned out not to be the case. Their armor held, guns were deadly and they were able to easily deal with Soviet tanks. Of course, ambushing AT guns and artillery will give them trouble. They are still top armor 1. But the German MVP was the Stuka, the Luftwaffe took out the third of my army all alone.
I’ve been discussing the games with my opponents who said I didn’t roll high enough, but blaming dice makes for a lazy analysis. I think the replay-ability of this army is quite low. Maybe solo gaming is a better idea for the T-34s. The player takes the side of Axis and lets the game play the Soviets with simple move or shoot activations. If I was to play the EW Tankovy again, it would be either Land Lease Valentines or T-26 spam.