Starting a Soviet Army

One of the most exciting Soviet Formations to me is the Hero T-34 Battalion. It was one of those lists that I was quite excited about when it came out in Version 3, but never had the time to paint or play before, so I’m quite glad that it made it into Fortress Europe.

On a side note as a rabid soviet player I’m very happy with the lists in Fortress Europe. Since we Soviet players have to wait longest for our army books, we get access to a LOT more formations straight away in Fortress Europe as it has to last us longer that the other nations.

The other bonus about the list is that it is a reasonable sized force, aka not a hoard army like I usually paint, so hopefully it will be more achievable given that I’m planning on a more time-consuming paint scheme than just painting them green.

The obvious place to start is the new Soviet army deal as it is fantastic value, and a lot of the models that I need straight off the bat. The only models in the box that I’m not going to use straight off the bat in this army are the KV tanks, however I’m going to paint them up to support the infantry battalions that I already have painted.

I like taking large formations wherever possible. There is nothing worse than playing a game where you are about to win a game by taking an objective, only to have that victory snatched away because your formation is broken, despite having lots of support on the table.

Because of this, the core of the Force is a maxed-out Hero T-34 Tank Battalion of and HQ T-34 (76mm) and three Hero T-34 Companies of 2x T-34 (75mm) and 2x T-34 (85mm) tanks for a total of 13 tanks straight away.

It is worth mentioning that the T-34 (76mm) tanks are Overworked, making them add +1 to the score needed to hit when they move (basically like old school Hen & Chicks), however the T-34 (85mm) tanks don’t have this so can fire and manoeuvre much more effectively.

Another cool thing about the formation is that it can have integral infantry and mortars. I’ve added the Hero SMG Company at full strength because they are a useful unit to sit back on an objective to free the tanks up to do their job, or, if needed they can get into assault and make the most of their Assault 2+ stat.

Note, I’m going to cheat slightly with painting my army. In my time I’ve painted at least 7 full strength Soviet Rifle Companies, so for the sake of speed (and not wanting to paint even more Soviet infantry) I’m just going to use some infantry that I already have painted for my army. Luckily it is even based in a suitable theme already.

Even though I know the rest of the Big 4 aren’t really going to be taking infantry to start out, I’ve also added some mortars to my Formation. It’s another platoon in the formation to keep them in good spirits, and mortars are generally quite useful against more balanced forces.

With the formation sorted it is time to look at some support.

The army deal comes with 4 SU-85s, which is great because they will be one of the soviets go-to units from now on. They are quite expensive, coming in at slightly less than 6 points a vehicle, but they are Fearless, Veteran, and Careful, making them the best troops you have. They have average armour, but will require 6s to hit (Is Hit On 4+, +1 for range, +1 for concealed) when I use them to cover the advance of my T-34s.

No Soviet Army is complete without artillery. Again, you have lots of options, 76mm guns, 122mm howitzers, or Katyushas. I’ve added 4 Katyushas to my army because I already have plenty of anti-tank weapons and don’t really need any dual role weapons in the force, and that Salvo template will be devastating against any infantry that I face.

You’ll notice that I went with the T-34 (76mm) for the HQ, rather than the T-34 (85mm). The main reason for this is that the Soviets don’t have access to any observers, so I’m going to use my Battalion HQ as the observer. If he is observing he is not shooting, so any points used to upgrade him are wasted. Also, if he doesn’t have a big gun, I’ll be less tempted to use him in the wrong role. Also, using him as a dedicated observer means that I can hide my fragile rocket trucks out of sight.

The last unit in my force is the Hero T-70 Company. I’ve added this basically as a nuisance unit. It has a good enough gun that opponents can’t ignore it in case they get around the flanks. It’s not there to reliably take anything out, more to distract attention away from my main attack.

I’m also going to future proof my army by painting all the extra turrets for the T-34s, so that each hull has both a 76mm and 85mm turret, as inevitably later books will add options for hero units armed with all T-34 (85) tanks. It also means that with very little effort I’ll have a new Mid-war army at the same time as painting my new late War army.

~Casey

Winter On The Eastern Front

With the volume of Soviets that I have painted, when looking through my collection I was surprised to see that I actually don’t have that many tanks painted, other than a whole battalion of metal and resin T-34/85s that I painted over 10 years ago.

And with all of the new plastics that have come out since I did my last Soviet tank army, I was actually quite keen to get back into painting the green horde…almost.

I’ve always wanted to paint a winter tank army and have started a couple of times in the past. I have an almost finished KV-1 tank battalion, that I was quite happy with when I painted it, however having gotten better with my painting now I’m not so happy with it. Another time, we did a 24-hour painting challenge and I tried to paint a winter American army, but was so disappointed with it that I ended up never finishing it.

So, third times a charm, this time and I’m going to take my time and paint a winter tank force that I’m happy with. As it so happens, the last Soviet infantry army I painted was my Shtraf Battalion (that happens to have a winter theme) and I am quite happy with how it turned out. So, I already have all of the infantry that I will need.

As you can see from my army list article, I’ve chosen a modest target of only 24 vehicles (29 if you include the KVs that I’m going to paint as infantry support). The theme of my army is a Hero T-34 Tank Battalion.

These days I like any army that paint to have a unique story. Historically the Soviet Army had a tendency to throw entire armies into battle until they were destroyed and then rebuilt them from scratch, but I want to tell a different story with my army.

My army contains a mix of T-34s (76mm) and T-34 (85mm) tanks. The story I want to tell is of a Hero T-34/85 unit that has been decimated, and then been brought up to strength with any old tanks that have been salvaged, scavenged, repaired, rebuilt and sent back to the front from wherever possible.

In order to achieve this, I’m going to build the T-34 (76mm) tanks without much consistency. They will have a mix of cupolas, fuel drums, and mudguards etc. I’ve also managed to scrounge up a few early turrets which I’m going to throw into the mix as well. I will also use this story to give the tanks different amounts of weathering, some will have fresher looking whitewash, while others may have whitewash that has almost completely worn off. The T-34 (85mm) tanks are going to be built fairly consistently.

Of course, I’m going to paint the 76mm turrets and 85mm turrets for all the tanks to give me more gaming options in the future. I’m going to keep the ad hoc theme running through the 76mm turrets if I ever field it as a mid-war army, but a later all T-34 (85mm) army will be a little more consistent.

To keep with the theme, I’m going to give all of the T-34 (85mm) tanks a consistent tank numbering style, but randomise the 76mm turret numbers and unit markings a bit. I’ve also ordered a selection of tank riders to further add to the ad-hoc nature of the formation, but I’ll probably use these to either help denote different companies, or make the command tanks stand out.

Since there are only 3 T-70s in the army I’m going to keep them similar—they are the remnants of a much larger company. The SU-85 tank killers however, are going to be a mix of SU-85 and SU-85M tank-killers, mainly because the sprue comes with both options, and add to the ad-hoc look that I’m going for.

Over the past few months I’ve been collecting images from other modellers of their winter tank schemes. Here is a selection of the photos that I’m going to use for my inspiration.

~Casey

Who Are The Big Four?

Four Nations. Four People. Four Army Deals. Welcome to the Big Four Of Late War…

Victor “el Presidente” Pesch is the ring leader of Big Four, having come up with the entire concept of embarking on the Journey alongside our players. Known in the Studio for his painting prowess he spends his days wrangling Photoshop and InDesign working as a Graphic Designer, whilst his nights are spent working on whatever new project takes his fancy. He has his eyes set on an American force filled with Sherman tanks. For now…

Wayne “the Veteran” Turner is one of the longest serving employees in the company, having worked in almost every department of the company from Game Design to Production. These days he finds himself primarily working on Team Yankee, but a return to Late War has him excited to return to World War II and the chance to build his first Panzer IV based German army.

Casey “Comrade” Davies has built more Soviet models than anyone can count, with an astounding seven complete Strelkovy Companies to his name. After some debate he grabbed the new Soviet Army Deal whilst making noises about wanting to try his hand at building a new Hero Company. Like Victor he spends his days creating the books, cards and imagery that you see whenever you play a game of Flames Of War (or Team Yankee).

Chris “The Magpie” Townley is always looking forward to the next project, even before he has finished whatever is currently sitting on the painting table. He spends his time pouring over spreadsheets and planning documents, all the while looking over the writers shoulders trying to noodle his “next big project”. For Chris, the Late War Journey is a chance to finally build that British Sherman company that he has been planning for almost 10 years…

To follow their individual progress you can click on the handy icons over on the right hand menu, as well as checking out the groups Instagram feed to see plenty of behind-the-scenes activity. Over the next few years there will also be plenty of great content coming from the rest of the Battlefront family so don’t forget to keep an eye on the Flames Of War website for this, as well as all the latest news and information on what is happening.

~The Big Four Of Late War

The Big Four Of Late War – A Flames Of War Journey

On June 6, 1944, thousands of men were nervously waiting in landing craft, transport aircraft and bunkers as the fate of the world rested on their shoulders. The liberation of Europe was about to begin.

75 years later, across the world, thousands of gamers are preparing to embark on a journey of their own as Flames Of War returns to Late War. Starting with Fortress Europe and the D-Day series of books Battlefront will spend the next four years extensively covering the fighting in Europe through 1944 to 1945.

For gamers this is an amazing opportunity to grow a new army from nothing, starting by choosing a nation, a theme and then selecting the models that they want to use as the basis for their army. Then, over the next four years as each new theatre is explored, they will be able to add new units to their force, just like the real armies of World War II.

At the beginning of the journey, the humble Sherman will be fighting head to head versus the dreaded Tiger tank, whilst as the war progresses the King Tiger, Pershing and IS tanks will change the shape and nature of the battlefield. These changes will make the shared journey through Late War that much more interesting and dynamic as we, the commanders of the battlefield, pick the best forces available to us on the day, whilst looking forward to the next “wonder weapon” that will ensure that we will be victorious in tomorrows battles.

Collectively we (the “Big Four” – more on who we are later) have been playing Flames Of War for around 50 years and we think that the Late War Journey is the one of the most exciting things to happen to the game since its original release back in 2001. Now, with people all around the world taking their first look at Late War and building new armies, we wanted to come on the journey with you and take a fresh look at our favourite period of Flames Of War.

This will be like no “Tale of Four Gamers” series of articles that you might have seen in the past. Instead it will be an epic journey (one with Tanks instead of Ringwraiths) that will take part over four years…

Starting with the release of Fortress Europe we will be creating armies using our new Army Deals as the basis, building and painting from scratch, and then getting them on the tabletop to play some games.

During the course of the first year, we (just like you) will be able to access new units and Formations as the D-Day series of books is released. This will give us the chance to tweak our armies by selecting new organisations or building and painting new models. On the Big Four Of Late War website you will be able to see our finished efforts, as well finding out what we are planning on working on next.

If you want to keep up with what we are up to on a day-by-day basis you can also follow our Instagram feed where we will be showing off progress photos as we build and paint the models.

At the conclusion of the Journey we will have built entire new armies, filled with great new models, as well as having played a pile of games as we try to find out who is the biggest of the Big Four.

We look forward to you coming on the trip with us…

~The Big Four Of Late War