|Red Bears are made in Oxford, unless they are books written in New Zealand|
|Red Bear's are made in Oxford (unless they are Kiwi books about the Soviet Eastern Front)|
After reviewing the online forums for Soviet tactics, I'm readdressing my ideas. It appears that soviet list require 'a lot' of everything to work. 5 tank T-34 squads are bad, 9-10 tanks in a squad are good.
This means I'm going to be buying a lot more T-34's in the future. The Tankovy Batalon (Tank Company) in the Hammer and Sickle rules allows you to take both T-34's and T-85's in the same list. A Company of each (9 T34-85's and 10 T34's) seems the way to go as the core of a force.
Example list - Tank Company:
Command T-34-85 Tank, with Anti aircraft trucks @ 125pts
9 x T-34-85 @ 540 pts
10 x T-34/76 @ 415pts
3 Tank Rider Platoons (19 bases) @ 310pts
Kommissar Team @ 15pts
4 Kaksim HEavy Machine Guns @ 100pts
This means rolling with 20 tanks at 1500pts... the lightweight T-34's are very quick and can get up close and personal with the enemy. They can move 32" in a turn, allowing them to exploit flanks and isolate units. Their guns are 'meh' at Antitank 9 (they can't actually damage a Tiger tank, only force a bailout check), but the combination of their speed and carrying 24 bases of Maksim and SMG toting Tank Riders is a potent thought.
At 6"+, the tanks may as well steam it like crazy, interestingly at 6" move or less, the tanks can shoot AND the tank riders can shoot their SMG's. So that's 19x3 = lots of machine gun fire (at 4", but who's counting). So they could be very dangerous for infantry/guns and charging into the enemy. But it seems a bit of a cul-de-sac tactically.
The T-34-85's are a more measured (and better armed) variant. The new 'hens and chicks' rule being released with RED BEAR indicates that the tanks will be capable of firing if they move over 6", but with a +1 modifier to hit (that makes it harder, not easier, people.), and at a standard RoF of 1.
This allows for some more tactical flexibility, but means that you'll be rolling a 5+ to hit, unless you moved less than 6".
Real Armour penetration problems
Looking through the Soviet Arsenal, they lack any weapon with greater antitank than 15, meanwhile the Germans have plenty of armour 9 or 10 options (Tiger and Panther) and even Elephants, Ferdinands and King Tigers (armour 14-15), all of which carry weapons that can make mincemeat of my armour. So my options are to attack the side armour ... or maybe go the classic Russian route and target the top of these tanks:
The best 'top armour' for these vehicles is 2. This means that artillery, rockets and aircraft are probably the best route to downing these monsters.
The cheapest (in coinage) to obtain are purchase 3 IL-2 Shturmoviks for £7.50. Even the basic Shturmovik can deliver rocket attacks at strength 6 against that top armour, or strength 12 against side armour ... the problem is their accuracy and dependability. You have to roll to see if they arrive or are intercepted. They then need to range the target and place the artillery template and then roll to hit the tanks. Even then, you only have a 50% chance of cracking them, and a 2/3rd chance of blowing them up.... them's quite long odds.
Plus, if the Tiger is close - the aircraft won't risk firing. Now T34-85 CAN duke it out with Tigers and Panthers, but they will need side armour shots to really hurt them. Likewise Panther tanks only have side armour 5, so a bum-rush of T-34/76's could swarm them ... but T34's don't have the best armour and they'd need to get away with some serious luck to survive until the next turn to jump the Panthers (would could just drive off 24" and start again rather than fight).
Mortars and Hammer and Sickle Era Artillery bring antitank 3, so unless they roll a 1, they are sound. Not good. Rockets are only antitank 2, so even worse.
The only weapon in the Russian arsenal which seems purpose built for monster antitank is the flamethrower. I've heard great reviews. This weapon is rate of fire (RoF) 4, and hits via an ability check (4+ for Russians), followed by a firepower check to destroy a tank, oh wait - that's a 6. It does however force a bailout on any other roll. You need to be 4" away to use it as well... so that's a 1/3 chance of a kill (or auto bailout).
The other option is sappers. They need to pass a leadership test (4+) to assault a tank, but once in combat they have the antitank of 4. A platoon (if it arrives intact) rolls a 4+ to hit with every team, the enemy only has to roll a 1 or 2 to be destroyed, or a 3 to be bailed out (in this case cowering inside as bits are ripped off the tank)... the advantage of this over flamethrowers is that a 'bailout' tank that is isolated in close combat automatically counts as captured. Which is a nice result.
Other Russian Considerations:
In Red Bear you can get access to the 122 and 152 artillery piece's, which have marginal direct fire, but artillery potential with antiank 4 and 5 against the top armour.
The only hardcore options are the Russian heavy tanks, both the IS-2 (Iofef Stalin tank) and the ISU-122 carry a big ass antitank 15 monster gun. This still doesn't challenge the KingTiger - but it could hurt the side armour.
The Best Options?
Gamers aren't restricted like in real war-time ... so the inclusion of an Elephant, Ferdinand or KingTiger seems pretty inevitable. While very very dangerous to any vehicle, they are less of a threat to infantry. This makes engineers and flamers essential for attacking tanks, (and the 40k flamer rule seem all the more silly) and they should certainly be included.
The ISU-122 seems to be the way forward in providing heavy antitank at antitank 15 and 2+ bunker destroying options. In addition, the 'volley fire' rule means that if the target is within 16" it gets a re-roll to hit (which is useful with a single shot gun!).
Finally (and for the money), investing in three IL-2 Shturmovik's seems like a no-brainer. £7.50 for the potential to rain cannon, rocket and bomb death every turn! Yes please!