Soviet Strelkovy Batalon: Making A Force And Its Tactics

Fortress Europe Soviet Strelkovy Batalon: Making A Force And Its Tactics
By Mike Allen

This is the first in a series of articles covering how to select and use an effective fighting force from the range of options provided by the Soviet late war Briefing in Fortess Europe.

The Soviet Briefing is rich and varied, but the Soviets also have much tighter restrictions than most other armies when it comes to its support choices. One  advantage that Soviet players do have is the ability to use most of their late war infantry and artillery models in mid war and many of them in the early war period as well. Even some of the mid war vehicles are usable in the late war period.  So the wily mid war Strelkovy Batalon commander can invest in a greater variety of support choice models rather than necessarily replacing all those infantry!
Strelkovy: The heart and soul of the Soviet Army

Though there are many images of the Soviet soldier during WWII, the enduring ones such as the determined heroes of Stalingrad climbing through rubble and the infantryman raising the Soviet flag over the ruins of the Reichstag building in Berlin in 1945, emphasise the role of the ordinary soldier. It seems only fitting that we should first consider the Soviet infantry when looking at the Soviets in the late war period.

Fortess Europe covers the late war period up to August 1944 and at first glance you would be forgiven to think the new briefing has little that has changed.  However, most of the equipment that the Soviets would have later in 1945 are here in the briefings, though some can be expensive in terms of points.

In this article we’ll look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Strelkovy and then create some forces and discuss using them in the scenarios of Hold the Line and Free for All.

About Forces

There are basically three kinds of forces the one we have, the one we want and of course, the one that wins! We will be focusing on a generic force that is useful for all opponents and scenarios.
 
This is the sort of force you take to a tournament when you can’t be sure who or what you’ll be up against.  
Late War Strelkovy
Another force is the one you build to compete in a particular game or against a particular opponent. The third type is what I call the gotta-have-it force. This is the force many of us have where we include certain units because, well frankly, we just like having them there. Often these are not great units, we just like the models i.e. the T-70 or because they rock! For example, KV-85 or Sappers.
 
To keep it simple we’ll look at a solid generic force which can easily have additional units swapped in and out.
Strelkovy Command Rifle Team 1500 points Strelkovy Batalon: The Core

In just about any force there is a core group of troops that you build the rest of the force around. This is particularly true of the Stelkovy where you are likely to take certain troops for just about any battle. This is the core of the force.
 
First of the choices is of course the great man himself the Commander and his HQ. The HQ is similar to mid war however the sapper platoon is now limited to 5 rifle teams.
Considering you will be defending much of the time and at other times you only have a 50/50 chance to dig in the supply wagon at 20 points is a steal!  The AA trucks are useful as you can always dismount the AA MGs if you opponent has no air support. The Anti-tank 4 and ROF 4 can be useful defending against assaulting half tracks and armoured cars.

Core Batalon HQ

Batalon HQ
30 points
with Anti-aircraft Platoon 55 points
with Sapper Platonn with Supply Wagon 100 points
Total:
185 points
Strelkovy Komissar Team
Strelkovy Rifle/MG Team In mid war the Strelkovy are rated Fearless Conscript. This gave you hordes of troops but on a standard 6x4 table the force was unwieldy and a great target for artillery. In late war they are Confident Trained, making them a bit less heroic but tougher as a target. A quick glance at the force may you leave you thinking it’s the same but look closely.

Your squads are now Rifle/MG teams with no option to be just rifle teams and there are now 7 not 9 squads per platoon.
They need to be used more carefully and well supported. 3 platoons are unwieldy in most situations so 2 teams plus the HMG in each company are a good core force.

It also allows you to take third company of 1 platoon to extend your support choices and act as defence for some of your valuable assets. With the drop from Fearless to Confident your Komissar becomes more valuable than ever.  It is also advisable to have 1 platoon in one of the 2 platoon companies armed with SMGs just in case you need to assault.  This is a free upgrade.

Core Strelkovy Companies

1st Company
 
2 Rifle Platoons
215 points
with Maksim HMG Team
25 points
with Komissar Team
15 points
2nd Company
 
2 Rifle Platoons 215 points
with Maksim HMG Team 25 points
with Komissar Team 15 points
3rd Company
 
1 Rifle Platoon
110 points
with Komissar Team
15 points
Total:
635 points
Dis-mounted AA MG
Strelkovy HMG Team The only weapons team that is really core late war is the HMG Company. Take both platoons allowed and distribute to your full strength Strelkovy companies. With their own HMG this gives them 4 HMGs each!

Core Weapons Teams
Strelkovy Machine-gun Company with 2 platoons:150 points.

So there you have the core of your force, with 3 infantry companies backed up by HMGs, Sappers and AA MGs and you’ve only used 970 of your 1500 points. This leaves 530 points for support choices.
Supporting the Core: Weapons, Support and Air Options

For a generic force you need to consider 2 main things. Firstly how do you stop enemy armour and secondly how can you disrupt the enemy’s plans. To tackle the first you either take your own armour or anti tank weapons. The second requires artillery, flamethrowers or air power to pin the enemy down.

For anti-tank you can’t really go past the Tank Destruction Company with 57mm ZIS-2 anti-tank guns except the introduction of the SU-57 gives you mobility with hitting power almost as good.  However, tanks are useful in attack and defence but are more expensive. If you are going to spend the points get the best and for me the best value for money is the KV-85 for 315 points you get 3 of them and they are Guard troops.

If you go with the KV-85 option you need a cheaper option for disrupting the enemy.  The best option is the heavy mortar company. Not only do you get the pinning effect the 120mm with its Anti-tank 3 and 3+ Firepower and a range of 56”/140cm for only 130 points plus 15 points for the observer! Leaving enough points to get two 45mm anti-tank guns. If that’s not compelling just drop some of the HMGs to get something more expensive.


So what’s the generic force look like?

Strelkovy Batalon Army List with Tank Support

Batalon HQ 
30 points
with Anti-aircraft Platoon 55 points
with Sapper Platonn with Supply Wagon 100 points
Combat Companies
 
1st Company  
2 Rifle Platoons 215 points
with Maksim HMG Team 25 points
with Komissar Team 15 points
2nd Company  
2 Rifle Platoons 215 points
with Maksim HMG Team 25 points
with Komissar Team 15 points
3rd Company  
1 Rifle Platoon 110 points
with Komissar Team 15 points
Weapon Companies
 
Machine-gun Company
 
with 2 platoons 150 points
Anti-Tank Company
 
with 1 platoon
50 points
Heavy Mortar Company
 
with 2 platoons
130 points
with Observer Rifle Team
15 points
Corp Support Companies  
Guards Heavy Tank Company
 
with 3 KV-85
315 points
Total:
1480 points

What about air support? It is tricky to fit air support into 1500 points, however you could opt to leave out the mortars and reduce the HMGs to bring in some Shturmoviks.

For a heavily defensive force you can drop the tanks and bring in the Artillery Batalon! It makes the force very immobile but with the mortars you can hammer the enemy. Here is the force with a few minor tweaks: this is a very scary force dug in.

Strelkovy Batalon Army List with Artillery Support

Batalon HQ  
30 points
with Anti-aircraft Platoon 55 points
with Sapper Platonn with Supply Wagon 100 points
Combat Companies  
1st Company  
2 Rifle Platoons 215 points
with Maksim HMG Team  25 points
with Komissar Team  15 points
2nd Company  
2 Rifle Platoons 215 points
with Maksim HMG Team 25 points
with Komissar Team 15 points
3rd Company  
1 Rifle Platoon 110 points
with Komissar Team 15 points
Weapon Companies  
Machine-gun Company  
with 2 platoons 150 points
Heavy Mortar Company  
with 2 platoons 130 points
with Observer Rifle Team 15 points
Corp Support Companies  
Artillery Battalion
 
2 Gun Platoons
125 points
with 2 Howitzer Platoons
  70 points
with Observer Rifle Team
15 points
Tank Destruction Company  
with 2 platoon 100 points
with 57mm ZIS-2 70 points
Total:
1495 points
Using The Strelkovy In Flames Of War
Hold the Line

Let’s take the first force as it has more potential in both defence and attack. For the Strelkovy the Hold the Line scenario is a bit like playing a game of football on your home ground: it should always be an advantage.

First decision is who stays on the table and who doesn’t. You have 7 platoons so you have to leave 4 off the board. The Battalion HQ Sapper and AA platoons help boost your on table foces and can be attached to your combat platoons. So the force on the table will be:

1. HQ with Commander, 2IC and Komissar
2. No. 1 Company of 2 platoons with Komissar and HMG plus HQ Sappers & AA MGs dismounted.
3. Machine-gun Platoon
4. Heavy Mortars


No. 1 Company needs to dig in around the objective closest to the enemy unless it has significant terrain blocking the attack. Place the Batalon Commander within command range to the rear. The sappers and AA MGs need to be in the back ranks so they aren’t taken out as casualties in the first assault. The Machine-gun Platoon needs to cover the other objective, supported by the 2IC and if possible within command distance of the Commander. Mortars need to be dug in out of sight if possible. With their 56”/140cm range you don’t have to worry too much about not being in range of the enemy.

The order of reserves coming on might need to be varied but it usually will be:

1. KV-85s – pretty obvious and packing the necessary fear factor to help disrupt enemy plans.

Map Key
2. No. 2 Company will come on to reinforce the Machine-gun Platoon on Objective 2.

3. No. 3 company. Its job is to stay alive and if necessary hold Objective 2 if No. 2 company needs to retake the objective if No.1 company is driven off.
 
4. 45mm – just push them on: don’t get cute! With ROF 3 and gun shields they make a useful nuisance in helping to cover one of the objectives or pick off infantry moving in the open.
Hold The Line Map
Free for All

While Hold the Line is a home game for the Strelkovy, “Free for All” can be an away game, in the rain and the team forgot it’s boots! At least in late war your boys are trained with a 50:50 chance of digging in. Without the need to bring on reserves it may well be a wise idea to deploy the 45mm anti-tank guns with one of the large infantry companies or at least in a well concealed supporting role. Against anyone but as an infantry force the Strelkovy should try to dig in around the objectives and wait for opportunities to launch a counter assault. This is where the pioneer wagon is useful with its re roll to dig in. The KV-85s can provide an attacking option with fire support from the mortars to pin down the enemy. Once the enemy is taking casualties you have the option of attacking with an infantry company with the KV-85 support.

This time the Battalion HQ platoons are spit, with the Sappers with the central company behind the village and the AA MGs with the left flank company.

Free For All Map
Summary

This article only scratches at the surface of the options available: lighter tanks and more infantry, shtraf company, SMG company, Cossacks, assault guns the possibilities and combinations are almost endless. The Soviets, which on face value may look very boring, are arguably one of the most flexible and varied forces available in Flames of War. 

Za Stalina! comrade and welcome to the ranks of the glorious sons of mother Russia!

~ Mike