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Soviet Infantry thoughts

Hello everybody. I have been asked to share my thoughts on how to make Soviet infantry (Strelkovy) work across all periods. This is not easy since I do not feel I am an expert in this area but will do what I can to at least suggest what can be tried out.

As per usual, I will start with a general comment: my feeling towards Soviet infantry is somehow mixed. On paper, the lists seem to be very strong. Tons of infantry supported by what seem to be useful special rules and upgrades, decent guns and cheap tanks. Real data (source: however, shows that this type of list looses around 60% of games.

My understanding (although unsupported by any facts) of the reason for this unfavourable win ratio, is the lack of a meaningful mobile anti-tank option in Soviet briefings. For sure, their tank/tank destroyer companies do not cost as much as they do for other nationalities but Hen & Chicks is almost guaranteed to get you killed against other armored units (especially veteran). There are, of course, options that do not come with H&C, but in most cases they are heavy tank units that cost a lot of points and are mainly an anti-infantry choice. Overall, this poor choice of mobile anti-tank, combined with a trained skill rating means that in most games, Strelkovy will have to hand the initiative over to the other guy completely. Any competent opponent will know that if he focuses the trained support and ignores the infantry, he will render the Reds ompletely impotent.

Also, I do not think that Soviets do so well in attack. Conscript or trained options, along with a massive footprint of their companies means that more often than not they will take a lot of casaulties while making their way towards an objective. The good part is that they have some really nice support from their guns that can help to alleviate the issue by targetting artillery, hmgs, light vehicles, etc.
In fact, building the list around these strong supporting units is, in my opinion, the key to make Soviet infantry work.

Ok, onto the details!

EW Strelkovy

I really love the Konsomolyets support options in a regular Confident Conscript Red Army briefing.
Also, unarmed HQ sappers as well as anti-tank rifles can boost the performance of your clumsy infantry blobs.

This is why the list I would try would contain:

Barbarossa ~1550 pts, Confident Conscript
HQ Rifle command + 8x unarmed sappers + ptrd a-t rifles
Platoon 1: 19x rifle
Platoon 2: 19x rifle
Platoon 3: 6x 45mm obr 1937 gun + 6x T-20 Konsomolyets
Platoon 4: 4x 76mm regimental gun + 4x T-20 Konsomolyets
Platoon 5: 10x T-26 obr 1933 or 1939
Platoon 6: 2x Zis-2 57mm gun (Fearless Conscript)

The list has a big weakness of conscript rating on the guns that one should be aware of though.
MW Strelkovy

For this period I can really only see the Fearless Trained option work. Fearless conscript might seem fun, but I think it will only be fun for the opponent...
Advantages that are rather easy to exploit are tough infantry platoons, heavy tank/tank killer support options (including the KV) and high AT guns.

Eastern Front ~1550, Fearless Trained
HQ: Rifle command + 9x pioneers
Platoon 1: 10x Rifle + komissar + 3x light mortar
Platoon 2: 10x Rifle + komissar
Platoon 3: 6x 45mm obr 1942 guns + komissar
Platoon 4: 3x SMG scouts (Fearless Veteran)
Platoon 5: 4x Zis-2 + komissar + ptrd
Platoon 6: 4x SU-85

With this list you really have to be careful about low numbers of support - it can be easily shot to death so do not take unnecessary risks.

LW Strelkovy

I think that LW Soviet infantry has by far better choices than its EW and MW cousins. First of all, It is fairly cheap but still not conscript with most of its platoons. Furthermore, it can still sport excellent support options. What is most important however, is that Berlin Digital has brought in what was most needed in those big infantry blobs - panzerfausts! I think that with their introduction, this briefing has now been made whole :)
Berlin Digital ~1550, Confident Trained
HQ: Rifle command + komissar + 5x pioneers
Platoon 1: 13x Rifle/MG + komissar + 2x panzerfaust
Platoon 2: 7x Rifle/MG + komissar + 1x panzerfaust
Platoon 3: 3x SMG scouts + panzerfaust
Platoon 4: 4x Zis-2 + 1x ptrd
Platoon 5: 5x SU-76M
Platoon 6: 4x Zis-2 + 1x ptrd
Platoon 7: Full GOW (4x 122mm howitzer + 8x 76mm Zis-3)
Platoon 8: 6x 160mm heavy mortar

This list is a special case of a briefing in which I would field artillery. The main reason for this is that it is insanely cheap compared to other template weapons! A double 4/2+ template for 175 is a real bargain and 250 for the GOW battery is also nothing to complain about (especially, that it also brings decent anti-tank or anti-gun capability to the table).

Ok, so these are my thoughts on Strelkovy lists. What are yours?

08/06/16 Update

I have run some lists with KV 85s included and I think they are pretty good tanks. The issue is: In Early War - you will not get any. In Mid War, they cost a lot and in Late War they are no longer available in Berlin.

My current favourite Late War build would be Red Bear Strelkovy then:

HQ: 2x Rifle, Komissar + 5x Pioneers
CP: 1x Command Rifle/MG + 21 Rifle/MG + Komissar + HMG
CP: 1x Command Rifle/MG + 7 Rifle/MG
WP: 3x Scouts
WP: 6x 120mm mortars + Observer
SP: 4x IS 85
SP: 4x Zis-2


  1. Scout platoons in MW should have a 5 point commissar base. Cheapest FV recce stand in the game. In this MW list, you have zero MGs; not even your armour is capable of throwing back an infantry assault. Why not put in HMGs instead of those knee mortars?

    Also, although flamethrowers are expensive its nice to have that threat in the back of your opponent's mind. Assaulting tanks is not easy with trained troops, even fearless. Negating that defensive fire is crucial to throwing back an overconfident enemy.

    By the time your arty is trained, it might be useful to have something a bit heavier. You've already expressed your distaste for heavy arty, especially as the soviet kind cant even launch smoke, but consider that your can add 4 122mm howitzers to your existing arty battery for 140 points. This is the type of thing which mitigates the soviet's lack of effective mobile AT. When I play with my strelk, this combined AT/howitzer battery is frequently subject to my opponent's most fervent complaints.

    For hating arty, you certainly put a ton of it in your latewar list! Why not scrap one unit and put in some more mobile assets? SU-76M are not too useful because of their lack of MGs. You have tons of static AT; what you need here is a counter-attacking element. Why not put in some t-34s, which are still cheap but can stand up to and in assaults much better? Your reduced infantry will not be able to just storm your opponent's infantry positions if you do need to attack so some attack-capable armour will come in handy there.

  2. Some good hints there. Few MG/HMGS is my personal preference based on many games played with infantry. I simply do not need it - I know how to defend against an infantry assault maximizing my number of shots where necessary. For this, 45mm guns are the perfect tool. They are an equivalent to 3 HMGs.

    As for the artillery, as I already mentioned on Facebook, this list is one of the exceptions. This is mainly because the guns are so amazingly cheap.

    If you think about it, Flames of War v3 was never a game of assaults. It is won by shooting 90+% of the cases. I see no point in investing into an assault capability as this method of getting rid of your opponent is only necessary when you need to mop up quickly (because time is running out for example). Other than that, the name of the game is to kill support and shoot to death. For this, survivability and firepower are 2 key elements. These 2 principles are the basis for the lists that I use.

  3. Zis-2 57mm ATG are available in EW, MW, and LW? Strange. EW guns had very poor penetration - the ammunition quality was horrible (although I admit FOW rules don't take this into account). Production was stopped in late 1941. Production was restarted in 1943 and continued through the war. So no 57mm ATG in 1942 at all.

    1. Well, apparently in FoW this is not an issue :)