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Soviet Tankovy for newbies - hints on collecting Soviet armor and list building!

Hey, I am back with another article dedicated to players new to the game. This time, inspired by some Facebook conversations, I decided to share my thoughts around starting a Soviet Tank force.

To be honest, normally I would not recommend a newbie to start their FoW adventures playing a tank company. The reason for this is that going on the offensive (which is typical for tanks) does not let you watch and learn so much. You will have to be active most of the game and the issue I always had with a new system - I was not so sure what to do :) This means that playing a Soviet Tankovy will be burdened with a lot of harsh lessons at the beginning but if after reading this intro, someone still loves the idea of fielding the Soviet armored fist, I can at least help with some difficult choices every Tankista has to make :)

1. What is the period I should concentrate on first?

As per usual, my answer is: Late War. This period has the biggest number of books and digital briefings to choose from and is probably the most frequently played one. Unfortunately, this also means that some iconinc Early War monsters, like the T-35 or the KV-2 will not be available but at least you will be able to use the IS tank series :)

2. Which Books/Digital briefings should I use?

There are 3 books and a  digital briefing that allow the player to field Soviet tank lists in Late War. The good thing about them is that almost all of them are feasible choices but the bad thing is that a lot of them are based around completely different types of tanks. The outcome is that almost anything you choose will be playable but to switch between the lists, you will need to buy new models.

In any case, here is my personal rating of LW books, containing Soviet tank lists in terms of diversity/playability.

- Red Bear (revised) - this book has it all when it comes to LW Soviet armor
- Desperate Measures - this one does not have the heavy tank lists but has access to some decent Late Late War equipment, like the 160mm mortars
- Berlin Digital - still some good lists here
- Berlin Book - only heavy tank lists (unlike Desperate Measures)

3. Hen&Chicks or not?

This is the typical dillema of a Soviet tank commander. Hen & Chicks is a rule that makes hitting your targets more difficult when your tanks move and to make it even more annoying, if one of the tanks in the platoon moves, all have to move :(

Keeping this in mind, you can either go for companies that have majority of their platoons subject to this rule or go in the opposite direction and play either a heavy tank lists or a hero list which does not use it.

In my opinion, if you are new to the game, forget playing tanks that have the H&C rule. Start with something simple. This will also allow you to build a smaller force as these types of companies normally require a smaller number of models to work.

4. What models should I buy?

Like I mentioned before, there are quite a few feasible lists out there but the models to be used are sometimes completely different. Because of this, I will give you a hint on what you will need to play a Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy from Red Bear as well as Hero Tankovy from Desperate Measures.

Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy from Red Bear (around 1500 points)
- 7x KV 85 or IS 85 tanks (do not get IS-2, they are worthless pieces of junk, trust me)
- 5x teams of foot scouts + possibly a BA64 car
- 4x 122mm howitzers
- 4x 152mm howitzers
- 4x Zis-2 or 85mm guns or 4x 37mm anti-aircraft to fend off the bombers

Hero Tankovy from Desperate Measures (around 1500 points)
- 9x T-34/85
- 4x T-34/76
- 4x BA64
- 6x 120mm mortars
- 6x 160mm mortars

Both these lists will be solid choices in my opinion and since they are pretty straightforward to run, helpful in learning quite a few rules and will bring you closer to understanding how to run H&C lists :)

P.S. I hope to do a test of the Hero Tankovy list pretty soon. Will share the experience.


  1. If you do want to use big heavy tanks with big scary guns you can try the ISU list from red bear or Berlin digital (I prefer the Berlin list as you can get squads of 2 ISUs). You need one is2 to lead them but handily the battlefront box comes with 4 ISUs and 1 is2. The list looks very similar to the ones above. At 1420, the list looks like this:
    4 ISUs
    4 t-34 (I use then with flame throwers)
    4 122mm howitzers/160mm mortars
    Il-2 shturmovik air support.

    It's nice as it takes only a very small number of models to build a very fun list to use. It's fairly solid except that with a few bad armour saves on your part, your attack can stall out very quickly. if you want to add more bulk to the attack, you can switch out the air support for extra ISUs.

    1. To be fair, although it might be a fun list to play, I would not recommend it to a new player exactly because of the reason you stated: a few unlucky rolls and you are suddenly in a very bad position :)

      In any case, thanks for the comments - keep them coming, I am always eager to hear from anybody that reads this! :)

  2. This is the starter army for my 12 year old son. Works well enough no H&C. Regards Nick
    Soviet Hero Tankovy (Regular)

    Tank Company, from Desperate Measures, page 38

    Compulsory Hero Tankovy Brigada HQ (Regular) (p.39) - CinC T-34/85 obr 1944 (85 pts)

    Compulsory Hero Tankovy Company (Regular) (p.39) - Command T-34/85 obr 1944, 3x T-34/85 obr 1944 (330 pts)

    Compulsory Hero Tankovy Company (Regular) (p.39) - Command T-34/85 obr 1944, 3x T-34/85 obr 1944 (330 pts)

    Hero Tankovy Company (Regular) (p.39) - Command T-34 obr 1942, 3x T-34 obr 1942 (230 pts)
    - Add Cupolas to all T-34 obr 1942 (5 pts)

    Hero Tank Rider Company (Regular) (p.40) - Command SMG, 6x SMG (125 pts)

    Hero Spetsnaz Platoon (p.53) - Command SMG, 2x SMG, 2x Captured Sd Kfz 251 half-track (100 pts)
    - Replace Command SMG with Command Panzerfaust SMG (10 pts)

    Guards Hero Rocket Mortar Battalion (p.55) - Command Rifle, Observer Rifle, 3-ton truck, 4x BM-13-16 Katyusha (135 pts)
    - 4x Extra Crew (20 pts)
    - 2x DShK AA truck (50 pts)

    1420 Points, 6 Platoons

    1. This one is maybe less competitive (not much though), but will allow you to teach him about more troop types than my original one. Seems a fair trade to me :)

  3. And my choice for soviet armour is always attack Soviet Inomarochnikiy Tankovy

    Tank Company, from Red Bear, page 124

    Compulsory Inomarochnikly Tankovy Batalon HQ (p.125) - CinC M4 76mm (M4A2 Sherman) (85 pts)

    Compulsory Inomarochnikly Tankovy Company (p.126) - Command M4 76mm (M4A2 Sherman), 8x M4 76mm (M4A2 Sherman) (625 pts)
    - Dmitriy Loza (Perdoyoye Otryad or Immaronchnikiy Tankovy Battalion only) (80 pts)

    Compulsory Inomarochnikly Tankovy Company (p.126) - Command M4 (M4A2 Sherman), 8x M4 (M4A2 Sherman) (390 pts)
    - 6x Add .50cal AA MG (30 pts)

    Spetsnaz Platoon (p.75) - Command SMG, 2x SMG, 2x Captured Sd Kfz 251 half-track (100 pts)

    Heavy Mortar Company (p.73) - Command Rifle, 4x 120-PM-38 mortar (95 pts)
    - Observer Rifle (15 pts)

    1420 Points, 4 Platoons

    1. For a H&C list, this one is pretty straightforward I would say :)

      By the way - my Inomarochinkily Shermans are in the painting queue already :P Although at first, I will go for Hero.