Stalin’s Onslaught is the first of the Operation Bagration specific battle books published for the Flames of War and details the German and Soviets during the Battle of Orsha, June 1944. In part one of this two part look into Stalin’s Onslaught we’ll look at the Soviet lists.
For Soviet players, SO introduces some needed special rules and units that make their forces harder hitting. These updates have found their way into every subsequent campaign book, online PDF and even the main Late War (LW) book – Fortress Europe – as faction specific Special Rules for the Soviets. The Heavy Breakthrough Gun (unarmored teams instantly die when hit), Volley Fire (specific Anti-tank weapons reroll misses for targets under 16”) and the introduction of the IS-2 tank and ISU series assault guns all began with SO and put the Soviets on par with all other factions for firepower when dealing with German Heavy Tanks.
The first Soviet list is the 8ya Otdyelnaya Shtrafnoy Batalon – penal battalion – or Shtraf. The Shtraf list offers very little in the way of support artillery and armor assets and requires a player to rely almost solely on its two huge, 30+ stand infantry companies rushing into close assault with their opponents. They are always the attacker in scenario, cannot dig foxholes, pass all motivation test on a 2+ and never fail a company morale check. With its limited support and large combat company (platoon) size, the Shtraf list should probably rely on the tried and true flamethrower delivery system for tactics. The basic principle for Soviet infantry of most types) is to simply take as many stands as you can in your mandatory 2 Combat Companies (platoons) and attach as many Flamethrowers and Sappers as you can to them. You simply rush forward, shrug off casualties and then flame your enemies before assaulting them. With combat companies that could easily have 30+ stands, you only need half to get to the assault phase and with sappers and flamethrowers you can still do a lot of damage.
The 300lb gorilla of Stalin’s Onslaught is the Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy Polk (Guards Heavy Tank Regiment) and gives Red Army players the list they always dreamt of – a Joseph Stalin 2 (IS-2) heavy tank regiment. The IS-2 uses the Heavy Breakthrough Gun special rule with its main gun (122mm D25) and with AT 15, the 122mm makes the infamous Tiger I (front armor 9) an easy kill. The key to running this list is retaining enough firepower in your IS-2 platoons to handle most of the tank killing and infantry stomping while bringing enough support units like infantry and arty to keep German heavy AT and tank assaulters from killing your tanks.
The final Soviet list is the Udarny Strelkovy Batalon or Shock Rifle Battalion – just Udarny for short. Udarny are arguably the best Soviet infantry in FoW and certainly the best balanced in SO. They are Fearless Trained shock troops that fight in the assault phase like Veterans (hitting on a 3+ instead of the Trained 4+) and get a myriad of support options that synergize really well with an aggressive/ offensive infantry list. Experienced players can really make use of some of these options – like ISU 122 Assault Guns or multiple cheap template generators (that still hit on a 3+ in the assault) – to make them more than a flame/ pioneer delivery blob to go headlong into an assault. Because of the Quantity over Quality rule, all Soviet infantry companies (remember, think ‘platoon’ as far as FoW rules work) that number 15 or more take 10 hits to be pinned, so as long as you have enough ablative stands to soak up hits before your Udarny hit the German front line, you can have 15+ units hitting on 3+ during the assault phase. With most German platoons numbering 10 or less stands total, your Udarny will make quick work of any fascist before they even get to swing back! There are a lot of different ways you can run this list – supported by heavy tanks, flame-tanks, tanks with mine rollers, tube arty or rockets, cheap mortars or even more infantry to back up your Udarny companies. I think Udarny are the most flexible and competitive of the Stalin’s Onslaught lists.
Here’s the Udarny List I plan on building:
HQ – Command SMG/ 2iC/ Kommisar + HQ Sapper Platoon
2x Udarny Companies (13x R/MG teams, Kommisar and 2x Maxim HMGs)
1x Mortar Platoon of 3 mortars
1x Scout platoon with 1 Squad
1x Heavy Mortar Company w/ 2 platoons (4 120mm mortars)
3x ISU-122s with .50cal AA MG
Sapper Company w/ 1Sapper platoon (6x Pioneer Rifle teams)
2x Flamethrower sections w/ 2 flamethrower teams each
This comes out to 1750 points on the nose and at about $214 retail, an affordable army list to build. I’m still a rather new Soviet player (I have a Guards Heavy Tankovy Polk now), so I am still leaning towards the Flamethrower delivery system of the Strelk, but since Udarny always attack other infantry companies in defensive battles missions I think that is a safe approach for this aggressive list. For defensive games I will be leaning heavily on my ISU’s and small sapper groups for AT, but I think that here again the Udarny’s 3+ to hit in the assault will be able to really help out as they will still have Sapper and Flamethrower attachments and can hold ground fairly well. I’m bringing mortars because they are the cheapest templates I can find. I am fairly confident that digging out infantry while in the offensive will only keep my infantry in the open longer than necessary so I intend to use them simply for the 4 rolls to range in – same while in the defense. My final selection was the Shock Scout Platoon. One of the Soviet Special Rules form the MRB is called Infiltration. Simply put, you attach a Strelk Company (Udarny count as Strelk) to the Scout platoon and then move up to 16” pre game and as long as you are concealed and over 8” or you can start the game with a first turn assault.
What list from Stalin’s Onslaught do you find suits your preferred gaming style the most? What is your preferred support for your Heavy Tankovy or Guards Strelk list in both Late and Mid War? If you have a request for a review of a specific FoW book, let us know.
Keep calm and carry on with your ISU-122s in ambush under 16”!