Red Banner: Soviet Forces on the Eastern Front 1942-43
The new book, Red Banner, adds a whole new aspect to the Soviet forces in Flames of War. It combines with Enemy at the Gates to allow you to build a wide variety of forces, with plenty of different play styles.
What's In It?
T-34 Tank Battalion
The basic Soviet tank force. Lots of fast, tough, well-armed tanks, but little finesse. Being hit on Reckless 2+, you can expect lots of casualties, so swing the sledgehammer hard and fast.
The later model T-34 with its re-designed turret and commander’s cupola makes it faster and better at crossing obstacles. This is really great for amassing an overwhelming force and getting flank shots.You can have nothing but T-34s if you want.
The T-70 is cheap, but still mounts a 45mm gun and good armour.
The improved Valentine has a bigger turret giving it either no penalty for shooting on the move with its 2 pdr, or a powerful 6 pdr (but with no MG!)
T-34 Hero Tank Battalion
This is a T-34 tank battalion with the companies worn down to three tanks each. The surviving crews are more skillful, being Trained 4+ (rather than Green 5+) and hit on Aggressive 3+.
KV-1s Guards Heavy Tank Regiment
Focused around the KV-1s, this formation has nothing but heavy tanks. The KV-1s is faster than most tanks, but still has heavy armour and a good gun, and is excellent in assaults. Some of these can be replaced with the older KV-1 or the British Churchill.
Churchill Guards Heavy Tank Regiment
The tank corps at Kursk used the British Churchill tank rather than the Soviet KV-1s. It’s cheaper than the KV-1s, with slightly better armour, but is much slower and less effective against infantry.
Motor Rifle Battalion
The basic Soviet infantry force, very similar to the Rifle Battalion in Enemy at the Gates, but with a skill of Trained 4+ (rather than Green 5+) and is deadly in assaults. They have lots of anti-tank rifles and heavy machine-guns, but lack the flamethrowers of the Rifle Battalion. They have a Save of 4+, so you’ll need enough troops to take a severe pounding and still roll over the enemy. With the Urrah! rule giving them a charge move of 6”/15cm, they’ll be on the enemy before they know it
Hero Motor Rifle Battalion
This is the hard core of survivors of a Motor Rifle Battalion after a few battles. They have learned to take cover, so have a Save of 3+, and have gathered all of the automatic weapons of the battalion, so hit in Assaults on 2+, and have twice the firepower per team of the Motor Rifle Battalion.
The elite of the Red Army, a reconnaissance company combines infantry in armoured transports with dismounted scouts (which can be given motorcycles using a Command Card) and light tanks or armoured cars. A fast and hard-hitting infantry force to overrun your opponents before they are ready.
All of the support from Enemy at the Gates is there, flame-tanks, tank-killers, artillery, katyusha rocket launchers, and the armoured IL-2 Shturmovik assault aircraft.
The artillery has been reinforced with the heavy SU-152, the medium SU-122, and the light SU-76 self-propelled gun. All of these can be used as assault guns supporting tanks and infantry or as artillery, sitting back and bombarding.
The tank-killers have the new SU-85 self-propelled gun. Elite, veteran crews man this fast, well-armoured tank destroyer mounting a deadly 85mm gun.
How Does It Play?
Red Banner gives you four very different styles of play. As with Enemy at the Gates, you can field a massive force of well-equipped, but unskilled troops. The T-34 Tank Battalion and the Motor Rifle Battalion are the ultimate in this type of force. At the start of the game, you’ll have a huge advantage in numbers and firepower, but that can evaporate surprisingly quickly. There’s no time for subtlety, so make full use of their strengths—they are speedy and deadly, hitting like a tonne of bricks. Go in hard and fast!
If you prefer the same kit, but with a little more finesse, field the Hero versions of these battalions. The units are much smaller, but they’ve learned what it takes to stay alive, allowing you to be more careful and subtle while still wielding a big stick.
There’s a whole lot of interesting things about this formation. For a start, the teams have a 4+ Save, reflecting their lack of experience and the insistence that they keep attacking rather than stop to take cover. Combined with an Aggressive rating that sees them hit on a 3+.
The flip side of this is that the Urrah! Rule allows a Rifle Company to move 6”/15cm when charging into contact as they race forward ignoring casualties and refusing to take cover.
If you don’t like the idea of taking lots of casualties, the Guards Heavy Tank Regiments might be your thing.
Plenty of well-armoured tanks will keep your men alive while they take the enemy force apart. Back them up with some infantry and grind the enemy under their tracks.
Finally, if you fancy yourself as more of a swashbuckler armed with a rapier rather than the barbarian armed with a big club, an elite Reconnaissance Company gives you a good combination of speed and hitting power, especially if backed up by the new SU-85 tank killers.
Who Are the Warriors?
Guards Major V M Golubev, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, flew the IL-2 Shturmovik assault aircraft, destroying 69 German tanks. You can recreate his exploits with a Command Card giving your aircraft Veteran 3+ skill, making them deadly with their PTAB anti-tank bombs for 16 points (7 points for the Assault Company and 9 more for the Command Card). He’s expensive, but deadly!
Faced with a virtually impregnable position, Captain L I Mochenkov changed his tactics, leading a company around the back of the defences while assaulting them from the front. Caught in the pincers, the position fell. For 5 points, you can roll to have Mochenkov and one of your infantry companies appear in the enemy Deployment Area to soften them up for your main assault.
Lieutenant V S Parshin avenged the deaths of his two brothers by drawing the enemy fire onto his tank, allowing the rest of his company to break into the village of Vievka and destroy the defending Germans.
For two points, Parshin can use the Mistaken Target rule to gather hits onto his own tank, protecting his comrades.
What Battles Do These Forces Cover?
Red Banner allows you to field the re-organised tank corps that started appearing in the Battle of Stalingrad and made up the bulk of the counterattack troops in the Battle of Kursk and lead the advance to the Dnieper River in the Autumn and Winter of 1943. Between Red Banner and Enemy at the Gates you can field almost any Soviet force that fought in late 1942 and 1943. The older style tank formations from Enemy at the Gates supported the riflemen right through the Kursk battles and beyond, while the newer formations of Red Banner formed the spearhead of the offensives. You can mix and match the two books to create almost any historical force.
The Command Cards give you even more options, including dug-in T-34 tanks and anti-tank firepoints to protect your infantry’s anti-tank guns as they hold the line at Kursk, Guards, and Guards Airborne Rifle Battalions to give you highly-motivated counterattack forces, and experimental T-34/57 tanks with long-barrelled 57mm anti-tank guns.
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