16 March 2021

WW3: Team Yankee - Faction Focus: Soviet - Part 2: Support Units

Hi all it's Neil here back after a bit of break for more WW3: Team Yankee with a look at the new Soviet book.  This post is part 2 of the look at the new Soviet book where I'll look at the supporting units such as artillery, AA, recon and aircraft.  If you're wanting to check out the formations and their main combat units there all in part 1.  If you're new to Team Yankee I've done a quick look at the rules and background here if you want to check it out.

For support units these can be divided into Artillery, Recon, Anti-Tank, Anti-Aircraft and Aircraft units.  I will look at the options for each and do a quick comparison of them for their role in supporting your main combat units of tanks and mechanized infantry.

First up we'll take a look at artillery for pinning down enemy infantry ready for your combat units to sweep aside in assault.  There are two board sub types of artillery, tube artillery and rocket artillery.  Tube artillery usually hit a smaller area of the board than the rocket artillery but do hit harder so are more of threat to vehicles alongside infantry.  There are two tube artillery options for Soviet commanders, the 2S1 Carnation SP Howitzer and the 2S3 Acacia Heavy SP Howitzer.  The Carnation brings a 122 mm gun which gives a bombardment with anti-tank 4 and firepower 3+ and can direct fire with anti-tank 21 and firepower 2+ so in a pinch against lighter forces can take on vehicles from the front.  The Acacia comes with a 152 mm gun which gets a better firepower on the bombardment of 2+ and direct fire of 1+/AUTO but its direct fire is a lower anti-tank of 14 which hurts its effectiveness vs tanks though its still plenty to go through the front of IFVs and other support vehicles.  

The Acacia also has the option of Krashopol Projectiles for a few extra points which sit somewhere between the bombardment and direct fire in how they work, so they roll to hit like a normal weapon rather than needing to range in but hit top armour rather than the facing the vehicle is in like a bombardment with its anti-tank 4 and firepower AUTO.  The Carnation and Acacia are the same points (before any Krashopol are added) so it comes down to whether you want the better direct fire or better firepower, though the Carnation can be taken in larger numbers as it is available in nearly every formation as well as a single support choice which the Acacia can only be taken once as a support unit.

For the rocket artillery there are three choices the BM-21 Hail Rocket Launcher, BM-27 Hurricane Rocket Launcher and TOS-1 Thermobaric Rocket Launcher.  The Hail and Hurricane rocket launchers both are unarmored vehicles which makes then a bit more vulnerable to small arms but can be surprisingly resilient to bit hits if you roll well though not something to rely on.  Hail and Hurricane can both only fire bombardments with the SALVO template. the Hail gets an anti-tank of 3 and firepower of 4+ so less threatening against vehicles while the Hurricane has improved anti-tank of 4 and firepower of 3+ equal to the tube options so more capable of threatening vehicles.  The Hurricane is nearly twice as expensive as the Hail but as you only get one slot shared between both of these it will come down to whether you want a cheaper unit with less punch or the more powerful but more expensive.  

The last rocket artillery is the TOS-1 which is built on a T-72 chassis giving it a little armour but not enough to take hits from an enemy tank.  The TOS-1 rocket launcher uses the SALVO template like all rocket artillery but with a much shorter range and an anti-tank of only 2 so its not going to be doing much against armoured vehicles.  The role of the TOS-1 is to dig out dug-in infantry, which is a role the weapon is well suited to with an AUTO firepower and Brutal rule meaning that infantry have to re-roll passed saves and any fail is an auto kill even if in bulletproof cover.  The TOS-1 are reasonable expensive with 3 TOS-1 being more points than 6 BM-21s but they do bring excellent anti-infantry firepower to the table in their own slot so they're not competing with other artillery.

The biggest drawback for Soviet commanders when picking artillery is the Skill 5+ which is used to range in artillery so you'll be relying more the ranged in points placed in deployment and definitely want to use the BMP-1 OP observer to get the +1 to range in so you go to 4+.  If I were picking artillery I'd probably want to take a couple of units so the Carnations are a good choice being able to take multiple copies and have the bonus of helping with formation morale but the Hurricanes look great with their big template and strong bombardment stats if you have the points to squeeze them in.  I would also probably look to add at least a small unit of TOS-1 just to really make enemy infantry scared in their foxholes.

Next up are the Recon units for spearheading the Soviet pushes, these use the BMP series of vehicles, BMP-1, BMP-2 and BMP-3 or the BRDM-2.  The recon units all have 2-4 of a single type of BMP which gain the Spearhead rule to allow them to push up in deployment and create extra space to bring your key units closer to objectives.  The BMP series bring not inconsiderable firepower with the amount basically increasing as the number increases so BMP-3 bring the most while BMP-1 brings the least.  The BRDM-2 is only available in a formation and doesn't bring much more than a machine gun but if all you're wanting it to do is push the deployment and hide close enough to objectives to technically threaten then its by far the cheapest options with 4 BRDM-2s costing the same as 2 BMP-1s.  The BMP options are available in formations as well but you can also take one as a support unit if you need more.  To me, the BMP options are probably better picks as they'll have more impact on the game after deployment and the BMP-2 looks to be a good compromise between points cost and firepower.

The Soviets have two anti-tank vehicle options in the Spandrel and the Storm.  The Spandrel is a light wheeled vehicle that mounts the AT-5 Spandrel missile with anti-tank 21 and firepower 3+ which can threaten all but the heaviest tanks still while being pretty cheap in units of 2 or 3.  

The Storm is a slightly better armored vehicle but not really to make it properly survivable, with just a Spiral or Spiral-2 missile.  The Spiral is anti-tank 23 allowing it to engage newer tanks more easily while the Spiral-2 boosts that to 24 for a small cost for the unit.  These again come in 2s or 3s in a unit for a little more than the Spandrel but are still pretty good cost wise.  If I needed to boost my anti-tank capabilities I'd probably pay that little more for the Storms with the Spiral-2 missiles to have more options against newer tanks.

The last ground support units are the Anti-Aircraft (AA) units, which come in two types with Gun based AA and Missile based AA.  The missile based AA units are specialized at taking on aircraft to the exclusion of being able to attack ground targets.  These options are SA-13 Gopher, SA-9 Gaskin and SA-8 Gecko SAMs, with the Gopher and Gaskin options being available both as support units and in formations while the Gecko is only available as a support unit.  The Gaskin is the cheapest option, whose missiles have 2 shots with firepower 5+ and "only" a 48" range which will probably only really be a problem if you deploy them poorly or on a very large table.  

The Gopher is the next most expensive (being twice as expensive) as the Gaskin but for this you do get improved firepower of 4+ and an extra 8" of range over the Gaskin.  The Gecko is twice the cost of the Gopher for an extra shot for a total of 3, a firepower of 3+ as well as a boosted range of 72" for full table coverage.  The Gecko is the only unarmoured vehicle but if any of these are under massed fire from anything other than aircraft then something has good terribly wrong really so its not much of a difference.

The other branch is the gun based AA which are all in the formations with non available as support unit slots.  The two options are the ZSU-23-4 Shilka and the 2S6 Tunguska which are able to engage ground targets as well as aircraft.  The Shilka costs the same as the Gophers and for this you get a rate of fire 6 gun with anti-tank 6 and firepower 5+ making it less likely that a hit will knock out an aircraft but you get a good number more shots with enough to be dangerous to infantry and their transports if there's no air threat around.  The Tunguska is more a hybrid gun-missile AA unit as it gets both a 7 shot anti-tank 10 firepower 5+ autocannon more than capable of engaging IFVs frontally and aircraft plus a missile with 2 shots and firepower 3+.  This pair of weapons actually allows the Tunguska to engage both reactively in your opponents turn and proactively in your turn but you do pay twice the points cost of the Shilkas for this as you are basically a Shilka with a Gopher taped on the side in a way.  

For creating an AA umbrella its probably best to have a couple of units with a mix of missile and gun options.  I'd be tempted to go with a Shilka unit paired with Gophers then if I had the points to spare I'd try and get a Tunguska unit in as well or a second Shilka if I have the option.

Aircraft wise there is a single helicopter option and a single aircraft option to support your ground troops.  Helicopter support is provided by the MI-24 Hind in groups of 2,4 or 6 which is a resilient aircraft with a 4+ save with a good array of weapons in an anti-tank 23 or 24 missile, a 3 shot anti-helicopter gatling gun and a rocket launcher with an anti-tank 3 firepower 6 SALVO for pinning infantry.  The strength of the Hind looks to be engaging tanks from the flank with their good missiles or going after the anti-aircraft assets of the enemy relying on your save to get you through the flak.  Hinds are not too expensive points wise so are a good supporting unit able to give you an ability to deal with new tanks like the M1A1 and Challenger.

The fixed wing asset for Soviet commanders is the SU-25 Frogfoot, with flights of 2, 4 or 6 and bring the biggest missile you can get in a list.  The missile is anti-tank 27 so can take even a M1A1HC from the front along with a 3 shot 30 mm gun with anti-tank 7 and anti-helicopter to help with AA cover if nothing better is presenting a target.  It also has a rocket launcher as well for a SALVO with anti-tank 3 for some light anti-infantry firepower.  The SU-25 is an expensive option but could be a clutch unit against certain opponents though as strike aircraft they're not the most reliable unit.

If I wanted to add air support I'd have to go all or nothing so I'd try and fit in a full unit of Hind plus at least a unit of 4 SU-25s to give me a good toolbox to hit enemy tanks where they're weakest.

I hope that this has been useful and interesting to read about what Soviet players can bring to support their tanks and infantry in the new book.  If you're interested in what the other nations can bring to the table you can find the other faction focuses I've done here, there's a couple there at the moment but as new books get released for v2 I'll be having a look at them.  See you again soon for more Team Yankee content and if you want to see what I'm painting you can check out my Instagram where I post WIP pictures.

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