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Sunday, October 28, 2012

On the Pole -- Building a Polish Army, Part Two

“Fathers, our only job is to keep our daughters off the pole.”  - Chris Rock

Yay, horses! Wikipedia.
In my last article, I reviewed the various options for EW Poles, and decided to begin by collecting a Motorized Cavalry Brigade using the Battlefront model range.  (I also insulted the WWPD community and possibly the entire Polish nation, but let's not talk about that...)

Poland only had two such brigades. The famous Black Brigade wore a different uniform, unique in the Polish army.   My choice of model range therefore means that I will be collecting the Warsaw Motorized Cavalry brigade. Anatoli gives this brigade its own list; Blitzkreig lumps the two brigades together, letting the either take 7TPs (which the 10th Brigade didn't have) or fight alongside an armored train (which fought with the 10th Brigade, but not the Warsaw brigade). 

A Polish Anti-Tank Gun (Courtesy of Anatoli's Game Room)
This brings up an interesting philosophical, possibly even existential question, often avoided in wargames:  When I collect a force in Flames of War, am I assembling 1) a specific force that existed in history, 2) a generic force that resembles many units from history,  3) a force that could have existed, but maybe didn't? or 4) the most awesome ass-kicker the list allows, whether it is even remotely plausible.  I usually assume I'm doing 2) or 3).  There were a lot of German tank companies or US Rifle companies.  One of them somewhere must have looked like mine, and so I don't much worry about it.  But the more obscure the equipment or the smaller the nation involved, the more pressing the question becomes. There was only one Kampfgroupe Piper, for example.  And likewise, only one Warsaw Brigade.

So am I building the actual Warsaw Brigade?  If so, from what engagement? Reading Anatoli's description, it's force org changed as it fought more battles.  Frankly, I'm lazy.  So I'm going to assume anything in Anatoli's org is fair game for my main collection.  If I get really bored, I might draw on a-historical options, like the train.  After all, is it so great a stretch to imagine that some alternate Poland created three motorized Brigades, or an existing one wore different hats, or had more 7TPS, or fought with slightly different support in slightly different theatres?

Polish Infantry defends an objective
Overall, I am not expecting my new Polish company to stand up to a full German Tank company.  Light tanks from Blitzkrieg don't cost very much.  In a tournament environment, I expect any infantry company to suffer a heavy handicap. Thus the performance of my Poles will depend on whether I can find an opponent obliging enough to bring a German infantry company against me -- and not a crazy horde of Panzer IIs like I usually field. Since Steve pressured me into building this force, I hope he will step up with a balanced, interesting 1939 German infantry or mech force.

My First Purchase
In Blitzkreig, Motorized Cavalry and Cavalry have the same organization for their staple companies. (Polish cavalry is organized into companies, rather like Soviets.)  Aside from the HQ section, each core company consists of platoons of four teams and one AT-rifle team.  The motorized variant can have two machine-guns: for a total of between seven and nineteen teams, plus transports.

On paper, the core companies look like they could be pretty awesome.  They are Fearless/Veterans, hard to hit and hard to break.  They have decent integral AT and (with the MGs) lots of RoF.  My hope is that they are the Armored Rifles of Early War: beefy and well-armed.   On the other hand, I fear that in the tank-heavy Early War environment, they may end up being a blob of meat for machine-gun boxes.  I suspect their actual performance will lie somewhere in between.

I have already settled on the Battlefront range.(1)  A Battlefront pack of EW Polish Dismounted Cavalry looks like it contains the HQ section and two 5-man Platoons with AT rifles for 23$.  When I build an army, I typically start with three full combat platoons (in this case companies).  But in the Polish pack only gives me 2 out of three possible platoons per core company.  I'd need 5 full packs to fill up my core, and I'd be left with extra.  It also doesn't cover my HMGs -- sold in packs of three.  Now, I usually like to build and paint a core force all at once, but at 100$+ that's a bit of a hefty investment to throw down at once.  Plus, I'm thinking that at 19 potential stands, I may not want three full companies.  You can only hide some many horsey-men in one stand of woods, after all.

So in this case, I may go smaller, and build up a bit at a time.

(1) If you are following along at home and want to try the Black Brigade, the True North sculpts are about 12$ per 24 figures (not including AT-Rifles, as far as I can tell).  This works out to about 5 teams.  At 24$, you're paying about the same as for Battlefront, maybe a bit more.

Some pictures courtesy of Anatoli's Game Room.


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