In this article, and since most of us are currently at Fall-In, I'd like to follow the lead of Nemesis A's recent article on the decisions made in writing a list before a tournament, with a bit of my own thoughts. I'd like to make clear - and hopefully this will become clearer after reading - that the thought process used should not be considered exclusive to tournament games, but an approach you can always take when drafting Bolt Action lists.
So, like any list, the selection starts and ends with leaders. The reason to focus on them are obvious - when you're building a list around ten order dice, you'd like to make your platoon daddies as strong as possible. In those situations, you have a relatively low amount of units, and therefore need concentrated leadership. In such a list, you have a limited amount of units, and therefore the pins inflicted upon you by an opponent are concentrated on those limited units. However, in a higher order die count list, the pins inflicted upon your units are spread out amongst many units, or focused on units in such a manner that leadership bonuses are not efficiently distributed.
Since this list consists of twenty order dice, I decided to purchase the cheapest leaders possible. There are so many units that the idea is, instead of using leadership advantages to mitigate pins, the hope is that pins would accrue on single units at a relatively low rate; making leaders unnecessary.
These leaders are also the "price of admission". I want to use two platoons in my Stalingrad Theater Selector list. If I want to use two, I need to buy at least two leaders!
Here's a surprise to no one: In a Bolt Action list, you need to buy infantry! In a Soviet list, you're given a free, twelve-man, inexperienced rifle squad. I've decided to take an additional four inexperienced rifle squads; except those four are only five-men each. These units are the pawns in my list. Every miniature battle game requires territory takers and holders, regardless of their capacity to receive or inflict damage on other units. I don't count on any of these units for much, other than occupying space, although a twelve-man squad is tough to get rid of.
These units will hope to inflict a pin each turn on a unit, but can't be relied upon. They're so weak that their very same weakness is their strength. Will an opponent really use a unit activation to attack one of these five squads?
Of course, a game of chess isn't won with only pawns. I tried to play games with nothing but five-man, inexperienced, rifle squads; but ultimately something with a bit more punch is required. That's where SMG squads came into play.
I've decided to take two, five-man, veteran, scout squads armed with SMGs. These serve two purposes; they provide my opponent with a forward-deployed target to attract attention, which is capable of surviving a round or two of fire, and deploy in the middle of the table. It's very useful to have units capable of moving into those important buildings located in the center as soon as possible.
There are also two units of regular SMG squads, and a veteran truck. These give me the option of bringing a strong outflanking force onto the table, or a unit in reserve that's able to respond to threats quickly and relatively powerfully.
I've also included three anti-tank rifles in this list. I hate to break this to everyone, but the fact that Soviet lists can take up to three ATRs per selector is an amazing ability. These units can be used, of course, as weapons that apply pins, or even potentially destroy, armored vehicles.
Additionally, these ATRs can apply pins to infantry squads. They have incredible range and penetration power.
Seriously, if you're playing Soviets and not using ATRs, what are you trying to prove?
And the last picture in this little list discussion is a shot of twenty order dice. What I've forgotten to include is a shot of three ZIS-3 anti-tank guns. The hope with those is that they can destroy all those scary vehicle flame thrower units people want to try and use against me. If not, hopefully they can apply pins to those same vehicles. As an additional bonus, ZIS-3 guns count as light howitzers, so with any luck they can also contribute to the removal of infantry and gun units my opponents control.
Best laid plans...
If you'd like to tell me how wrong I am, please do so on the forum. Link below!
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