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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bolt Action - Cold Wars Army List: Cbax's Infantry Platoon

When this article publishes, I will be making the long trek down from the WWPD Northern Research Station, and heading for Dutch Wonderland and the Bolt Action Tournament at Cold Wars.  Previously, I spoiled my Tank list for the first ever WWPD-sponsored Bolt Action Tournament, and now it’s time to spoil the infantry army I intend to bring.  Lists were due to Captain TO on 2/28/2014 so I am not too worried about spilling the beans at this point; plus there has been a very vibrant thread on the forums about what people intend to bring.  Originally I was going to take a German list, but an order I had made for a Grille and SdKfz 7/2 Armored Cab quad 2cm was screwed up, and the vehicles didn’t make it.  While I still think the Germans can put up a good fight, I don’t have the models or men in my collection to help me put up that fight at the tournament level.  So I have fallen back on old faithful, the Army of the Soviet Union, oh yeah!

The Glorious Defenders of the Stalingrad Grain Elevator
At the Battle of Stalingrad, Soviet Naval troops, along with other brave Soviet souls, put up a courageous and tenacious fight in the south of the city.  For days these men held out against all odds, defending the ever looming grain elevator and holding off the German attackers.  My force is loosely based on the men who fought and died in that elevator.
1 x Senior Lieutenant + 1 Man (Regular) 85pts
3 x Naval Infantry squads with 8 Men tough fighter (Regular) 88pts each
1 x Assault Engineers 5 Men + 1 Flame thrower (Veterans) 85pts
1 x Free Infantry Squad 12 men + Molotov’s + Fanatics + Green (inexperienced) Free
2 x Antitank Rifles 30pts each
1 x Ampulomet Launcher (Regular) 40pts
1 x Heavy Mortar (inexperienced) 46pts
1 x Zis -3 (Regular) 80pts
1 x KV-2 (Regular) 300pts
1 x Truck (Regular) 39pts

Total: 999pts

Senior Lieutenant
Leading my army is Senior Naval Lieutenant Vasili Petrovich. Lt. Petrovich is from the Crimea.  After German forces overran Soviet Naval bases on the peninsula, Lt. Petrovich and his men were
 collected by the STAVKA, given rifles and sub machineguns, and pressed into services.  Having lost his home and family, Lt. Petrovich is motivated by extreme hatred for the Fascists, and profound loyalty to the Motherland. 

 I usually run a senior lieutenant in most of my armies.  I like the +2 benefit they afford their men as opposed to the +1 of a Junior Lieutenant.  I know he costs more points, but sometimes you need that extra point to keep men moving.  I gave him one assistant to keep his team small enough to benefit from small team, but able to absorb a hit if needed.  Lt. Petrovich has an SMG in case he gets too close to the enemy, and his assistant is carrying a Red Banner of Glory for the Motherland, which means he has a pistol.  I know pistols are not the best option, but flags are cool.  I’ll save my MarkDawging for later in the list, and this time take one for the NeckBeards, go pistols.

Naval Infantry Squads
Having a strong core of fighting men is essential to any Bolt Action force, and 1st Platoon of the Glorious Defenders is ready to fulfill that role.  This mix of naval Troops and hardened city fighters is ready to lay down their lives for the Motherland.  They are prepared to make any sacrifice necessary to see the Fascist invaders fail.

Naval troops and Siberians are some of the best options in the game because they can be regulars and tough fighters. Normally, I would go with Siberians, because I have more Siberian looking models than naval models, but if I was going to do that there is a big catch (and not the naval kind of catch).  The points in the Army book for Siberians is wrong; the FAQ has corrected the base cost for Siberians, but not the cost for extra men.  Meaning you end up paying one extra point for your additional men and then have to spend one point for tough fighters. 

This is not true for naval troops because they automatically come with tough fighters.  Since I wanted my men to be tough fighters, I went with the naval option and was able to save myself points to spend elsewhere.   I will be the first to admit this is a total MarkDawg move, since I have a limited number of naval riflemen.  So to bring less shame upon my NeckBeard, I came up with a plausible historical backstory to justify men being out of naval uniform.  The story being these are the survivors of the Stalingrad Grain Elevator and the unit, while commanded by a naval officer, is a mix of men who have survived the battle up to this point and have been scraped together by the brave Lt. Petrovich.  

Antitank Rifles
During the war the Soviets never stopped producing ATRs.  At the Grain Elevator, the Soviet defenders famously used their ATRs to shoot at the weaker top armor of the German Panzers from their elevated position.   I am fielding two ATRs in my force.  ATRs are good at putting pins on vehicles and taking out veterans, troops in buildings, and crews behind gun shields.  They are also fairly cheap activation dice. 

Ampulomet Launcher
The ampulomet launcher was an improvised Molotov launcher designed for taking out German Panzers.  In game play their anti-tank value is limited, but they are a good source of HE.  I doubt that these were used at Stalingrad, but the Theatre selector allows me to take it.  Since this is a tournament and I am trying to embrace equal parts MarkDawg and NeckBeard, I added them to my list.  Urrah MarkDawg!!!

Heavy Mortar
Mortars allow infantry to have quick access to much needed artillery support.  The infamous inexperienced heavy mortar can dish out 2D6 HE, but its shooting is not hampered by its crew skill.  I will need to play this unit cautiously, because it's easy to allow the enemy to pin you out of play.  That’s were Lt. Petrovich will come in handy. 

The Zis-3 Divisional field gun was one of the most widely used, and feared, Soviet guns of the war.  Capable of firing bombardments and direct fire AT rounds, this dual purpose gun is a double threat and can be used to address both infantry and vehicles.  I love this thing.  If an opponent roles me with some armor, I've got it covered. If they go light on the armor, I can use its HE against troops.

One of the biggest mistakes I made at Historicon was underestimating the usefulness of trucks.  The ability to get where you need to when you need to is essential in Bolt Action.  This truck will allow me to do that.  I am taking the truck as Regular, in case I want to truck my inexperienced troops on from reserve, and not suffer from needing a 7 to bring them on.  Also, it will allow me to deposit my engineers where I need them.  

The KV-2 was one of the heaviest tanks produced by the Soviets during the war.  This massive beast mounted a large howitzer capable of leveling whole buildings.  Historically, they were mechanically unreliable beasts which saw limited use; but in game play, they are a force to be reckoned with.  This is one of my favorite tanks in the game.  The big gun swallows units whole, its turret makes it flexible, and its armor makes it hard to kill.   Even though it mounts a heavy howitzer, that gun is more than capable of taking out light vehicles, and even some medium ones, if necessary.  Since you rarely see heavy tanks in a Bolt Action tournament, I’m hoping most people don’t come prepared to deal with the KV-2.

Assault Engineers
These battle hardened veterans a ready to tear down enemy strong points and purge the battlefield of enemy troops.   Assault engineers are must-have units in my opinion, because they have access to 20 point flame throwers. This is a 30 point reduction in cost from a regular flame thrower team.  You also get to wrap your flame thrower in layer of protection by adding additional bodies to the unit.  Be careful though, because these guys will be bullet magnets, much like real combat engineers. 

Free Infantry Squad
The Motherland is capable of putting more boots on the ground than most other nations.  Its vast forests, plains, and fields not only produce raw material for the war effort, but also an endless number of men ready to take up the cause.  One of the perks of being a Soviet player is the free squad.   Even though they are inexperienced, they are also green, which means they could end up being regulars.  I decided to MarkDawg up this squad by taking the Stalingrad Theatre selector and upgrading these guy to Fanatics for free, instead of spending +3 points.  Being fanatics will allow these inexperienced troops to stay on the table longer, and fight harder than other inexperienced counterparts.  This is also a huge squad capable of taking a lot of hits, and dishing out a good amount of firepower.  If necessary, I can even assault a tank with my Molotov’s.   It’s too bad I can't take tough fighters with them somehow.

Strengths and Weakness
I feel like my force is fairly balanced and has a lot of strengths.  Having a good core of tough fighters will help fight off assault armies, having a large quantity of HE will help me pin down and take out units, and having the Zis-3 and KV-2 will help me deal with any light or medium tanks if they show up.  A few things my army lacks is volume of fire, AA defense (although most armies lack that), extra leadership, and speed. 
Although I have a sizable force, my infantry is not capable of putting out the volume of fire units with assault rifles and SMGs can put out.  I would have liked to have given my engineers SMGs, but couldn’t spare the points.  This would have made them more deadly in close range and combat.  I always fear aircraft and think that my KV-2 will be a big target for anyone who brings it.   There is not much you can do to prepare for air, except pray for ones. I’m not wasting points on dedicated AA. 
I have one senior lieutenant, which I prefer over junior lieutenants, but he can only cover so much ground.  I am really bad about placing my command, so I normally rely on two officers to make up for any inability to support my troops with leadership.  I also really wanted to field my new KV-2 and since he ate up 300 points, having a second leader became cost prohibitive.  I think if anything bites my butt, it will be this decision to only go with one officer.  
Last is speed, while I have a truck, I really wish I had a second mobile unit.  I was trying to work on a list with tank riders, but again points became an issue, and I just could not get to a place where I was comfortable with the list that included tank riders.  At my core I wanted good HE options and was not willing to compromise on taking those units.  When I realized I could get fanatical inexperienced troops for free using the Stalingrad list, the tank riders went out the door.  Tank riders sadly, are not an option for Stalingrad lists. 
One thing I had been fearful of was a Japanese infantry horde with lots of pointy sticks.  Having a big blob of fanatical troops makes me feel better about fighting that list if it shows up.  My overall tournament strategy will be to maximize my pinning and hits with the HE, while the infantry move in to clean up the mess.
So what do you think?  Am I crazy or will this work?  What do you think my list excels at and where should I be concerned?  Remember, my list has already been submitted, so I cannot make any changes, unless Captain says I goofed on points, so be honest - am I doomed, or destined for victory?

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