Steel Wall

KatyushaOur last Allied Nation that we will be looking at is the Soviets. It feels almost strange even talking about them in terms of artillery because they are so very different in the way that they use artillery compared to every other nation out there. They tend to do more direct fire than anyone else and of course do not have smoke either. However their direct fire is far more deadly than any other army out there.

Lets look at just how differently the Soviets tackle artillery below:

At this point I see no reason to break from my usual format. With that lets have a look at the much smaller list of special rules that the Soviet artillery can utilize.

  1. Steel Wall
  2. Roll up the Guns
  3. Volley Fire
  4. No Mandatory Observer

While it seems that these rules are not going to be helping with artillery bombardments they certainly help destroy your enemy.

Steel Wall:

This rule is really just there to allow you to maneuver the 76mm artillery pieces so that they can take advantage of the other two rules while still allowing the better 120mm Howitzers to fire. This probably doesn’t seem  like a big deal to you if you have never played Soviets. However for the Soviets, moving the lighter guns up into a direct fire position while still dropping 120mm shells on the enemy can be quite exhilarating as you are essentially getting two platoons in one.

This is a huge benefit because you are given flexibility. Many of the Soviet platoons tend to lack flexibility but the God of War artillery batteries are definitely one of the ones that get flexibility. There are a few ways that this can be maximized:

  1. Being able to fire a AT4 FP 5+ bombardment when the entire platoon joins together allows you to hit a wide area if you catch troops in the open or are trying to hit teams that are hiding out of sight. By targeting something you can see you can often land your pizza box onto the real target that is hiding behind a hill or in a wood for instance.
  2. Moving the 76mm guns into a position to provide some AT support to your defending infantry while not forgoing any turns of shooting with the 120mm guns. This is particularly useful because the Soviet armies tend to be small in platoon count so you can get your artillery and medium AT support in the same platoon.
  3. Moving your 76mm guns up with your attacking infantry in order to take advantage of the volley fire with direct fire and medium AT support. This allows you to bring some firepower with your infantry that will stop even the heaviest armour with some luck and also to dig out enemy gun teams.

Roll up the Guns:

This allows you to better utilize the fact that you can re-deploy your AT and artillery guns. In particular the 76mm artillery that we just talked about when taking advantage of the Steel Wall rule.  This just allows you to move your heavy and medium guns as if they were light guns which means that they can keep  up with your infantry moving 6″ a turn.

Volley Fire:

This is an interesting rule. It doesn’t actually benefit your artillery rules in any way except for the fact that the Soviet artillery is often direct firing instead of firing bombardments. This rule grants re-rolls to almost all gun teams (aside from AA and HMG teams) and Self Propelled guns (again aside from the vehicle MGs)

I believe the place that I have seen this used most effectively is with the God of War artillery battery where the 8 76mm guns advance with the infantry and then get into a position to use volley fire to dig out enemy infantry and gun teams.

The other place is with medium mortars. Medium mortars are beyond cheap for the Soviets and with a ROF of 2 and Direct Fire fire power of 3+ they can be devastating when using volley fire.

If you can utilize the SU-122 then this rule becomes just beyond incredible. The Light Self Propelled artillery piece that is the SU-122 has the amazing ability to volley fire its ROF 2 FP 2+ Breakthrough gun! This means that you are re-rolling to hit under 16″, but you are also giving the enemy infantry and gun teams no saves! I have watched the most well trained and fearless troops vaporize to a platoon of these guns rolling into position on an enemy strong point.

I feel that I should stop talking about this rule as it is so applicable and has so many combinations that we could talk for ever about them, however hopefully these three will give you a good idea of some of the places to take advantage of it.

No Required Observer:

This might seem an odd thing to list as an advantage but I feel it is necessary to mention. If you have very little intention of firing bombardments with your artillery then it can be useful to save those 15 points for more guns! Not much more to it than that.

Lets examine how to best use your different artillery weapons Now!

Medium Mortars:

These are rather interesting. Most people tend to overlook them. Even I found that I often overlooked them. However, my friend convinced to give them a second look and I am happy that I have. First of all they are dirt cheap for a massive 1 foot squared bombardment. This might seem like not much considering they are only AT 2 and FP 6, but when you are blowing up a square foot of the board for minimal point it can be interesting and more useful than you would imagine.

However, where they truly shine is in direct fire. These great little guns with a direct firepower of 3+ also get the volleyfire rule! This means that if you pull them up, dig in and start volleyfiring you can begin to really annihilate dug in positions of your enemies. I find these are a great addition that your opponent writes off as a non-threat most of the time.

Heavy Mortars (120mm):

I am a a huge fan of heavy mortars for all nations except the US. You have probably started to guess and will continue to see with our look into artillery for the Germans as well next month. Considering smoke is never a consideration for the Soviet forces I find that Heavy Mortars show even stronger for Soviets than most nationalities! Having a cheap AT 3 FP 3+ and a re-roll on the first range in attempt makes these mortars not pay for things like a gun shield or direct fire capabilities. This leaves them with a great bombardment ability for a bargain amount of points. These don’t have much to talk about in terms of how to use them. I would likely take 6 minimum to get re-rolls and make up for the fact that they are usually trained. I tend to go for re-rolls over double wide most of the time but that is mostly a personal preference.

Heavy Mortars (160mm):

What can we say about these. Use them all the time, whenever you can and always! If I like heavy mortars I am completely taken by these things. The fact that you get mortars with a re-roll on the first range in attempt on an AT4 FP2+ bombardment blows my mind! The utility to use these for armour or dug in positions is incredible. I actually believe they are best used against armour. This way you can utilize the re-roll to range in on a target that is rarely gone to ground and hit it with a massive AT4 FP2+ bombardment. While they do work to dig out dug in positions I prefer them against armour or guns that are dug in in the open. The reason is that without the ability to repeat bombardments they are going to be more effective when the target is easier to range in on. Concealed and gone to ground enemies are better targets for your guns with staff teams so that they do not need to keep ranging in on those tough to find opponents. (I am specifically thinking of veterans who are concealed and gone to ground)

76mm (1927) Howitzers:

I honestly do not have much love to give these. Perhaps the only advantage I can think of is getting another cheap spotter for your bigger batteries since Soviets only get a single spotter per artillery battery regardless of the size. Otherwise the direct fire and even bombardment ability is nothing to sing about. The mortars will do the same job more efficiently due to their re-roll for first range in attempts. I would only use these for a reserve platoon that gave me an extra spotter for a larger battery.

76mm Howitzers:

I really like these little guns. While they will not accomplish much with their bombardments the shear amount of direct fire AT and firepower of 3+ can accomplish quite a bit. Since they are able to move while the larger 122mm Howitzers fire bombardments you are not forced to leave them in place if you do not want to. Rolling up the guns is specifically designed for these batteries. I have seen many people provide devastating fire by utilizing the volley fire rule after pulling these guns up into position of the enemy and then letting volley fire and a FP 3+ clear out the enemy. The fact that they can also join the bombardment to create an AT 4, FP 5+ bombardment is not terrible. It allows the Soviets to get a massive square foot template of decent artillery for a bargain cost again.

122mm Howitzers:

These are some fantastic guns! The Soviets lack of smoke is more than made up for with better firepower! There is not much to say about these other than if running them along with your Heavy mortars (especially the 160mm ones) then use this to hit static targets that are dug in because the staff team will lend a hand there while the mortars hit the moving targets.

When you combine these with some 76mm guns you end up with a great platoon. It has numbers to help with break tests and raw firepower as well a flexibility. What more could a Soviet commander ask for! You can also use the 76mm howitzers as a bit of a meat shield to take the hits on your 76mm guns before taking hits on your 122mm howitzers. Have to love the Soviet shields!

152mm Howitzers:

These are your standard hit em hard guns. Not much difference or advantage to any other nations big guns. If anything they are a bit lack luster in comparison only because they benefit from no special rules. However, they are still great guns for digging out some heavily entrenched positions. Honestly, I would prefer a 122mm / 76mm combination howitzer battery most of the time. The flexibility of the combo is stronger than the increase in AT by 1 and FP by 1 that the 152mm guns give in my opinion.

203mm Howitzers:

I wish I could write more but I haven’t used nor seen this used yet. They seem really great in terms of raw power though!

Katyusha:

These are great in terms of being able to dig out enemy entrenched positions. Unfortunately I find them to be significantly less useful for much of anything else. Since they only get an AT of 2 they are not going to hurt armoured vehicles much. However the cheap 4+ firepower is great. I find these are best used for two reasons.

  1. A small mobile artillery battery that can be used for reserves.
  2. A way to get a combination or artillery battery and AA platoon onto the table for a single platoon choice. I often look to take the 37mm AA with this platoon as it gives me an artillery battery as well as AA in a single platoon! Love that flexibility!

Katyusha’s are fragile as all heck though! Get them behind something and hide them. If they are in the open then all kinds of artillery, long range firepower and even closer range mg fire from recce troops will ruin there day. The advantage of this vulnerability is that they are an absolute steal for points. If you can protect them I find that you will always get your money’s worth out of them!

General Ideas and Conclusions!

The number one general rule I follow is that if I can take AT rifles in my artillery or gun platoons then I do. The reason is twofold.

  1. They can even out numbers to help with motivation checks as I start to take losses.
  2. This is the most important, the AT rifles are gun teams and so can be used to take hits on gun teams before your main batteries. This keeps the big guns firing. Some people will call foul, but I see this not as them jumping in front of the bigger guns but rather that the crew will move to the bigger gun if the crew has perished.

Soviet artillery has a couple shinning stars in my opinion. The Soviets get incredible mortar teams. Medium mortars with volley fire is fantastic and the heavy (especially 160mm) mortars are devastating. The other incredible strength is the formally known “God of War” battery. Having both 76mm, 122mm Howitzers and AT rifles provide excellent flexibility and ground coverage with medium AT assets through the use of the Roll up the Guns special rule.

As always discuss things in our tactics forum here.

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