27 November 2011

SoTR: Polish vs Soviet Gain Ground AAR

Played Secrets of the Third Reich a couple of days ago, so of course I brought the camera to document the game. I had not played SoTR since the Swedish tournament so on one hand I looked forward to it - on the other I was perhaps not in my best gaming mood that day.

We played 50RP per side, I decided to run my UK/Polish list - mainly to break in the "Gracie" mecha which had not seen any SoTR battle yet. My friend ran his hardass "Soviet drop troopers, which always mean a lot of trouble. I don't think I have ever won against them no matter which platoon I've been running against them.

Polish army list:

Command squad
Rifle squad A with packed LMG and anti tank rifle
Rifle squad B
Sniper team
2x Anti tank rifle teams
Cromwell tank: ablative armor
Tankette: small/light armor/hull mounted HMG
"Gracie" class mecha: small, light armor, hmg, light AT gun, ablative armor

Soviet list

5 Drop trooper squads: Flamethrowers, packed LMG's, anti mech rifles, Assault rifles with rifle grenades, panzerfaust's

2 Aufklärer squads, assault rifles and anti tank rifles


Being aware about the abilities of his "monster list" my friend had removed the "Drop" rules and replaced them with infiltrate instead. And I got to agree that them not appearing in your deployment zone annihilating 1 unit upon entering was a change of pace. Still the Drop Trooper platoon is just overwhelming with the amount of special weapons and amount of firepower per unit. I had no delusions about winning, running out to grab some land would result in a ridiculous crossfire and 1 fireteam less for the Polish. Instead I figured I would sit back and let the stronger platoon approach me instead  - so if things went beyond expectations I could move out and claim some victory points.

So as the battle started the Polish infantry mainly moved around in their own deployment to move into better firing positions while the vehicles parked themselves and started hammering the approaching wave of heavy troopers moving around in hard cover. Initially over the first 2 turns casualties were few on both sides but there were more killed Soviet heavy troopers than Polish infantry. On the other hand the Polish vehicles had done very little damage to the enemy, and at the end of turn 2 they came under fire.

The Cromwell took a frontal hit from a panzerfaust which failed to penetrate, but then the crew bailed out as a anti tank rifle round pierced the armor and wounded one of the crewmen. My usual luck with the vehicle crew Cool Checks.

So as the Soviets approached the center of the table, they came towards me with 1 Drop trooper units and their 2 Aufklärer units on my left flank. To meet them I had 2 rifle squad fire teams, an anti tank rifle team my command sitting at the back and a 2 snipers. I also had my tankette on that flank. So moving up my own flank to meet the approaching Soviets casualties started to pile up on both sides in both killed and wounded.

Sniper head shoots inflicted upon the Soviets, and my dashing tankette moving up boldly to spray the Drop Troopers with HMG fire - ending up destroyed. And as the Polish fire teams were decimated the remaining soldiers resorted to throwing grenades at the Soviets. Failing their "coming back" test the Soviets were mauled by the explosions - the two Aufklärer squads all but wiped out. Too bad the Drop Troopers ended up mostly wounded and not completely knocked out.

The Cromwell crew climbed back inside their tank, and during the next turn started firing the guns once again, picking off a few Drop Troopers but then taking another penetrating hit which immobilized the vehicle - and bailed out the crew yet again....

The Polish right flank was going nowhere now. The broken down tank parked in the alley while the flanking fire teams had little chance of meeting the Drop Trooper crossfire on equal terms and started falling apart when they came under pressure. The last Polish vehicle, the Gracie class mecha was hit by an anti tank rifle which damaged the HMG module - meaning a 4+ had to be rolled every time the HMG was about to be used or it would not function. This prevented the mecha from helping out the left flank two turns in a row. In the end it moved forward and parked itself near a building to protect its side while firing at the Drop Troopers in a nearby building. The mecha was hit by enemy AT and immobilized.

As the game entered turn 5 the situation was pretty hopeless. Despite having dealt a pretty steep body count on the Soviet platoon the Polish force had lost a little over half its force. The Polish remnants however were much weaker in terms of firepower and durability than their heavily armored and armed to the teeth Soviet counterparts. And with the surviving vehicles stuck in place there would be no chance of regrouping and consolidating what remained of the Polish forces. So in order to save what was left of the platoon the Polish commander withdrew. Better to lose the fight with some men left, than to become annihilated.


So the battle ended a unsurprising Polish defeat. I really don't know how to tackle that Drop Troop platoon. The durability and firepower each enemy squad has considering the relative low point cost makes the platoon nigh impossible to meet with a "regular" platoon. You not only have to overcome firing into hard cover for the most of the time, but then you have to kill the Drop Troopers by rolling 4+ to wound and a 6 to kill.

Meanwhile the Drop troops can split their fire as they have a nice mix of weapons and hit several enemy units at once. And with 5 Drop Trooper squads it is just overwhelming. With optical range finders and twin linked panzerfausts they hit more accurately and harder with grenades and RPG's making vehicles easy pickings or catching infantry in large blasts.

The problem for my opponent is that he has no other force painted, so it is either meeting this platoon or to play against unpainted metal minis. Thus the choice becomes rather easy, for me at least.

My opponent also asked about the names painted on the vehicles. Don't think you can see them on the pictures however.

The tank bears the name "Pilsudski" which was pretty much the founding father of the 2nd Polish Republic after WW1 and who led the fight against the Russians in the 1919-21 Polish-Bolshevik war.

The mecha "Pulaski", a Polish revolutionary who along with Kosciuzsko fought in a rebellion against the Russians during the 18th century and then migrated to the US and took part int he American War of Independence. Considered to be the founder of the US cavalry.

The tankette, "Dabrowski", bears the name after the general of the first Polish legion fighting for Napoleon, a force made up of Polish soldiers in exile raised during Napoleons early Italy campaign.


  1. I am surprised you don't consider the Soviets broken. From the reports it seems SoTR is not the most balanced game.

  2. The Drop Trooper list is seriously broken. It, together with the Siberian Subhuman list, were two fanmade armies that somehow made their way into the expansion book without proper testing and changes in points and wargear. So when played without any tweak at all, the Drop trooper army usually wins by turn 2-3.

    Not my favorite opposition to say the least, but as I mentioned my friend only has this one force and a bunch of unpainted regular Soviets.

  3. Lovely figs mate!

    I agree the drop troopers are a bit 'uber' but then again if your opponent is a newbie then it adds a level of challenge. Blood Bowl does the same thing deliberately through the tiering system. My you lad usually plays 'good teams" like Orcs and Undead while I take those more challenging one like Vampires and Ogres.

  4. Sounds like you should be starting your games with the crew outside their tank, so that when they start getting shot at, they'll re-consider their position. :D
    Soviets in high-tech drop armour aside, your reports got me quite interested in the game and would love to try it out. Is there a demo version somewhere to download to your knowledge?
    Also, have you tried any of the other WWW2 games, such as the AE:WW2 or Geheimkrieg?

  5. Haha I can only guess that every single vehicle crew in my collection suffers from claustrophobia looking at their performance chart. Not only do they love to bail out, but also refuse to get back in!

    The game is great when you use the backbone platoons in the core rulebook or even the historical 1944 OoB for Bellum Europa posted on the SoTR forum and which can be downloaded for free.

    There were some kind of starter rules up a long time ago but I don't think there are any left. I would advice on contacting West Wind to check with them. But to my knowledge there aren't any starter rules which is a bummer.

    As for trying out other WeirdWW2 games, not had the chance. No one around here plays any other Weird WW2 game.From what I gather AE:WW2 is more based around a single squad/a couple of models. Secrets ot the third Reich is based on a platoon level scale. Usually some 30-50 models per side, vehicles included.

  6. ... oh, and then there is also the Nuts Weird War version War Without End and the upcoming Dust Warfare.
    I'll see if I can get some demoes for them though, thanks for the tip.
    How easy is it to create one's own units and heroes/characters in SoTR? I saw it has a cool system for mecha creation, and that people "re-theme" the existing characters from the book. But how about if I wanted to include something that isn't there, like the Yaga Baba in the Russian list?

  7. The mech builder is pretty damn amazing. Basically you buy components and modules for a mecha, such as size, armor class, weapons, additional equipment such as better engines etc.

    As for units, once you have played SoTR for a couple of games and got familiar with how things work, it is fairly easy to make up your own stuff and price it accordingly. You can often use existing units as a guideline for what you want to achieve, be it a squad or a character. Simply look over the cost of existing stuff and what they can do and use some of their rules when you write your own stuff.

    For instance, I would most likely check out the Swedish partisan list monster unit "Rå" (forest nymph of sorts from the Doomsday expansion) and use her guidelines for a Baba Yaga version.

  8. All that sounds great! Now to find some testing options, before I take the plunge ...
    I have all kinds of "fluffy" ideas such as an Imperial themed Russian army (soviet tech, but prettier color schemes and insignias - yeah, WW2 purists look away :P). :D


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