Today the bear will take a look at the air assault battalion a.k.a. the Afghansty. Famous for their struggle in the war in Afghanistan (December 1979 to February 1989). They earned their place of elite status in the Russian army. They fought with air superiority until someone armed the Insurgents with Stingers and the training to use them (I'm not pointing fingers but we know who did). Don't worry, karma got them back when the country that armed the insurgents had to go back in there and try themselves.
1.0 Unstoppable force Vs Immovable object
When you come up with lists that Focus very heavily on one arm in the "Combined Arms" structure, Bear would like to warn you that it's 'high risk, high rewards'. The gamble you are making is that the opponent will not have enough AA shots to clear out your Hinds and Frogfoots. That being said, it does happen from time to time that an opponent has a certain phobia and brings three or 4 AA platoons. Roll with the punches and take it on the chin! Bear will award you a "Hero of the Soviet Union" medal!
You are placing 45 points of Air units on the table. In contrast, an Average NATO list will spend between 6 points (4 Rapiers) to about 15 points ( 6 ADATS or 6 Gepards). While you will sometimes face a paranoid commander who brings a ton of AA and shutdown your list, it should be rare and it comes with territory of betting everything on control of the air.
If victory was assured, no one would celebrate it. So lets get on with the lists!
2.1.1 List layout
The general idea was to have a full complement of 8 Hinds via the Afghansty formation. You would also spend a further 21 points on 6 Frogfoots. This gives you a total of 45 points on Air units, of which 1 arrives on the table only 50% of the time. Assuming you play at 100 point games, this equates to almost 50% of your army!
You would then bring along the Afghansty veterans which will deal the knock out punch after air superiority is gained. These should be taken in two medium size platoons. Both should have the Spigot option as the guided missiles reach really help later on.
2.1.2 Support options
After spending on your force, you would be looking at a core of about 73 points. 27 points isn't a lot to play with and I suggest you use it to take minimum size platoons to buff up your platoon count, you are currently at 5. The most obvious choices to get are Gaskins, Shilkas and a BMP 2 recon platoon (spearhead never hurts) and a final small BTR platoon comes with 2 more Spigots and a Gremlin team if you so wish.
You should try to hit at least 10 platoon as the Afghansty have a special rule that when reserves are in play, Air assault units must be on the table before any other units get to start on the table. With 4 air assault units, that means best case scenario, is your two infantry platoons and 2 Hind units and the Frogfoots.
2.2.1 starting out the game (No Reserves)
With the use of your spearhead and deployment of your >BMP 2 recon platoon, you want to forward deploy your Afghansty to press forward with your BTR to a secondary position with its two spigots in a good position to take some free shots at Support vehicles. Your spigots' priority should be to target AA units, if at all possible. Start to whittle down your opponents AA capabilities. Do not move your Afghansty from foxholes until you gain air superiority. Loiter your hinds off table until the "Darken the skies" step
2.2.2 Starting out the game (With Reserves)
This is the toughest spot to be in. You are only going to have 5 platoons on and because of the Air Assault Battalion, those will be your Afghansty and the 3 Hind platoons. Your hinds should be kept off until all your Air units can hit the table which includes your 4+ roll for yoour frogfoots. Your timing as a commander comes into play now. you have to weigh your decision to shoot against the ability of your opponent to punish you for it. Dropping your 5+ to hit if you are concealed and GTG to a 4+ is a big difference. Do it only if you've got a clear shot at your opponents AA capability Os equally dangerous support vehicles. Otherwise, keep your head down and hide it out. Keep yourself alive and rolling for reserves to bring your Frogfoots on first. Loiter your Hinds off table until the "Darken the skies" step
2.3 DARKEN THE SKIES
You should continue doing the above until you roll for your Strike Aircraft to come in and succeed. Once you do, it's go time! Place your Frogfoots in a position to strike AA units. The most dangerous ones. These should have been peppered with Spigot fire and therefore less potent. Your Hinds need to be placed more carefully
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PLACING HINDS
- Infantry guns that are not guided can shoot at Hinds. (I have lost one to a HQ G3 rifle because i thought it would never happen.... It did! Screw you, Melvin!)
- Remember that you outrange MGs so place your hinds outside of 16" where possible. Even if their AA mgs such as 0.5 Cal are 20" range, you should be out of 16" as they do not ignore the penalty for long range and that just cuts the number of hits you would take by 25%. Remember to ask your opponent on AA range and then place your units accordingly.
- Have multiple options! Remember that declaration of targets is done after an opponent conducts AA. So place the hinds in spots where they threaten multiple units to give nothing away. You want your opponent to try and split up AA fire amongst all your units as it means he is unlikely to kill platoons which will lessen your Victory score.
- Concealment! Remember that ground units within 4" of intervening tall terrain shoots at Air Units, concealed. Take every opportunity you can as every unit you save, is another shot at the capitalist!
2.4 Order of Fire for your Aircraft
Remember that a unit only get to fire AA once. That means that the first unit will get the most shot at it normally. This is why, in the previous step I advised to place the Frogfoots in the most dangerous spot and lined up to kill the AA. The drawback of bringing the Afghansty is that they can only bring a platoon of 4 Hinds and not 6. How i measure a units survivability is to determine how many AA shots of FP 4+ it takes before average rolls will kill you. For Example:
A Hind is hit on a 3+ (0.66) , gets a 4+ save (0.5), and then needs a 4+ Fp to be put out of action (0.5). This means that it requires 6 shots to kill a Hind. Considering a Frogfoot has the same save, a Frogfoot and a Hind is roughly the same thing when being shot at.
Since 6 hits averages one Hind down, 18 Shots will pretty much force a platoon morale check.
That's why the order of fire is so critical, you want the Frogfoots to fire first because they need an average of 30 shots before they have to roll for platoon morale. If, by some fluke of luck, it does happen, and you are forced to roll a platoon morale, strike aircraft leave the table and you don't have to call them back on and risk losing the whole platoon.
After the Frogfoots have weathered the AA, take your shots at the enemy's most potent AA. Your Hinds should then fire to break up the remaining AA shots like infantry units and AA mgs that might not have fired at the Frogfoots.
With 14 Air units on the table, you should have cleared out 80 - 100 % of the enemies AA capability, minus infantry teams. You should have even, given a little luck, been able to clear out some of his big scary units like MBTS. Every NATO MBT is worth its weight in Soviet blood (that's a lot of volunteers who won't get to throw themselves in front of MG fire for the motherland today!)
2.5 Mop up
After you have cleared out his AA, you will find that a once resplendent NATO force with its proud MBTs (if any) is now off balance. His loss of MBT support means that he probably cannot rearrange his defence easily and will have to move infantry units to stop your main thrust.
If and when he has moved his infantry and support vehicles to stop your Afghansty which are now moving out in the open towards an objective, use the Hinds with their higher skills to bombard them with their one shot salvos. Infantry in the open are the only real target that it can be used for. And it is why you paid more for these Hinds with better skill. Even against support vehicles, bailing them isn't a bad option as every less shot against your infantry is a god send.
You should continue to harass the enemy by destroying his back line and keep moving Air units that are in danger of rolling platoon morale off the board to maintain victory points. In your final push/assault with your Afghansty, remember that a unit that fired AA cannot Defensive fire. Use your hinds to gatling gun enemies at close range to lure out some AA shots before the final charge. It might not work against a veteran player but it does sap morale for players to do nothing but watch your Hinds rake their lines with fire while awaiting the Soviet charge!
I hope this has been insightful on how to play an Afghansty force. The article did get much longer than I thought it would be. If you are interested in getting this force I do suggest looking at our Hind Bundle. Its pretty good value for money and can be found here. It also comes with the Afghansty cards which is pretty handy to keep around.
The question is really about whether you can bring down enough of the opponents AA. If you gain air supremacy early, you then can pick off at his support vehicles at will. If the opponent doesnt have valuable things to shoot at, it would make your Early domination both costly and ineffective if your opponent has a disproportionate amount of infantry which can largely ignore aircraft.
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