World War 3: soviets is a latest offering from Battlefront for Team Yankee, updating soviet forces in Western Europe to a much deadlier incarnation!
The first of this series of articles introduces players to the new WW3 Soviet forces, and details the new army building requirements in line with the American and British books, which is a significant departure from the previous Red Thunder book.
The (new) invasion of Europe
With Team Yankee being a work of speculative history, the underlying reasons for the Soviet invasion of Western Europe are at the end of the day, a flight of fantasy.
Real Life context and possible reasons for invasion
Following the tensions of the real life cold war and the Euromissile crisis (1977-1987) , the policy of "Detente" between the Soviet union and NATO/USA rapidly detoriated after fundamental disagreements in SALT II talks. The post-Brezhnev committee adopted a hardline stance towards NATO after the introduction and deployment of new SS-20 ICBMs in 1978. The range of these new nuclear missiles posed a serious threat to Western Europe. Similarly, the Carter administration in USA pushed for the increased deployment of nuclear missiles in Western Europe after the so-called "double-track decision" as tensions rised.
On the brink of nuclear war, the ‘Euromissile crisis’ provoked enormous anti-nuclear demonstrations in Europe, particularly in the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands and West Germany. Under popular pressure, West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt advocated uncoupling Europe’s forces from those of the United States, provoking an intervention from Britain and France, which fought to keep the balance of strategic forces within Europe on par with the Soviets and saw Germany's decision as a moment of weakness.
Ultimately, the hardline stances by both superpowers persisted till 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev took the position of Soviet General Secretary. Gorbachev pushed for the normalization of relations with USA and NATO with the resumption of the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty) talks (which were suspended in 1983), leading to the end of the Euromissile crisis.
Presumably, it is prior to this point that the Team Yankee universe diverges itself from history, and assumes that the hardliner government of Yuri Andropov / Chernenko retained power. Without the de-escalation of nuclear tension, this would provide the impetus for conventional war and the hope that Soviet forces would overwhelm Germany and the Netherlands within 7 days (the basis of the "7 days to the rhine" plan) in the event of a Nuclear war outbreak. Thus, the backdrop is set for World War 3 to begin, in the valleys of the Fulda Gap...
Soviet force diagram comparison
The New force diagram is compared against the old Red Thunder diagram. Apart from the additions of the new formations and support units, the most obvious change is the complete removal of the division support options in exchange for the 'black box' support platoons, bringing the new book in line with their WW3 counterpart books.
For Soviet players, this represents a rather drastic departure from old list building choices, as you may no longer chuck in an additional tank company or infantry company like the old book, but are instead restricted to taking choices from the force chart which are not available in your chosen formation(s). Thankfully, with the changes in unit availability, this is not as big a drawback as you would imagine, but it does eliminate the very popular addition of a second infantry platoon to a tank formation via the old force diagram.
Overall, the new force diagram still boasts the soviet's greatest strength, which is unparalled flexibility in list building choices, but it also cuts down on potentially cheesy combos. Additionally, with all the new toys available, expect to see a reduction of tank and BMP carparks in general (unless you're the T55 guy), which makes for a less-cluttered playing field.
Apart from the Afghansty special rules which we already know and love (to hate), The new book introduces 3 new special rules which affect your list building decisions. First and foremost is the RPG-7VR tax, which will pretty much be a mandatory selection for Soviet players moving forwards.
For the low cost of 2 points per platoon, you can put the fear of vodka into NATO players as they can no longer roll over your troops with impunity, especially given the RPG-7VR has FP2+. However, this also means that each infantry platoon you take will have to upgrade to the RPG-7VR, which will come up to a 6-10 point hike for most infantry based-lists.
The other feature of the RPG-7VR and the new AT-11 Sniper missile is the addition of the Tandem Warhead feature, which bypasses ERA protection. While Soviet players may wonder why this function exists in the very same book that ERA armor is introduced to their own forces, this makes for some unique interactions when planning a red-on-red engagement (which happened IRL in chechnya). Presumably, ERA protection should also make an appearance in other nations in the future, especially the other WARPACT nations and France.
As for ERA, this rule has existed since Team Yankee V1, so soviet players will finally rejoice now that it shows up on 1 unit in their forces. Apart from being an inferior version of Chobham thanks to the tandem warhead rule, there is nothing much to write home about. At least Soviet players can happily roll over carl gustavs and RPG-7s without putting their T80s at risk.
Key new units
Already introduced in the WW3 starter, the T80 represents the pinnacle of Soviet armored might, and allows Soviet players the luxury of having an affordably priced tank that is impervious to most ground based ATGMs and guns with an astounding FA20. Susceptible only to AT23 and above, the T80 is a serious threat to NATO ground forces. The AT-11 Sniper missile is a welcome addition, but the 1pt upgrade per tank makes it very pricy. On the other hand, mine plows are pretty much a 1-point tax for the T80 as they will be the primary vehicle for breakthroughs and assaults.
To support your new super tanks, players will also want the Tunguska to fend off pesky helicopters and strike aircraft. Although astoundingly pricy for a soviet support choice, the Tunguska offers 36inch AA gun coverage (albeit at a disappointing FP5+) and most importantly, the new SA-19 AA missile which mulches aircraft on a 3+. Tunguskas are only available as an integrated formation option, so they will be relatively limited on the field.
Much has been said about the BMP3 Recce in online forums, so instead we will discuss the other BMP3 option, the motor rifle platoon. The most noticable point is that the smallest motor rifle platoon only costs 1 point more than the full Recce platoon, so it makes it a cheap and cost-effective option if you need a small platoon with serious firepower to babysit an objective. IRL intended as a support vehicle to BMP1 and BMP2 battalions, the BMP3 is exhorbitant in large numbers and will still die to anything larger than an autocannon, so caution is advised if you plan to go whole hog and field the medium-large platoons. Still, for just 2 points over the BMP2 platoon, this is a decent upgrade for players wanting a BMP that can resist MG and autocannon fire well.
In our next article, we cover a unique formation, the first of it's kind in Warsaw pact forces, the Shock battalion. If you ever wanted to save some money and play the game in dark souls' mode, this is the article for you.
Editor's note: Unfortunately the FOW followup article about Bagration Soviets fell through because of a combination of writer's block and the fact that other sites were also covering the exact same topic. It's pointless to harp about the same thing, so we decided to scrap it and concentrate on getting better content out to you, our loyal readers!
About the Writer:
Eddie is an avid painter who also enjoys anime, studying military history and hopes that Girls Und Panzer will come true one day so that everyone can resolve their differences with tank Airsoft.