Comparative Values of Soviet Forces and How to Beat the High Cost of Waging War, Part I

by Kevin Roust

The Axis economy in TitE is fairly simple: With few units in the Force Pool, the Axis plies their Resource Points (RPs) to improve reduced units on the map or rebuild them from the Force Pool when necessary.

Soviet Resource Track circa 1941

Conversely, the Soviets must balance building new units, improving existing ones, and constructing defenses; this fascinating dynamic is the focus of this two-part article. In this first installment, we look at the Soviet Summer of 1941. The key resource for the Soviets at this time is Personnel Points (PPs) which are used in several distinct ways to:

  • Improve (reduced) 4-5-4 Rifle Infantry Army units to 8-4 Rifle Infantry Army units.
  • Improve Infantry Corps units to 4-5-4 Rifle Infantry Army units.
  • Build and place new ?-4 Rifle Infantry Corps units.
  • Rebuild eliminated Guards Infantry Corps units.
  • Build Specialist units (particularly Cavalry Corps units).
  • Build new Garrison units and/or Improved Defense markers.
  • Build Headquarters markers, Air units, and Air Defenses (Flak).

The table below summarizes the Combat Strengths (both Attack and Defense) gained for each Personnel Point (PP) spent building or improving these various combat units. Guards and Specialist units are cheap sources of Combat Strength but have limited availability. Among regular units, improving a 4-5-4 Army to an 8-4 Army provides the biggest benefit per PP.



Unit Type

Attack
Strength
per PP

Defense
Strength
per PP



Notes

3-(4) Guards Cavalry Corps

6

6

Guards/Specialist

4-4 Guards Infantry Corps

4

4

Guards

2-(4) Cavalry Corps

4

4

Specialist

2-4 Airborne Corps

4

4

Specialist

8-4 Infantry Army

4

3

 

4-5-4 Infantry Army

1 to 3

2 to 4

Depends upon Strengths
of Infantry Corps Raised

?-4 Infantry Corps

2.4 average

2.7 average

At Start

?-4 Infantry Corps

2.1 average

2.6 average

Militia added

?-4 Infantry Corps

1.9 average

2.3 average

Conscripts added

(2) Garrison unit

0

4

1PP per turn max


Big Armies to Counterattack

Soviet 8-4 ArmyYou routinely find the greatest Combat Strength bang for the buck improving reduced-strength Soviet Rifle Infantry Armies to full-strength. That incremental 1 PP adds 4 Attack Strength and 3 Defense Strength to a 2-step Soviet 4-5-4 Rile Infantry Army. A full-strength Soviet 8-4 Army unit is excellent for building a front line, both offensively and defensively. A pair of German Infantry Corps attacking from two different hexes musters a 3:2 attack against a line of 8-4s; even pair of Panzer Corps and/or German Infantry Armies can only obtain initial odds of 3:1 (giving them a 50% chance of dislodging that 8-4). Meanwhile, a line of 8-4s can, from two hexes, bring 2:1 odds against a German Infantry Corps and 3:2 odds against a Panzer Corps. Adding a single Soviet Cavalry unit to their attack increases it from 16 (8+8) to 18 Attack (8+8+2) Strength which improves the odds versus a German Infantry Corps' 6 Defense Strength or a Panzer Corps' 9 Defense Strength to 3:1 and 2:1, respectively.

A Soviet 8-4 Rifle Infantry Army is an interesting defender at an Isolated City hex. The Axis has a reasonable chance to take that city in one turn if they dedicate several Axis Minor units or German 4-6-4 Infantry Corps to the task. Should that attack fail, however, that 8-4 Army unit (or its remnants) might be able to use what is left of their supply to attempt a breakout. The Axis will take the city given enough time, but their units surrounding it would have been much more helpful at the front. In addition, there is the tangible benefit to ordering that Soviet unit to "die in place," spitefully keeping that City hex (and thus its rail lines and Air Base) out of Axis hands if only for another turn. That is a very Stalin-esque order to give when the Soviets can afford the losses and the Axis can’t afford the time.

Although Soviet 8-4 Rifle Infantry Army units provide a balanced concentration of combat strength and put 3 steps in their hex giving it some combat staying power, the need to defend a long line from Leningrad to Kiev to Odessa means that a complete line of 8-4s is unachievable and the Soviet player must pick their spots to enhance key sectors or hexes along the front line to full -4 status. Even with the Soviet's extensive economy and vast initial resource reserves, they do not have enough PPs to fill that entire long front line with full-strength 8-4 Armies, especially after the initial Blitzkrieg! losses.

Think about massing 8-4 Armies in key areas when and where you see a good counterattack opportunity. In general, however, they are too expensive to stand around as placeholders along the front line.

 

Reduced Armies to Hold

Soviet 4-5-4 Army

Upgrading a (1 step) ?-4 Rifle Infantry Corps unit to a (reduced-strength, 2 step) 4-5-4 Rifle Infantry Army seems a poor investment, adding roughly 1.5 Attack Strength and 2.5 Defense Strength in exchange for 1 PP. However, that 4-5-4 Army has two significant benefits:

  1. The Soviet player can wisely focus on improving lower-quality Rifle Infantry Corps units (e.g., 2-4s, 1-2-4 Militia, and 1-4 Conscripts) to generate the most bang-for-the-buck while leaving higher-quality Rifle Infantry Corps units (e.g., 3-4s) unimproved (they are good enough to fend for themselves in combat).
  2. A Soviet 4-5-4 Rifle Infantry Army unit is 2 glorious steps and therefore cannot be overrun.

The standard model (reduced-strength, 2 step) 4-5-4 Rifle Infantry Army unit is a decent unit for front-line coverage. It generally defends by itself against full-strength German Infantry Corps units attacking from two hexes at 2:1 odds; and when camped out to take advantage of defensive terrain and/or Improved Defense markers lowering the odds, things look better. Note that a spare 3-4 or 2-3-4 Soviet Rifle Infantry Corps added to their stack makes them, defensively, as strong as a full-strength (8-4) Soviet Rifle Infantry Army unit – which is great when you're trying to build respectable strong points along the line. Their weakness is that 4-5-4 Rifle Infantry Army units are too weak to effectively counterattack from two hexes along the front line; they bring only 8 Attack Strength thus and fail to achieve even a 3:2 against an Axis 6 Defense Strength Infantry unit or 1:1 versus a Panzer Corps.

A 4-5-4 Rifle Infantry Army unit is also a good choice for a second line, containing Axis breakouts with units that cannot be overrun during the Axis Regular Movement Step. Then, on the following Soviet turn, raising those 4-5-4s to 8-4s (or simply bringing them to bear as 4-5-4s) against overextended Panzer Corps could get you odds of 2:1 or so (or 1:1 against a marauding Panzer Army unit pushing through).

The Soviet 4-5-4 Rifle Infantry Army unit neatly fills most defensive positions in 1941 (and throughout the war). They are susceptible to concentrated Axis Combat Phase attacks from Panzer units, especially 24-16-[5] Panzer Army units (with or without Axis Air Support), but are a mainstay of the Soviet front line when facing enemy Infantry units.

Use Soviet 4-5-4 Rifle Infantry Army units on the front line (particularly where the Panzers aren't) and key hexes in rear areas (particularly where the Panzers are).

 

Mystery Meat to Fill Gaps

Soviet Untried Infantry CorpsLike Soviet 4-5-4 Rifle Infantry Army units, Soviet Rifle Infantry Corps units also seem a poor investment. At the beginning of Barbarossa, the average Attack Strength of these unknown units in the "Mystery Meat" Force Pool is 2.4, with an average Defense Strength of 2.7. Worse, these 1 step Rifle Infantry Corps units are vulnerable to overruns and, worse still, their pool quickly dilutes when:

  • The Militia Mobilized card adds six 1-2-4 Militia units (reducing the average Attack Strength to 2.1 and the average Defense Strength to 2.6).
  • The Labor Battalions card adds six 1-4 Conscripts units (reducing the average Attack Strength to 1.9 and the average Defense Strength to 2.3).

Despite their weaknesses, management of these Corps units is important to a successful defense of the Motherland. In play, a Soviet Rifle Infantry Corps unit is the necessary building block to create a 4-5-4 Army unit. The untried ?-4 Mystery Meat Corps units are vital because:

  • Two of them, stacked together, block overruns and, in a secondary line, can contain enemy breakthroughs.
  • More importantly, untried Soviet Rifle Infantry Corps units in the Force Pool are needed when a Soviet 4-5-4 Rifle Infantry Army unit is reduced, a Soviet Early Mech Corps unit is voluntarily disbanded (rule 15.1), or when certain Event cards (Militia, Conscripts) are played.

Sound deployment of Soviet Rifle Infantry Corps units includes:

  1. Making sure that there are several untried units in the Force Pool (for breakdowns and playing the Militia and Conscripts cards.
  2. That there are enough on the map not stacked with Army units each turn so that they can receive 1 PP each and grow into Soviet 4-5-4 Rile Infantry Army units.
  3. Consider stacking strong (obviously revealed) Soviet Rifle Infantry Corps units (i.e., 3-4s, 2-3-4s, or the 1 Guards) with 4-5-4 army units on the front to form solid hex defenses.
  4. Weaker Infantry corps (2-4s, Militia, and Conscripts) can stack together in the rear as breakthrough blockers and/or are the best value when improved (one per hex) into 4-5-4 Army units (which will greatly help them swarm against the Axis' breakthrough boys).

During Barbarossa (June IV through September IV, 1941), pay attention to the Soviet Early Mech Corps units. A low-strength Early Mech Corps unit can (and probably should) be disbanded (per 15.1) into 1 Equipment Point (EP) plus a ?-4 Rifle Infantry Corps (providing an Infantry unit that can build up into a 4-5-4 Rifle Infantry Army). Think of this as receiving 1 free PP of Infantry (plus 1 free EP) that you can consider when balancing your ?-4 and 4-5-4 spending. Finally, be prepared for the first week of October 1941; all remaining on-map Soviet Early Mech Corps units must disband into ?-4 Rifle Infantry Corps units (+1 EP), so you should make sure the Force Pool is adequately stocked with ?-4s.

Soviet Rifle Infantry Corps units are the indispensable building blocks of the Red Army. Steadily rotate these Corps units from the Soviet Force Pool, to the rear (untried), to potentially growing into frontline 4-5-4 Army units.

 

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