Czech Yourself, Before You Wreck Yourself

Czech Yourself, Before You Wreck Yourself Czech Yourself, Before You Wreck Yourself
with Chris Allen

Since their entry into the game the Czechoslovaks have been known for three things: Tanks, artillery and sweet paint jobs. With the introduction of a new edition, the only thing that didn’t get better for Czechoslovaks was the paint, but how would you improve on sweet Warsaw Pact Camouflage? 

While you might not be new to the Czechoslovak People’s Army or fighting the battle of WWIII, we’re all new to WWIII: Team Yankee. The second version of Team Yankee sees the game coming in line with many of the rules of Flames Of War version 4. What this means for players is that while the points aren’t changing, some of the units will be with rules effecting how they play on the table.

Not everything is changing, it’s more evolution then revolution with the game but it will make it easier for people who play both Flames Of War and WWIII: Team Yankee to not have to remember two rule sets. Yes there are differences but the major moving parts of both game systems it will be easier and for players to go back and forth between the two.

Of all the changes in V2, there are three that are important to players looking to play a Czechoslovak force, formation commanders, artillery and the changes to Air. These three changes came together to basically make everything about the Czechoslovaks better and more fun to play.
Czech Yourself, Before You Wreck Yourself
When people think about Czechoslovak forces in Team Yankee the most common thought is tanks, lots of tanks. Like a ton of tanks. Czechoslovak tanks are cheap, with T-72Ms coming in at under 3pts a piece and T-55AM2s under 2 pts you can put more tanks down than any other Warsaw Pact force and pretty much anyone else. Now in Team Yankee this was largely due to the fact that the Czecholsovak stats were downgraded from their Soviet brethren with a remount/rally of 5+ and a morale of 4+. Be it tanks or infantry if you were bailed or pinned, it could take a really long time for that to change, and this lead to units breaking quickly.
Formerly formation commanders could join units to bestow upon them better stats, in an attempt to stay on table, remount or even with skill rolls, but this was at the risk of losing your commander if you failed a break test and could only affect a single unit at a time. In version 2 formation commanders, as in Flames Of War, have a bubble of influence where they can assist units by granting a reroll to morale, remount and rally rolls. This lets you help multiple units a turn get back into the fight but no longer helps with skill checks. Not a huge deal for the Czechoslovaks who already sport a skill of 4+. Rerolling remount for Czechoslovak tanks is huge, it takes you from a 33% chance to remount to 50% getting you back into the fight and putting more pressure on your opponent. This also makes units pass their last stand checks 75% of the time meaning that units around their commander stay around a long time.

So what does this have to do with Czechoslovaks? Czechoslovaks can buy large companies of tanks with ease and running them up a flank together is a perfect recipe for adding a commander to. This lets players potentially run 3 companies together, with Infantry all supported by a formation commander giving rerolls. This mass of armour is a scary thing.

I’m a big fan of 6 tank companies and with the Czechoslovaks for 47 points you can have 3 companies of 6 T-72Ms and an HQ tank. For a similar T-55AM2 formation you pay only 22pts and with the ability to swap out a company of one type to the other you can really mix and match to support your playstyle.  The only problem becomes how to get all these tanks the rerolls they need to become a real powerhouse? 

There are two basic ways for any force to maximize their formation commanders support, linear and cluster formations. It really depends on what you want to do and how many units you’re trying to make it work for. Linear as the name indicates is about making rows of vehicles around the commander. One in front, one behind and one or two to each side. This can allow you to manouevre up to 6 large units around a single commander and gain the benefit of their support. The problem with linear formations is they take up a lot of space and so only really work on open table well. If you try this on a table heavy with terrain make sure you use cross here or you’ll risk losing large parts of your army to the table. Cluster lets you put platoons ‘balled’ up around your commander. Unless you’re running really small companies it’s difficult to run more than 3 in this way. But by bunching up you can get even more out of more and that’s what the Czechoslovaks are all about. With that being said there are some downsides to running all packed together. Like Air and Artillery.

Czech Yourself, Before You Wreck Yourself

Artillery is now murderous. There I said it. And it’s true. Artillery is more difficult to range in as you add +1 to your attempts to range in if your template touches terrain, but after it’s set up, they drop it like it’s hot. Spotters still make ranging in easier, and this only makes the Czechoslovakss even better as they already sport 4+ skill like much of NATO. This lets Czechoslovak players lay down barrages and move them with relative ease throughout games.

Repeat bombardments. This is where the magic happens with artillery now. Repeat bombardments make infantry teams reroll successful saves. I say again, repeat bombardments make infantry teams reroll successful saves. This means that infantry blobs, ATGM platoons and other hard to crack positions die twice as fast to artillery.

The Czechoslovaks sport three great systems to deliver artillery fires. Most people are familiar with the 2S1 from Soviet and other Warsaw Pact forces. With AT 4 and 3+ firepower the bombardment is pretty standard and for only 5 points for 3 vehicles you get a cheap reliable double threat platform as the 2S1 also has a capable AT 21 direct fire round.

The DANA SP 152mm howitzer is an amazing model, a terrific artillery piece and is honestly a reason to play a Czechoslovak list in the first place. As a wheeled self-propelled howitzer this beast is different from everything else on the table, it just looks cool. And with a 96” range, AT 4, a 2+ firepower and autoloader, this is a game changer.  Autoloader reduces  the roll needed to hit targets under a DANA bombardment by 1. This makes most NATO teams a 3 to hit, and with a 6 gun battery you could be rerolling misses, with just under 90% hit rates. Combine this with a repeat bombardments, rerolls of successful saves and 2+ firepower, you have a dominating weapon that will scare people.

The RM-70 Rocket launcher takes your BM-21 and armours it, bringing it from a 5+ unarmoured tank team to FA 1 SA 1 TA 0, giving it huge staying power and ensuring it won’t be pinned by enemy fire. While the RM-70 doesn’t have autoloader or a 2+ firepower like the DANA, it drops a massive salvo template hitting 4 times the area. This can carpet positions, and reduce whole flanks. Positioning your ranged in marker before the game on or near an objective can make people really question what they want to put nearby. Players will often not want to expose their platoons to known fire coming down on them and will either suck back or look to defend objectives with armoured vehicles like tanks. This plays into a Czechoslovak players hands as nothing makes a tank fight as few players will have a quantity of armour quite like the Czechoslovaks!

Czech Yourself, Before You Wreck Yourself

Not only do they devastate fixed infantry positions but by taking multiple units of artillery Czechoslovak players can lay turn after turn of smoke onto the table, cutting off enemy Anti-tank weapons and other support to enable Czechoslovak attacks to break their opponents before help can get there.

Overall the Czechoslovak army has the most impressive artillery and at bargain basement prices. Most players can find sneaky places to hide artillery platoons where it is very difficult to engage them with anything other than helicopters or strike aircraft, which leads me into my next point.

Air in V2 is a little bit different. The change here is that aircraft don’t run away. They don’t test to break, you just have to kill them. This makes smaller 2 helicopter platoons like Cobras much more attractive and annoying. These are not only huge threats to the tanks Czechoslovak players commonly bring to the table but also can pick apart Czechoslovak artillery if not dealt with. While the Czechoslovaks have the same AAA as other Warsaw Pact factions the difference is cost. Czech AAA is normally a point or two cheaper than other factions due to their lower remount of 5+ and their morale of 4+. AAA like other Artillery can commonly find some spaces to hide and wait for aircraft and this largely can mitigate their shortcomings but means that they normally need more range and missiles are key.

Czech Yourself, Before You Wreck Yourself

The Gecko doesn’t see a lot of play in many Soviet lists. It’s expensive to put on the table, but in a Czechoslovak list it passes two three key factors, it has the AAA range needed, it’s cheap and it looks different to everyone else! At 3 points for 2 of these missile boats you can cover the entire table with 6 shots of 3+ firepower plane and helicopter dropping goodness. Plus let’s be honest here, sitting beside a DANA or RM-70 these look amazing and makes your backfield look imposing.

Many people have stayed away from Czechoslovak infantry with the lowered remount and rally, but Czechoslovak players should really take a second look and see how they can get a lot out of the squishy dismounts. Czechoslovak infantry need a formation commander to stay reliable, because of this I find they either have to follow the commander directly into battle in a tank force or be taken as a formation on their own. This gives you a ton of options and firepower for all the same reasons as the tanks, because they’re cheap, you get lots. Look at minimum size coys, something Soviet players almost never take, but in a Czechoslovak list become really interesting. Using the cluster formation as before you can make hard points of infantry self-supporting each other on objectives. With BMPs this gives you small groups of AT 19 and 21 missiles that can support your advance and make people maneuver to avoid or engage. With the BTRs you can take Spiggot teams, and for 25 points have 18 AT 19 shots a turn while packs of heavy machine gun cars drive around causing havoc.

Czech Yourself, Before You Wreck Yourself

However you decide to make your list, WWIII: Team Yankee makes your Czechoslovak force, or allied force better. Using your formation commander you can negate the negative stats and really push an opponent to their breaking point faster than ever before. Worst case scenario you end up with an army that looks different, plays different and has cooler paint jobs than your opponents. That in itself is a huge win.