Sunday, 11 November 2012

I watched a child today at a remembrance day ceremony. His father and I wearing our uniforms, sharing a cold and somber moment, as some wept, others lowered heads. Through it all this child happily played, holding his father, laughing, singing, hugging, never having known hunger, violence, destruction or the loss that others in the room were vividly remembering. This is the way it should be. If for no other reason this is the reason to remember.

It made me think of the famous poem

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived , felt dawn, saw sunset glow

Loved and were loved and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up the quarrel with the foe,

To you from failing hands we throw

 The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields

John McCrae, 3rd May 1915

Until Next time.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The story you always heard, but never saw...

I heard it from my cousin, his friend had a neighbor that... ... ...

Weighted dice.  Yup I said it. At tournaments or after a game gone wrong people joke about putting their dice in the oven, sixes up... That'll fix em. Not that anyone ever did this.

You'd joke when someone went on a hot streak "someone check those dice!" But nobody ever needed to.

There is a chivalry among gamers that makes this something I don't think anyone ever worried about.

Until now.

I'm not big on re-posting but this being one of the saddest things I'd read, and I think it speaks to the worst in gamers, something that I'm happy we so rarely see. I also think it raises questions about how we properly self regulate.


The reality is that there are a ton of ways to cheat, but why would you? Be it weighted dice, rolling techniques, or any of the other cheating ways out there you only really cheat yourself.

So what would you do or want done if you found someone was cheating? Would it be different if they cheated you? Would it make a difference if they cheated against someone else? Do they lose the game? Are they out of the tournament? What do you do about this?

Sunday, 14 October 2012

AAR! 1500pts MW Brit Paras Vs GpPzGrens

My friend Kyle was in town as his "wife type" was at a baby shower... He and I both took this as an invite from our wives to play a game, and for them, heck, we'd do anything.

We rolled up a fighting withdrawal, which saw his paratroopers digging in and attempting to hold against my halftracks.

His list had a little bit of everything, piats and mortars in the HQ, three pl of paratroopers, 4 x 6pdrs, mortars, and pack 75's.

I was running the list I ran in the last tournament with the HQ sporting an AT rifle, 2 pl of GpPzGren, 2 x 8rads, 3 x Pzwerfers with extra crew, 2 x armoured quad AA halftracks and 2 x panthers.

The table in all it's glory.
 A real objective, one can be seen in the distance as well...

Paratroopers side of the board. We treated the stream as difficult with the bridge and ford being clear, but slow for the ford. The third objective was the bridge if you can't see it, Kyle had done up some really cool airdropped containers as objectives.

The farming village was laden with artillery, with both the pack 75's and the 6 tube mortar pl being in the wheat, with a screen of paratroopers in front of them.

 The far objective had the 6pdrs and a screen of Paras in front of it on the hill. 

 The central objective on my side of the river had a Para pl with the OC.

I set up my halftracks along the road, hoping to use the increased speed to throw him off guard with a potential first turn assault on the central objective.

The bulk of my force set up ready to take to 'turtle hill' as it's become known around here.
I hoped to use the bulk of my force to get his paras on the other side of the board moving so I could catch them out in the open and gun them down with my mobile MGs.

My first turn saw a general advance, the 8 rads had used their recce move to bring them up to the crossroads and use eyes and ears to remove gone to ground.  I then hit them with everything I could and took out about one whole stand... Yeah. Dug in like ticks. The assault went in but only managed to kill a few, and with four stands left with the OC they held in there contesting the objective and ready for their turn.

The rest of my force setting up for an assault on the second hill, while it had no objective on it this hill held the gateway to the bridge.

His rebuttal saw smoke being laid down on my new found position, and a piat shot rocked a halftrack killing off half of the crew.  He sent in an assault with the remnants of his pl but the combined fire of the halftracks and the 8 rads bounced the paras, killing all but the OC.

Another angle of the position after the assault bounced, you can see another halftrack burning, caught by one of the 6pdrs.

THE PLANES! He sent in planes every turn, in every game I ever play with him, he's hot when he rolls for planes and I love seeing them hit the table. He came after my panzerwerfers but a self defense AA mg took out a plane miraculously to shouts of one shot one kill, and the second plane was killed off by the quad 2cm tracks.

The drama shot if the planes death.

I had consolidated the position and sent my pl into the woods to prepare for the counter attack I knew was coming.

Yeah. These guys. What I failed to tell you was that the eyes and ears rolls of both 8rads failed to unmask these guys and despite a rediculous number of shots, I scored four lonely hits and couldn't risk an assault against these guys. They also were in assault range of the woods I had consolidated into...

His breakout of the position left the Piat to bravely kill anything and everything, which he of course did rocking a halftrack and killing its passengers. You can see the rest of the pl booking it to the right and behind the hill. 

Kyle went in for the assault with what he had, he hit me with the mortars and pack 75s on the halftracks as he had nothing that could see into the woods.  With only two stands that could see in he had no way to pin down the pl and the combined fire of the pl and its halftracks did in the assaulting force and stole me a quick win.

The best thing that came out of this was it allowed us to play another game! A treat for the two of us who haven't played in months. The second game was a late war throwdown with very similar lists. But we went heavier on the beer and lighter on the camera work so I'll end by saying you just had to be there...

Until next time.

Monday, 8 October 2012

I'm still not dead yet...

So after the last tournament I went to I returned home to prepare myself to deploy with my unit to the field for a month of live fire training. Yup I'll admit it, I let my job get in the way of gaming... Kinda jerky of me, but I apologize. 

So I found the pictures I took from the event, not many but I think they give you a great idea of the event and the fun had. I had a blast!

Legio Con is an event held in Winnipeg, Manitoba and is a blast full of a ton of different games for the avid gamer. For the last couple itterations the event has been held at a legion hall in Winnipeg. This is an amazing choice for a number of reasons. While not all the gaming is historical that which is holds strong ties to the many vets who frequent the Legion, and are an inspiring chat when one gets the chance. Second, the place is licensed and has a bar and resturant in the basement... Read pre, and post game drinks... SCORE!

The FOW tournament was 1500pts MW and saw an array of lists from the era, including two of my favorite lists, the Finns and a Dieppe raid list!

I ran a GpPzGren list from Eastern Front with:

Standard HQ with an antitank rifle;

2 x GpPzGren Pl,

2 Panthers (I painted up a friends panthers for him and these three games were the first time I've ever tried using these beasts.)

2 8Rads

2 Quad AA armoured halftracks

3 Panzerwerfers with extra crew. 

6pls in all, a small but well formed group to get in some hard action.

So I took some pictures of the tables that were laid out for the event. 

The first one here was done by a buddy of mine Derek, I loved the river and think they should be more of a priority in most games, but if you notice the forest running the whole way up the end of the table that became the bane of my reserves but I digress.

The next two tables I did up with some of my common fair. Hills, crops and the occasional building or orchard. 

 Bruce (the fine gent running the event) did up some great desert tables. I personally loved them, simple and to some bland but highly tactical if played right and the rolling hills made for a great 3D filled table. Definitely not a billiard board! The battles in the desert were to be knife fights behind the dunes.
 For those gamers old enough to remember the buildings below are from the titan legions box set... Orks in the desert? Yes yes...
 One of the more open tables. This one gave people nightmares with the river and and the open ground but was highly enjoyed.
 Which brings me to the final table, this one was put together by one of the newer gamers from a GW table. His thing is Tunisia and you can definitely see the influence here. He thought there was already too much terrain on it and wanted it left this way, so we obliged. I played the first game on it, which turned out to be the last game on it, as it was while historically accurate, it was just no fun for an infantry force.  This table would be amazing, I repeat AMAZING for scenario play, but for a tournament it's death in the valley.

 I was playing my friend Hugh who came to play with a Dieppe raid list! I was ecstatic about seeing this on the table, it was pretty freaking cool, especially for two Canadian players, who both happen to be in the military.  The mission was Free for all, pitting our entire forces against one another. Hugh's list had a full infantry company, mortars and two, yes two full troops of Churchills. There was probably more but I'm playing from memory here.

 My 8rads danced around the central orchard gunning down stands where they could but mostly lifting gone to ground to allow my other assets to pick apart his forces. There wasn't any cover on his side of the board and he was forced to advance into the orchard with his troops, which was the central aiming point for my Panzerwerfers. The doublewide template made short work of the brave Canadians, but there was little else he could have done, digging in would have kept him strung out and separated to be picked off and advancing was nearly just as poor an option.

 The opening shots of the armour saw my Panthers ripping open two Churhills and sending the last back to gather up more armour as it fled from the table. The next few turns were a cat and mouse game of using the central orchard as cover for his remaining churchills as my panthers tried to gain a bead on them.

After a few turns of jockying for position I called my halftracks forward and mounted up, pushing for the flank objective, by this point there was little left that could oppose my force, and when the two Churchills finally came out to play their shots missed. 6-1 for me. Though I think Hugh and I will have to now play a more historical pitched battle at Dieppe and that should be a lot closer.

Inbetween games I took some fun pics of the action going on.


My second game saw me facing off with Levi, a quick witted and hilarious member of the Regina clan that came out for the event. He was packing a Soviet Tankovy company with T-34s, Grants, heavy mortars and some other assorted fun. The mission was Dust up and I started with my Panthers, Panzerwerfers and 8rads on the table, facing off against his large T-34 pl and his heavy mortars.

 He went first moving forward and taking losses as he went. The 2+ to his was doing well by me and with some high ground to sit on he decided to move sideways to cover rather than give me the bums rush.
 Four shots and four kills in the first turn saw T-34 hulls burning. Up in the corner there you can see my 8Rads, they for a few turns had been moving at high speed behind the hills. Between their recce move, the desert terrain and some good luck on stormtrooper rolls they found themselves on the objective with nobody to contest! The quick and devious win was another 6-1. Again, this is my first time really using German recce. I don't think I'm going back to not... Ever.... Seriously... They are a blast.

Some more pics of the action on other tables.

 One pic... Yup. Thats all I took from the last game... It was that heated and fun and just crazy.

I played another friend Jim, he was rocking a super cool Rota list that saw mechanized Soviets getting all up in my business quickly...

I made a ton of mistakes in this game and fell for a few traps. First off I picked the side of terrain my opponent wanted, not because I thought it would be good for me, but just because he wanted it. That turned out to just hammer me with a full board edge of forests that literally cut off my reinforcements and made them take forever to get to me.

The second was trying to be all fancy with the Panthers. Yeah... I'm not the finesse guy... And this game showed it. To make a long story short, the real fight turned out to be for a little patch of woods, where everyone came to die. Tanks, troops, transports, they all went in and nothing really came out.

A hard fought battle that ended 5-2 with my pl in the woods falling to the repeated assaults. Lucky for me my backups finally arrived with a pl of troops and the panthers smartened up, crossed a river and eventually became useful.

Below you can see what became known as the bloody woods. For multiple reasons... 

In the end I tied with Lance Mathew for victory points and edged him out narrowly for the overall win with some sportsmanship scoring (Nobody saw that one coming).

It was a fun day with a lot of great armies and possibly more importantly built some interest in the game locally with a lot of people really wanting to know more and try it out. Hopefully this will help to kick start the game locally.

Until next time.

Friday, 14 September 2012

LegioCon MW Soviet AAR

My buddy Duncan and I drove into Winnipeg last weekend and got stuck in with some great players and armies at Legiocon.  They had a 1500pt MW event, which was Duncan's second tournament. He wrote up this great AAR and asked if I could put it up... That was a no brainer...

LegioCon Tournament - Summary and After Action Review
Mid War - 1500pts 
8 September 2012
Winnipeg - Royal Canadian Legion, St. James Branch #4

-  Excellent venue.  Clean, spacious, well lit and very well organized.  Lots of terrain on the tables and variety of locales represented... from the rolling hills of Kursk and the villages of France to the oasis of North Africa.  Large multi-use room upstairs with a lounge/bar/games room downstairs that cooked up some very tasty lunches.  And it's a Legion!

- The usual bunch of criminals.  Thieves, murders and smugglers; the scum of the galaxy.  They would sell their mother for a few more Panzers and had press-ganged women and children into their legions.  Most had travelled over two hours to attend, showing up the locals who were all a bit timid to step onto the battlefield with someone else is watching.

Dunc's Soviet Army and Tactics

Nothing fancy, no surprises, just a classic infantry list.  Durable, some flexibility, hard hitting in assaults with some mobile elements and some real bite.  A large Strelkovy Company forms the core of the Battalion with a smaller Strelkovy Company adding flexibility and flank security.  Combat attachments from the Battalion HQ allow each Company to be task tailored for each mission.  With this Battalion, I use the large Strelkovy Company to take the initiative and provide momentum.  Once deployed it's impossible to ignore, as it covers so much ground.  On the offensive if used aggressively they will be forced to react to it.  With a bit of logic, you can usually figure out what the opponent's likely courses of action are to deal with the company and then use your other elements to exploit their reactions and get them off balance.  All the time, you are buying time to move the company up the board and get on an objective.  On the defence and when dug in, the Company is so large and durable it can soak up damage and assaults while the other elements support the defence and again force the opponent to react to more mobile elements.  The Medium Tank Company is big enough to have some durability and teeth in shooting and assaults, but not so big as to take needless casualties from an inability to exploit cover.  The speed and mobility of the T-34s works well to exploit opportunities the large Strelkovy Company provides.  The Tank Destruction Company with the Zis-2s can easily tear apart groups of almost any vehicle Mid-War thanks to its excellent armour penetration and rate of fire and can also be used to dig infantry out with volley fire and its excellent mobility.  Finally, the IL-2 Sturmoviks provide a real punch to pick off heavy armour and artillery and pin infantry, while keeping the enemy spread out and preventing exploitation of open ground.
  1. Battalion HQ
    • Battalion Commander
    • Battalion Kommissar
    • Battalion 2IC
    • 4 x AT Rifle Teams
    • 2 x 45mm AT Gun Teams
    • 5 x Pioneer Teams
  2. Strelkovy Company
    • Company Commander
    • Company Kommissar
    • 27 x Rifle Infantry Teams
  3. Strelkovy Company
    • Company Commander
    • 9 x Rifle Infantry Teams
  4. Medium Tank Company
    • T-34 Command Tank
    • 7 x T-34s
  5. Tank Destruction Company
    • Company Commander
    • 4 x Zis-2 Guns
  6. Air Support
    • Limited IL-2 Sturmoviks

Game 1 - Germans (Infantry) (Derek) vs Soviets

German Army List
  1. 3 x Dismounted Infantry Pls
  2. 3 x Pak 40s
  3. 4 x HMGs
  4. 1 x Inf Guns Pl
  5. 1 x Rocket Artillery Pl
  6. 2 x StuG
  7. 20mm AA Gun Trucks
Mission: Free For All
First Turn: Duncan

Deployment - I knew I would finish deploying first, so I gambled with a very aggressive deployment on the odds that I would move first.  Not a very risky gamble, as due to the distance there wasn't going to be a lot of effective fire at that range, especially with the "Meeting Engagement" special rule.  With only four units, I was going to have to be fairly crafty in deploying my battalion to give the impression that I was going one direction while actually planning on going the other.  With the terrain favouring an assault on the right flank, I set my large Strelkovy Company slighty to the right of centre, and the other three units to their left, in hopes of drawing my opponent's mobile assets to the left flank.  It worked, as he spread his infantry heavy weapons evenly and placed his StuGs on the left.

The Cunning Plan - With my opponent's company spread evenly across his deployment area (less his StuGs which were deployed on a flank opposite and in response to my T-34s) I just needed to concentrate my forces on the right flank and punch through to the objective.  The excellent mobility of the T-34s would allow them to quickly cross from the left flank to the right and then into the assault with the large Strelkovy Company acting as a blocking and follow-on assault force.  The smaller Strelkovy Company would secure my own deployment area with the Zis-2s waiting in the centre to pop-up and hit any mobile units.

Picture Colour Guide
Red = T-34s
Orange = Strelkovy
Blue and Green = Germans

Opening Moves - T-34s move at the double to cross from the left to the right.  Large Strelkovy follow them and the remainder jockey around to find a good position in the center/left.  Germans dig in and bombard.

Assault - T-34s are quickly on the far objecive and succeed in pinning and then assaulting the infanty platoon, inflicting casualties and driving them off the objective.  The StuGs are dispatched to assist on the right flank.

Counter Attack - The German counterattack to eliminate the T-34s begins with the StuGs continuing their advance from the left flank to the right.

Assault! - With the T-34s destroyed, the large Strelkovy Company finally gets moving again after losing its Kommissar and hustles to the right objective, sustaining enormous casualties.
Meanwhile, the Germans have re-tasked their StuGs and are pushing hard for the objective on my left.  It's a  nail biter as the survivors of the large Strelkovy Company barely push the Germans off and secure the objective in the nick of time.

AAR - An effective deception plan and exploitation of the terrain allowed the battalion to close with and engage the Germans (twice!) despite casualties.

Game 2 - Germans (Pioneers) (Lance) vs Soviets

German Army List
  1. 2 x Dismounted Pioneer MG Pls
  2. 1 x Rocket Artillery Pl
  3. 3 x Panzer Luchs
  4. 3 x Panzer IV
  5. Other Stuff?
Mission: Dust Up
First Turn: Duncan

Deployment - I stuck with T-34s and the large Strelkovy Company deployed well forward.  Lance countered with two Pioneer Platoons (one on each objective) and the Rocket artillery in the rear.  I knew I would finish deploying first, so I gambled on having the first turn and deployed right at the front of the deployment zone, with the tanks in the lead to hit hard in an early assault.  Not all that risky as he didn't have any real weapons to exploit a forward deployment.  I was surprised Lance took just infantry and his rocket artillery... without any AT weapons, the T-34s could fully exploit their mobility and firepower and that led to the large Strelkovy Company being able to advance directly to the objective.

Deployment - German's defensive positions... the thin grey line.

The Cunning Plan - Russia Smash!  Drive forward hard and get straight into the assault to push the infantry off the objective and then just sit and hold it.  I accepted the risk of not leaving any units to hold the objectives in my own deployment area.  I figured that gave me three or four turns to capture the objective before Lance could bring in reserves to park on my undefended objectives.

Opening Moves - Flank speed, damn the torpedoes!  T-34s drive forward and engage the Pioneers with MGs.  Strelkovy follow behind.  Lance digs in and awaits the assault.  Sturmoviks harass his rear area.

Assault - T-34s push the Pioneers off the objective... but don't cause many casualties.
Counter Attack - Disaster!  Pioneers counter-attack and wipe out most of the T-34s!

Counter Attack! - The Pioneers charge back in and almost wipe out the T-34s!  The command T-34 pulls back to a safe distance to preserve the coy.  Meanwhile, Soviet reserves move up to support the main force.  

Assault! - The infantry pull up and start their assault... 

The Assault! - All Soviet forces close with the Pioneers and attempt to suppress and assault them.  The small Strelkovy Company manages to make it into assault but doesn't make good on its opportunity. The large Strelkovy Company is bounced by withering defensive fire.

Flank Attack! - Lance's Panzer Luchs arrived from reserves and promptly hustle straight onto on objective in my deployment area.  With nothing left back to contest the objective, it's game for Lance.

AAR - It was my game to lose and I lost it!  A failure to properly prepare the assault (i.e. pin his infantry with my tanks and allow my infantry to assault... I had the time, I had the units, etc etc) allowed the Pioneers to hold their ground in the face of the Soviet horde.  Second point to improve is that I should have left my combat attachments camped out the objective in my deployment zone.  I knew that the greatest risk to the objectives would be Lance's armoured unit zipping in from reserve and the AT guns, AT rifles and pioneers would have been perfect for deterring this course of action and likely would have bought me more time on the objective.  Additionally, AT guns and rifles don't benefit a Strelkovy Company when assaulting infantry positions so there was no point to bring them forward.

Game 3 - Germans Infantry (Brody) vs Soviets

German Army List
  1. 2 x Tigers
  2. 2 x Dismounted Infantry Pls
  3. 1 x Rocket Truck Pls
  4. Other stuff...?
Mission: No Retreat
Attacker: Brodie

Deployment - Zis-2s in ambush and the large Strelkovy Company dug in and covering the centre.

The Cunning Plan - Draw the Germans as far into the defensive position as possible, to allow the ambush to shoot at the flanks/rear of them and to give a shorter distance for reserves to reinforce and flank the defensive position.  With the objectives in the center, it would leave both flanks open for a T-34 rush into the infantry.  Not too worried about the Tigers, as the board was fairly open and if they parked to use the Strelkovy for grouping and zeroing the Sturmoviks would motivate them to find a different/closer piece of ground.  

Opening Moves - A slow advance from the Germans with the Tigers rumbling forward and taking pot-shots at the Strelkovy.  A platoon of infantry tentatively advances behind them and aims to cross the river.  The Sturmoviks harass the rocket artillery and infantry to pin his force and encourage him to spread out.

Ambush - With the Tigers finally across the river and looming on my defensive position, the Zis-2s spring their ambush and succeed in knocking out one Tiger.  The counter assault from the German infantry routes the Zis-2s.

Assault - The Tiger wades into the defensive position and manages to push back the Strelkovy!  However, due to their numbers they're still able to cling on to the edges of the objective.

Counter Attack - The Strekovy rally and push up to the objective and deliver withering fire to the German infantry knocking their numbers down and then assaulting into the Tiger.  The pioneers earn their (very equal) pay and demolish the big cat while the Strelkovy finish off the scraps of the German platoon.  With that, no Germans remain in the Soviet end of the field and it's game.

AAR - Straight-forward game.  I can appreciate the challenge of trying to knock a massive, well-equipped, fearless Strelkovy Company off an objective... there's just no quick way to do it as they can just eat casualties, they're not likely to break and assaulting them is suicide.  That said, the company is a sitting duck to those heavy guns on the Tigers unless there are a couple other elements supporting it.

Big Takeaways for Soviet Tactics
  1. Know how to assault.
    • Despite the "Quality of Quantity" rule, the Germans can throw up so much defensive fire (and it's very, very accurate against conscript troops) that they will still bounce you.  You MUST pin the enemy.  
    • Use the geometry of the opponent's defensive positions against them... coming in on a flank with a smaller force will significantly reduce the amount of defensive fire you receive as his units will block each other.
    • Properly equip/support your Strelkovy to assault.  SMGs and flamethrowers, as well as close tank support will allow you to properly pin your target and successfully get into the assault.
    • Invite everyone to the party.  Try to get more than one unit in close for the assault.  If you can use one assault to draw in additional friendly and enemy units to turn it into one giant melee, so much the better, as each casualty you inflict on the expensive German troops will quickly tilt the odds in your favour and impact his combat power while your Strelkovy soak up the casualties and keep pushing forward.
    • T-34s rock.  "Hen and Chicks" means you're never going to win a straight up shoot out with the Germans, but you can zip around the battlefield at the double (fast tank!) and drive over/through their infantry instead.  Without the threat of the Panzerfausts and Panzerschreks in mid-war, the T-34 is a monster against German infantry and light vehicles.
    • Understand what endstate will come out of your assault.  Before you assault, have a good idea of where each of your units will end up... judicious positioning may allow you to exploit a victory.
    • Soviet Pioneers.  Don't leave home without them.  Ever.  These turn your helpless infantry horde into a tank destroying death swarm and boost up your numbers for "Quality of Quantity".
  2. Be ruthless in how you spend your points.
    • With having two early T-34 assaults in both games, tank riders or additional tanks might have brought both of the games to a much earlier close; in my favour.  While a massive Strelkovy Company is intimidating and powerful, its cost can take away from points spent on other elements... you need to get the right balance.
  3. Deception
    • The mobility and firepower of the T-34 allows you to use some deception in your planning and to force the opponent to react to your repositioning.  The more you can hide what your real intent is, the better!
    • The Strelkovy Companies can be so large it's actually possible to "hide" where they will attack because they can cover such a large frontage... Will it go left?  Will it go right?  Additionally, you can take a risky move at the double and eat the casualties to get into an assault position your opponent might not be expecting.
  4. Mutual support
    • The mobility and punch of the T-34s and the threat of the large Strelkovy Company worked well together.  With the opponent focussed on the horde, it allowed the T-34s some freedom on the battlefield to reposition, fire and assault... which in turn allowed the Strelkovy Company to keep pushing forward.  The Sturmoviks added to this by presenting a very credible threat to any armour.
  5. Predict your opponent's plan and keep the initiative
    • Take a good look at your opponent's units and the mission and think about how he might employ them against your force.  I was able to fairly accurately predict each opponent's strategy based of the disposition of their units and what I thought they would perceive as the most threatening elements of my force.  With the Soviets, you MUST keep the initiative.  Right from putting your first objectives and units on the table to the opening moves through to the assault.  On the offence this means pushing forward to the objective, then flanking and making them react to your actions in order to unbalance them to allow you to get into the assault.  I was able to do this in both games where I was acting offensively.  To keep the initiative on the defence, you have to set up your positions carefully to get the enemy to come where you want them.  You can do this by setting up in positions that threaten his lanes of advance and the objectives, as opposed to just dropping down on the objectives.  They will normally respond by attacking your units to open up the lanes and objectives, which gives you the information you need to counter their offensive.  You will usually have an ambushing unit than can be used to hit the flank of your opponent's units which will cause extra damage and slow his advance if he turns to deal with them.
  6. Soviets are out-gunned.
    • This is an odd one.  The Soviets are like a schoolyard bully... very threatening and intimidating and able to terribly exploit a weaker opponent due to the number of dice they can throw when they're doing the shooting and assaulting.  However, if they get in a straight up shoot out (especially at long range) with a tough unit, such as Tigers/Panthers or Pak40s/88s or even a group of Panzer IVs/StuGs, they will wilt and fade away as they simply take far more effective hits due to the difference in skill levels, Armour Penetration values, "Storm Trooper" and "Hen and Chicks".  So, you must act with a measure of low cunning and cruelty and pick on the weak elements of his force while avoiding the tougher ones.  There are a few solutions: move to the flanks with your superior mobility to force him to move or die, swarm with pioneer equipped infantry, bomb with Sturmoviks, ambush, eliminate his supporting infantry/halftracks, etc.  A key thing to plan around is that the German player is either going to move those tough units to a great piece of ground and use the elevation, armour and firepower to dominate the battlefield or use them to block lanes and hunt your own forces; deploy accordingly and try to find at least two counters to each problem (don't depend on Sturmoviks alone to save your bacon...)!
  7. Bring the right toys to the party
    • As you don't know what types of armies you're going to be dealing with at a tournament, be prepared for each: infantry, mechanized, armoured, heavy armour, etc.  Though I didn't get a lot of mileage out of the Zis-2s and even the Sturmoviks didn't destroy that much, had I run into larger armoured forces or more than a pair of Tigers, I was well equipped to deal with them.  A heavy armour force has been problematic for me to deal with in the past, as they simply shoot up anything that threatens them then leisurely pick off everything else.  On the flip side, I didn't overspend on AT elements so I had enough anti-infantry punch to successfully assault and shoot down infantry when required.
Remember comrades, if your friend drops his rifle, you pick it up and carry on!  Za Stalina!