Blitzkrieg Polish Infantry Strategy and Tactics
by Bede Bailey

Introduction

With the release of the Polish Batalion Piechoty boxed set alongside the new Blitzkrieg supplement, players have the opportunity to field a Polish infantry army in Flames Of War. Along with the new models, there are now a number of new rules and special abilities for the various Polish forces which are designed to capture the flavour of fighting in Poland during 1939. This article will examine some of the possible Batalion Piechoty lists that can be built, the tactics that could be employed with them and some ways that the special rules can be used.

Learn more about the Polish Special Rules on the table top here...
The core of the Batalion Piechoty is the Piechoty Company made up of Fearless Trained infantry. Each company can comprise up to four platoons which would place a staggering forty-nine infantry teams in one element! Although deployed all at the same time, the platoons each operate as separate units. This means that the basic combat unit during the course of the game is the Piechoty Platoon with thirteen rifle teams and an optional anti-tank rifle and light mortar.
Piechoty Company
Supporting the Piechoty are a wide range of units including anti-tank guns, light tanks, cavalry and scouts. Piechoty can also call on no less than four artillery batteries, and the attention-grabbing armoured train. This allows the Polish player to field large core units supported by a solid amount of firepower in the form of artillery which can pull double service as anti-tank weapons. However, with the ability to add mobile units such as tanks and cavalry, a Batalion Piechoty does not need to be a lumbering meat-grinder force.
The Boxed Set

The Batalion Piechoty boxed set provides a solid basis from which to begin your Polish Army collection. Packed with infantry, artillery and support weapons it allows for a number of interesting builds and weighs in at 1415 points. With 1500 points being the current standard for competition play, something will need to be added to bring the core up to strength. In the example below, a tank platoon has been added.


Learn more about the Polish Infantry Box Set here...
The Polish Infatry Battalion box set
Batalion Piechoty
Battalion Headquarters
25 points
1st Piechoty Company
495 points
with two Piechoty Platoons and two Anti-Tank Rifles.
 
with one Machine-gun Platoon.

2nd Piechoty Company
205 points
with one Piechoty Platoon and one Anti-Tank Rifle.

Piechoty Anti-Tank Gun Platoon
90 points
with three 37mm wz. 36.

Czolgow Platoon
195 points
with four 7TP jw.
Light Gun Battery
235 points
with four 75mm wz. 1879.

Light Howitzer Battery
255 points
with four 100mm wz. 14/19 and Observer.

Total Points:
1500 points
Battalion HQ section After the headquarters unit, the first selection has to be the Fearless Trained combat platoons. For the Batalion Piechoty the main combat power is in the Piechoty companies. They provide the manpower for holding and attacking objectives, screening the gun teams and protecting the armoured support. The boxed set includes enough figures for three companies and a machine-gun platoon which you can field in two big companies or three smaller ones.
In this example the 1st Piechoty Company contains 32 teams including the three machine-guns. As the company counts as one for deployment purposes, this allows the Polish commander to place a third of the army on the table at once, giving a distinct advantage in missions where half of your army needs to be held off table. The machine-gun platoon is added to provide the rate of fire that is lacking in the basic Polish rifle teams. Defending in No Retreat for example, the 1st Piechoty Company could be deployed covering the attackers objective with the machine-guns intermingled and in cover so that they are drawn in to any potential assault. The defenders objective could be covered by an artillery battery while either the anti-tank guns or tanks themselves are held in ambush. This simple set up would be very difficult for even veteran German players to counter.
The 2nd Piechoty Company is only made up of fourteen teams, but is a flexible unit that can be used to hold an objective or take advantage of the Bypassed special rule. Using Bypassed, a single-platoon Piechoty Company can be held in reserve to appear later in the enemy’s rear area. In missions such as Free for All and Encounter, this could be very advantageous as the opposition player would need to hold defenders back to protect soft targets such as artillery batteries. In missions such as Fighting Withdrawal and Hasty Assault, the small company can hold an objective to take pressure of the 1st Piechoty Company. A Polish infantry team
In this list the support choices are relatively straight forward – what is in the box makes it into the army! The cheap anti-tank gun platoon can keep tanks and half-tracks away from the Piechoty while also acting as an ersatz machine-gun unit with a rate of fire of three and a gun shield. This makes them perfect for rolling on from reserve to harass both armoured and infantry units. The Light Gun Battery is required so that the Light Howitzer Battery can be used. However, with a rate of fire of two and an anti-tank rating of eight, the battery can be used for both anti-tank and more traditional work. The Light Howitzers fulfil the indirect fire role, pinning enemy platoons, hitting defenders huddled around the target objective and taking the odd pot-shot at the top armour of heavy tanks.
The Polish 7WP jw The Fearless Trained Czolgow Platoon is the only addition to the boxed set in this battalion. With plenty of infantry, the main thing missing from the list is a mobile element. Although slow, the 7TP jw does have a decent gun and a co-axial machine-gun. This allows the Polish commander to use the tanks as a multi-purpose unit which can rush from hotspot to hotspot, providing support against both enemy infantry and all but the toughest armour. In missions where there is a concealing ambush site available they can go toe to toe with all light tanks and should only avoid Panzer IIIs, Panzer IVs and heavy Allied armour.
The Gun Park

With the option to take up to four artillery batteries, there is the temptation to see the Batalion Piechoty purely as an artillery delivery system. Using 1500 points as the standard again, it is possible to build a list with solid combat power while still including three artillery batteries.

Polish Anti-tank gun platoon
Batalion Piechoty
Battalion Headquarters
25 points
1st Piechoty Company
205 points
with one Piechoty Platoon and one Anti-Tank Rifle.
 
2nd Piechoty Company
205 points
with one Piechoty Platoon and one Anti-Tank Rifle.  
Piechoty Anti-Tank Gun Platoon
90 points
with three 37mm wz. 36.  
Piechoty Scout Platoon
200 points
with two Scout Sections and one Anti-Tank Rifle upgrade.
 
Light Gun Battery
250 points
with four 75mm wz. 1879 and Observer.
Light Howitzer Battery
255 points
with four 100mm wz. 14/19 and Observer.
 
Heavy Artillery Battery
260 points
with three 155mm wz. 17 and Observer.
 
Total Points:
1490 points
The majority of the heavy work will need to be done by the two Piechoty companies. Both have the vital anti-tank rifle upgrade which should be common in every Batalion Piechoty. As they have no access to pioneers, the anti-tank rifles provide the only integral tank fighting option for the infantry. Remember that they are infantry teams rather than man-packed gun teams so they can not be targeted by the enemy and can launch assaults. Although only one platoon in strength they still consist of 14 teams which should be more than enough to hold off the enemy while the artillery completes its task. In most missions use the Piechoty and the anti-tank guns as a screen for the artillery; dig them in, go to ground and force the opposition to come to you.
Ambushing the German Panzers

Another option for the Batalion Piechoty is the Piechoty Scout Platoon. Although only armed with rifles, their job is not to engage the enemy. They are included so that they can quickly move forward making use of Recce Deployment and Cautious Movement before utilising Eyes and Ears to remove the gone to ground status of the enemy. This is very useful when called upon to attack in missions such as Hold the Line and Cauldron and the scouts can also be used as a solid reserve platoon when on the defensive.

In this list example the main body of the list is made up of artillery including the 155mm wz. 17 heavy artillery piece. The artillery provides both indirect and direct options and with such a high anti-tank and firepower rating enemy tanks will be cautious about straying too close. For example, when playing a Free for All mission the Piechoty commander can deploy all three batteries from the beginning of the game. During the opening period of the battle the artillery can do all the work, constantly harassing the opposition, forcing them to attack before they suffer too many causalities. If possible target the opponent’s artillery first, thus clearing the way for the Polish big guns to fire with impunity. The second period should see the enemy attempting to assault the Piechoty after they have suffered a number of losses. If everything goes to plan, the final period should see the opposition facing company moral checks as the Piechoty make their way towards their objective.

Polish 100mm guns

The Mobile Option

Although the option to field three artillery batteries is tempting, the commander of a Batalion Piechoty could also choose to build a more aggressive mobile force with the strength of the Piechoty and the speed of the Kawalerii combined. In this case the option to also include tanks makes this an attractive option for those who are more aggressive in their play style.

Batalion Piechoty
Battalion Headquarters
25 points
1st Piechoty Company
220 points
with one Piechoty Platoon and one Anti-Tank Rifle.
 
with one Light Mortar.
 
2nd Piechoty Company
220 points
with one Piechoty Platoon and one Anti-Tank Rifle.
 
with one Light Mortar.  
Piechoty Anti-Tank Gun Platoon
90 points
3 x 37mm wz. 36.  
Czolgow Platoon
245 points
5 x 7TP jw.
 
Light Gun Battery
255 points
with four 75mm wz. 1879
 
Mounted Kawalerii Company
440 points
with three Kawalerii Platoons.  
Total Points:
1490 points

Once again the core of the list is made up of two Piechoty companies, this time with the light mortars added alongside the anti-tank rifles. The light mortars are especially useful in an aggressive list as they can fire over friendly teams and they can target gun teams with direct fire. Placed near the front of the Piechoty they can snipe at machine-gun teams and make a general nuisance of themselves. The anti-tank guns and the artillery are the other consistent elements in these lists, providing cover from tanks and the ability to pin target platoons.

The major difference with the aggressive list is the addition of the cavalry unit – a full company of Mounted Kawalerii. With a starting strength of seventeen teams, the Kawalerii are a multi-purpose unit that can provide aid in many situations. On attack they can remain mounted to move quickly around the battlefield and make use of the Hurah! and Lancers special rules. Remember that they are lethal in the first assault round hitting on a 2+ and they also have an 8”/20cm range when checking to see if enemy teams are captured at the conclusion of a successful attack.

Polish cavalry on the charge
On defence you have the option of dismounting the Kawalerii to give you a large unit of Fearless Veteran soldiers who are armed with three anti-tank rifles. When dismounted, they are probably the best tank fighting infantry available to the Polish. Another option in defence is to keep them as a mounted reserve if the mission allows, bringing them on to assault the enemy later in the battle. Supporting the Kawalerii are five 7TP jw tanks from a Czolgow Platoon. Their role is to support the attack, coving the infantry and cavalry from enemy tanks and machine-guns.

Polish cavalry on the move

In a mission such as Fighting Withdrawal this list should be equally able to attack and defend. With three objectives to cover when defending, the Kawalerii could be dismounted and placed on either the defenders objective or the most vulnerable objective. The two Piechoty companies should cover the remaining objectives. The anti-tank guns and artillery can be employed further back covering the infantry, ready to withdraw when required. The tanks could be held in ambush to integrate with the infantry just before they are assaulted. Don’t forget that most Early War tanks lack high firepower main guns and will struggle to dig out so many infantry teams in such a short time; they will need to assault.
Attacking in Fighting Withdrawal would be an exciting prospect with this army. One Piechoty and the tanks could line-up on one flank to charge an objective, while the Kawalerii remain mounted and pressure the other flank. The second Piechoty could be held in reserve using the Bypassed rule, ready to arrive and cause havoc wherever they arrive. With three objectives there is sure to be one close at hand and with the support of either the cavalry or tanks, depending on what side the infantry arrived, they should be able to take it from the enemy. The role of the artillery is to keep the main target under smoke and then pinned before the assault occurs. The anti-tank guns can be rolled up to provide useful direct-fire with their rate of fire three guns.
The 7TP jw support the infantry advance
Conclusions

This brief look at possible Batalion Piechoty lists and tactics only scratches the surface of what is possible. The armoured train could be added to provide massive fire support and some good old-fashioned fun. More Piechoty could be added to create a horde-style list to terrorise opponents. With such variety players will get a lot of use out of their models as they try the many different lists and tactics available to them.

~ Bede.
The Polish forces in defence
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Last Updated On Thursday, December 2, 2010 by Blake at Battlefront