First up we have to understand what it takes to become a Hero Of The Soviet Union... you have to be:
Luckier: basically it is harder for the enemy to kill your Company or 2iC, needing a 5+ instead of a 4+. For most nations this wouldn't be that useful but with your Guards Heavy companies when you don't have a 2iC keeping the boss in play is useful.
Smarter: pass Skill tests on a 3+, useful all the time especially if you are assaulting or firing bombardments.
Sharper: no Hen and Chicks
So you are about as close as you can come to being a Veteran team, without being one. Yep I know that there are a bunch of people that wanted true Veteran teams but then I may as well just be proxying my Soviet vehicles as Americans or Germans... with the Hero rules I have some flavour and most of the benefits with less of the negatives (a higher points cost per team).
So on to the Companies themselves: - they are both very similar in terms of their structure which is why I thought I'd look at them in tandem. An IS-2 in command with 3 platoons as your core. For your IS-2 company you can choose between the obr 1943 (FA 10) or obr 1944 (FA 11) versions, each packing a 122mm breakthrough gun coming in with AT 16, FP 2+. For that point of armour you are paying around 10-15 points per tank. Personally I am not convinced that I would be dropping those extra points unless I had them left over at the end and certainly in outset I would be putting on .50 cal AA MGs (+5pts), Bedspring Armour (+5pts) and Tank Riders (+10pts) first as these give you more all round bang for your buck.
For the ISUs you can choose between the ISU-122 and the ISU-152. Each has FA 9, nothing outstanding but you can ignore a good percentage of medium tanks out there with that, and Volley Fire making them pretty useful up close. The 122 has the same gun as the IS-2 meaning it slices through most tanks and knocks out soft targets, whilst the 152 has an AT 13, FP 1+ Bunker Buster. Don't sit in front of it as you may not like the results. Like the IS you can put the same upgrades on the ISU and the .50cal AA MG is an easy choice and the rest comes down to personal preference.
So why do I like these two sets of combat platoons? Previously I've been a fan of the IS-2 as a support tank for other lists where it could add some heavy armour, hunt down mediums and sit in front of AT guns. With the Hero list I think it expands on that role but this time on centre stage. For 1,110 points you can put 7 IS-2 obr 1943 tanks in your list fully geared up with all the add-ons. Doesn't sound all that wonderful at first glance but you still have 400-650 points to put some support troops in and 7 IS-2 obr 1943 tanks all grinding towards an objective take a lot of stopping... and when you are running them you don't stop! Trust that you need to be lucky to get any hits with your guns thanks to ROF 1 and don't worry about.
Force you opponent to change their plans and hope for a few lucky hits on the way in, then get to the objective and ground your opponent out of there with all of those attacks in an assault. Bedspring Armour gives you a 4+ save on the defensive fire from enemy Panzerfausts and Panzerschrecks. You get a 2nd attack per tank (thanks to your tank riders), hitting on 3's, and your Turret Rear MGs help you bounce off some of the enemy attacks back.
Plus until I unlock the Object 704 in World Of Tanks this is my substute of choice.
Next time up, what would I like to run in the Divisional Support section...