I've played some Soviets at tournaments so I'll try to give you a hand to get you started down the right path.
Veteran Squad [135pts]
- 1 NCO: SMG
- 7 Veterans: SMG's all round and 2 panzerfausts
The only soviet squad that can take 2 panzerfausts to my knowledge are the Combat Engineers-- which are a great choice. But other squads, whether regular or veteran are capped at one max.
I agree with Salad_Fingers on the Forward Observer. They are a tough sell, and even with the Soviet special rule to make them more effective, they are a lot of points for a one use gun. At 850 points it is important to be cost effective- so I would leave him at home for a more competitive game at this points level. I'd say the only people who should be bringing an Arty observer are Brits (because its free for them).
Your NKVD Squads are good, Honestly, I'd try to squeeze more SMGs into them if possible. I tend to like the ability Soviet's have to take full squads of SMGs, maybe with one or two ablative Rifles tops. That said- your delivery options aren't very good. You are basically limited to outflanking them (which doesn't always work depending on the scenario. In a competitive setting you want to think about how you are getting those SMGs into the danger zone. I have had luck outflanking a big squad of 11 regulars with SMGs. I like to have the full sized bonus on the squad so they can re-roll order checks (including their test to arrive from reserves). Keep in mind you are basically limited to what is right around the edges of the board, but usually there is a lot of action around the edges. Just remember to jot down what side you are outflanking on at deployment! You cannot change your mind!! The other big option is to buy transports. A simple Truck is a great investment. That will let you move SMGs across the table quickly and get them to where they can start doing real damage. Just be careful with how and when you activate your truck, as they are pretty fragile.
The other option is to look into taking either Scouts, or Tank Hunter teams. These units can be taken in small teams as veterans with SMGs and Forward Deploy- meaning they deploy similar to Snipers and Observers. This lets them start much further up the board, and helps alleviate the usual need for transports. I have had a lot of fun running 2 four man Veteran Tank Hunter Teams with a Faust and SMGs. They are easy to avoid by vehicles, but create a no go zone and cause a headache. And even if they don't have any targets, they can frequently cause the opponent a lot of stress and delay their advance while the rest of your army gets into position. Just remember to play smart with cover and go down when needed. Do not forget that they are not dedicated vehicle hunters but rather small trouble shooting wet work teams that counter your opponent's forward deployments and try to get behind enemy lines while being too dangerous to ignore.
I'm not going to tell you to drop the Ampulomet. I find them pretty good and capable of doing some real damage if they land a hit. They are short ranged, vulnerable to snipers, and cannot move and shoot. But they are a cheap activation dice, and something your opponent cannot feasibly ignore once they get set up. AT
Rifles I have more mixed feelings about. They can really struggle to do any damage, but they are a lot more flexible than the Ampulomet. They can move and shoot, are a bit more defensive with small teams, and have much longer range. That said, they will never have the same scare factor as a 2'' template. Consider getting into the practice of outflanking your AT
Rifle. It helps them get within 18 inches and secure rear / side armor shots which help them make a difference.
The ZIS-3 is a great piece of kit and is flexible in pretty much any situation, so I would definitely leave that in your list.
Now. If you are interested in the Soviet competitive standouts / cheese. This is what you should consider working into your list.
1) Gaz AAA Truck.
This has become somewhat infamous. Anyway, its really cheap and does a lot of damage. Its a softskin so it will die to enemy fire really easily, and it takes up your tank slot. But its dirt cheap at 60 points and packs a whallop with 20 machine gun shots. whew lad. 4 MMGs for 60 points is... something else- especially in smaller than normal games where cost effective damage can make a huge difference.
2) The BA-20
. This one isn't talked about as much, but it is an absolutely disgusting vehicle. It is a Vehicle Mounted Flamethrower with Recce. Which is as horrifying as it sounds when played well.
3) Combat Engineers with Body Armor
. Engineers from every armybook are pretty good- due to gaining access to a flamethrower- and ours are no exception. Where Soviet engineers start getting really good is the Body Armor. Which while expensive, takes them up to being wounded on a 6+ from small arms. This makes them one of the few units in the game capable of fighting Ghurkas in a straight up melee (although Gurkhas are a lot cheaper than they are). They need a transport because the Body Armor slows them down to a crawl. But they are a fantastic unit to get into your opponent's face and start the burning. They are also the only(?) unit in the book able to take 2x Panzerfausts, making them pretty dangerous to vehicles.
4) Inexperienced Heavy Mortar
. Veterancy doesn't have an effect on accuracy for an indirect only weapon, and anybody who has been playing for a while will tell you that spotters while sometimes helpful are generally overrated among players. 46 points is dirty cheap, and a 3'' template will really scare people when it starts zeroing in on their location. Its not accurate, but it does what its supposed t do. Apply a lot of pressure to opponents trying to bunker down somewhere, and the larger 3'' template ensures that when you do get that lucky connection you make it count as much as possible.
5) Depending on if the tournament is Generic Platoons only- or includes the options for Theater Selectors- look into the Stalingrad Theater Selector
. It is widely considered to be the Soviet's most competitive Selector. Between the option to buy Fanatics for whatever you want (including for free on your free squad!), it also features 2 slots for snipers, flamers, and artillery. Without limiting any of the Soviet's most competitive choices. When Soviets won LVO
, it was with the Stalingrad selector because it lets them break the game most effectively.