Flames of War
|Flames of War|
|Miniatures-based Wargame published by
|Essential Books||Flames of War: Third Edition and Flames of War: Forces|
Flames of War is a tabletop wargame, first released in 2002, by the New Zealandish company Battlefront Miniatures. It recreates the fighting in the Europe and North Africa theaters of World War II (and they're branching out into Vietnam and the Arab-Israeli Wars) using 15mm scale models. Play simulates combat between company strength forces, with each stand of infantry typically representing half a squad. In the last year or two its popularity outside its homeland has skyrocketed, and it is moving rapidly on its way to joining Warhammer Fantasy Battle/Warhammer 40,000 and Warmachine/Hordes as one of THE big name tabletop wargames. Also like those games, it is quickly developing a strong community of whiny, sophist 'YouTube War Expert' players. Still, most players are quite friendly and welcoming to newbs, newbies, noobs, and nubs. Even if they often make typos. Also developed by a team of mainly very nice gentlemen.
Battlefront Miniatures itself has become fairly popular in comparison to Games Workshop and some other major manufacturers, as they have given their blessing for players to use other company's products in games, even allowing them in tournaments; and for making many of the army lists available on their website. Also the prices from the company aren't that high ($52.00 USD is pretty good for 2 Rifle platoons, a weapons platoon, a Company command squad and a few bazooka teams), and in addition to that, most of the stuff you own can be mix-and-match as those infantry platoons you own can be used with your armoured companies and vice versa. Also as infantry don't really change much, and since at 15mm it's hard to tell what they are equipped with anyway, you can use your infantry platoon/company throughout all war periods, and can proxy them as mech (provided you have the transports), paratroopers, ect. with ease.
If you've played any other tabletop wargame, you should be halfway to knowing the rules for FoW, its just a matter of the squirrelly parts. Some of the major points are:
- Unit ratings- Units are rated on two stats, their motivation and their training. Ratings are typically applied across and entire army list.
- Motivation- How happy and ready for fightan your units are. Keeps troops in the battle and helps them keep moving and fighting. There are three ratings (baring special snowflake rules): Reluctant, Confident and Fearless. Note that Fearless is not as good as it is in 40k, although it's still pretty damn great as it stops your platoons and companies pissing out at a moment's notice.
- Training- How skilled at combat your troops are. Keeps them alive and helps with things like moving through rough terrain, digging in, hitting the enemy in Close Combat, and a whole range of other things. Gives protection against being shot at (because unlike other contemporary games, the likelyhood of a unit being hit is due to their skill, not the unit shooting at them. There are three flavours of training: Conscript (lol), Trained and Veteran.
- Motivation tests- There are numerous situations when Motivation checks are required. Think of them like Leadership tests in 40k. The most common check is when a platoon is below half strength, it has to take a motivation test or be removed from the game. Following from this, When your army is below half strength, your Company Commander has to take a motivation test or you lose automatically as your troops run away like little girls.
- Shooting- one rule that confuses a lot of new players is that when one unit shoots at another, the chance to hit is based on the target's skill rating, not the firer's. The reasoning being that any moron with one arm and two brain cells to rub together can spray machine-gun fire at people, and what really counts is how good the people being shot at are at taking cover and not bunching up like a flock of sheep.
Note that all lists are based off a historic point in time. For example, in Rommel's AfrikaKorps, the only choices available to take for an infantry company would be what they had historically. If Rommel did not historically attach Panzer platoons to infantry companies, they would not be able to (he did, but this is just for example). Army lists come in three different flavours: Infantry, Mechanized, and Armoured. Each "codex" will have multiple nations, and each nation will usually have different organization charts that let them take any of the three flavours of list, and the differences between organization charts is that the organization charts dictate the base requirements of a list, the motivation and skill level of your list, and the "weapon" and "support" options your list can take. The HQ: Your force will always have an HQ. For infantry lists, this will be a stand of a Company Commander (who allows units he joins to reroll motivation), a 2nd in Command (honestly not that good, although depending on your nation he gives bonuses to your troops. The main use for him is that he can "appoint" a platoon commander if their commander died previously.) Some HQs let you bring along extra goodies, like Bazookas and Mortars that can be attached to platoons. Mech HQs are the same as Infantry HQs but will come with transports (and unlike 40k, transports can be a real disadvantage, although more recent rules have removed a lot of their downsides.) Tank Commanders will be exactly that: Tanks. Usually one or two tanks make up, and the tanks they can be vary a lot. For some Russian lists, you don't actually take one, you just nominate a tank from one of your platoons (actually called companies but they function as platoons) to be your Company Commander. HQS usually DO NOT count as platoons for Company strength. They function like 40k independent characters do. If I have 3 infantry platoons and a company commander, I count as only having 3 infantry platoons for my force strength. The Combat Platoons AKA Troops choice: Same with 40k, each organization chart will have a minimum requirement of a platoon or two with the option to have more. Infantry lists will have infantry platoons as their combat platoon requirement, mech will have mechanized platoons, ect ect. Here you choose the size of the platoon (from a set choice, eg an American Rifle platoon from a midwar Africa army will be able to have either 7 stands or 10 stands in their platoons) as well as any additional stuff like bazookas, machines guns, bombs, ect. The Weapon Support: Usually encompasses stuff like Mortar platoons, engineer platoons, and other platoons that come from a battalion level. This would be historically the assets that the division gave to the battalion, such as a machine gun company, that the battalion spreads out through the other battle companies. For example, A Panzer Battalion would have a Company of Engineers attached to it. Therefore, a weapons support option for a Panzer Company would be one or two platoons of Engineers. In the "codex" or army book, this stuff would come right after the Troops entries in each organization chart, or comes from another organization chart's army list. The Divisional/Corp support: This is elements that exist at a Divisional level. Historically, it would be things like air support that is allocated to a division/corps. In game, these options usually give your army some much needed diversity/support. Unlike the troops, HQ and weapon options, these guys aren't restricted to a singular organization chart. This means that multiple lists have access to them. This stuff includes the aforementioned air support, artillery, self propelled guns, specialist troops, ect. Also the Motivation and Skill ratings of Divisional support can differ from your Troops and Weapon support options. Note that air support is generally "invisible" except that it can either launch a "bombardment" in a similar way to artillery or it can be used to drive off enemy air support. It does not count as a platoon.
Let me go over this with an example
Let's say I have the Army book "North Afrika." This book comes from the mid war period, which means I can only use it against other Mid War lists (well, conceivably you could use them against other periods, but each period is balanced within itself in terms of point values.) Lets say I own American forces. I would then go to the American section to see which organization charts I could use. I can choose from an Armoured company which uses Sherman Tanks, a Mechanized Company, an Infantry company or a paratrooper company. I choose the Infantry company. This means that I must now adhere to the organization chart that comes with the infantry company. Me choosing the Infantry company means that my force is Confident trained. I look at the Requirements. I must take a Company Commander with a 2iC. I look at his entry, and he has the option to take two bazooka teams with him. So I take him and the two bazooka teams. I now look at the combat platoon requirements. I MUST take Two Infantry platoons, with the option to take a 3rd infantry platoon. I now look at the Infantry platoon entry. I have the option of taking the infantry platoon with either 6 rifle teams plus a platoon command rifle team, or 9 rifle teams plus the command rifle team. I also have the option for a bazooka. Since I want a solid foundation for my army list (and so I can get my platoon count up) I take the Two minimum infantry platoons PLUS the extra platoon, all at full strength. I also take the optional bazooka teams for added close range anti tank. I now look at the optional battalion/weapon platoon options. The organization chart says that I can take one mortar squad, one mechanized platoon, one truck platoon, 1 machine gun platoon, 1 weapons platoon (this platoon comprises of light machine guns and light mortars), 2 anti tank platoons (armed with light anti tank guns, although one can be medium according to the entry) and 1 engineer platoon. Since I want my list to have a barrage template for pinning down the enemy or launching smoke, I choose the mortar platoon. I look at it's entry and see that I can either take 4 mortar teams plus a command rifle team and an observer rifle team, or I can take 6 mortar teams plus a command rifle team and an observer rifle team. It has the option to take two bazooka teams and a car for my observer. However, since my mortar platoon would sit further back, I pass on the bazooka teams, reasoning even if I needed to give the AT I could attach my HQ bazooka teams. I also pass on the car, as my observer needs to be stealthy and hidden, which is harder to do with a jeep or car. Lastly I look at my Divisional Support options. I have numerous options. I can choose Air support, Artillery support, another medium anti tank gun platoon, a tank hunter platoon, a Sherman platoon, a paratrooper platoon, an anti aircraft platoon, a mobile anti aircraft platoon, an engineer platoon, and a scout platoon. I choose the artillery platoon (look at it's entry and take 4 artillery guns) since the Americans get nifty special rules that boost the effectiveness of their artillery, limited (which is actually the medium option) air support to drive off enemy air support, and noticing that my army is lacking anti tank, I take a Sherman Tank platoon of 5 shermans to add a punch to my force, and a unit of medium anti tank guns (which I could have also taken in the Weapon platoons section.)
All up, my force is HQ with 2 bazooka teams 3 x infantry platoon with 9 rifle teams, a platoon command rifle team, and a bazooka team a mortar squad with 6 mortar teams, a platoon command team and an observer A tank platoon of 5 sherman tanks An anti tank platoon of 3 57mm anti tank guns with a platoon commander An artillery platoon with 4 105mm gun teams with a staff team, platoon command team and observer team Limited air support
All up I have 7 platoons, 3 of which are combat, 1 of which is a weapons platoon, and 3 of which are divisional support platoons. Limited Air support
Rather than try to balance, say, the German army that invaded Poland in 1939 against the Russian army that rolled into Berlin 6 years later, the game is divided into three periods:
World War One
Covers everything from the beginning of the war until the end of 1941. Available forces are Germany, Great Britain, the USSR, Imperial Japan, Finland, Italy, France and Poland. This period is actually a recent addition, and is still trying to gain a fanbase of any significance. Typically most forces are less experienced and so there are very few forces (outside of the Germans) who have "veteran" units.
It's actually one of the most "balanced" periods of the game, and so is actually fairly popular. Whilst most of the overall game is balanced, and each period is balanced, in this period every tank has a reasonable chance against other tanks (unless you're those British or French faggots who take Matildas or B1s- but then you'll have 4 models on the table, TOPS, and they can be easily beaten in assault by engineers). Also after the Germans get the later Panzer IIIs they can easily take out the allied heavy/infantry tanks. Except to do this you're paying a boatload of points for a glass cannon as in early war, panzers have thin as hell armour.
Covers 1942-1943. France and Poland are out; America, the Soviet Union, and the lesser Axis Powers of Finland, Romania and Hungary are in. Probably the most balanced period, with the only real cheese being the T-34 spam that the Russians can use, as amusingly enough they can almost take more tanks than you can get bases of each nation's commando/paratrooper equivalent. Lack a lot of flexibility due to the rules for Russian tanks.
Covers 1944 to the end of the war (though supplement books are only up to Winter 1944.) Includes most of the 'Iconic' battles of the war, like the invasion of Normandy, capture of Paris, Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge. Lots of hilarious units like the Kingtiger and Panthers.
What started off as a few army lists evolved into the newest period expansion. Can't say much more about it as I haven't played it, but fairly modern forces exist.
FoW supports most of the major military powers that fought in WWII. The major/most popular ones are:
- America- built around large numbers of moderately skilled, highly mobile units, with plenty of artillery and air support. In late war the US have advanced technology and elite formations. They are considered as a rather powerful force in latewar due to bazookas everywhere, powerful artillery, access to veteran forces, and teleporting tank destroyers (that, just like their name suggests, happen to rape tanks). Americans excel as attackers, BUT are reasonable in defense as you can take a fair amount of footslogging infantry backed up by tank destroyers and artillery. Americans get special rules that mainly boost their Tank Destroyers and Arty, but give minor boosts to infantry and mech infantry, and armour (tanks) that let them be more mobile.
- Great Britain- focuses more on elite troops, with good close range armor and artillery support, and especially good in close assault. One of their biggest draws is that Great Britain isn't just England- you can also field Scots, Irish, Indians, Canadians, Nepalese, Australians, New Zealanders, and Maoris. The british are tough in defence and
favour a battle of attritionutter bullshit as mainly the point of the Brits is that they are fairly elite that is supplemented by even more special forces. They are good in defense however due to their special characters and special rules that favour a mainly static war (unless you play armour, in which case the British rules are made to let you fly in guns blazing).
- Russia- massive numbers of weak troops, backed by plentiful artillery, and driven forward by Kommissar teams. To give you an idea of how much you're going to be outnumbering your opponent; most armies are a 'Company' made up of 'Platoons.' Soviets field 'Battalions' made up of 'Companies.' Later on Soviet formations get smaller and more skilled, able to both dish out and take a beating. Soviets prefer direct and simple tactics where their overwhelming firepower can be brought to bear. Their special rules are mainly negative, but that allows you to take FUCKHUEG amounts of them.
- Germany- Fields the most elite focused army. Most German units will win one-on-one with their Allied counterparts, but will usually be outnumbered by a noticeable margin. Also, somewhere there's a list that lets you field an army of nothing but Tiger tanks, so that's cool too. Germans have great tactical flexibility and firepower but don't stand to attrition very well. Their special rules are very newbie-friendly as they pretty much ignore the rules about platoon command teams (since if one dies, they can "appoint" a new platoon commander without having to have the Company commander or second in command there).
- France- usually a static army of soldiers with low moral, able to blow the shit out of ennemy infantry (heavy machineguns) and enemy tanks (best anti-tank artillery (kinda)). you can also field some slow, big but nearly indestructible tanks. And the foreign legion, don't forget the foreign legion. Generally don't have access to elite forces, however. Their rules (REALLY) favour the defense, as both infantry and armour alike are unsuited to offense (infantry get bonuses to digging in, armour has rules that penalize shooting on the move).
- Italy- shares the massive numbers of weak troops with the Soviets, but lacks the artillery and tanks. Are a weird force as most of their lists give random motivation/skill ratings to their platoons, which can either lead to hilariously OP/UP lists where you either have hordes of fearless veterans or reluctant conscripts. Depending on the table, it's usually geared towards confident trained or reluctant trained. Still, absolutely hilarious for both sides when rolling.
- Japan- only available in Early War (so far). Their infantry can do absolutely everything, including cutting the enemy into pieces with swords and taking out tanks by hitting them with explosive sticks. Get shot to bits though so you need to know how pinning works and how to get it on your enemies and avoid getting it on yourself.
NOTE: The game balance in this game is actually really good. There is no "best army," just strong lists. Lists are usually strong against one type of list and are countered by others. Eg: Commandos are an elite British list that are awesome against raping shit in melee, and are fearless veterans, but they are expensive and you can't take many of them, meaning you get absolutely raped by horde tank lists like the Russian lists.